March 2024 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter March 2024 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter
Andrew Wexler Andrew Wexler

Welcome Spring — A Message From CEO Andrew Wexler

Dear Herschend

We’re heading into Easter weekend, which means Spring is officially here! Many of our parks are now open for the 2024 season, and new seasonal hosts have joined us for the summer months.

Spring is one of my favorite seasons because it symbolizes renewal – not just in nature but also in our own lives. It presents a perfect opportunity to step out of our comfort zones, reignite our passions, or even try a fresh perspective.

So, as we head into the season, I encourage everyone to embrace this moment as an opportunity to show kindness and compassion toward ourselves, our colleagues, and our guests—whether it’s advancing your skills with Herschend GROW U., providing hope to hosts through Share It Forward, or simply brightening a guest’s day with a smile.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and spring season!

-Andrew Wexler, CEO

Our New Culture Brand:

Herschend Heartspitality Herschend Heartspitality

Ever wonder what separates the truly great companies from those that are just average? Researchers have tried to answer this question over many decades. A good company needs a solid strategy, good marketing, and products or services that people want. But many of those things can be copied. Research shows that the real secret to being a great company is an authentic and strong culture where the employees feel connected. That is what truly sets great companies apart from average ones.

One reason culture is the main difference is that it is hard to copy – and you can't fake a good culture, either. Culture is not fancy words on a poster in the breakroom. It's about people and their actions accumulated over time. It's tangible, something you can feel, see, do, and share.

Here at Herschend, we're blessed to have a rich history, mission, and vision built with love by our founders. It’s the core of our culture and something we’re always working to strengthen as we grow. In our continuous journey to improve how we talk about, teach, and spread our culture, we set out to create a single phrase that helps bring our culture to life everywhere.

The result was Herschend Heartspitality.


Why Heartspitality?
Heartspitality is not a new idea for us; it's just a new way of expressing what we’ve been doing for seven decades. We call it Heartspitality because, at Herschend, the heart of our success is the world-renowned hospitality rooted in our DNA.

Heartspitality is the sum of four culture elements: LOVE + PURPOSE=IMPACT & JOY. Together, they express everything you need to know about who we are, why we’re here, and what we strive to achieve.

What’s Next?
Our HR team is training all Herschend leaders on Heartspitality, and all-host training is coming soon. You’ll also start seeing Heartspitality language in orientation materials, around your properties, and in this newsletter! Throughout the year, we’ll be infusing Heartspitality into everything, including how we measure success. But this video and new content don’t magically make Heartspitality happen. It's only real when we all consciously decide to live it through our daily actions.

Together, we can make Heartspitality not just a culture concept but a living reality that defines who we are and our future success.

-Andrew Wexler, CEO

The Heart of Our Culture

The Heart of Our Culture

Our Heartspitality culture equation starts with LOVE. An unconditional love that comes from our actions. Love at Herschend is choosing to behave in a manner that makes everyone feel welcome, valued, and respected. Leading with love in all we do is the foundation our founders planted to grow Herschend more than 70 years ago, and it continues to guide our actions today. This section of our newsletter is dedicated to how we love our hosts, guests, and communities.

Dollywood Employee Dollywood Employee

We’d Love Your Feedback

Share It Forward’s Child Assistance Program (CAP) is here for you.

For eligible hosts with children 18 and under, we have resources available through CAP to help with some expenses related to raising kids, like childcare, food, clothing, and dental care.

  • Support is provided in the form of monthly financial assistance.
  • New applications are accepted throughout the year (monthly deadlines apply).
  • You must provide a Federal Income Tax Return with the application.
  • Existing recipients must reapply on or after April 1 every year.

New ApplicantsClick here to learn more and apply.
Current CAP RecipientsClick here beginning on April 1 to reapply.

Silver Dollar City Silver Dollar City

A Love (In Action) Story

Tamara and her husband had both recently lost their spouses when they met at Silver Dollar City. Five months later, they were married and combined their families. On a recent visit to Silver Dollar City, the Wheats family was spotted by host photographer Christy, who recognized Tamara from her online blog about her family’s large combined family, “Doin’ It with a Dozen.” Christy knew the family was over the moon that they were finally having a little girl after 11 sons. So, she decided to help the family celebrate the moment by surprising Tamara with a special Silver Dollar City baby girl onesie.

“We had so much fun adventuring at Silver Dollar City with our huge crew, but the greatest moment was the kindness Christy showed blessing us with this adorable Silver Dollar City outfit for our baby girl! Thank you, Christy and ALL our new Silver Dollar City friends!”

Pink Adventure Tours Pink Adventure Tours

For the Love of Nature

Earlier this month, PINK Jeep Tours renewed its commitment to the National Forest Foundation’s Northern Arizona Forest Fund (NAFF). Since 2016, passengers have donated over $170,000—more than half since 2021—and hosts have donated countless advisory and volunteer hours, like repairing and installing new, low-maintenance prevention features that conserve the roads and surrounding ecosystems.

These combined efforts support ongoing projects in the Coconino National Forest and other parts of Northern Arizona. Donations have prevented wildfires, combatted sedimentation, improved water quality, and helped avert a home-heating crisis in Tribal communities.

Stewardship of the lands we travel is a responsibility. PINK’s partnership with the NFF has achieved important restoration outcomes that will benefit watersheds, wildlife, and public health for years to come!

Learn More
Our Mission & Vision + Your Unique Contributions

Our Mission & Vision + Your Unique Contributions

This section of our newsletter is dedicated to what drives us. At Herschend, we believe that treating one another, our guests, and our communities with love is just the right thing to do. It’s also essential to fulfilling our shared purpose: to Bring Families Closer Together by Creating Memories Worth Repeating®. Our purpose comes to life through our collective actions, giving our work meaning and connecting our brands and hosts to one another everywhere.

Creating Christmas Memories

On March 7, staff, season pass holders, and special guests gathered for an exciting press conference to introduce the all-new Christmas at Kentucky Kingdom festival! The 2024 season will be longer, brighter, and jollier than ever with over one million lights, Christmas decor as far as the eye can see, a 175-foot snow tubing hill- featuring real snow, and so much more! Press conference guests got a first look at the festival, plus a special gift, pictures with Santa, cookies of their own design, and reindeer food.

The new seasonal event is the most significant investment Herschend has made at Kentucky Kingdom and will be a great opportunity for families from across the region to create memories and celebrate the holidays together like never before.

Wild Adventures Wild Adventures

Celebrating “First” Families

Wild Adventures Theme Park opened for the 2024 Season on March 14 for Passholder Preview Night and on March 15 for all guests. The park made it an even more memorable experience for guests by celebrating the first families through the gates, the first to discover the new Dinosaur Explore, and the first to ride the newly refreshed Boomerang. All received a plaque and photo recognition on the park’s social media. March 14 was also the first day that tufted capuchin monkies Mawey and Kalypso met guests!

Silver Dollar City  | Fire In The Hole Silver Dollar City  | Fire In The Hole

A Ride Worth Repeating

Sound the alarm! The all-new Fire In The Hole at Silver Dollar City welcomed “Early Recruits” over Spring Break and will officially open on March 30! The record-breaking indoor family coaster—the largest in the Heartland—will make a ceremonial trip down the tracks following a ribbon cutting and welcome from Mayor Brad Thomas. The fire-themed festivities also include live performances by The City’s resident firefighting band, samples of Hiland Dairy’s new Fire In The Hole ice cream, pretzel dogs from the all-new Sadie’s Pretzel Café, and a commemorative sticker for all “First Recruit” riders.

One special rider was sent a preview of Hiland Dairy’s Fire In The Hole ice cream for his viral rollercoaster-themed Halloween costume. Check out his “100-star Review” below.

Watch The Video
The Results of Love & Purpose at Work

The Results of Love & Purpose at Work

This newsletter section is dedicated to the results of love and purpose at work. Your love for one another, our guests, and our communities makes our shared purpose possible, leading to something truly spectacular – real impact and an infectious joy that spreads through our hosts to our guests and out into our communities.

Harlem Globetrotters Harlem Globetrotters

Globetrotters Go Gourmet

Our world-famous Harlem Globetrotters were the special guest on FOX TV’s MasterChef Jr. on Monday, March 18th, to bring joy to contestants with their mad skills on the court and educate viewers on the importance of keeping a healthy diet on the road. The kiddo contestants were tasked to create dishes that are hearty and healthy for players Cherelle ‘Torch’ George, Latif ‘Jet’ Rivers, Brawley ‘Cheese’ Chisolm, Chandler ‘Bull Dog’ Mack, and Donte ‘Hammer’ Harrison.

Watch It
Vancouver Aquarium Vancouver Aquarium

Elevating the Guest Experience

The Vancouver Aquarium was honoured and excited to recently receive both an international award and a provincial award. The Aquarium earned the 2024 British Columbia (BC) Tourism Industry Award for Inclusive and Accessible Tourism Experience. This award recognizes the top organization in the province that has made the biggest contribution to creating an inclusive and accessible tourism experience for everyone.

The International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) awarded the Vancouver Aquarium the coveted Brass Ring Award for Best New Menu item for their clownfish cone. According to IAAPA, the Clownfish Cone is a testament to innovation in the aquarium culinary landscape. Since its introduction in 2022, this has been a guest favourite and a signature item on the Aquarium’s menu. IAAPA said that this cone has “set a new standard for themed dining experience,” and guests agree!

Honors and recognitions like these are only possible because of our amazing hosts. Congratulations to the entire team!

Dollywood Employee Dollywood Employee

Heart Work Wins

Dollywood Parks & Resorts has been named a 2024 USA Today Top Workplaces USA award winner—the only theme park on the list.

The Top Workplaces program has a 15-year history of surveying over 20 million employees and recognizing the top organizations across 60 markets for regional Top Workplaces awards. Top Workplaces USA celebrates organizations with 150 or more employees that have built great cultures. More than 42,000 organizations were invited to participate in the Top Workplaces USA survey. Winners of the Top Workplaces USA list are chosen based solely on employee feedback gathered through an employee engagement survey. Companies were selected based on the results of surveys taken over 12 months in 2023.

Read More