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Already earmarked, why not traced?

Summer is the promised time for amusement parks and water worlds. This greatly thanks to summer breaks at schools and families spending time together. For me too, the visit to our Särkänniemi amusement park is an every-summer tradition.

This year I had the chance to put on a summer frock and slippers and head towards the above mentioned Särkänniemi in Finland, and as a bonus also a fantastic German Water park, which our whole family enjoyed greatly.

The visit to both of these family attractions got me thinking: there is a lot one could achieve with RFID in the world of amusement parks, yet few deployments seem to exist. When a person enters for example the Särkänniemi amusement park in Tampere, Finland, a wristband (indicating the level of services bought) is affixed on her. It has to be there or you cannot ride the rides. Now this gives me ideas: if a person already has a wristband, could it not be used for a number of things?

Of course, I'm making it sound a bit too easy, am I not? For the current wristband is only a paper one. So let me clarify: The wristband could quite easily be fitted with RFID. The ones we had at the German water park for example were. And so are the ones that are used at my local indoor swimming pool. This could be the first step. And once the wristbands are ready for it, only the sky is the limit for applications available.

More knowledge, potentially more sales and certainly enhanced visitor experience

When you make a technology investment, of course the first question in mind is "how will it benefit me"? I suggest that the amusement parks could at least benefit as follows:

  • Faster troughput times on rides
  • Recognizing where visitors are as well as where queues form, and possibly guiding customers to non-crowded areas
  • Using the wristbands for payment (allowing either a pre-deposit on arrival or payment whilst leaving)
  • Removing double work such as measuring a child at a ride several times
  • Linking parents and lost children

Easier, more fun and less worry about children

From a parent's point of view going to any large park or attraction one tends to worry about loosing the child. Well, if the children wore the RFID wristband, their movements would be recognized on all read points (for example from the entry to all the rides) and the parent could use a smart phone application that would find an individual wristband and the last read point it passed. Furthermore, the parent could in the application select to have the child stopped. As the child then passes a read point, the reader would indicate for the amusement park staff that the child is to be stopped and the parents would be indicated the location, hence making it easier to find the child.

There is one thing that most amusement parks and water parks have in common: it is difficult to carry anything with you as things fall off of the ride and of course in the water park you only wear your bathing suite, so no pockets. At least personally I like the applications in water parks, which allow you to register your purchases to the wristband and pay as you leave. This way you do not have to worry about carrying cash anywhere. Why would this not be available at the amusement park too, it could even be a prepayment on the children's wristbands, so they don't spend a fortune on candy.

And as a final note, at least I as a visitor would really appreciate a huge sign that would tell me on real time which rides have shortest and longest queues, so I could choose the one with less queue. I'm convinced these solutions will soon be seen in a lot of amusement parks, as an RFID enthusiast I hope sooner than later!

Here some links for existing RFID deployments, if you know more, post a link!

Hersheypark Adopts RFID for walletless payment

Legoland tracks lost children with the help of RFID

RFID helps with special need visitors

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