Håkon Lund, Konge Parken, Norway (pictured): We are constantly looking at ways to extend the season. All parks struggle with how to spread big capital expenditure across more operations days. We have a season which is very short, only 110 days. We introduced a successful Christmas market in 1997 which has grown and grown ever since. This year it runs from the end of November until December 20. Since we are located in the northern climate, we have very challenging weather from September to November and have not done Halloween until now. However, earlier this year we bought an indoor FEC, and will start more winter programming here, including Halloween among other things.
Frank O’Connell, Hersheypark, USA: Although Hersheypark stops daily operations after Labor Day, September 7, we remain open on weekends through Saturday, September 26. Beginning October 16, the park is open for three weekends of Hersheypark in the Dark, our Halloween event. Hersheypark Christmas Candylane begins in mid-November and runs until the end of the year.
Edward Pawley, Drayton Manor, England: We opened up our Thomas Land kids area during the school holidays back in February and, thanks to good weather, got an encouraging turnout. From November 28 to January 3, Thomas will feature in our second Magical Christmas. It was a big success last winter and our surveys showed that 96% of people said they would return. On pre-bookings we are already up 30-40% on last year. We’ve changed a few things though, it’s a week shorter this time and won’t be having a live show this year, but we will be showing a festive film in our new 4D cinema. We tried a Christmas opening once before called Winter Wonderland, about eight or nine years ago, but we opened up too much of the park and assumed we’d get the same crowd as we do in the summer. Now it’s much more focused on families, and thanks to a little blue train it seems to be working.
Jay Gillian, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, USA: Our season stays the same. We are open from Palm Sunday weekend to the second week of October. We stay open that long to support our fellow merchants on the Ocean City boardwalk. On New Year’s Eve we open all the indoor rides and some outside ones if the weather permits. It’s a special event with the community. It’s a non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration for the arts, a family event.