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Hersheypark Uses RFID System to Let Visitors Pay Without Wallet

The park's visitors can wear wristbands containing built-in RFID tags to make purchases via a prepaid account.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 31, 2012Guests at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co.'s Hersheypark won't need to reach for their wallets anymore if they participate in using the amusement park's newly adopted Smart Band RFID Wristband system, provided by Precision Dynamics Corp. (PDC). Those utilizing the wristband can load money into a prepaid account, and then use the wristband's built-in RFID tag to make payments at concession stands and stores.

The park hopes that the contactless-payment system will make things more convenient for visitors, many of whom do not carry a wallet while on water rides. The technology also promises to make guests more inclined to spend money, since using the wristband eliminates the need to return to a locker to access a wallet or purse. Hersheypark could see tremendous spending growth, says Greg Cetera, PDC's regional sales manager, simply because thirsty visitors will no longer have to go back to a locker to retrieve money before buying a drink.

The system is the park's latest foray into employing RFID technology to allow guests to keep their hands free during visits. In 2008, Hersheypark adopted PDC's Smart Band solution to operate the lockers in which guests can store their personal effects. For those who opt to use a locker, the park provides a Smart Band wristband containing a 13.56 MHz Texas Instruments Tag-it HF-I passive RFID inlay compliant with the ISO 15693-2, ISO 15693-3 and ISO 18000-3 standards. Each wristband's tag is encoded with a unique ID number, linked to a specific unused locker among its bank of approximately 100 lockers.

If an individual wishes to access a locker, he or she can simply locate an RFIDeas AIR ID Enroll RFID reader and tap his or her wristband next to the device, which will then send that wristband's ID number, via a cabled connection, to PDC Smart Band software residing on Hersheypark's back-end system. The software will then transmit a trigger to release that locker's door. There are 30 to 40 lockers per reader, the company reports. For a user, it's simply a matter of tapping the wristband within a half inch of the reader, watching the lockers to see which door pops open and then proceeding to that locker to store belongings. When it's time to retrieve those items, the guest can simply tap a wristband against the reader once more, and then access the opened locker and leave the park. Upon the park's opening the following day, the locker will be automatically available for assignment to a new guest.

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