In the 1960s, Disneyland wowed visitors with audio-animatronics—and American theme parks have seen few innovations since. That may change, if the Korean export Live Park successfully breaks in. The brainchild of digital marketing firm D'strict, it's an augmented-reality theme park in Islan, South Korea. Every visitor has an avatar that follows them from attraction to attraction. It uses RFID bracelets to store information and track visitors; Kinect-enabled cameras let people interact with the environment. "It's a mixture of Second Life and Xbox Kinect," says general manager Bryan Lee, "but on a scale where people can roam." The company is now in talks to bring Live Park stateside, where theme parks abound. "It's the toughest market," says Lee. "But this technology is going to change the whole industry."
1. Visitors control the room's dynamic lighting with the volume of their voice.
2. By jumping from one glowing stone to the next, visitors trigger lights and sounds—and gain game points that are saved to RFID wristbands. (Prizes are awarded at the exhibit's end.)
3. At almost 500 feet wide, the exhibit "Live Square" is one of the world's largest interactive projections. Visitors play art games and carry out avatar missions on it, once again earning points.
4. At the "Smile Mural," a visitor grins to create an abstract painting on a giant touch screen. Participants can send their artwork to friends via SMS by typing phone numbers directly on the screen.
5. Visitors join actors onstage at the "Hologram Theater," where everyone interacts with and manipulates fantastical holograms that are projected onto a blue screen.
A version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.