Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

The Global Theme Park Industry

by Salvador Anton Clavé

Praised as an essential reference source by, among others, Bob Rogers, and sold out before the end of IAAPA in Las Vegas, this 448-work by Spanish academic Salvador Anton Clavé is a useful and thorough account of the amusement park industry.

If you’ve ever wanted a explanation of what differentiates a theme park and an amusement park, then Clave offers his own 12-point definition, suggesting it’s more than just theming. By concentrating on the 1980s onwards, the author aims to address the period in which parks and attractions, “developed into a global phenomenon.”

Clearly the industry has much deeper routes in Europe and North America, and these are acknowledged in chapter such as those examining the origins of the theme park concept (carnivals, fairs, expositions, film and media, and also the social background/ spending power of guests), plus case studies on Bakken, Efteling and even an early amusement park in Singapore.

Indeed the book is packed with case studies, including Europa-Park in Germany, Port Aventura in Spain, Puy du Fou in France, Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, Sunway City in Malaysia and Ocean Park in Hong Kong – each singled out for their unique characteristics and lessons they may provide to others.

In looking at the Asia/Pacific region as a whole, Clavé notes that even in 2005 the continent had, “Over 125 facilities receiving more than 500,000 visitors a year, even higher than the USA.” He also examines of the growth of the industry in Brazil.

Like any printed work, the book suffers from certain aspects being out of date after publication For example, it concentrates on Tussauds and Merlin Entertainments as separate entities, rather than the powerful force the two have become today, but nevertheless, the theme is the same: parks are now big business, and this book sets about to offer some perspective.

In the second part, Clave offers a few more case studies, as well as highlighting the commercialisation of leisure, the globalisation of the industry and the development of theme park “destinations.” There’s also some good stuff on the impact of theme parks to the local economy and the catalyst they can provide in stimulating new development. Sections such as “the enhancement of the urban landscape at International Drive, Orlando,” are proof of this.

Indeed, one thing that hasn’t changed since the book was written is Orlando’s stature as “theme park capital of the world,” with over 80 attractions of various sizes and in excess of 100,000 hotel rooms. For that reason it’s probably just as well the author only dedicated three pages to Dubailand (perhaps due to lack of any other information at the time).

In the third and final part of the book, we learn about the “basic principles of theme park planning,” factors influencing the development process (including the support of the public sector) and the effects on attendance of second gates.

Some hands-on tips in theme park management include how to manage staff, operations, maintenance, safety, pricing, marketing, plus a look at tactics employed by Universal Studios to maximises its retail profits in Hollywood. Most of these, of course, could be a book in their own right, but they must just provide a quick refresher.

And maybe that is Clavé’s ultimate achievement with this book. Most of the information is already out there, but here it is together in one place. That’s why it will make a useful and well-thumbed addition to your desk.

Published by CABI in England, The Global Theme Park Industry is available from Amazon or direct from the publisher.

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