How tech augments the theme park ‘experience’

The term “experience economy,” which was first mentioned in 1998 and refers to the idea of seeking experiences over things, applies to all kinds of events and occasions – including theme parks. When global spending on theme parks hit a record $44.8 billion in 2017, the experience economy was cited as a cause. That year also saw an unprecedented figure of close to 1.1 billion theme park visitors, with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expecting attendance to rise to around 1.3 billion in 2022.

Underneath those numbers is another interesting trend – one that is taking theme parks to a new level. Interactivity, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are all transforming the experience of theme park attractions.

It is fitting then that Everland, Korea’s best-known theme park, is creating its own unique experiences by harnessing the power of technology, including by working closely with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Everland visitors interact with a multimedia show at Lenny’s Magic School.

Fight a dragon and shoot ghosts!

Behind every dragon fight at Lenny’s Magic School is a store of tech weapons that maximizes the immersion experience. These include realistic 4D engagement and state-of-the-art Ultra Wide Band tech that offers much greater shooting accuracy and range than conventional infrared-based games.

Lenny’s Magic School, which was launched on September 5, is the third of Everland’s attractions to be developed in collaboration with local tech companies. Its story focuses on Lenny’s journey to another dimension and efforts to defeat a dragon with friends from magic school.

Lenny’s Magic School participants fight a virtual dragon with magic wands.

What this means for visitors is that up to 40 people armed with wands can battle a dragon, feeling the realism of wind and vibrations, taking shots with just a 1cm margin of error – all while their scores can be compared in real time. Lenny’s Magic School offers free access to Everland visitors over 110 cm tall.

Shooting Ghost is another interactive shooting game that remains popular at Everland, having opened in July 2018 – but zombie pandas and Halloween ghosts are making a special appearance during the ongoing Halloween Festival until November 17.

This attraction benefits from the same accuracy and range when shooting all-too-real ghosts, which can show up anywhere. It is a ride in which up to four participants become ghost hunters and take aim at the entities that haunt the manor of Earl Mysterious. Vibrations and real-time scores add an extra sense of urgency. Again, admission is free for Everland visitors over 110cm tall.

Immersive adventures in virtual reality

Everland also features cutting-edge virtual reality tech in its Gyro VR and Robot VR attractions – both of which launched their second seasons last March.

Read more about the amazing tech behind their initial launches here and here.

The new-look Gyro VR is a trip into a micro world, while Robot VR is an ocean adventure. Visitors to these attractions can pay an extra KRW 5,000 to embark on an expedition into a completely different environment.

What’s more, proceeds from these VR attraction purchases will go to promising SMEs to support the local tech development industry.

People who come to Everland can even try out popular attractions such as T-Express, Thunder Falls, Lost Valley and Safari World in virtual reality via the VR Adventure attraction – at least until 5 p.m. After this time, the same attraction offers visitors aged 14 and up the chance to take on Horror Maze, also in virtual reality!

So, we’re seeing technology unlock even more potential for theme park visitors seeking an immersive experience. The question is how much more immersive can they get?

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