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Theme parks likely to keep mobile tech put to the test by the pandemic

Caroline Champlin Jul 5, 2021
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Tech advances at theme parks, like advanced ride sign-ups, are likely to outlast the pandemic. Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
Back to Business

Theme parks likely to keep mobile tech put to the test by the pandemic

Caroline Champlin Jul 5, 2021
Heard on:
Tech advances at theme parks, like advanced ride sign-ups, are likely to outlast the pandemic. Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
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Many U.S. theme parks, including Disney, Universal Studios and SeaWorld are once again open to eager patrons.

During the pandemic, operators made changes to follow public health rules, including the usual: plastic barriers, reduced capacity, social distancing. But theme parks also saw the use of more touchless technology, mobile transactions or advanced ride sign-ups.

That’s something that University of Central Florida hospitality professor Carissa Baker noticed on her research trips to 16 theme parks since they’ve re-opened. “You have to take out your cell phone and you have to click really, really fast and hope you can get a boarding group for that day,” Baker said.

Not all visitors are used to the new systems, according to Baker. “It has been a little jarring to some people to realize, ‘Oh, I’m now interacting with my cell phone to do things that maybe in the past, I interacted with a live person,'” she said.

Face-to-face service isn’t completely gone, however, especially for smaller parks that didn’t have the tech infrastructure before the pandemic.

“If they weren’t already at some level of adoption, it would have been difficult for theme parks to make the investment,” theme park consultant John Gerner said.

Parks were attracting record numbers of visitors just before the pandemic, Gerner said, and they likely won’t get back there until 2023.

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