Florida Attractions News

Here you can find the latest stories and announcements from the Florida Attractions Association.

  • February 05, 2024 5:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Our Board of Directors has commissioned Rumblebuzz Marketing to conduct a survey of our members. This is a step in our Strategic Plan surrounding FAA brand equity, one of five bold initiatives launched last August. If you have not received an email from Kristy@therumblebuzz.com please check your junk/spam folder or contact the FAA office for a link.

    Survey deadline is this Friday, February 9.

    Thank you!


  • February 01, 2024 10:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    FASF logo - NEW.png

    Now Accepting Applications for the 2024 Scholarship and Professional Development Grant (scroll for details)

    ---For FAA Member Employees and Their Dependents---

    Florida Attractions Scholarship Program

    Scholarships awarded by the Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation are exclusively for FAA member business employees and their immediate family members. Eligible recipients must be enrolled full-time at a post-secondary institution in Florida in Hospitality Management or other related field.

    For full criteria and to apply for consideration, visit:

    FASFApply.org

    You can also print this 8.5 x 11 flyer to display for your employees at your business!

     

    Thanks to the ongoing generosity of Florida Attractions Association members, this year, the Foundation and its Board of Directors will be awarding several $2,000 scholarships. Recipients will also be invited to attend a Florida Attractions Association Annual Conference.

    ---For FAA Member Businesses---

    Professional Development and Employee Advancement Grant Program

    The Florida Attractions Scholarship Foundation Professional Development and Employee Advancement Grant Program has been developed to provide FAA member businesses (Attractions & Associate Members) financial support to develop new and build capacity for existing professional development and leadership programs. Along with the FASF scholarship program, this grant program promotes the Foundation’s mission to develop the Florida attraction industry’s workforce and prepare for future challenges.


    This year, Grants are limited to $2500 maximum. Grant awards will be announced at the 2024 FAA Annual Conference.


    Qualifying programs can include – individual or group programs for professional development, specific skills training, job-specific certifications, leadership development, and industry conferences. Qualifying Programs MUST provide an educational component that is relevant to the attractions industry and improve employee proficiencies and, ultimately, the guest experience. Grant funds may not be used toward registration for the FAA’s Annual Conference.

    Apply for the Grant

    Deadline for submissions to both the Scholarship and Grant Programs is February 29, 2024, 11:59pm EST.

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  • January 09, 2024 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2024 Florida Legislative Session

    Today marks the beginning of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session. The Florida Constitution-mandated 60-day session runs until Friday, March 8.

    The FAA staff and our lobby team at Liberty Partners of Tallahassee has been working over the past 2 months to discuss industry-relevant issues affecting our members to educate Legislators on the potential consequences if certain bills are passed.


    Here’s what you need to know…


    Our dedicated advocacy day – Florida Tourism Day on Wednesday January 31, 2024 in Tallahassee. As of today, we have a very limited number of registration slots available in our FAA allotment. If registrations are not available, please join our online waitlist. Unfortunately, accommodations in our contracted room block are no longer available.


    On Thursday, January 18 at 3:30pm ET (REGISTER HERE), the FAA will host its first webinar in the Winter/Spring Webinar Series – 2024 Florida Legislative Session and the FAA. Jennifer Green, President of our FAA lobby team at Liberty Partners of Tallahassee and our President Bill Lupfer will discuss the Legislative Session and bills that the FAA is monitoring. Save the date and watch your inbox for details coming soon.


    Stay informed and ready to act during Session. Monitor your email from the FAA for three unique types of communication used during Session:

    Advocacy Resources are available to our FAA Members. Log in to your account on FloridaAttractions.org. Navigate to Member Content>Advocacy to access resources.


    Help be our eyes and ears. During Session, bills can move very quickly and change dramatically as they move through their committee assignments. You can track the status of bills that may potentially affect our industry by monitoring our FAA Bill Tracker. If you know of Legislative action that might affect our industry and they’re not already listed on our Bill Tracker, please contact Bill Lupfer Lupfer@FloridaAttractions.org.

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  • January 07, 2024 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You may not have heard of the World Equestrian Center, site of the 2024 FAA Annual Conference, June 9-12 in Ocala. Save the date on your calendar and discover our host facility.

    Nestled in Ocala, the Horse Capital of the World, this world-class facility is the largest equestrian complex in the United States situated on nearly 378 acres of state-of-the-art arenas and luxury accommodations with an additional 300 acres set aside for future expansion.

    Take a closer look...


  • January 06, 2024 2:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Among FAA’s earliest Associate members is FPIS, Inc. Brochure Distribution and Travel Marketing, based in Ocoee, Florida. FPIS was founded by President Betty Pratt in 1967, and the company is unique as it is three generations strong.

    FPIS has been a leading distributor of brochures of our Florida-based attractions not only in the Sunshine State but in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. FPIS designs, builds and installs custom brochure displays and prides itself on beautiful product displays for your location. If you live in Central Florida, you have most likely seen an FPIS service truck on the roadway.

    FPIS, Inc. is very much a family owned and operated business with Betty Pratt, President; her daughter Linda Higgins as co-owner, and Linda’s daughter Lauren Murphy as Vice President. Lauren’s father Michael Middleton is also Vice President and has worked in the company since 1980. Attendees of previous FAA Annual Conferences have become well acquainted with the entire FPIS family who attend each Conference.

    The Florida Attractions Association has awarded the prestigious Associate Member of the Year to recipients Betty Pratt in 1989, Linda Higgins in 2009, and Lauren Murphy in 2010. Additionally, Linda and Lauren chaired the FAA’s Silent Auction Committee for many years.

    FPIS is a prime example of a longtime Supplier Associate member of the FAA that has been firmly established in Florida tourism from their earliest days in the late 1960s.

    We say thank you to the FPIS Brochure Distribution and Travel Marketing for their longtime support and service to members of the Florida Attractions Association.

  • January 05, 2024 5:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Getting to know the volunteer leaders who serve you on the FAA Board of Directors.  This month, meet Cameron O'Connell, Senior Director, Sales & Partnerships, ZooTampa answering 5 Questions...

    1. How long have you been in the attractions industry?

    I have been in the Attractions Industry for the past 5 and a half years.

    2. What is your favorite job you’ve had in the industry and why?

    The only job I have had in the Attractions Industry is with ZooTampa, so that would be my favorite.

    3. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in/for the attraction industry?

    The ability to create impact & memories for members & guests thru experiential activities, experiences & tours.

    4. What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

    Visiting & supporting my fellow attraction properties throughout the state of Florida.

    5. Aside from Florida, what is your dream vacation destination and why?

    I have always wanted to stay in an overwater villa in the French Polynesia, thanks to the commercials airing on television.


  • January 04, 2024 2:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FAA Members are invited to share their FAA story with their fellow members - how the association we share, colleagues we meet and experiences we live benefit one another.

    In the dynamic world of attraction ownership, where every twist and turn brings new challenges and opportunities, I found solace and inspiration in the embrace of a community that became my second family – an association of friends and like-minded leaders who shared my passion for excellence and innovation- the Florida Attractions Association.

    My journey with this extraordinary association began as a tentative step into uncharted territory. As one of the owners and CEO of Sawgrass Recreation Park, I often found myself immersed in the day-to-day demands of running a successful business. However, there was a longing for connection, a desire to share experiences and insights with those who understood the unique challenges of our industry.

    The first time I attended an Annual Conference almost 14 years ago, I was met with warmth and enthusiasm. It was not merely a gathering of professionals; it was a reunion of kindred spirits. As attraction owners and tourism industry support businesses, we shared a language that went beyond business jargon – a language of passion, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the magic we create within our attractions. I came back to my office and had notebooks full of ideas and so much work to do!

    The camaraderie that blossomed within this association went far beyond the confines of conference rooms and seminars. Late-night conversations over shared experiences and laughter forged bonds that transcended professional titles. We became friends, confidantes, and a support system for one another in a way that only those walking similar paths could understand. Here I found individuals who became my mentors, friends and even business partners in other endeavors.

    Professionally, the impact of this association on my journey as an attraction owner has been nothing short of transformative. The wealth of knowledge shared during roundtables, conferences and networking nights opened my eyes to innovative strategies and industry trends that I might have overlooked. Every conference became a chance to be with our "family" again. I loved how everyone was willing to open up and share successes and sometimes failures so that their knowledge would benefit others. I quickly found myself doing the same. I was so ready to take a call at my office and spend time helping others who were facing challenges or needed advice. It is so rare in my other professional avenues to be able to share a coffee with another airboat park owner who knows the responsibility of caring for alligators and reptiles, truly unique to my time spent with FAA.

    The positive ripple effect of this association reached our operational support and supply chains. We have found brochure distribution, print solutions, store merchandise, signage, marketing tools and more with the help of our associate members who are so closely tied to our industry. We now look to FAA associates first for our business solutions in whatever we need.

    am so proud of FAA for taking strides in Tallahassee with advocacy for our industry and for our attractions. Over the past decade we have become a collective voice, advocating for policies that support the growth and sustainability of attractions from every corner of our state. I have attended Tourism Day 10 times and have traveled separately to Tallahassee and DC on many occasions to meet with legislators. Thanks to FAA our park gained the confidence to host State Representatives and Senators to our park so they could meet our staff. I am so grateful to Jennifer Green and her team at Liberty Partners of Tallahassee for their guidance and advice as our attraction has had to navigate several legislative issues and hurdles. I am proud to say we were successful- and we have continued our commitment to advocacy to ensure we are always working hard to protect the interests of attractions and small business owners alike.

    As I reflect on the time spent with this association, I am filled with gratitude for the personal and professional growth it has facilitated. It is not just a means to professionally network; it is a family that celebrates our victories, supports us through challenges, and inspires us to reach new heights. The lessons learned, friendships forged, and the sense of community nurtured within this association have become an integral part of my journey as an attraction owner. I am serving on the board for a second term and my time spent with our leadership has been transformative. I see their passion and drive to work hard to help our association grow and evolve as our industry is ever changing. There are so many more fun changes on the way and I can't wait to see what we will achieve beyond our 75 years.

    In the tapestry of my life, the threads of this association are woven with vibrant hues of camaraderie, shared passion, and mutual growth. I am not just an attraction owner; I am a member of a community that continues to shape and enrich my narrative in ways I could have never imagined.

    Christina Soverns Schwartzman
    Chief Executive Officer
    Sawgrass Recreation Park

  • January 03, 2024 2:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The FAA isn’t the only one celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024. Gatorland opened its door in 1949 and has welcomed millions of visitors since then. Like many of our more seasoned FAA members, Gatorland’s humble beginnings blossomed over the years. It’s founder, Owen Godwin and his wife Pearl bought a parcel of land on the Orange Blossom Trail near Kissimmee and opened the Florida Wildlife Institute. The park was later named Gatorland and that brand has grown to international recognition over the decades.

    The privately-owned park is unique as four generations of the Godwin/McHugh family have poured their lives into making Gatorland stand up in the competitive central Florida tourism marketplace. Over the years, as Florida tourism boomed, the attraction has added to the numerous attractions and exhibits guest can enjoy including the historic Gatorland Railroad, Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, Stompin’ Gator Swamp buggy rides, swamp walks, Gator Jumparoo show and more.

    Guests experience a folksy, downhome vibe when visiting Gatorland, reminiscent of a bygone era of Florida culture. The attraction is led by President and CEO Mark McHugh who served as Chairman of the FAA from 2008 until 2010. Gatorland’s Senior Director of Sales, Jennifer Gallagher currently serves on the FAA Board.

    Gatorland is a testament to the timeless appeal of Florida’s original roadside attractions. Through the determination and vision of family, the spirit of Owen Godwin lives on in this venerable FAA member attraction.

    Congratulations to our friends and FAA member Gatorland – the Alligator Capitol of the World!


  • January 03, 2024 10:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Florida Tourism Day | January 31, 2024

    Tallahassee

    Hi Florida Attractions,


    The Florida Attractions Association is proud to host the 2024 Florida Tourism Day, in partnership with Destinations FloridaFlorida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, and the Florida Association of Museums

     

    Please make plans to join tourism industry professionals, colleagues, and friends in Tallahassee on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 for this important event. Florida's tourism industry drives our state’s economy, and your presence here in Tallahassee demonstrates the power and influence of our industry. You will be hearing from legislative leaders and meeting with policymakers to educate them about the issues that impact your business.


    The deadline to book your room under the FAA's special negotiated rate is next Monday, January 8. Registration for Florida Tourism Day may be extended based on availability in the FAA's registration allotment. Space is limited, so please reserve your spot and book your hotel room as soon as possible.

    Click for Details and Registration

    Schedule of Events


    January 30, 2024

    5:00 PM – 6:30 PM

    Florida Attractions Association Networking Dinner (Dutch treat - location TBA)


    January 31, 2024

    8:30 AM – 9:30 AM        

    Registration & Networking Breakfast | AC Hotel by Marriott Tallahassee 801 South Gadsden Street Tallahassee, FL 32301


    9:30 AM - 11:30 AM       

    Tourism Day Rally & Partner Briefing | AC Hotel by Marriott Tallahassee


    11:30 AM – 1:00 PM      

    Networking Luncheon | AC Hotel by Marriott Tallahassee


    1:00 PM – 5:00 PM         

    FAA Members & tourism colleagues from your county - Prearranged appointments with Legislators | The Capitol 400 S. Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399

    I look forward to seeing you in Tallahassee! Please reach out with questions.



    Thank you,


    Bill

    Bill Lupfer

    President/CEO

    Florida Attractions Association

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  • January 03, 2024 9:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the new year begins, we are finalizing plans for our 2024 scholarship and grant application period happening in February. Our scholarships are available exclusively to FAA member business employees and their dependents. In our first decade as a Foundation, we have awarded $80,000 to our industry’s future superstars.

    In 2023, the Foundation introduced a new grant program to aid our FAA member businesses with their internal human resources development programs. At annual conference, we awarded over $17,000 in scholarships and grants– a record for a single year. Last month the Foundation held its first online Holiday Silent Auction and raised over $6,600 in funds for our scholarship and grant programs.

    None of this would be possible without the generosity of our FAA members!

    Keep an eye on FloridaAttractions.org and your email inbox for details on our 2024 Scholarship and Grant application period which runs the month of February.

    Sincerely,

    Jennifer Berthiaume
    Chairman, Florida Attraction Scholarship Foundation
    Vice President, Lion Country Safari


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