Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: July 20, 2004 at 1:43 AM
There has been a lot of speculating in Vegas after MGM Mirage's offer to buy out Mandalay Resorts - which is covered here. Would the new behemoth - to be the largest casino operator in the world - sell any of their Vegas properties? Would they start building new ones? What would the new Number Two - Harrah's - do to keep up? What would the new Number Three - Caesars - do?
Apparently the answer is for the future Number Two to buy out the future Number Three. Yes, Number One never actually got to become Number One. And it would take a massive spending spree for MGM Mirage Mandalay to even come close to Harrah's/Caesars. Both companies have far more casinos outside Vegas than MGM Mirage and Mandalay do.
Though Harrah's Vegas presence will still pale in comparison to the new MGM-M-M. That new company will own ten on the Strip, while Harrah's will only control Harrah's, Caesar's Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Bally's and the Flamingo as well as the offip Rio. (Hilariously, the merger will be worse for Tahoe visitors, as Harrah's will now own three of the whopping four casinos there, and the fourth one is the only lame one.) Of course, both companies will own about two-thirds of the Strip hotels, which can't be good.
QUALITY IS JOB NONE
Orlando Sentinel - Jul 19
With Disney doing so poorly at the box office this year, all eyes are on how Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein solve their Miramax problems. Eisner seems hellbent on driving Harvey away, and Harvey seems hellbent on letting him. While Eisner would probably like to dump Harvey forever, Harvey does give Disney the quality cachet it desires but cannot get on its own. Without Harvey, there would be no Miramax.
Enter Bob Weinstein. Bob, who usually allows brother Harvey to hog the limelight, has quietly led Miramax's Dimension Films division to some very profitable years. Disney may not know much about quality, but they sure understand dollar signs. Many believe Harvey may leave Disney alone to run a new prestige film company while Bob remains behind to protect the Miramax name. (The name wouldn't mean so much if it wasn't a combination of the Weinsteins' parents names. Lesson time! Unless you are sure you will have something forever, don't make the name so damn meaningful!) This would allow Harvey to continue taking more risks and Disney to hopefully churn out quality films with lower budgets than Harvey usually wants.
Then again, the Weinsteins might do nothing and just wait until Eisner gets the boot. 2006 isn't that far away.
THE PARTY BUS BLEW A TIRE
The Motley Fool - Jul 16
Six Flags is reporting that attendance fell in the first half of 2004 by 4%. Increased spending is up, so the whole thing evens out, but is there more behind this? The Disneyland Resort is way down and had a poor July 4th weekend, usually one of the strongest weekends. WDW is also down, with MK having much smaller crowds on the same weekend. It sure would be nice if we could ever get attendance information out of the Universal parks to see if this is a problem for the industry or just for certain companies.
Anyhow, the Fool mentions how SF hasn't spent money on major additions this year and instead is focusing on customer satisfaction. Considering the bad things we are hearing out of Magic Mountain, you have to wonder what exactly they are focusing on. Spending is up, so maybe some places have made their food the opposite of wretched? I don't see them selling souvenirs like mad. After selling Worlds of Adventure, there will apparently be money for attraction expenditures for 2005. See ya in 2005! (Maybe...)
SHAMU AND EGGS
Orlando Sentinel - Jul 19
While SeaWorld Orlando has been doing its best lately to offer an experience you can't find at WDW or UO, that doesn't mean they won't "borrow" ideas from the biggies. First was Mistify, their new nighttime spectacular. Now it's a character breakfast. But not just any characters either. There will be people dressed like Shamu, Penny Penguin, Seamore Sea Lion, OP Otter, Arthur C. Turtle and Shivers Polar Bear. Which just goes to show how desperately Busch needs decent characters. Or, at the very least, to give the Sesame Street characters more of a presence. Sheesh!
Halloween has become such an event at many theme parks, that the Sentinel is actually letting people know about the upcoming events in Orlando several months early.
Universal Orlando, which has led the pack in Orlando for years and years, has apparently been reading our site and is trying to make amends for problems that have occurred since moving the Halloween Horror Nights to Islands of Adventure. Like some of us suggested, the event will now take place in BOTH parks, though only the IOA gate will be used. It isn't known yet what areas will be open or what rides will be running, but it appears half of USF will be used for the event. There will be seven haunted houses, which doesn't sound like it is up from last year, but there will be more scare zones and they will be larger. The Rocky Horror Picture Show will also be screened, which is fun, but shouldn't it be something a little scarier? Like, oh, the Dawn of the Dead remake which was a UNIVERSAL film? Okay, maybe a little gory. How about running the classic Universal monster films? That could be fun.
Disney is trying desperately to compete in one of the few areas that Universal is decimating them with their Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, a Halloween Horror Nights for wussies. Just kidding! This event, which clearly aims at the under-ten set, is upping its offerings from ten nights to an unlucky thirteen. It's a nice alternative, but why hasn't Disney attempted a REAL Halloween event at Disney/MGM, a park that would be perfect for it? All those theaters and a huge backlot? And it could all take place on the right side of the park. Just a thought.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Hollywood