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Robert Niles

If you run a theme park, read this

Published: April 13, 2009 at 9:22 PM

There is great advice, and strong business lessons from history, in James Surowiecki's piece in the New Yorker this week.

Surowiecki never mentions theme parks in the piece. But he does tell of other consumer businesses and how they reacted to depressions and recessions. In short, those that cut back did worse during the recovery than those who remained aggressive in the down times.

Let that be a lesson to theme parks mulling a cut in customer service, new attraction design, promotions or advertising. Now is the time when you can bury your competitors - or bury yourself.

Fans are looking for ads touting new rides, new shows, new experiences and fresh deals. Ultimately, fans are looking to see who has their back this summer. Parks that come through will be the parks that endure.

Replies (6)

Anthony Murphy

Published: April 13, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Good point!
Raul Araoz

Published: April 13, 2009 at 10:50 PM

You hear that Disney? It is time to stop sitting on your hands and announce something for WDW. Anything. It could be Star Tours 2. It could be the Monsters Inc. coaster. I would love it to be Beastly Kingdom. Don't let Universal pass you by. Heck, you could announce it for 2011 or 2012, just get people excited for the future.
Paula Werne

Published: April 14, 2009 at 10:30 AM

It was just yesterday in our Directors Meeting that our owner, Will Koch, told us that this is the year to "step it up" like we never have before: step up the service, the friendliness and the cleanliness.

He's done his part; the World's Tallest Water Ride, Pilgrims Plunge, opens May 2. Testing is underway.

Hope all parks take this opportunity to shine this summer ... there are lots of folks who need a break from their worries and there's nothing like screaming on a coaster to relieve stress. :0)

Thanks, Paula
Holiday World Theme Park

Don Neal

Published: April 14, 2009 at 12:12 PM

+3 to Holiday World! WOOT!
Joshua Counsil

Published: April 14, 2009 at 5:36 PM

I would berate Disney for not announcing anything new, but their deals are so exceptional this year that they've garnered my support. I will be visiting in late August. While there, I hope to check out Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rip-off and Manta.
Chris Danger

Published: April 15, 2009 at 9:16 AM

Im in total agreement, the businesses who offer something "more" to a potential customer/guest in this current economic client are going to gain more in the long run than companies who dont. I was at SFoT over last weekend and received much better customer service than they had offered in past seasons. I also received something rare in this day and age: A "Thank You" from a cast member in a retail outlet. I was plesantly shocked and suprised at that, politeness isnt a dying art.

On attractions: I agree with a few folks on here, you need to get on the ball and start promoting new projects at the parks (esp. WDW). I know DLR/DCA are going that route at present with their full reimage of the DCA park, it would be nice to see WDW get in on the game as well.

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