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ParkWord November 2011


Hello if you picked up this issue at IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. Central Florida is home to some of the world’s best but priciest theme parks – as high as $85 (plus tax) for one day at a single Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando venue. Located about an hour away in Winter Haven, Merlin Entertainments entered the market last month with Legoland Florida on the former site of Cypress Gardens. Your discount for the out-of-Orlando location? Ten dollars. Adult admission is $75, while children up to the age of 12 – Legoland’s core market – pay $65, or rather their parents do. Admission to Legoland’s parks in Europe is generally cheaper, despite higher rates of tax. As you’ll read in our interview starting on page 40, Merlin chief executive Nick Varney thinks the industry in Europe needs to raise its prices. Without doing so, he argues, it will never secure the returns needed to make the investments expected by guests. Even in the US, outgoing Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel says (see page 38), “At some point, either capital expenditure is going to be reduced and/or pricing will increase”. To prove his point, Varney has devised an ‘entertainment cost per hour’ (ECPH) analysis comparing theme parks to other leisure pursuits such as concerts and football matches. Broken down like this, parks come out on top every time. Of course the price of stadium concerts and major sporting events has rocketed in recent years, and families might not take too kindly to theme parks doing the same, but nevertheless such attractions traditionally operate on much lower returns, as many of you reading this will be acutely aware. To achieve higher prices, Varney believes the industry needs to address negative media coverage. You may just find his ECPH figures a useful tool in doing so. Speaking for a moment as a ‘guest’ I do not think overpriced food and drink or added ‘extras’ like car parking help with a park’s public perception, but they are not uncommon at other destinations either. However, about the worst value you can get at a theme park is by spending most of the day queuing for rides and attractions. Were visitors to work out their own ‘cost per ride’ analysis on a peak day at some large parks, they might be in for a shock. Which is why November is a perfect time to visit Florida’s fantastic parks!


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 Heather Eichenbaum, Nick Garrod, Marcus Gaines, Gary Kyriazi


Sales Manager Mark Burgess (+44 1622 699124) parkworld@datateam.co.uk


Publishing Director Paul Ryder pryder@datateam.co.uk Managing Director Parvez Kayani


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NOVEMBER 2011 ISSN: 1462-4796 © COPYRIGHT 2011: ALL MATERIALS IN THIS PUBLICATION REMAIN THE COPYRIGHT OF DATATEAM BUSINESS MEDIA AND NO PART OF IT MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE WRITTEN


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