How are theme park visitors are using their smartphones in the park?
How do you use your cell phone when you visit a theme park?
The design pros over at Thinkwell Group have been asking that question of theme park fans. Today, Thinkwell released its first "Guest Experience Trend Report," detailing the results.
More than three of four survey respondents said that they'd brought a smartphone or tablet on their last theme park visit. Most visitors used the phone off and on throughout the day, rather than "actively engaging" with it. Only one percent said they spent more time with the phone than enjoying the park.
People took photos with their phone more than doing anything else with them, with talking, texting and checking email the next-most popular uses for the phones. About a third of respondents said that they searched for information about the park while visiting it.
When Thinkwell asked respondents to rank eight enhancements they might like to have for their mobile devices when visiting a theme park, "front of line access" came out on top, followed by checking queue times, and using GPS to locate family and friends.
Of course, parks are working on that functionality already. One of the big features of Disney's MyMagic+ system is using your phone (or computer at home) to access Fastpass+ ride and restaurant reservations. And many theme parks' existing apps allow you to find current wait times for attractions throughout the park.
(And you want to use GPS to find friends and family, well, several apps already allow you to do that, too.)
The big challenge to theme parks and their designers is to develop those new applications for interactive wireless technology that allow people to make use of the theme park platform in creative, engaging ways that visitors don't yet know that they'll end up wanting and loving. It's hard to express a demand for something that's not yet been invented. But the Thinkwell report further establishes that people are engaging on mobile devices in theme parks, and that the demand for an enhanced experience using those devices exists. The question is: Will that "enhanced experience" lead visitors to use their phones and tablets in ways that turn their attention outside the park, or further within it?
NO, NO please NO why?
Well, my Magic+ App really makes that a must at Disney
Need open WiFi in parks!!! :)
Umm... Does it make me a total Luddite that I have NO interest in using a smart phone in a theme park??
Yes seriously Open Wi-fi Multiple Wi-Fi spots, because if there's alot of people in a park I won't get a regular 3G signal
Paying to get into a park to take a break and have fun so you can walk around looking at your phone in a sea of other people with their face in their phone. Sounds like a blast.
Just what we need another environment where the majority of people are face down looking at a connected electronic device.
I wrapped up a five-day vacation at Disney World and Universal two weeks ago and used my iPhone repeatedly throughout the day to access reported wait times. It saved my family tons of time where we could be on rides or doing things other than waiting in long lines. Also looked at menus while waiting to get seated at restaurants. Technology itself isn't bad. Just a tool to help live better (and vacation better).
I'm not at all bothered by the concept of people using smart phones/tablets in the parks, and the parks using them as tools to augment the guest experience.
I've used it to arrange a meeting in the park, or to call someone when I'm stuck in an endless queue. Other than that, I put the damn thing away and try to enjoy the experience around me as much as possible. Why go to a theme park if you're just going to play on your phone all day?
Smart phone? Tablet? Whazzat?
Great piece and thought provoking research. I'm with the Luddites. Theme parks are about escapism, relaxing and enjoying a fun time with your friends. Being in the park, the atmosophere is the buzz. I spend all my time in font of a PC at home and work, on the phone too, the last thing I need or want inside a theme park is a smart phone.
Gonna be a total curmudgeon here, but all I know about smartphones in theme parks is that they cause huge empty spaces in queue lines because someone has their nose buried in one. It's becoming a regular enough occurrence to irritate me. I can't say whether it actually slows the line down, but it's just annoying to see those gaps...I don't want gaps in my queue! ;)
A smartphone is more needed than not. It isn't to merely waste your time in a theme park. It isn't there to replace the enjoyment of a theme park. The smartphone is an add-on bonus.
Anon, you're making sensible use of them. We're complaining about the people who spend more time glued to that little gadget than they spend enjoying the sights and sounds around them. Yes, I will say it again, what's the point?
For many, staying connected is a part of their current lifestyle.....and society in general.
While I would advocate the smartphone's use in the park, I would agree that text messaging and the use of the smartphones in an attraction is an extremely bad idea. Disney should announce that the use of smartphones is not allowed in the same breath when giving the flash photography notice. Alternatively, Disney should offer an app that works better in a dark environment. Thus, less distractions for guests. Either Disney adjusts to current trends or the trends will force Disney to adjust.
The problem with smartphones is that every time you pick it up the outside world, which is often your work and or problems, comes into view. Missed phone calls, voice mail, email, text messages, etc.
Something else to consider is that some ride systems use Wi-Fi to connect across a distance. When phones are looking for Wi-Fi this can cause some of the more primative Wi-Fi connected ride systems to error out and shut down the ride. I've been on a ride when that has happened, I asked about the rpoblem and was given a very straight answer by the maintenance person at the ride.
I'm cool with using your smart phone for finding out wait times and things like that. I just hope the smart phone thing does not get overly used as a part of the theme park experience.... I don't want to feel like I need it too much while in the park.
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