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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland Intros NFC-Enabled Season Pass

Any of the event's 3.7 million attendees who want to try out the 70 amusement park rides can purchase NFC-enabled passes that will allow them to simply tap a card at each ride to gain entrance, rather than buying and handling paper tokens.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 20, 2019

Each Christmas season, London's Hyde Park offers one of the most well-attended festivals in the world. With attractions from across Europe that include rides, live shows and a market, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has attracted 14 million visitors since opening in 2007. There's no cost to visit, but there are many attractions at which visitors can spend money. When it comes to charging for specific attractions like rides, the program has traditionally relied on paper tokens, meaning visitors queue up to buy tokens, then line up again for the actual ride.

This year, visitors will be able to employ a reusable Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled season pass to pay for any of 70 different rides. With the NFC card, they can purchase seasonal access to rides, wait in fewer queues by eliminating the need for tokens, and purchase gift cards, or buy passes for family members, to make ride access more convenient. The solution, first deployed on a smaller scale in 2018, is provided by the program organizer, IMG, using RFID technology and software from Montreal-based Connect&Go.

Each year, Hyde Park Winter Wonderland receives approximately 3.7 million visitors. It includes an ice rink, food and beverages from 600 vendors, ice sculpting workshops, a Paddington On Ice performance, and a circus megadome, as well as rides ranging from a Ferris wheel to multiple roller coasters. Traditionally, visitors purchased paper tokens that could be used on the rides, which they presented to the ride operators, who could then charge IMG according to the number of riders. The paper tokens will still be available to those who want to buy them onsite via cash or credit card, but visitors will now have another option in the Ride Pass.

The technology deployment launched last year as the Coaster Pass, a card that could only be used on the nine roller coasters, according to Richard Guest-Gornall, IMG's VP of arts and entertainment events. The technology consisted of credit-card-sized cards provided by Connect&Go, with built-in 13.56 MHz NFC tags compliant with the ISO 14443 standard. Operators at the rides used Connect&Go's Caterpillar Android-based RIFD reader to capture tag ID numbers, says Anthony Palermo, a co-founder of Connect&Go.

The technology seemed to be well-received, Guest-Gornall says. "The main criticism," he recalls, "was that it was only used on nine rides and they wanted it to be available on all the rides." So this year, the system is being used similarly to how the Coaster Card worked, but the new card will work with all 70 rides.

USER COMMENTS

Colin Carter 2019-11-21 11:38:49 AM
What happens to the 3.7million passes after use? Here in the UK I've been told that RFID tags (other than those in payment cards) need WEEE labelling on the items incorporating them and are to be treated as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment...

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