Getting the Word Out - Via Time Machine
Holed up in my basement office, that’s the sound I hear whenever there’s a package dropped between my front door and screen door. More often than not, it’s a delivery from Amazon or some other item my wife or I ordered. But every now and again, it’s something from a park or an attraction.
I love getting packages from parks. I used to get a lot more of them. In the pre-internet days (Yes, there was such a time. You young’uns can look it up on, um, Google.), parks would routinely send out press kits, often accompanied by promotional tchotchkes. Electronic materials have displaced most printed kits. But the tchotchkes sometimes live on and ka-thunk at my door.
Generally, the items parks send to promote new attractions or events are fairly typical, such as nicely designed invitations to press openings. Sometimes they’ll create something more distinctive. For example, SeaWorld Orlando delivered a cute, penguin-shaped USB stick to drum up interest in the debut of its “Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin” attraction. Then there was the time I received a set of coasters—the kind you put under beverages to protect wood furniture—from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay that was imprinted with its roller coasters. Clever!
Park nerd that I am, I treasure the salvaged piece of wood track that Six Flags Magic Mountain sent me from its “Colossus” coaster to trumpet the ride’s wooden-steel hybrid conversion to “Twisted Colossus.” I have a similar track piece from Six Flags New England’s “Cyclone” before it became “Wicked Cyclone.”
One of the most elaborate and unusual promotional pieces I received was the “time machine” that Silver Dollar City sent me for its “Time Traveler” coaster. Embellished with vintage gauges, gears, and other steampunky gizmos, it made quite an impression.
In support of its “Halloween Horror Nights,” Universal Orlando Resort gets the nod for developing the freakiest items. The public relations (PR) team once sent a book that delivered a mild shock when opened. I’ll never forget the shrunken head I received from the park. The gross thing came wrapped in “bloody” gauze and emitted a foul smell. In order to retrieve a flash drive, I had to root around its squishy brains.
One year, the Universal folks asked me to send them a headshot. A couple of weeks later, I got a framed photo of me transformed into a dead-eyed zombie.
It’s not easy to break through all the clutter and promote your attractions. Be creative and bold with your PR campaigns.
I’ll see you at the parks. But if I’ve become a zombie, you might want to skedaddle.
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 TripSavvy.com (formerly About.com) since 2002, and is a regular contributor for USA Today.