May 2024 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter May 2024 | Herschend Enterprise Newsletter
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.


May 17 marked Endangered Species Day, and Herschend is celebrating the occasion by sharing stories from our hosts who help critically endangered species thrive through research, breeding programs, and guest education.

Adventure Aquarium Adventure Aquarium

Did you know that Adventure Aquarium is home to 19 endangered or critically endangered species as well as 22 additional species that are “vulnerable” with populations at risk of becoming endangered?

One of those is the African penguin,  a species the aquarium has worked to grow and sustain since the late 1990s. Currently, the colony is overseen by Senior Biologist Jennifer Duffy (Duffy), who enjoys working with the endangered birds and the involvement it takes to learn about the penguins’ different personalities and how each animal fits into the colony dynamic as a whole.

The Vancouver Aquarium has a variety of endangered species, and this includes three Axolotls who have been at the Aquarium since 2015. Axolotls have astonishing regenerative abilities being studied for potential human medicine applications. Axolotls can regrow entire limbs or their tails if they lose them. This is important because in the wild, a significant portion of their diet is pieces of other axolotls. Within the Axolotl species complex, there are 16 other species that dwell in Mexico. All of these are commonly referred to as axolotls or achoques and 12 (including A. mexicanum) are considered endangered or threatened. Indeed, the “axolotl” species native to BC (A. tigrinum) is also endangered and is the most endangered salamander in the province.

Vancouver Aquarium Vancouver Aquarium
Wild Adventures Wild Adventures

Wild Adventures recently welcomed three healthy male red-ruffed lemurs into the world. The park’s zoological curator Chris Kilpatrick says that their birth is a significant milestone for Wild Adventures and highlights the park’s commitment to the conservation of this critically endangered species. Lemur mom, Val, who also gave birth to two healthy babies in 2023, continues to play a vital role in the breading program. Each new birth is a beacon of hope and a testament to the dedicated efforts of the park’s zookeepers and the broader global initiatives aimed at preserving these incredible creatures.

Newport Aquarium was recently published in the April edition of the Endangered Species Journal for their Observations of reproductive behaviors in the Critically Endangered bowmouth guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma). The research paper was authored by Animal Care Team members Jolene Hanna, Jen Hazeres, Rob Wilson, and Dr. Stephanie Snyder Koch. Read More >

Newport Aquarium Newport Aquarium
Harlem Globetrotters Harlem Globetrotters

Globetrotting in the Community

Harlem Globetrotter Fatima ‘TNT’ Lister served as a panelist at the Luminary Women’s Health Summit in NYC on May 8th, where she shared her journey on the importance of mental health, being a working mom, and fitness after pregnancy. She was joined by Bonnie Bernstein, Former Athlete and veteran ESPN Sports Reporter; Katia Pryce, Founder and CEO of DanceBody; and moderator Macaela MacKenzie, Journalist and author of MONEY, POWER, RESPECT.

Harlem Globetrotter Head Coach, Chris Franklin, was honored by the Salvation Army at their Celebration of Dreams Event in Pennsylvania on May 4, recognizing his success and reaching his dreams as a Harlem Globetrotter as well as his efforts in supporting the local community through youth events and food drives.

Adventure Aquarium | Meet Lovie Adventure Aquarium | Meet Lovie

Just Keep Swimming

On World Penguin Day, Adventure Aquarium celebrated Lovie, the little blue penguin’s first swim! Lovie is one of the Aquarium’s newest residents, hatching on February 12, just two days shy of Valentine’s Day (hence the name Lovie)!

Watch Video
Adventure Aquarium Adventure Aquarium

Loving Our Community

Adventure Aquarium's Team Members demonstrated their commitment to environmental conservation by participating in the first community RiverSweep of 2024. Their efforts led to the collection of over 50 golf balls, 50 plastic bags, 17 lighters, 15 shoes, 15 glass bottles, 9 tires, 4 balloons, and 2,491 plastic bottles at Petty’s Island in New Jersey.

Wild Adventures Wild Adventures

Feeding the Neighborhood

Wild Adventures recently participated in a food packing event for Hunger Fight, an organization that prepares shelf-stable and nutritious meals for families experiencing food insecurity. Volunteers packed thousands of meals, which were then placed directly into the backpacks of elementary-aged children who are at risk for hunger. “The experience demonstrated the profound difference we can make as a team when we work to lift up and support each other,” said Jon Vigue, Wild Adventures Vice President and General Manager.

Why We Exist

Why We Exist

Our purpose of Bringing Families Closer Together by Creating Memories Worth Repeating® comes to life through our actions. It gives our work meaning and connects our brands and hosts to one another everywhere.

Dollywood Theme Park Dollywood Theme Park

Making Dolly Memories

The wait is finally over! Spanning multiple structures, The Dolly Parton Experience features state-of-the-art exhibits that immerse Guests in Dolly’s unparalleled career, familial influences, and signature looks throughout the years. Dollywood Hosts had an exclusive opportunity to explore the Dolly Parton Experience before its grand debut on May 24. From May 20-22, Hosts were able to explore the redesigned area and get an exclusive sneak peek before the Park’s newest attraction opened to the public. This was a great opportunity for hosts to get to know the new experience and share their knowledge and enthusiasm with guests!

Explore The Experience

25 Years of Creating Memories Worth Repeating

Newport Aquarium marked a historic 25th anniversary on May 15th with a visit from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. He praised Newport Aquarium for sharing the wonders of an underwater world with 20 million guests since its opening day. State and city leaders highlighted Newport Aquarium’s 25-year legacy of bringing families together by creating generations of memories through new exhibits and new adventures, including the recently opened Ring of Fire: World of the Octopus and Mermaids. Randi the African Penguin joined Rebecca Foster, Newport Aquarium’s Executive Director, to thank the Cincinnati region for the love it has shared and promised the region more excitement for years to come. Watch part of the Governor's speech!

Silver Dollar City Silver Dollar City

A Letter to Bryan

“We had the best day at Silver Dollar City thanks to Bryan in the taffy shop. My 12-year-old son is petrified of roller coasters! I was teasing him in the checkout line that he could only get taffy if he rode a roller coaster. Bryan overheard us and said he would give him one pound of taffy if he rode a coaster and brought back a picture to prove it! After about two hours of standing in line and then chickening out, he FINALLY rode Time Traveler with 30 minutes until closing to spare! The ride workers cheered him on the entire time! We went back with the picture to show Bryan, and he handed him his one-pound (about 68 pieces) of taffy! This is a day we will never forget! My son LOVED the coaster and will ride again next time without the candy bribe!” 

Vancouver Aquarium Vancouver Aquarium
The Results of Love & Purpose at Work

The Results of Love & Purpose at Work

Your love for one another, our guests, and our communities makes our 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.

Silver Dollar City Silver Dollar City

America’s Number 1 Theme Park

Silver Dollar City will keep the title #1 Theme Park in America, winning this year’s USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. The City took the top spot in a competitive field of 20 nominees including Disney, Universal and SeaWorld properties. Nominees were chosen by industry experts and then voted on by fans during a rigorous, four-week voting period.

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Dollywood Theme Park Dollywood Theme Park

Purpose Proof – A “Come Back” Story

For most, it’s easy to become lost daydreaming about a past vacation or experience, hoping to one day return to that special, memory-making place. According to a new study, Dollywood guests are more likely to want to return to the Smoky Mountain vacation destination than to any other landmark in the world!

A report conducted by UK-based travel insurance specialists InsureandGo found Dollywood earned the highest “Come Back” score of more than 450 landmarks worldwide. To determine the attractions list, the company reviewed thousands of online reviews for content, attraction rating and noted reviews from guests saying they hoped to return again. Using a weighted scoring system, they assigned “Come Back” scores to the attractions on a scale of 1-100. Dollywood scored 94 out of 100 to top the list.

Silver Dollar City Foundation Silver Dollar City Foundation

Recognizing a Giving Leader

Hollister School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson has provided years of servant leadership as a Silver Dollar City Foundation Board Member. Dr. Wilson has offered invaluable insight into the world of public education and helped guide the foundation to make deeper impacts on the lives of children throughout Stone and Taney counties. As Dr. Wilson’s service term came to an end this spring, the Silver Dollar City Foundation honored him by making a donation in his name to the Hollister Schools Foundation. Hollister Schools Foundation is committed to breaking down barriers to learning for students through partnerships and programs that serve the needs of the whole child. The foundation aids Hollister children through numerous programs ranging from scholarships for graduating seniors, assistance with afterschool fees, overdue meal balances, classroom grants, and more.

Silver Dollar City Foundation Executive Director Mindy Honey, left, presents a donation to Hollister School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Wilson.

Jeepin’ for Kids Jeepin’ for Kids

Jeepin’ for Kids

For the second year in a row, Pink Jeep Branson participated in Jeepin’ for CASA in Harrison, AR. CASA, or Northwest Arkansas, provides trained community volunteers who become heroes in the lives of abused and neglected children. Volunteers advocate by giving hope and a voice to these children who would otherwise stand alone while in the foster care system. With our donation of two Pink Jeeps that participated in the Jeepin’ Event, CASA was able to raise $3,000 from community members who bought the opportunity to put their VIPs onto the Jeeps and participate in the fundraising event. This is the second year in a row that CASA was able to raise $3,000 to help the children in foster care because of Pink Jeep Branson. The event raises money and awareness for child abuse prevention, with 100% of proceeds going to CASA of North Arkansas.