White Spot has been a Vancouver icon since 1928, when Nat Bailey founded Canada’s first drive-in restaurant at Granville and West 67th Avenue. It has remained a family favourite ever since, especially after launching the Pirate Pak kids’ meal in 1968.
The restaurant has sold 25 million Pirate Paks since its launch, and as a born-and-raised Vancouverite, I’ve definitely contributed to that number. So, when I heard that White Spot was upgrading the Pirate Pak experience with a 3-D augmented reality program, I had to check it out.
My sister and I lived for Pirate Paks growing up. There were few things in life more thrilling than the prospect of a literal boatload of fries and a grilled cheese sandwich. My family frequented the restaurant, and after my parents split up, my dad would still take us to White Spot every Wednesday for dinner. Our family had changed, but the pirate ship was the same. It made things feel normal.
It’s been a pretty long time since I was old enough to order a Pirate Pak, so I took this opportunity and ran with it. Armed with the Pirate Pak–compatible White Spot Kids app downloaded onto my iPhone, I walked through my neighbourhood and into the nearest White Spot.
The hostess brought me to a quiet booth in the back of the restaurant. She laid a regular menu on the table and started to leave. I piped up, “I, um… can I have a kid’s menu?”
“Oh, sure! No problem,” she replied.
She quickly returned with a children’s menu and boat in hand. “You’ll need the menu and the boat. They’re both interactive!” she explained to me. Interactive, you say? I thanked her and grabbed my iPhone to open the app.
The interactive app is the first 3-D augmented reality kids program created by a Canadian restaurant chain, and I have to say, as a fully grown adult—it’s actually pretty cool.
You’re invited to meet the Pirate Pak crew, which includes Captain Beak Rogers, Penny Poulet, and Drumstick Nick. The Table Challenge game, during which you drop pirates’ treasure into barrels, lets members of your dining party challenge one another to reach the highest score. The Music Maker game is ideal for children too young to fully appreciate the stories, allowing them to click different instruments on the screen to make a song.
The interactive camera is what really makes the experience special, though. Point your phone or tablet camera at the menu or Pirate Pak ship and the interactive elements come to life. Mini-games appear to hover on top of the menu. The pirate ship bustles with activity as Captain Beak Rogers navigates his ship across the screen and your table.
From gathering pirate’s coins to launching tiny Legendary burgers at a ferocious kraken, the app is more than just a fun way for kids to pass the time before their meal comes. It’s an immersive experience, bridging virtual reality and the physical world, while fostering play between parents and kids.
I was so busy aboard the W. S. Legendary app that I completely forget about the food I’d ordered. When I finally got to sink my teeth into my grilled cheese, it tasted familiar, like I was back sitting with my family years ago.
If you have kids, they’ll be thrilled to experience the new Pirate Paks. The interactive app is free to download and can be found in the app store or via whitespot.com/kids.