EDITOR’S NOTE: A new theme park based on smart technology is in the works for the city of Emerson, GA. Guests will be able to create their own avatars, allowing them to actually be a part of the attraction themselves. The park will thrive on sensory technology, holograms, 4D motion capture, and more. RFID wristbands, and other smart technologies, are helping venue operators connect with their guests in a way they never have before.
Avatron Smart Park CEO talks Emerson theme park
David C. Garrett, chairman and CEO of Avatron Smart Park, the technology-centered theme park planned to be built in Emerson by California-based Avatron USA Development LLC, said Wednesday that he anticipates the development will be both groundbreaking and economically beneficial for Bartow County.
If the final business report provided by the city of Emerson is any indication, Garrett certainly seems to have the right idea. The project is predicted to have a great impact on the local economy.
According to the report, the park alone is to expected to have a total GDP impact of $6.5 billion over the next 10 years, with a $480 million initial investment. The construction phase of the project is expected to create between 1,000 and 1,500 full-time jobs over a 36-month period. Once construction is complete, the park, along with an accompanying retail village and two hotels, will reportedly open up between 2,000 and 2,250 new full-time positions. Twenty-five percent of those positions will be highly skilled technology staff and mid- to upper-management professionals. The predicted average salary for these positions is $55,000 per year.
Garrett, who, according to Avatron’s website, graduated from both Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia School of Law, said that being a native Georgian helped him to understand the logistics of determining a location to build the roughly 712-acre park.
“I grew up in Atlanta,” he said. “The [Interstate] 75 corridor and the role that [it] plays in people coming south and going to Florida and elsewhere … I also thought that [the Emerson location] would be one that could draw very well for metro Atlanta.”
Garrett said that, in addition to the physical location, the close proximity of the LakePoint Sporting Community & Town Center had a positive influence on the decision to construct the theme park in Emerson.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that LakePoint had a lot to do with it,” he pointed out. “The kind of demographic that they draw is very consistent with what we’ll be drawing. The idea is to be near to another attraction that could actually benefit both parties. It was a combination of all those things that lead us to Bartow County.”
Avatron, according to the report, will be the world’s first digitally native “SmartPark.” With the help of creative minds from Hollywood’s special effects industry, the park’s multiple attractions will include 3D videos, 4D motion capture, sensory technologies, holograms and augmented reality. Upon entering the park, visitors will be able to undergo a scan process that allows them to create digital renderings of themselves.
“If guests choose to, they will be able to have a full body scan and then they would create their own avatar and they would be able to actually be apart of the attraction itself,” noted Garrett. “We’re talking about some of the attractions where the actions of the people going through it influence how it goes.”
What does that mean, exactly? Garrett said the implementation of new technology could put a new spin on familiar them park rides like the ones found at Walt Disney World in Florida. Motion-sensitive attractions could provide a more interactive experience for visitors.
“This is not necessarily what it will be, but let me give you an example. Let’s say that we had something along the lines of the Dumbo ride down at Disney but something more modern. But as the children would be in it, they clap their arms and their car they’re in goes up. It would be interactive. The thing that you see will be influenced by what you choose to do.”
Avatron Smart Park, though still in its conceptual stages, is an unprecedented development. When asked if he expected digitally immersive theme parks to become a trend in the future, Garrett speculated that it could be a possibility.
“This is the only one that we’re focusing on right now. It will be the first of a kind. The goal is, of course, if it’s successful, as we expect it to be, that it will be something that other locations might be interested in.”
The city of Emerson filed a submission to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs on Tuesday for the Avatron Smart Park project to receive designation as a Development of Regional Impact. Until the approval process is complete, which may not take longer than 30 days, the city of Emerson can take no final action on the project request. City Manager Kevin McBurnett stated in an email on Tuesday that Avatron will be placed on an upcoming city council agenda in late March for discussion.
For now, Garrett stated that he looks forward to Avatron becoming a staple in the surrounding community.
“Hopefully everything will go well in our process. We intend to be good neighbors and look forward to getting involved with the business community and in the community at large in Bartow,” he said.
For more information about the theme park and its development, visit avatronpark.com.