Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & TechWe work the rest of the year so that we can afford to play when go on vacation. Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California are two of the country’s most popular and play-packed getaways.
September 12, 2018
Play Disney Parks App Relieves Boredom in Line
But going to the theme parks is not all fun and games. No matter how carefully you might plan a visit and take full advantage of Disney’s FastPass ride reservation program, chances are you’ll still be waiting in plenty of lines. While inching along in a queue isn’t work exactly, there’s nothing particularly playful about it either.
To help deal with the dullness, the entertainment company recently introduced Play Disney Parks. Visitors who download the phone app and use it while waiting to board select rides can fill the time with, well, fun and games.
Play Disney Parks is available for free at the App Store and Google Play for both Apple iOS and Android platforms. It includes a couple of wait time games at each of the parks. For example, guests waiting in the queue for Space Mountain at Disneyland or Disney World’s Magic Kingdom can design their own rocket ships. At Toy Story Mania in Disney California Adventure or Disney's Hollywood Studios, guests can play a series of games themed to the Pixar franchise.
Why give visitors another reason to retreat to the isolated, virtual world of their screens in such a richly designed and (what should be) highly social real-world environment? For Disney, it could be a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Or The Mouse could be on to something.
“These are not meant to be traditional mobile games,” says Josh Gorin, executive R&D Imagineer at Walt Disney Imagineering. Instead of “keeping your nose buried in your device, we have you engaging with the environment around you, with the story, and most importantly, with others.”
The Imagineers have designed the games for at least two players. They use one device that is handed off among participants. “We’re going for family game night,” Gorin adds.
The app uses Bluetooth to trigger in-park special effects. When players reach a screen near the end of the Space Mountain queue, for instance, they can see the ship their team designed race against the ships of other participants. At Peter Pan’s Flight, the app prompts family members to share happy memories and positive thoughts. When they approach a lantern in the queue, they can tap a button on their phone and (spoiler alert) see Tinker Bell magically appear.
Using the app to interact with the physical environment and launch special effects is comparable to the features that Epcot included with Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. When the park introduced that experience a few years ago, it loaned guests specially equipped, dedicated mobile devices to participate in the adventure. More recently, guests could solve the Agent P mystery using their own smartphones. Now, Play Disney Parks incorporates the World Showcase Adventure. Similarly, users can play the travel trivia game, Soarin’ Challenge, within the app. Originally, guests could play games while waiting to board the Epcot attraction by looking at displays mounted in the queue.
By using the app, guests can also earn digital collectibles by visiting certain attractions, scoring points in the games, and other achievements. They can then brag about their collectibles on social media. The locations for the achievements and the games are indicated on stylish maps of each of the parks that are included in the Play Disney Parks app.
In addition to the experiences that require participants to be in specific places at the parks, the app offers activities that users could access anywhere within or outside of Disney’s resorts. There are playlists of songs themed to different lands and areas of the parks to which guests can listen by using the app or by linking the app to Apple Music. The song snippets last about 30 seconds each, and the playlists are roughly edited with no fade-outs or fade-ins between tunes. Users can also test their knowledge playing Disney trivia with questions that are themed to each of the parks.
“We’re just getting started,” says Dan Soto, VP, digital guest experience at Disney Parks and Resorts. Imagineers have plans to add more games and more capabilities to the new app. They’ve also set their sights on a galaxy far, far away (but coming to both Disneyland and Disney World next year). For the new Star Wars lands, “we can build in a layer of interactivity and personalization from the very start. Play Disney Parks will become a pivotal tool in guests’ journeys,” Soto says.
Based on the pent-up demand and predictions of crazy-long lines at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, visitors will probably welcome some themed, app-enabled fun and games.
Copyright 2018 USA TODAY. All rights reserved. From https://www.usatoday.com. By Arthur Levine.
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