August 13, 2023, 3:16 PM ·
Over the past month, I have reviewed two new interactive attractions that just happen to illustrate the two different approaches toward interactivity on theme park-style attractions.Should interactive attractions play like arcade shooting galleries or like more complex video games?
Treasure Hunt: The Ride on Monterey’s Cannery Row is a classic shooting gallery ride. Just aim and fire your pirate pistol at the variety of targets around you. Sure, some targets are worth more than others, and you can buy an upgrade token that allows you to fire more rapidly. But the gist of the game is no different than the shooting galleries that you can find in arcade and carnivals everywhere.Villain-Con Minion Blast at Universal Studios Florida can play like a shooting gallery, too. But for those who want it, Minion Blast offers a more robust video game-like experience. By that, I mean that you can sync the game with the Universal Orlando app, allowing you to advance to higher levels with multiple plays of the game, win tokens, unlock achievements, and customize your weaponry.Disney’s Toy Story Midway Mania was the first theme park interactive attraction that I recall where players could unlock higher levels of gameplay, as in a video game. Sure, the earliest interactive attractions, such as Buzz Lightyear and Men in Black: Alien Attack, had “Easter eggs” with high-value and even nested targets, but hitting those did not unlock other, hidden game tasks the way that Midway Mania offered with its video screen displays.But Midway Mania did not support ongoing gameplay that connected each of your rides on the attraction, allowing you to advance to higher levels and unlock additional achievements the more you played. It would take integration with mobile apps to enable that kind of functionality, which Universal now has done with Super Nintendo World and Villain-Con Minion Blast.That functionality was absolutely necessary for a successful Mario attraction, as video game fans have come to expect it as part of the franchise experience. But Universal didn’t need to go that hard on a Minion shooter ride. Yet, it did – perhaps as a way to bring this type of extended gameplay to Orlando two years before its installation of Super Nintendo World would be ready for the public.Does the public care, however? That is my question for you, today. Do you want this type of extended video game functionality in theme park attractions, or are you happy with more basic shooting gallery rides?
Obviously, as I said earlier, any fan can play an advanced attraction such as Minion Blast as a basic shooting gallery, and walk away happy with the experience. So the additional of that optional layer for the fans who want it isn’t harming anyone. But I would like to get a sense of how many fans are out there who really want those options. How big is the market – as a percentage of theme park fans – for extended gameplay opportunities on interactive attractions?So let’s put this to a vote. Obviously, the quality of an interactive attraction also depends upon its theming, decoration, placemaking, and storytelling, so let’s just assume that all those things being equal, what style of gameplay would you prefer?What are the best practices that you would like to see theme park attraction designers follow with their interactive attractions?* * *
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