FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- Amusement Parks have been on a roller coaster over the past two and a half years with COVID-19 halting rides. But, the business of fun has made a comeback this summer.
"We have bounced back," said Adventureland president and co-owner Steve Gentile. "We kept a lot of those changes and it's for the better."
One of the biggest changes to the park's business model, Gentile said on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, was charging admission instead of a pay-as-you-go model as it did previously.
"In the very beginning, it was a very big obstacle for us, but now they're liking it more so because the people that are here inside the park want to be here," he said.
Gentile said parents have told him Adventureland feels safer because people aren't wandering into the park only to "hang out."
Revenue has also increased this year compared to 2019.
"We're giving you a first-class product here as any amusement park does. And, we're trying to give you a first-class product - which we feel we are - we're giving you a safe business - which I feel we are - and a happy place to enjoy with your kids."
That experience is the selling point to mothers who make a majority of household purchasing decisions, according to several studies of consumer spending.
"The mom is the one that's making their decision where to spend their entertainment dollar," said Gentile. "We need to convince mom that we are delivering a safe product here for them and that they can entertain their kids in a safe environment."
Adventureland opened in 1962. Gentile's father Tony Gentile bought the park in 1979, which Steve took over when Tony died in 2013.
"I get to work with me, my brother, my three kids, my brother-in-law, two cousins, people that have been working with us for over 20 to 25, 30 years. I say sometimes how lucky we are that we can have such a family unit in the park."
Being surrounded by family during the worst of the pandemic sustained Gentile's spirits.
"My brother was speaking with somebody the other day about a recession and he nailed it on the head: 'If we can get through a pandemic with not being open, I think Adventureland will handle a recession," he said.
The amusement park owner told WCBS 880 that children's "happy screams" emanating from the rides are an indication that he's doing his job right.
"Screams, that tells us that we are succeeding in what we're doing," said Gentile. "That's wonderful stuff that you hear kids screaming in our business that they're having fun."
Watch the full interview with Adventureland owner Steve Gentile on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.