Out & Back - November 2012

Indiana Beach Uses Video Contest to Increase Facebook Fans Eightfold

Millions in the United States and around the world became aware of the viral video phenomenon inspired by the song “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Rae Jepsen, when the U.S. Olympic Swim Team’s version of the tune (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPIA7mpm1wU) was featured on NBC television, generating more than 8 million YouTube hits. But long before that video became public, Indiana Beach Amusement Resort in Monticello, Indiana, had already created and posted its own version and built a contest around it.

Sherry Vogel, the director of sales and marketing at Indiana Beach, talks about how the idea for a park video and a subsequent contest came about: “It was my idea in the winter when there weren’t many full-timers (staff) around. My daughter is 9, and she kept singing that song, and I saw that people were making their own videos online, so I thought we should do one of our own at the park. We worked on that video for a week and everyone did it for free!”

When Vogel came up with the idea the U.S. Olympic Swim Team’s version hadn’t even been created yet. The park posted its video in late June and used it to roll out a video contest that allowed people to submit music videos based on the song. “It was a way to reach kids, especially, because it is so hard to get their attention,” Vogel explains. The contest lasted a month and asked participants to film a music video inside Indiana Beach Amusement Resort. It was called “Caw Me Maybe” because the park’s mascot is a crow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df2oz6bCGWE).

There were several stipulations to the videos, such as they must include certain attractions in the background. The contest also awarded bonus points for featuring any food stand or other item in a video that could be bought or won within the park; Vogel says the stands are run by outside vendors who pay Indiana Beach a percentage, and they sometimes feel they’re left out of the park’s marketing efforts.

The contest did have one binding requirement that if not followed, would be grounds for automatic disqualification: No videoing of contestants could be done while they were on a ride or attraction in operation, for safety reasons.

In the end, the park received 15 video submissions. The winners—a family from Chicago—received a plethora of prizes, including four Indiana Beach season passes, four zipline rides, four upcharge attraction admissions, and a $50 cash card.

Vogel says the contest confirms there’s value for parks in social media: “You don’t always see it right away, and like any business, we’ve had negatives and positives come out of it. But it’s not going away, and it’s the only way you’re going to reach kids in the next 10 years, and parks need to be paying attention to that.”

As for lessons learned from the contest, Vogel says if she were to do it again she’d start it earlier in the season—opening weekend or before—and would run it longer. She also says guests sought her out with questions about the competition, and she learned that having someone working in the park with whom they had a personal connection was important to them. “I definitely made some new friends, and our Facebook page grew from 5,000 likes to over 40,000!”


Picturesque Tivoli Gardens Finds LEDs that Complement Its Beauty

As one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, prides itself on a heritage of warm, visually pleasing aesthetics, and lighting is a huge part of that legacy. So, deciding to make a wholesale conversion to energy-efficient LED lighting wasn’t easy. “Light is something that’s in our DNA, and it’s really scary to make a change because we have almost 100,000 bulbs in Tivoli,” says park COO Mogens Ramsløv. “But we want to lower our energy consumption, and also save on having to buy new bulbs and on the maintenance cost of replacing them.”

Tivoli began pursuing the conversion of its halogen and incandescent lighting over to LEDs after being contacted by lighting specialists e3light Pro of Denmark. The company knew it could not only save Tivoli significantly on its energy costs, but also on the cost of replacing bulbs.

“LEDs cost more up front, but you [recover] that fairly soon,” says Steen Bøgild Paulsen, commercial sales director for e3light Pro. “Halogens and incandescents operate between 1,000 and 2,000 hours compared to 25,000 for our LEDs. So you buy 12 to 25 halogens and incandescents for each LED.” Added to this is the cost and hassle involved in having workers go out into the park to change bulbs.

But e3light Pro faced a stiff challenge in making its LEDs as pleasing in appearance as the traditional lighting Tivoli used. This is where e3light Pro had a huge advantage, as it manufactures its own bulbs, cutting development time dramatically. Still, the LEDs presented some problems. “We worked very hard to develop the right color temperature because the looks were so important to them,” says Paulsen. “It was quite a long procedure to develop the test bulbs. We developed almost a crystal lens, sort of like an incandescent, that pushes the light and spreads it in a way you’re not used to seeing with LEDs. It’s a combination of the lens and the color temperature.”

e3light Pro and Tivoli auditioned test bulbs at the park’s beautiful Nimb Hotel to try to match the color and light diffusion. “The Nimb is the most beautiful bulb we have,” notes Ramsløv, “and you can’t expect the lights to look exactly the same, but they still look great. We are so close!”

Tivoli found the LEDs also look great in photographs, and Ramsløv says there really weren’t any other serious considerations to take into account with the conversion. The LED bulbs have the same base, so changing from the halogens or incandescents to the LEDs is just a matter of screwing in another bulb.

Paulsen estimates that thus far, 10,000 to 11,000 bulbs have been converted; the agreement calls for a total of 85,000 in three years. When completed, e3light Pro estimates Tivoli will save 2.36 million kilowatt-hours annually. 

The final question is whether Tivoli Gardens’ guests have complained about the change in lighting. “No one has said anything about it,” responds a pleased Ramsløv. “We’ve had no complaints at all!” 


Cincinnati’s Coney Island  Hosts First Fireworks Competition

Coney Island park in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently came up with a big event “first” that surprisingly had never been done before in the United States.

On Sept. 22, 2012, the park hosted “Fire Up The Night,” the first fireworks competition in the United States. The event pitted the United States, Canada, and Mexico against one another in an international competition for bragging rights. It was produced by renowned Cincinnati-based fireworks company Rozzi Famous Fireworks and sponsored by Dr. Pepper.

Bill Mefford, Coney Island’s spokesperson, says the idea for the spectacle popped out of a meeting between the park and Rozzi: “They were just sitting around talking about an international competition in Montreal that’s very popular, and they said, ‘Heck, we should get involved in that and be the first to do it here.’”

The result was a solid hour of dueling pops, blasts, and streamers that lit up the night sky. The competitors were Alonzo Fireworks of Mechanicville, New York; Sirius Pyrotechnics of Quebec, Canada; and Lux Pirotecnia of Mexico City, Mexico. After the contest, Rozzi finished things off with a spectacular grand finale.

A five-judge panel made up of [insert after selections] evaluated the demonstrations based on presentation, structure and scale, color, originality, music synchronization, and crowd response. The winner was [insert after event].

The 75-acre park took the opportunity to turn the competition into a night-long celebration. “We definitely had other things happening,” says Mefford. “There was a dry-pool party because Coney Island has the largest recirculating swimming pool—the size of two football fields—and people just brought lounge chairs and blankets. Coney’s 24 classic rides were open, and there was live entertainment, beer tasting, and, of course, plenty of food.”

The park charged a simple flat fee of $20 per carload of guests for “Fire Up The Night,” which included parking, the entertainment, and the rides. One benefit of this sort of event is it may attract people who don’t normally visit an amusement park.

Mefford notes one of the big advantages of letting a fireworks company like Rozzi organize the competitive display is it knows which fireworks companies to contact for the competition, and it also knows how to work the logistics of getting the display set up safely and arranging for things like permits from the fire department.

Though this was the first fireworks competition in the United States, Mefford suggests it won’t be the last. “It’s very possible that it will become an annual event here,” he says. “The competitors don’t always have to be the same, and the countries don’t have to be the same—we could really bring in competitors from all over the place!”