Dorney Park Visitors Go Cashless, Thanks to Kiosks that Dispense RFID Wristbands

By Claire Swedberg

The Pennsylvania amusement and water park developed its FastPay system, with help from PDC, to make it easier for patrons to pay for goods and services.

Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, a Pennsylvania amusement and water park, has launched an RFID-based payment solution known as FastPay, enabling guests to create and load a prepaid account at a kiosk or gift shop, and to then make payments from that account via the tap of an RFID-enabled wristband at point-of-sale (POS) counters. The solution, provided by PDC, is intended to eliminate the need for guests to carry wallets, cash or credit cards within the water park or adjoining amusement park. The waterproof wristband can be reused until the balance is exhausted, and can also be reloaded at any time at one of the kiosks or gift shops.

A Rita's Italian Ice cart is equipped with an RFID reader, so Dorney's visitors can use their FastPay RFID wristband to pay for food quickly and easily.

The objective, according to Michael Fehnel, Dorney Park's VP and assistant general manager, "is giving guests convenience," when it comes to making purchases within the park. Once people enter the park, he explains, they typically buy food, drinks or gifts. However, many leave their wallets or purses in lockers, and must later walk across the park to access the money needed to make such a purchase.

Dorney Park installed four kiosks at which a user can receive a disposable RFID wristband, and load money into a prepaid account linked to the ID number encoded to that wristband's RFID chip. Although the wristband is designed for a single day's usage, it can be worn during a subsequent visit, should a guest choose to do so (if, for example, the balance has not yet been depleted). Alternatively, a season wristband, for use during multiple visits, can be purchased at the gate.

Dorney Park installed four kiosks that dispense single-day RFID wristbands, and let patrons load money into a prepaid account.

The park's gift shops, restaurants or other vendor locations have a total of about 210 POS terminals that can read a wristband's unique ID number and enable a user to complete a transaction without requiring a credit card or cash.

"Our company is always looking for ways to improve the guest experience," Fehnel says. To that end, the park began working with PDC to develop the FastPay system to coincide with the park's opening this summer. The park has installed four kiosks near its entrance, custom-manufactured for PDC by EuroTouch Kiosks. Each kiosk includes a built-in high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz Feig Electronics Obid Classic-Pro RFID reader, says Greg Cetera, PDC's regional sales manager, and holds a stock of disposable plastic wristbands with Texas Instruments Tag-it HF-I tags compliant with the ISO 15693 and ISO 18000-3 standards.

When a guest uses a kiosk to load money into an account with a credit or debit card, or with cash, KioWare software stores the account data, and as the kiosk dispenses a wristband, its RFID tag ID number is read and stored along with the account ID. The user then attaches the wristband to his or her wrist, and proceeds to visit the attractions. To make a purchase, the guest taps the wristband against one of the POS terminals, provided by Micros Systems. The terminal come with an RF IDeas AIR ID (pcProx) Enroll reader, which captures the wristband tag's ID number and forwards it to the back-end system, where KioWare software then reduces the wristband's prepaid account balance according to the sale price of the user's purchase.

The FastPay rewearable silicone wristbands, designed for use during multiple visits, are available in youth and adult sizes.

To encourage visitors to utilize the new system, the park is offering bonus cash at 10 percent of the value of each new activation. For instance, if a user were purchase a wristband with a $20 balance, that individual would have $22 loaded into his or her balance.

The rewearable season wristband, composed of silicone, costs $4.99, in addition to the amount of money loaded into the account. These reusable wristbands must be purchased at the gate, since they are not designed to fit into the kiosk's dispenser.

Since the system's launch, Fehnel reports, the kiosks have been attracting an increasing number of users, as guests become familiar with it. The park has posted signage explaining the technology throughout its premises. He declines to provide specific numbers of users, or the amount of money spent on the system, but says he is pleased with the initial response. One surprise, he notes, is how popular the technology has been with young people, including school-aged children who wear the wristbands and load either their own or a parent's money into their prepaid account.

During the coming weeks, the park plans to begin selling both season and single-day wristbands online. Users can plan for their visit by making a ticket purchase, but will also be able to load funds into their prepaid account and print a redeemable coupon, which they can then provide at the gate to receive a wristband.

The single-day FastPay wristband

In the future, Fehnel says, there may be other services bundled with the FastPay system, such as enabling users to link the RFID number on a rewearable wristband containing the season pass ID number, in order to gain entrance to the park via the wristband. The wristband could also be used by those who pay to skip lines and access rides faster. Using the wristbands to connect users with social media is another opportunity, Cetera adds. Such an application would require kiosks at which users could post pictures or messages about their visit.

"Really, I'm not sure where the limits are to this," Fehnel states.