What will the theme park of the future look like? Sure, there will be some amazing rides, but Universal Orlando is looking to push the limit of how you experience theme parks, right now. The new Jimmy Fallon Attraction, which opens April 6th, will use a “virtual waiting line”. Volcano Bay will incorporate that same idea into it’s “Tapu-Tapu” technology, which will essentially allow you to book a time, and then enjoy the rest of the park while you wait. While this type of idea isn’t exactly new, it’s the first time that a park will implement it as the only method of waiting in line for theme park rides. It’s not stopping there either. Universal is already testing their new system, and more, using their mobile app on certain rides in the park.
So what does this mean, exactly?
Essentially, if the tests go well, you can probably expect to see every attraction in the park go to this type of system. Think about it. You walk into the park, and you open your Universal App. You book your time for an attraction, and you go browsing through a shop, or watch a show, or even grab some food. It’s a genius idea to an age old problem, of keeping the guests occupied, and keep them spending.
Of course, with more time in the streets comes the need for more to do in the streets. Of course, that could mean more shows…maybe like seeing Marilyn Monroe perform a song, or maybe seeing characters just casually strolling around. While this is pure speculation on our part, it certainly seems like Universal has been moving towards this option for a while now, as they have been spending the past few years adding more shows all over the streets.
And, it doesn’t stop at booking your attraction times either.
The Orlando Sentinel has a great article about how Universal is testing “Photo Validation Technology” at some of their rides this week. Photo validation? Sounds like Facial Recognition to me! The way the Sentinel describes the tests, onsite resort guests with the Unlimited Express Option are being photographed with their Express Pass. Instead of having to show your Express Pass at every single ride, your photo is stored in the Universal Orlando database, and all you have to do at the participating attractions is simply stand in front of a scanner.
While the Express option definitely is a great start, why stop there? Universal Japan, and even SeaWorld Orlando already has facial recognition with their annual passes. At Universal Japan, you physically put your face in a scanner, and it matches you to your stored profile. At SeaWorld Orlando, they scan your pass, and take your picture. Your picture is stored, and you are granted access to the park when your face comes up.
If the new tests are successful, you’ll probably see this implemented at all the hotels, as well as when you purchase the front of the line option for something like Halloween Horror Nights. It keeps guests from passing the ticket onto friends who may not have it.
However, in the future, it may go even further. How about a park where you don’t have to wait in line to get in? You simply…walk in? That is completely possible with current technology, and something that Universal’s tests could very well be leading up to. The idea would be simple, you would walk up to the front gates and as you walk in, cameras would validate you via facial recognition. What would happen if you didn’t have a ticket? There would more than likely be security to help you get a ticket, or something similar. Sound like something out of sci-fi movie? It very well could be, but with the huge tests being at Universal Orlando the past few months, it sounds like it’s going more towards reality than staying a fantasy.
As we stated before, this is all 100%, and we could be completely off, but the ideas are there and it very well could be the end game for all these tests.
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