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?