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Using digital technology to transform a family day out

 EY worked with Universal to bring theme parks into the digital age. 

Related topics Global review
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Section 1

How do you digitally transform a day out?

Reinventing the guest experience at a theme park designed from scratch

When a family of four visits a theme park or resort, they need to collect an average of up to 32 pieces of printed material – including tickets, vouchers and maps. As theme parks have grown to offer more attractions than ever, visitors can face long lines for attractions, long waits for restaurants, and feel overwhelmed by choice.

Universal Parks & Resorts asked EY to help transform the business model and deliver an innovative customer experience at Volcano Bay, its theme park that opened in 2017 in Orlando, Florida. By introducing new technologies to bring the traditional model into the digital age, Universal Parks & Resorts wanted to improve how visitors experience the park, as well as make it easier to manage and maximize capacity.  The vision was a highly integrated, customized guest experience — using technology to allow guests to experience a smooth and stress-free, but packed day.

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Section 2

Getting it right: practice makes perfect

Partnering to deliver the future of theme parks

EY led the management and development of the new products that were being introduced to Volcano Bay. This included the tools and technology that team members were going to use that would allow easier guest access into and throughout the park, as well as enable better management of flow through the attractions.  As Volcano Bay was still being constructed, the new concepts were rigorously tested in a simulated environment to give a preview of what the guest experience would be in reality. EY then partnered with Universal Parks & Resorts’ talent organization to develop and train all 1,500 new Volcano Bay team members on the new technologies and processes.

Once the park had been built, EY joined the Volcano Bay opening team and worked as part of the operations team to provide additional, ongoing support for what was ultimately going to be a brand new experience for guests and team members alike. 

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Section 3

Why carry technology if you can wear it?

Enabling a hands-free and digital experience in a water coaster environment

Tickets in App was introduced which allows guests to purchase and retrieve e-tickets directly from the Universal mobile application without needing a paper tickets or maps. Guests no longer need to carry dozens of pieces of paper with them – everything is now accessible and manageable on their phone. The Mobile Ticketing implemented was a first, making Universal Parks & Resorts the first theme park operator to innovate with this technology. With Mobile Ticketing, guests simply scan an e-ticket on their mobile phone at the entrance turnstiles.

New wearable technology was developed which offers guests “virtual queueing”, that allows families to enjoy the park instead of spending all their time in lines. Now you can “hold your place” in a virtual line using your wearable to reserve a spot for the body plunge, while you cruise down the lazy river in an innertube, until you’re notified that it’s time to return to ride.  The new ride reservation system launched at Volcano Bay made it the first park of its kind where guests no longer need to physically stand in long lines to ride the attractions. 

The wristbands also offer a range of additional features including contactless payment and locker access throughout the park, freeing guests’ hands up and making it easier for them to enjoy their day.

The new approach allows us to better manage the huge numbers of visitors throughout the park, enabling us to maximize guests’ access to all the attractions, as well as increase overall admission based on improved flow.
Kristin Ong
Senior Vice President, Digital Experience and Program Management, UPR

Guest satisfaction rates for Volcano Bay are now the highest amongst Universal’s resorts, with the new technology transforming the experience at the brand new park. The company’s digital transformation journey is definitely underway with this new business model, and EY is helping them deliver it.  From movie studios to water slides, the company is transforming the traditional guest experience across their theme parks around the world. 

Summary

EY helped Universal Parks & Resorts to bring digital technology innovation to the world of theme parks. New wearable and mobile technologies were introduced that transformed both the business model and guest experience at Volcano Bay – an innovative new theme park in Florida, USA.