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Signature Drink - November 2016

I’ll Drink to That

Attractions wow guests with one-of-a-kind beverages

by Jodi Helmer

At Dorney Park, “Dominator,” “Revolution,” and “Possessed” are more than just rides. The park created one-of-a-kind beverages named after its thrill rides: Revolution is a colorful frozen blend of strawberry and lime flavors, while Possessed mixes pineapple juice and lemonade with a splash of grenadine.

Director of Food and Beverage Katie Knopf believes signature drinks, “make the menu fun for our guests.”

The Allentown, Pennsylvania, park is one of several attractions expanding their drink menus beyond traditional sodas and slushy drinks to include branded beverages that are unique to the their locations.

“Signature drinks become a must-have item when guests visit the park,” explains Alex Curavo, assistant director of food and beverage at the Columbus Zoo and member of the IAAPA Food and Beverage Committee. “It’s something that breaks through all of the options and ­connects with the audience.”

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal parks lists several flavors of butterbeer on its restaurant and concession menus; Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom serves up a frozen apple juice drink known as LeFou’s Brew at Gaston’s Tavern; and a vanilla-infused Coca-Cola product called the South Pole Chill is the official drink of the Antarctica section at SeaWorld Orlando.

At Knott’s Berry Farm in California, the park is built around a farm where boysenberries are a staple crop; featuring signature beverages made from the sweet red berries helped reinforce the brand. All of the beverages from lemonade and lattes to milkshakes offer boysenberry flavors.

“It enhances the guest experience because these signature drinks can only be found at Knott’s Berry Farm,” says Vice President of Food and Beverage Russ Knibbs.

While a signature drink menu can boost revenues, the process of developing one-of-a-kind beverages can be expensive.

The Columbus Zoo researched the possibility of adding a signature apple juice beverage to coincide with the 2015 opening of Pirate Island. Executing the concept—which would have included a custom drink dispenser, cups with containers for dry ice, and the apple juice mix—would have resulted in a price point upward of $8—too much for a non-alcoholic beverage.

“Signature drinks give you a premium product that is a great upsell item, but it has to be a good value to the guest,” Curavo says.

Instead of creating new recipes, Dorney Park renamed existing beverages on the Chickie’s and Pete’s menu. The move kept costs in check and a simple name change made the drinks more popular.

“Kids love the signature drinks,” Knopf says. “They see the menu and think, ‘I can ride that ride and I can have that drink.’ It’s part of the overall experience in the park.” 

Jodi Helmer is a frequent contributor to Funworld, focusing on operational trends and issues across the attractions industry.