There is nothing that can put a smile on a child’s face faster than a trip through the fantasy of an amusement park. Cotton candy, fun rides and the constant stimulation of sounds and bright colors are everywhere. Unfortunately, mother nature doesn’t always cooperate and an exciting day can turn into a disappointment when a sudden rain storm, unusually high winds or below normal temperatures threaten operations.
Theme park revenue is highly dependent on the ebbs and flow of the weather. Good weather drives visitors. And poor weather keeps them away. How do theme parks organize to maximize the up times, while minimizing the impact of bad weather? Four elements are essential for these outdoor businesses.
- Take advantage of good weather forecasts. Theme park managers can’t control the weather, but they can and do take advantage of good weather forecasts by exploiting particularly good weather to drive visitor traffic. Chris Nicoli, Marketing/Entertainment Manager at Canobie Lake Park explains, “If we see a forecast with high sustained temperatures, we may adjust our advertising to highlight keeping cool on our water attractions.” Smart operators keep in mind that all weather is local. For example, a heat wave in Florida begins at a different temperature than a perceived heat wave in Maine.
- Optimize customer experiences. It’s rather straight-forward to communicate when the weather will be the same all day, but when weather fluctuations flare, making guests comfortable during the ups and downs is critical to providing quality experiences. Whether it’s the easy access to ride closures and expected re-openings or having umbrellas on hand for rain showers, guests want help to make the most of their visit. Even food demand will vary depending on the weather. A sunny, especially warm day will put a drain on cold treats while a cloudy, cool day may increase demand for toasty ones.
- Safety first. While theme parks want to drive visits, their priority is to ensure the safety of their guests. Weather forecasts are critical to determining whether rides can remain open. High winds are particularly dangerous and must be monitored closely. Chris Nicoli further shares, “We have an action plan prepared for many types of scenarios including weather. These procedures typically have information regarding shelter-in-place protocols or equipment that needs to be removed in the event of strong winds. The park sees a wide variety of weather conditions, but each attraction has different conditions in which they operate. Lightning detected in our area typically creates an “all stop” for our attractions.”
- Transparent communications. While safety must come first, communications is a very critical component of running a well-oiled machine. From staffing actions to setting customer expectations, a good communication plan is essential.
The weather can be a little like a roller coaster – lots of ups and downs, and the occasional unexpected twist. It’s a good thing theme parks have up to the minute weather forecasts to ensure a safe but fun experience for guests. With the proper planning, a day at the park will be a day of thrilling memories.