What does the future of immersive entertainment look like? Is it entire theme parks filled with rich backstories for every employee like Evermore? Or is it more intimate events that can have a larger impact on guests? Scott Swenson, who will be giving a talk about immersive entertainment at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo Virtual Education Conference next week, says it’s a little bit of both.
“I don’t think there is a silver bullet answer to that,” says Swenson. “I’m currently working with clients who are already looking to create immersive entertainment beyond the pandemic.” Scott Swenson is a veteran in the themed entertainment world, creating immersive entertainment experiences for theme parks, museums, zoos and beyond.
Even so, this past Halloween season, Swenson helped create haunted attractions around Florida in the middle of a pandemic. As he told his clients, “Don’t panic, just pivot.” He managed to implement things like giving out hand sanitizer into the story of the attraction. In some cases, they simply designed costumes with actors wearing a mask in mind.
By doing so, only a minimal amount of makeup needs to be worn. Usually around the eyes and most actors can do it by themselves. I talked to Swenson extensively about practices like this that have been put in place by due to the pandemic. He seems to think that several of these could (or sometimes should) stick beyond what we are doing in 2020.
For example, timed ticket entry into a haunt experience. Not only does this mean your haunt doesn’t get slammed at random times on a Saturday night because you can look at your sales in advance and plan accordingly. Likewise, if it’s a slow Thursday night, you can send your cast home early as opposed to wasting labor dollars. Not to mention, guests get a more personal and “exclusive” experience free of long queues and mobbed waiting areas.
The insight Scott Swenson offers is always fascinating. If you’ve never had the chance to hear him talk about immersive entertainment, I can’t recommend it enough. Good news! You can! IAAPA’s first IAAPA Expo Virtual Education Conference is November 16 – 18 and you can still sign up via this link. Scott Swenson’s presentation on immersive entertainment is Tuesday, November 16 at 1:45 pm EST. Check out the full list of speakers at the IAAPA website!
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