How to Build a Mobile App for an Amusement Park: Features and Cost
The world’s biggest amusement parks attract millions of people to enjoy rides, see their favorite characters, eat popcorn, and have the time of their lives. If you’re thinking about how you can compete with other parks, attract even more people, and optimize the world of fun you’ve created, we have the answer: a mobile app.
Why develop an app for your park?
Mobile applications are present in almost every area of our lives. We order food, pay the bills, visit doctors, and play games through mobile applications. Many amusement parks, however, are still using printed maps and leaflets that people lose or fail to use effectively. This is especially true for printed maps, as younger generations may have no clue how to use them.
70% of US amusement park visitors choose not to buy food and beverages at a park because of the lines
Getting lost in a big amusement park with thousands of daily visitors is easy. Since all those visitors have mobile devices, why not use them for your business?
Finding the way to favorite attractions in an amusement park is only one problem an application can solve. Let’s talk about the other struggles park visitors experience:
- Standing in endless lines and having no idea how much time it will take
- Struggling to find the car after a day enjoying the attractions
- Getting lost in the park (at least a couple of times)
- Losing a pile of paper coupons, tickets, and leaflets
- Going on a quest to find a bathroom or a restaurant
These experiences affect the satisfaction of your visitors and make going to the park half fun and half stressful. A mobile app can make it completely fun, and we’ll tell you how a bit later.
First, let’s discuss what challenges you face as an amusement park owner or manager who cares about improving the business, increasing customer loyalty, and satisfaction, and of course, increasing revenue.
Here are some things parks constantly struggle with:
1. Managing the flow of people.
Every park struggles with managing the flow of visitors that want to get to their favorite attraction. This creates lines and human traffic jams. It also influences bus routes and park logistics. Eliminating lines and making sure people are equally distributed across the territory is one of the biggest challenges for any amusement park. Mobile apps can help solve this problem by showing the average wait time for each attraction and showing where there are the fewest people at the moment.
2. Tracking and increasing the customer satisfaction rate.
This can be a challenge for any park without a digital tool that allows managers and marketers to ask people for ratings and feedback. Most people won’t go to the website or leave comments on printed questionnaires. However, with mobile apps, you can make this process much easier and even use gamification to make it more fun.
3. Increasing revenue and creating new revenue streams.
If you’ve ever stood in line with a kid, you know that it’s easier to go elsewhere than it is to spend 20 or 30 minutes getting ice cream. Even adults often refuse to stand in a line if it’s moving slow. With a mobile app and mobile payments, you can make those lines go faster and thus increase overall spending across your park.
4. Optimizing service delivery.
Another way to make your service faster and more organized is to allow park visitors to make preorders. This lets you predict demand more accurately and reallocate supply where it’s needed. Moreover, you can use your mobile application to give your customers special offers that will encourage them to preorder even more.
Most of your visitors would spend five times more if they could avoid lines and order food and beverages beforehand or pay for them immediately with an application
This is a win-win: visitors won’t have to wait to get food and drinks and you’ll increase your revenue, as people will be less likely to avoid buying things because of lines.
5. Learning from and speaking to your audience.
While amusement park visitors may look like one big loud mass of people, each segment requires an individual approach. It’s a challenge for any business to divide their audience by categories, but for amusement parks it’s even more of a challenge to offer services in a personalized manner. Mobile analytics can show you what each individual spends money on, how old they are, and what interests them most. You can then use this data for marketing, which is our next challenge on the list.
Mobile analytics can show you what each individual spends money on. Use this data for personalized special offers
6. Marketing your services with an individual approach.
After you’ve gathered data from mobile analytics, you can put it to use. This would be hard without an app, but personalized push notifications can help you.
Want some hard data on your potential revenue increase with a mobile app? Research by Omnico found that 70% of US amusement park visitors choose not to buy food and beverages at a park because of the lines. Half of these respondents would spend five times more if they could avoid lines and order food and beverages beforehand or pay for them immediately with an application.
Another half would purchase four times more food and beverages if they could self-scan their purchases at kiosks without having to wait for staff to serve them.
These numbers prove that investing in a mobile solution once can provide a massive boost in income for an amusement park. Let’s discover how big this investment would be and how to go about developing your own mobile app for a park.
Types of amusement park apps
Now we’ll discuss different types of amusement park apps. Note that this division is rather nominal: you can create an app that combines several or even all of the features I mention below. Find what works best for your business, implement it, and reap the rewards.
Wayfinding applications are all about GPS and maps. Map integration is the core feature of this type of application. However, there’s so much more to it.
These apps have several goals:
1. Help visitors navigate the amusement park and find restrooms, restaurants, rides, and other attractions. Mobile apps allow visitors to forget about printed maps.
2. Help you manage lines and the flow of people. These apps show visitors the wait time for each ride and where the lines aren’t so long. This will help you direct people to less occupied places and drastically increase customer satisfaction.
3. Help people get around by showing bus stops and routes on a map.
4. Help visitors find their cars in the parking lot after they’ve spent the whole day in your park.
Integrating maps and allowing visitors to mark where they’ve left the car will make you the best and most caring park out there.
Location-based selling and preordering apps (self-scanning)
These applications will help you improve your operational efficiency, as you’ll know in advance how much food and beverages you’ll need to supply. Encourage your visitors to order in advance so they won’t need to stand in a long line to get their food.
Features for these apps include a menu, shopping cart, and online payments. It’s also a good idea to integrate maps into selling and preordering apps so visitors can choose what they want and find a place to pick up their order.
You can also add self-scanning functionality so visitors can quickly buy everything they need without having to wait: payment can be charged to their credit card through the app.
Hotel and restaurant booking and reservation apps
Amusement parks often have hotels and multiple restaurants on their territory. If that’s the case with your park, you should offer the opportunity to book a hotel room or reserve a table at a restaurant from within the mobile application.
These applications usually connect to your current database with reservations. For hotel booking, the app should feature a listing of available rooms with pictures and descriptions and offer filters. Be sure to include reviews and allow users to pay for their bookings right away from the mobile app.
For a restaurant app, you’ll also need a listing, a menu, and the layout of tables in the restaurant so users can choose where they’d like to seat. This type of app requires dynamic data exchange, as people need to see what tables are available.
Branded loyalty program apps
Want to make sure the experience in your park is absolutely unforgettable? Then this type of application is for you. Build a branded application with special offers for individual groups of users. With the help of analytics, you’ll know more about your park visitors. You can then use this information to make relevant offers. Offers should be different for people on a date, a big family, and a group of friends.
You can allow users to store coupons and tickets in the application and add QR codes so your staff can scan them.
If you want to blow your visitors’ minds completely, you can add gamification to your app. Allow them to earn bonuses or extra rides by completing tasks and playing in your park. You can add augmented reality features that kids will absolutely enjoy. This killer feature will help them remember your park for a long time.
Now that we’ve reviewed all types of mobile applications for amusement parks, let’s discuss particular features you’ll need in your own application.
Must-have features for an amusement park app
Onboarding – Lead your users from registration to their first user experience. You can implement a tutorial to teach users how to use your app.
Login – Make sure you offer several ways to register and log in: email, phone number, and social media profiles are the best practice.
Personal profiles – A profile should contain all information about coupons, bookings, and so on. You can add other features to a personal profile as well, such as settings.
Maps and routes – Maps should show all important locations in your park such as parking lots, restaurants, restrooms, hotels, and attractions. You should also show shuttle bus routes and stops and allow users to pin the location of their car in the parking lot
Search & filters – You’ll need to add these for your hotel listings and restaurant menus so users can find exactly what they want.
Favorites – Allow visitors to mark their favorite attractions and send notifications when the line is short.
People flow management tool – Show wait times and the number of people waiting in line for attractions.
Payment gateway – There are lots of payment gateways to choose from: Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal are the most popular for mobile apps.
Hotel listing – It should list all hotels (or hotel rooms, if you have only one hotel). Be sure to feature a photo of each hotel, its rating, and other information like price range and number of available rooms.
Hotel page – This is what your user will see after tapping on a hotel picture in the catalog. A hotel page should feature a description, more photos, and available rooms.
Ratings and reviews – Allow users to rate your hotels and rooms and leave feedback. This will help you meet your customers’ needs.
Booking – This feature lets visitors book hotel rooms to check-in through the app later.
Restaurant catalog – If you have multiple restaurants in your amusement park, list them in your app so users can choose where to book a table.
Restaurant page – Provide more details about each restaurant including reviews, menus, special offers, and location.
Reservations – Allow users to reserve a table for a nice evening. Add the number of available tables and time of reservation.
Food and beverage listings – Add a list of everything your visitors can preorder along with pictures, prices, and brief descriptions.
NFC – You can add NFC payments to kiosks across your park or use NFC for promotion and marketing: for example, each time a visitor walks past a certain location, a notification can pop up.
QR code scanner – You can place QR codes anywhere in your park. To read them, your app will need a QR code scanner.
Coupons and tickets – Let visitors store them in one place in your mobile app.
Push notifications – Send visitors notifications with special offers, reminders about their bookings and reservations, and notifications about attractions that are currently the least occupied.
Analytics – Get insights about your visitors and see where they go most often, what they buy, and how they use your application. Analytics will help you to adjust your services for different segments of your target audience and improve your application from both the business and technical perspective.
Offline functionality – If Wi-Fi isn’t available everywhere in your amusement park, it’s important to add some offline functionality – for example, so that users are still able to access their tickets and coupons.
Special offers and promotions – This feature can become part of all your marketing campaigns. You can also add birthday deals to your special offers.
Loyalty system – You probably have lots of visitors that come to your park again and again. Make them even more loyal with a loyalty system integrated into your mobile app.
Make sure Wi-Fi in your park is stable and works everywhere.
Place QR codes for downloading the app all across the park and on printed leaflets.
If you want your application to be completely irresistible, you can also add simple AR functionality that will entice both children and adults to install your app.
How much does it cost to create an amusement park app?
The cost of developing an app depends on several factors:
- The scope of work, meaning the number and complexity of features
- The technology stack: a cross-platform app will cost less than a native one
- The design and its complexity: integrating animations can take significant time
- The hourly rate of the development company you work with
- The number and price of third-party services integrated into the app
The hourly rates of developers influence the cost of app development the most. Rates usually depend on the country the development company is located in. For example, an app developed in the US can cost five times more than an app developed in an Eastern European country.
To give you a big picture of development costs, I’ll provide a time estimate for all the features I mentioned in this article in terms of 8-hour workdays. All you need to do is apply the hourly rate of the development teams you’ve shortlisted to see the price.
Note that this estimate doesn’t include time for business analysis, preparation, design, and communication.
Here’s an estimate of features for your amusement park app:
|Estimate in days
|Personal user profiles
|2 – 4
|2 – 4
|Onboarding + tutorial
|1 – 2
|3 – 8
|1 – 2
|1 – 3
|1 – 2
|Ratings and reviews
|2 – 3
|2 – 4
|2 – 3
|Details on accommodation (my reservations)
|3 – 5
|2 – 3
|2 – 3
|3 – 4
|3 – 5
|Food and beverage listings
|2 – 4
|2 – 5
|2 – 3
|QR code scanner
|1 – 3
|2 – 4
|Special offers and promotions
|2 – 6
|Loyalty system (points)
|2 – 3
|1 – 2
|2 – 3
|1 – 2
A mobile app is a must-have for almost any business, as mobile devices are an integral part of everyone’s lives. They strengthen brands, provide additional value for customers, and show that you care.
A mobile app can also be a great aid for your park, increasing operational effectiveness and helping you manage the flow of people. With a mobile app, you can encourage people to spend more on something they previously didn’t want to wait in line for.
To make this work, you need to make sure Wi-Fi works well across your amusement park. Visitors will need a good internet connection for making online payments and checking where the nearest restroom is.
If you want to create an amusement park app from scratch or add something to your existing solution, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Mobindustry, we’ve developed tourism and festival apps. We know how to combine fun with technical expertise!