News Flash from Tourist Attractions & Parks Magazine

May 6, 2013 No Comments

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Splashdown Beach Expansion Underway for 2013 Season

Mega Funworks Inc., dba SplashDown Beach Waterpark, recently received planning and zoning board approvals for a $12 million dollar expansion. The development will begin immediately with the addition of two new rides for the summer of 2013.

The Mega Funworks team has collaborated with Zamperla Rides and HIT Entertainment to introduce Dizzy’s Water Whirler, currently the only one of its kind in the world and first in North America. Located at the Bob the Builder Splash WorksTM attraction, The Water Whirler will accommodate up to 24 guests at one time and feature 30 interactive water elements.

Adjacent to the Bob the Builder attraction will be the new Arctic Adventure. The first of the Arctic Adventure’s six new attractions will be the five-story Arctic Plunge from Pro-Slide Technology. This competitive, multi-lane, headfirst Mat Racer is a proven crowd favorite. Its precisely engineered curves are strategically placed to create positive pressure for maximum acceleration as riders exit the 360° horizontal loop. Riders are launched into a head-to-head drag race to the bottom, flying over vertical curve humps, experiencing weightlessness, and gaining even more speed before the smooth deceleration run-out. The experience will leave the entire family talking about who the fastest rider was.

“This will be the largest single expansion at SplashDown Beach since we purchased the Park in 2004. We have created a true family destination for summer fun,” said owners Shelley and Steve Turk.

“SplashDown Beach has been a great home to Bob the Builder’s first waterpark, and we’re thrilled to continue working together to expand Bob the Builder Splash Works,” said Julie Freeland, director, Live Events, The Americas, HIT Entertainment.  “The Water Whirler ride will be a fun and exciting addition for kids and families to experience their favorite builder and his Can-Do Crew.”
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Special Tourist Attractions & Parks eNewsletter Feature

Improving the Guest Experience with Technology

It goes without saying that the caliber of guests’ experience at leisure entertainment facilities is heavily contingent on their interaction with staff and the quality of the service they receive. However, technology can also play a role in making the visitor experience a high-caliber one – whether that experience occurs on the premises or elsewhere.

Some operators are leveraging technology to make it easier for guests to make reservations and purchase admission. Offering such convenience not only bolsters the potential to generate more and repeat business; it bolsters customers’ inclination to return time and time again to facilities’ websites to find out what new programs, deals, etc. may be of interest to them. Scott Drummond, founder and CEO, Party Center Software, said research indeed suggests that users return to a website more frequently when “a service” like online reservations “is offered or the site provides a method to connect with the company.” Online reservations solutions, such as those available from Party Center Software and CenterEdge Software, enable online event bookings. The latter also facilitates online ticket purchasing, and both solutions have metrics-tracking capabilities owners and operators can use to monitor sales, identify patterns and help to determine whether any changes need to be made in party packages, ticketing options and the like.

Alley Cats Family Entertainment Center, in Arlington, Texas, has seen “substantial” growth in its party bookings and event revenues as a result of implementing booking software. “In this day and age of ‘do-it-now thinking – and now could be 2 in the morning – it’s great that customers have the ability to open our website and get the job done,” said Jay Trietley, who handles event booking at the facility “The ‘upsells’ we have booked, along with the convenience, is a win-win for us and the customer.”  CJ Barrymore’s, a sports and family entertainment center in Clinton Township, Mich., has seen a 40 percent increase in its event profit margin from using an online booking solution.

For other leisure entertainment facilities, improving on-site payment systems and adding new payment and ticketing options has been the key to an improved guest experience and, in turn, a better bottom line. Sebastian Mochkovsky, director of Sacoa, pointed to a heightened tendency among owners and operators to seek out point-of-sale systems that allow all products, from play cards, food and beverage to tickets/admissions and retail merchandise, to be sold using the same system. Although some of the payback generated by such systems centers on the enhanced profitability afforded by centralized facility management systems, consumers benefit from the time savings of going to one point-of-sale station, rather than to multiple stations, to pay for different items or services. This translates into a higher-caliber visitor experience. “The seamlessness” of such a system “makes it easy not just for operators, but for customers,” observed Cory Haynes, president and owner of BFD, Bar Fun Dining in Flower Mound, Texas.

Meanwhile, at four Frankie’s Fun Parks locations in Raleigh, N.C. and Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville, S.C., the decision to convert to a ticketless system “has been one of the best” choices ever made in the operation’s 23-year history, according to Owner Doug Godley.  “Our customers are having a better experience and are spending more money,” he said. “The arcades are much more pleasant places to play without all the calls for tickets being out or jammed as well as the customers complaining that they were shorted on tickets.”

The Seattle Aquarium, meanwhile, upgraded its point-of-sale system from one that required 45 seconds or more to process credit card transactions, to one that obtains transaction authorization in less than three seconds per payment. “Sixty percent of our visitors pay by credit card, so with the old system there were always lines to enter,” a spokesperson noted. “That is no longer true, and the guests are happier.”

Taking things to the next level, the Walt Disney Co. has plans to enhance its MagicBands, which customers use as a contactless (radio frequency identification-based) mode of payment in the company’s parks to include multiple supplementary functionality. Options would include skipping lines for agreeing to visit a ride at a certain time and enabling animatronic and costumed characters to identify MagicBand-wearing patrons by name. In a statement, Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said, “We want to take experiences that are more passive and make them as interactive as possible — moving from, ‘Cool, look at that talking bird,’ to ‘Wow, amazing, that bird is talking directly to me.’ ”

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