News about governors’ responses to reopening, IP developments, and the trend to virtual
We divided this week’s news into three piles: the Florida and New York governors’ responses to how themed attractions can move forward during the pandemic, the evolution of IP experiences, and the trend to virtual.
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How NY and FL are Responding to Reopening Attractions
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Supports Expanding Theme Park Capacity
This statement from Florida governor Ron DeSantis last week sums up his position: “We think the capacity can be increased. When you have the kind of protocols they [theme parks] have in place, you know, we’re very comfortable at the state level that they’re doing it in a good way.”
Florida parks have reservation systems in place, but, even now, they’re not operating at capacity. Does increasing capacity truly help in this situation? Regardless, it’s good to see the Governor showing support for theme parks in the state and encouraging local visitors.
Read the full article on Chip and Co. here.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Announces New State Guidance for Agritourism Businesses
Also last week, Governor Cuomo in New York announced the state’s guidance for the agritourism business as Fall approaches, and this a great step forward. Many states haven’t issued reopening guidelines, and this is a problem. The New York guidelines are for outdoor events like corn mazes, hayrides, pick your own vegetables—and haunted houses!
Haunted houses may open because they’re low-risk outdoor arts & entertainment experiences. The message the Governor is sending is that, by adhering to these guidelines, outdoor events are safe and fun, and he’s encouraging people to attend them.
Read about this on Governor Cuomo’s website here.
Both Disney (Star Wars!) and Universal (Harry Potter!!) have seen a boost in the past decade by investing in strong IPs. This isn’t a revolutionary concept, and (Philip argues) bleeds into content marketing and brand experiences. The more you love an IP, the more you want to engage with that IP.
The pandemic has left people with much more time to soak up IP (quarantine binge lists anyone?), and that desire to engage further is still present. If enormous parks seem too uncertain for the average person, why not try a smaller/safer/closer experience? For the first time, pop-up experiences have the advantage of being designed as COVID-safe.
Now is the perfect opportunity for pop-up, quarantine-designed experiences like the Stranger Things Drive-In, the multitude of drive-in themed movie nights, and the experiences described below. For more on the business of this, check out this article by Joe Kleiman in the September 3 online issue of InPark Magazine about this year’s TEA/AECOM Theme Index.
Gaylord Palms Resort Launching Pop-up Christmas Movie Experience
The Gaylord Palms Resort in Florida is offering a pop-up Christmas movie experience this year. We know Gaylord for their massive ice sculpture experiences—ICE!—at its resorts, which are IP-driven. Gaylord announced they wouldn’t be doing ICE! this year because of the pandemic.
Gaylord executed this creative pivot of producing an IP-based, immersive, pop-up experience called “I Love Christmas Movies.” This immersive exhibit features themes from favorite holiday films such as “The Polar Express,” “A Christmas Story,” “Elf,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and the “Year without Santa Clause.” Gaylord is installing replicas of sets from the movies, so people can walk through their favorite scenes.
Details at Gaylord Palms.
Opening of Walt Disney World's Polynesian Resort in Florida Moved to 2021
Walt Disney World Resort announced that its Polynesian Village Resort in Orlando, Florida, which was initially scheduled to reopen on October 4, will remain closed until summer 2021 while it undergoes renovations. This is another pivot likely motivated by the pandemic, but it’s a more extreme one, involving renovating a 1970s-era, themed property based on an IP—Disney’s “Moana” movies—to create a destination that will be more in demand when it opens.
Read about this at USA Today here.
The Calgary Zoo Is Transforming into a Giant, Adults-Only Escape Room in September
This will be a night event in which the zoo is closed to the general public. Tickets are $45 per person, and alcohol will be available. Via Narcity here.
Europa-Park Introduces its “Hallowinter” Months-long Event
In years past, Europa-Park had a Halloween event and then closed prior to its Christmas event. This year, they’ll open for the Halloween season on September 26 and remain open through Christmas and into the new year in what they’re referring to as “Hallowinter.” If a park has a Halloween and Christmas event, plans for Christmas are already happening during the Halloween event, so this sounds like a brilliant idea operationally. We’ll be curious to see how guests respond. Read about this at InterPark here.
Virtual Isn’t Going Away, so Build It in Now
Attractions integrating a sustained, virtual component are cropping up everywhere. The pandemic has moved the needle on what is expected for virtual experiences, and attractions should not count on that going away. Plan now for how to permanently integrate a virtual experience.
The Virtual Online Museum of Art—VOMA—featuring free-to-view, classic and contemporary artwork, is the world’s first, virtual-only museum. The goal of VOMA, which opened on September 4, is to be as authentic as visiting a physical museum. The artwork is pulled from the collections of institutions including the Musée d’Orsay, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Each work is displayed in high resolution alongside related media and reference material.
The Mississippi Aquarium explained their integration in an interview with Blooloop “… we’re taking the field trip lessons and turning them into virtual ones…Team members can walk out to an alligator exhibit and FaceTime with a class. is creating virtual field trips that can be live-streamed to classrooms.”
In Orlando, Cityzenith is creating a Digital Twin for the Orlando Sports & Entertainment Smart District to attract tenants and visitors to downtown Orlando using a 3D experience of the district that provides a wealth of information and connected services. The “Job #1 for SCCiOS will be attracting tenants and visitors to downtown Orlando venues for a ‘wow, it feels like I’m really there’ 3D District Experience, delivering an unprecedented wealth of information and connected services.”
Carolyn Royston, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, points out in an article in Blooloop that museums “can’t carry on in the way that we have. There is a new normal. Each institution needs to figure out what that new normal looks like…. Everybody has had to adapt to working in this online environment, using Zoom, using Skype, using Microsoft Teams. What does that mean when we translate it into the visitor experience? And what are the things that we should be not just offering, but now building into our programmatic work?”