Find out how ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure has been bringing dino fun to families in lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk’s answer to Jurassic Park has been going above and beyond during lockdown, bringing the fun of its 85-acre park to dino lovers at home and making plans to re-open.
Dino lovers across Norfolk have been able to get their fix of prehistoric fun thanks to the quick, innovative thinking of one of the county’s leading attractions.
Over the last few months, the team at Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure has revolutionised how it engages with visitors and has found new ways to bring the fun of its 85-acre park in Lenwade, near Norwich, to the comfort and safety of people’s homes.
“With parents facing the challenge of home-schooling and with many dino fans currently at home, we’ve seen a real change,” says company director and park manager, Adam Goymour.
The team has created an activity book, which you can download for free from the park’s website, featuring puzzles, quizzes, facts and dino-themed activities to keep the whole family busy. And if that’s not enough, there have been plenty of activities online too, from live dinosaur tours on Facebook to videos, storytelling and activities you can do in your own Jurassic garden.
“It’s all about taking the brand experience from the park to the home and allowing people to continue their journey and get involved,” says Adam. “We have received a ROARR-some response to some of the activities we have introduced, and our guests are still feeling connected with Dippy and his dinosaur friends.”
There’s no denying that lockdown has been a difficult time for the business, which temporarily closed its doors on Friday, March 20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Financially, it is looking at a loss of between £1.5m to £2m this season, but Adam says he is grateful for the resilience and dedication shown by his team.
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“I want to applaud the leadership here at Roarr!”, he says, “including our finance director, managing director, head of HR and head of marketing for doing an incredible job to secure a future for our business and to communicate to our large workforce.
“This has been no easy task in an extraordinary situation and while we are over the peak with Covid-19, we are still only at the very beginning of this battle for business survival.”
Moving online has been a challenge for the team, due to the size, scale and hands-on nature of the attraction, but Adam says they’ve done all they can to keep visitors in the loop.
Now, the team is also taking its award-winning Dinos at Night event online, originally scheduled for Saturday, June 27. “We had some big plans for this year,” says Adam, “but to ensure that guests don’t miss out, we have a series of videos planned to launch on our YouTube and social media channels throughout the week. These will feature some animals, music, showcases from some of our valued partners and much more. It’s the chance to celebrate the evening from the comfort of your own homes – for a full week!”
At the park itself, the work certainly hasn’t stopped. The team have been busy providing animal care to the park’s family of over 200 mammals, reptiles and invertebrates, as well as additional grounds work due to the sunny weather.
But a large majority of Adam’s time, as company director and park manager, has been spent preparing to re-open safely.
The team is hoping that it can open on Saturday, July 4, as part of the Government’s phased plan to return to a more normal way of life. “We want to reassure guests that their safety is of the highest importance to us and while things will look a bit different, as we adhere to social distancing guidelines, the Jurassic experience we offer will still be the same.”
Adam and his sister Kiera, who also works for the family business, have grown up at the heart of some of Norfolk and Suffolk’s most popular tourist attractions, as their father, Martin, and mother, Caroline, founded Banham Zoo back in 1968. They also went on to own Africa Alive! in Kessingland, near Lowestoft, and in 2013, they transferred both to ZSEA, the charitable trust known as the Zoological Society of East Anglia.
Martin says that, despite the challenges that have come with lockdown, there’s still been plenty to celebrate – in fact, it’s been a bumper year for the family, full of personal milestones. “During the month of May, Caroline and I celebrated 25 years at our current house, 40 years of marriage, Caroline’s 60th birthday and my 70th birthday,” he says.
“There was no big party in lockdown but time for a deeper reflection of what we have achieved in those fleeting years.
“In 2006, we acquired the Norfolk Dinosaur Park, now Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure and developed it into a park to be proud of,” says Martin
In the last 14 years, the park has changed immensely, from the infrastructure and attractions to the level of customer service - “even Dippy has received an upgrade and become more of a feature,” says Martin.
The family have invested over £12m into Roarr! - including its rebrand and the installation of new and exciting attractions. As a result, visitor numbers have soared, and the park now welcomes double the amount of guests than it did in 2006.
Collectively, the family have over 50 years’ experience in running day visitor attractions. They are still avid visitors to theme parks and attractions - “for research purposes,” says Martin – and can regularly be seen at country parks, too.
“We are a family who are very proud of where we work,” says Martin. “We put our blood, sweat and tears into the brand. Tourism is in our blood, creating happy and memorable experiences for families.”
ROARR!’S HIGHLIGHTS OVER THE YEARS INCLUDE...
July 2011: opening of Dinomite indoor play
May 2016: opening of Dippy’s Splash Zone with Andy Day from CBeebies
February 2018: re-branded to Roarr!
May 2018: opening of Predator high ropes/The Explorers
Find out more, including details of when they plan to reopen, at www.roarrdinosauradventure.co.uk