The Great Escape, Lake George, New York, is the first northern Six Flags park to host a winter event. Six Flags parks in warmer climates have offered similar celebrations for years, but Holiday in the Park gives the Great Escape a 145-day season, its longest on record. Here park president Don McCoy explains how they did it.
Holiday in the Park has been a winter tradition at sister Six Flags Parks, including Six Flags Over Texas, for over two decades. This seasonal event adds more value for season pass holders after what would be the traditional season finale, Fright Fest in October.
After almost two years of planning, Holiday in the Park arrived at The Great Escape on November 20, where it ran for 21 selected dates until December 31. The gate price was $19.99, or free for 2009 and 2010 season pass holders.
This event transformed the venue into a winter wonderland. From the storybook themed main entrance to the Victorian International Village, thousands of lights, festive decorations and a gorgeous 60ft Christmas tree were set against the beautiful Adirondack backdrop.
Guests discovered hand-carved decorative pieces lining the park, ranging from gingerbread men and toy soldiers to lollipops to building blocks. Oversized toys, candy and trains were manmade at the park by our own team, a process that began in early summer.
Close to 200 seasonal team members were hand-picked for Holiday in the Park. The overall experience is the most important aspect of Holiday in the Park and the team members must exude the utmost holiday cheer to make it successful. I’m pleased to say they delivered.
Maintenance and grounds crews worked diligently, transforming traditional park fixtures such as the bumper cars into a skating rink and a gift shop into Santa’s Workshop. The popular summer dive show was refitted to become Starlight Theatre, the stage for our daily tree lighting ceremony. It also provided the backdrop for the song and dance performance, Happy Holidays.
While enjoying the show guests could experience an all-you-can-eat holiday buffet and a full bar. Per caps across the board exceeded our expectations. Families loved the seasonal treats, games prizes and commemorative souvenirs like hot chocolate mugs and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer hats.
Traditional family favourites like ice skating and the Alpine Alley Snow Hill heightened in popularity as the weeks continued. In this part of the world, guests expect cold weather and come prepared to spend the day out in the elements. Rather than inhibiting the event, snow enhanced it. Grown adults in snow pants warmed themselves by the fire on even the coldest of days!
Visitors could also enjoy a weekend getaway by taking advantage of special Holiday in the Park packages at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. After a day filled with holiday cheer at The Great Escape, they could then soak up all the wet and balmy fun of White Water Bay, the Lodge’s 38,000 sq ft indoor waterpark.
Overall, the inaugural Holiday in the Park was a tremendous success. The feedback from guests was very positive and the support of the community extraordinary. Season Pass holders visited numerous times.
For over 50 years The Great Escape has been creating lasting memories for visitors to the Lake George region. Holiday in the Park offered a new way for them to celebrate the festive season. Combined with our annual Fright Fest each fall, we now provide multiple family experiences through the year. Roll on winter 2010!
Don McCoy has served as president of The Great Escape since July 2007. During a distinguished career he has also worked at White Water and American Adventures in Atlanta, Georgia, Wet ‘N’ Wild in Orlando, and several Six Flags properties.
The Great Escape learned a lot from its first Holiday in the Park and plans are already being made for a repeat event in 2010. Management plans to adjust operating hours, add more lights and expand the selection of rides, food and beverage on offer.