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The Art of Attractions - November 2016

My 15 Seconds of Fame on ‘Gilmore Girls’

Like a launched roller coaster, the response was crazy-fast and seemed to come out of nowhere. My phone started ringing off the hook, e-mails began piling up in my inbox, and neighbors suddenly stopped me on the street and in the market. Years later, people still remember the time I was prominently mentioned on a popular, primetime, network TV show.

The year was 2007, and the show was “Gilmore Girls.” It wasn’t just any episode; it was the series finale, “Bon Voyage.” For those unfamiliar with the program, it was about an over-caffeinated single mother, Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), and her equally jittery daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel). The two girls were known for the rapid-fire conversations they shared. In the final episode, the newly graduated Rory is about to leave home and plans an epic amusement-park trip with her mother before she flies the coop.

That’s where I come in. Lorelai is on her laptop gathering info for the sojourn and lands on my theme parks site at About.com (http://themeparks.about.com). She mentions me by name. “Oh, yes, the venerable Mr. Levine, a legend in coaster criticism,” Rory responds with her typically perky cadence. “What coaster connoisseur hasn’t [heard of him].” Also getting shout outs in the segment are Six Flags Great Adventure, Lake Compounce and its wonderful “Boulder Dash” woodie, and the equally wonderful (and deservedly venerable) Coney Island “Cyclone.”

As a result, I got a nice bump in credibility, name recognition, and page views. Nobody from the “Gilmore Girls” had given About.com or me a heads-up. It happened organically.

That’s sometimes the way the media works. (Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who is part of the media machine.) Many of you have probably gone to great lengths to roll out PR campaigns for your parks, attractions, or latest products … only to get tepid responses. Other times, you may have been caught off guard when your park or organization is suddenly the center of attention.

It’s especially tricky to control your message in the social media age, when things can go inexplicably viral in an instant. It’s important to keep promoting your brand and remain in the conversation. You never know who might be listening.

Case in point: The Gilmore Girls are reuniting for new episodes on Netflix this November. Maybe they’ll finally get around to their coaster-hopping getaway.

A lifelong park fanatic, Arthur Levine has been writing newspaper and magazine travel features about the industry he loves since 1992. He’s been the Theme Parks Expert at About.com since 2002, and is a regular contributor for USA Today.