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put more emphasis on building relationships with customers and less on revenue, offsetting the lower levels of tourism by encouraging regional attendance and repeat visits through special programmes, passes and discounts. While destination parks are adversely impacted by an

economic downturn as discretionary spending declines, lower cost regional parks and attractions tend to benefit from those same trends, as consumers shift to the less expensive entertainment option. Other regional attractions such as museums and zoos tend to fare better as well during tighter economic periods.

Innovation, innovation, innovation In terms of the out-of-home leisure industry, US consumers

are considered to be among the most sophisticated and discerning. And as part of both operators’ and manufacturers’ strategy to re-focus their energy in order to stimulate growth, “innovation” has become a key watchword. “Interaction is key and is ultimately guiding the direction

and innovation of our products,” said Cory Forrest, product line manager for Waterplay Solutions Corporation. “It’s also a difficult word to define since everyone sees interaction in a different context. Ultimately, giving users the ability to control, adjust, alter the experience is fundamental. “While running through a backyard sprinkler is still fun, being able to hide behind a wall of water, spray another friend with water or co-operatively creating an unexpected outcome by altering a spray component will provide long term enjoyment and cognitive development. In addition, the dedication to water use - both in minimising the environmental impacts by reducing water use and by ensuring water quality is at safe levels.” Levine added: “Our new waterslide rides feature rider

competition, with riders competing by executing more and more perfect ride paths. Our two new rides, SplashRally and 360Rush, build on the popularity of NASCAR racing and steep, thrilling acceleration. In addition, our development team has added a new division that will take activity pool play structures to the next level. “Our customers have been intricately involved to help

create what they have dreamed this product line to be. We believe this too will become an increasingly important trend, allowing clients to take part in the design and development of each aspect, including design, materials, features, size, price and terms, service, accountability and finally allowing them the opportunity to continually critique the entire development process.” This strong customer focus is also reflected in Polin’s

endeavours: “We have just launched our new product which we believed will be the next trend, namely King Cobra,” said Alpdogan. “This product is the first tube multi-racer slide with increased capacity and two double tubes ending in the same sliding surface. King Cobra Slide is the theme itself with a stunning Cobra look. Right after the launch, we received amazing comments on web blogs in the US. This shows the US consumer’s desire for new themed slides and new riding techniques, and we succeeded in combining both in King Cobra.”

A waking giant? Despite the shaky attendance and revenue figures

in 2009, the TEA/AECOM report concludes that taken together, the numbers reflect an industry that is “stable at its core” and well equipped to survive, recover and continue its expansion into new markets as the world economy recovers. Surveying the globe, North America remains the epicentre of the amusement business with 12 of the top- 25 attended parks in the world. However, shifting east, Asia continues to be the foremost emerging market and promises strong growth well into the future, with

nine of the 20 top earning parks in 2009 coming from that continent.

Jorge, Sebastian and Pol Mochkovsky, owners and directors of Sacoa Playcard


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