“AttractAreas” – a New Term for a New Time
By: Dennis Speigel, President/International Theme Park Services, Inc.
December 1, 2011
As we return from the 2011 IAAPA convention – this year held in Orlando, Florida – it was quite apparent from comments on the “show floor” that business was good. No – excellent would be more appropriate. Many of the manufacturers we spoke with indicated that their backlog of work capacity was extended out two years. Quite a turnaround from the last few years of “quasi-drought” for suppliers.
What has happened for many of the manufacturers is the “pent-up purchase demand” of operators. While there has been some outlay of capital spending, the level during the last four years has been lower than in previous years.
The introduction of the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios has had an enormous and positive impact on what is happening to the destination parks. Harry Potter has spawned a new approach to theme park expansion. I call it “AttractAreas”. By this term, I mean the expansion occurring in the major destination parks cannot be considered single, stand-alone attractions as they once were. They are not providing an additional gate. Rather, they are multi-attractions that are covering a broad, existing, intrinsic area. They include features that provide a multitude of guest experiences, such as rides, attractions, food and beverage, retail, and ultra-heavy theming.
These “AttractAreas” are broader in entertainment appeal and cover more physical area than capital expansions of the past. They extend the guests’ length of stay and increase spending patterns. Harry Potter set the bar for other “AttractAreas” expansions. Disney’s new Fantasyland is enormous in scope and size, as well as in product. SeaWorld’s new Antartica: Empire of the Penguins is also a large new area featuring multiple attractions. Also, Disney California’s Cars Land and Busch Gardens’ Cheetah Run are examples of this larger “AttractAreas” approach. And, now, Universal California announced today it is also planning a new Harry Potter “AttractArea.”
One of the reasons for this type of broad “AttractAreas” expansion is due to the evolving sophistication and appetite for “bigger” experiences by the guests. Today’s theme park guest is more sophisticated and worldlier because of the impact of the Internet. People from all over the world can now go online and see basically every theme park in the world and what they have to offer a visitor. This level of desire for experiencing the “best” creates opportunities for higher levels of entertainment. As the desire for bigger and better occurs, more sophisticated entertainment grows and so must the level of product offerings presented by the theme park; ergo, larger themed attractions into bigger areas, or “AttractAreas.”
This recent phenomenon will spread from the destination parks to regional parks during the next decade, I predict. The development of “AttractAreas” – a new term for a new time, all spawned by the magic of Harry Potter.
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