Learning At The Mouth Of A Volcano



What did a waterpark and corporate learning have in common…? Frankly, I assumed, very little.

So why I ask the question? Simply, the life-long learner in me was fascinated by a recent visit to a Florida theme (water) park, not named after Walt.

My family and I went to Volcano Bay a Universal property and (I believe) the only park we hadn’t visited on at least one previous trip down south. I have to be honest, early reviews on the park did not seem especially promising. So, we had previously avoided it. However, by the time we arrived, throwing caution to the wind, whatever early demons drove previous patrons to complain online, had long been vanquished.

I’ve never been a great lover of water parks, primarily because of the long lines that quickly form from the (safety driven) delays that are the result of the required wait before a rider reaches the pool at the bottom of a slide, the endless trucking of floatation devices, namely inner tubes up 5 flights of stairs, frustrated customers etc. etc.; all first world problems to be certain, but problems nonetheless. So why would Volcano Bay be any different?

But this park was different. The design and systems engineers clearly did their homework. More specifically, they did their research before undertaking this venture. It would also appear, they believe in ongoing improvement.

Learning, like marketing, doesn’t have to be a push strategy – sometimes it can and should be, a pull. A desire to learn, where learning isn’t mandated. A desire to reassess the good, bad and ugly of what’s previously be undertaken.

A powerhouse brand like Universal, could easily create a park with character driven slides/rides etc. and call it a day. It would make money. That’s not what I found at Volcano Bay.

The employees were ‘Disney-esque’ in their service, friendliness and willingness to help. Clearly well trained in the fine art of client experience learning. The aforementioned engineers created a park that made traversing to the top of a ride, a singular experience – not requiring an arm full of inner tube. Most of the rides allowed for multiple riders, creating a fun experience for sure, but also acting as a means to push multiple bodies through the rides and higher rate than other parks can accommodate.

Most amazingly, the park provided everyone with a wearable, watch-like faub (aptly named the Tapu Tapu) that with a simple ‘tap’ of the wrist to a scanner, gave you access to the slide, or a wait time and ride return (buzzing) to your device, so anything longer than 10 minutes was avoided. A marvel of engineering driven by learning.

Learning - what works and what doesn’t. Learning what drives people to go ‘batty’ at a theme park and what creates enjoyment. Most amazingly, they even had job aids (video and written) that were easily searchable and understood. Sounds like corporate training to me.

So, I guess I was wrong… waterparks and learning have a lot in common.

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