The Art of Telling Whale Tales
On a map, some legends are bigger than others, and none are quite as big as the Blue Whale of Catoosa. When we got the call to reimagine one of our state’s Route 66 treasures…we jumped at the opportunity. Dive into the project below and learn how Hampton Creative is making a big splash with our latest project.
Although a beloved Route 66 icon with built-in audience segments, the Blue Whale of Catoosa is currently an attraction, not a destination. Without proper amenities and rich experiences, it leaves guests wanting more. The City of Catoosa engaged the Hampton Creative team to reimagine what the Blue Whale could be while paying homage to its deep history.
The solution was activating the 23.5-acre site through exciting new amenities, rich storytelling experiences, and revenue-generating offerings that give visitors a compelling reason to come, stay, and spend money.
Making a SPLASH!
When we begin a project, we always want to fully understand the story we are about to tell. With the Blue Whale, there was a deep well of story waiting to unfold. It became apparent quickly that the story of the Blue Whale was one of fun and whimsy. Combined with the backdrop of nostalgia and folklore of Route 66, we wanted to lean into this feeling and tone in our visual and verbal solutions. From the campy brand logo and the extension into a vast brand architecture to the punchy naming conventions and messaging, the entire experience is layered with meaning just waiting to be discovered.
Whale, Hello There!
The Blue Whale has had a familiar presence along Route 66 since 1972, but its first impression does not always meet the expectations of its visitors. Recently, the City of Catoosa has spent much effort cleaning up the property and increasing those expectations. Still, the time has come to make this iconic attraction a stop-you-in-your-tracks (literally), pull off the road immediately, and check out all the fun it offers. Our team considered all points of entry and possible views to ensure the visitor experience was curated from the start.
The Central Hub
The key to creating a top-notch guest experience starts with constructing a 60′ x 80′ visitor center centrally located on the property, delivering everything from modern restrooms to unique, 24/7 revenue opportunities.
The design program would allow 24/7 access to vending and restrooms by locking down the main retail space after hours. This gives the city the ability to earn needed revenue without having to provide costly overhead.
The overall aesthetic is a modern take on a 1950s/60s-era gas station. A unique “whale tail” roof design sits on top to echo the Blue Whale narrative.
A Curated (Themed) Rental Experience
With an avid traveling Route 66 fan base, there is a significant opportunity for revenue in offering a highly curated overnight stay on the Blue Whale’s 23.5-acre property. By providing well-themed accommodations (which have shown to provide more significant revenue than non-themed rentals), we can offer a one-of-a-kind, premium-priced experience that will stay booked year-round.
Tying into the Route 66 theme, there would be eight trailers representing each of the eight states connected by Route 66. The trailers would be named for a particular state, and the interior decor would reflect that state’s Route 66 attractions. Taping into the nostalgia, there would be merchandise tie-ins available in the store, such as coordinating stickers, vintage-style motel keys, etc. The Airbnb becomes an experience within an experience.
The Power of Nostalgia
Part of the charm of miniature golf is how it reminds us of a simpler time in America, full of good, clean, family fun. For Route 66 fans, this course will zoom out and pay homage to many iconic fixtures along the route, providing as much fun in photo ops and memories as it will challenging holes.
Go Ahead, Take A Hike
The topography of the 23.5-acre property includes a beautifully wooded and secluded area to the west of the main Blue Whale pond, perfect for creating a short hiking/biking trail. This provides an opportunity for traveling guests to stretch their legs and enjoy this unique Oklahoma ecosystem.
Interactive signage provides entertaining moments of discovery, while a working waterfall and viewing deck serve as the perfect photo backdrops.
Get Your Motor Runnin’
Route 66 is America’s Mother Road and will forever be connected to the unique vehicles that travelers have used to traverse it. By providing a sharable moment for these car, truck, and motorcycle enthusiasts, we celebrate this integral part of Route 66 culture and give our guests a way to capture their memories with a drive-through sign experience.