Contradictory to some people’s popular belief, at this time of year my home country Denmark is certainly not always covered in snow, a clear blue sky and all-around Christmassy mood. Rather, it tend to be just cold and wet. So even though I do enjoy the holiday season, I also look back with fondness on the IAPPA Attractions Expo 2016 that ended exactly two weeks ago in Orlando in sunny Florida.

Should you not be familiar with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), it is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. I attended the annual Attractions Expo representing AdventureLAB, of course, but also as a representative of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA),of which I am proud to be a board member of the Europe and Middle East Division, as well as Vice-Chair og the Membership and the Marketing committees. The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), as you may know, is the premier international non-profit association representing the world’s leading creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling places and experiences worldwide.
If you are a member, I salute you for being part of the family. If you are wondering whether this may something for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. Speaking from my own experience, I can strongly recommend becoming a TEA member.

So, what insights and ideas did I bring back from the IAPPA Attractions Expo?

 

Thoughts On … The Out-Of-Home Virtual Reality Experience

Various ways of using VR is certainly on the rise, albeit many industry professionals agree that the concept of out-of-home entertainment using VR still has something to prove. Will the attraction visitors take them to heart? Only time will tell. The same goes regarding whether VR will be able to keep the visitors interested. Please note, this is not a consideration about VR in general, but in the context of attractions, where experiences need to be more than what can be experienced at home, and need to be social. Maybe VR is really out of place in that context, and I think we will see new kinds of out-of-home entertainment hubs and spaces. At this point, if attractions and entertainment centers truly want to challenge home entertainment, my money is on the hybrid VR solutions, where virtuality merges with the physical world in a Social VR setting.

 

Thoughts On … The Real Reality Experience

As I explored in an article I did for CMO.com in June, “Spotting The Real Reality Trends”, the pendulum of metatrends that has been all the way to the side of digital (simulated?) is now swinging back towards the physical (authentic?) experience. The latter allows visitors to become makers of real things, and allows to kids bruise their needs, climbing walls, trees and rope ladders. During the presentation at IAPPA Attractions Expo, the concept of people needing to move away from “digital isolation” was even brought up, such as device-free camps for grown-ups. So, is the world going all analogue? I do not think so, but I think the counter-reaction that we see now to the digital rule of later years, will eventually help many of us achieve some kind of balance without being blind technology infatuation. Or analogue, spartan purists, for that matter.

 

Thoughts On … The Next Generation Arcade Experience

Combining what I saw presented both inside and outside of the conference in Orlando, I also strongly believe that we are going to see spaces of social gaming return in force to various locations. It will be a new iteration of the arcade, set in the contexts such as attractions, retail and as stand-alone entertainment centers. The managers and operators of these spaces will, in my humble opinion, need to understand very well who their key target group is, and these spaces will have to be put together by people who have the expertise of creating spaces for gaming. Simply buying machinges that you think that the kids will think are cool, and then put them in line in back of some room will not be enough. If done properly, though, this may be exactly the space and framing that the next generation of out-of-home VR will need to succeed.