Business Resources - Retail - November 2017


Special events, like “Brick or Treat” at Legoland Florida, present photo opportunities that aren’t available for guests at other times of the year. (Credit: Legoland Florida Resort)

Lights, Camera, Revenue

9 tips for a picture-perfect photo souvenir program

by Jodi Helmer

Photo souvenirs appeal to families who want to capture the excitement of meeting favorite characters, riding roller coasters, and making memories at their favorite theme parks. For parks, mounting cameras on rides or dispatching roving photographers throughout the park provides opportunities to generate revenues.

Follow these nine tips for a picture-perfect photo souvenir program:

1. Location, Location, Location

When it comes to snapping the perfect park photos, location matters. Roller coasters are an obvious choice for candid “wow” shots that could never be captured with a smartphone camera. Legoland Florida Resort has seven ride cameras, including one that takes photos on the wooden roller coaster “Coastersaurus” to capture children’s first roller coaster rides.

At Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, cameras are mounted on three roller coaster tracks and the log flume. Rich Kimak, director of games and retail for Kennywood, believes smaller rides are often overlooked as prime locations for action shots, explaining, “Grandma and Grandpa aren’t riding the big thrill rides. Placing cameras on car rides or other ‘family’ rides captures photos that sell themselves.”

Parks with successful photo souvenir programs also dispatch roving photographers to strategic spots in the park to snap pictures with costumed characters or in front of backdrops featuring the park’s name.

2. Capture the Brand

Printing the park logo on photos ensures the brand is front and center. Tweetsie Railroad places photographers at the entrance of the park and near the iconic steam locomotive—locations where the Tweetsie logo is prominent—and poses guests so the name of the Blowing Rock, North Carolina, park is visible in the photos. 

Guests entering Kennywood are encouraged to pose for a photo with the iconic Kennywood arrow or with Kenny Kangaroo. Both the bright yellow prop and the character photos will remind guests of their time at the park each time they look at the pictures, notes Kimak. 

3. Turn Up the Fun

Tweetsie Railroad operates an old-time photo parlor where guests can dress up in Wild West attire and pose with vintage props such as lassos and saddles. “It’s a chance to emulate the characters in the park,” says Retail Director Jason Dahlin. 

Kennywood photographers offer guests props like novelty hats and oversized sunglasses to add an extra element of fun to their photos—and hamming it up for the camera draws the attention of other guests who approach photographers for their turn (and the potential for additional revenue). 


Guests can find photographers at four locations around Tweetsie Railroad and review their photos at the photo depot. (Credit: Jason Dahlin)

4. Do a Double Take

It’s not practical to snap photos of families in dozens of different poses, but photographers should take multiple shots to increase the odds that guests will like at least one photo—or purchase photo souvenirs featuring more than one pose.

At Tweetsie Railroad, photographers snap between two and five shots at a time and are stationed in four locations throughout the park; guests who have their photos taken in each location could have up to 20 images to review at the photo depot. Photographers at Kennywood take two shots—one tight frame and one long shot—each time a guest stops for a photo.

“Taking a dozen shots would take too long, but our photographers take at least two different angles; we don’t want to lose a sale because we only took one photo and it didn’t turn out,” Kimak explains. 

5. Offer Options

In addition to providing guests with at least two different images to choose from, providing options for the format of those images is also essential. Kennywood allows guests to purchase either digital downloads or prints, and also offers packages with a combination of both. 

Some vendors also offer software that creates virtual scrapbooks and allows guests to purchase and download additional photos at home, further increasing revenue opportunities.

6. Consider Expert Partnerships

Legoland Florida contracts with a third-party vendor to manage its photo operations. The vendor provides equipment and trains staff in the art of photo composition and editing. Erik Hendrickson, director of retail for the Winter Haven, Florida, park, believes partnering with a vendor specializing in photo souvenirs is a good business move, noting, “We believe in partners who are experts in their fields; we’re experts in Lego, not photography.”

7. Emphasize Training

Parks that outsource their photo operations benefit from having their expert vendors provide detailed training that includes lessons on using cameras and navigating software programs. 

Tweetsie Railroad contracts with an outside vendor for its old-time photo parlor but manages its roaming photographers in-house. Staffers in both departments undergo training in camera operations, photo cropping, and the art of capturing a good shot—which includes learning the right angles to position families and iconic park locations in the same frame. New roaming photographers work alongside photo leads and spend time practicing shots in the park before being dispatched to document family memories.

8. Master the Art of the Upsell

A successful souvenir photo operation sells more than just pictures. Dahlin estimates upselling accounts for 75 percent of the photo revenues at Tweetsie Railroad. Staff are trained to present packages featuring photos in sizes ranging from 2 inches by 3 inches to 6 inches by 8 inches and add-ons such as magnets, key chains, and photo frames.

The most successful upsell at Legoland Florida comes through sales of DigiPass cards. Photos taken in the park are uploaded to a prepaid card and can be downloaded (and purchased) later. DigiPass sales account for 25 percent of all photo revenues. To further capitalize on the digital photos, the park offers popular one-of-a-kind photo souvenirs, such as a photo printed on a wall of Lego bricks that children can build to see their photos. “Bringing these kinds of products to the forefront helps us keep the revenue from digital photo sales,” Hendrickson says.

9. Take Advantage of Events

Hendrickson aims to increase photo revenues 10 to 15 percent during events such as the “Christmas Bricktacular” and “Knight Lights,” noting, “Some of our best [photo] revenues come in during events.” At the Halloween “Brick or Treat” event, which features a gigantic Lego jack-o’-lantern that families can step inside to pose for a photo, photo revenues go up 18 to 23 percent. Hendrickson believes the event backdrops provide perfect canvases to take photos that can only be captured once a year.

Jodi Helmer is a frequent contributor to Funworld.