Not only is Alterface, a leader in interactive technology, marking its 20th anniversary in 2021, it also celebrating milestones of three of its key projects, 15 years on from its first interactive theatre Desperados, 10 years on from Maus au Chocolat, its first major dark ride, and five years on from the successful JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis rides that it contributed to for Six Flags.
Alterface designs turnkey attractions and can create technology solutions for a wide range of attractions, from dark rides to interactive experiences. It is based in Belgium and was founded in 2001.
Bringing the story alive
In an interview with Asia Attractions Magazine, Laurence Beckers, creative director at Alterface, says that the company’s attractions enjoy such longevity because of “a good mix of great content, powerful theming, well-designed interactivity and high quality.”
“Alterface has always been about bringing the story alive and involving visitors in our narrative, using the best technology to serve the purpose, or creating the technology when needed,” says Beckers, who has been with Alterface since the start.
“When we started Alterface, we wanted to make interactivity natural, to hide technology and bring magic to guests. We started out working with gesture recognition. People were interacting with a screen by using their body and hands, not with a device.”
An innovative approach
Desperados, Alterface’s first interactive theatre project, combines the traditional theatre format with the fun of gaming technology. Since the first installations opened in 2006 the concept has been a huge success, allowing visitors to enjoy a fun and interactive group experience with added special effects.
“Desperados has been a huge success all around the world and is one of Alterface’s most enduring attractions,” says Beckers. “I think this was the moment when we figured out our special Alterface formula: the story always comes first, and the interactivity and technology work to support that story.”
Following on from this, the company introduced its first major dark ride, Maus au Chocolate, which opened at the popular German theme park Phantasialand in 2011 and saw guests battling a mouse infestation at a bakery by shooting them with frosting.
Speaking to Asia Attractions Magazine about Maus au Chocolate, Alterface CEO Stéphane Battaille says:
“At the time the ride was by far the largest attraction we had ever built. From an engineering standpoint, this project is my proudest achievement. Our team created brand new systems to track scoring and data from multiple vehicles each experiencing the ride separately yet at the same time. It was a major advance from our previous projects.”
Then, in 2015, Alterface worked with several other themed entertainment experts, including Sally Dark Rides, on JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis for Six Flags. Sally Dark Rides designed and turnkeyed JUSTICE LEAGUE and Alterface supplied the interactive system.
This ride proved so popular that Six Flags went on to develop extra versions of the ride for its parks across North America. In 2017, the version at Six Flags Magic Mountain was given a Thea Award for outstanding achievement.
Etienne Sainton, product manager at Alterface, says that the success of this concept is down to the fact that the technology blends in with the attraction instead of taking centre stage:
“We are dedicated to creating the most customized experience for each project. Every improvement and new technology we have created provides more flexibility for the designers and a better experience for the visitor, resulting in successful and sustainable attractions for the park.”
“The technology we helped bring to the JUSTICE LEAGUE attraction was only one component of a really fantastic attraction,” adds Alterface project manager François Danhaive. “We are able to work effectively as a team member, but we are also able to create turnkey attractions as well, depending on what the client needs.”
Tournaments meet interactive gaming
Battaille also spoke to Asia Attractions magazine about the company’s latest creation, Action League: The Interactive Revolution, saying:
“We are very excited about this new ride, which combines different levels of sensation and amusement into a completely new formula. Parks and leisure venues will appreciate the attraction’s high re-ride factor and impressive throughput.”
Action League is an innovative mix of tournament and interactive gaming which features an ultra-dynamic multi-axis motion. During the experience, multiple teams compete with each other for the chance to become the ultimate winner. The ride includes interactive shooting and competitive gaming, all with the sensation of a rotating platform, and it is designed to feel like a large sports arena.
In an earlier press release about the new product, Sainton said: “Based on our experience with interactive rides and feedback from the market, we decided to develop this new tournament formula. It is a totally innovative approach and combines the gaming and shooting in a competitive setting with the sensation of motion whilst the platform turns between the screens and puts teams in competition.”
Last year, Alterface announced its new management team alongside its vision for the future as it looks forward to many more successful years in the attractions industry.