Like any good amusement park ride, the theme park industry has endured a lot of twists and turns in the past several years. According to Mintel, theme park revenues grew 10% between 2005 and 2007, but the onset of the recession, coupled with record high gas prices over the summer, resulted in a five percent drop in 2009. However, revenues are expected to increase in 2011 with three to four percent expected growth per year between 2011 and 2015.
“While Americans are still budget-conscious, they are starting to become more comfortable spending their money on travel,” notes Fiona O’Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel. “A greater willingness to take vacations, along with the incentive of enticing price promotions offered by many leading theme parks, we anticipate an increase in theme park attendance and therefore, an increase in sales in the coming years.”
Admissions account for approximately 60% of annual revenues at theme parks, followed by food and beverage (17%) and merchandise (10%).
Teen respondents are about three times more likely than adults (70% vs. 23%) to have visited a theme park in the last 12 months and tend to be drawn to Six Flags, which boasts some of the country’s “fastest, tallest, wildest, heart-pumping rides.” While only 15% of teens who went to a theme park in the last year say they visited a Universal Studios park, teen attendance is expected to heat up in the wake of the huge success of Universal’s new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in Orlando.
The lure of new rides, shorter lines and grown-up entertainment are helping to entice future theme park visitors. Nearly four in 10 (39%) respondents say they would visit a park to try out a new ride or attraction and 37% of adult respondents say they would pay extra to avoid long lines. Meanwhile, 29% of respondents say they would be willing to pay extra for entertainment geared toward adults, such as concerts, comedy clubs and bars.
“Parents want to streamline and simplify when going through the whole theme park experience,” adds Fiona O’Donnell. “While this group is looking for deals, parents appear to place less importance on saving money than on finding ways to reduce the stress of a theme park visit and the internet offers an opportunity to do this.”
One-third (33%) of Mintel respondents say they usually buy tickets online, creating the opportunity for parks to shape a visit before it begins. According to Mintel research, a theme park that wants to increase spending on souvenirs could offer coupons that print out along with a guest’s ticket, or if a park wants to expand traffic at a particular attraction, discounted front-of-the-line passes may encourage crowd-weary visitors.[Source: Research conducted by Mintel. 12 July 2011. Web. 14 July 2011.]