When news breaks, fix it
I've visited Holiday World the past two summers, but I had to travel to Orlando to actually meet Pat Koch and Paula Werne in person. (Go figure!) Werne, the park's public relations director, talked about crisis communication in a morning session today. As always, her advice to other publicity professionals was spot-on.
In talking publicly, "spin will only leave you feeling nauseous," Werne said. Always tell the truth in a crisis, and never speculate.
Echoing the advice of Marty Sklar and Mickey Steinberg from yesterday, Werne urged attendees to answer, "I don't know, but I'll find out" when asked for information that they don't have.
"It's really important to take the emotion out of a situation," Werne also said. "No matter who or what causes a crisis, preparation will help you get through it and minimize damage to your brand."
As someone who covers theme park news for a living, I wish that more park PR reps would follow Werne's advice, and offer the facts they have in a situation, rather than trying to spin or obscure the information. Eventually, the news does get out - we have too many well-connected people here in the Theme Park Insider community (and you are part of our community, too!) - and one of us will get the scoop, eventually. Better for the park to get that information out here, up front, and without compromise. It's amazing the goodwill that simple honesty will elicit, even in the worst situations.
New coaster from The Gravity Group
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending some time at the booth of our readers' favorite wooden roller coaster designer, The Gravity Group. (Their Holiday World coaster, The Voyage, won our Best Theme Park Attraction in America tournament last spring.) Engineer Michael Graham talked me through the new racing/dueling coaster that The Gravity Group is designing for Happy Valley in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Here's a simulation:
The 3,800-foot ride is a collaboration with Martin & Vleminckx, and is scheduled to open in fall of 2011. Its signature moment will be a racing camelback banked at ninety degrees, dubbed the "high five."
When 4-D meets a shoot-'em-up
I find interesting the life-cycle of attraction technology, how rides and shows start in theme parks and eventually scale down to make their ways into family entertainment centers and shopping malls. You couldn't walk 30 yards on the IAAPA show floor this year without running into a booth hawking a 4D show. Most of these aren't intended for major theme parks - they're designed with minimal footprints, to fit into malls and FECs.
But I love to see when vendors mash-up amusement technologies. Alterface's booth caught my eye this year, with its mash-up of a 3-D movie, motion simulator and shoot-'em-up ride.
The theater at IAAPA is meant for FECs and malls - it featured just nine seats (saddle-shaped stools, really) that bucked and swayed as we played a western-themed shooting game. I racked up a score of just over 13,000 points, good for second place in the theater. What really impressed me was the use of the ride's photo system to project the picture of the high (and low) scorer on the theater screen, so they could enjoy a moment a triumph (or scorn). That's a nice, social touch that should help encourage re-rides. It's one thing to see that you're a high score, but it's even more exciting to know that everyone else is seeing that you whipped 'em, too.
Alterface does design a larger version of its 5Di Interactive Cinema for theme parks, too, and sells interactive technology to be used on other companies' track rides, as well.Tweet
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