In its second year of operation, the Frisco Adventure Park doubled its December visitation, a feat Frisco recreation director Diane McBride said is due to promotional efforts, the weather in December and the growing popularity of the peninsula's offerings.
Total participants in December 2011 numbered more than 10,000, compared to 5,300 recorded in December 2010. However, in 2011, the tubing park was open for the full month (it opened to the public on Nov. 24 this season), compared to its Dec. 11 opening day in 2010.
Still, visitation for the Dec. 11-31 timeframe was 9,270 this season, compared to 5,384 last season.
"It's right in line with our goals," McBride said. "We wanted to maximize the volume we have out there; the people utilizing the hill."
The largest day so far this season was Friday, Dec. 30, when 1,134 participants clambered onto the tubing hill throughout the day. That met 95 percent of the facility's capacity, which is 1,200 for the holiday week. By comparison, McBride said Keystone Resort's maximum capacity is 650 people per day during the holiday week.
Both years, the tubing hill closed on Dec. 31. Last season, it was due to extreme cold; this season, high winds prevented the park's operation.
Presumably some growth is due to the prolonged presence of the tubing park, which, with time, grows in popularity through word of mouth, McBride said. She added that the warm holiday and lack of snow may have contributed to record numbers during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
"The word is out about the operation, the marketing efforts have increased, and the visibility of the hill remains a huge draw to guests driving by the site," McBride wrote in her report to the Frisco Town Council. She added, "With limited terrain on the ski hills and minimal snow coverage throughout the county, people appear to be searching for other activities besides skiing and snowboarding."
Still, it's not just luck that's driving the Adventure Park's popularity. McBride's team is also offering a variety of promotions to encourage visitation.
It helps that tubing is an activity that appeals to everyone in the family or group of friends, as there's little differentiation of ability levels.
That's the key to Frisco's marketing campaign, McBride said.
"Because we're so new, we're trying a few different things to see what's going to stick and work the best," she said. "We want the visitor population. We also want the local population by making it affordable and fun for families."
That's where the Frisco 4-Pack was born. On Dec. 11 and Jan. 8, families could visit the park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $55. Included in the price were four meals including hot dogs, chips and sodas and 16 runs down the tubing hill. Staff sold 41 packages that day. The next Frisco 4-Pack promotion won't be until the end of the season, McBride said.
This Friday, the crew is giving "Fridays By The Fire" a shot, which is essentially a four-hour happy hour on Friday evenings. At $3 for beer and wine, adults can gather at the Frisco Day Lodge from 4-8 p.m. and listen to an acoustic guitarist.
Another promotion targets middle and high school students - the Tiger Pass promo. On Mondays and Thursdays after school from 3:45-6 p.m. now through Feb. 16, students can pay $10 for unlimited tubing, access to the terrain park and the beginner ski and ride hill. It includes ski videos and age-appropriate music in the Day Lodge as well as discounted pizza and snacks.
Getting the beginner ski and ride hill up and running is still in process, McBride said.
"We hope to have something up and going in the early February timeframe," she said, adding that town staff are still in the contract phase with Copper Mountain's Ski and Ride program.
"I think both parties are excited," she said. "We're just not releasing anything yet."
Keystone Resort's December tubing numbers were strong, primarily during the holidays, resort spokeswoman Justine Spence said.
"We had a great December with lots of families and packed numbers," she said. Though she was unable to release any figures, she added that Adventure Point was fully booked or close to it from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.
"It's great because it speaks to our focus on families and the high percentage of family visitation we see," Spence said. "We have people come up who are not skiers. It's a great way for them to get up on the mountain and watch the views.