Frontline Marketing

How Cedar Point Became An Augmented Reality Theme Park

Steven Wong|

As the tremendous success of Pokémon GO demonstrates, augmented reality can turn the real world into an incredibly engaging game that challenges players to head out and explore. Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio and known as “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” recognized the tremendous potential of AR technology and updated its app with The Battle for Cedar Point experience. With it, attendees can join different roller coaster-themed clans to compete with each other by scanning different areas of the park with their smartphones, such as signs and special t-shirts, for an augmented reality experience. The technology essentially turns the theme park into one gigantic video game. At the end of the day, members of the winning clan can purchase a special pin to commemorate their victory.

Tony Clark, director of communications at Cedar Point talked to [a]listdaily about using augmented reality to enhance the roller coaster park’s experience.

When asked about how the AR game worked, Clark replied, “When guests arrive at the park, they’ll access the game through our new mobile app. They then join one of five ‘clans’ that represent our roller coasters. Throughout the day, they’ll point their phone at ‘targets’ in the park (ride ID signs, park maps, etc.) and most of those targets will come to life on their phone. They receive points by scanning those targets and by answering trivia within the game. At the end of each day, the winning clan is announced at our Luminosity nighttime show. Also, anyone who achieves a certain point level in the game can purchase a pin in our merchandise locations that represents their clan. And if they’re a part of the winning clan of the day, they can also purchase a victory pin, highlighting that they were the winner for the day.”

“We’ve been keeping an eye on emerging technologies and how they may enhance the guest experience in the park,” said Clark, describing how Cedar Point came up with the AR experience. “With augmented reality becoming so popular in gaming apps, and with the built-in environment to play a fun, competitive game, it made sense for us to dive into it with the debut of our world-record-breaking dive coaster, Valravn.”

With the AR experience, Cedar Point essentially becomes “gamified,” which encourages attendees to engage with the theme park like never before. “We’re able to transform many locations into targets,” said Clark, “so we’re exposing guests to attractions or areas of the park that they maybe haven’t experienced before or haven’t visited recently. There are also targets placed inside Valravn’s queue, so that’s a great way to boost engagement in an area where guests are likely already on their phones.”

Clark also went into detail about how Cedar Point got the word out about its unique experience. “We’ve promoted The Battle for Cedar Point through our traditional news releases, in-park audio announcements, pushes through our mobile app, e-newsletters, our website, in-park TV network (FUN TV) and social media. We’re encouraging the use of hashtag #BattleforCP when playing the game.”

According to Clark, attendees have been “overwhelmingly positive” about the experience, with Millennium Force being the most popular clan with the most victories this season. “Guest are having a great time playing it,” said Clark, “and it gives them an additional fun thing to do in the park. The best part is, you can choose to have a normal park experience, or you can enhance your experience by playing the game. Our guests are in control of the kind of visit they’d like to have when they’re with us.”

Cedar Point is one of the first theme parks to include an augmented reality experience, but we asked Clark for his thoughts about competing attractions such as the Six Flags virtual reality roller coasterwhich was developed in partnership with Samsung using the Gear VR viewer to put users into different environments as they rode a roller coaster. “While we can’t speak to what they are doing, I can say that we’ve been beta testing virtual reality headset technology on our Iron Dragon roller coaster at limited times,” Clark responded. “We’re looking at how the tech performs and holds up, what our loading and unloading times are, and most importantly, what our guests think of it. So far, that response has been completely positive.”

“Cedar Point will always remain a quintessential amusement park experience,” Clark said, when asked about how AR and VR technology might impact future promotions. “However, with the advancement of these technologies, it could change the way we talk about the park, share our news and give our guests more reasons to come back. It’s critical that we dip our toes in. These experiences are new, different and fun. If they can enhance our guests’ visit to the park, we’re definitely going to try to make them work.”