August/September 2023 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter August/September 2023 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter

Farewell to Summer

It’s hard to believe that summer is over – but what a season it was! This summer, we had our highest guest NPS scores since 2019, a major accomplishment that each of you helped make happen.

If you’re wondering why this is so important, having high guest NPS scores is the true measurement of how well we’re living our vision and mission of bringing families closer together by creating memories worth repeating. At Herschend, creating these memorable experiences is all about doing everything with love in our hearts – for one another, our guests, and our communities. But it also takes innovation and investment – which we’ve been up to a lot this summer, too!

Earlier this month, Silver Dollar City announced the new Fire In The Hole indoor family roller coaster, the largest in the Midwest, will open next spring – the park’s biggest investment in a single attraction. Dollywood not only opened its longest coaster – Big Bear Mountain but also hosted this year’s Coaster Convention and is gearing up to host our industry’s Oscars – The Golden Ticket Awards on September 9. All while preparing for Heartsong Resort’s grand opening this fall.

Wild Adventures cut the ribbon on Oasis Outpost, announced an all-new Christmas product, and began construction on its new campground. Other exciting summer happenings included lodge renovations at Callaway, a new fireworks show at Kentucky Kingdom, several exciting Globetrotters’ brand partnership announcements, and so much more!

Unfortunately, the end of summer also means that many of our seasonal hosts and interns will be heading back to school or off to new, exciting life adventures. So, as we move into the fall season, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing to create memories worth repeating with us. Please know that no matter where you are, you’ll always be part of our team, and we hope to see you again soon!

-Andrew Wexler, CEO
Herschend Enterprises

Share It Forward Share It Forward

Light Shines in the Darkness

Hurricane Idalia tore through Florida’s Big Bend region and south Georgia last week, bringing 100+ mile-per-hour winds and heavy rain that impacted our Wild Adventures team in Valdosta. Although no employees or animals were injured and park damage was minimal, many are still without power and have property damage from flooding and flying debris.

Share It Forward (SIF) representatives have been in Valdosta since August 31 to help team members apply for our Hardship Program. As of today, SIF has assisted more than 300 employees and shared approximately $150,000 in financial aid.

Without donors like you, relief efforts like this wouldn’t be possible. Thank you for your generosity and support!

If you are experiencing hardship associated with this natural disaster, please call 678-993-1990 or email

Learn More

Inclusion – What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Bringing people together and creating joy is why our company exists. We live this mission by leading with love in all we do – from our business strategy to leadership training programs and metrics for success.

Why love? Because love isn’t just a feeling. It’s an expectation for how we treat one another through our behaviors and actions, regardless of how we feel. It’s what built our company 70 years ago and what will continue to guide our path.

Inclusion is a love behavior
Showing love for one another through inclusion is vital to living our mission. As a company, we know there’s always room to grow in this effort, so we defined specific inclusiveness goals in 2021. We’ve since implemented company-wide inclusive Leader training, added ADA accessibility questions to guest surveys, and developed an inclusion-focused data scorecard and employee surveys. Here’s what we’re working on this year:

International Hosts: Providing better representation and feedback from our international hosts by refining inclusion metrics, enhancing safety tracking, and seeking translation services for critical materials. Collecting stories through qualitative data methods will help us continually improve our strategies.

Guests with Disabilities: Improving accessibility communications by developing additional ADA training for ride staff, appointing ride accessibility liaisons, and enhancing digital resources.

Employee Training: Feedback from the first cohorts of Inclusive Leader Training has helped us improve this required leadership program, which will be expanded to provide leaders with more tools to champion inclusivity.

We sincerely thank every team member for fostering an inclusive environment. With your continued support, we're confident we can continue building a great place to work for great people.

-The Inclusiveness Council

Giving Back for Back to School

During the annual Back to School Splash, the Wild Adventures team showed appreciation for educators by offering free admission for teachers and school support staff July 29-30. All guests were encouraged to bring in donations of school supplies to support the Second Harvest of South Georgia’s Teacher’s Harvest. More than 1,500 pounds of school supplies were donated and distributed among local school systems to benefit kids in need.

PINK Vegas guides Charles and Leah recently volunteered with the 11th Annual Communities in Schools Southern Nevada “Fill the Bus” event. They used a PINK Trekker to provide a respite from the heat for volunteers and loaded and transported supplies to the warehouse. This year’s event helped ease the financial burden of buying school supplies and clothing for roughly 60,360 students at 80 Title I and high-needs schools in the Clark County School District.

A group of Dollywood Parks & Resorts Hosts traveled to Northwest Elementary in Newport, Tennessee, on Friday, August 11, to help provide school supplies to students through Dollywood’s partnership with Mission of Hope, a year-round ministry serving those in need in rural Appalachia. The event always brings a smile to the faces of the students, many of whom wouldn’t have school supplies if not for what is provided on this memorable day. However, the biggest smiles are on the faces of the Dollywood hosts who are able to share in this special project. Dollywood Parks & Resorts will send another group of hosts during the holidays to provide Christmas gifts for the students.

A Love (in action) Story

“These are my friends; these are my family,” Canaan says as he trots happily past the park’s candy store. He hollers and waves to a nearby group of guests, “Hey, everybody! You having fun today? I’m going to ride Fire In The Hole!”

“He stops and gives every single person a high-five or a hug,” laughs Canaan’s mom, Ginger. “He is thoughtful to take that time to make each person feel special.”

The Sandys spent most of Canaan’s first three years in and out of hospitals, including open-heart surgery and a major intestinal repair by the time he was three months old. As he grew older, Ginger says she didn’t discuss his Down Syndrome diagnosis with him. “I told him he was ‘forever young,’ and that’s all we’ve ever said about it. I think putting a label on him would have caused unnecessary confusion. We just let Canaan be Canaan!”

The Sandy family has enjoyed trips to Silver Dollar City for over 30 years, recently sharing what makes it so special– “We aren’t fancy people,” Ginger says. “We have no talent, no money, but here we are treated like family. I think – in life – people tend to push others away. At Silver Dollar City, staff lets the love in.”

“It’s hard to believe I was so worried all those years ago about what kind of life Canaan would have. Just look at him! During dark days, lights beam even brighter. This four-foot-eleven guy shines for so many. Thank you, Silver Dollar City, for loving him.”

Read More

Property News

Herschend Happenings

Thoosies Unite at Dollywood

In June, American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) held its annual Coaster Con at Dollywood. During the multi-day event, ACE members enjoyed various activities at Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, and Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa. Some highlights included extended ride times, behind-the-scenes tours, photo safaris, and private rides on the Dollywood Express. ACE members also were treated to a special reception that included dinner and a performance from Dancing Dream. Dollywood was made an honorary ACE member during the event.

Congratulations to the Dollywood team for all your efforts to make the largest Coaster Con event to date a great success!

Newport Aquarium

A Turtle Dream Come True

Newport Aquarium created a truly magical experience and memory for 10-year-old Aralyn Slack and her family. Aralyn is participating in a special study at UC Children’s Hospital. She has a rare type of brain tumor and has always wished to meet a Sea Turtle. Newport Aquarium had the chance to fulfill this wish with Denver the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Aralyn also got to name a newly hatched Diamondback Terrapin “Spotty.”

Pink Adventure Tours

Preserving Nature’s Beauty

On July 21, Pink Jeep Sedona team members conducted the fourth semi-annual LitterLift on the Broken Arrow and Diamond Back Gulch – the two most popular off-road trails. Volunteers walked nearly 10 miles of trails and collected 60 pounds of trash during the record SW US heatwave. This effort is essential to Pink’s commitment to maintaining and preserving the beauty of our nation’s parks and forests that we’re privileged to do business in. Thank you to all of this year’s volunteers.

Vancouver Aquarium | Rescue Pals Vancouver Aquarium | Rescue Pals

Vancouver Aquarium

Rescue Pals

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (VAMMR) recently set up information booths in Bill Reid Plaza outside the Aquarium on July 16 and August 13. The event included games, prizes, mascots (Ollie and Salty), and information about each group's work. This vital partnership with the VFPA allows the VAMMR to operate its rescue centre at the Port of Vancouver's Main Street Dock, supporting the rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals along the Pacific coast.