Wednesday, April 22, 2009


2008 Theme Park Attendance

Some interesting stuff in the 2008 TEAERA (pdf) report.

The new kid on the block, Aquatica, had 950,000 visitors or an average of 95K a month. But it opened in March, so if it had been open in January and February and had "average" attendance those months, that suggests an annual total of 1,140,000, putting it ahead of Wet 'n Wild but behind the two Disney waterparks. It'll be interesting to see what happens next year, as the word get out about what a spectacular park it is.

SeaWorld's attendance was down 2.9% at 5.9 million, but SeaWorld execs are squawking that the actual figure is higher, without providing specifics. Apparently, they're not angry enough to open their books to prove the assertion.

Universal Studios was up only slightly and Islands of Adventure was down 2.4%, leading some to speculate that people are putting off visiting until Harry Potter arrives.

But the 2008 numbers are only part of the story. Universal's 1st quarter 2009 attendance was down a whopping 20% over last year.

Makes you wonder why Universal thinks this is a good time to alienate some of their biggest fans.

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Friday, February 20, 2009


Theme Parks Lobby, Too

So Universal shuts down two attractions until Spring, SeaWorld cuts out free beer, and then we learn this.
New state records show that Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the parent company of SeaWorld Orlando spent at least $390,000 — and as much as $750,000 — lobbying the Florida Legislature last year.

That was up from a range of $290,000 to $630,000 that the three businesses spent in 2007.

All I can say is that would pay for a lot of beer.

BTW, Jason Garcia has replaced the estimable Scott Powers on the tourism beat for the Orlando Sentinel.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Is Shamu Packing Heat?

Some years back the Orlando Sentinel declared war on the region's largest employer, the engine of the area's economic success, the tourism industry. The Sentinel ranked tourism right up there with citrus blight and category 5 hurricanes as a threat to Orlando's well being.

This editorial stance so outraged local tourism officials that hotelier Harris Rosen for a while banned the Sentinel from being sold in his hotels.

Times (and editors) changed and today the Sentinel's tourism coverage, by Scott Powers, Dewayne Bevil, and others is first rate. Yes, the paper still goes ga-ga when one of the gazillions of visitors WDW sees each year has a heart attack. (I wonder why we never see a headline that reads "Man Reads Sentinel in Morning, Drops Dead At Noon"?)

Still, the Sentinel does an excellent job of covering the tourism scene.

Then you see a headline like this -- SeaWorld worker arrested in connection with shooting -- and you begin to wonder.

The incident in question happened miles away from SeaWorld, in Polk County fer cryin' out loud. It apparently involved a purely domestic dispute with unruly teenagers. It had zero to do with the shooter's... excuse me alleged shooter's employment.

So why is SeaWorld in the headline? The article doesn't even tell us what he does at SeaWorld. Is he a major executive? (My guess is no.) Does he have any contact with the public? Does he work with children? Did he shout "This one's for Shamu" when he pulled the trigger? Is the Sentinel telling us that SeaWorld employees are violent? Are we supposed to think that if we go to SeaWorld we will be in danger of getting shot by some wacko on the payroll? Is Shamu packing heat?

I just don't get it.

A cursory search of the Sentinel for reports of other shooting incidents showed that they usually use terms like "Gunman" or "Lake County man" to identify shooters in the headline. But apparently when the alleged perpetrator works for a theme park it's worthy of being enshrined in the boldface type.

Like I say, I just don't get the journalistic line of reasoning that makes a non-fatal incident involving a (presumably minor) theme park employee, one that happened miles away from the theme park, worthy of this kind of "guilt by association" treatment.

Can someone out there enlighten me?

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Saturday, September 08, 2007


Cypress Gardens Up For Grabs

I was never a huge fan of the "new" Cypress Gardens, but this is sad.
When Kent Buescher swooped into Winter Haven in 2004 with $7 million in his pocket and a complex financial deal involving state, local and non-profit money to reopen Cypress Gardens, he was hailed a genius by local business leaders.

His complicated plan, however, has crashed in bankruptcy court.

On Sept. 25, Cypress Gardens Adventure Park and its sister park in Valdosta, Ga., Wild Adventures Theme Park, will be sold at court-ordered Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction, the park's parent company announced Thursday.

Thye good news is that, apparently, the parks will survive. At least for now.
Both parks will remain open, and passes and discounts will be honored. The park's 400 full-time and 700 seasonal employees should not be affected, Sumner said.

The park won't close "not even for a day," Sumner said.

By the way, if you'd like to own your own theme park, the opening bid for CG is a mere $17.4 million.

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Monday, August 20, 2007


Prices at Universal Orlando

Here's a complete rundown on the latest pricing info (including tax, except as noted) at Universal Orlando:

1 day/1 park: $75.62 (adults)/$63.90 (kids)
1 day/2 park: $85.15/$74.50
2 day/2 park: $124.56/$113.91 (expires in 7 days, including 1st day of use)
2 day/2park (Non-expiring): $135.21/$124.56
2 park Unlimited: $91.57 (advance purchase) / $102.23 (immediate use)
Preferred Annual Pass: $202.30
Power Pass: $138.40
Citywalk party pass: $11.99 plus tax
Citywalk party pass and movie: $15.98
Citywalk movie and meal deal: $21.95
Citywalk movie and party deal: $21
Regular parking: $11
Preferred parking: $16
Single/Double stroller: $11/$17
Wheelchair (deposit): $12 ($50)
ECV (deposit): $40 ($50)
One park meal deal: $19.99/$9.99 plus tax
Two park meal deal: $23.99/$11.99 plus tax

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Friday, August 10, 2007


Bye Bye MGM, Hello Hollywood

In a widely anticipated move, Disney has announced that Disney-MGM Studios will become "Disney's Hollywood Studios."

What? No Pixar? No ABC? Disney honcho, Meg Crofton explains:
"The new name reflects how the park has grown from representing the golden age of movies to a celebration of the new entertainment that today's Hollywood has to offer -- in music, television, movies and theater," Disney World President Meg Crofton stated in a news release.

Huh? So I ask again: No PIxar? No ABC?

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Monday, August 06, 2007


Scare Tampa . . . uh . . .Spitless

From the folks at Busch Gardens Tampa (or is it Busch Garden Africa?):
Be part of the Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream 2007 Scare Squad. No experience is necessary! Tryouts are held at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay every weekend now through Sept. 8. The auditions are held Fridays from 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. No tryouts will be held on Labor Day weekend. Candidates must be 18 or older. All ages are welcome; our oldest performers are in their 80s! The jobs involve evening and weekend hours. This is the perfect second job or way to earn extra holiday cash. The rehearsals start in September. Event runs 16 nights, Sept. 28 – Oct. 28. We have hundreds of performing roles available in our Haunted Houses, Scare Zones and with our atmospheric entertainment throughout the park. Non-performing roles also available. Please visit for more information.

I like that "no experience necessary" part.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Latest Universal Orlando Pricing

Here's the latest info on ticket prices for Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk. The first price is for adults, the second for children 3 to 9. (All prices include tax, except as noted.)

1 day / 1 park.....$71.36 / $59.64
1 day / 2 park.....$82.01 / $71.36
2 day / 2 park.....$122.43 / $111.78 (expires in 7 days)
2 day / 2 park.....$133.08 / $122.43 (does not expire)

2 park preferred annual pass.....$202.30
2 park power pass.....$138.40

CityWalk Party Pass.....$11.99 (plus tax)

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Fourth of July in Orlando

The Sentinel has a helpful round-up of 4th of July celebrations at Orlando area theme parks.

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