RFID on Vacation

RFID-enabled wristbands really are a benefit to guests at the Great Wolf Lodge, as I learned firsthand.
Published: August 22, 2006

By Mark Roberti

I’m on vacation with my family this week. My son’s friend, Brandon, recommended we go to the Great Wolf Lodge, a water park in Scotrun, Penn., so that’s where we are. The park has half a dozen indoor slides, a wave pool and an outdoor swimming pool. It also happens to use RFID in a big way. Guests are issued wristbands, which they use to get into their suites, and to purchase items in the gift shop and other places (see Great Wolf Water Park Launches RFID).

My family has found these wristbands to be very convenient. When you are in the water park, you don’t need to worry about having a room key in your swim trunks and possibly losing it when you are whizzing down a four-story slide at ungodly speeds.

It’s also extremely convenient to be able to wave your wristband, with an embedded Texas Instruments transponder, near a point-of-sale terminal to pick up a newspaper in the souvenir shop or a cup of coffee at the Starbucks in the lobby.

The one thing the Great Wolf Lodge has not done that other water parks have is put an active transponder in the wristband to track kids while they roam the park. Dolly’s Splash Country, a Tennessee water park owned by country singer Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment, uses this system (see RFID Makes a Splash at Water Park).

Dolly’s Splash Country is much larger than the Great Wolf Lodge, so maybe the active system doesn’t make sense here. But it would be helpful to parents if the RFID wristbands could be used to make sure kids don’t leave the water park area without them. Then kids could roam free, and dads could kick their feet up—and work on their blog.