Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Will America Ever Get Another Major Amusement Park


Recommended Posts

In the last fifteen years, only two major amusement parks have opened. California Adventure and Freestyle Music Park were the two. Because Freestyle closed, only one new park was added. In addition to this Geauga Lake, among others have closed. With many park closing, and not any opening up what does this mean for the American amusement park industry?

 

Edit: Legoland Florida opened in 2011. It was made from an old park, but was essentially brand new.

Edited by robbalvey
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • Replies 33
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I'm not sure there is really the demand for another regional park. Especially when you consider the cost of the rides and infrastructure that would be needed to keep it competitive. Only market where it might make sense is South Florida but a lack of land and closeness to Orlando and Tampa make it unlikely!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on your definition of major.

 

Realistically, only Disney and Universal could be able to get financing for a "major" new park and still survive.

 

We will probably see more parks in the style of Castle Park in Riverside (giant FEC's), since the costs of starting something like that up are much more reasonable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unless we're including Castles n' Coasters & the Galveston Pier, Phoenix and post-Astroworld Houston are two large metro areas without all-day parks. We'll see if the Grand Texas Theme Park can take off. I have doubts about that project, but there's precedent for nice surprises: KK came back with some statement-making moves, and it looks like it'll be better than ever real soon (if it isn't already).

 

When starting from scratch and intending to be an overnight industry player, it's tough sledding without having Disney/Universal-level know-how and Ferrari World deep pockets, and even some of those parks have had to face and respond to underperformance. The Parque Warner Madrid project, a noble new park in 2002, fumbled between Six Flags and in-house ownership before finally being turned over to Parques Reunidos. We saw what happened with Freestyle. It's not impossible, but it's a much more difficult proposition than RCT would like us to believe!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would answer with "absolutely" but it won't happen overnight. I'm sure plenty of parks will grow organically from a small park or FEC into a large park but it will take decades for that to slowly happen. We're seeing it right now with parks like Fun Spot Orlando, Holiday World and a bunch of others. Where were those parks 10...20 years ago. They're growing slowly over time.

 

As far as someone opening a huge mega park right away I think that would have to be in the form of an additional gate for Disney or Universal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The cost of building a park from scratch is exorbitant. History says that the majority of entities who construct these parks fail at turning a profit and sell them. Not just Hard Rock Park: Everybody. With the exception of perhaps the Houston area projects, if we get one, it is because someone organically grew out and became bigger. There's plenty of smaller "FEC" type facilities who've added large coasters and are continuing to do so, and from those, perhaps 10% of them might become full size amusement parks one day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The business is cyclical. So many of today's large US parks were started in a 15 year span 1961-1975. The creation of these parks forced a lot of smaller parks out of business. As people have said there at not many under served areas for amusement parks especially in the age when Americans don't consider it a big deal to drive 2-3 hours to go to a large park.

 

Even cities like New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville that don't have parks would probably be more likely to see smaller parks built.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New Orleans and Nashville are two cities that are growing steadily and both have positive future growth potential.

 

Neither has a park. Both had successful parks.

 

I'd love to see parks open in both, even if they were midsize.

 

 

If they had been successful, which is making money, they would still be there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's also gotten to the point where building a new "amusement park" simply won't cut it anymore in the United States. There has to be something to set it apart - not necessarily something exciting, but something different.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

^The entire Northwestern US is deprived of a major theme park.

 

Elitch Gardens and Silverwood seem to be the only significant contenders, and they're over 1,000 miles apart. The states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado have a collective population of roughly 20 million. And occupy land that is roughly 1/4 of the 48 contiguous states, that's quite sparse. So it's no surprise as to why there isn't, but there is still market potential, although the climate makes this equally as difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. There doesn't really seem any area that is populated that is lacking a major park, but I'm all for more parks!

 

what does Portland Oregon or Seattle Washington have?

 

Don't forget Phoenix or Houston either, both cities are in the top 10 most populated cities in the U.S. and they're hours away from any theme parks, especially Phoenix! (Although Houston is apparently trying )

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New Orleans and Nashville are two cities that are growing steadily and both have positive future growth potential.

 

Neither has a park. Both had successful parks.

 

I'd love to see parks open in both, even if they were midsize.

 

 

If they had been successful, which is making money, they would still be there.

 

Opryland was successful. It is gone entirely due to the incompetence of the company that ran it, which has since gone in the toilet having made numerous incredibly stupid moves. Their current CEO is on record as having called the decision to liquidate the park "a bad idea" and seen his company be forced to sell most of its core assets. There's an outstanding historical piece that I believe the Tennessean did a couple of years ago about how Gaylord had no long term plans for the park or set budgets at any point in it's existence and yet it was consistently profitable. No surprise then that Gaylord sold every asset that has turned out to be wildly profitable to competent individuals and corporations.

 

Six Flags New Orleans is a different story. That park showed flashes of potential at point's in its existence, but the reality was that the park was pretty much obliterated by a gigantic storm and the cost of rebuilding it was left to a nearly bankrupt Six Flags. They abandoned it because, well, it was Six Flags.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

New Orleans and Nashville are two cities that are growing steadily and both have positive future growth potential.

 

Neither has a park. Both had successful parks.

 

I'd love to see parks open in both, even if they were midsize.

 

 

If they had been successful, which is making money, they would still be there.

 

Opryland was successful and always made money. The problem was that stockholders wanted an investment that made money year round and Opryland was seasonal. A few years ago, business analysts from Gaylord Entertainment (owners of Opryland) admitted that the decision to close the park was unwarranted.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's also gotten to the point where building a new "amusement park" simply won't cut it anymore in the United States. There has to be something to set it apart - not necessarily something exciting, but something different.

 

It has nothing to do with the idea that people don't want to go on amusement rides in and of themselves: carnival industry is reasonably strong with NAME just getting bought by a publicly traded company and FECs still popping up and appearing to be a viable option with all sorts of different rides. The difficulty has everything to do with the startup costs of building new rides and infrastructure vs. return on investment over the short term. The market, as it is presently structured, values immediately quarter-to-quarter revenue jumps. A new theme park can easily take a more than a decade to pay off for just the basic items, all of which will lose value over time, required continued maintenance to operate, and will need to be endlessly supplemented by capital expenditures forever and ever amen to see increases in the user base. Look around at some of the emerging parks; they aren't corporate places. They're owned by families or heavily involve the public sphere. Zippin Pippin makes no obvious business sense except as an item of civic pride, but it exists because of donors and city funding from the taxpayers of Green Bay. Maybe it makes its cost back in 20 years. Maybe that doesn't matter so much in that instance?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A new theme park can easily take a more than a decade to pay off for just the basic items, all of which will lose value over time, required continued maintenance to operate, and will need to be endlessly supplemented by capital expenditures forever and ever amen to see increases in the user base.

That's why it's important to create a different experience. It's all about creating a truly entertaining space to all guests, regardless of what sort of entertainment options are contained within. I feel like the only way for a new park to stand out in the current super-competitive landscape is to go beyond the coasters, rides and occasional show.

 

I have my own personal vision for "the perfect new amusement park", but that's another story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A new theme park can easily take a more than a decade to pay off for just the basic items, all of which will lose value over time, required continued maintenance to operate, and will need to be endlessly supplemented by capital expenditures forever and ever amen to see increases in the user base.

That's why it's important to create a different experience. It's all about creating a truly entertaining space to all guests, regardless of what sort of entertainment options are contained within. I feel like the only way for a new park to stand out in the current super-competitive landscape is to go beyond the coasters, rides and occasional show.

 

I have my own personal vision for "the perfect new amusement park", but that's another story.

 

If you do create a "different experience", that probably comes with increased costs of development, design, construction, and ultimately upkeep while all the other rules that have played in the industry still ultimately work against you. You're better off buying off the shelf Proslide products and putting them in a 60,000 square foot building than you'll ever be building amusement rides. And that's what you see playing out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like this discussion!

 

A different kind of experience wouldn't necessarily come with increased short- and long-term costs. What if our amusement park was a big, open park land with large, configurable event spaces and a small, consistent amusement zone? What if it was made up of indoor and outdoor performance venues and no actual rides? Both of these examples are entertaining spaces in their own regard, and are different from the amusement park norm.

 

While it's obviously not a US park, Tivoli Gardens makes a lot of business out of the people who only pay the small admission fee to explore the gardens section along with its restaurants and performance venues. Back in the US, the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh draws both locals and tourists on its own, and it also provides dynamic open space for farmers and other vendors. Both of these places have a "static" attraction (the gardens / the conservatory) as well as smaller "dynamic" attractions (the performance venues / the local markets), and they both attract a demographic that isn't interested in the rides.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like this discussion!

 

A different kind of experience wouldn't necessarily come with increased short- and long-term costs. What if our amusement park was a big, open park land with large, configurable event spaces and a small, consistent amusement zone? What if it was made up of indoor and outdoor performance venues and no actual rides? Both of these examples are entertaining spaces in their own regard, and are different from the amusement park norm.

 

While it's obviously not a US park, Tivoli Gardens makes a lot of business out of the people who only pay the small admission fee to explore the gardens section along with its restaurants and performance venues. Back in the US, the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh draws both locals and tourists on its own, and it also provides dynamic open space for farmers and other vendors. Both of these places have a "static" attraction (the gardens / the conservatory) as well as smaller "dynamic" attractions (the performance venues / the local markets), and they both attract a demographic that isn't interested in the rides.

 

You're not going to find me disagreeing with trying to port over the idea of the urban amusement experience a la Tivoli and Prater here to the states. I think coaster enthusiasts don't often look outside the box of major corporately owned parks, and I think we miss a lot of things that fall under this kind of place as a result. Prater's a great example: big city park located in the middle of Vienna with a ton of rides, all owned by independent showmen, in addition to restaurants, a casino, and other attractions. If you really do the research, you'll realize that there's a ton of places in the United States that follow this ideal everywhere from Bartlesville, OK to Pueblo, CO, and even Central Park in NYC. We just don't talk about them or how they operate. For reasons that I think are distinctly American with our relationship to our own government, I think this sort of analysis is almost desired to be swept under the rug. But I digress.

 

By and large, most of the discussion of amusement and theme park operations/design is dominated by people interested first and foremost by the Disney parks and that which was influenced by them. Look: I would love to see more rides in the middle of big cities. I can think of several that have discussed the idea and abandoned it for whom I think it would be awesome to see. I recognize that those sorts of park are essentially the antithesis of what it is Walt was attempting to do with Disneyland, and I believe that a goodly number of those whom dominate this discussion loathe the idea of urban amusement parks of any kind in the US. I also sense that there is still a level of discomfort among the citizenry to be in many major cities after dark due to fear. And that until that issue is met and actually dealt with, I think the idea of something more like Prater or Tivoli being grown out of the fallout of postwar urban decay will stay an idea and not so much a reality. That doesn't mean that new urbanism is all a complete failure, but I'm reticent to call mixed use developments amusement parks of any kind.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/