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Pursuing Leisure: Reflections on Theme Park Visiting

Abstract

In this paper, we present the theme park as a novel commercial setting and distinct cultural ecology for CSCW research, presenting challenges to technology designers interested in supporting cultural visiting activities. We report findings from an empirical field study of theme park visiting by groups. Our account focuses on how visitors encountered the theme park, and how they worked with or “geared in” to what the park provided in order to pursue leisure activities to their own ends. We further demonstrate that, whilst theme park visiting features thrilling and fun activities, it also features the prosaic concerns of planning, parenting and money that connect it to ordinary social life. As such, we present the theme park as a setting in which work and leisure are intertwined as concerns of both visitors and the park, for producing and consuming theme park experience. We have focussed on the work of visiting groups to pursue leisure, and their combined use of park-provided and personal technologies in various “trajectories of interaction” within the park. Our findings point to considerations for the design of services that connect with park-provided and personal technologies to support group visiting, in theme parks and related settings.

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Notes

  1. http://www.altontowers.co.uk

  2. http://www.horizon.ac.uk

  3. http://www.facebook.com

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Acknowledgements

We thank our research participants and our partners, Alton Towers and Picsolve, for their contributions to the study. We also thank Bob Anderson and a number of anonymous reviewers for their generous advice on previous iterations of this paper. This research was funded by RCUK through the Horizon Digital Economy Research grant (EP/G065802/1).

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Correspondence to Abigail Durrant.

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Durrant, A., Kirk, D.S., Benford, S. et al. Pursuing Leisure: Reflections on Theme Park Visiting. Comput Supported Coop Work 21, 43–79 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10606-011-9151-1

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Key words

  • theme parks
  • cultural visiting
  • visitor experience
  • leisure
  • tourism
  • ubiquitous computing
  • souvenirs