What is your most recent dark ride?
The most recent dark ride MET completed was the Deep Sea Odyssey at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, China. The ride sets itself apart from others because of its unique blend of different mediums, including set works, live aquariums and media. All these mediums are used to tell the captivating story starting from the queuing area all the way through the ride.
Have you made any engineering, design or manufacturing breakthroughs or advancements?
As well as the obvious technological advancements in ride creation, such as 3D software that allows the modelling of unique designs, we’ve also found that communication technology and collaboration enhance ride design quality.
Creating rides involves different parties working on various parts of the process. Communication technologies such as the GoToMeeting video conferencing and screen sharing software really help us achieve the effects and conceptual designs we’re working towards together. This is especially helpful when working with set builders and sculptors who are aiming to create organic forms as close to our drawings as possible.
We’ve also started to utilise virtual reality technology in the design of our experiences. Using this technique we can now see our proposals through visitors’ eyes and craft them from this perspective, allowing a far more intricate control over our creative and development processes.
What are the current trends in creating dark rides?
Mobile technology is becoming far more integrated into these kinds of experiences. Visitors can now begin their journey before they get on the ride and continue it long after they’ve got off and headed home.
The rides themselves are becoming more detailed and the effects are improving in quality every year. However, the level of interactivity through mobile devices is transforming the experiences.
What have been the biggest changes for ride makers in recent times?
“Change” is the key word here; the worry is that rides don’t change and as a result, they stagnate and this has a negative impact on repeat visits.
This is becoming a very competitive industry and visitors get used to the same types of experiences. In a world where choice is seemingly infinite and everything is an “experience”, rides must compete. To do this they must innovate to stand out – simply having the largest or loudest ride no longer guarantees success.
What’s on the horizon for you as a company?
We’re focusing far more on the experience economy and want to use our expertise as experiential designers in more sectors of business and design.
With the tools now at our disposal we can turn most projects into true experiences that become something powerful, entertaining and memorable for visitors. In essence, we want to make the world a more entertaining place to be.
And for the wider ride industry?
Technology is currently at an astounding level of sophistication; so much so that with the right budget virtually anything is possible. With all these toys at our disposal, we must not forget that telling stories is at the core of what we do and that for visitors to feel, they first need to care and be really engaged with the experience.