News update: Bye-bye Blues, and hello new attraction announcements

September 12, 2016, 9:07 PM · The House of Blues is coming down at Disneyland's Downtown Disney.

The restaurant and performance venue had closed last spring, with plans to move to a larger space across Harbor Blvd., in the GardenWalk shopping center. This month, Disney filed for permits to tear down the now-vacant old House of Blues space, which sits in the middle of Downtown Disney, across from Tortilla Jo's. Disney's not announced what it will build in the House of Blues space. The new, non-Disney Anaheim House of Blues is supposed to open sometime next year.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions [IAAPA] announced today that it once again has sold all indoor exhibit space for the upcoming IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. The show is the industry's largest annual convention, filling the North/South Building of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The mid-November gathering is place where many parks close or announce deals on their upcoming attractions and the event is expected to attract more than 30,000 attendees from across the industry. I'll be one of them, covering the IAAPA Attractions Expo from Orlando on Nov. 15-17.

Can't wait until November for more new attraction news? No worries. Legoland California is announcing its new attractions for 2017 on Thursday. The park promises that "one is wet and wild and one is out of this world." Next week, on Sept. 20, Germany's Europa Park is announcing its 2017 project at IAAPA's Euro Attractions Show in Barcelona. "Project V" will be the "largest investment in the history of the family business," the park said in a press release.

Replies (14)

September 13, 2016 at 9:43 AM · I hope House of Blues is a success at GardenWalk. GardenWalk needs a miracle to survive. They should consider adding a grand entrance in the back side of the mall where HoB will be on Disney Way. Disney Way is where the new Disneyland parking structure will be. Maybe some Disneyland guests will use the mall after everything is completed in a few years.

HoB will use a portion of the closed movie theater multiplex. If a movie theater can't survive, I wonder if a music venue can survive there. Still, in the Orange County Register article, it said 6 movie theaters will not be incorporated into House of Blues. Thus, allowing a smaller movie theater company to take over or use the space for a new restaurant or dance hall.

The old House of Blues will be demolished for a new bowling alley. Bowling alleys don't survive long today. People don't enjoy that activity. The costs to run them are way too high especially at high rent Downtown Disney. I hope they have other ideas for that site in addition to the bowling alley.

September 13, 2016 at 8:56 AM · I liked House of Blues Anaheim but the venue wasn't perfect. The design of the viewing area was awkward; unless you were front and center on the ground floor there were too many pillars blocking your view of the stage. The balcony was rarely used when I was in there. I hope HoB finds success at GardenWalk, because that shopping/dining center desperately needs a big draw. Meanwhile, a bowling alley doesn't exactly excite me but it's in line with Disney's relentless family-friendly focus at the expense of anything that could even remotely be considered "adult" on their property.
September 13, 2016 at 12:34 PM · People don't enjoy bowing? You're very mistaken sir.

Boutique bowling alleys, which this would be, if it is in fact the plan have been very successful over the past two decades. They have fewer lanes than a traditional bowling alley, offer upscale food and beverage options, full bar and often have additional activities like pool tables, shuffle board, arcade games, pinball.

What makes them so successful is the prices they command for bowling. Where traditional bowling might command $3.00 per game/player the boutique alleys can get upwards of $30 to $50 hour per lane, plus high F&B per caps. They're also very popular with groups, parties, and private events.

Most successful boutique bowling alleys are located in high-rent locations as well. The Gaslamp District in San Diego has a very successful bowling alley to give one example.

You're very wrong about this Anon Mouse.

September 13, 2016 at 4:17 PM · The Splitsville Bowling alley has done really well at Disney Springs in Orlando. I'm assuming that's what'll take this spot in Anaheim if they are going with that concept.
September 13, 2016 at 7:50 PM · I'm not wrong. Bowling alleys are in decline.

"America's Vanishing Bowling Alleys"

California has the third lowest number of bowling alleys after Hawaii (#1) and Nevada.

Universal's CityWalk in Universal City just closed Jillian's bowling alley. Jillian's was an upscale bowling alley that has the model you just described with expensive drinks and food. Citywalk loses one, Disney gains one.

The city of Whittier just closed a bowling alley. About 30 minutes from Disneyland.

You just keep wishing. Who really wants to pay $30 to $50 per hour per lane. The thing is, you keep the game prices low so you can sell more drinks and food. No wonder they can't last.


"The bowling alley first opened in 2000, alongside Buca di Beppo, Howl at the Moon at others during a large two-story expansion of CityWalk. While Jillian’s did serve food and drinks, it was known for having other recreational activities, like the billiards and aforementioned bowling, so losing those to a new restaurant that simply serves food could be a disappointment. That’s not to say whatever new venture comes along will most likely not keep to the safe “retail store” or “quick service restaurant” formula that’s been popular."

This model doesn't work well here. Maybe it has do with the activity. Bowling has few fans.

"Orange County's fading bowling alley scene: Just 15 centers remain"

September 13, 2016 at 11:56 PM · Respectfully, those articles you posted backup what I stated. I made no mention of a traditional bowling center, which it's true, many have been closing and that model would not work for Downtown Disney. I spoke exclusively about what the bowling business has shifted towards, the boutique center.

Those articles clearly illustrate the shift towards that and bowling obviously still has fans since new locations continue to be built.

As for the pricing, lane prices are based on demand. With a personal background in FEC and movie theater operations I can from experience tell you there is almost no correlation between lower entertainment prices and higher food and beverage sales.

The closure of Jillian's at CityWalk Hollywood is more of a one-off than a business trend. Jillian's started as a similar, but scaled down Dave & Busters concept. It was never successful. Jillian's filed for bankruptcy in 2004 at which time Dave & Busters acquired 9 locations. Jillian's never had the same appeal as D&B.

Beyond that CityWalk has suffered as a nighttime entertainment destination for more than a decade. CityWalk was a hot spot in the 80s and mid 90s, but has struggled due to competition with other more appealing destinations within Los Angeles. The on-property AMC Theater, once a flagship Los Angeles movie theater under the Cineplex Odeon brand, now struggles along. The closure of Jillian's illustrates more the struggles of CityWalk Hollywood rather than the bowling alley business.

September 14, 2016 at 8:04 AM · How does those articles backup what you said? Bowling alleys are closing and the so-called boutique bowling alley is no exception, yet you decided to make Jillian's an exception. The difference between the newer and older "traditional" bowling alley is the food, drink, atmosphere, and bowling is minor part of the revenue. The article about Whittier points out that even when they did an renovation with screens and graphics, they still failed. You can't turn a blue collar working class game into a high class arcade game. No one is being fooled. Not only is bowling in decline, billiards is also not popular. Jillian's offered both bowling/billiards plus an arcade and failed at all.

In the OCRegister article, the noted quotes are “Bowling is sort of a side thing,” and “We are a sports/bowling bar.” That's fine and all, but their marque says bowling. Unless they want to sell themselves as an arcade or an entertainment center, they will fail because BOWLING is not an attraction that will get people in the doors. Recently, I went to the Great Wolf lodge and they offered a mini-bowling experience. It was just a minor arcade type game with about 8 short lanes and didn't take up much space. That's how they need to do it.

As for your CityWalk analysis, it gives me pause because GardenWalk is in the same situation. GardenWalk is trying to turn itself around by changing from a retail to entertainment emphasis. Bowlmor is currently open at GardenWalk. The Yelp reviews haven't been kind. What they should excel at in food and drink is suffering from poor service.

BTW: What's FEC? There are 63 definitions.

September 14, 2016 at 10:21 AM · Well, I for one would not want to bowl at DTD. I think both parks offer enough activities for families, we don't need a bowling alley. My biggest fear is more people coming to DTD and filling up the parking lots to go bowling. I had heard that this was going to be an Asian restaurant. I think that's the only cuisine that's missing in DTD. Was there a reason given for HOB leaving DTD? My assumption was that parking was an issue for the non-Disney HOB customers.
September 14, 2016 at 11:26 AM · FEC is "Family Entertainment Center", a common amusement industry term.

Jilian's offered what you think others should do, a variety of attractions, yet it failed. That speaks to CityWalk, not one of the attractions they offered. It was never a good setup, but go to CityWalk on a weekday evening at 10:00pm and take a look around. The entire place is dead. The foot traffic patterns are related to the theme park operating hours and CityWalk is struggling to pull in non theme park visitors for the restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues.

GardenWalk opened as an entertainment, shopping, dining destination. I predicted it would fail from day one and it will continue to fail in any related incarnation. It's in a lousy location. Being close to Disneyland and all of those hotels does not make it a draw. There is almost no foot traffic on Katella. When the hotels are packed Disney extends operating hours in their theme parks keeping their audience captive until bedtime. Locals don't want to drive into the resort district unless they're going to Disney. The only thing that would mildly help the GardenWalk is if they would build several high-rise hotels atop it, but I'm still not convinced that a couple thousand rooms would generate enough business to make it a success. It would just minimize the pains.

Also, what (excuse the rude term, but it's appropriate) "idiot" thinks they can create an identical concept to Downtown Disney and compete with Disney? The immediate area was over screened with movie theaters (AMC Downtown Disney 12, AMC 30 at The Block, Kirkorian 18 at Buena Park, Regal 16 Garden Grove) and as a result they got only a lousy local operator to open the theater, and no surprise it failed. If Bowlmor fails I would attribute it to the failing center.

Lucky Strike down the road has been a hit since it opened in 2000.

The fact is those articles do not talk about boutique bowling alley's closing. They talk about the traditional bowling centers that were dependent on leagues, solely focused on the game, had an excessive amount of equipment on large plots of expensive real estate and had a reputation for having dirty bars and greasy food.

September 14, 2016 at 9:06 PM · "Jilian's offered what you think others should do, a variety of attractions, yet it failed. That speaks to CityWalk, not one of the attractions they offered"

You ignored the fact that two-thirds of the attractions is what no one wants (billiards and bowling). So Jillian's must pay rent for the overall square footage and can't generate income from most of its amusements.

A variety of attractions is what these modern bowling alleys try to do to diversify their revenue, but bowling doesn't get them in the door. You can't sell food and beverages to nonexistent customers.

You seem to think "boutique" bowling alleys are really that much different than traditional bowling alleys. I doubt it. They must generate income at all hours. You cannot rely on selling liquor in the afternoon. Funny how you mention CityWalk is dead at 10pm. It's dead everywhere at 10pm.

Lucky Strike in Torrance is closed for business in 2015. It was in the Del Amo Fashion Center. No excuse for not having foot traffic.

In 2014, a Lucky Strike closed in Miami Florida. Another one closed in 1 Bass Pro Mills Drive, Vaughan, ON L4K 5W4, Canada. One closed in Louisville KY. This is a pattern.

September 14, 2016 at 9:34 PM · The list of Lucky Strike Lane closures is getting longer.

San Jose, CA
Kansas City, MO
Jacksonville, FL
Fort Worth, TX
New Westminster, BC Canada

Bowlmor isn't any different. They left a legacy of bowling alley closures around the country.

September 16, 2016 at 8:06 AM · Dave and busters would be perfect there. It's great entertainment for kids and adults.
September 16, 2016 at 10:51 AM · Many of the Bowlmor locations were traditional centers if you read up on the company.

I disagree with you and we're not going to agree on this. There are failures in any business, even successful ones will have their struggles. I'm well aware of the challenges with bowling centers. However, I personally know operators of the newer boutique centers that are doing fantastic and the bowling portion of their business is bringing in guests and making money. They would disagree with you since they run successful locations. However, they'll all acknowledge that participation in the sport has been on the decline.

But if bowling is such a failure then why are new centers still being built? Clearly, someone is still bowling. Bowling is being incorporated into a new concept that combines a movie theater, arcade, restaurant and bar. Bowling is a big part of the successful Main Event Entertainment FECs and others have added lanes in the past decade.

There are still people who bowl. My senior parents love it. All three of my nephews like it (young kids) and in fact went to a bowling birthday party just last weekend. I still like the sport and have friends that do as well.

You're probably also from Southern California and forget that most of this country is covered with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures in the winter months. Indoor activities are a necessity.

Disney hasn't announced what they're planning to do with House of Blues, but a bar and restaurant concept with entertainment activities seems like a good fit. Downtown Disney has great foot traffic at nearly all hours of the night, but what you're also not taking into account is all of the special event business they do. They need venues to hold these events and frankly an upscale bowling alley is a great venue for special events.

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