What are your thoughts on forced participation in theme parks?

What are your thoughts on forced participation in theme parks?


  • Total voters
    25

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Hi guys. I was just watching the TPW review of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and Smuggler's Run at Disney's Hollywood Studios when it gave me an idea for a poll; what are your thoughts on forced participation (i.e. interactive attractions) in theme parks? It seems to be becoming somewhat of a more heavily used element in theme parks now; the aforementioned example of Smuggler's Run in Galaxy's Edge uses it quite heavily, Merlin theme parks seem to love using it on attractions like Derren Brown's Ghost Train and Nemesis: Sub-Terra, and I'm sure there are many more out there.


I'm not sure how common this opinion will be, but I've never really been a fan of forced participation. Call me boring, but I would much rather sit back and be immersed in an experience than actually be part of an experience, if you get what I mean; if you view a theme park attraction like a play, for example, I've always preferred to be in the audience as opposed to up on the stage.


But what are your personal thoughts? I think this could be quite interesting, as it seems to be quite a divisive topic!
 

Leigh

TS Member
I guess I find it very circumstantial - if I'm expecting an interactive/participatory element and it makes sense in the nature of the attraction I'm experiencing, then yes, I am usually alright with that. But, I really don't enjoy when interactive elements are forced in where they aren't wanted or needed.

"It depends". :)
 

Burbs

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Iron Gwazi
Eh, no one’s forcing you to go on any particular ride though. And if you really didn’t want to take part, you also don’t have to do that. Though I imagine something like Smugglers’ Run, where the ride experience is based on teamwork, is different to rides where you are interacting as an individual, ie shooter dark rides.
 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
If you go on Smugglers Run and have two pilots who sit there and do absolutely nothing then you are in for a bit of a crap ride. So if you are not a pilot and this happens to you, I can see why you might be against forced participation as we're calling it here. However, it's very fun being a pilot on Smugglers Run, even if you are not that great at it!

I don't see how Nemesis: Sub-Terra was an attraction that used forced participation? Attractions with walkthrough elements have been around for a very long time.

Gaming is extremely popular and with smartphones it is more accessible than ever. These days theme parks absolutely have to compete with home (or mobile) entertainment like gaming. So it is no surprise to see Disney and Universal producing rides that are almost like super-dooper gaming machines. Universal's Mario Kart ride will likely be a good example of this.

I'm a fan of theme parks have a good balance of different types of rides; rollercoasters, water rides, sit and watch dark rides, interactive dark rides and so on. So I am not at all against rides that require the riders to participate and have an impact on the ride experience.
 

RoyJess

TS Member
One thing that used to annoy me was a few years ago, one of the staff at the Alton turnstiles before they let the guest in used to divide the guests into two half's and get each half to individually cheer. The loudest half would get let in first, it was so annoying, especially when you have travelled 4 hours plus to be first at the turnstiles and you happen to be amoungs the half that was the one that cheered the quietest :mad:
 

Burbs

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Iron Gwazi
One thing that used to annoy me was a few years ago, one of the staff at the Alton turnstiles before they let the guest in used to divide the guests into two half's and get each half to individually cheer. The loudest half would get let in first, it was so annoying, especially when you have travelled 4 hours plus to be first at the turnstiles and you happen to be amoungs the half that was the one that cheered the quietest :mad:
Oh god I hate stuff like this. I'm all for a welcome show, but please, don't open later than advertised for the sake of pointless crowd participation. It's not a pantomime!
 

RoyJess

TS Member
As many of you know, I was an entertainer for over 30 years. I often relied on audience participation, but not once do I ever force any members of the audience to participate in my shows. They are called volunteers for a reason.

Yes if it part of an attraction, then yes, encourage the audience or guest to take part, but never force, if they don't want to join in, then respect that.

This is what happens when your guest don't wish to participate

 

Rob

TS Team
Favourite Ride
Steel Vengeance
Yes if it part of an attraction, then yes, encourage the audience or guest to take part, but never force, if they don't want to join in, then respect that.

If you know that a ride like Smugglers Run involves the rider to participate and impact on the ride experience, and you do not want to do this, then the answer is simple. Do not go on the ride! Or in the case of Smugglers Run, negotiate an engineers seat which requires far less participation than a pilot's seat.

I think that is very different to being forced to participate in a show though, which I fully understand is something that a lot of people will not want to do. I don't think there are many theme park attractions that force you to participate in this way?
 

RoyJess

TS Member
I've not done the Smugglers Run, so I can't comment on that particular attraction.

I still disagree with you. If you have a group of people, there will always be someone in that group that will be more than happy to participate as well as someone that don't want to.

From my experience as an entertainer, it is counterproductive to force someone to participate, the skill and experience of the ride host or entertainer should allow them to identify who is willing to participate and when it is best to send someone back to the audience and to get someone else up.

In my experience of using audience participation, you never know how people are going to react and if they have a hidden disability or anxiety that prevents them from taking part effectively. If someone clearly don't want to take part, it is easier to get someone else up that will, as oppose to poking fun at someone that clearly don't want to be centre of attention.
 

Rick

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Crux
If Disney are going down the route of creating attractions where participation is part of the experience, I am inclined to agree with @Rob. I think that approach is inevitable as part of a wider shift in the way technology is being deployed in parks and in response to the wants of younger generations.

@RoyJess I think the key distinction I would make in terms of the the magic performance you have done is that there is a place in your show for people to sit there and enjoy it, whilst someone else is getting sawn in half.
 

Lurker

TS Member
The dungeons are the worst for this. The scariest part is getting picked. I know they mostly just make you stand there, or at worst ask you an extremely easy question, but what a horror.

I'd rather remain in the audience.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
The one that really annoys me is being forced to be passive in scare mazes. "they might touch you but if you so much as talk to them we will throw you out" is hardly fair. I want to get involved! I want to be able to play along and have a laugh, not trudge through in a shuffling conga of boredom while some teenager pokes my head from the side.
 
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