How to Build an Audience for Your Theme Park

Hypothetically speaking…

Let’s say one wants to build a theme park, a big one…perhaps even a collection of theme parks, in a part of the world where few yet exist; where, perhaps, even a culture of enjoying theme parks hasn’t yet become developed.

Perhaps the population of that part of the world favors this vision, yet has no actual, practical experience of Theme Parks in Their Midst.

How, then, to build and enhance anticipation for this launch; to infuse and nurture visceral excitement and a sense of participation and ownership on the part of the population in support of this visionary enterprise?

Beyond press releases and billboards; how to engage the entire country in enthusiastically supporting what is envisioned in such a way as to make citizens feel like investors in the project; talking about it, tweeting about it, publicly expressing excitement and support beyond the borders of a marketing department…?


Just a Random Idea on a Sunday afternoon; how about a “Be There, Be a Part of It” campaign?

How would that look, I wonder?

Okay, let’s say we were going to open a huge collection of high-end theme parks in a previously undeveloped area of our country that happened to be directly adjacent to a main thoroughfare between the two major cities.

Hypothetically, let’s say we are building three, fully fleshed out and operational theme parks to open, simultaneously, on Day One, under the umbrella of “OurParks”:

  • One that is all about SuperHeroes and Movies
  • One that is all about Cartoon Characters and Kids Television shows, and
  • One that is all about Exotic Areas of the World where Color, Movement and Dance are Popular…

How to maximize this great opportunity for promotion and engagement in the time before these attractions open?

Every day, as the months and years pass from Groundbreaking to Projected Opening Day, hundreds of thousands of people drive past the site… So, there’s our first and primary opportunity.

A huge wall hides the site, and that wall is covered with brightly-colored images that represent the Intellectual Properties and Attractions that are being built, just out of sight, behind.

Right here is our first best opportunity to engage our future audience, to recruit our global, cyberspace ambassadors.

In every section of that wall, we might print:

Be There, Be a Part of It!

go to: and learn how!

In support of this campaign, we might print the same information in every ad and on every billboard; growing more specific as each park developed its own marketing strategy and audience: 

From the beginning, from well before Opening Day, people could hit that website and we could begin to collect data on them. Data we can then use to further engage; keeping them informed as they could then keep those in their networks informed, as well. Spreading the word about developments, surprises, characters, special pre-opening events and opportunities for participation in such events.

For instance; in addition to asking

  • name
  • age
  • gender
  • number in family
  • city of residence
  • email address
  • et cetera…

We can also ask:

  • Who is your favorite superhero
  • Who is your favorite cartoon character
  • Do you like to Dance?
  • Do you like to Sing?

We can collect all sorts of pre-qualifying, pre-selecting, advance information to turn around and use for targeted marketing as and when we are ready.

We can sign them to our Twitter Feed, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo Channels…

Personal Content Providors

We can then have this army of social networkers participate in the creation or actual provision of our content.

I said

“we can then have this army of social networkers

participate in the

creation or actual provision of our content.”

In making the sharing of personal network data attractive to this audience of potential millions, we can exponentially maximize the spreading of our word(s).

How do we make it attractive to our desired audience to share such information? Only through this site can a person:

  • Register for free VIP passes to Opening Day at any one of OurParks
  • Be invited to special, Pre-Opening Events and Character Meet-and-Greets
  • Be invited to special “hardhat” tours of the site in advance of Opening
  • Be eligible to be a part of any pre-opening or Opening Day or Opening Week Events or Experiences…
  • Myriad, effective contests and competitions can be orchestrated via this site

Through offers and experiences such as these, we can engender connection and personal investment in what is happening behind the hoarding. We can guide the conversation, leak information, embrace opportunity for speculation and discussion amongst the demographics on who and when and how and what to far greater degree than simple billboards, press releases and television advertising.

Hmmm, and speaking of Television, YouTube and Vimeo

We could “cast” our pre-opening video advertising from this database.

Offering kids (and their parents) the opportunity to “audition” for music video-style advertising for each of the Parks, we offer deeper engagement and even more excitement. By offering the opportunity to submit headshots and/or audition videos, we can build excitement for a huge, “Audition Event” with Celebrity Judges and Choreographers selecting the winners…

Which then fosters anticipation for these video ads to appear on TV or online. Offering video auditions for popular vote and televising the audition event could well increase massive individual invested interest in the ads, thus in the parks.

Certain “personalities” may surface through this process; to the extent that we may even find a “face” or two or ten to represent the fun personalities of each park audience. Faces that can appear on billboards, promote special events inside the park, represent the local culture and population as part of this fantastic new place we are building or, by that time, will have built.

All by offering advance information via our special website; then using the information collected in creative ways to both spread the word and engage our audience more deeply, long before Opening Day.

Just an idea on a Sunday afternoon.

Just a Hypothetical idea…

Were I building a theme park; I’d probably look at this as part of what I’d do to engage the population of my country. Hypothetically.

But that’s just me.



“IMHO – Creating Compelling Experience” is a free download from iTunes and the iBooks store

6 thoughts on “How to Build an Audience for Your Theme Park

  1. …..and in a land with few fairytales or filmic history just imagine the stories one might glean from the generations of “historians” who kept their cultural heritage alive for generations!

  2. Every word true, as usual — and I hope the people to whom this is directed are reading it.

    As social media has so amply proven, the best way to get audiences excited about a property is to encourage public participation. How do you allow people to participate in a project that is, for myriad reasons, inaccessible until opening day? The answer to that has driven much of the PR industry in the last 20 years.

    When one of the major players in the theme park business starts work on a new park, there will be teaser campaigns, previews, VIP status for a select few tastemakers. There will be contests and curiosities, pre-packaged news items for the media to use. Constant introductions to different aspects of the property.

    Eventually there will be enough work done to start showing the public. Select people will get to see it — contest winners, celebrities, media personalities and so forth. They’ll see the animatronic figures, the sculptures, the models, test tracks for rides, all the real work happening. Maybe they’ll get their names or images hidden somewhere in the themed elements, a touch of posterity. All of these efforts result in excitement. These people now feel like they own a piece of the property, and those who haven’t been so lucky will start to get excited at the prospect of seeing what all the fuss is about. This is standard procedure to create excitement and investment in such a project.

    But these days you need even more — you need to get the public feeling like it is participating in the effort. As in the questions you pose above — who’s your favorite superhero? When people who answered that question see their favorite superhero will be in the park, they feel like they helped get that character there. Do they like to dance? They’ll feel like that is an invitation to enjoy all the dance-related elements in the park, like they were created just for them.

    It goes on and on in thousands of variations. The point is you don’t just build a park and expect people to show up. Entertainment is a state of mind. Nourish curiosity, excite speculation, invite and reward participation. Then people will show up.

  3. The gold standard for theme park promotion is still Disney, who had a previous contract with America (and beyond) as the platform for excitement about the first formal theme park. Through ABC TV coverage, he made the public feel like stockholders, which they were. But through three decades of filmmaking, music, toys, models, personalities – that was all in place. The theme park was just the vehicle to consolidate widespread public interest. Creating parks without this background is a different kind of project. You are faced with the prospect of trying to build excitement about something people have no special reference for–except other theme parks. This is a far more chancey campaign.

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