Royal Gorge Bridge & Park partners with Service Systems Associates to deliver innovative guest experiences

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Entertaining over 26 million guests with awe-inspiring panoramic views during its 85 years, the newly reopened Royal Gorge Bridge & Park partners with Denver-based Service Systems Associates to provide daytime visitor dining and retail amenities.

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Denver-based Service Systems Associates recently announced a long-term partnership with the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park to become the exclusive provider of daytime visitor dining and retail services at the Park.

Located two hours south of Denver and 45 minutes southwest of Colorado Springs, the 360-acre Royal Gorge Bridge & Park has entertained over 26 million guests with awe-inspiring panoramic views during its 85 years. The centerpiece of the Park is the Royal Gorge Bridge, which stands 955 feet above the Arkansas River, making it one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. It’s on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Park withstood the effects of a major wildfire in 2013 that destroyed 48 of the 52 structures, including an aerial tram, antique carousel and the park’s visitor center. Fortunately, the bridge escaped with only minor damage. After months of demolition and planning, the first rebuilding phase of the park opened Labor Day Weekend. Phase one includes a 14,000-square-foot visitor’s center with an entry, a gift shop and a 210-seat restaurant. The theme for the design centers on the unique Colorado look that uses wood, glass and natural materials in the buildings. Also opening is the Royal Rush Skycoaster, which will release harnessed riders from a 100-foot tower, momentarily suspending them 1,200 feet above the Arkansas River, then doing a free-fall at up to 50 mph with nothing between them and the canyon floor.

After the fire, Park Vice President and General Manager Mike Bandera said there was an opportunity to start over and build a state-of-the-art venue rather than one that grew from humble beginnings 85 years ago. With this vision, it was decided to select a hospitality partner to enhance the guest experience with new and innovative culinary and retail offerings delivered with exemplary customer service. After considering several companies, the Park’s leadership selected SSA, which has a 43-year history of managing culinary and retail operations at museums, zoos and aquariums across the U.S. Similar partnerships include the History Colorado Center (Denver), the nearby Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, the Saint Louis Science Center, The Autry National Center (Los Angeles), Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Denver Zoo.

Bandera said the company won based on the quality and service it provides at similar accounts. “We think with their management and hospitality expertise, SSA will increase our sales considerably while providing outstanding service to our guests,” he added. Bandera also said the professionalism as well as the positive attitude of SSA employees will be a great asset as they are trained to offer the special touches that make guests feel appreciated.

“Our goal is to deliver outstanding service and offerings that position the Royal Gorge Bridge as a premier entertainment venue,” said SSA CEO Tim Brantley. “SSA will use its industry-leading insights and hospitality experience to develop a guest service experience that is as unique as the Park,” he added, “The collaboration has been tremendous in designing the interior of the visitor’s center as well as re-imagining retail and dining encounters that reflect this attraction, which is often called the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas.”

About Service Systems Associates: SSA manages retail, culinary and guest services amenities at more than 45 museums, botanic gardens, zoos and aquariums in the United States, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, History Colorado Center ( Denver), The Autry National Center (Los Angeles), Saint Louis Science Center, Albuquerque Bio Park, Thanksgiving Point (Utah), as well as the Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Denver Zoos to name a few. The company is a national leader in guest service amenities for cultural attractions, serving over 27 million guests annually. For more information, please visit the website at

About the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park: In 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge was the highest suspension bridge in the world and kept the title for over seven decades adding several world class attractions to its venue before the Royal Gorge Fire 2013.    The Bridge forms the heart of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, a theme park owned by the City of Canon City.    The Royal Gorge Company of Colorado has held the operations lease since 1947. For more information, please visit the website at

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