ORLANDO, Fla. — The marine industry is preaching to the choir.
But Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation president Frank Peterson wants to branch out.
He wants to reach the people who are taking boating and fishing excursions at Disney World because most of the people renting boats and fishing equipment are first-time boaters and anglers, Peterson told a small press gathering at the Disney Beach Resort Wednesday afternoon.
“And the lakes here are so stocked with big fish, it’s a great first experience,” said Mike Benn, director of alliance development at Disney.
The trip was to introduce reporters to the boating and fishing experiences at Disney and the alliance between Take Me Fishing and the parks. TakeMeFishing.org is one of only 40 of the theme park’s corporate partners, Peterson said.
“Those who participate in boating and fishing at Disney are twice as likely to go fishing, twice as likely to go boating and twice as likely to go to the TakeMeFishing.org website than others,” Peterson said.
The theme park giant has a corporate mandate to connect 35 million kids with nature and outdoor experiences by 2015 and “we’re a long way along the path of meeting that goal,” Benn said.
Walt Disney was an avid conservationist and Benn said that mutual interest was one of the main elements that attracted Disney to the RBFF’s industrywide initiative.
“Corporate alliances have been around since Walt’s day,” he said, adding that Walt Disney often advocated for the importance of conservation to Disney.
Because of the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund, which taxes boating and fishing in order to preserve the resources that sustain it, the effort is seen as one that gets kids outdoors enjoying nature while also making sure it is around for future generations.
At Disney, kids and adults can pole fish, participate in a bass-fishing excursion and rent small “Sea Raycers” to operate — touching on the boating and fishing experiences, both combined and solo.
Sun Tracker pontoons also can be rented for premium spots on the water for fireworks shows that happen nightly.
Various “cast members” on such excursions “have a lot of training to really make sure that people have a great experience,” Benn said. And TakeMeFishing.org is the only URL that is displayed around the park. “That’s important from the Disney perspective because it really reinforces that outdoor experience and call to action.”
Although the partnership is about a year old, pole fishing has long been a part of the Disney experience in some locations, said Stacia Wake, manager of alliance management at Disney.
“Walt felt very strongly about conservation and the outdoor experience,” she said.
Read more about how the groups are specifically executing the plan to connect Disney and Take Me Fishing in Trade Only Today this week and in the July issue of Soundings Trade Only.