Published: February 10, 2009 at 9:07 PM
I doubt that we will see any big closings in 2010. We will see some shakeups, some winners, and some losers, but everyone should survive. Here are some thoughts.
Sold Down The River- The Busch parks are surely in a period of uncertainty right now. They have a great product, a large market share, and a healthy bottom line. What will happen when they lose the support of AB? The quality of the parks will get them through the year relatively unscathed, despite a drop in tourism. Williamsburg remains a relatively inexpensive destination for families, so BGE will be ok. Manta will save the season for SeaWorld Orlando. What happens with the ownership keeps it's future in question.
Reality Check- It's Disney's turn to have one. Their numbers have been robust and inflated for a years. During that time, they created a massive resort with numerous rides, shows, hotels, restaurants, and other attractions. Money was no object, and no expense was spared in their attempt to provide the perfect theme park experience. It's the very thing that makes Disney successful that will cause problems for them. Revenue sunk last year, hotel bookings decreased. Money is now officially an object for Disney, and the cost of running the Orlando resort isn't pretty. The reality is that people will cut back on their vacation spending for a while, and Disney simply will cost too much, even with the discounts...for many. My prediction is this, Disney may find a way to keep attendance stable with discounts, but their bottom line will take a serious beating, and their market share will not increase. Look for more cuts in Mouseland, at least until people have the money to go again.
Golden Oppurtunity- Universal Orlando's Super Bowl promotion was a master stroke, and it's an example of what parks should be doing to get the people's attention. Amongst all of the potential carnage that may happen in Orlando this year, Universal is in the best position to gain market share. The new ride this year coupled with the coming soon Harry Potter attractions gives them the most potential to gain market share in the precious Orlando market, and while they do have a large property to run, it's nowhere near the cost of Disney's, and remember...money is now an object in Orlando.
Like a Rock- Like them or not, Cedar Fair knows how to run an amusement park. They use good old fashioned thrills, manage and maintain their parks well, spend their money wisely, and always provide a return to their investors. Their flagship parks, Cedar Point and Kings Island, have an almost cultlike following of fans and a huge amount of passholders. Canada's Wonderland has a virtual monopoly in the great north, and many of their parks are building new attractions for the coming year. Diamondback at Kings Island will be a huge hit, providing a boost in attendance and revenue. Prowler at Worlds of Fun will be a big crowd pleaser, and the park will benefit handsomely from the new coaster and those budget minded families who come to ride it. The mothership Cedar Point will probably break even. They don't have a new ride this year and may have some trouble with some of those hotel rooms, but the army of passholders and the regional visitors will come through for them like they always do. The staycationers..if you will James...will also visit.
No Guts, No Glory- The winner of the golden goose award for 2009 goes to Six Flags. The question is this...will they strangle her or let her lay the golden egg. Six Flags has parks in 10 of the biggest metro areas in the country...full of budget minded leisure seekers looking for a closer form of entertainment. With aggressive marketing, discounts, and an improved product, they could see a huge increase in all major categories, including market share. Time will tell if they are willing to put up the fight and reap the spoils, or if they will cut and run, duck and cover. If they do the latter, they will fall on their face, and parks like Kentucky Kingdom and The Great Escape will be in serious trouble.