As theme park and attractions strive to create increasingly immersive experiences, it has become more important than ever to plan for effective operations minimising long queue lines and unexpected areas of crowding with the potential to detract from the guest experience.
Oasys MassMotion is an advanced pedestrian simulation tool allowing detailed analysis of guests and their behaviour. The power of this software to support the design process was proven during the design of Kraken Cove. This themed land developed by Firefly Creations places visitors at the heart of the action with multiple rides, shows, retail and F&B experiences. MassMotion provided a tool for detailed analysis of guest movements through the land as well as individual attractions, verifying timings assumptions, informing capacity calculations and highlighting problematic areas so solutions could be identified during the design stage.
Through the input of anticipated guest numbers and arrival times, the most crowded areas were identified and designs modified to ensure fluid guest flow even on the busiest days, avoiding expensive modifications further down the line.
For the rides themselves, theoretical throughputs were tested and travel times from preshows to ride onloading were confirmed. This proved invaluable when scripting the pre-shows with the timings from the simulation used to optimise the show length, informing show choreography and the duration of audio and media content.
A key part of the design process is considering the guest flow and operational requirements and the impact this has on the guest experience. Poor operational planning during the design stage can lead to long queues, poor experiences and frustration for guests and employees alike. Pedestrian simulation tool Oasys MassMotion has been developed to simulate guest behaviour throughout a theme park, identifying, key pinch points and zones. Highlighting these potentially problematic areas means designs can be modified prior to construction, avoiding costly alterations at a later date.
Thanks to the use of innovative software tool MassMotion, detailed analysis of guest flow is possible from an early stage. Firefly Creations have pushed forward the boundaries of guest experience design by using this tool to fully simulate the flow of guests through theme parks, attractions and experiences. Kraken Cove is one such project where this detailed simulation has been used to analyse guest behaviour and refine the design so that even at peak times guests flow freely through the land.
Kraken Cove, from the visionary minds at Firefly Creations, is a fully imagined theme park land where guests can live the adventure in a world designed to be a living, breathing pirate village of immersive role-playing excitement and fun! Whether it is singing sea shanties in the saloon of being launched out of the belly of the Kraken, family fun and epic tales await around every corner. A selection of key visuals and renders of Kraken Cove are included in Image 1 and Image 3.
With a design focused on guests playing the role of pirates within Kraken Cove, it was critical the area feels like a bustling pirate village rather than a busy theme park. To support this development, MassMotion was used from the concept design stage to verify design assumptions and ensure the area would operate as intended. Through the analysis of guest journeys from point of origin to destination through to more complex behaviours including the flow around specific sales units and attractions, the output from MassMotion confirmed the area can accommodate the budgeted guests to deliver the required return on investment.
Food, beverage, and retail locations have been placed to encourage visitors to explore further around the central lagoon, without impacting the smooth movement of guests around the immersive space. The heatmap functionality in MassMotion has been pivotal in this process as it illustrates or highlights visually problematic areas with its accurate indications of heavy crossover points. A selection of the heatmaps from Kraken Cove are included in Image 6, 7 and 8 .
Each guest is represented by an “agent” with sophisticated properties assigned to reflect the variety of guests visiting a park. Age range, height and group sizes are all considered within the simulation so guests will only enter the queue line for a ride if they meet the height restrictions. Should the queue exceed set limits, guests will travel elsewhere, returning to ride when it is quieter. Another advantage is the ability to quickly and accurately analyse the impact of social distancing and test crowd management solutions to determine effectiveness.
The simulation can be used to inform the maximum capacity of the area. A selection of views from the simulation are included in Images 9, 11, 12, 14 and 15. The linked video shows MassMotion in use to review the queue line for the water coaster, Neptune’s Kingdom, and demonstrates this area can comfortably accommodate up to 1,600 guests. When the population exceeds this number, the queue starts to extend outside of the allocated space. To accommodation an increase in guest numbers, the queue could either be extended or a higher capacity ride system chosen. This highlights the importance of running these simulations at an early stage in the project so there is still time to influence the chosen ride system as well as the area design.
Entering into attraction queue lines, MassMotion has also been used to analyse the guest journey to avoid breaking the immersion within Kraken Cove. Modelling guest movement through queue lines (including fastpass/VIP access), into pre-shows and onto ride vehicles has enabled Firefly Creations to determine achievable throughput numbers for successful and comfortable operation of rides. This analysis confirmed the required lengths of pre-shows to inform show choreography. These timings were then used to create audio and video content, helping to save money by ensuring the correct length of media was prepared and critically, avoiding last minute on-site changes.
Additionally, analysis within MassMotion provides valuable information to support operational planning. This allows operational procedures to be prepared at any earlier stage and informs staffing requirements for input into operational budgets.
Quantifying how people move and shaping design around user experience has existed for decades: from treating crowds like a fluid moving through channels, to more accurate representations of emergency evacuations, to modern understanding of individual pedestrians with their own motivations, goals, and preferences. Oasys MassMotion builds on research and standards from across industries to measure the effectiveness of a space by simulating the interactions of crowds: one example is the Level of Service (LOS) concept from the 1960s which quantifies levels of crowding into bands (with an open field being A, and a mosh pit where people cannot move being F). These metrics can be analysed using MassMotion to demonstrate how big a group of visitors can get before movement is restricted, and therefore how individual patrons will move in a crowd of visitors.
Working through a customised version of the social forces model introduced in 1995 by Dirk Helbing and Peter Molnar, a model that reflects the multiple interactions between individuals and objects to accurately simulate the complex movements of crowds, MassMotion supported Firefly Creations with the operational planning of Kraken Cove in considering how an individual behaves when moving in and amongst other people.
This affects how visitors will enter through a ticket barrier, or how they behave when reaching a drinks stall, and even how they will exit a gift shop after the main attraction, indicating what may happen if they meet another visitor coming the other way around a corner, and how they react to changing crowd density around them, for example when a ride ends, and a surge of people arrive at once. Using these technologies and incorporating data about ride capacities and times, MassMotion was able to analyse the user experience for Kraken Cove and optimise operations to reduce queue bottlenecks and crowd pinch points.
Firefly Creations Ltd – Andrew Porter & Michelle Hicks