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Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks

02/13/18 at 11:18am in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 12:16pm by Zachary.)
Post: #1
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BGW’s Marketing Department has been monitoring the guest response to their new Membership Program both here and on social media.  They have noted a pervasive appetite for more information about the promised member-exclusive perks.  

As part of their effort to develop a program that rewards as many members as possible, they reached out to BGWFans.  They asked if we could host a virtual focus group of sorts on the ParkFans Forum.

In order to take advantage of this unusual opportunity, we have created this thread.  We invite everyone to propose reasonable benefits that you would like to see offered to members.

They did have some basic “ground rules” of sorts:
1. Be reasonable.  We would all like everything free and open all the time, but that’s not practical.
2. Think like an owner.  Would you do this if you were the park president and had a business to run?
3. Consider perks that would appeal to the majority of Members (even if all don’t actually use them).
4. There is no compensation for participation, or if the park implements your suggestion or one that is similar.

Lastly, the park is actively reading this thread. Behave.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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02/13/18 at 11:18am in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 11:26am by Zachary.)
Post: #2
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First off, this is an incredible opportunity for every member of the ParkFans Forum. I hope people realize the gravity of the situation at hand and act accordingly. This community has been given a chance to prove its worth in a way in which few of us ever imagined it would be. With that said...

I’m cheating a bit here. Since I knew this thread was coming, I drafted a response to it before the thread went live—both because I wanted to model adherence to the park’s proposed guidelines and, well, because I’m pretty damn passionate about my first recommendation…



By far the best season pass perk I’ve ever encountered is SeaWorld Orlando’s pass member lounge. Just having a relatively exclusive, climate-controlled place to go and hang out with some free drinks is, honestly, one of the most substantial guest experience improvements I’ve ever encountered. Though I do really enjoy the limited menu that SWO’s pass member lounge serves, I don’t think it’s essential to the overall experience.

SeaWorld Orlando’s lounge IS great, but we want to top theirs, right? So how do I picture the perfect BGW Membership Lounge?

First off, a big problem I have with SWO’s lounge is that it is just a pass member perk. I believe the perfect membership lounge can and should do a lot more than that. In fact, I think a membership lounge can make money.

Let's look at Disney for a second. Each and every Walt Disney World park has multiple Disney Vacation Club sales counters inside its gates. The only purpose of these booths is to push DVC sales. Universal Studios has something similar in their park’s as well.

Why can’t the welcome counter at a theoretical membership lounge double as a guest services counter? When guests without memberships inevitably walk up and ask what the lounge is, the guest services employee behind the counter can reply not only with “This is a lounge exclusive to park membership holders” but continue with “would you be interested in seeing how much it would cost to upgrade to one of our Membership programs today?”

For such a welcome counter to be an effective sales counter though, the lounge would need to go somewhere with a prominent entrance. I believe this is one of the shortcomings of the limited-run Pass Member Lounge BGW tested inside Das Festhaus a while back—few people walked by the entrance to the Festhaus Cafe/Brauhaus by mistake. To be a real success, I think visibility is key.

So, in light of the prominent location and climate control requirements, location ideas?

I believe Wilkommenhaus is a solid choice. Over the last few years it has been a building without much direction—during the main season it has been everything from a snack shop (right across the street from another low-trafficked snack shop) to a gift shop (within view of two of the best gift shops in the park) to an empty sitting area (right next to an existing sitting area). Another huge plus to Wilkommenhaus that the park already has experience running a guest services location out front (for the escape rooms). Theoretically they should be able to pull those temporary booths out again, give them a coat of paint, and be up and running without too much trouble.

The big drawback to Wikommenhaus? It’s seasonal. The space would be needed for escape rooms in the fall and a cookie shop in the winter.

Since I would really prefer a year-round option, Annie’s seems like an obvious choice—especially since it has only been open seasonally over the last couple years. Unfortunately, Annies lacks the bold, obvious entry that I’m imagining and I think it is probably way too small anyway. With that in mind, I think I have a better year-round option: Rhinefeld’s candy shop.

Last year the candy store in Rhinefeld was closed almost the entire season due to it simply not being profitable. Given its incredibly prominent location, it’s painfully obvious when this store sits dark. Aside from its small size, it seems like this could be a really good “tiny, first year” membership lounge option—super visible, currently vacant location that isn’t used for special events and is fully climate controlled.

If the park wanted to start off in a larger venue though and they are looking for a year-round location (as I would be), SOCO (Castle O’Sullivan) is probably the best solution. Aside from the occasional dine, the place is typically vacant. It has a fairly prominent entry area, an existing booth which can be used as a guest services counter, and even already features soda fountains. SOCO does have its drawbacks though. The fact that the stage-centric layout doesn’t ooze “lounge” being a rather major one in my opinion.

So, what would this perfect membership lounge offer to park members?

First off, let Coke sponsor the hell out of it. Don’t let them paint the building red or anything like that, but feel free to make it as Coke-branded as possible inside. Why? Free fountain drinks are a staple of the SeaWorld Orlando lounge and all of the Disney lounges. Hell, lets copy Epcot’s Club Cool—sell domestic Coca-Cola products at normal park prices and have Coke products exclusive to the countries represented by the park’s hamlets on tap for free. Ultimately, how this goes at Club Cool is that everyone realizes that good ol’ American Coca-Cola is the best and, after sampling the international flavors, just goes and buys a bottle of Coke anyway.

Other ways for the lounge to turn a profit?

Going back to SeaWorld Orlando for a moment, something their welcome desk offers are special plastic membership cards. Right now at BGW, in order to get a plastic membership card, you have to be “in the know.” The average AP holder has no idea that you can go out to the guest services building up the hill from the turnstiles, pay $5, and get a hard plastic card. I know that, right now, the profits from the plastic cards go to the Conservation Fund, but, maybe, it’s time to shake that up some.

Previously SEAS parks offered a wide variety of different cards (each for $5). I ADORED my Verbolten hard pass for years and was gutted when the park’s stock finally ran out. Not long ago guest services accidently allowed the sale of old plastic cards that were supposed to be discontinued that featured Killarney and Emerald Beat. I have a friend who was ecstatic to have scored one and, needless to say, I’m incredibly jealous of it to this day (please hook me up BGW!)

Anyway, last time I was at SeaWorld Orlando, they were selling a plastic pass featuring art from Guy Harvey (shark for the debut of Mako of course). I know BGW used to sell pink ribbon plastic cards with all the profits going to breast cancer research. Aquatica had a selection of custom ones back in the day too—featuring their various animal mascots. Maybe the solution is to have a handful of (rotating?) options—some, like the Conservation Fund card, with money going to a charity and others, like a theoretical Battle for Eire card, with money going to the park.

Something else SeaWorld’s lounge does well? AP-exclusive merchandise. Last time I was down at SWO’s lounge, I believe they had an exclusive pass member shirt, two exclusive lanyards, a few exclusive pins, and the previously mentioned exclusive hard card design from Guy Harvey. I don’t think BGW’s merch lineup needs to be quite that extensive (especially at first), but even just an exclusive shirt that only membership holders are able to buy would be a pretty big plus.

PS: As Disney shows constantly, limited run merch is the way to go for dedicated park fans. A lanyard or similar that is “1 of 2,000” is vastly more appealing than the same lanyard that’s part of a much larger batch. Limited-run merch like this would also make the Member Lounge a place pass members want to regularly check in on. It would also give the park a chance to make merchandise for some less-merchandised attractions or even reprint old, since discontinued merch (DarKastle, Ludwig and all, even now, still deserves a shirt!).

Lastly, lets talk about what I would fill the lounge with: old stuff. Retired merchandise and the thousands of old props and signs the park typically throws away—put that stuff in the member lounge. Then, keeping with the theme I’ve set forth throughout this whole post, put a price tag on it.

In effect, the decorations inside the membership lounge would always be changing as items are sold and replaced. And before someone says there isn’t enough of a market for this stuff, I have to disagree. I know a ton of people who would buy anything the park put out with a Celtic Fyre logo. I know entire clubs dedicated to people who would get into a fist fight over any piece of metal they were told came off of a coaster. Old banners? There’s a market. Howl-O-Scream decorations? Sign me up. Plus, this is stuff that is damn near 100% profit for the park. The park already got their use out of this stuff and it was heading for a dumpster.

And I get that this just sound like an enthusiast's pipe dream, but this formula is already in use at Universal Studios Orlando with Williams of Hollywood where it seems to work brilliantly.

Anyway, I think that is about it. Give people free drinks (especially unique ones they can’t get anywhere else!), some comfortable chairs, and climate control and I’ll be thrilled. That said, I think the park could really take a membership lounge the extra mile and maybe even turn an actual profit from it through exclusive plastic card and merch sales, retired prop and sign sales, drink and snack sales, and on-site ticket upgrades out front.

Frankly, even ignoring the Membership program for a second, a guest services counter somewhere inside the park would be a huge plus to me and, I have to imagine, others as well. There are times I’m in the park and want to book a dining experience or tour and, honestly, having to go all the way back up to Banbury to do so is a pretty big downer. I could see a location like this really helping sales of more spur-of-the-moment-type experiences like the long-struggling Wine on the Rhine during Food & Wine. Put out a chalkboard sign advertising it and allow people to book right there.

Hell, the park could even place one of those new, manned, map stations nearby and they will have basically created a full-service guest information center—something that seems like a pretty substantial guest experience addition by itself.

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02/13/18 at 11:44am in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 11:55am by Pretzel Kaiser.)
Post: #3
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So I have a few ideas.

First of all, let me say that I love Zach's ideas.  I'd add on to them in a few ways.

1) Exclusive pass member merch would be a huge plus.  I'm not talking something big, but small things that lend themselves to collections like pins, lanyards, or medallions.  

2) Give the most passionate fans time to ask questions of the park's higher ups in maybe a smaller scale.  I'm sure there would be people who would be curious about maintenance proceedures or what goes into picking foods for F&W.  I know most people wouldn't be interested, but the most die hard of the die hard would love to get to know the details behind why the park is successful. This kind of would be in-line with the park's recent turn in being more communicative.

3) Give members their own line to enter the park.  The current system is kind of a mess between poorly defined queues and people encountering problems they can't fix at the gate.  This would let pass members get in quickly and remain with their group.  This benefit is kind of like the employee entrance parking where it makes people who pay the most feel special.

4) Lights on HoS maze tours during preview days.  This is something I've always wanted and this would be a unique way for members to experience the mazes.

There are probably more, but I think these ideas are probably the easiest and cheapest to add in the short term.
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Post: #4
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I mentioned it in the membership thread. Monthly Perks!

The program is implemented in the Florida parks so why not do it in Williamsburg? Each month, members get a different perk whether its special dishes at F&W, extra bring a friend tickets, passholder picnics, Christmas ornaments, free front of line for select attractions, etc. Not too expensive for the park and it gives incentives to members to come back to the park more often vs. the handful of times most passholders visit.

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02/13/18 at 12:06pm in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 12:09pm by Zachary.)
Post: #5
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(02/13/18 11:44am)Pretzel Kaiser Wrote:  3) Give members their own line to enter the park.  The current system is kind of a mess between poorly defined queues and people encountering problems they can't fix at the gate.  This would let pass members get in quickly and remain with their group.  This benefit is kind of like the employee entrance parking where it makes people who pay the most feel special.

While I do love this perk at Six Flags and Disney parks, I worry that the ratio of Membership holders to non-Membership holders is going to be too large at BGW to justify the existence of such a line. If the park's numbers do work out to make this feasible though, by all means, I'd love it.

(02/13/18 11:44am)Pretzel Kaiser Wrote:  4) Lights on HoS maze tours during preview days.  This is something I've always wanted and this would be a unique way for members to experience the mazes.

This actually leads straight into another big idea I have. I think the park could take Pass Member Park Membership Ride Nights to the next level by focusing them around something unique. Previously I've never been super dedicated to attending pass member nights because it never felt like there was anything tremendously special.

If a ride night offered lights-on rides on Verbolten or Escape from Pompeii, enthusiasts would be beside themselves. Same with a lights-on house walk-through. Over at Kings Dominion during their Fall ACE events, they do group walk-throughs of their newest house(s) led by people who worked on the house throughout its development. Adjustments would have to be made to enable something like this to work on a ride night scale, but it is honestly one of the neatest things I've ever experienced.

Furthermore these offerings could be used as promotions for the HOS/Roller Coaster Behind the Scenes tours. "If you enjoyed this lights-on Verbolten ride, get a look behind the scenes at ground level on our Verbolten tour!" or "If you'd like to see behind the scenes at other houses featured at the event, meet our makeup team, etc. you can book a Howl-O-Scream Insider tour for 25% off tonight-only."

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02/13/18 at 12:16pm in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 12:18pm by Pretzel Kaiser.)
Post: #6
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(02/13/18 12:06pm)Zachary Wrote:  
(02/13/18 11:44am)Pretzel Kaiser Wrote:  3) Give members their own line to enter the park.  The current system is kind of a mess between poorly defined queues and people encountering problems they can't fix at the gate.  This would let pass members get in quickly and remain with their group.  This benefit is kind of like the employee entrance parking where it makes people who pay the most feel special.

While I do love this perk at Six Flags and Disney parks, I worry that the ratio of Membership holders to non-Membership holders is going to be too large at BGW to justify the existence of such a line. If the park's numbers do work out to make this feasible though, by all means, I'd love it.

How about they tie it in directly with the Premiere employee parking benefit?  On busier days, open up the side gate to Ireland as a premier benefit. I think it could be a push in making the park more attractive to premier holders on busier days where normally the crowds would scare them away.
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First off I would like to second Zachary's call for a member exclusive area.

One thing I would like to bring forward is an idea from a park I used to frequent often. Hersheypark has a program for pass holders and for certain level hotel stays for what they call the "Sweet Start". People with passes and that level stay are able to enter the park 1 hour before the listed opening time. Not all rides or areas are open, but some of the more popular attractions are available to ride.

I would like to propose an idea for the upper two levels of membership to be able to take advantage of a similar start to the day. The upper levels and their guests should be able to enter the park with their guests 1 hour before the main gates open, with open select rides on the Ireland/Scotland/England/Italy side of the Rhine.

Another perk I would like to see, and frankly take advantage of, is a "member entrance". Even if it had restricted hours, it would be a nice touch for members to get to enter the park at a different spot to not have to fight the crowds on the way in.
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02/13/18 at 12:37pm in Call for Ideas: New Membership Program Perks (Latest Edit: 02/13/18 at 12:38pm by Thomas.)
Post: #8
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(02/13/18 12:16pm)Pretzel Kaiser Wrote:  How about they tie it in directly with the Premiere employee parking benefit?  On busier days, open up the side gate to Ireland as a premier benefit. I think it could be a push in making the park more attractive to premier holders on busier days where normally the crowds would scare them away.



I think that is honestly an easily doable thing with their new handheld entry scanners...

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(02/13/18 12:06pm)Zachary Wrote:  This actually leads straight into another big idea I have. I think the park could take Pass Member Park Membership Ride Nights to the next level by focusing them around something unique. Previously I've never been super dedicated to attending pass member nights because it never felt like there was anything tremendously special.

If a ride night offered lights-on rides on Verbolten or Escape from Pompeii, enthusiasts would be beside themselves. Same with a lights-on house walk-through. Over at Kings Dominion during their Fall ACE events, they do group walk-throughs of their newest house(s) led by people who worked on the house throughout its development. Adjustments would have to be made to enable something like this to work on a ride night scale, but it is honestly one of the neatest things I've ever experienced.

Furthermore these offerings could be used as promotions for the HOS/Roller Coaster Behind the Scenes tours. "If you enjoyed this lights-on Verbolten ride, get a look behind the scenes at ground level on our Verbolten tour!" or "If you'd like to see behind the scenes at other houses featured at the event, meet our makeup team, etc. you can book a Howl-O-Scream Insider tour for 25% off tonight-only."

Haha, while typing I actually had the exact opposite idea of a "Park in the Dark" or a "Light the night Neon" for members. Either light the paths with minimal lighting and have everything dark, or use some special effect lighting to make everything in the park look neon.

Another idea I had after hitting submit on mine could be an event larger than for just membership; but allow membership free entry for this:
A run and ride 5K. A dedicated path through the park, including Apollo, Bolt, Invadr, Alpie, Grif, and Nessie, along with 1 or 2 other rides. So for non-pass members they would pay to be part of the event, and members would get to sign up for free, and a shirt design for members is a separate design exclusive to them.
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Post: #10
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Possible Pass Member Perks

These are my top 5 pass perk wishes, in no particular order. I would be ecstatic if the park implemented any of these suggestions. Also, these are all suggestions in addition to the ones that are already in the system.

Entry through Ireland gate on peak days- Ireland is closer to most of the attractions in the park than England. Busch Gardens Tampa has something similar on certain dates at their Nairobi gate.

Re-rides- Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando both have re-rides for Platinum Pass holders without having to get back in line. Their only exception is the front row on most roller coasters and sometimes the newest/most popular ride.

Pass member lounge with free drinks.

Increased discount rates during pass member events.

Free lockers at Water Country USA- The prices on lockers are way too much for pass members. Not having to worry about paying for lockers would make it so much easier for me to attend WCUSA at any time, perhaps taking some of the burden off of Busch Gardens during the peak season.

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Post: #11
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While I was out to lunch I had a few more thoughts (can’t help it):
- 2 years ago select pass holders were given the ability to get different things for every so many visits. I think implementing that as a standard program for all members would be a nice touch, and what the rewards were for every so many visits depends on the level of membership.

- Make the membership card really nice. Have a selection themed to the different hamlets. A nice credit card quality membership card would be a nice touch to having it. A step above would be allowing us to link a credit card/bank card to the pass so we can minimize what we carry that would be nice.

- I saw someone say about free lockers at WCUSA, what about a year long locker pass that can transfer from location to location for members? 1 payment and you get locked use for the year. I know personally I get a locker every time I’m around; so having the pass for the season as opposed to renting one every time would be something I would take advantage of.

- 1 or 2 free kennel passes a year for free. I got a furry 4 legged kid, and she’s why I don’t typically stay late or make full day visits. I wish I could, but again, like the lockers, paying on top for her stay is something I’m not willing to do every time. I would make a few longer visits if some free stays were available.

Alright last one (I swear):
- A 1 time a month “discotec” in the festhous open to members only. Different themes each of those nights. 80’s night, singles night, adult prom night. Space out some tables, create a dance floor, bring in a DJ/Band, and turn the place into a club from 7 pm - Close.
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Post: #12
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I believe one great perk would be a season long photo key now that ct is now included in the memberships. Also have the price variable based on membership tier.

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Post: #13
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I would like to see a free cup. Keep the $2 refill or whatever it is now, but let us get a free cup. Another thing- which would be hard; but our own parking lane or entrance. Since most are scan and free it be easy and quick.

I would like to see maybe one Saturday a month open an hour early for the members. I know they have the extra time at night on given nights but some people may want to go early instead.

I may want to see tiers on the discounts- like 10, 15, 20 % ( or 10 for the first 2 and then 15/20 for the top)

Besides that we get a decent bit and love this new program
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Post: #14
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1. 1x free quick queue per pass holder. Doesn't cost the park anything and would make almost everyone happy.

2. Either a set number or unlimited locker rentals. I assume it wouldn't cost that much in lost revenue.

3. Issuance of a non-paper membership card and a specific lanyard for each tier.
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Early Ride Time

One of the best perks of my Kings Dominion pass is Early Ride Time (ERT). The way it works is pass members, after entering the park, show their passes to a security guard stationed at a rope barricade before the park opens to the public. They are then admitted to one area of the park where usually two major rides are open for 30 minutes of exclusive ride time before official opening time. This has been done on daily and weekend-only operation over the years.

From a guest’s perspective, this is a fantastic perk because it provides a exclusive, personal access to the park and allows us to get a few rides in with minimal waiting. For the park, I imagine this is beneficial because it gives me incentive to arrive early, and I normally end up buying extra snacks and drinks because I am spending more time in the park.

I could certainly see the system working fairly smoothly at BGW, although the staggered village opening times which vary from day to day would complicate things a bit. A solution could be that one designated village, say Festa Italia, always opens at a certain time for ERT. So, if Banbury Cross opens at 9:30 am one day, Festa Italia would also open at 9:30 before it and the remaining villages open to the general public at 10. Guests would enter the park as normal, proceed to the rope barricade near Escape from Pompeii, present their membership cards to security, and continue to Festa Italia for 30 minutes of ride time on, say, Apollo’s Chariot and Tempesto. Certainly this would be an amazing perk and would encourage me and my family to arrive at the park early.



Early Entry

Now, perhaps Early Ride Time isn’t cost-effective for BGW. Perhaps the cost-benefit ratio of ERT at BGW would not be the same as it is at KD.

However, a solution that would be significantly less costly and easier to execute, while still being a valuable perk, is Early Entry. At Kings Dominion’s Soak City, and up to 15 minutes before opening time, pass members can present their passes to a security officer stationed just past the entrance, and are then admitted into the water park.

The key difference from ERT is that no rides are open. Early Entry simply allows guests to enter the park a few minutes early. However, this is still a lovely perk because it allows time to, say, purchase a locker, stow loose items, migrate to various areas of the water park, and queue up outside an attraction without being caught in the hordes of guests. Then, when the attractions do open as regularly scheduled, pass members get to be the first ones in line.

I think this would be especially valuable at BGW. One rope barricade, such as the one at the Killarney Crossing, could be designated as the Early Entry point. If Ireland, France, and New France officially open at 10 am, starting at 9:45 members could be admitted into this portion of the park. This would allow plenty of time to reach a specific destination, purchase and fill up a locker, and line up outside the entrance to an attraction.

The entire experience would be infinitely more relaxing than racing with the crowds as the general public floods the park and dashes to their first attractions of the day. Plus, since Early Entry simply gives early access to the park without providing any actual service, it seemingly would not be expensive on the park’s end.



Quick Queue

Another small perk of Kings Dominion’s pass program is that each guest is given one unlimited, one-day Fast Lane pass when they renew their pass. As another use has suggested, providing one Quick Queue pass to members would cost virtually nothing to the park but would really give guests the, “Wow, they really do care!” impression.

Now, I think the biggest flaw with Kings Dominion’s system is that their Fast Lane passes are given when a member renews their pass. Naturally, this means the use of Fast Lane backs up dramatically in the Fall when most members renew their passes. At BGW, a solution is that the single Quick Queue pass could be redeemed at any point in the year; it would be a perk for already owning a pass rather than a perk for renewing it. Naturally, blackout dates could be included so there isn’t an overload of member-issued Quick Queue use on, say, July 4th.

Overall, I feel Quick Queue would be an incredibly inexpensive choice for the park while making a positive impact on the member’s attitude toward the membership program.



Meetings with Park Executives

I absolutely love running into park executives randomly throughout the park and chatting with them. This intimate, one-on-one time with management adds a genuinely personal touch to the park and offers a great attempt to express shared passions and communicate ideas and concerns. There is just something really special, magical, even empowering about the chance to meet the men and women at the top who bring the park to life.

Unfortunately, nearly all of my encounters with park executives have been by chance as I happen across them somewhere in the park. I would absolutely relish a designated time for members to meet with executives such as the Park President, the Executive Chef, the Vice President of Engineering, the Vice President of Marketing (wink-wink), and so forth.

I certainly think there is demand for a such a “meet and greet.” Even my chance encounters with executives have often ended because another guest has come by wanting to talk with the executive too, and on at least one occasion I have seen an impromptu line form to meet the Park President! Designated time to meet management would add such a personal touch to the park and its perks for members.



I have dozens more ideas, but these are the ones I feel are most valuable to guests and most cost-effective for the park. If there is demand, I would love to share more!

Also, I would like to give my sincerest gratitude toward Zachary, Nicole, and Gavin for landing this fantastic opportunity, and to the Busch Gardens Marketing team for their incredible interest and proactivity and having the voices of their guests heard. It really makes me feel as though my opinion as a guest truly has value, and this is a level of caring that I have never seen a park in the industry extend before. Thank you, BGW!

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