A theme park needs more than just a theme to work
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  1. #1
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    Exclamation A theme park needs more than just a theme to work

    THE business of building a theme park here seems to be picking up steam, and not a moment too soon, since competition for the tourist dollar in the region is heating up.

    It's no accident that several theme parks are already in the works: Hong Kong Disneyland is slated to open by the end of next year; Vivendi Universal is constructing a theme park in Shanghai along the lines of Universal Studios in Japan.
    Across the Causeway in Johor, meanwhile, a bid to woo Universal Studios to build an entertainment centre there is under way.

    Things are no different here.

    Two weeks ago, Ripley's Entertainment, of Believe It Or Not fame, said it is considering investing US$350 million (S$602 million) in an attraction here.


    Plans for Sentosa are firmer: The authorities there are in talks with two parties to operate a theme park.

    That theme parks are the way to go in getting the tourist dollar is not in doubt.

    What kind of theme park is another matter altogether.

    For starters, the theme must be a crowd-puller.

    Experts at an industry exposition here two weeks ago cautioned that a well-chosen theme is critical to a park's success. Choose the right one, and off it goes. The wrong one will spark a downward spiral that will eventually break the venture, they said.

    The principal of Thailand-based leisure consultancy, Leisure Creators Asia, Mr Alan Mahony, said: 'Theming is important. It gives the area a storyline and makes the place fun.

    'There's no point to buying the biggest wave pool and saying that you have the biggest wave pool. So what? It's a pool; you're going to swim in it.'

    One successful example that was repeatedly mentioned by the experts was Disneyland.

    The so-called Happiest Place on Earth has a clear, fantasy-centred theme that allows one 'to experience a world as big as your imagination and create memories to last a lifetime'.

    Another good example is Malaysia's Sunway Lagoon, which recently underwent a revamp.

    The theme at the Waters of Africa park there is clearly recognisable, from a slide that resembles a python to the safari-influenced staff uniform.

    But it is not enough to, say, transplant Disneyland onto Sentosa, sit back and watch the bucks roll in.

    Knowing local habits is as important as picking the right theme, the experts, who were here to discuss the amusement park industry in Asia, said.

    For example, spending on food and merchandise in Asia is generally low compared to the West, noted Mr Chris Yoshii, vice-president of research firm Economic Research Associates, an international consulting firm which does economic analyses for the entertainment and leisure industry, among other things.

    While Westerners prefer to enjoy a whole day out at parks, including having a meal there and picking up a keepsake on the way out, Asians tend to just pay for admission and avoid spending more.

    So while Western theme park revenues are split evenly between food and merchandise and entrance fees, 80 per cent of takings at Asian ones come from the price of admission.

    That means that if a theme park opens on Sentosa, a decision on how to price tickets will be an important one, since most of the money to be made is at the door.

    The next step: What's the competition?

    In Singapore, some experts say, the biggest competition will probably come from shopping malls, because the hot weather drives people into air-conditioned places.

    So the cool factor plays a part. Not necessarily in the form of air-conditioning, though. Just adding water might do the trick: Witness the success of Wild Wild Wet at Downtown East in Pasir Ris.

    Other considerations include the company people keep when they go to theme parks.

    In Asia, going to an amusement park is generally a family affair, so while the world's scariest rollercoaster might be a treat for the kids, there needs to be something for Mum and Dad and the grandparents to do, too.

    In Singapore, that could be as simple as - what else? - putting food outlets near the rides. Although Asians tend to keep spending on food and other items at parks minimal, doing this might get them to dip into their wallets a little more.

    'People like to do things together,' said Leisure Creators' Mr Mahony.

    'They like to be able to eat and watch their family and friends at the same time, so food outlets should be very near rides, unlike Western theme parks where the space is big and everything is spread out.'

    So that's the challenge facing the likes of Sentosa and Ripley's.

    One facet of it, at least, because there is another problem: Even though more people are visiting Singapore, they are spending less.

    The figures should cause those in the trade to sit up - Singapore's market share for tourism receipts among nations in the Asia-Pacific region shrank from 8.2 per cent in 1998 to 5.8 per cent in 2002.

    But while there is some urgency towards getting a theme park untracked, it is well worth spending the time to getting our own version of the Happiest Place on Earth.

    After all, we don't want to be stuck with the world's biggest wave pool.

    By Glenys Sim
    JULY 27, 2004
    Source: TheStraitsTimes
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  2. #2
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    Top Parks

    TOP PARKS

    In Asia

    1. Tokyo Disneyland (Tokyo, Japan): 13,188,000 (estimated attendance last year)
    2. Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan): 12,174,000
    3. Universal Studios Japan (Osaka): 8,811,000
    4. Everland (Kyonggi-Do, South Korea): 8,800,000
    5. Lotte World (Seoul, South Korea): 8,500,000
    6. Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (Yokohama, Japan): 5,300,000
    7. Ocean Park (Hong Kong): 3,000,000
    8. Huis Ten Bosch (Sasebo City, Japan): 2,840,000
    9. Seoul Land (Kyunki-Do, South Korea): 2,802,500
    10. Suzuka Circuit (Suzuka, Japan): 2,705,000

    Worldwide
    1. Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World (Florida, US): 14,044,000
    2. Tokyo Disneyland (Tokyo, Japan): 13,188,000
    3. Disneyland (California, US): 12,720,000
    4. Tokyo DisneySea (Tokyo, Japan): 12,174,000
    5. Disneyland Paris (Paris, France): 10,230,000
    6. Universal Studios Japan (Osaka, Japan): 8,811,000
    7. Everland (Kyonggi-Do, South Korea): 8,800,000
    8. Epcot, Walt Disney World (Florida, US): 8,620,800
    9. Lotte World (Seoul, South Korea): 8,500,000
    10. Disney-MGM Studios, Walt Disney World (Florida, US): 7,870,700

    ~ MickeysGirl șoș
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for sharing that article MG. I found particularly interesting how close the numbers for MK visitors and Tokyo DL visitors are. I really didn't think that the numbers between those two would be as close as they are.
    Please help us spread pixie dust throughout the land

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  4. #4
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    A couple of notables to point out. That figures that show Disneyland Tokyo pulls in more than the original DL is very interesting. Also, how is it that the Disneyland-Paris can be number 5 in the world, and still have issues concerning profitability?
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  5. #5
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    Wow, one and two are closer than I imagined they were. That's pretty interesting, thanks for the run down MG.
    Go Noles! Ryan

  6. #6
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    It really goes to show you that Walt Disney World is one of the most popular things on the planet...

    Another interesting thing - Universal Studios Orlando didn't even make the top 10...

  7. #7
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    Wow Mickeysgirl thats very cool! Where did you find all that info! Or did you just know it!?
    DaViD!!

    I WDW and DL!
    I'm a member of the Rocket Rods fan club!


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disneypro
    Thanks for sharing that article MG. I found particularly interesting how close the numbers for MK visitors and Tokyo DL visitors are. I really didn't think that the numbers between those two would be as close as they are.
    I think you have to take population into the equation.
    Tokyo proper and Tokyo Metropolis which extends west of the city proper have a combined population of over 18,000,000 people.
    A lot of people go to Disneyland, especially if it is in their hometown.

    Check out the numbers between WDW and Disneyland, California
    We have a much smaller area than WDW's Magic Kingdom yet still draws in more visitors than Epcot, MGM Studios or Animal Kingdom. Much of this I'm sure is due to the fact that so many Californians love and visit Disneyland often.
    ~ MickeysGirl șoș
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