Amusement Parks Investing in Thrills

Amusement Parks Investing in Thrills

People love amusement parks. They’re a fun experience to share with family and friends. Even so, it’s getting hard for a park to compete with ubiquitous electronic amusements, let alone other parks. They’re having to step up their game and crank the thrills to eleven with regular investment in top-notch attractions. But bankrolling a world-class coaster or expansion isn’t easy, and operators are turning over every couch cushion to find new sources of revenue.

Adding New Attractions

Leading operators of theme parks in the US are all expected to open new attractions over the immediate future. Key investments that are expected to result in important new attractions include the following:

  • In 2018, Cedar Fair introduced four new roller coasters at Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm, California's Great America, and Kings Dominion.
  • In spring 2019, SeaWorld is expected to open Sesame Street at its SeaWorld park in Florida.
  • Disney plans to open attractions with Star Wars themes at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2019, while in 2021 it plans to inaugurate World of Tron at Magic Kingdom.

Furthermore, various new water park rides or other themed areas in water parks will also help boost visitation. For example, in spring 2018, Six Flags introduced Splashwater Island – a family-friendly interactive play area – at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Concord, California.

Extending the Operating Season

Park operators in cold-weather parts of the country try to extend the attendance season by offering special events in the period around Halloween. For instance, Parques Reunidos reported an 18% revenue increase in the 2016 Halloween season in parks with a Halloween event. Furthermore, some park operators increase the number of days the park is open in an attempt to improve the consumer perception of their park as a destination throughout the year. For example, in August 2017, Six Flags announced that Six Flags Magic Mountain in California would be open 365 days a year.

Using New Technologies

Some parks are experimenting with cashless operations, which replace traditional currency with digital credits tracked via cards and wristbands. Benefits of the technology include reduced waiting times for admission and for food and merchandise purchases within the parks, resulting in increased sales as more transactions are processed within a fixed amount of time. In 2014, Disney introduced an electronic wristband, MagicBand, which functions as an admission pass, hotel room key, and method of payment at its Walt Disney World resort. Disney invested about $1.0 billion to implement the MyMagic+ system, a collection of web applications and the MagicBand wristband, to improve the guest experience by reducing wait times as well as increase the ease of in-park spending.

Learn More

For more insights into the US amusement parks industry, see Amusement Parks: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US amusement park visits in number of visits and revenues in nominal US dollars. Average revenues per visit in nominal US dollars are also forecast to 2022. Total visits are segmented by park type in terms of:

  • theme parks
  • water parks

Total revenues are segmented by source as follows:

  • admission
  • other sources such as beverages, food, and merchandise

To illustrate historical trends, total visits, total revenues, average revenues per visit, and the various segments are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.

Venues such as arcades, carnivals, fairs, family entertainment centers, laser tag facilities, museums, pools, ski resorts, and zoos operated independently of an amusement park are excluded from the scope of this report. In addition, operating rides on a concession basis in amusement parks or fairs and carnivals, or operating a single attraction, is outside the scope of this report. Also excluded are the revenues from park-affiliated hotels.

Related Focus Reports include:

About the Author

Leon Mengri is a Senior Market Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. He conducts research and writes a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.