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ParkWord December 2010/January 2011


According to the LA Times, Six Flags is removing a number of licensed characters from its 11 properties in the US, including Thomas the Tank Engine, The Wiggles, Evel Knievel and skateboarding champion Tony Hawk. Although the park chain will retain agreements with DC Comics, Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera, this is a significant step, and it is not the only American operator cutting down on IP (intellectual property) branded attractions. Cedar Fair has already terminated several of the licensing deals it inherited when it took over Paramount Parks, and in 2010 revamped its Scooby-Doo dark rides with a neutral theme. Now Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang are the only licensed characters you'll find in Cedar Fair's parks. This contrasts to the situation in Europe where, for example, Movie Park Germany has enjoyed great success with its Nickelodeon-branded Nick Land and Thomas the Tank Engine has helped Drayton Manor smash the 1 million attendance barrier. In 2011 no fewer than four UK parks, including Drayton, will open new branded lands or attractions, and Studio 100 is preparing to introduce a string of licensed properties to its new outlet in Germany, Holiday Park. There is, of course, an argument as to how much IP-based attractions can add to the bottom line, especially considering the large licence fees involved. Yet speak to the Bryan family at Drayton Manor and you will receive an almost evangelical response. What is crucial is choosing brands and characters that resonate with guests, and it's interesting that Six Flags is banishing its newer IPs rather than the tried, tested but arguably less “hot” licences offered by Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera.


Whatever the US chains do next, it is clear that branded attractions will continue to appear throughout the industry for many years to come. You only need to attend any amusement industry trade show to discover how many licence holders are now actively courting parks and attractions with their brands. Perhaps Six Flags and Cedar Fair's climb down represents an opportunity for one of America’s few remaining independent operators?


Owen Ralph - Editor


Editor Owen Ralph (+44 161 438 2934) parkworld@btopenworld.com


North American Editor Paul Ruben (+1 585 381 1012) parkw@rochester.rr.com


Contributors this issue Ashley Irvine, Adrian Fisher, Angelique Klar


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DECEMBER 2010/JANUARY 2011 “WINTER ISSUE” ISSN: 1462-4796


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