Blurred lines

At long last, I’m heading home after spending a couple of weeks in Orlando. The trip was a bit longer than I had planned; sometimes weather and airlines just don’t agree with our best laid plans.

However, I made the best of my extended stay. And I am now sitting here on an airplane with a MagicBand on my wrist, and a collection of wonderful memories in my mental luggage.

A few years ago, I read a psychological study on happiness. How happiness is more or less defined by being in the now. When you’re not dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future, but instead just being present.

In many ways, we are in the industry of the present. There are few places better suited to experience being in the now, than at an attraction. Whether riding a roller coaster, discovering art at a museum or learning about animals exploring an interactive habitat at a zoo, each of these experiences become emotional postcards we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

The reality is, with the job I have, it is rare I can fully be in the present when I’m visiting a facility or park. I don’t get to feel or experience my childhood enthusiasm and excitement from a park visit in the same way I once did. Instead, I often find myself thinking, studying, analysing and looking ahead. I’m usually in a “looking-at-maintenance-checking-toilet-cleaning-assessing-service-judging-operational-effeciency”-state of mind.

On this recent trip, I truly just enjoyed myself. I was present. I was in the now.

Orlando always reminds me how dynamic and diverse our industry is. Theme parks, resorts, cruise lines, midway attractions, zoos and aquariums, brand experiences, the list goes on and on.

What is equally interesting to me is how the lines across different types of attractions and lines of business continue to blur. We are all becoming hybrids. We all borrow from each other and we offer varied experiences to our guests, all in the name of remaining relevant to our guests. Museums use theming and storytelling with interactive animatronics. Theme parks add large scale aquariums or safari experiences. Zoos add family rides such as trains and carousels to broaden the appeal and lengthen the stay of the visit.

The retail business is evolving in ways we could not have predicted or expected. Many say retail as we know it has died. I look at it differently. I see it too as going through its own form of hybridization, where experience becomes a much more important part of shopping, than the transactional element.

To me, this demonstrates the universal – and long-lasting – nature of what we do. Even with our individual personality, profession diversity and the evolving blurred lines, we all offer the same thing to our customers and our guests.

Expectations. Experiences. Memories. A few hours of happiness. Being present. In the now.

4 thoughts on Blurred lines

  1. Great reflection – thanks! The beauty of this, Anders, is that the present both means a gift – something you give or receive – and the now. So – wow! Now is a gift …is we choose to open it, that is!

  2. To me as a physics educator, the border line between Science Centre and Amusement Park is often blurred.

    The rides offer possibilities for serious investigations of challenging three-dimensional motion, with forces to be experienced and measured and then compared to values calculated e.g. from video analysis or theoretical considerations.

    The examples go far beyond the initial observations of energy transformations in roller coasters and periods of pendulum rides. The weightlessness in free fall occurs not only in drop towers but also over humps, (with or without simultaneous rolls). Einstein would have loved the free fall rides, if they had been around in 1923 when he gave his Nobel lecture at Liseberg. The ”equivalence principle” makes g-force a relevant physics concept and is beautifully illustrated also in Wave Swinger / Chain Flyer rides.

    In children’s rides it is also possible to perform simple experiments, discovering how rotation influences motion (e.g. in carousels or rotating platforms) or what forces act on the body when circular motions combine (like in the teacup ride).

    Amusement parks offers so many examples of fundamental physical princples already by being amusement parks, even if the educational opportunities are often underutilized.

    With its wide variety of physics rides, Liseberg remains one of my favourite physics classrooms.

Leave a comment