In part two of this three part series, we will focus on interpretive methods, concepts, and planning.  Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts operates in Special Places with many opportunities to incorporate interpretation and education throughout their operations.  It is through collaboration, deliberate planning, and creativity that we can deliver quality programs that facilitate learning and emotional connections for our guests and associates that may last a lifetime.


The following standards were developed so that each Delaware North Parks & Resorts property may consistently approach interpretation and education; however, these are adaptable to develop communications and programs unique to each site.

  • Educate and interpret the stories behind the Special Places where we operate and support our client’s mission.
  • Employ an Interpretive or Education Manager or appoint an Interpretive Facilitator.
  • Interpretive and Education Managers and staff receive training in interpretation and education.
  • Interpretive and education training and information are components of associate orientation programs for non-interpretive staff.
  • Interpretive efforts involve a variety of stakeholders and partners.  Interpretive planning must include the contractual client, media/design specialists, and other important partners or stakeholders present at the site.
  • In order to enhance the guest experience, incorporate interpretive themes throughout the entire operation (e.g. retail, food & beverage, lodging, recreation, etc.) based upon the significant ideas and stories of the area/property.
  • Where applicable, develop non-personal and/or personal methods to communicate interpretive themes.  Non-personal communication includes brochures, exhibits, signs, audiovisual shows, unit theming and/or other methods and does not require an interpreter at the scene.  Personal methods may include guided tours, presentations and formal education, etc.; this is a powerful approach to interpretation because of the direct interaction between the interpreter and the guest.
  • Incorporate interpretive themes into all marketing efforts, including websites, social media, printed materials, press releases, broadcasts, and others.  Annually review interpretive and educational effectiveness for continual improvement by developing, implementing and evaluating Interpretive Action Plans (IAPs).  Develop an annual interpretive and educational plan.  The plan will include specific steps and activities designed to accomplish the above.
  • Strategically promote interpretive and educational efforts to broad public and key industry audiences by offering presentations, developing press releases, applying for industry awards, and others.


Interpretive planning is designed to assist to develop and deliver quality programs.  Consider the following:

  1. Collaborate with Partners and Stakeholders
  2. Consider Contractual Requirements
  3. Understand and Comply with the Approval Process
  4. Identify Interpretive Themes
  5. Develop a Concept Plan. (Include Facility Design, Merchandising, Product Selection, Signage Program, Displays/Exhibits)
  6. Consider Environmental Aspects
  7. Understand Associate and Guest Needs
  8. Train Staff
  9. Establish Measurable Goals and Objectives (Short and Long Term)
  10. Develop a Timeline/Schedule
  11. Seek Credible Resources and Site References
  12. Measure/Document Results
  13. Identify and Close Gaps
  14. Seek Continual Improvement

National Park Service Interpretive Equation:

Knowledge of the resource +  Knowledge of the audience  x Appropriate techniques =Interpretive Opportunities   Resources


Next month we will share specific examples from a variety of our operations with the intent that they will inspire and generate ideas for 2015.  Please submit examples to Debbie Friedel at


  • Interpretive Planning The 5-M Model for Successful Planning Projects, Lisa Brochu, 2003. 
  • Personal Interpretation, Connecting Your Audience to Heritage Resources, Lisa Brochu & Tim Merriman, 2002. 
  • Environmental Interpretation, A Practical Guide for People with Big Ideas and Small Budgets.  Sam H. Ham, 1992. 
  • Certified Interpretive Guide Training Workbook, Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman.  2001.