The First Ten Seconds: Hooking Today’s Attraction Visitors

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Thursday, December 11th, 2014

HP Forbidden Journey attraction entrance

Experts suggest that we have just a few seconds to make a good first impression in the face to face world of networking and personal meetings. The same is true for buildings and attractions: each attraction has just a few seconds to hook visitors and get them engrossed. Whether it’s an educational attraction at a museum or a fantastical world at a theme park, entertainment designers have to determine what design decisions translate into immediately capturing the attention of visitors and passersby. Here is a closer look at some of the key themes that have emerged over the last year in the attraction queue and entryway design space.

When you’re thinking through the challenge of hooking guests, it’s helpful to consider this along two dimensions. The first is creating queues or points of entry that actually draw people in. Attractions usually exist within a broader context, like a busy theme park where there are many other rides, retail spaces, and performances competing for attention. The second is keeping visitors engaged while they wait to board the ride or get into the exhibit. Once the attraction actually draws in a visitor, typically there’s a long wait. At that point, the queue needs to do enough to keep them entertained, engaged, and excited for the upcoming experience so that they stick around.

Disneyland Queue

Many achieve this goal through highly visual designs. Queues and entryways can be bigger, bolder, shinier, and more colorful than their competing attractions. In a way, it’s playing on the science of humans being visual creatures. We’re often drawn to the brightest and most beautiful things in our environment, wanting to see what they’re about and explore these areas in more depth. In another sense, the brightest and boldest entryways stand out from the rest of the noise and have a higher chance (it seems) of getting visitors to take a chance and step inside. Another approach to this is introducing animatronics, audio features, and more to add a sense of movement and appeal to multiple senses.

Personalization and story are also key. Universal Studios’ Harry Potter attractions are an outstanding example of using heavy theming and storytelling at the point of entry and the queue to both set the stage and keep visitors engaged throughout. By using storytelling and personalization early on in the design process, attractions do two things. The first is speak directly to their audience. Is this a kid-friendly area where children can go crazy and enjoy everything happening around them? Or, conversely, is the attraction an intellectually challenging museum exhibit that uses the latest technology to help guests explore complex concepts? When the entryway is specifically personalized for the target audience, the satisfaction of guests increases because there’s a better attraction – visitor match.

The second is to establish a clear worldview and experience that carries throughout the attraction. Increasingly, storytelling and theming carry throughout theme parks and museums. Whether it’s the themed organization of water parks like Yas Waterworld or the highly detailed retail experience in Harry Potter, theming plays a bigger role in all parts of the guest experience.

Choose Thy Fate

Digital technology is also changing the way that we define point of entry. For many attractions, digital content is actually anchoring the point of entry before viewers even get to the park or museum. Whether it’s an online exhibit teaser or a game based on a specific theme park world, visitors are excited and invited to engage with an attraction before they ever set foot through the doors.

From digital tech to boldly designed points of entry, today’s entertainment designers are using a wide variety of techniques to attract and hold the interest of visitors. What’s most interesting about this approach is the fact that our perspectives are shifting. The visitor experience begins the moment someone sees your attraction (or even hears about it online) rather than when they board the ride or enter the exhibit. While it places increasing demands on designers, the changing paradigm also opens up greater opportunities for creative exploration and expression.

Leave a Reply

Must Read