Getting Social with Theme Parks
Always Amused February 2020
By Erik Chalhoub
Love it or hate it, social media is a world-changing phenomenon that has changed society for better or worse.
It’s definitely made it better for us theme park fanatics.
It was hard to imagine just 10 years ago how active parks would be on social media today. At the turn of the last decade, many parks seemingly created accounts on various social media platforms just to claim ownership of a handle (i.e. @cagreatamerica), and rarely did they post anything beyond a ticket sale or advertise an upcoming event.
Now, however, social media has become an essential part of every park’s operation.
Many parks have created new positions within their administration dedicated solely to the management of their major social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), whose purpose is to post just about daily with original content and interact with fans.
Social media for parks is not just about posting pretty pictures (although that is still very much welcomed; check out the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk’s feeds for some incredible images). It’s now the fastest and most efficient way to reach the most people with important, park-related news and information.
For instance, California’s Great America will notify followers that the park has closed due to capacity (common during Halloween Haunt and the holiday season), saving people time and gas from making the trip. The Boardwalk, especially this time of the year, will announce which rides and attractions are still open if rain happens to be passing through.
Sure, about half of most parks’ posts try to get followers to purchase something. I’ll admit, I usually buy my passes for Great America every year when it announces its annual sale on social media. But it’s nice to see parks not using social media strictly as an advertising platform.
It’s also made the off-season much more bearable. Parks will attempt to stay fresh in their followers’ minds even when they are closed by posting photos of behind-the-scenes rehab work with their rides. If those parks are lucky enough to have a major new attraction to debut the next season, they will be sure to post construction pictures and videos to get followers’ excited about next season (and encourage them to buy a season pass). Check out Great America’s video series on the construction of its new water park, South Bay Shores, on its Facebook page.
Park representatives will also respond to questions and comments, assuming you have a valid, intelligent question. As with anything on social media, just ignore most of the comments on the posts. Your IQ will thank you.
If you haven’t already, give your favorite theme park’s social media account a “like.” It will prove an invaluable resource as you plan the next year of thrills.
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is seeking chefs for the 39th annual Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off. The Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation Department fundraiser is a two-day event, with amateur chefs competing on Feb. 22 and professional chefs on Feb. 23. Judges will determine the best Manhattan and Boston Clam Chowders in Amateur and Professional categories. The public will also have the chance to weigh in on awards for People’s Choice and Most Tasted Clam Chowders. Prizes include airline tickets, cash and wall plaques.
While the deadline to receive complimentary event T-shirts and Boardwalk ride tickets has already passed, the final registration deadline is Feb. 14.
Last year’s event raised more than $90,000 for the parks department, bringing the total to more than $1.5 million since the cook-off began in 1981.
Entry fee is $50. For information, visit beachboardwalk.com/clamchowder.
In December, the Boardwalk announced the opening of a new historical exhibit in the Boardwalk Bowl. The exhibit showcases the history of bowling by the beach with a display of bowling artifacts, photographs and memorabilia from the Boardwalk’s archives.
The exhibit was organized by Boardwalk archivist Jessie Durant and Boardwalk Bowl director Willie King.
The Boardwalk will also soon be taken over by Scouts.
Girl Scout Overnights returns March 6-7, offering Scouts and their families free arcade play, a movie, dinner, sand castle contest, all-day rides wristband and more, capping off the night with a sleepover inside the Cocoanut Grove with breakfast in the morning.
The Boy Scouts will have a similar event the following weekend, March 13-14. For information, visit beachboardwalk.com/events.