Robert's Rant on theme park fans and Dubai
this week's show
, I talk about why theme park fans are making a mistake when they ignore what's happening in Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, are trying to disrupt the theme park industry by creating the world's largest collection of major theme parks. To understand where Dubai fits in the world's pecking order of theme parks, I introduce my idea of Tier 1, 2, and 3 parks, then describe where I think Disney, Universal, Dubai, and the rest fit on that scale.
I also explain why I think Dubai started the way that it did, spending far less per park than Disney as it tries to establish itself as a major theme park destination. Dubai's primary market isn't America — it is aiming for to develop and attract fans from the Middle East, South Asia (e.g. India) and Europe, instead. But since so many Europeans also visit Orlando and the American parks, an emerging Dubai theme park market could disrupt what's happening here in the United States. I hope you will watch the show, and share it with other fans.
This week's coverage from Dubai:
Rate and Review: Replies (20)
Great video. I agree that starting modest with their parks is a sensible idea and see where how they can evolve to meet their target audience. I think one thing you missed is that these parks will not only try to drag visitors from Europe, but also Russia, India (a country of over a billion people has some wealth - I don't think the Bollywood park is a coincidence) and throughout Asia. How these parks develop will be truly interesting.
Good video. I'll be watching. The problem with Dubai theme parks is the IP selections. They appeal largely to toddlers with the exception of Bollywood park. Nothing compelling to see yet. They are rushing too fast with multi-gate half day parks. It has ridiculous switchback queues at half empty parks. They are at bigger risk of a Hard Rock Park failure.
I paid a visit to Dubai, from the UK in the summer. I really enjoyed it. It was safe, people were generally friendly and everybody spoke English. The big downside that I saw were the prices, especially the theme parks/water parks. I think they will struggle to attract customers unless they reduce admission charges because they were simply not good value. Saying that there were visitors from all over the globe when I was there, even with the very hot weather.
The question is: Are these dictatorships a proper place to go on vacation if you're used to European civil rights standards? I highly doubt it.
I've been to Dubai and I really don't care if I ever go again. It's just not my type of place. I really can't see any theme park compelling me to go back. But I wouldn't complain about a park in an untested market starting out slow. That makes a lot of sense. Disney seems to have it backwards. They build half-assed new parks in the USA but elaborate parks oversees.
>>>The question is: Are these dictatorships a proper place to go on vacation if you're used to European civil rights standards? I highly doubt it.
I can't say I can agree about Motiongate being Tier-1 Capable. Okay, its not like they've skimped on the theming as far as I can see, but I'm going to presume that the other areas are more or less follow the same format as the Columbia area we saw in the video.
I think it is very strange, living outside the US, how negative any development overseas is treated by some over there. We all know that the US is the spiritual home of the idea of a theme park, but I can't see why that should make any difference in business decisions that tourism companies make. These Dubai parks are good for the industry, whether or not you like Dubai as a destination. They are above average quality compared to standard amusement parks. They are distinct in theme. Why don't people want to share quality themed entertainment with others? I get it when it's a cheap copy of Disneyland but not when it is a new unique development.
Disney being Tier-1 and Universal Orlando being Tier-2.. I would reverse that -Universal Tier-1 and Disney being Tier-2..
My goodness... Dubai = BARBEQUE HOT , it's the desert !
Living outside of the USA, I agree with Dan's comment on the negative reaction to most non-USA development by many people on this site.
Hedwig, having been to Dubai I can categorically tell you that you are completely wrong in almost all you say.
I do not agree with the argument that the location of a theme park doesn't matter because they are not real cultural experiences anyway. Mainly because I would never visit a country just to go to a theme park. I get that a lot of Europeans and Aussies travelers fly into and out of Dubai on their way elsewhere. That's not the case for most Americans.
If we're using Disney and Universal parks as the standard for Tier 1 (though I wouldn't necessarily agree that every park in each chain qualifies for that), the Dubai parks look like solid Tier 2 parks that are in the same league as the SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, Six Flags, and Legoland parks. Given that one park is a Legoland and they are building a Six Flags, that placement makes a lot of sense. As for the other two, I agree with the assessment of Motiongate as a late 1990s/early 2000s Universal park, and Bollywood feels more like a single themed land blown up into an entire park. All of these parks would be a good stand-alone regional park by themselves, but as one resort they are well worth visiting for any theme park fans who happen to be making a trip to Dubai. I do think they really need a couple groundbreaking attractions to make it a lucrative theme park destination, but other than that I'd take a resort with a collection of good but not excellent parks over one with a single outstanding park and several average parks.
Just a sandbox? Pop-up Theme Parks? Zero culture? This is what I'm talking about. Orlando was a small town on swamp land before WDW. Disneyland was a farm.
Speaking only for my participation in the conversation I never said that the park was bad. I said that it's location is not irrelevant to me since, if I'm traveling outside of the US, I won't just be visiting a theme park. I shouldn't think that's too hard to understand. I've been to Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea and recently to Shanghai Disneyland. I absolutely loved Tokyo and their Disney experience was the best in large part because of the people/culture of Japan. On the other hand, I didn't care so much for Shanghai Disneyland, which I suspect was at least partly due to the culture. I've never been to Disneyland Paris but I've read reports by Americans, Brits, and Northern Europeans who complained that some of the cultural differences made their experience less than magical and that they were never going back. Even here in the US I've read *some people* will favor Orlando or Anaheim because of the perceived cultural differences.
Mark, I do t think anything you've said is inappropriate. Not do I believe that the location of parks is irrelevant. I love travelling to culturally diverse countries, but there are some places I have little interest in visiting - India, or many countries in Africa for instance. You have travelled (well it seems) and that's awesome.
great article robert.
"When in Rome, do as the romans do."
>>>>That doesn't really work for those of us that are gay.
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