Amusement parks are exciting places for thrill-seekers of all ages to gather and make great memories. Now that summer is right around the corner, it’s time to figure out how to increase amusement park customers for the upcoming season.
Effective advertising is probably the most obvious way to get people’s attention. A well-designed marketing campaign will reach new visitors and entice them to visit. However, improving the guest experience is the real key to increasing the number of visitors at your park. Guests who leave your park satisfied will tell their friends and family about their experience, which is an excellent, effective way to get the word out about your park.
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- Offer Promotions
- Improve Traffic Flow
- Use Maps and Signage
- Keep Bathrooms and Walkways Clean
- Hire Friendly Employees
- Add New Rides
- Use Good Visuals on Your Site and Social Media
- Invest in Digital Marketing
- Run Seasonal Events
- Mix up Your Concessions
- Give Offseason Discounts
- Create Loyalty Programs
- Add Child-Friendly Areas
- Invest in your Amusement Park with Soft Play
When guests feel like they’re getting a good deal, they’re more likely to leave your park with a positive impression, which can result in returning visitors.
Here are some common examples at parks around the world:
- Dining deals: For example, some parks offer a package that allows guests to get a free meal every few hours.
- Souvenir cup packages: At many amusement parks, you can buy a souvenir cup for a set price and receive free refills for the rest of the day.
- Multi-day passes: Providing a cheap set price for guests who want to visit multiple times throughout the week is a great idea, especially if your park is attached to a resort or located near a popular tourist destination.
You can also offer exclusive promotions to customers who follow your park’s social media accounts. We cover more on social media promotions below.
The wording you use for your promotions matters. Even if the discount price ends up being the same, most people will think $30 off is a better bargain than 30% off. Put the promotion front and center on your website and social media channels, and make sure to list the normal price next to the discount price for even more impact.
Improve Traffic Flow
One of the most common pain points for amusement park guests is congested walkways and long lines. Standing around in the hot sun for an hour or more can put a strain on the experience.
Finding creative ways to shorten ride and food queues can eliminate this issue. Some popular solutions include:
- Fast passes: Many parks offer a bonus package that allows guests to skip the line for high-traffic rides.
- Queue estimates: Some parks use digital solutions that let guests view estimated wait times on their phones before stepping in line.
- Cashless payment: To cut food and entertainment lines, promote cashless payment options, like cards or prepaid wristbands. Because they won’t have to wait for change, guests can get in and out quickly.
- Virtual lines: Some parks are doing away with traditional lines altogether. Universal Orlando Resort’s Virtual Line feature allows guests to reserve a time slot straight from their phones. When guests reach the attraction, they can scan a code on their phone to enter. Once their reserved time slot has passed, they can reserve another spot.
Use Maps and Signage
When your visitors feel welcome and have an easy time finding their way around, they’ll enjoy their experience more. Provide maps at the front entrance or through your app to help guests find their way around, and use signs at attraction entrances to catch their attention and entice them to check it out. You could also add signage to the ground, like painted walkways or arrows, to point guests in the right direction.
Make sure rides and attractions have signs that provide valuable information to your guests. For example, at the entrance to a high-intensity thrill ride, make sure to note that the ride is for people over a certain height and may be dangerous for those with certain conditions.
Keep Bathrooms and Walkways Clean
A clean park will leave a good impression on your guests. Two aspects guests will notice right away is the condition of your bathrooms and walkways. You might find that upping your sanitation and waste management strategy results in better reviews and more return guests.
Here are some tips for improving park sanitation:
- Litter management: Keeping walkways free of litter is crucial to maintaining your park’s image. Make sure enough trash receptacles are available to your guests so they can dispose of their waste. Empty the cans throughout the day to prevent overflowing. Disney parks are renowned for their exceptional cleanliness. Their secret? Installing trash cans every 30 feet and cleaning them out frequently.
- Restrooms: When it comes to cleaning restrooms, cleaning staff members should follow specific steps. Moving from the cleanest areas to the dirtiest can reduce the spread of germs from surface to surface. Additionally, staff members should use strong disinfectants in public restrooms. Always train your employees on how to use these products to ensure a good clean and the safety of your team.
Hire Friendly Employees
Whether it’s with the sales associate in a merch stand or the clerk behind the games counter, customer service is a crucial part of any amusement park’s reputation. The interaction a guest has with a worker can make or break their experience, so it’s important to hire people who are friendly and happy to help others.
Most amusement park employees work on a seasonal basis, so turnover tends to be high. However, you can still take steps to make sure you’re mainly hiring good candidates. Here are some tips for choosing the best employees:
- Read their face: Watch the candidate’s facial expression to gauge how they interact with others. Good eye contact and open facial expression suggest someone is relaxed and friendly.
- Watch body language: Open, upright posture suggests friendliness and self-assuredness, which puts people at ease. It’s also a good sign if your candidate leans in slightly when listening to you, as it indicates a genuine interest in what you’re saying.
- Ask personality questions: Use your interview questions to gauge your candidate’s personality. Candidates who seem social and upbeat will generally be your best choice.
Add New Rides
Generate interest from both new visitors and regulars by adding new attractions. Keep an eye on trends in amusement park rides to determine what direction you’d like to take. And make sure to remember your audience — if your crowd is primarily families with smaller kids, stick to low-intensity rides instead of high thrill attractions.
You could also upgrade existing rides to generate more interest. If traffic for one ride has been steadily decreasing, you could switch up the concept to make it more appealing to a new generation. For example, Hersheypark completely revamped the former Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge, an indoor interactive ride, to better fit current trends. The ride is called Reese’s Cupfusion and features a whole new storyline to engage kids of all ages.
Parks with limited space should consider ride upgrades and replacements rather than park expansion. When a ride begins to flag in foot traffic, you can demolish it and build a new ride in its place.
Use Good Visuals on Your Site and Social Media
On average, people read less than half of the words on a page — and that’s only if they devote all their time on that page to reading. Using a variety of visual elements like photos and videos is key to keeping visitors on your website. This mix can include both professional photography and user-generated content (UGC) you find online.
UGC is a great way to boost engagement with your site’s visitors because it puts the guest experience front and center. In general, customers tend to see user-generated content as more authentic than traditional marketing — essentially, it’s digital word-of-mouth. Posting photos and videos from your guests can showcase everything there is to experience at your park in a guest-centered way.
“Visuals” also refers to your site’s graphics and overall design. Keep fonts easy to read and incorporate your brand’s color scheme throughout to tie everything together.
Use large, striking images on your front page and sprinkle more throughout your site. For example, you could add guest pictures to your tickets page. If site visitors have second thoughts about purchasing tickets, they’ll see other people having fun, which will remind them that the experience is worth it.
Invest in Digital Marketing
Effective digital marketing can draw more guests to your website, which can generate more ticket sales and get more guests past your front gate. There are several ways you can get started with digital marketing.
Invest in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing strategy that aims to push your site further up on the search engine results page (SERP). That way, when people search for phrases that match your website’s content, your site is more likely to be the first result they see.
You can get started by identifying a few keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your park that people already search for on sites like Google. Conduct a few searches of your own to find out what people are looking for. Sprinkle these phrases throughout your website’s text, especially in the following areas:
- Title tags
- Bullet points
- Meta descriptions
- Introduction paragraphs
- Image descriptions
One quick note: You want to avoid overusing your keyword phrases, as it can make your site seem robotic and unprofessional. Aim to use relevant keywords at least once on a page and then just allow the writing to flow.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
Optimize your website for mobile users. More than half of all website traffic comes from mobile users, and if your site is hard to use on a smartphone or tablet, visitors are less likely to gain a positive impression of your park.
Poor mobile performance can also impact your SEO — the more people leave your site, the lower your ranking on SERPs.
Partnering with social media influencers whose content aligns with your brand’s image can boost your return on investment (ROI). Influencers are people who have gained a loyal following due to their expertise within a niche. Influencer marketing, then, involves partnering with an influencer to promote your brand.
Partnering with the right influencers can help your amusement park reach a whole new audience. They can blog about their experience at your park, post pictures and videos of themselves enjoying the attractions and show their audience why they should visit your park.
A particularly effective method of influencer marketing is providing the influencer with an affiliate code, which their followers can use to get a discount on park admission or other services.
Social Media Advertising
Targeted social media advertising allows you to dial in on the audience you want to reach. For example, you can target parents of young kids who have purchased event tickets online before. Or you could target thrill-seekers who frequently search for new rides and experiences.
Some ways you can make the most of your social media strategy include the following:
- Captivate foodies by posting pictures of seasonal concessions.
- Generate trust through testimonials from happy guests.
- Appeal to the younger crowd by posting fun memes.
You can also create interactive events through your social media accounts. For example, get your followers involved in an online scavenger hunt by posting clues on your social page. Offer a discount code or other exclusive prize to the first few guests who finish the challenge.
Develop an App
If you have the resources available, you could create an app for park visitors and season pass holders. A mobile app can make the guest experience more convenient by providing a single place to buy tickets, check wait times and view the park map. Done correctly, an amusement park app can help guests get the most out of their visit.
Run Seasonal Events
Seasonal events are a great way to attract guests once summer has ended by providing new experiences they can’t get at any other time of year.
One popular example is Dorney Park’s Halloween Haunt, which starts in September and runs until the end of October. During the day, the park provides kid-friendly Halloween entertainment. But at night, haunted attractions open up throughout the park, and actors roam the grounds to scare unsuspecting guests.
Another good idea for offseason promotions is a back-to-school special. Since the start of fall means the beginning of the school year, you could tailor this event to people without kids. For example, you could hold an Oktoberfest celebration in the park or create a more extreme Halloween experience.
Of course, the type of events you run depends on your park’s overall vibe. If you have a wholesome, family-friendly image, design seasonal events with kids in mind. On the other hand, if you cater to thrill-seekers of all ages, you might benefit from a more mature event.
Mix up Your Concessions
Hot dogs and funnel cakes are amusement park staples. However, if that’s all your food stands have to offer, it’s time to shake things up.
Many amusement parks have diversified their menus to appeal to more people. Providing vegan and healthy options can generate more revenue than sticking to classic fried cuisine, which usually excludes people with dietary restrictions.
Additionally, you could sell food that fits your theme to provide an immersive experience. For example, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Orlando Studios offers dishes from the Harry Potter series, like butterbeer and pumpkin juice.
If you plan to be open in the fall and winter, change your concessions accordingly. Amusement park classics like cotton candy and popcorn will be popular year-round, but it’s a good idea to swap out frozen treats like ice creams and slushies for cold-weather favorites like hot cocoa and warm candied nuts.
The same goes for games prizes. When the fall wind sets in, swap out your giant stuffed llamas and inflatable hammers for stuffed pumpkins and scarecrows. Keeping things new every season can generate new interest in your games, which can be excellent revenue generators if done correctly.
Give Offseason Discounts
It might sound counterintuitive to reduce prices when tourist demand is tapering, but discounted guests are better than an empty park. By appealing to guests in the offseason, you can attract visitors who may not want to pay full price during the summer.
Here are some ideas for offseason offers that can draw guests in:
- Buy one, get one deals on tickets
- Discounted family packages
- Reduced merch prices
- Free or reduced parking
- Special deals for dining locations
Make sure to advertise these discounts on your social media pages and website — after all, guests need to know about deals to take advantage of them.
Create Loyalty Programs
Incentivize satisfied guests to keep coming back by developing a program that offers exclusive perks to members. Locals are often the best group to target for membership packages because they don’t have to travel far to get to you, but visitors from all over can benefit from a membership.
In addition to free or discounted admission, some examples of perks include:
- Free or discounted parking
- Discounted food and drinks
- Early access to the park
- Previews of new attractions
- Exclusive merch
- Members-only events
Creating a tiered membership plan can make your program more accessible to people of different income levels. Higher tiers come with more perks in exchange for the higher price tag.
Additionally, you could partner with other parks in the area to provide extra membership perks. For example, you could provide free admission to season pass holders of your partner park and vice versa.
Add Child-Friendly Areas
Families with kids are the most common amusement park guests, so you’ll want to make sure you create spaces where kids can take a mental break from the excitement of the park and let loose. Plus, you can provide parents with a place to rest their feet after a long time spent pushing strollers through the park. Soft Play® offers a variety of play equipment you can use to create an enriching play area.
Outdoor Play Sculptures
If you have a large space available, Soft Play outdoor play sculptures can help you design an engaging play area.
We make our high-strength play sculptures from glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP), making them incredibly durable and long-lasting even in extreme weather conditions. They’re also easy to clean, so you can ensure they’re always in top condition for your guests.
Plus, you can customize your sculptures to reflect your park’s theme. We can mold GFRP into a wide variety of shapes and sizes, so we can match your vision every time.
Exciting indoor and outdoor playgrounds are sure to attract families to your park and keep the kids entertained throughout the day.
- Adventure courses: If you have a lot of space, an adventure course is a great choice for families with older kids.
- Themed playgrounds: Create a space that matches your park with an indoor themed playground from Soft Play. Kids can enjoy an immersive world on the playground while their parents can relax and take advantage of a break from the summer heat.
- Pick & Play™: Create a safe, contained play space for smaller kids with low-profile Pick & Play™ characters from Soft Play.
If you choose to create an outdoor play space, make sure to take advantage of any nearby shade or install shade structures to allow tired guests a break from the summer sun.
Invest in Your Amusement Park With Soft Play
Improving the guest experience is crucial for growing attendance at your park. And the best way to do that is to learn from your guests — find out what they love about your park and determine how to provide similar experiences. Soft Play is proud to help amusement parks attract families and grow their businesses with play that works.
Ready to get started? Check out our previous amusement park projects or browse our online selection to see for yourself how Soft Play can help make your park more exciting for kids. If you’ve got an idea in mind, request a quote today!