Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why(fi) do we need interactivity at the parks?

So, I was reading this article over at Jim Hill Media today about a new wireless device that Walt Disney Imagineering is testing in Orlando.

They're calling it the "Disney Magical Connection".

Essentially, it's a handheld device that will allow guests to view wait times at specific attractions, whether there are FastPasses available and even where their favorite Disney characters are located throughout the park.

The device also will feature interactive graphical maps that will show you where the rides, restrooms, shops and bathrooms are located.

We are definitely an information society and we want it as fast as we can get it. That's why there has been an explosion of wi-fi devices and hotspots all over the world.

When I first read about this Disney device, I loved the idea. I'd be one of the first people to sign up for the whole "Disney's Magical Connection" thing because I love having the latest tech gadget.

As a theme park junkie though, I'd figure out how to use this thing to get a jump ahead of the other lame suckers who didn't have one.

I'd become the ultimate techno-tourist.

While everyone was waiting in the 120-minute line for Splash Mountain, I'd use my "Disney Magical Connection" to see that Space Mountain only had a 20-minute wait... and I'd be there.

If I had kids with me, I'd love to receive an instant message that said "Mickey has just arrived at the entrance to Frontierland!" I'd pull my kids out of the "Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters" queue and make a bee-line directly for the Mouse.... before any of those non-technological a-holes could figure out that he was there. Who cares if the kids are crying for missing out on Buzz! MICKEY IS WAITING!

I'd use my "DMC" to book the last dinner reservation at Victoria and Albert's... before that annoying couple from Omaha who wanted to celebrate their anniversary could get in there. Screw them! Let them go eat at one of the fast food places over at Downtown Disney.

I'd be the technological master of the world.... Walt Disney World.

But, after a day of constantly checking this device to see how I could get a jump on the crowds... would it have made my day any more enjoyable? Or, would it have made it more stressful?

Would I be so distracted by the technology that I didn't pay enough attention to the good time I was supposed to be having with my friends and family?

Sadly, I've done this type of thing before.

Sometimes when I go to a sports bar for dinner with friends, I'll start playing that addicting NTN Bar trivia. Sometimes I get so into the game and the technology, I stop talking with the people that I'm eating with.

At the end of the night, I might have won a meaningless game... but I also missed out on good conversation with friends.

I'd hate for that to happen when I'm on vacation with the people I love.

To me, "Disney's Magical Connection" is similar to FastPass. Both are interesting ideas and can be helpful at times. But they add another layer of something that must be done to ensure that you get the most out of your vacation.

I miss the days when we didn't need special tickets or special gadgets to have a fun time. I miss the days when everyone bought the same ticket and everyone had fun together.

But I'm a hypocrite... I'd probably still pick one of these up and use it throughout my vacation.

I'm a tech junkie.... and I need the information NOW!

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