What does this mean for theme parks? Less air travel strongly correlates with a weaken economy. If businesses can't afford to send folks on the road (or, I guess, in the air), then that usually means those businesses aren't doing that well. That means fewer folks with raises and bonuses to spend on lavish family vacations.
It also means that many families will be switching from air travel to car travel... or to no travel at all. Add it all up, and it looks like another tough year for theme parks in 2010.
Obviously, the Orlando-area theme parks (Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando) are most dependent upon air travel, especially for the international visitors who crowd the parks during summers in boom years. But the Orlando parks can draw millions of visitors over the road, from the east coast and midwest of the United States.
The key, as always, is value. Expect the same story next year as this year: Parks that offer fresh new attractions and/or strong discounts will have the best chance to keep their attendance steady, or even up a bit. Parks that offer no new rides or shows and the same discounts as always - or that don't aggressively promote what they are offering via advertising and marketing - will continue to suffer declining attendance and revenue.Tweet
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