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  • An Interactive iPhone Theme Park?

    Image via Shocktoberfest

    If you're unfamiliar with Shocktoberfest, it's a haunted theme park in Pennsylvania now in its 15th year of operation.

    With attractions that include Hollywood-style computer-controlled special effects and a smorgasbord of horror-themed rides, Shocktoberfest is like Six Flag's "Fright fest" on crack.

    But only beginning Tuesday will the theme park be cool enough for me to actually want to visit. Shocktoberfest is going interactive, thanks to the iphone. And personally, I hope this development sparks a dominant trend in all amusement and theme parks.

    From Reuters:

    Shocktoberfest, Pennsylvania's Premier Haunted Theme Park announces Tuesday their new iScareYou attractions for the 2009 Halloween season.
    Here's how it will work. Visitors at the theme park can interact with both attractions and features via their Apple iPhone. After getting scared yourself, you can scare others by setting off animated props, triggering effects, and - to a considerable degree - manipulating your environment right from your iPhone.

    One of the best ScareZones is found along the queue line of The Toxic Asylum Haunted House. The line winds around a blind corner where an animatronic zombie prop hides just out of sight. A press of the "Boo Button" on an Apple iPhone sends lights flashing and the zombie into the air towards its victim.
    Call me crazy, but I think a development like this - if ultimately successful - could spread like wildfire through the theme park world and, eventually, inspire complete destination-based attractions and amusement parks based on interactive iPhone participation.

    "There's definitely an aspect of voyeurism here," says Patrick Konopelski, Executive Producer of Shocktoberfest, referring to the power that the customers hold in their hands, adding, "to give a customer the ability to scare the wits out of someone else through their cell phone is almost magical."
    This article was originally published in forum thread: An Interactive iPhone Theme Park? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. znelson's Avatar
      znelson -
      Hey guys - I actually wrote the iScareYou software for Shocktoberfest so I can tell you how it works. Two years ago we did Text2Scream which controlled everything via SMS or a Java applet. You could launch zombies at victims throughout the park, send messages to a big screen in Club Shock (haunted nightclub attraction), request a song from the DJ, etc.

      The iPhone wasn't quite ready for prime time back then - it existed but there wasn't enough out in the world. But that has changed. So this year we relaunched the system as iScareYou.

      You can't download anything until you're at the park - and the ScareZones are hidden so you have to discover them for yourself. It's also location-based so if you step outside of the ScareZone you can't interact with it anymore. Don't worry about multiple people triggering it at the same time - it's all handled.

      Basically how it works is this: we have PLC (programmable logic controllers) that talk to relays and inputs, photo sensors, etc. Our software talks to the PLC's every 10ms and polls for the status of any inputs and then sets the proper outputs. An example of an output would be a relay, a hydraulic or pneumatic valve, commands to a DVD player, etc.

      The hardware is the same thing that runs the shows at Universal Studios and Disney - except we use our own software to drive everything.

      Text2Scream and iScareYou are pretty cool if I do say so myself - although I may be biased. We're talking to both Universal and Disney about it - so you may see this technology spread.