Park News

Park Bloggin’ By Dr. Jack B. Samuels, M.B.A. – The Fun Doctor A Tale of Three Theme Parks T

hree theme park/attractions companies are of interest as we head into the summer months. These are Comcast’s Universal Studios and its

operations in Orlando, Florida; mall, hotel and real estate operator Triple Five Group; and SeaWorld Entertainment. The more challenged of these is clearly

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. While the Busch Gardens, Sesame Place and water parks owned by the company continue to do well and are well balanced and managed attractions the SeaWorld Parks are still struggling and hurting the financial performance of the other companies. It is generally thought that the SeaWorld Parks need dramatic rebranding and a new direction, as they simply can’t seem to recover from the Black Fish era, including the park trainer accident. It may also be that the SeaWorld Parks are also suffering at this point from a general relevancy with the theme park consuming public. There simply may no longer be a strong enough psychographic attractiveness in these attractions amongst the general public. This can be confirmed by Disney’s Animal Kingdom over the years - Disney has not invested in more animal attractions, which are indeed quite costly to operate in comparison to other attractions. Instead it has loosely imagined the Animal Kingdom into a more peripherally animal related attraction with thrill rides and fantasy lands such as the more recently opened Avatar attractions. The new niche for the SeaWorld units seems to

be geared toward more human interaction and adventure. One only needs to look at the relatively small SeaWorld operated Discovery Cove in Orlando. This is a full day of swimming with dolphins and other animal interactive adventures at a premium price. It is clear that these types of adventures may be the three marine life parks salvation. Why not rebrand to Busch Adventure Parks and change the name of the Company to something like International Adventure Parks?

This corporate name would reflect the wonderful international theming of Busch Gardens along with a new direction for the SeaWorld units. Great interactive participatory attractions such as giant ropes courses and zip lines that perhaps have themed experiences as you zip along (maybe ‘Zipping Around the World’?) would differentiate these parks from others in the business. The only Disney Park that or for that matter any major park that has any of this sort of thing on a very grand scale is Shanghai Disney, where the giant ropes course is wildly popular. On the more positive development notes in the

industry are Comcast’s Universal Studios parks in Orlando. While many writers in the industry agree

that their parks have the best attractions in the business, they have been lagging in the company controlled lodging area. Perhaps taking a cue from Disney in years past, they are aggressively developing new lodging units including the soon to be opened Adventura Hotel and the recently announced 2,000 room plus Endless Summer Complex featuring the Dockside and Surfside hotels being cleverly located on the old Wet & Wild Water Park site. The second cheerful spot in this writing is that the

Triple Five Corporations American Dream Mall is steaming ahead in construction. Construction is booming and the additions to the previously named Xanadu Mall are quite obvious, including the green house domed type areas that will house the largest under cover waterpark in the US and the Dreamworks Indoor Theme Park. The completion of the new construction will change the face of tourism in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan region. We should have more on developments of this amazing project in upcoming issues of Park World.

Dr. Samuels has written over 150 articles for the amusement, theme park and entertainment industries. He provides diverse consulting services in general marketing and market research, facility development, customer service, safety, crowd, and event management and promotional activities programming such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

JUNE 2018


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