UA-20143982-1 iBeacons Could Transform the Theme Park Experience - The Coaster Guy

iBeacons Could Transform The Theme Park Experience

By on 02/01/2014

We’ve all seen the visions of the future in movies and TV shows, where billboard advertising is tailored specifically for you in real-time as you walk down the street. Thanks to a new technology called iBeacons from Apple, released with iOS 7 last year, that future is pretty much here. Several large name retailers are currently rolling it out to their stores, and Major League Baseball is getting ready to install it across most of their stadiums. Personally, I think this technology is perfect for theme parks and would greatly enhance the guest experience.

This technology is based on small “beacons” that emit information. Each beacon has a unique identifier that is broadcast using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE or Bluetooth Smart). When that signal is picked up by a device within range, such as a mobile app, the information the beacon contains is then displayed on the device.

Each beacon can be as small as a quarter and run for up to two years on a small watch battery. The range can be as far away as 50 meters, yet has the ability for micro-ranging, knowing how close you are to it down to just a few centimeters.

beacons

I can think of many use cases for this around a theme park. The park would need to have a mobile app for their guests to take advantage of the system, but the possibilities are really only limited by one’s imagination. Any device that is compatible with Bluetooth Smart, including iOS7 devices and most Android devices, has the ability to receive and display beacon information.

Imagine getting a greeting from the park as you approach the main gate. It could display the park’s hours for the day, special events that day, or even provide a list of what rides were closed for the day. Once you’re inside the park, navigation could help those unfamiliar with the layout. Select a ride, store, restaurant, or even the restroom from a list and the beacons could provide real-time, step-by-step guidance directly there.

Imagine standing at the entrance of a ride and wondering what it was like. A beacon placed near the entrance could display ride statistics such as type of ride, length of ride, and whether or not it goes upside down. It could even list any ride restrictions, such as height or weight limitations.

We’ve all been in very long ride lines, and the wait can be brutal. Beacons placed along the queue path could be programmed to display interesting trivia or history about the ride, providing a form of entertainment while waiting.

Once you get off the ride, how would you like a photo of yourself on that ride? A beacon next to the photo booth at the ride exit could activate a series of actions for you to get just that. How cool would it be to enter the code for your picture, pay for it, and have a digital copy sent to you, all from your mobile phone?

Beacons are generic devices that are sold from a variety of vendors. The term iBeacon refers to any iOS device that is running iOS 7, as these devices can be used as beacons themselves. For example, an iPad could be placed in a kiosk outside the entrance to a restaurant to show an interactive menu. As people approach it, the iBeacon could transmit coupons or special offers from that restaurant.

Twitter hunts could be taken to the next level with undercover park employees roaming the park with an active iBeacon, handing out special prizes to anyone finding them through the system.

These are just a few of the ways that I can see parks using beacons and iBeacons to enhance the guest experience, but I know there are many, many more. What do you think of a system like this? Would you use it? What other use cases can you think of for a theme park?

9 Comments

  1. Nicholas Laschkewitsch

    02/01/2014 at 5:35 pm

    I had not heard of these Beacons until reading this. I agree completely that these would highly enhance the amusement park experience, even for enthusiasts that know the park(s) … especially the idea of expanding hunts with undercover employees! Not knowing a heck of a lot of the technology behind it, but it’d be cool to have the characters in the park each have one. Then, you could open up the Six Flags app and actually look at a digital map with avatars of the characters following their real-time-movements, making finding characters much easier when on the move. I’m sure there are many, many more applications as well…

  2. Luxornv

    02/01/2014 at 5:53 pm

    These are kind of cool, but if the park needs to have an app, this isn’t going to work. Even the major parks, Six Flags and Cedar Fair have horrible apps that give very little interactive information and hardly even link to their own mobile website. I suppose with the beacons, it could get a better read on where I am than using my GPS (which basically just confirms that I’m in the park, not exactly where I am or what ride I’m waiting for). It would be nice if in a ride line I could look up ride stats, and similar rides. If I’m near a food stall or shop, it would be nice if it could maybe tell me the menu and issue promos.

  3. Marcus L

    02/01/2014 at 6:26 pm

    Wow great ideas excellent article

  4. Eric

    02/01/2014 at 7:24 pm

    Great idea. The park could also issue special limited in-park food and merchandise deals, too. What I hope they wouldn’t do is use this for a barrage of advertising.

  5. Rob

    02/01/2014 at 8:47 pm

    Old news. Disney has been working on their own version of this since at least 2010.

    • The Coaster Guy

      02/01/2014 at 10:01 pm

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Disney system based off of RFID? I don’t believe they are using beacons, are they?

  6. Andrew the Epic

    02/01/2014 at 11:18 pm

    The only thing that I wouldn’t like is the phone constantly dinging telling me there’s a restraunt five feet away. Not to mention the ads. We all know they would send ads through beacons being Six Flags and all.

  7. Devika Girish

    02/09/2015 at 1:41 am

    Great article. I loved most of the ideas you talked about. Especially the one in which undercover park employees roam the park with an active iBeacon sounds very exciting. Beacons allow theme parks to offer their visitors a more seamless and personalized experience by triggering location-specific content and alerts to the smartphones of their visitors.For example, during weekends and vacations, finding a parking space in a theme park can be quite a task. But with beacons, as soon as a visitor drives in the entrance, you can trigger an alert directing him to the nearest available parking space. And on his way back, you could also help him locate his car with ease. We’ve discussed few other ways in which beacons can help transform visitor experience in theme parks here: http://blog.beaconstac.com/how-beacons-can-help-transform-visitor-experience-at-zoos-and-theme-parks/

  8. Vaishnavi Prakash Nair

    08/03/2015 at 11:38 pm

    This is a great article regarding ibeacon technology and how it can enhance the amusement park going experience. Well, for starters, ibeacon technology allows for a large influx of data as to the areas of the park most visited by the guests, The attractions/rides used most often, High risk areas of the park and also definitely not limited to the areas of the park that can get really tough to navigate once crowds start increasing in number. Of course, it is imperative to note that the aforementioned applications are but a tiny drop in the ocean of possibilities that the park management can use the technology for. It really is all up to the imagination and as to what happens next, well the management can then use the data that they’ve received through the mobile application, analyze it and strategically modify the park infrastructure accordingly. Here is an amazing article from parks management perspective with respect to beacons and theme parks in specific : http://bfonics.com/bfonicscms/business/transform-amusement-parks-using-beacons/

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