National press takes note of trend toward more family-friendly theme parks
I wanted to draw TPI readers' attention to a couple articles that add to the theme I wrote upon last week after the death on Rock N' Roller Coaster.
I wrote that the death would accelerate the emerging industry trend away from thrill rides toward more family-friendly, story-driven interactive attractions. Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Daniel B. Wood examines the shift toward family fun. (And quotes yours truly in the process.)
And today, in the Los Angeles Times, Kimi Yoshino offers another interview with Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro, [BugMeNot for a log-in to read] where reality's set in and he vents his frustration with huge problems the chain faces in switching to that more family-friendly model. (FWIW, Yoshino's stories demonstrate the best grasp of theme park industry on the Times' staff. It's nice to see her on the Business page and, presumably, getting more attention than she did in the relative obscurity of the Orange County edition.)
This is good in my opinion. No one loves scary roller coasters more than my husband, myself, and young adult and teenage daughters. However, we are 52 and 49 years old and there may come a time when our health won't let us ride the extreme G force stuff (I hope not but you don't see many 80 year olds on coasters). And we do need things for my 44" 5 year old granddaughter to do. That's why after coasters, I love darkrides with themes and interactions best.
Wow. How did everyone get so paranoid?
I understand the point of view that you are taking on the whole family friendly/themed attraction thing, but I disagree on a few points here. The magic word here is balance.
I think we're all pretty close to agreement here, actually. I don't think that thrill rides are going to away. I do, howver, think that proposals for high G force rides are going to find a difficult path to getting built during the next five years. And, that any initiative to build a thrill ride is going to have to come wrapped with elements (theming, surroundings, complimentary attractions) to appeal to a non-thrill riding family market. Busch has always done this well. As did Universal with IoA. Look at what Six Flags did with Kingda Ka for another example. (Though I would be shocked to see anyone try a rocket coaster again, given their maintenance problems.)
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