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Park Products

THE HUNT IS ON! Interactive adventures to encourage repeat business for parks and attractions

LagoTrig at Toverland

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Whether it’s hiding sweets or candy in the garden, or setting a treasure trail an amusement park or museum, scavenger hunts are a low-tech way to keep children entertained. But what if you add technology to the mix? A new generation of games using everything from smartphones to microchip-equipped teddy bears allows attractions to offer guests a new level of interaction at their facilities, driving repeat visits, increased spend per head and multiple marketing opportunities.

aybe the simplest ideas seem to too simple to put into people’s hands with new technology,” says Ville Kormilainen of the Finnish company Treesure, which developed a special version of

its app-based TreesureGame for Linnanmäki in Helsinki. “On the other hand, there are a lot old tricks that have been turned into apps for smartphones, such as playing tag or hide and seek. Maybe treasure hunting just came a little more slowly.” “The timing now is good,” highlights Stephen Reid of UK-based 1st Attractions, “as most people have become familiar with more complicated technology such as android phones, wireless devices and queuing systems. As such the technophobic park operator is becoming a thing of the past.” The first Safari Challenge game from Reid’s company, branded as Deadly 60 Adventure, will launch soon at England’s Longleat safari park.

According MagiQuest creator Denise Weston, now working with WhiteWater on a waterpark version of the game called SplashQuest (as seen as Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi), it is not only children’s grasp of technology, but also their passion for mobile gaming that makes such products perfect for parks and their young guests. “The technology in what we are doing has been around for years, but having it in your hand on a cell phone has increased people’s awareness of how they can use it for entertainment purposes. It’s now just so natural for people – and not just traditional ‘gamers’ – to participate in a gaming experience.” “First and foremost, the players must be able to understand how to play the game,” highlights Jonathan Plache of Veqtor, which last year launched SniggleHunt in the UK and USA. “However it’s also important that attraction operators can rely on the technology and not be expected to be 'techies' to use it.” For players of MagiQuest, launched by Creative Kingdoms in 2005, “players just need to use their imagination, their desire to solve a puzzle and, in the case of our youngest players, a little help reading the clues from mom and dad,” notes Susan Storey of Great Wolf Resorts, which took control of Creative Kingoms in 2010 and now operates the game at 11 of its properties in North America. “The wands, interactive screens, displays


and effects that make up MagiQuest do not require players to have to a strong understanding of gaming technology. That is truly what makes it so popular for our guests; anyone can play.” ”In the amusement park version of TreesureGame, there are four stories for different age groups,” reveals Kormilainen. Just like the fellow Finns that created the international app success story Angry Birds, the team at Treesure have watched their game attract cross-gender appeal: “At the moment, we see that it’s about 50:50 boys and girls.” “I thought when we started with this back in the MagiQuest days there would be more interest from boys because boys tend to be gamers,” notes Weston. “However girls proved to be some of the most avid hardcore players. Culturally, gaming is also really popular in Asia and the Middle East, so I think we are going to see a big uptake of SplashQuest in Abu Dhabi.”

In SniggleHunt, as with Safari Challenge, players encounter a mix of both mental and physical challenges. “We have found that the more physical these are, the more the boys want to do them – although they have tough competition from the girls of course,” smiles Plache. “At Topsy Turvy play centre in London the slightly older children (aged 8 and 9) are already demanding return visits, specifically to play SniggleHunt.” Yas Waterworld general manager Mike Oswald identifies similar reasons for choosing SplashQuest: “We added this attraction because it is really fun and also something that will drive repeat attendance,” he says. Storey adds that as well as inviting players to return and pick up their game where they left off, MagiQuest also encourages them to seek out those otherwise forgotten corners of the resort: “At Great Wolf we have integrated MagiQuest throughout each lodge, so that players can explore many different areas as they play.” With relatively little physical equipment required for most scavenger hunt games, they can easily be ‘retrofitted’ into an existing facility. At Linnanmäki, no infrastructure was needed at all. “TreesureGame is all virtual and based on existing locations in the park,” explains Kormilainen. ”The only thing you need is your phone!” Party promotions, education programmes, redemption and branded merchandise are others ways scavenger hunts can help drive additional business, not to mention the extra time they encourage guests to spend in your facility. But what about the cold, hard economics of it all; why should you add a scavenger hunt game to your facility this season? “We estimate that with as little as 20% of total capacity over opening

Story Explorers at Great Wolf Lodge


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