Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Their PR Professors Would Be Proud

I want to know what PR school the flacks at Thorpe Park attended.

Because year after year, these guys amaze me with the stories that they get published.

And I'm not just talking about press in the United Kingdom... their wacky stories about Thorpe Park always go worldwide!  Here are some examples from the past few years:

* They once had a contest where they asked members of the public to donate urine to create a "signature stench" for their new "SAW Alive" horror maze.

* One summer, they banned roller coaster riders from putting the hands in the air due to complaints of body odor.

* At one point, park management called in a paranormal expert when the park was experiencing ghostly encounters.  They said they had to suspend six members of their staff after a late-night Ouija board seance at the park was blamed for a series of supernatural events.

These are not the happy, put a smile on your face type stories that we're used to hearing from Disney, Universal, Six Flags and Cedar Fair.

I'd be shocked if any of those companies ever asked their guests to show up at the park with a cup of pee in their hands.

But once again, Thorpe Park managed to get a story in the papers this week that has raised eyebrows all over the world.

According to The Telegraph, "theme park officials had to take drastic measures to the £20million project after dummies were ''alarmingly'' damaged. Thorpe Park in Surrey said a number of the crash test dummies returned with scratches and limbs missing, forcing a costly operation to make changes to comply fully with health and safety requirements."

This is usually the type of thing that, if it happened, theme park PR people would try to keep out of the press.

I remember when Kingda Ka was testing, there were all types of crazy rumors about how the test dummies were flying out of the seats during the launch.  One of the PR people from Six Flags Great Adventure actually had to come on our show to refute the story!

Now, most theme park fans who know about Thorpe Park's PR past have come to the conclusion that this is a gimmick.

If you look closely at the picture, the dummies in the front row are different than the actual testing dummies that are in all of the other rows.

Most people, including me, believe this is just a way to drum up some interest (and some irrational fear) about how intense and "dangerous" this new roller coaster will be.

I don't know what PR school these people went to, but my professor always said that the ole cliche is true... "any publicity, is good publicity."

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