Business Strategies:
Making the Admissions Process Fast and Easy

For most, if not all visitors to leisure entertainment facilities, few things are more aggravating than experiencing a delay or other hassles at the entrance. Owners and operators can take several different approaches, technology-oriented and otherwise, in order to minimize such problems.

Ensuring that information pertaining to admission prices, packages, extras and rules and regulations is conveyed through prominently positioned signage goes far toward keeping lines moving. “It cuts down on the number of questions people need to ask” and eliminates others, observed Christopher Moore, manager of Funtasia Family Fun Park in Edmonds, Wash.

He added that training employees in the art of handling guests at the admission desk, and providing them with written tips they can use as backup, is helpful as well. Funtasia staff are taught what verbiage to use when describing ticket packages, attempting to steer groups to group pricing options and keeping general ticket sales traffic moving to prevent upsetting guests without rushing others who appear indecisive and more. Such instructions are reiterated in the employee handbook, along with standard responses to frequently asked questions. A “cheat sheet” that features the latter is kept at the front desk, and staff members are reminded regularly to refer to it when necessary.

Technology, too, comprises an effective means of making admission to leisure entertainment facilities as quick and easy as possible. Many venues now give visitors the option of purchasing tickets remotely, days or even weeks prior to their arrival. MaryAnn Stack, director of technology development at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, Colo., noted that that offering advance ticketing online not only is effective in achieving overall admissions efficiencies; it also staves off the additional headaches that occur when special events bring an influx of additional visitors. Not long ago, the museum hosted the Body Worlds 2 exhibit, to which 350,000 out of more than 600,000 tickets were sold online rather than on-site. Had visitors not been able to buy their tickets and reserve viewing times on the museum’s website, accommodating the crowds would have been close to impossible, Stack said.

Meanwhile, as an alternative to already-available online, print-at-home ticketing, guests of Cedar Fair’s 18 amusement parks and waterparks will, beginning this summer, have the opportunity to use mobile web and app technology to purchase admission tickets on a smartphone or other mobile device. Instead of presenting paper bar-coded tickets at the entrance gates, guests who have bought tickets via their hand-held devices will, upon their arrival at the parks, display and scan electronic bar-coded tickets appearing on those devices to gain admission.

Similarly, many leisure entertainment facilities are streamlining the admissions process by allowing customers to scan their own tickets at entrance turnstiles or other devices, as well as by utilizing wristband and assigning roving employees to scan tickets for attractions or events that carry a supplementary price. One such venue is the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., which like Cedar Fair, has also just jumped on the mobile ticketing bandwagon, reported Donna Powell, business and administrative services manager.

Instead of waiting for staff members to scan their general admission tickets using hand-held scanners, individual guests and group members alike scan their own tickets at the entrance turnstiles. The turnstiles have integrated scanners that control their mechanisms, preventing guests from entering the facility until the tickets have been read. Staff members wielding hand-held scanners read tickets for special events like Zoolights, an animal-themed holiday lights display that runs every December, and for the carousel. Zoolights carries a separate admission fee and welcomes more than 90,000 visitors over a four-week period. The hand-helds enable staff to rapidly move ticketholders through the Zoolights entrance, Powell asserted.

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio, handles ticketing with a scanner-based system acquired as a means of streamlining entrance to the attraction and its on-site Zoombezi Bay Waterpark. “Operations at the entrance to the zoo and to Zoombezi Bay run much more smoothly now than in the past,” said John Gannon, manager of operations.

For added guest convenience as well as to eliminate bottlenecks in the parking lot, the facility’s online ticketing configuration, “a must these days,” according to Gannon, lets guests purchase parking tickets along with admission tickets. Similarly, while guests can buy individual tickets for auxiliary rides situated among the exhibits and in a separate section called Jungle Jack’s Landing, the facility also sells $8 wristbands good for unlimited rides on the day they are purchased. “We tried a reloadable stored value card system for the rides,” Gannon said. “However, it didn’t work that well. The dispensing machines were affected by the weather, and it wasn’t practical for us to have machines at each ride.”

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has also introduced a “Gold Card “program that yields free admission to the facility  and Zoombezi Bay for one year, along with complimentary use of all 17 rides. “Gold Card” holders swipe the bar-coded cards at the zoo or waterpark entrance gate in return for a wristband.

Industry News

World’s First AquaCourse Installation Announced at Alabama’s Splash Adventure

AquaCourse is WhiteWater’s newest innovation, providing a distinct family experience

Set to open this summer, Alabama’s Splash Adventure (formerly Alabama Adventures Theme Park) has announced that it will feature the world’s first AquaCourse™. AquaCourse is WhiteWater’s newest innovation, a multi-level play experience inciting excitement by traversing guests through an exhilarating course of ropes, towers, bridges and zip lines while safely harnessing guests in. Providing a distinct family experience, individual guests determine their own challenges, while still sharing the complete AquaCourse experience with their whole family.

360° interactivity is what makes AquaCourse the first of its kind. By removing all of the barriers of typical waterplay structures, such as decks and handrails, guests can safely interact with others without any obstacles in the way. Geysers bubble up from below, sprays drop from overhead, water guns shoot from side to side and even spectators can get in on the action by pulling a rope that dumps a bucket of water onto the head of those on the AquaCourse.

Available in various models, AquaCourse integrates seamlessly into waterparks, amusement parks, FECs and other family-centric facilities.

Universal Orlando Resort’s 2012 Summer Concert Series Kicks Off with a Live Performance by the Cast of Nickelodeon’s Show “Victorious”

This June, Universal Orlando Resort’s 2012 Summer Concert Series will feature a diverse lineup of performers, beginning with some of the biggest names in the music business. Orlando’s hottest summer event will kick off with live concerts by the cast of Nickelodeon’s hit TV series, “Victorious,” on Sat., June 9, and rock bands ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down on Sat., June 16.  Additional performing acts will be announced at a later date.

  • Cast of “Victorious” To Perform June 9 – The cast of Nickelodeon’s smash hit TV series, “Victorious,” will get the party started at Universal Studios Florida on June 9. Theme park guests will also have the opportunity to preview upcoming episodes and participate in live question and answer sessions with members of the cast.  The event will culminate with an incredible music performance by the entire cast, including Victoria Justice, who plays the show’s main character, Tori Vega.
  • ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down to Perform June 16 – On June 16, Universal Studios will be rocked by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top. With more than 25 million albums sold, the multiplatinum Southern rock legends have released classic rock staples such as “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” Also performing on June 16, alternative rock band 3 Doors Down will take the stage at Universal Studios. Originally from Mississippi, 3 Doors Down has scored 12 Top Ten singles, including “Kryptonite,” “Be Like That” and “Away from the Sun.”

Guests Can Ride Bikes After Hours Inside Cleveland Metroparks Zoo at Wild Ride

Wild Ride at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is a safari on two wheels. Guests can bring bicycles to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and see the animals while they cruise. On Saturday, May 12, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., after the zoo closes for the day, guests of all ages will have the public paths to themselves. The pathways will be marked to keep traffic flowing and Wild Ride maps will point out areas of the zoo intended for beginning, intermediate and experienced riders. Many animals will be on exhibit and there will be chances to meet the keepers, check out exhibitors on the Welcome Plaza and more.

Guests can even rent a bike for the night from The Bike Rack by ordering in advance and have a bike waiting for them when they arrive. The event promotes the role bicycling can have as part of a healthy, active lifestyle and how it can help reduce individuals’ carbon footprint.

Namco America’s Dead Head 42-inch Is Coming Soon

NAMCO America’s Dead Heat, the high-earning driving game that has been a best seller for months, is now going to be available in a stunning new cabinet sporting a 42-inch monitor. The HD graphics displayed in the 42-inch screen provides an image that is so vibrant the players are transported into the driver’s seat for the ride of their lives.

The new cabinet debuted at the 2012 Amusement Expo in Las Vegas and the response was fantastic. A show attendee commented, “The game has some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in a driving game! When you display it on a large 42-inch monitor, the results are incredible!”

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