Themed attractions are consistently trending towards immersive, captivating experiences that take park guests out of the everyday and transport them to another world. From The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to new, immersive Jurassic Park attractions, guests are looking to be entertained and thrilled all at once. As the industry embraces and invests in emerging technologies, we’re able to create better, more immersive attractions that entertain and delight. Here’s a look at some of today’s themed attraction trends making rides and experiences more immersive and entertaining:

Dark Rides

Dark rides have been around since the late 1900s, when they were called “old mill” rides and passengers would sit in a small boat as they were transported through wooden canal systems. In 1928, the first single-rail dark ride (The Pretzel, by Leon Cassidy) was patented, and since then new technological advances in video quality, sound, and capabilities of the attraction properties themselves have taken these rides to the next level.

Dark rides have a unique ability to remove guests entirely from the natural world and take them somewhere completely new with immersive features like lighting, video, and even actors and live performers moving throughout the experience.

This new dark ride by California’s Legacy Entertainment will be the world’s first dark ride to integrate both live performers and stunt shows. Produced for the Trans Studio Bali theme park in Indonesia, this ride will feature all the aspects of dark rides guests love — attractive, immersive video and an exceptional original music score by Benoit Jutras — plus additional features like motion base vehicles, and most notably, live stunt performers and actors that will make the ride, called Road Rage, one of a kind.

This new trend of dark rides offering both a ride and a show is one furthering the immersive entertainment aspects of themed attractions, and we’re excited to see where it goes.

Multisensory Experiences

Audio and visual technologies have been used for years to transport guests to another world. New trends in themed attraction development are now incorporating all of the senses, taking themed attractions to the next level. Incorporating touch, smell, and sound with dark ride technology, new sensory experience attractions are gaining much popularity.

Right now, Disney’s Avatar: Flight of Passage ride may be the most notable multisensory attraction in a park, though BBC and Sega’s collaboration, Orbi, an experimental natural history theme park in Japan, offers another impressive multisensory experience. Orbi invites visitors to step into 12 different natural zones that look, smell, feel, and sound like the real thing, from Yellowstone to the polar ice caps.

Multisensory experiences are just finding a foothold in themed attraction, but when they deliver an exceptional, realistic experience like these examples, they’re sure to keep growing, resulting in longer guest stays at the park and repeat visitors.

Personalized Experiences

In an increasingly impersonal world, personalized experiences in themed attractions are gaining popularity. While this technology is still developing, the idea of personalizing a guest’s experience in a themed attraction or at a park has certainly taken hold.

At the National Comedy Center, for example, guests are offered an RFID bracelet to scan. With the bracelet, they are able to tell a kiosk what types of things make them laugh. From that point on, their entire visitor experience is personalized for their sense of humor.

This type of personalized experience is what today’s consumers are looking for, and we won’t be surprised to see themed attractions take on the concept of personalization to offer guests a unique, one-of-a-kind experience, every time.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been in development for quite some time, but it only continues to improve themed attraction experiences for guests. VR has the unique ability to totally transform a guest’s experience, and it offers the immersive ride qualities that today’s consumers are looking for.

The versatility of VR ensures that themed attraction parks can recreate old experiences, or reprogram an attraction space for a new experience, with a significantly smaller investment. As VR technology improves, the themed attraction experience also improves.

Though VR still presents some tricky development aspects — motion and images must be timed perfectly to ensure guest comfort — it’s a themed attraction trend we know will be sticking around for quite some time.

There’s a lot happening in the world of themed attraction, and we’re always excited to learn about design and technology trends making rides and attractions more entertaining and immersive.

Fredricks Design is a leader in themed ride and animated prop development, and we’d love to help you develop concepts and properties that complete and enhance the immersive qualities of your ride’s experience. For more information about our work and past themed attraction projects, give us a call.

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