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What does it take to operate world-class theme parks?

Alhasan Kaabous Alzaabi, VP of operations at Farah Experiences, explores what makes the best parks tick

Opinion
Amwaj Wave Pool
Alhasan Kaabous AlZaabi

Managing operations at a world-class theme park is no easy feat. It requires careful planning and agility, as well as a solid vision that can ultimately ensure operational excellence and business continuity when done right.

Some may argue that to stay ahead, theme park operators need to continually invest in new offerings and entertainment options to keep the guest experience fresh. While I believe this is a must, my time in the themed attractions industry has shown me that the success of a leading theme park is built on far more than just the excitement of a new ride or themed experience.

Let’s talk theme park operations

There’s hardly a set formula that can guarantee any visitor attraction’s success. But if there were, it would centre around consistent and efficient day-to-day operations.

At Yas Theme Parks, our daily deliverables revolve around one simple concept. And that is to ensure our guests can enjoy a unique, pleasant and safe experience with every visit. This concept continues to be the cornerstone of our operations day in and day out.

A reliable way to streamline efficiencies is to use best practices as a guiding light for operational colleagues and team leaders. Many industry peers adopt the Six Sigma methodology, a data-driven problem-solving technique used to improve customer experience by eliminating inefficiencies.

The Flintstones Bedrock River Adventure
The Flintstones Bedrock River Adventure

This methodology has proven to be an effective method for many of our colleagues who are now equipped with the Six Sigma Black Belt certification. Likewise, it is part of our ethos as a company to continuously encourage our employees to take on such training to boost their overall competencies.

While there are different schools of thought when it comes to operational excellence, establishing a quality management system is essential. Absolutely everything should be documented and reviewed on a regular basis. This includes set policies, standard operating procedures (SOPs), training plans, audits, and performance records.

Giving guests what they want

When it comes to operations, optimising theme park experiences to align with (constantly evolving) guest expectations can be challenging, and at times costly. However, our experience has shown that this investment comes with many returns.

After a decade of delighting thrill-seekers with iconic Ferrari-inspired rides at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, we wanted to take advantage of this important milestone to dial up the theme park’s offering to guests of all ages and preferences.

Family Zone Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Family Zone at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

We had long given guests the opportunity to experience some truly iconic thrill rides at the park. Yet we were missing out on a key opportunity to allow little ones to do the same. As a result, we launched the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Family Zone in 2020. Just in time for the theme park’s 10th anniversary.

The zone features miniature versions of the Park’s most iconic rides and coasters. It has allowed us to deliver the iconic Ferrari feeling to the entire family.

Since the launch of Family Zone, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has welcomed many families to experience these one-of-a-kind iconic miniature rides and the feedback on these experiences has been stellar. 

Technology remains king

As the name implies, theme parks are designed to present themed and immersive experiences. We can only achieve this multi-entertainment concept when we integrate technology as a key component in state-of-the-art rides and attractions.

At Farah Experiences, we have witnessed first-hand how film-based rides are some of the most popular amongst our guests.

Batman at Warner Bros Abu Dhabi theme park operations
Meeting Batman at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

For instance, Batman: Knight Flight, which is located in Gotham City at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, combines a high-tech flight simulator with immersive scenery and state-of-the-art special effects.

In Metropolis, the Green Lantern: Galactic Odyssey ride uses 4D technology to display fully immersive media rendered in high-resolution computer animation on a 38-meter half-dome screen (one of the largest in the world). Special effects including wind, scents and mist also complement this flying theatre ride. These two rides continue to smash records and are amongst the most liked rides and attractions at the theme park.  

Theme park operations: investing in human capital

Most industry experts would agree that a theme park’s workforce is at the core of its success. As such, employing effective human resource management strategies is mandatory.

These strategies should encompass selecting and hiring the right people for the right roles, training and developing colleagues to deliver exemplary guest services, providing the needed support systems, and most importantly, implementing tools to be able to retain top talent.

CLYMB ABU DHABI - SKYDIVING theme park operations
Skydiving experience at CLYMB Abu Dhabi

At Farah Experiences, we believe our colleagues are in the business of creating smiles. As such, we regularly invest in upskilling our teams. We provide them with the right tools to succeed, especially when it comes to guest-facing roles. Failing to invest in learning and development can be the downfall of even the most sensational visitor attraction. 

There are countless factors that contribute to the making of a truly world-class theme park. But, if I had to sum it all up in one word, it would have to be evolution. Specifically, the evolution of best practices across operations, guest experiences and employee engagement. In today’s fast-paced and evolving world, I believe that agility and the ability to ride the tide of change are what separate the great from the good.

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Alhasan Kaabous Alzaabi

Alhasan Kaabous Alzaabi

Alhasan Kaabous Alzaabi has served as the Vice President of Operations at Farah Experiences since 2017, overseeing the operations across all of Yas Island’s theme parks: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.

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