5/7/2013 12:00:00 AM


Busch Gardens® Survey Reveals Outdoor Fun Decline

ORLANDO, FL – From weekday afternoons huddled in front of gaming consoles to weekends spent downloading the latest Smartphone app, kids today spend a significant amount of time indoors tethered to technology. A survey commissioned by Busch Gardens® found that 85 percent of moms worry that their children don’t experience enough natural, unstructured outdoor playtime – the kind of activity so common in previous generations.

According to a just-released survey of nearly 900 moms conducted by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Busch Gardens®, kids spend only two hours during the week participating in natural, unstructured activities such as playing tag, riding bikes, and exploring nature, and these activity levels increase only slightly on the weekends to a little more than two hours.

“As parents we remember our own moms opening up the screen door on a summer day and telling us ‘go outside and play,’ and we did, playing with friends from the neighborhood, roller skating and concocting elaborate games,” said Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting. “We fear we’re raising a generation of kids with ‘Natural Fun Deficiency’ who rarely play outside unless as part of planned activities and a coach nearby carrying a whistle and a clipboard.”

Based on the survey results, both moms and kids see technology as a deterrent to kids playing outside – 68 percent of moms think their kids spend too much time plugged in, and 44 percent of kids prefer texting to kickball.

However, the obstacles to outdoor-based family time include more than just technology. More than two-thirds of moms feel that family fun often takes a backseat to day-to-day obligations.

“This survey found that moms would truly love for their family to play outside together and to experience relaxed, fun, outdoor activities, but real life – ranging from work obligations to carpools to running errands – gets in the way,” DeBroff said. “And the majority of moms feel that their family becomes closer when they spend time together outdoors and feel guilty when it doesn’t happen enough.”

The Busch Gardens parks offer one solution for families to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  From world-class rides and attractions like Verbolten® and Cheetah Hunt® to up-close animal encounters that encourage learning about conservation, a visit to theme parks can enhance outdoor play and stimulates turning indoor children into outdoor kids.

“Our survey showed that moms realize that ‘Natural Fun Deficiency’ has become a significant challenge and that an increasing gap exists between how parents spent their childhood and what kids today do with their free time,” said Michael Hartman, Busch Gardens Parks’ Senior Marketing Officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “That’s why we teamed up with Stacy – so she can help parents bridge this gap and help both kids and parents get outside and have fun.”

Here are some of DeBroff’s best tips to combat ‘Natural Fun Deficiency’:

For Kids


  • Keep it Low-Key: Don’t worry about creating a master outdoor curriculum for kids. Instead, encourage them to build a fort, suggest they invite the new neighbor kids over for a backyard soccer game, or challenge them to make the ultimate mud pie.
  • Team Up with Fellow Moms: When it comes to planning play dates, the survey showed that almost 60 percent of moms never or rarely think about organizing an outdoor-focused get-together, despite the fact that 75 percent of moms want their kids to be more open to outdoor adventure. Work with other moms to banish time in front of the TV or gaming console and instead suggest that kids go outside for a backyard scavenger hunt or game of kickball.
  • Group Learning Activities: Surprise the kids with learning experiences disguised as pure fun. Busch Gardens’ numerous behind-the-scenes tours offer once-in-a-lifetime encounters with animals. The Birds of Prey tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg teaches the important role birds play in the wild. Kids and moms can even have a raptor fly to their glove. At Busch Gardens Tampa, moms and kids can grab a spot on an open-air touring vehicle and enjoy an unforgettable Serengeti Safari® where kids can get up-close to amazing animals and hand feed giraffe.

For Families


  • Plan a Family Get-Away: According to the survey results, 70 percent of moms rely on vacations as a time for kids to unplug and get away from technology. Planning a family get-away can be a great way for everyone to set aside pressures and obligations and re-connect as a family.
  • Explore the Great Outdoors: To jumpstart natural, outdoor fun, identify vacation spots with enough outdoor activities to entice everyone in the family. For example, a beach vacation offers opportunities for swimming, water sports, and beach exploration, while a visit to a theme park such as Busch Gardens, provides everything from thrill rides to water fun to animal encounters in natural settings.
  • The Family Who Plays Together, Stays Together: Support kids’ newfound outdoor experiences by creating fun, easy-to-arrange family activities. Take advantage of extended daylight hours to eat dinner on the patio or schedule an impromptu picnic dinner in the backyard. Or walk the dog as a family each weekend morning.

Additional Findings from the Survey Commissioned by Busch Gardens


Both Moms and Kids are concerned about Kids’ natural fun deficit:

  • 72 percent of moms report spending much more time playing outside while growing up than their own kids
  • 74 percent of the time, moms report that they or another adult (family member, friend, coach) always of almost always keeps an eye on their child’s outdoor activities.
  • 49 percent of kids agree and actually ask for more opportunities to engage in more natural, unstructured outdoor play
  • 63 percent of moms believe their family’s use of technology cuts into quality family time.

Need for Family Outdoor Fun

  • 95 percent of moms wish they could have more fun together as a family
  • 93 percent of kids wish they could have more fun together as a family
  • 93 percent of moms aspire to do more natural, unstructured outdoor activities as a family
  • More than two-thirds of moms feel that family fun time often takes a backseat to running errands, making meals, carpooling and parental work obligations
  • 61 percent of moms feel that playing outside together as family brings them closer, and feel guilty when their families don’t get enough natural fun time

Vacations and Family Outdoor Fun 

  • 58 percent of moms rely on vacation as a way to get kids outside
  • 69 percent of families say what love most about a theme park experience is family time togetherness.

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About the Survey


In March 2013, Mom Central Consulting surveyed 870 Moms for their views on natural play, adventure, and fun, and the need for more unstructured play in their children’s lives. The 30+-question survey was conducted online, programmed, and analyzed by Mom Central Consulting. All respondents belonged to the Mom Central Consulting Testing Panel, consisting of 20,000 American Moms spanning across relevant demographics.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment


SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment inspires millions, through the power of entertainment, to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world. The company has been creating innovative entertainment experiences that blend imagination with nature for more than 50 years and is best known for its 11 U.S. theme parks, attractions that hosted more than 24 million guests in 2012 and include the beloved SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens® and Sesame Place® brands. The parks offer guests a variety of up-close experiences, from animal encounters that invite exploration and appreciation of the natural world, to thrilling rides and spectacular shows.  In 2011 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment began expanding its popular brands into media and entertainment platforms to connect people to nature and animals through movies, television, and digital media; plus began developing new lines of licensed consumer products. 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment employs more than 21,000 people nationwide.

About Mom Central Consulting


Mom Central Consulting (, the leading social media consulting firm focused on the Mom Market, engages Moms in powerful word-of-mouth programs. Mom Central Consulting has offices in Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Canada.

Contact Information

For more information about this survey, please email Elizabeth Bassler ( or (813) 352-0704.