When walking through a Harry Potter or Star Wars attraction at an amusement park, it may seem like an escape from reality. Park guests can immerse themselves in another world and leave anything going on in their real life behind.

However, even in a ‘galaxy far, far away,’ amusement parks are focused on authenticity and reality.

At IAAPA 2019, the largest industry event for the attractions industry, Universal Studios Orlando Creative Director George Walker spoke about what he calls ‘the Next Reality’. Augmented and virtual reality have opened up new frontiers for the industry, but those using these technological advances to make human connections will be best positioned for success.

“I always say technology for technology’s sake is not going to last very long. You have to have it be a tool in the toolbox that’s supporting the experience you’re trying to create,” Walker said.

Walker explained that authentic reality is the latest layer in storytelling, which makes a larger impression on park guests than generic experiences. He also mentioned that according to a study, 74 percent of Americans value experiences over products and services, meaning people are looking for a personal connection in the things they do.

“I think the true people that are going to succeed are going to be those that tap into those stories and then tell them in a really authentic way,” Walker said.

The status quo is changing, and attractions companies of all sizes can get in on the action by focusing on the authenticity of their offerings.

“You’re going to get left in the dust if you don’t start thinking about how to tell your story in a more authentic way that will get people more engaged,” Walker said.

Technology will continue to play an important role in transporting people otherworldly locations and experiences, but without an authentic connection or meaningful story it will only be so captivating.

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