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RFID Makes a Splash at Water Park
An RFID locating system gives parents visiting Dolly's Splash Country piece of mind, because kids are always tracked. It also gives the park the opportunity to increase revenues by adding services, like cashless payments.
Mar 02, 2003—March 3, 2003 - Part of the fun of going to an amusement park is being scared out of your wits, whether its creeping through a chilling haunted house or racing face-first down the vertical drop of a four-story water slide. But there is one fear parents never want to experience at a park -- the fear of losing a child. Unfortunately, it happens all too often. In fact, more than a quarter of families that went to an amusement park during one 12-month period was temporarily separated from a child, according to a survey by IntiMetrix, a market research company
Dolly's Splash Country, a three-year-old Tennessee water park owned by the country singer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., is one of a growing number of amusement parks turning to RFID to help parents keep track of kids during a visit. The system gives parents piece of mind, so they have a more enjoyable day at the park. And it gives the park a platform that it can use to offer value-added services that can bring in additional revenue.
Dolly's Splash Country sprawls over 14.5 acres and has attractions ranging from interactive play areas for toddlers to extreme water slides for teen thrill seekers. It's common for parents to spend time with toddlers, while older kids frolic in the 25,000 sq.-ft. wave pool or check out the many water slides. Problem is, the older kids don't always remember to come back at the appointed time, or fail to meet at the appointed place. That can leave parents frantic.
"Nothing casts a darker cloud over a day at the park than not being able to find your children," says Gene Scherer, director of operations for Dolly's Splash Country. "We heard about SafeTzone and started talking with them about their system."
SafeTzone is a two-year-old company that uses RFID to track people in large parks. The SafeTzone Child Locating System uses a wristband with an active, or battery-powered, transponder that sends a signal at 303 MHz to one of 22 readers located around the park. The band also has a passive RFID tag that operates at either 134 KHz or 13.56 MHz. (The readers and active transponders are provided by RF Code, a Mesa, Arizona, provider of RFID systems. The passive tags are from Texas Instruments.)
The system is fairly simple, but very effective. Park guests that want the service can pay $2 each for the wristband for a day. It's strapped onto each person's wrist with a tamper-proof strap (it has to be cut off at the end of the day). Each party is registered together, so during the day, anyone in the party can walk up to one of two kiosks strategically located at footbridges in the park, and swipe the low-frequency tag. A reader in the kiosk identifies the person and displays the location of the other members of the party on a cartoon map of the park.
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