It’s that time of year again, folks. Halloween is now over, which means the majority of parks that operate on a seasonal basis will now be preparing to close their doors for the winter. This isn’t the case with all parks, however, as those which are open all year round will of course remain so, and many of these also hold Christmas events through December to celebrate. The question I want to put to you today is: which model of theme park operations is preferable, both to a business and to its guests?
It’s a tricky one because I can see advantages and disadvantages to both. Let’s talk about the unveiling of new attractions, for example. A lot of seasonal parks work to the ‘a new ride every year’ mantra, which is great from guests’ perspective but must put parks under a bit of pressure to have something new and exciting to offer every single year without fail. Year-round parks, on the other hand, can put up construction fences at any time of the year and don’t need to worry about waiting until the park is closed to start construction, and can then open their new rides at any time of the year without worrying about disappointing people who expected it to be open at the start of the season.
One area where I think seasonal operation is definitely preferable is large-scale maintenance. Most seasonal parks use the closed season to perform maintenance, upgrades and improvements not just to their attractions but also to the park and the landscaping as a whole. It makes a lot of sense to do this while the park is closed because you can work on large areas or groups of attractions at a time without having to individually close and look at things in the way that places like Disney World do. This keeps your guests happy because it means that they can go on all the rides in your park that they wanted to do without having to worry about checking in advance which attractions will be closed for maintenance for an extended period of time.
Seasonally-operating parks also have a great opportunity during the later stages of the closed season to drum up interest in their park once again through the form of advertising, offers and the like, which can help in the early opening weeks leading up to Easter – the more interest you generate, the busier you’ll be, naturally. It must be difficult for year-round parks seeing them virtually empty because everyone is home, working, or just assumes the park will be closed…although in saying that, the majority of year-round parks are so well-known and part of beloved franchises that maybe they’re busy 365 days a year regardless. Who’s to say?
For me, personally, the theme park closed season always feels like the longest four months of the year. Pretty much all the parks in the UK operate to a seasonal timetable, and it’s rubbish knowing that I’ll have to wait until March to go back to Alton Towers, or Thorpe Park, or even Blackpool again. From an operator’s standpoint I can see completely why a seasonal operating schedule makes sense, but as a guest? I’d rather be able to go visit a park whenever I want to.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your stay here at Along for the Ride.