– Key Contributors: Andrew Schumacher (Architect), Dan O’Neill (Landscape Architect), Eileen Hill (Landscape Architect), Jason Mills ( Designer), Jeff Havlik (Vice President), Josh Rodriguez (Architectural Designer), Teague Peak (Architectural Designer), Steve Reyes (Architectural Designer), Tiffany Rawson (Architect), Veronica Skok (Landscape Designer)
In last week’s issue of Don’t Call it a Comeback, PGAV created an Operational Model for a hypothetical theme park to understand how reduced attendance and reduced operational capacity due to COVID safety protocols are related. What we found was that with proposed operational restrictions, program capacity is reached once attendance hits 50%. As the number of guests through the front gate increases above 50%, guests are pushed onto pathways where there is nothing to do. So how can we add value for guests who are spending more time in common areas (pathways, plazas, etc.) waiting to enter a queue line?
Let’s look back at our Weekly Deep Dive days where we explored ideas for pop-up queues and adding value to corridors and spaces that are now functioning as queue areas. How can we build on that? What if the waiting areas were more unstructured? What ideas for adding value and extending the destination story through physical activities, entertainment, and education could we add here?
Back to the drawing board!
Move Your Body
We’ve discussed ideas for adding games to waiting areas. Expanding on that thought, could plazas and other small gathering areas host dance parties (YES! Queue flash mob!), story-themed yoga, or other activities that get guests moving in a fun and memorable way? Guests could be safely separated with ground markers, and attraction characters and/or media elements could lead the activities. Speaking of silly movements – remember when we highlighted the “Silly Walks Only” sidewalk in our Moment of Sunshine? Could attraction pathways become “Prehistoric Party Paths” or “Superhero Sidewalks” to increase guest engagement?
Entertainment & Play
Gaming activities can be used to entertain guests in large (and safely distanced) groups. In plaza areas, could bingo, trivia, or other passive games played through a park app on personal cellphones spark some competition and group engagement. . . and possibly some added revenue with game winners being awarded F&B vouchers or merchandise discounts?
What about a scavenger hunt to help spread guests out across the site and add value to small pockets of time between attractions? The hunt could entail looking for small exhibits curated around the site, each containing a small clue to decode the larger secret hidden message. (And to minimize touch, these games could include an app-based interactive overlay.) Or, guests could embark on a hunt for a customized souvenir, looking for specific retail stands to gather pieces required to build their final masterpiece. And for the foodies (now you’re speaking my language!) what about a Food Find where guests can purchase a tasting card to sample different specialty beverages and snacks during their stay?
Attraction queues are great tools for entertaining, educating, and building anticipation for the experience. Consider a twist on traditional street entertainment where employees and staff members don docent hats and engage guests through storytelling and live interpretation. What about replacing digital content on existing (and new) monitors to extend the story of adjacent attractions or showcase historical footage and new “insider information” about the overall destination. For larger groups of guests, could mascots or characters make more unscheduled appearances, from a safe distance, throughout the day for surprise interactions and priceless smiles?
Rethinking the design and function of common and interstitial spaces at destinations may have value over just providing a safer guest experience. These small pockets of experiences could allow employees to have more one-on-one interactions with guests. Also, using these moments between attractions (exhibits, shows, rides, interactives, etc.) to extend the story and allow guests a chance to stop and breathe could create a more engaging and dynamic experience – balancing attraction highs with more intimate moments of discovery.