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Amusement Parks Offer Online Fun and Teases During Pandemic Closure; Hershey Park Reopens

Hershey Park Reopened to the Public on July 2

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With most amusement and water parks still closed, would-be attendees are being offered a variety of ways to still experience the attraction industry. From discounted and advance purchases for future in-person attendance to online videos, games, online classes, and product tie-ins, parks have found some innovative ways to encourage interest in the attractions.

Legoland parks have offered a series of online Building Challenges for kids. The projects are educational and can also be seen as tie ins for Legoland products available online currently with free shipping at park stores. The innovative challenges themselves are posted weekly, every Wednesday. From building a Lego dog to a Lego Star, mazes, and coloring, each of the challenges are free, include instruction videos and activities designed, per the park's press release, to “promote learning, creating, and play.” There is a new theme every week; each video is hosted by a master model builder. On Fridays, the park shows some builds posted by participants on social media, and asks for input on what builders should make next. Weekly coloring pages, mazes, word searches, trivia, “Brick Tac Toe,” and silly story fill-ins are also posted on the Legoland websites. The result is hours of fresh weekly fun for kids, and pun-intended, “built-in” promotion.

The park is also offering extended activation time periods and sale-pricing for park season passes; free shipping from Lego park stores; and vacation packages for “buy now, stay later” discounts up to $325.

Other parks offer discounts, take-out food options, and virtual rides, allowing guests to experience pleasurable and memory-inducing fun for guests, the bottom line is to stimulate sales of park passes or encourage buying merchandise that supports the park.

Located in Portland, Ore., Oaks Amusement Park offers these experiences: take- out food that is usually only available for catered events, in the form of original recipe crispy chicken for to-go orders with curbside pick up and online pre-order; limited edition  specially designed fundraiser T-shirts from Pacific North Press, with $10 of each shirt and $20 of each hoodie purchased supporting the park; and options to purchase a $25, $50, $100, or $200 gift cards with a 20% bonus. Called Chipper Cards, they're for use in lieu of cash at the park and its antique roller rink, and never expire. Also online are virtual experience videos of rides such as the Adrenaline Peak, a thrill coaster with a 72' vertical lift, past-vertical initial drop, and three inversions; kiddie rides such as the Chipper Chopper and Jump Boats, as well as the park's classic Ferris Wheel are also viewable, immersive experiences.

Knotts Berry Farm

Similarly, Knott's Berry Farm offers a virtual view of rides such as their Montezooma's Revenge; take-out dinners and treats; and discounted, buy-now season passes for both 2020 and 2021 (an opening date for 2020 has not yet been set). The passes provide unlimited visits to Knott's and Knott's Soak City, as well as free general parking, and early access to select rides during the summer to draw in guests.

Hershey Park in Hershey, PA, opened on July 2, but during its closure offered virtual fun, with a preview of the new Candymonium ride.  The Bolliger and Mabillard hybrid coaster is presented with a 2:14 minute simulation of the ride. Visitors to the Hershey Park site can also view an almost-3 minute video tour of the new Chocolate Town. Passes are available at discounted rates currently, with an additional incentive that buying now results in season pass holders receiving one additional day for every public operating day the park is closed during the 2020 season. Online shopping is also encouraged with merchandise such as puzzles and games and plush characters available to be shipped, and gift cards for the park, the Hershey Hotel, and the Hershey Bears gift cards for use at all resort locations.  And in the meantime, at the adjoining Hershey's Chocolate World, take-out chocolate treats are available, with free timed-entry, face-masked shopping experiences scheduled online. Online orders are delivered free for purchases over $75, with 1-3 day shipping. At-home s'mores kits and special Father's Day packages are among the offerings.

Also in Pennsylvania, to encourage pre-opening pass purchases at Kennywood in the Pittsburgh area, the park is offering added perks to its season passes when purchased online, in advance. The website notes “We want to thank you for your support in good times and bad, and reaffirm our commitment to you by automatically extending your 2020 Season Pass to cover the entire 2021 Season. This will come at no cost to you and requires no action on your part. Passes that include 2020 holiday events such as Phantom Fright Nights and Holiday Lights will now also include the same events in 2021.”    Kennywood was scheduled to reopen last week, however pushed its opening to July 11.

Disneyland is serving up discounted merchandise and items geared to the pandemic, such as backyard fun kits for kids and Disney-character face masks. Art kits, puzzles, and STEAM activity toys have their own online purchasing section; and free shipping is provided for sales of $75 or more. The park website also makes prominent mention of the Disney+ streaming service; along with theatrical films and television shows, viewers can also meet workers at the park and learn about rides and shows continuing to whet interest in the parks as well as Disney's other entertainment products.

Virtual experiences are in the air abroad, as U.K.'s Blackpool Tower Dungeon, Edinburgh Dungeon, and York Dungeon, closed during the pandemic, created a Theme Park Collection of yes, scents. Produced by the AromaPrime company, the attractions are offering a dungeon experience at home that includes pub, castle ghost, and witch's trial scent aroma oils, as well as the likely more pleasant scents of other Merlin Entertainment attractions such as Sea Life and Camelot Theme Park.
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