As coronavirus began its relentless march across Washington state and the rest of America, Governor Jay Inslee issued a sweeping stay at home order.
That directive forced Skagit Valley’s 36-year-old Tulip Festival to be canceled, and Tulip Town was simultaneously shut down to visitors.
“If tulip lovers weren’t able to experience their age-old traditions of springtime visits to our tulip farm, then we had to bring the farm to them,” said Andrew Miller, co-owner and chief executive officer of Tulip Town.
Due to previous careers in the tech and creative worlds, the Tulip Town owners knew just what to do. They developed a free mobile application that puts people in the middle of those iconic fields.
“Andrew has wanted a Tulip Town virtual app since day one, so we could digitally immerse our fans to the point where they can almost smell the flowers,” said Rachael Ward Sparwasser, co-owner and managing partner of Tulip Town. “When we knew people were not going to be able to physically experience Tulip Town this year, we grabbed this idea and put it at the top of the priority list because our supporters have been so good to this farm.”
Thus, the concept of Tulip Town 360 was born.
Viewers are transported to the farm thanks to the use of a high definition drone flying through the fields, gardens, and barn while never having to leave the security of their homes.
“This year, we’re all ‘Tulip Town Superheroes,’” said Angela Speer, co-owner, managing partner, president, and chief operations officer of Tulip Town. “With the touch of a button, our virtual reality enhanced app, and digital media library will bring people a full, 360-degree tour through Tulip Town.”
The owners hired Scott McKinley of Level 5 Interactive out of neighboring Arlington, WA, to bring Tulip Town 360 to life.
“After one demo by Level5 Interactive, we knew that a mobile app using that technology was going to provide both the ‘wow’ we were looking for as well as a distinctive tulip experience not currently available anywhere else in the world,” said Miller.
Here’s how the 360-degree immersive tour works:
- The picture moves as the device is moved around. For instance, if you’re flying over the field and want to see a top-down view of the tulips, you just point your device down. If you’d like to see what’s behind you in the barn, just spin the camera around.
- Viewers can expect to see the farm’s quaint windmill along the water, the crew out picking tulips for bouquets, and to hear 18 different sounds throughout the app.
- It is available for both iPhone and Android users at no cost.
- The app will be updated regularly to keep everyone current on the seasonal planting, bloom, and harvest phases.
“While there may be no substitute for standing in the breeze as our millions of tulips wave at you, we trust that the fields of flowers, along with the sounds of the birds and farm machinery from Tulip Town 360 will prove a bright spot for those hoping to experience some beauty at this dark time,” said Miller.