It all started with a corkscrew. At 18, I was thrust into the world of the UK’s most popular attraction where come rain or shine, 30,000 visitors a day queued anxiously to ride the Corkscrew beast. This yellow coiling juggernaut became my permanent backdrop and the Piazza stage my home.
For the next 9 months, I was lead singer in the Piazza stage show and the brand new themed hotel. The front-of-house was brimming with an assortment of characters, street performers, live musicians and one mammoth ice show and backstage buzzed with performers donned in Alton Towers uniform, stage makeup and wigs. (And to this day, I still have no idea how skaters do those spins whilst wearing character costumes!)
Since then, I’ve become a walking advocate of the many attractions embedded in my memories from the Crane Dance at Resort World, Singapore to the Beetlejuice show at Universal Studios. They’ve allured me in, ensuring my return time again and even when the roller coasters have been thrilling, it’s always these experiences that left imprints and inspire me creatively today. That’s the feeling I draw upon when creating a unique live experience.
Content within this footage created by Natalie Dawson on behalf of TAG Live, TED Group, TUI, Paultons Park, Parkdean Resorts, Bourne Leisure and Majid Al Futtaim.
As a creator within this sector and working with family attractions such as Paultons Park, it’s intriguing to now look from a different perspective using statistics, data and fact finding to dive deep into the impact that live elements have to the overall guest experience. We only need to look at the continued evolution of ‘Disney Live’ to see how their performances are constantly pushing the interactive boundaries.
From the Guardians of the Galaxy immersive experience to the Animator’s Palate dining onboard the Disney Magic, where your sketches literally do come to life before your very eyes. But the magic ingredient is the story that connects and creates that long lasting relationship with your guests and if it’s unique, it can’t be replicated meaning it’s also unique to your attraction.
Things I’ve learned about live experiences
They can increase guests dwell time and move guests to where you want them to be
They can drive brand advocacy and social media coverage
They can be a differentiator in a crowded market
Characters create an emotional connection to your brand like nothing else
Characters also provide additional income streams with merchandise
Adding them to normal experiences such as dining or hotel stays can increase demand and captivate new audiences. After two years of limited human contact, Live Nation stats show in its latest quarterly financial report a 677% year-on-year revenue growth and taking up the opportunity that has been created by the pent-up demand for live events.
This demonstrates the demand for live interaction has never been higher with endless possibilities from themed dining, host interactions, live stage shows and character activations. They are every point in which the guest interacts with staff and it affects all parts of the project life cycle. Thinking about the end output from the beginning planning stages can greatly impact the guest experience and be the differentiator to your attraction. The plethora of opportunities to build commercial success using live experiences is evident.
So, what’s the differentiator to your attraction and how can we help to radiate your story to bring your attractions to life?