Amusement and Theme Park Styles

Not all parks are created equal. The distinctions between the various styles of parks may not be very obvious. Some people will automatically conjure up visions of highly themed parks, others might look to their non-themed local Amusement park. Let us take a look at the background and styles of Parks within the industry.

Best known Styles

Lesser Known Park Styles
Combination Parks: Occasionally, within the industry, multiple combinations featuring more than 2 styles of park has been used. Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia for example has Zoological, Water, and a rides park in one. This goes to show that multiple styles can be mixed if kept within the operational budget and local demand the attraction can thrive.
Amusement Resorts

This style of resort is built around a major attraction. In most cases these resorts are owned and operated by the owners of the local attraction as a way of keeping guests on site. The stay and play concept provides overnight accommodations through hotels, campgrounds and cabins, or a combination of options. Visitors are able to take in amusement activities and other small-scale attractions over an extended period of time. Many amusement resorts offer large parks that require more than one day to experience. In some cases, they offer more than one park, creating an even broader experience and requiring a longer visit. Many of these resorts have become even more self-contained offering on-site shopping, food, movie theatres, etc.

The U.S. Theme Park Industry

The U.S. theme park industry is one of the largest in the world, displaying some of the best parks and attractions in respects to scale, product innovation, marketing savvy, and operating knowledge. The last 15 years has seen little growth in the industry in the US mostly due to a steady growth through the previous 15 years. Nearly half the industry growth has been seen from existing parks. New parks being a mix of major theme parks and smaller regional parks contribute to the other half. Much of the growth has stabilized in the US industry with large scale parks having trouble finding a strong market. Smaller parks and FEC's have seen better success with less overhead and larger focus on regional needs. This goes to show there are opportunities for adjusting product to suit changing markets and to effectively compete with other entertainment for consumers' leisure time and expenditures.

A Consolidation Trend

Typical for a maturing industry, there have been numerous changes in theme park ownership over the last several years. Over the past 25 years there has been a strong trend of consolidation. Major corporations control the dominant share of attendance and revenues in the industry. Re-investment is, of course, a key factor in the operation of any park. Now-a-days, major corporate owners in the industry have consolidated parks into chains under one corporate control. The formed chains normally have power to plan and complete large capital expenditure projects, due to the high percentage of the market share they bring combined with revenue sharing between all the properties in the chain. The US and Europe are headquarters for some of the world largest entertainment chains.

US Companies
Disney (Disney Resort Parks, Hotels, Cruse Line), Six Flags Inc. (Six Flags, White Water Water Parks), Universal Studios (Universal Parks, Wetn' Wild), Sea World Parks & Ent. (Sea World, Busch Gardens, Sesame Place), Cedar Fair (Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm, former Paramount Parks), Herschend Family Ent. (Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Wild Adventure), CNL Lifestyle Properties (Theme parks, Ski Resorts, Wet n' Wild Water parks, FEC's)

European Companies
Parques Reunidos (Parque de Attractions, Mirabilandia, Kennywood Ent. parks, Palace Entertainment FEC's and water parks), Merlin Ent. (Legoland, Madame Tussauds Museums, The Dungeons Attractions, Alton Towers Resort), CDA Group (Walibi World Parks, Parc Asterix, Pleasurewood Hills)