Play Is the Way

With the advent of technology, everything is changed, including ‘Play’. Just as in the past, playing with a stuff toy fed your imagination as a child, today there are intelligent connected toys that allow you to understand the world and also reimagine it, as you play – but with the help of augmented reality. Not just toys, there are immersive theme park attractions that give you an opportunity to escape and let you do things that you can’t really do, like go on an underwater sea odyssey or perhaps pay a visit to civilizations at the end of time or beyond.

The amusement park industry has clearly come a long way since Coney Island’s Switchback Railway roller coaster[1] ushered in the “gravity pleasure ride” industry in 1884. Today, smart toys and immersive play experiences are slowly replacing dolls, paper planes and the old toy chest with new-age play environments where you don’t need a time machine, just a walk through a theme park can take you to an alternate planet or a mythical civilization.

It’s interesting to see that amidst so many technological advancements, the need to ‘play’ remains at the core of every park experience, and it’s not the way we play that’s changing, it’s the emerging possibilities to play that is redefining the park experience.

According to a latest report by Common Sense Media[2], 42% of children 8 and younger now have their own tablet devices. While there is an increasing demand for smart devices from people, young as well as old, we are also seeing an increasing number of park operators rapidly adopting immersive technologies within their parks and attractions to make them more fun and gratifying for their guests.

Nurturing the spirit to ‘play’

While it may sound cool to have smart devices and robots to wake you up in the morning and stream nursery rhymes to your children and remind them to do their homework – there is a limit to where machines can replace humans and where they can’t. More importantly, when it comes to ‘play’ in parks.

Much more than just games and toys, play is a state of mind – it’s a way of connecting with yourself and others. Play facilitates human interaction, helping us shape our problem-solving abilities, use imagination and makes us happy. In its purest form, play gives you the freedom to be what you want. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play, no boundaries, just an undeniable and irresistible spirit to play.

Capturing and nurturing the spirit to play is key to creating a great park experience. While new-age technology-driven play innovations can go some way in helping parks achieve this – its critical to realise the value of staying grounded and committed to the idea of creating quintessential and classic play experiences and rides that encourage your guests to play like they always have been playing – playing effortlessly, with ease and abandon.

Play comes in many forms. Some people like to be challenged and a little scared, others want to share their experience – which is why WhiteWater involves psychologists in our product development. Conceived and built on principles by WhiteWater’s play psychologists, No Boundaries is one such product that enables people across age-groups and families to play alongside each other while doing different things. By combining elements and activities for harnessed and unharnessed participants and weaving together a challenge course with uphill climbs, downward descents and a winding aerial zip coaster, No Boundaries helps you create unique play experiences for everyone.

Everyone enjoys play differently and based on our research, we have identified four basic play types. With its endless spectrum of activities, No Boundaries offers an attraction for every age range, skill level and play type. With so many diversions to choose from, everyone can explore and sample a multitude of experiences, promoting curiosity and independence – ultimately, bring their play personality alive.

More than safe and happy guests, one of the most significant advantages of play is the power to bridge inter-generational gap, integrate the family unit and strengthen the parental and sibling bond. Helping unleash this benefit of play, WhiteWater’s Adventure Trail lets the whole family explore together, criss-crossing between soaring towers, rope bridges, climbs, and slides; encouraging active play with multi-level exploration and discovery by engaging guests both physically and mentally.

Let’s get playing
In today’s hyper-connected world, creating authentic playful environments isn’t easy, it requires deep insight into the psychology of play and understanding of how to apply this in your park design and guest experience.

Sign up for WhiteWater’s upcoming Play report to gain practical insight into how to bring ‘play’ to life in your park.