fresh attractions based on an established IP provides a great start. But even that provides no guarantee to help a park that's suffering from bad operations.Is attendance down at your favorite theme park? What can a park's management do to reverse an attendance slide? Obviously, throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at
Here are 10 steps that any theme park can take to encourage more people to visit. Ultimately, a park has to start by creating a better experience for the guests who are already there, so that they will want not just to return, but to recommend the park to family, to friends, and to strangers online.
The number one thing any park can do to drive its attendance is Improve operational capacity.
Keep those line moving. Obviously, this starts with designing or ordering attractions with high hourly capacities. But even if a park is stuck with what it has, managers should train and encourage their operations team to load and dispatch to get as close as possible to the attraction's theoretical hourly capacity, without compromising safety. A park's rule should be to never drop capacity or slow the loading until the back of the line is in the station or the preshow. And if safety checks are keeping an attraction far below its theoretical count, the attraction needs better-designed safety procedures.
Next? Nothing broken on stage. Ever.
Every park should have an on-call maintenance team charged during park hours to do nothing to but cover — then remove and replace or repair — broken capital in guest areas. Coverage should provide support for the theme and immersion in the area and not look like some tacky construction zone.
Be OCD about cleanliness.
It's all hands on deck for this. A good manager is one who conducts as much non-HR business in the park as possible, always walking around with a "nabby-grabber" in hand to pick up debris. Custodial should keep toilet facilities gleaming, and food prep and service areas must score at 100 percent cleanliness at all times when the park is open.
But maintaining capital is just the start. A popular theme park should Conduct the crowd, too.
That means providing clear, well-managed queuing and guest flow through the park. Those park managers should be looking for bottlenecks and confused visitors when walking the park, as well as picking up debris. Find where the problem spots are for guest flow, then assign employees to direct visitors through that area until the park can get an area redesign through that will alleviate the problems.
Once people are flowing freely through the park, find ways to Distract the crowd.
Customers paid for a full day of entertainment, not just the opportunity to commute by foot from one big destination in the park to another. Take the pressure off top rides and shows by filling the park with characters, animals, skits, musicians, and desirable photo ops whenever there's the space for a crowd to gather. Give customers more reasons to stop and enjoy more during their day.
Train and support Aggressively helpful employees, too.
Friendliness ought to be a given in theme park employees. If they're not smiling, you're not hiring. But parks should encourage their employees to be aggressive in offering to help the park's visitors. It's not just service to those customers. Offering directions and suggestions is how a park proactively manages a crowd to get people where they want to be with minimal fuss, conflict, and distress all around.
Hangry people are the worst. Improve the food.
Pick at least one: New. Unique. Popular. Items that go oh-for-three need to be off your menu, ASAP. And anything that offers only one of these qualities needs to be on the hit list for potential removal next season. Always be introducing new items that not just taste good, but that leave guests nourished and energized throughout the day. That means more than just the latest sugary sweet. Be prepared to support a wide variety of diets with tasty food, especially for people with nutritional restrictions.
Yeah, that's going to cost some money, but a park can make that back with increased sales. Now it's time to really start getting serious about capital expenses, though. Start by Culling tired or boring attractions.
Addition by subtraction works. Don't let a park become synonymous with mediocre or bad experiences. Get rid of anything that's slow-loading, boring, hard to maintain, or the object of widespread derision. If a park has taken all the above steps successfully, people will see the loss of these attractions as an improvement, not a decline.
Then improve the look and feel of the park by Creating more immersive environments.
You don't have to make the next Wizarding World of Harry Potter. (Unless you are Universal and have the budget!) Any park can improve its landscaping and upgrade signage and building facades to support coherent, immersive environments throughout. One good landscape architect plus a graphic designer, supported with even a modest budget, can do wonders. There's no excuse not to try.
And, oh by the way, ads can destroy immersive environments, so be very careful about where and how you display advertisements within the park.
Finally, if a theme park really wants to enjoy ongoing success, there's no way around Building better attractions.
The previous nine steps can buy you time, but eventually a successful park needs to be buying something that more potential visitors want to experience. If attendance is not rising, it's time to stop doing what you have done for the past few seasons and try something different. Aim for reliable attractions with high capacity that offer excitement. And don't shy from hitting visitors right in the feels. The theme park business ultimately is the emotion business, and if people don't feel something amazing in a park, no one should be surprised when its attendance starts to suffer.Tweet
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