The Fun Goes On - Attractions Go Virtual, Bringing Digital Entertainment to Families Worldwide
ORLANDO, Fla., US – During these unprecedented times, the doors of attractions around the world may be closed, but the fun goes on as many theme parks, zoos, aquariums, and museums find ways to connect with guests virtually. Creativity, authenticity, and quick thinking are the ingredients that come together as these attractions maintain important touch points and relationships with their guests, while providing reasons to smile.
Through social media, blogs, and email communications, attractions are providing engaging content that is educational, delightful, and a welcome break from the ongoing news cycle.
“Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to have fun and be entertained, but within the confines of home,” shared Susan Storey, global communications director, IAAPA. “A trip to a favorite amusement park or other attraction may not currently be an option, so the attractions industry is bringing the fun directly to guests with activities and entertainment that families can enjoy straight from a computer or mobile device.”
Fans can discover what their favorite attraction is doing by visiting the organization’s webpage. To help get them started, IAAPA has compiled a few examples from North America:
Zoo America, Hershey, Pa.
Through daily Facebook Live sessions, parents and children engage with experiences that include a behind-the-scenes look and educational sessions with many of the park’s animals, including reptiles, the Canada lynx, and even a skunk that leads children in finger-painting exercises.
Houston Zoo, Houston, Texas
The Houston Zoo shares information about the animals in its care—and how the community can help save threatened animals in the wild—through its social media channels, especially during “Houston Zoo Live,” Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. CT.
St. Louis Aquarium, St. Louis, Mo.
The St. Louis Aquarium hosts breakfast sessions with some of its animals. Fans are encouraged to dine virtually with sloths, river otters, and more during live weekly sessions on the aquarium’s Facebook page. Later in the day, the conversation continues as the Aquarium posts an activity for fans to continue the fun and learning from home.
Looking for something more relaxing? The "QuaranStream" Live on Facebook,
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10-11 a.m. CT, features live video from the aquarium’s webcams set to soothing music.
Gatorland, Kissimmee, Fla.
Airing live every day at 10 a.m. ET on Gatorland’s Facebook page, “School of Crocs” is a 20-minute segment that teaches viewers about alligators and the many other animals at the park. For guests that can’t tune in that early, a YouTube segment called "Later Gator" is posted each day at 5 p.m. ET.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Fla.
From lessons on rocketry to creating rockets at home from recycled materials, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides content for kids on its Facebook page, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET. Programming for middle and high-school age students begins at 1 p.m. ET. In addition, downloadable activity sheets and experiments can be found online.
Canada’s Wonderland, Vaughn, Ontario, Canada
Since there’s nothing quite like the feeling of riding a thrilling roller coaster, Canada’s Wonderland has created 34 point of view videos to help families feel like they are really there. They are then encouraged to make their own video, pretending they are riding the coasters. Submitted videos may be shared by the park on its social channels.
Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa.
The sweetest park on earth has created downloadable coloring pages for kids at home, and is adding point-of-view videos from their rides and attractions for families to experience from home.
Denver Zoo, Denver, Colo.
During its closure, the Denver Zoo launched its “virtual zoo,” providing entertaining, educational, and engaging content. Zoo to You: Virtual Safari is complete with popular videos, articles, and daily activity ideas for parents from the zoo’s Learning Experiences team. A new Facebook Live series, #BringingtheZootoYou, goes behind the scenes around the zoo to interview animal keepers and curators, answering user questions in real time.
Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
Carowinds has created a virtual stroll through the park fans can take from home. Point-of-view videos throughout the entire park allow guests to feel like they are riding the roller coasters and strolling through the park.
Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Ga.
Known for its educational content, the Georgia Aquarium now has a dedicated, comprehensive landing page for remote learning. Unique content includes nine webcams of the aquarium’s most popular animals, including whale sharks, penguins, beluga whales, rescued sea otters, and many more. Educational videos focus on what it takes to run one of the largest aquariums in the world. Live feeds provide an exclusive behind-the-scenes look, lunch time topics, animals at play, and animal training sessions. The aquarium’s educational content is great for parents with kids of all ages and includes a video series and downloadable curriculum materials.
OdySea Aquarium, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The OdySea Aquarium has created an “oceanic adventure from home” for its fans. Along with a virtual classroom, the aquarium’s live webcams give guests the chance to see what the animals are up to at any given time.
San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Calif.
A dedicated website and YouTube channel for kids are just two examples of the many ways the San Diego Zoo is communicating with its audience. Live webcams allow people to peek in on the habitats of pandas, burrowing owls, elephants, polar bears, koalas, giraffes, tigers, condors, and more. Supplemental – and downloadable – educational curriculums provide additional information about the zoo’s incredible menagerie.
Ripley’s Aquariums – multiple locations
The new Ripley’s Aquariums at Home program has a full schedule of live Facebook events, Story Time Live!, arts and crafts, downloadable educational material, and more.
Urban Air Adventure Parks – multiple locations
Urban Air Adventure Parks use Facebook Live sessions to provide cooking tips for kids from their corporate chef, virtual scavenger hunts inside the parks, and other engaging activities through its social channels
Escapology – multiple locations
Escapology, the live escape game attraction, has created #DailyDistinction Brainiac Challenge puzzles on its Facebook page for fans to try to solve. The quick games are similar to challenges guests face when in one of the attraction’s mystery room.
The National Cowboy Museum, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Not all content has to be focused on kids. The National Cowboy Museum has created a unique and hilarious commentary on its Twitter channel. Daily content is provided by the museum’s head of security and takes a full, unfiltered look at the museum’s exhibits.
The attractions industry continues to innovate and entertain its guests. Guests are fans are encouraged to visit their favorite park, zoo, or attraction’s website, or social channels to learn more.
IAAPA is a diverse and dynamic community of global attractions professionals. As the largest international trade association for permanently located attractions, IAAPA unifies the attractions community, connects people to learn and grow together, and strives to promote the highest professional standards for excellence and safety around the world.
Founded in 1918, IAAPA represents more than 6,000 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 100 countries. Members include professionals from amusement parks, theme parks, attractions, water parks, resorts, family entertainment centers, zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums, manufacturers, and suppliers.
The association's global headquarters is in Orlando, Florida, US. IAAPA also maintains offices in Brussels, Belgium; Hong Kong, China; Shanghai, China; Mexico City, Mexico; and Alexandria, Virginia, US. Additional information is available at IAAPA.org or through IAAPA’s social media channels: @IAAPAHQ #IAAPA
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For more information contact:
Susan L. Storey, APR
Director, Global Communications
Manager, Global Communications