A few months ago, our team collaborated on an internal app exercise that leveraged augmented reality to enhance a user’s theme park experience.

Our setting? Universal Studios.

In designing our app, we began by exploring common issues prevalent in most theme parks: not knowing what menu items to expect at park restaurants, having to deal with arduous wait times for photos with beloved park characters, and the lack of team-based digital experiences.

AR Restaurant Menus

Park food is indiscriminately terrible. What makes the experience worse is the inability to view the menu of most food stops without making the journey to the physical location. Using AR, we designed a way for park goers to toggle through all the menu options at any food stop within the park and order an item for pickup before walking over.

AR Park Characters

Everyone’s excited to get a photo with Bart and Homer Simpson, but not everyone wants to wait in line under the beating sun. Knowing this, we allowed users to “preview” characters when standing in certain locations at the park. They could then either wait for the physical characters to arrive at their scheduled photoshoot times, or they could snap a photo with their beloved characters in AR mode without having to wait.

AR Treasure Hunt

Within our app, we designed an AR treasure hunt – a tag team game that required groups of friends to find and locate AR characters around the park in order to unlock exclusive rewards. The squad component of this app also allowed each member to find and locate their friends as well as sound an alarm to get the group to meet at a certain location.

For the first time in the history of augmented reality, consumer expectations and product reality are coming into sync. With AR-capable smartphones readily available around the world, one can’t deny that the era of AR democratization is finally upon us.