New attractions, new audiences, new challenges for theme parks

Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2002 4:15 AM | Contributed by Shawn

The Orlando Sentinal published two stories yesterday regarding the "next steps" for theme parks. After building one mega-attraction after another, theme parks are asking what to do next, and who to target next with the coming of age for Gen-X.

Read the article on catering to Gen-X and building the next big thing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2002 8:18 AM

Read both articles and just visited IOA, BGT and USF last week.

First article:

The 'Gen X' marketing thing is a complete joke. Last I checked, Gen X people like to breathe, eat and sleep like everybody else. They still put their pants on one leg at a time. And they all hate standing in long, long lines for stuff or shoving strollers through paths so narrow and overcrowded that they have to be escorted through one by a security guy (Busch folks, are you listening?)

And since when were 37 year-olds 'Gen X'? I'm barely 34 and have always distanced myself from that silly little label. Marketing types are always trying to stick labels on people and shove them into little demographic boxes. Yeesh.

Second article:

My family absolutely LOVED the USF Mardi Gras parades. Keep 'em.

Get your meat hooks OFF the Back to the Future ride. My 5 year-old has never sat through the movie (to my knowledge), but loved the ride. It was second only to Cat in the Hat in her opinion.

ET intro film: Huh? Wha? You mean there was an old one? The new one felt like a big ol' plug to rush to the theater, grab a new DVD and choke down some Reesey pieces. Right now.

That 3 percent ride time statistic is just that--a statistic (see Mark Twain). It doesn't count the 60 percent of the time you spend waiting to ride them at all.


Wednesday, April 3, 2002 8:25 AM

I never like the label either (I'm 28). The slacker part always pissed me off. It was 20-somethings in the last decade that made the quick scores with the Internet, and I've even read that some economists attribute the high times of the 90's to "Gen-X." I think that the subsequent dive is supposed to be blamed on old farts, but I haven't been getting my memos via the top-secret Gen-X slacker network.

Jeff - Webmaster/Admin -,
"As far as I can tell it doesn't matter who you are. If you can believe, there's something worth fighting for..." - Garbage, "Parade"

Wednesday, April 3, 2002 10:26 AM
I think that an intersting point about the second article was that it brought up the point that rides are flawed in that they are a fraction of the entire expreience. The theme park of the future is going to be less about Mechanical engineering, and more about civil engineering. The ability to allow hordes of people to move freely throughout the park and its attractions. To maintain a constant state of excitement just by being in the park. The park will move further from buying the ticket to wait in the lines.
Wednesday, April 3, 2002 10:49 AM


Not everything is bigger and better than the last.

TiM Schroll

Wednesday, April 3, 2002 11:22 AM

I was quite suprised by the 3 percent ride time as well. And the note that once they ride it they are done with it. How, then, do they explain the high interest in older attractions?? Whether it's a coaster like the Cedar Creek Mine Ride at CP or Small World at Disney, what brings parents back are childhood memories, and wanting their children to have those same memories.

I'm an old fart...i.e. baby boomer with a 16 year old son, so I don't fall into the "gen x" group. After reading those articles, I asked a couple "gen x" co-workers and friends about Disney World. All said the same thing. They went as kids, had an okay time, not enough exciting rides, and it was way too crowded and pricey. All said they'd prefer a day at Cedar Point to a trip to Disney World. Only one said he'd be interested in taking his kids, but "because it's all part of the american kid growing up thing", and he's waiting until both his kids are older. "It's too pricey to take a kid that isn't going to remember it".

I think the parks are missing the mark by trying to focus on a specific group of people, i.e. parents. If the kids aren't interested, they aren't going to beg their parents to take them. Kids these days are growing up with much more technology. They aren't happy to go meet "Mickey Mouse", or Snoopy for that matter (at least my son never was). They want more exciting activities, and parents want more reasonable prices and fewer crowds and lines.

That's why parents prefer to take "more scenic family vacations". It's much cheaper to jump into the car with the camper (or RV) and take side trips to attractions than to spend the money at a resort like Disney.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Friday, April 5, 2002 7:54 AM

I don't buy the 3 percent figure either. I think, by and large, that the vast majority of people, if asked, would say that the main reason they go to parks is to ride the rides. I find it hard to believe that people would spend the other 97 percent of their time going through the shops, and catching the shows, and playing games.

I thought the following quote from the article was interesting.....

"Many attractions involve technology that can be freshened through new software at costs far lower than building an entire new ride. For example, Gault said, the short film at Universal Studios most popular attraction, the Back to the Future ride, could someday be replaced with one from a more "relevant" movie.

"The Back to the Future movie and the ride vehicles [replicas of 20-year-old DeLorean cars] are based on a popular movie from the 1980s," Gault said. "They could all be changed out for a story and vehicles that guests relate to better." "

I'd love to see how they would redo the new Tomb Raider ride at PKI in 20 years, since it will then be an "old" movie theme that used to be popular at one time. What "relevant" movie will they use the site for then?


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