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Great Wolf Lodge Combines Storytelling With RFID

The waterpark resort has deployed a game that employs tagged stuffed toy animals to provide an interactive storytelling experience for children.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 28, 2011Great Wolf Lodge, which operates 11 indoor waterpark resorts across North America, provides a variety of entertainment features for children, including an RFID-based MagiQuest interactive game, first installed in 2009. This fall, at Great Wolf's site in the town of Scotrun, located in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, the company installed a new interactive game known as Story Explorers, designed for its younger guests, and offering a storytelling experience personalized via radio frequency identification. Creative Kingdoms is the provider of the MagiQuest and Story Explorers systems.

Great Wolf offers a variety of interactive entertainment for its guests. With the dragon-slaying game MagiQuest, each child carries a wand that emits an infrared signal. The player can point the wand at various stations throughout the resort facility—such as video kiosks or projections rooms that display items like a treasure chest or "magic" crystals—in order to gain points, as well as trigger such results as opening the chest or illuminating the crystals. Each station is equipped with an IR receiver in addition to an RFID reader. Moreover, a child can carry a compass equipped with a passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID tag compliant with the ISO 15693 standard. When the compass—containing an RFID wristband supplied by Precision Dynamics Corp. (PDC)—is placed within the vicinity of a station's SkyeTek Skyemodule reader, the player earns credit points known as "runes," and thus advances further in the game. MagiQuest is designed for older children, according to the resort, while Story Explorers is designed specifically for guests ages two to 10.

At each kiosk, a child places the animal's RFID tag on a symbol of a paw print, so that it is within range of the reader.

Story Explorers employs 13.56 MHz PDC RFID wristbands, attached to stuffed toy animals and reader modules built into two dozen action-station kiosks, each consisting of a touch screen and computer. The game also utilizes software residing locally on each kiosk that reads and writes data to every tag, in order to maintain a record on the tag regarding which kiosks a particular child has visited. In that way, says Amanda Roark, Great Wolf Lodge's senior communications manager, each kiosk's software reads the tag's data and, based on the results, provides appropriate information on the kiosk screen, such as a storybook text and pictures.

A child using the system first builds one of six stuffed toy animal characters—Wiley Wolf, Violet Wolf, Oliver Raccoon, Rachel Raccoon, Brinley Bear or Sammy Squirrel—from "The Perfect Howl," a story developed by Great Wolf. The storyline's current plot centers on Madison, a wolf that must find his howl before the wolf pack's monthly howl-at-the-moon session. During the game, children read the story (or have it read to them) and, along the way, visit action stations and view parts of the tale, thereby helping return Madison's howl to him in time. Great Wolf employees attach an RFID-enabled wristband to each animal's wrist or ankle. The player first dresses his or her toy, then poses for pictures and begins the "storyteller quest." (When the child is finished playing the game, the story is printed in the form of a book, incorporating his or her pictures, which is then given to the child to take home.)

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