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The Attraction Experience: Interactive or Passive

 
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steamboatwillie



Joined: 29 Feb 2008
Posts: 31
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:17 pm    Post subject: The Attraction Experience: Interactive or Passive Reply with quote

I brushed on this when I posted recently about Toy Story Mania and it's a topic that I've wanted to discuss ever since I rode Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters and am curious to hear your thoughts:

With all of these new "interactive" attractions such as Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story taking center stage and the interactive experience being the purported wave of the future in themed entertainment, I'm not quite sure I understand the difference between passive and interactive anymore. I had always understood that say, a dark ride for example was coined as passive in comparison to Toy Story as the guest member is not actively "engaging" but is watching as events pass and unfold in front of them. But here's my question:

Doesn't an attraction become interactive the moment one boards it? Isn't that the point behind an attraction to allow a guest to step into the world of a given story?

Toy Story was fun, but if that's the wave of the future, I'd rather stay home and play guitar hero than brave the lines for the so-called interactive experience.

Thoughts?
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kingslyZISSOU



Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 41
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well i guess its the way you look at it. It just depends on your definition of interaction.

I think that the one trick ponies are a fad. But I do think Interactivity will be becoming a bigger part of themed attractions in general. But its not just new ride technology thats changing the business, its the world that is changing. Everything is becoming interactive. People are being coddled by digital tv, Iphones, video games, and the Internet. These are not all bad, they just will expect more when being entertained.

Take for example, Mission: Space. Its not based on being interactive, but it has interactive elements. Its not as much as a passive experience, and its more understood than say...Alien encounter. Since the guest is participating, they can be better entertained.

The majority of kids today just are not as impressed as they used to be.

I think the entire draw about interactivity is its sub-conscious (or perhaps conscious) escapism. When your doing a job in a virtual environment, you are thinking only about that job. Thus entertainment.

I think the future will bring a healthy mix of interaction on e-ticket rides that aren't all about thrills.
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DancinBelle



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 165
Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes what I consider is a more interactive experience is only because of the guests themselves. The 3-D shows in the parks seem (to me) more interactice than, say, the tiki room or the country bears. The audience reacts to the 3-D shows more, by reaching out to touch things that aren't there, reacting to in-theater effects, etc.

And the characters, especially face characters, could be said to be the most interactive attraction there. They talk to you, it's different every time, they can ask you questions and answer yours, the possibilities are almost endless.

I like Mission: Space's interactivity because it isn't the selling point. It's merely another part of the experience. It's immersive without being the focus. While I never had a chance to ride it, I've heard Horizons was also very interactive. Spaceship Earth tries to be interactive, but it doesn't quite come through the way it could. Interactivity just for the sake of interactivity doesn't create an experience. If it's integrated properly, it can be a powerful tool. Dumbo is interactive too, but you don't ride it for the control, you ride it for the experience.
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MartinJ



Joined: 09 Aug 2007
Posts: 93
Location: Flint, MI

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm an old fart here and have certain fixed ideas about entertainment. Ok. I'm not all that old. Still, I think that I push the age curve of people here up a little bit.

What I expect to be the difference between interactive and passive entertainment is the same difference between sitting around the campfire telling stories, modifying them based on the reactions you get, and story time in the library where you simply listen to someone tell a story that doesn't change between readings.

I don't know if every attraction needs to be different every time you ride it. Updating it on occasion, such as the Haunted Mansion, keeps it fresh over the years. I don't know if I'd enjoy it so much if I couldn't expect it to be the same each time (and give me the chance to see more details that I missed the last time).
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steamboatwillie



Joined: 29 Feb 2008
Posts: 31
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... interesting hearing all of your responses and various interpretations of the word "interactive" in the theme park experience.

Kingsly made an interesting comment that, "People are being coddled by digital tv, Iphones, video games, and the Internet. These are not all bad, they just will expect more when being entertained."

Which made me wonder: Sometimes the beauty of storytelling is its simplicity. Take for example any classic fairytale: Princess seeks Prince, they meet through a chance encounter, fall in love, antagonist gets in the way, antagonist is defeated, they live happily ever after -- ok, I admit, these are more Disney-fied interpretations, if you read the Grimm Bros' versions, obviously there's a bit more. BUT, that being said, the idea that we, as a people who are so connected, so wired and wireless, so quickly and readily available to download, send and process new information, having become overstimulated and desensitized to the rare beauty of simple storytelling.

If we're EXPECTING to embark on an attraction, culinary experience or theatrical engagement that meets the physiological needs of our daily addictions to our gadgets; I wonder if the simplicity of such classics as Matterhorn and the Enchanted Tiki Room will ever return.

I understand the notion that "audiences expect more", but look at Everest -- that's basically Matterhorn East Version 2.0, and it SEEMS like the crowds really appreciate that ride.

I can appreciate the idea that interactively should be used as a "tool" to PLUS the ride. As mentioned on this thread regarding Dumbo and Mission:Space; but that's a far cry from a video game posing as an attraction.

I suppose at the end of the day it's a subjective experience. My only hesitation is this: I'm hearing a lot of talk on various boards and word of mouth about the loss of "Disney Magic" these days. Whether it's the guest experience among cast members with little knowledge of the DISNEY way or the beancounters turning Disney parks into (no offense Nate)...Universal. I love Universal, but it's got a niche market, a place where you can RIDE THE MOVIES. Disney was never about that -- it was a magical kingdom and I worry that somehow the acceptance of the average survey is turning Disney into something far from Walt's vision.
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DancinBelle



Joined: 30 Jul 2007
Posts: 165
Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I picked up a book from the library the other day, the updated version of "The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms" by Christopher Finch. I got it cuz it has a large section on the parks. One of the rides it talked about is Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, which I haven't ridden. It talked about the interactivity of the ride.

"The designers decided to make the Rpger Rabbit ride as interactive as possible. [...] the occupants of tha cab have some control over its movements. They can manipulate the steering wheel... That limited control enhances the particular ride... the route of the vehicle is fixed, it is only the viewpoint that can be manipulated... In the end, the interactive element is really another form of illusion."
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icandrawem2



Joined: 16 Aug 2007
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well that brings to mind another attraction, the tomorrowland speedway (not sure on the name)...Ive never been on this because it just doesnt look fun to me, but on another hand at least those cars arent permanently fixed on the track...you can at least deviate a slight amount from its course...I guess my point is what fun would it be if you didnt even have that luxury...So that form of interactivity seems to work ok...I know thats quite a stretch for being interactive, but it is none the less.
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Holly
Site Admin


Joined: 06 Aug 2007
Posts: 229
Location: Orlando, FL

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am just bouncing through... but wanted to put in $0.02.

From the perspective of media theorists, "interactivity" is two-way communication. Compelling media (whether it is IMax, 3D, a fast-paced ride or whatever) is not techically interactive because it does not respond to your actions. You are responding to it, but it is not responding to you.

Based on the best research I can find (I am working on a thesis about interacivity in theme parks), rides that are interactive in the technical sense of the term include "Men in Black", "Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin", the new "Spaceship Earth", "Toy Story Mania" (the ride as well as Mr. Potato Head), "Turtle Talk with Crush", "Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor", basically any ride where you shoot things and receive a score.

A lot of things are advertised as "interactive" which really aren't. For example, anything highly themed that you can walk into is often deemed "interactive". A highly themed environment is "immersive", but it doesn't react to you... It doesn't care that you are present or change based on who's there or what they do. Therefore, not "interactive" in the way that most media theorists use the term...
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