In general, amusement parks do not operate on a 365 day schedule. Facility owners can schedule their maintenance teams during the off season to do inspections, complete work orders and work requests, and make fixes or adjustments as needed.

However, for those that do operate on a yearly schedule, what does their maintenance plan look like?

Walt Disney World parks for example operate 365 days a year and often stay open passed midnight, so when does the downtime occur? How is it that every time a guest walks into the park it looks bright and shiny like it was never touched? Some could call it “magic” others will tell you the cast members complete all maintenance work overnight.

The security sweep, refueling of boats and attractions, safety inspections, repair, basic cleaning, plant life maintenance, and rodent clean up all happen overnight. Now, not all amusement parks have the staff capacity or the funds to complete all this work overnight, so how do other amusement parks handle it?

One theme park in the Netherlands, Efteling is working to provide a solution to prevent downtime. Initially originating as a sports park in 1952, Efteling has since grown into an international award-winning theme park, enchanting visitors for 66 years. In 2017, it welcomed 5.18 million visitors.

But, it also suffers from ride downtime, due to maintenance being handled during the day and not overnight. In an order to find a solution, Efteling is taking part in a specifically designed challenge organized by the Next Web and Vodafone, which connects 10 established companies to startups to solve a problem through IoT Solutions.

The theme park already has an extensive maintenance plan and an on-the-ground engineering crew to fix issues as they happen, however, with the park expansions and growth, that plan is no longer cost effective.

Jonas Rietbergan, a strategist for the innovation program at Efteling, shared in an interview with TNW that the main issues with maintenance downtime is guest satisfaction. Guests come from all across the world to experience their park and when rides are down and there is no notice they become disappointed and in turn lose them profits.

According to TNW in the interview with Jonas Rietbergen, “when a ride does go out of operation, a team of mechanics and engineers is sent to fix it straight away. For Efteling, this means 10-14 hour standby time of these teams.”

The goal of Efteling is to ensure that it has “95-100% uptime on rides.” However, to do so requires extensive maintenance practices. This includes maintenance before the park opens, after it closes, and during blocks of days when rides are under construction. One of the rides that opened earlier this year was scheduled to be down only for 5 days for an extensive maintenance check.

So how can amusement parks improve this process without hindering their guests? Efteling is embracing IoT technologies to help lower maintenance during operating hours.

How Using AI Prevents Ride Downtime

In the interview with TNW was CTO of OneWatt, Paolo Samontanez, an Amsterdam-based company and CEO of Noiseless Acoustics, Kai Sakesla, discussing how AI can help amusement park owners better understand the sound patterns of machines to detect failures.

Sakesla explained “the problem has to be acoustically detectable. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heard by the human ear, but it should be measurable.”

Noiseless Acoustics use a mixture of hardware, software, and analytics to listen to sound. They use several tools, such as their NL Camera, which locates heat images that signal noise on a screen, and their NL Sense, which is a compact wireless hub and sensors that locates exactly where the problem is occuring.

This could be a huge benefit to Efteling, and they are still in the early stages of predictive maintenance however they already foresee two big advantages. 

For the guests, it is less unannounced downtime of rides which is a better park experience, and two, it is a cost-effective maneuver for the amusement park.

The sensors can be installed directly on the rides as long as the locations are installed with electricity for the sensors to work. Sakesla mentioned “we provide customers with a few devices to do the acoustic profiling– they build up the acoustic fingerprint, which is then used for problem detection.”

The theme park is excited to see how the solution will work with their end goal and to enhance the customer experience and also save a couple extra bucks in their own pockets.