With summer looming on the horizon, millions of people are busily contemplating their summer vacation plans. If you're reading this, undoubtedly your plans include at least one trip to a local themed attraction. In today's tenuous economic times, everyone wants to try and save at least a little money, and the good people at Busch Gardens® Tampa and SeaWorld® Orlando are keenly aware of this fact.
In an effort to make it more affordable for visitors to enjoy the parks in Orlando and Tampa, both parks are launching an all-new “Select Your Day, Select Your Savings” ticket offer. This new pricing scheme allows guests choose between a weekday visit or an “any day” visit, both offering great savings. Guests have the flexibility of being able to use their tickets up to one year from purchase, but what they might enjoy the most is the convenience – buy online, print tickets at home and go straight through the turnstiles.
Whether you want to visit the thrills of Cheetah Hunt® at Busch Gardens or the chills of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld, weekdays are the best time to explore both parks.
Busch Gardens is the ultimate family adventure, offering nearly 300 acres of fascinating attractions, like Florida’s first triple-launch coaster Cheetah Hunt® and an all-new reimagined land Pantopia™. Opening soon, the centerpiece of Pantopia™ is Falcon’s Fury™, North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower. The one-of-a-kind thrill ride stands at 335 feet and takes riders soaring face down at 60 mph.
And only an hour away at SeaWorld Orlando, guests can climb aboard and ride the mighty Manta®, experience the power and grace of killer whales in the awe-inspiring Shamu® show One Ocean®, share an epic voyage with sea turtles on the 3D 360 TurtleTrek® and feel what it’s like at the bottom of the world and get up close with more than 250 penguins at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin™.
The Busch Gardens Weekday Ticket is a savings of up to $30 and can be purchased online for U.S. residents or by calling (888) 800-5447. This ticket is valid for one day’s admission to either Busch Gardens Tampa or SeaWorld Orlando, and must be used within one year of purchase.
Annual passes, which include unlimited admission throughout the year, free parking and no blackout dates, continue to be the best value for Florida residents and start at just $13 per month with EZpay. For those interested in visiting multiple parks, the two-park and three-park combination tickets feature length-of-stay benefits and allow unlimited entry to the parks for up to 14 days during their vacation.
In today's interconnected world, it seems that the days of paper maps are quickly becoming numbered. Recently, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced new enhancements to its popular park mobile apps, available for iPhone and Android devices. The SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place Discovery Guide mobile apps offer new features for a more personalized and interactive experience during a park visit, and can be downloaded free from the Apple or Google Play app stores.
“This announcement is part of our larger focus on guest innovation and the important role that mobile and social media plays in the travel planning process,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We designed these apps based on consumer insights and mobile best practices to give our guests a premier user experience while still allowing us to invest our dollars efficiently.”
Each park’s Discovery Guide app will save guests time and increase their enjoyment as they navigate through the park using GPS-enabled interactive maps, access real-time updates of show schedules and events and receive broadcast park notifications. These combined features are unique to the theme park industry and address the desires of today’s connected customer.
Planning: Up-to-the-minute ride wait times and show times, ride-height filters, car finder function and insider park tips help make the most out of a visit. The interactive map provides a walking path showing clear starting and ending points with estimated walking time.
Easy purchasing and upgrades: This summer, a mobile wallet will be added with one-touch purchasing. This allows guests to make spur-of-the-moment upgrades to skip lines with Quick Queue or add the All-Day Dining Deal. Later this year, new functionality will even allow guests to pre-order meals on the go for easy pick up at select locations.
Push notifications: Starting next month, guests inside the park will be alerted automatically on their mobile device with offers and discounts only for app users, such as tours or culinary specials. In future releases, guests will receive contextual notifications, based on interests particular to each guest.
Gaming: The 50th Celebration Scavenger Hunt follows a growing trend in gaming and is available at all three SeaWorld parks. Guests collect badges as they visit locations throughout the park to earn valuable in-park rewards. New games for additional parks will be added in 2014.
Sharing: Fun photo frames used to showcase photos taken in the parks can be easily shared on social channels.
“Guests are interacting with their smartphone throughout the day,” said Darla Morse, Chief Information Officer. “Our goal was to ‘put the park in your pocket,’ using a device they are already familiar with and comfortable using. These new apps are powered by the TE2 platform that scales across our 11 parks and is tied into our existing operational systems which ensures the guest will get a seamless experience.”
Mobile app users will be automatically notified to upgrade to the new Discovery Guide when more new features are launched throughout the year. For more information about the new Discovery Guide mobile apps, check out the video at SeaWorldParks.com /mobile.
“SeaWorld Entertainment truly took the point of view of their guests, investing in technology to improve guest engagement with their brand in a more personal way,” said Scott Sahadi, CEO of TE2. “Our company was founded to take the guest experience to new levels and we look forward to driving this new innovation with them.”
Be sure to subscribe to this column, travel to some of the greatestlocal getaways around, all from the comfort of your desktop (or laptop, or PDA, or smartphone!) If you have a favorite local attraction you'd like to see profiled, please let me know. Also, be sure to follow me on twitter, and read my articles about motorsports,HOAs,elections, and restaurants.