The 6000m high roller coaster, alone, planted in the middle of nothing, it’s really good! But is this what you’re looking for in an amusement park?

The answer is no and parks have understood it. They now seek “to encourage the visitor to immerse himself in the heart of an extraordinary experience[1]”.

Funland is more than a roller coaster!

What is the difference between the Throne Fair and a DisneyLand, in France ? The universe and coherence. Remember your escapades to DisneyLand Paris: that entrance through Cinderella Castle, the opportunity to meet Mickey or Minnie, Lion King shows and attractions like Indiana Jones… It was crazy, wasn’t it?

The park is divided into zones referring to different licenses in the Disney universe and the presence feeling is pretty strong ! The storytelling associated with these attractions is also well developed. And this can allow the proposal of new and intense attraction without necessarily going through the rollercoaster which goes to 654500 Km/h ! A small example with another attraction, the Pirate of the Caribbean attraction in Shanghai :

The sets, catering offers, or even the actors participate in the construction of this feeling. Three years ago, I literally found myself at the foot of a fairly realistic Megatron at Universal Studio, it was a memorable experience ! Example with the video below (which is not mine):

Now, amusement parks focus much more on making you travelling in an atypical universe than making your heart rate explode. And that’s a good thing: it allows you to live an atypical, varied and POSITIVE experience!

To do this, the parks will analyze our emotions. Tracking our feelings in the park’s various spaces improves the visitor experience.

Emotion: the key KPI in an amusement park

As visitors, we are likely to go through different emotions during a day spent in a park. And this can have four different effects depending on the emotions felt : immersion, emersion, submergence and rejection (Anteblian, Graillot, Mencarelli, 2014)

Immersion refers to the idea of a “plunge into a particular time and place” and therefore into a desired imagination. Basically, if you feel immersed in a park, it’s because it has succeeded in achieving his goal!

Emersion refers to an opposite phenomenon: it is a question of leaving the imaginary world to find reality. It can be voluntary to recover its spirits after an intense or involuntary experience when, for example, a poorly designed or damaged set reminds us that it is not a reality. If it’s voluntary and it allows you to breathe, it’s buen, otherwise it’s not buen.

Submerssion refers to being overwhelmed by emotions such as the growing fear of making a sensational attraction as the line decreases, for example. Parks seek to limit these extreme feelings because they are considered too intense for visitors. #TooMuchForMe

Reject refers to the negation of the experience: magic no longer works and we no longer wish to take part in this experience. No suspense here: reject is what we want to avoid at all costs. #IwillNeverComeBack

A park manager must be very careful with these conditions to create this famous “extraordinary trip”. While some transitions between immersion and emersion may be desirable (to allow you to rest a little after a thrilling attraction, for example), many elements can cause a break in immersion and this can be problematic: endless queues, seemingly false scenery, invasive shops, little variety of attractions, etc.

In concrete terms, how can this be achieved in parks? Let’s take the example of the queue at two known attractions in Asterix Park (in France).

How to make the queue cool again

At Asterix Park, two attractions are a great success : Zeus Thunder and OzIris. Age unfortunately does not play into Zeus’ Thunder’s favour considering queue management.

Welcomed at the entrance to the attraction by a gigantic statue of the Greek god, the line quickly becomes endless: you trample for an hour and a half, through a dull half-vegetation and the roar of the wooden structure that supports the attraction. We don’t like it too much and above all we are unfortunately far from the universe of ancient Greece! We move quite quickly from immersion with the statue of Zeus to emersion in the queue. Some people may even reject it: the wooden structure of the attraction visible throughout the line can make sensitive souls sweat cold.

OzIris is a little different: 45 minutes before reaching the attraction, we enter the temple of Iris, made up of very nice scenery, an offbeat tone, funny drawings hidden all over the walls, and an attempt to narrate to bring us to the attraction. It is not only the visual aspect : a care has been put forward to prepare you to live the OzIris experience. We can hear the treacherous magician Iris plotting in the distance. We are immersed in the universe of ancient Egypt, with Asterix sauce, we take pleasure in it and the waiting goes much faster! In fact, the queue is part of the experience and it makes all the difference. You go from immersion to a short emersion and back into a longer immersion experience. We prefered it!

The authors of the article “How to manage extraordinary experiences? Analysis and recommendations based on an immersion in theme parks” evoke multiple recommendations to improve the experience of park visitors. The production of varied experiences, which alternate between stimulation and relaxation or the creation of multiple routes to easily get out of an area of discomfort and find positive emotions. What do you think of that?