Episode 289: Ade Jones talks about adventure tourism, freedom to succeed, and community relations

Business Strategy, Leadership, Podcast

This episode is kindly sponsored by Attractions.io, the guest experience platform behind Merlin Entertainments’, San Diego Zoo’s, and the PGA Championship’s branded mobile apps. Like us, the team at Attractions.io are on a mission to elevate our guest experiences and ensure they exceed the expectations of today’s digitally native guests. By combining a branded mobile app with an operator console that consolidates behavioral data from every touchpoint in the guest journey, the Attractions.io platform empowers operators with the tools they need to increase guest satisfaction, spending, and loyalty. To learn more about how Attractions.io can help you connect your end-to-end guest experience, visit Attractions.io/howitworks.

Adrian Jones is the CEO of Zip World UK, a company that specializes in creating unique and thrilling adventures. From the world’s fastest zipline to underground mini-golf, Ade is an expert in taking experiences to the next level. Ade began his career working the frontlines at Alton Towers. This began a career with Merlin Entertainments spanning nearly three decades, where he served as General Manager of Madam Tussauds in Las Vegas and Los Angelos, opened LEGOLAND Florida as General Manager in 2011, before being promoted to President & Divisional Director of Midway Attractions in North America, and then Global New Concepts Development Director.. Recently, he became the CEO of Zip World, where he continues to innovate and create new, exciting experiences for guests. In this interview, Ade shares his insights on adventure tourism, the importance of giving people the freedom to succeed, and building strong relationships with local communities.

Adventure Tourism

“The adventure market is growing massively.”

Adventure tourism gives guests the opportunity to experience some of the most unique things our world has to offer. When Ade started with Zip World, he was impressed with how positive the reviews were and how engaged guests were with the facilities. By providing a wide range of attractions for the entire family and creating a great guest experience, Zip World captures the attention of their guests.

Ultimately, the attractions industry is about selling fun, something Ade fell in love with when he got his start. One of the best ways to sell fun is to create a facility that can’t be replicated virtually. For instance, the caverns at Zip World contain 200 years of formations, and the personal interactions with employees can’t be replicated in the digital space.

Freedom to Succeed

“If someone is frightened to fail, they won’t take any risks.”

Another key to the success of Zip World is the employee culture. Ade knows that the ‘People Agenda’ is a huge priority when it comes to building a successful culture. To take employees to the next level, Ade emphasizes the importance of creating the freedom to succeed. By implementing this culture, employees get the chance to build who they are and help create a dynamic business.

Mistakes build who we are, and by creating a freedom to succeed, we also create the freedom to fail. Failure is important, and everyone can learn from their mistakes. Ade knows that by failing, we can become stronger in the places we were broken before, which is something that could benefit any operation. 

Community Relations

“We were very sympathetic; we listened.”

One of Ade’s greatest challenges was leading the development of LEGOLAND Florida while simultaneously creating a great relationship with the Winter Haven community. By holding town halls and being open to feedback from the locals, Winter Haven is now proud to have LEGOLAND Florida as a staple in their community. 

Ade’s most valuable lessons were about the importance of following through on your promises and the impact of small gestures. When working with homeowners and existing communities, it’s crucial to be mindful and considerate. By being transparent and keeping promises, trust can be built and disasters can be avoided. These actions contribute to fostering a positive and cooperative spirit within the community.


To connect with Ade, you can find him on LinkedIn. To learn more about Zip World, you can visit their website here.


This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:

  • Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
  • Summary by Mason Nichols
  • Video editing by Abigail Giganan

To connect with AttractionPros: attractionpros@gmail.com

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