Tuesday, October 13, 2009
How'd They Do It? Holiday World Sets Attendance Record
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, closed the doors on a record season Sunday, finishing 2009 with a new attendance high of 1,039,359 guests. That marks a growth of 3 percent over 2008, and the fourth year in a row the family park topped the 1 million mark.
That would be outstanding news for any year, but it's especially significant given the economy and weather the industry faced in North America in 2009. After the news broke, I asked Holiday World's PR guru, Paula Werne, a few quick questions to find out what made the park stand out in a difficult year.
How big of a role did your new record-breaking water attraction, "Pilgrims Plunge," play in the success this year?
"Pilgrims Plunge" was definitely a “marquee attraction” for us. Starting with the amazing animation by Keith McVeen at Virtual Image Productions Inc. (read FUNWORLD's award-winning article on McVeen here), a successful announcement, a live construction cam, big “topping” ceremony, and all our social media tweets and posts, we kept the story “hot” during the winter months. Then our advertising kicked in and the park opened, so the world’s tallest water ride spoke for itself. Of course we also have to thank our amazing Hosts & Hostesses who keep our guests coming back for more of our award-winning friendliness and cleanliness. And with the economy so tight, our budget-friendly "Free Unlimited Soft Drinks" program helps families afford a fun vacation.
Other parts of the country reported lousy weather this season as a major hurdle. What was the weather like in your area and how did it impact your season?
We had our share of rain! And all except a scorcher week in June, we never really hit those toasty waterpark temps. We’ve noticed that families are increasingly sensitive to the weather and often put off trips when mornings are overcast. We’ve nicknamed this the Year of the Procrastinator!
With four consecutive years topping 1 million guests, obviously it's more than just one ride that's made the difference. What is the common thread linking this period of outstanding success?
With all due respect to what I do and what our marketing and sales teams do, if you don’t have strong positive word of mouth, you’re missing a big piece of the pie. Families have been coming to Santa Claus, Indiana, for more than six decades, and they know what to expect when they get here. We really feel it’s our owners (the Koch family), and our staff of 85 full-timers and 2,000 seasonals, who make all the difference in creating lasting memories—we hear it all summer long from our guests. New rides are important, but there’s something to be said for a satisfied mom recommending us to the other moms on the block.