Local wildlife attractions report scorching summer attendance figures
By Scott E. Pacheco
Attendance jumped at Miami MetroZoo and the Miami Seaquarium in July — to record levels at the zoo, in fact — thanks to a new collaborative marketing campaign and strong programming.
Miami MetroZoo rode its new Amazon and Beyond exhibit to a highest-ever July attendance as 72,190 visitors passed through the turnstiles, besting the previous record of 72,026 set in 1986.
Recession-year attendance has been so good that the zoo has already met its projection of 715,000 visitors for the fiscal year to end Sept. 30, said Carol Kruse, assistant director with the zoo.
"By partnering together we are strengthened in this economy," Ms. Kruse said.
The zoo is currently offering in conjunction with the Seaquarium and Wannado City in Sunrise a Summer Savings Pass that grants visitors access to all three for $19.95 with purchase of a full-price admission.
The Seaquarium has also enjoyed a good summer, with attendance rising about 4% since the beginning of July, General Manager Andrew Hertz said.
He said the hope for the Summer Savings Pass was two-pronged: to increase attendance and increase in-park spending, a goal he said has been reached so far in the fiscal year starting July 1 as in-park spending is up 5%.
Mr. Hertz said all three attractions are reaching for the same audience, and for a long-term special it benefits them all.
"You can't do it on your own — you need to collectively grab your strengths and do it together," he said. "If it's one day we are competition, if it's weeks" we are in it together.
As for the Seaquarium's programs, he said the dolphin experiences — Odyssey (deep water) and Encounter (shallow water) — continue to do very well and should soon get their 50,000th participant.
The Odyssey program costs $199 for everyone. The Encounter is $139 for adults and $99 for children. General admission is $35.95 for those 10 and older, while ages 3 to 9 are $26.95.
Wannado City Executive Director Eduardo Morones said the special has benefited them during what is a traditionally strong season.
The indoor child entertainment center in Sawgrass Mills shopping center has seen about six visits per person this summer, compared with two to three visits for the typical summer special. An all-access pass for children ages 3 to 13 costs $35.
He said the summer special is luring customers from 50 miles away who normally wouldn't make the trek.
Moving forward, Mr. Morones said he wants to look at tying in attractions in Palm Beach.
"Maybe to give added value to customers we can add another attraction," he said.
MetroZoo has seen excellent attendance since unveiling Amazon and Beyond in December. It hit an unprecedented 95,360 in January.
The zoo charges $15.95 for adults and $11.95 for children.
"Amazon and Beyond has been the catalyst for basically making people aware of the zoo again," Assistant Director Ms. Kruse said. "We struggled after Hurricane Andrew… We're proud to say the zoo is back."