Carousel Support and Information: National Carousel Association

Marketing Your Carousel - Think "Outside the Box"

by Kate Blakley

Director of Marketing

Carousel Works, Inc.

A carousel is one of the magical places that people from 2 to 102 can all gather and enjoy themselves. That in and of itself is a marketing dream. Rather than thinking about the carousel itself, think for a moment about the carousel as a location that offers cost effective fun for an entire family - how can you market that concept? By thinking "outside of the box," you can create new and innovative opportunities to draw patrons to your carousel thus increasing revenue and creating carousel memories for generations to come.

First things first, before you begin to put your marketing efforts into high gear, begin with the carousel itself. Proper maintenance and cleanliness of the carousel is one crucial key to a successful marketing effort - how are you going to "sell" something to other people if it isn't well kept, properly cleaned and in good working order? Some basic questions to ask yourself and your staff:

  • Do we have a daily cleaning schedule in place to keep the carousel bright and shining?
  • Is the carousel building spotless and void of debris?
  • Is all the proper maintenance being done on the carousel?

A gathering of clowns always ensures a gathering of children!
Simple maintenance and cleaning checklists can be created for the carousel staff and be kept in a maintenance log book to ensure that everyone is clear on your expectations as to how the carousel should be maintained. Keeping the carousel clean and in top working order is not an expensive endeavor; it just requires a little elbow grease and the efforts can make a huge difference in the success of your marketing efforts.

Once you have the carousel shined and polished, begin by taking the first step to create a basic marketing plan. For example, if you were planning a trip, you would prepare with a destination in mind, a map of how to reach the destination, and so on. The same holds true with marketing efforts. In order to determine if an event or program is effective, one must set goals and track the progress and results to see if that particular marketing effort is effective.

The marketing plan for your carousel should strive to envelop a two-fold approach - the first goal is to focus on drawing local residents to the carousel, while the second focus should be on enticing people from outside the area to the site.

I always recommend beginning with a brainstorming session to generate some creative ideas - think "outside the box." Every community is different, so what may work in one community may not work in another community. Only you know your own community so this is usually an effective tool to begin in the creation of your marketing plan.

To increase patronage from local residents begin by promoting more community involvement in your carousel. The most successful carousels create community pride and then radiate that pride to other surrounding communities. Some sample ideas that carousel across the country are utilizing to do just this include:

  • Increase Local Attendance
    To increase local attendance, create family events at the carousel, such as Craft Night, Family Night, Grandparents Day, Halloween events, Valentine.s events, 4th of July events, Memorial Day weekend - offer one free ride to service members and their families, offer to host Mommy & Me groups, Ice Cream Socials, Pizza Parties, and Holiday parties. Some carousels are even creating evening events for their patrons to enjoy a ride on the carousel under the stars with cookies & milk - maybe even a fun pajama party for kids. These events offer community members a fun place to take their families, meet with their friends and neighbors and create memories that they can enjoy on a recurring basis.

  • Attract Crowds from Other Areas
    To bring in crowds from other areas, take a good look at your overall location - what do you have to offer in terms of physical location that you could promote to various groups to entice them to host their event at your carousel? Is your carousel situated in a park with lots of space? Or a downtown environment that has easy walking access to restaurants? Does your carousel building have large party rooms? Do you have a large parking lot? The event doesn't have to be carousel related - carousels across the nation have been having huge success offering their location to host a wide range of exciting and fun events at their carousel. Some examples include: Car Shows, Banjo Festivals, Clown Conferences, Pet Adoption Events, Motorcycle Shows, cooking classes, and more.

  • Birthday parties at the carousel are always great fun, and mom and dad don't have to clean up the mess!
    Offer Birthday Party Packages
    A lot of carousels host birthday parties - take that idea a step further. Offer a true carousel birthday party package - get in contact with a local bakery that can offer carousel themed cakes or cupcakes, purchase carousel themed party supplies, etc. Become a full-service party provider - then you can sell your parties as "fun for kids - easy for the parents." All they have to do is show up with the party group, rather than run around town picking up the cake, supplies, etc. This same concept can also be used for baby showers, holiday parties, and so on.

  • Offer Reading Programs
    Get in contact with the local library or book clubs to get involved with their summer reading programs - offer maybe a free ride on the carousel for everyone who completes the program, or offer to host an end-of-summer event for all the kids who successfully complete the program.

  • Offer Promotions Through Doctors and Dentists
    Offer ride tickets to local medical and dental associations at a discounted price. Some concepts of how these are being distributed by the medical community - dentists can pass out these rides to kids who keep their regularly scheduled cleaning appointments; physicians can provide kids with a ride on the carousel after their vaccinations.

  • Cooperation With Local Businesses
    Work with local businesses to create synergy between both locations. If there is an ice cream shop near the carousel, offer an "ice cream cone and a carousel ride" package. Maybe your community has a children's museum and you both can offer combination packages for the carousel and the museum. Get creative!

    You can also offer local businesses, or even individuals, the opportunity to sponsor the carousel for an occasion or charity event - depending on the carousel location, examples of pricing typically ranges from $150.00 - $300.00 per hour. For example, a local business can sponsor a special event for the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters members to ride the carousel as a way to support the program and the volunteers, or host a special evening to show employee appreciation. This gives local businesses a great way to give back to the community and build goodwill while also generating more patrons to your location.

  • Annual Christmas cards can provide an ongoing source of revenue!
    Cost Effective Advertising
    Develop some fun ways to get your name out there with cost effective advertising. Offer free rides and popcorn or a free birthday party package as a contest prize on a local radio station. Create a carousel coloring contest in conjunction with a local newspaper - coloring pages can be picked up and displayed at local merchants places of business and local restaurants.

  • Prom Events and Photos
    Some communities are even offering pre-prom or after-prom events and photo opportunities at their carousels as a safe and fun way to celebrate prom.

  • Utilize Your Website
    Spend some time getting creative with your website. Websites offer a great way to reach a lot of people - be sure to keep your website fresh and updated. When you have events at your carousel post a few fun photos of the event. If you don't have someone on your staff who is website savvy, contact a local college about the possibility of offering an internship to a student specializing in this area. This is a great opportunity for a student to create a fun and exciting website for your carousel while also simultaneously earning credit and/or internship experience - it can be a win-win experience for everyone!

These ideas just scratch the surface of all the creative and fun ways that you can draw people to the carousel. Begin your marketing plan with a few concepts to which you can dedicate the proper time and effort to make it a success and then continually add new and fresh concepts to your marketing plan.

All of these concepts are designed to simultaneously promote your support of community while also bringing people to your location. Take these ideas into your brainstorming session to set off some sparks that you and your staff can use as a launching pad to begin to rev up your marketing efforts!

  If you're using a mobile device, or if you'd like
to view our website with larger fonts,
Try Our Mobile Site!
Carousel Support and Information: National Carousel Association

All materials on are
©2002-2024 National Carousel Association
unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved