Heat relief: Lower temperatures cultivate tourism

Friday, August 8, 2014

by Molly M. Fleming

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – The lower summer temperatures have brought more visitors to outdoor tourism attractions.

The Oklahoma City Zoo achieved a historic visitor number during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Marketing and Public Relations Manager Candice Rennels said. It exceeded 1 million guests as of June 30. This is the zoo’s first time to reach the milestone number. In comparison, the 2012-2013 fiscal year had 916,971 visitors.

“We’ve had great attendance from spring break and on,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service, June and July 2014 were cooler on average than the same months in 2013. The average high temperatures in June and July 2013 were 88 degrees and 92 degrees, respectively. July 2013 had three days where temperatures were more than 100 degrees. In June and July 2014, the average high temperatures were 87 and 89 degrees, respectively, with only one 100-degree day in July. The month had three days with high temperatures in the 70s.

The visitor increase has reflected across the park. Visitor Services Manager Michelle Bell said via email that cooler temperatures have helped keep people in the park longer. Compared to 2012-2013, Bell said in the 2013-2014 fiscal year $110,000 more was spent, specifically, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Those purchases were made in the gift shop, on admission tickets, and at attractions and concessions. Afternoon events such as giraffe feeding and elephant demonstrations have also had increased attendance.

Rennels said the new Stingray Bay exhibit has helped draw in crowds, as well. The exhibit opened in July, making this the first full summer it’s been accessible to guests. She said the zoo’s admission prices of $8 for adult and $5 for children also make the attraction more budget-friendly.

Near the zoo, Frontier City Promotions Manager Alyssa Baier said Frontier City has had to restock its souvenir bottles to meet the demand.

“We’ve definitely seen more traffic in (Frontier City) from Monday to Friday than last year,” she said. “We’ve also seen an increase in double park pass sales.”

Frontier City and White Water Bay are both owned by Florida-based CNL Lifestyle Properties. Baier said the parks were budgeted for 720,000 visitors total.

“We will definitely exceed that because the weather has been so cool and bearable,” she said.

In the central business district, Myriad Botanical Gardens hosts outdoor movies every Wednesday, live concerts, and even an Internet cat video festival. This summer’s movie screening with the highest attendance was Frozen, which drew 2,500 to 3,000 people, said Christine Eddington, marketing and communications director. She said the movie was shown on a warmer evening and still drew a crowd. The average movie attendance last year was 1,500.

“Our programming is on an uptick,” she said. “Cooler weather can do nothing but help.”

She said she has seen that the cooler weather has inspired more people to use the gardens as a lunchtime workout site.


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The photo of the stingrays at the Oklahoma City Zoo associated with this story on the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber's home page, www.okcchamber.com, is by Carl Shortt.