Guest Article

ParkBloggin’ By Dr Jack Samuels

At this point, COVID-19 has become a way of life, but it doesn’t have to bring our industry down; instead it should push us to new ideas and new forms of operation and marketing to please and amaze the public we serve, writes ‘The Fun Doctor’ Dr. Jack B. Samuels. As a professor and consultant to

many different industries under the “fun umbrella”, I observe industries that provide leisure activities to the public and make operational recommendations. Here are a few of the ideas that have popped into my head in recent weeks, separated into three categories. I may well think of more in the coming weeks.

Category #1 Take your service to the public virtually. On a recent virtual seminar, I learned and reflected on an idea brought forward by the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo is offering virtual animal sessions. So, for example, if you are having a child’s birthday party you can have an animal visit the party virtually. Here we have just one idea that fits “Creativity, Category One” - Virtual Experiences. A great brainstorming session should be conducted to create these experiences and form marketing approaches for them.

Category #2 What do you do with those live shows? Live free shows are now a problem in terms of density and seating. It is time to think out of the box about how shows are delivered. My idea, which I’ve been told is a good one (the next one in the article is the biggest and best one!), is to carefully evaluate shows and turn some of them into dinner or lunch experiences. For example, the Festhaus at Busch Gardens could have programmed show times where a meal and beverages are served and are appropriate to the time of day. Evening shows could feature

unlimited beer and food, for example. The show could be jazzed up with a variety of new elements. Seating would all be reserved so parties that know each other could be placed in close seating but all non-related parties would be spaced apart. Best of all this scenario would enable a new revenue area and also a new attraction at no additional cost.

Category #3 Category 3 contains the best idea framework of the three. I am calling this one “Optimum Safe Fun Plan” (I think there is room for thinking up lots of creative names for this. The basic idea here is to operate 18 hours a day and have different themed operating periods throughout the day. So, for example 8 a.m.

to 2 p.m. might be family time and

12 a.m. to 4 a.m. would be young adult party times. All of these periods would feature reduced attendance so that people could have a maximum experience in a short period of time. Rather than operating almost every attraction all of the time, these themed operating periods allow parks to select which attractions to open. Of course, it’s likely that some market research would be required to optimise the features of each theme. If anyone has any doubts about this idea, they should consider when

the Norwegian Cruise Line rolled out its “Freestyle Cruising.” Everyone in the cruise industry thought it was blasphemy! It obviously worked and most cruise lines added many of the elements of their plan. The basic idea of this concept is that it does away with set schedules and lets passengers decide when and where they eat for their evening meal, giving them more flexibility. Best of luck to all in the industry with reopening and watch Park World for more creative ideas in coming months.

Dr. Samuels (MBA) has written over 250 articles for the amusement, theme park and entertainment industries. He provides diverse consulting services in general marketing and market research, facility development, customer service, safety, crowd, and event management and promotional activities programming such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

JUNE 2020


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