Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

What is 5D?

Is 5D just a marketing gag? That’s how some perceive it. Others argue that adding movement to 4D effects and 3D film does the trick. Here Dr Gerhard Frank attempts to settle the debate once and for all. Read on, then have your say here

I believe 5D has nothing to do with a more-of-the-same-approach, rather it should take us into new realms. 5D allows us to exploit one of the key virtues of modern society and develop unprecedented experiences at competitive costs.

I am talking about science or, more precisely, the science behind attraction experiences. Science has helped shape western world as it is today. Galileo, Newton, Descartes and others invented methodology in order to gain knowledge about the world and then translate this into improved human skills and abilities. Now it’s time to define what we mean by 5D and provide the industry with an accepted, verifiable standard.

“5D refers to a completely new approach to creating attractions, one that combines a scientific perspective with artistic talent and the latest technologies,” says my colleague at 5D International, Andreas Kornprobst.

Such an approach unites many different disciplines, including cybernetics, system theory, cognitive sciences, biology, psychology, sociology and philosophy. The outcome is an experience that offers unparalleled authenticity, realism, believability, and connects directly with guests.

By employing science and psychology rather than pure technology, we are able to deliver cost effective entertainment solutions. And those costs are better controlled because 5D enables both the designer and operator to plan, develop and execute an attraction that better suits their needs.

My definition of 5D involves a sophisticated understanding of how human beings experience attractions, whether at a theme park, museum, visitor centre, zoo, aquarium, casino or any other kind of leisure outlet. Different market segments are converging into one, united by one common factor: they all provide experiences. But are they memorable ones?

As all of these venues compete for guests’ hearts and minds, I would argue a scientific approach is essential if they are to provide something truly distinctive and different from the rest. Of course, gut feeling is still important, but that alone is no longer a guarantee of success.

A closer look at the science of 5D reveals that each human experience consists of five sub-processes, also called dimensions. These sub-processes closely interact with each other and affect our consciousness. There are our emotions, our perceptions, our mental image processes, our logical thinking and our social interaction through human communication. 5D science deciphers each of these processes and then identifies how they can be triggered in order to create rewarding attraction experiences.

In spring 2008, a new entrance plaza (Riesenradplatz) opened at the Prater in Vienna (Park World, September 2009, or The Prater is one of the world’s oldest theme parks, dating back to the 18th Century, and the Riesenradplatz pays tribute to this heritage. Yet while it may look pretty on the outside, the project involved more than simply theming. 5D is in its DNA.

“The Riesenradplatz is 5D at its best”, declares Kornprobst, the artistic mind behind it. “Without 5D science this regeneration project would not have been possible both in terms of time and cost. The methodology behind it is a big step forward in developing customised attractions and experiences together with a client.”

Behind the faux 18th Century façade (pictured below), the Riesenradplatz boasts two attractions from 5D International, a spectacular flying experience, Vienna Airlines (pictured above), and a charming multimedia theatre, the Miraculum. For my company these attractions represented the ultimate expression of 5D. By using scientific principles, we realised two experiences that touch their target group in an emotional way. Both give the client added value at their venue …and they are highly entertaining too! We now plan to export 5D to other parts of the world, so stay tuned as we develop the next generation of scientifically-engineered attractions.

Dr Gerhard Frank is the CEO of 5D International in Vienna and will publish the first comprehensive account of 5D this coming spring.

Join the 5D debate here

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