Skip to main content

SLS Expo  logoSaudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo Logo 

المعرض السعودي للترفيه والتسلية
20 - 22 مايو 2025 | 3 مساءً - 9 مساءً
واجهة الرياض مركز المعارض والمؤتمرات

Exhibitor News


Saudi Entertainment & Amusement Expo Hero

01 أبر 2024

We interviewed Cedar Fair about the launch of the new Carowinds app– here's what they had to say Hall: 3 Stand: 3C261

Known for its record-breaking coasters and award-winning water parks, Cedar Fair is committed to delivering a world-class experience for every guest. We met with Jim Denny, VP of Digital, and's VP of Product, Peter O'Dare, to learn more about their new maps and wayfinding tech

What were you looking for from your maps and wayfinding?

Jim: People need to use our wayfinding. In our parks, you usually cannot look at the map, find a landmark, and then look around and say, 'There's the castle; let's go toward that.’ People use turn-by-turn directions and follow the route on the screen to get them where they need to be.

Our previous maps were very non-descript and understated. They were functional, but they didn’t convey the excitement of visiting our parks. Our goal for the relaunch was to put a beautifully themed map in each app. We wanted something that matched the excitement of the park itself, helped guests get where they needed to go and was scalable across all of our locations.

What development routes did you consider?

Jim: We only really had two choices: build or buy it. Once you build something yourself, you have to maintain it. And somebody else will always have more time to dedicate to that functionality than you do. You can build what someone else delivers today, but you will never be able to maintain that quality and functionality over time to the level someone with a more singular focus can.

Peter: Functionality like mapping, which is so core to the experience for a guest, needs to be continuously maintained. Unless you hire a team of developers only to do mapping and wayfinding, keeping the tech current is difficult.

Cedar Point's 2024 map illustration.

Jim: The other side is there are details you still need to think about that a product has already solved. It's easy to say, ‘This looks easy. I can lay a Google map down and put a layer over it.’ But in reality, it's just not that simple.

We had spoken to other SaaS solutions before, and they didn't seem to be a good fit financially, or their product wasn't quite what we needed when it came to theming and appearance. There are a lot of map platforms out there that map spaces like shopping malls or roadways. They do a good job, but they couldn't bring our brand and theming to life.

So, where does MapLayr fit in?

Jim: Frankly, one of the things that kept the door always open was the team's willingness to share their insight and learnings. Pete and Mark would say, ‘Hey, you know when we were building the app, we ran into this problem, and you might want to think about that as you go forward.’ It was always such a good relationship in that sense.

I sent a message saying we were developing a new app experience and that it was custom. So it came down to maps. Peter said was looking at making the SDK, which sounded interesting to me.

Peter: We've been burnt a few times building our platforms, so why not save them the pain! Recognising that most mapping platforms lack the depth and utility needed for immersive enterprise experiences, we wanted to develop a solution for location-based businesses that are easily integrated into their environments, quick to adapt, and feature-rich, while requiring minimal coding.

We've now seen this approach prove beneficial for Cedar Fair. MapLayr's unique structure separates functional and design layers, enabling customised visual storytelling without compromising functionality to ensure maps are useful and engaging for guests.

The detail on Valleyfair's 2024 map illustration.

How did you find the design and implementation process?

Jim: It's been amazing to see how the illustrators work. These people have never walked through our park, but when I'm onsite and looking at one of our buildings on the map, it's perfect. Even down to the dormers and engravings. I'm scratching my head thinking about how your team saw that level of detail.

Peter: The design process is where the magic happens. Our illustrators take great pride in capturing every detail, no matter how small, to ensure the digital map reflects the real-world charm and excitement of the attraction they are working with. It's not just about accuracy; it's about crafting a visual narrative that guests can engage with, enhancing their anticipation and excitement.

Jim: Overall, I've been amazed at how well the new maps and wayfinding features capture the essence of our parks and how accurate they are. When we have changes to routes or rides, and I send over the plans, everything is always perfectly positioned. I've been impressed by the team's ability to deliver the details and nuance that make our parks unique.

And how have guests responded to the new maps at Carowinds?

Jim: Our maps and wayfinding functionality at Carowinds is the highest-scoring feature on our exit survey. When guests use the app, they tell us mapping and wayfinding is the easiest tool to use. They like that they can orient, tilt and rotate the map to find the best perspective for them. The overwhelming sentiment is that it's a huge improvement.

Peter: Hearing the positive feedback from guests has been great. We're thrilled to see guests embracing the new maps, using them to navigate the parks with ease, and engaging with the digital representation of Cedar Fair's world-class attractions.

A snippet of Carowinds' 2024 map illustration.

What’s Next?

Following a successful launch at Carowinds, Cedar Fair has added MapLayr at Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm, with plans to roll out the app to all of its parks and amusement parks in the US in 2024. 

View all Exhibitor News