The Disruptive Impact of Game Design, Mobile Technology, Social Networks and Emerging Media on Theme Parks
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This descriptive study conducts basic research to create an original analysis of the possible disruptive impact of game design, mobile devices, social networking and emerging media technologies on location-based entertainment (LBE), specifically theme parks. This study employs the Delphi Method to identify where disruptions might occur to better understand how the emergences of these technologies affect the theme park industry. Game design, mobile technology, social networks, and emerging media receive special attention. Audience, business, non-technological forces, and design are also reviewed. It was anticipated that these specific technologies have an impact and are fundamentally disrupting theme parks. A panel of theme park experts participated in the Delphi study to explore possible disruptive technologies that may be affecting theme parks, in qualities such as interactivity, immersion, personalization, mobility, shareability, sociability, digitzation, connectivity, repeatability, and extendibility. Consensuses in changes are identified. Ultimately to answer the question: are theme parks being disrupted by new technologies? What was found was a rich and detailed spectrum of various positions that each respondent shares. At this time, it was found that generally theme parks are not being disrupted by technological innovation to the point they have lose control over their design and business models at this time, but they are indeed changing. Rather theme parks are being continually forced to change along a trajectory that they already embrace by seeking novel entertainments to add to their experiences. Generally that change is positive, and not a negative painful restructuring that other industries have faced since the advent of the aforementioned technologies. Although these technologies are sustaining theme parks rather than disrupting them, it is acknowledged that these technologies do have potential for disruption. This continuous change does have various implications for theme parks. This study finds what some of those changes are. A significant tend is that interactivity is increasing, thus the experience is shifting from a passive experience to an active one. Mobile devices, social networks and Internet connectivity combined together are significant forces acting upon the theme park experience. There is an increased emphasis on personalization and customization. A disconnect exists between how social networks technologies are currently utilized and with the potential that those digital social connections represent. As new technologies change in society, those changes are also reflected in the expectations of theme park audiences. Theme parks fundamentally remain a place for people to come for a shared, social, group experience. Fundamentally, technologies remain tools that invisibly support the theme park story and experience, but are not the main attractions. As illustrated here, there are various implications for new technologies as they drive change forward for theme parks.