This Autism Awareness Month, we’re highlighting a few ways Herschend and our properties are working to become more accessible.
The team at the Property Support Center is updating the guest-facing mobile application system to include accessible walking directions; locations of calming spaces, quiet zones, and wheelchair rentals; filters to show menu items and food service locations that can accommodate dietary needs; among many others. See it in action by downloading Dollywood’s new mobile application, which is currently testing some of these features.
Adventure Aquarium prides itself on supporting community awareness events like the Philadelphia Eagles’ Huddle Up for Autism and holding regular sensory-friendly F.I.S.H. Nights (Family Inclusive Sensory Hours). The aquarium also recently became a certified sensory-inclusive venue through KultureCity. The Aquarium also offers free sensory bag rentals that include helpful tools such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, and verbal cue cards.
Silver Dollar City opened its first calming space last spring in partnership with its healthcare sponsor, Mercy. The calming space is designed to soothe guests with sensory processing disorders and includes comforting colors, soft seating, low lighting, books, sensory toys, and a “crash pad.” This space has been so well received that the park is building a second location with Mercy that will open in the southwest section of The City later this spring.
Caring for and cherishing nature has always been at the root of the Herschend story. It’s what brought Mary and Hugo to Branson, drove Jack’s “Gift of Green” program, and continues on today in unique ways at each Herschend property.
Read about some of the ways our properties are taking care of Mother Nature.
Over the past year, Adventure Aquarium has taken part in several river sweeps around Camden, NJ. Through their efforts, the team has helped remove more than 1,000 lbs. of trash from local waterways! Last year, the aquarium also announced a new program called Turtle Scouts. The program is aimed at getting kids excited about ocean conservation and protecting sea turtles. Kiddos who take the Turtle Scout Pledge get their very own button and certificate to make things o-fish-al. The Turtle Scout program will be back again this year to encourage guests to take care of our oceans’ turtles.
For the past two years, Dollywood's Operations Team has been working on a recycling initiative to reduce its environmental impact. The program started with collecting cardboard and plastic bottles; however, future plans include collecting plastic film wraps and pickle buckets from the restaurants inside the parks and resorts and more. The collected recyclable materials are shipped to a company outside of Asheville, North Carolina, that helps large businesses learn how to implement recycling programs. The revenue generated from selling these recyclable materials covers the expenses of the program. The remainder of the profit is donated to Share It Forward. Coca-Cola® helped purchase some of the bins, which are being installed now!
Since last April, Kentucky Kingdom has implemented a cardboard bailing process, diverting dozens of tons from landfills to sustainable recycling centers each season. They recycle 100% of cardboard from inbound orders of operating supplies, furniture packaging, soft drink syrup boxes, and food packaging. They have also recycled over 100 tons of steel that has accumulated at the park over the years through various capital investments. Last year, they successfully recycled approximately 1,000 plastic water park lounge chairs and donated other disused furniture to local charities for further use. Finally, they have partnered with their local recycling vendor to re-process scrap concrete and asphalt, once again diverting this material from landfills and re-using it for other products.
Newport Aquarium has converted 75% of its lighting to more energy-efficient LED bulbs and began a new partnership last year with Queen City Commons to repurpose food waste into mulch.
Through the Tread Lightly program, PINK team members helped rehabilitate and create barriers to sensitive lands and paid to post speed limit signs in strategic areas. Several educational kiosks on proper OHV etiquette were also constructed on forest roads with high use.
Silver Dollar City is using bio-friendly hydraulic fluids for rides and environmentally sustainable steam train oils. They also recently transitioned out Styrofoam and plasticware (plates, bowls, forks, knives, spoons) and outer wrappers.
Vancouver Aquarium became a plastic straw and lid-free facility in 2022. The aquarium also began offering recyclable aluminum bottled water through Earth Water, which gives a portion of profits to disaster relief aid.
Wild Adventures recently switched to paper bags in retail areas and eliminated single-use foam and cold beverage plastic lids.
“I wanted to share a heartwarming story about love in action that happened recently at Callaway. It's a beautiful example of how small acts of kindness can make a significant impact on someone's life. One of our team members, Alayna Cato, was in need of a prom dress and the only appointment available was on a day when she didn't have transportation. Diane, another team member, didn't hesitate to offer her help and took Alayna to the Hope Center in Hamilton to find her the perfect dress.
But Diane's kindness didn't stop there. She also arranged for a hairdresser to do Alayna's hair and paid for it out of her own pocket, along with Chef Heather and a couple of others. Chef Destiny even offered to do Alayna's makeup for the special night.
As if that wasn't enough, the team members at Piedmont Restaurant decided to go the extra mile and invite Alayna and Isaiah, another team member who also needed a tuxedo, and their guests for dinner on the night of prom. They made sure to make it a special evening for them, full of love and support.
This story is a beautiful example of how a team members can come together to support one another. It shows that love is not just a feeling; it's an action that can make a difference in someone's life. We hope this story inspires you to spread love, too!" - Sonny Horton, Callaway Gardens & Resort VP & General Manager
Our commitment to creating memories worth repeating starts from within – find a rewarding career here at Herschend! Check out available positions across Herschend by clicking the link below. For those looking to unlock their potential or learn a new skill, check out GROW U., our free tuition program.Career Opportunities
Did you know that our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you in addition to the benefits provided with your MetLife insurance coverage? This program provides easy-to-use services to help with the everyday challenges of life — at no cost to you.
The program’s experienced counselors, provided through LifeWorks, can talk to you about anything going on in your life 24/7 / 365, including: Balancing work and life, stress and anxiety, losing a loved one, legal or financial issues, family, marital, and relationship challenges.
Access services by clicking the below link.
The Callaway and Share It Forward teams worked hard to launch services for the property. It was especially timely as a dangerous storm ripped through the area in late March. Several people came alongside team members who were affected, including this grateful host…
"We can't thank Callaway, Herschend and Share it Forward enough …you can't imagine how helpful it was. Thank you especially for your prayers for us. We feel them every day. We have many folks to thank, but you guys at Callaway/Herschend are number one at the top of our list. God bless you all."
Share It Forward is there for you and your fellow employees during natural disasters, but also in many smaller ways through child assistance, life skills training, and other emergency and hardship needs.
If you or someone you know could use a little extra support, please request assistance here or find out more about our programs.
Adventure Aquarium just wrapped up its latest festival, Super-Sized Sand Sculptures, which featured five larger-than-life sand sculptures created by local sand sculptor Matt Long and his team of expert sculptors. The sculptures, which made for the perfect photo ops, featured some of the Aquarium’s most beloved animals, including a hammerhead shark, octopus, penguin, hippos, sea turtles, stingrays, and more!
Kentucky Kingdom hosted a Kingdom Madness-themed series on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook throughout March and early April. The March Madness-inspired posts called for social media followers to vote for the best of 16 Kentucky Kingdom rides through polling. Ultimately, the winner (to no one's surprise) was Storm Chaser – a long-time crowd favorite! Plus, one lucky participant received 4 Gold Season Passes. Kingdom Madness garnered a lot of engagement online and momentum going into National Amusement Park Day on April 13. Their staff and social media followers are dually enthusiastic about this holiday marking one month until opening day!
While celebrating Outlaw Run’s 10th anniversary, we should also take the time to celebrate a host whose name and face are synonymous with the ride itself, Joe Wendel. Joe has spent nine of Outlaw Run’s 10 seasons at the ride. He currently serves as the Team Lead at Outlaw Run, where he has spent a total of six seasons in this position. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who knows more and is more passionate about that ride than Joe.
Joe was hired at Outlaw Run in June 2013. He was, and still is to this day, a die-hard coaster enthusiast. Joe’s favorite thing about Outlaw Run is the fact that it was the first wood Coaster to have multiple inversions. When asked about what he enjoys most when seeing guests after riding Outlaw Run, he said, “I love seeing the guest being blown away by how crazy the ride is after they get back.”
Keith Dawkins accepted two Cynopsis Sports Media Awards on Tuesday on behalf of the Harlem Globetrotters for “Social Good TV Special or Episode” and “ Best Platform Geared to Diverse Sports Interest and Athletes”.
Cynopsis Media is the who’s who online trade publication across television, media, digital, and sports TV industries. The industry-focused publication is circulated each morning to industry leaders and executives on the daily news breaking in the industry.
Secondly, our fierce women players of the Harlem Globetrotters appeared on the “Tamron Hall Show” earlier this month. Mighty, TNT, Torch, Ace, and Ice came together on national television to share our focus on and strength of women in the league. It was a celebration of our female players and what they can do! That appearance aired nationally on Monday, April 24th.