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2013 Theme Park Attendance Report


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Coming soon! (later today)

 

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This one should be REALLY interesting with Disney California Adventure having a full year with Cars Land now. Of course I'm already looking forward to next years to see how big the gains made by Universal Orlando are... :)

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wow, just went through those stats, cant believe how far SFGadv has fallen. I remember back in the mid 90's when I worked at the park, they hit 4million guests. cant believe today being between NYC and Philly, they cant even do 3million. just goes to show how far they have fallen in park operations and such. people would rather go elsewhere I guess.

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That's what I meant, so SFGadvs #'s were worse in 2012. How comes the #'s have fallen so much from the mid 90's when they did 4 million? That's a huge loss over the years to today.

Edited by 29yrswithaGApass
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Looking at the numbers between Magic Mountain and Gadv, Gadv is only about 100,000 behind in 2013, but had 5 months of offseason when Magic Mountain was open weekends. Do you know which park is more profitable for the chain? Also, does this mean that Gadv is often busier during the summer season?

 

Does anyone know where to find chain wide attendance figures? I'm curious as to what my home park (SFA) gets annually.

Edited by Password121
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That's what I meant, so SFGadvs #'s were worse in 2012. How comes the #'s have fallen so much from the mid 90's when they did 4 million? That's a huge loss over the years to today.

There are quite a number of reasons why GA is not drawing a regular 3 million (4 million one year) guests that it did beginning in the late 70s and continuing for the majority of the 80s and 90s. While some of us may not like to admit it, GA has lost a great deal of its appeal among the core family market, THE key demographic of prospective theme park customers. I am referring to the "traditional" family unit here (mom, dad, and about 2.5 kids).

 

With weather and other (atypical) events significantly contributing to much lower attendance in seasons where it is obvious, overall, the park really appeals much less now to the family unit than it ever did during its peak attendance years of the 80s and 90s. Far fewer shows (as well as shows appealing almost exclusively to a teen demographic), far fewer family oriented rides that can be enjoyed together, and, overall, a much less unique atmosphere (now) at GA than there was in the past. A park filled with rollercoasters really limits the base of customers it can draw from and who GA appeals to as a result of what it offers as a product has changed (became much more limited in who it appeals to) significantly since it's peak attendance years.

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I would agree that the demographics has changed but as far as today's Great Adventure I don't think it is the "traditional family" that has gone away. There are tons of families at the park. I think the group that has left for the most part is the elderly who probably enjoyed a quiet day at the park and the opportunity to take in some shows. I think the appeal for that group has been abandoned.

 

I hope they fix that because I intend to spend an additional 35yrswithaGApass and I'll need a nice air-conditioned show to park my ass! :)

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Looking at the numbers between Magic Mountain and Gadv, Gadv is only about 100,000 behind in 2013, but had 5 months of offseason when Magic Mountain was open weekends. Do you know which park is more profitable for the chain? Also, does this mean that Gadv is often busier during the summer season?

 

Does anyone know where to find chain wide attendance figures? I'm curious as to what my home park (SFA) gets annually.

Hope you don't mind my two cents here and that you will appreciate my thoughts on the questions you pose to 29 years. Unfortunately, the vast majority of theme parks have not released their actual attendance figures since sometime back in the early 90s. Even the numbers in this report are "a highly educated, fancy algorithm, best guess" estimate of each park's attendance made by "industry experts" who don't have access to the actual numbers.

 

That being said, Great Adventure attendance has easily surpassed that of Magic Mountain's many times throughout the years (despite Magic Mountain's) year round operation (which is not really year round in that they do not operate every weekend in the off season). Which is more profitable is a big question in that GA MUST have significantly higher attendance than any seasonal theme park just to break even because, for example, it has a heard of animals that require food, shelter, and medical staff all year long and it's full time employment staff is the largest of the Six Flags parks. And, GA operates less than 180 days a year, meaning it must pack more people into the park each day it does operate in order to maximize revenue (at least compared to Magic Mountain). All of this being said, GA and MM are in VERY different markets and appeal (or at least they have in the past) to a different customer base. Magic Mountain competes with some of the grand daddy's of theme parks and it's location often hinders it's attendance when people have to choose. God only knows which of the two is more profitable.

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I would agree that the demographics has changed but as far as today's Great Adventure I don't think it is the "traditional family" that has gone away. There are tons of families at the park. I think the group that has left for the most part is the elderly who probably enjoyed a quiet day at the park and the opportunity to take in some shows. I think the appeal for that group has been abandoned.

 

I hope they fix that because I intend to spend an additional 35yrswithaGApass and I'll need a nice air-conditioned show to park my ass! :)

I think we're probably in agreement here in that the park appeals to a more limited (or more focused, depending on their own objectives) prospective customer base than they did back in the day. Since the baby boomer families are now growing even extended families (aging parents moving in, etc.), you really don't want to NOT have something for everyone. Many of the regional theme parks have done exactly the opposite of what they should have been doing for the past 20 years in that they have limited their appeal instead of broadening it. Not everyone can afford a family vacation to any of the Disney parks and the regional theme parks have diminished their likelihood of being chosen as an acceptable second choice.

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Hope you don't mind my two cents here and that you will appreciate my thoughts on the questions you pose to 29 years. Unfortunately, the vast majority of theme parks have not released their actual attendance figures since sometime back in the early 90s. Even the numbers in this report are "a highly educated, fancy algorithm, best guess" estimate of each park's attendance made by "industry experts" who don't have access to the actual numbers.

 

That being said, Great Adventure attendance has easily surpassed that of Magic Mountain's many times throughout the years (despite Magic Mountain's) year round operation (which is not really year round in that they do not operate every weekend in the off season). Which is more profitable is a big question in that GA MUST have significantly higher attendance than any seasonal theme park just to break even because, for example, it has a heard of animals that require food, shelter, and medical staff all year long and it's full time employment staff is the largest of the Six Flags parks. And, GA operates less than 180 days a year, meaning it must pack more people into the park each day it does operate in order to maximize revenue (at least compared to Magic Mountain). All of this being said, GA and MM are in VERY different markets and appeal (or at least they have in the past) to a different customer base. Magic Mountain competes with some of the grand daddy's of theme parks and it's location often hinders it's attendance when people have to choose. God only knows which of the two is more profitable.

Some very good points you made. Thanks for the answer, Daved.

As a general question about the chain, or theme park chains in general, when they invest capital in certain parks, do they choose to invest more in parks that generate more profit, or those that they see the most potential? We have seen CF announce large investments in Carowinds in the near future due to potential for growth. However, the parks SF invests most heavily in (MM, Gadv, Gam) are not necessarily those with potential. I would imagine parks like SFOG, SFStl, and even SFA would have the most growth potential considering they manage to make a profit (most likely) even with smaller investments as compared to other parks. We've seen SF dump capital into Gam and MM the last few years, and Gadv as well, just not quite as much.

I understand this may be difficult to answer, considering your last name isn't Reid-Anderson, but any insight would be appreciated.

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Great Adventure had 2.8mil Guests last year, with Magic Mountain having 2.9mil, This is according to the 2013 Theme Index Attendance Report. I say they should open 2 weeks earlier, and close 2 weeks later so we can be 1st in the chain. We would crush them if we had the weather to open year round.

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The time of the year Great Adventure opens almost always depends on when schools let out. That's where they get most of their workers. When they opened up earlier in the year last year, it was not very busy, which while all of us here may enjoy, its most probable the park did not make much revenue that early in the season.

Edited by joeyc98
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God only knows which of the two is more profitable.

I don't know personally which is the more profitable of the two (Great Adventure vs. Magic Mountain), but it has been said Six Flags Great America is the most profitable park in the chain. I remember Kieran Burke stating this specifically. Mark Shapiro echoed it if I recall correctly.

 

Magic Mountain receives a high season pass customer base. As long as Six Flags "gives away the gate", I don't see actual attendance numbers numbers mattering. A season pass can easily be procured, for the price of a single day entry. It's all about "in park spending". Six Flags will never break "in park spending" numbers out on a individual property basis.

 

With Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm in the same market (and "I-5 Corridor"), Six Flags refuses to compete with either in the theme category. Instead, it keeps chasing the failed "thrill park" strategy.

Edited by Thunderbolt
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I don't know personally which is the more profitable of the two (Great Adventure vs. Magic Mountain), but it has been said Six Flags Great America is the most profitable park in the chain. I remember Kieran Burke stating this specifically. Mark Shapiro echoed it if I recall correctly.

 

Magic Mountain receives a high season pass customer base. As long as Six Flags "gives away the gate", I don't see actual attendance numbers numbers mattering. A season pass can easily be procured, for the price of a single day entry. It's all about "in park spending". Six Flags will never break "in park spending" numbers out on a individual property basis.

 

With Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm in the same market (and "I-5 Corridor"), Six Flags refuses to compete with either in the theme category. Instead, it keeps chasing the failed "thrill park" strategy.

Absolutely agree that once GA passes it's "break-even" point, it can be a VERY profitable park and has been considered the company's "cash cow," literally, since its first season as a Six Flags park in 1978. At the same time, as I have mentioned earlier, the shear size of the property, number of employees, and the expenses associated with 1,500 exotic animals 365 days a year combined with one of the shortest operating calendars of any theme park means that it is much more difficult for GA to show a profit. Once it does, the margins increase exponentially. But, with less than 3 million people through the turnstyles (perhaps a slightly lower 2.7 million), there is no way that GA is turning a profit UNLESS, as they are doing now, they cut back on the overall product they offer as well as nickel and dime guests for things that historically have been consider a general service.

 

While in-park (per capita) spending is very important, they must have guests that can AND will spend. Most season pass holders have made a conscious decision to economize when it comes to in-park spending (purchasing dining plans, eating outside the park, little or no souvenirs). The very nature of a season pass holder makes them extremely price/cost conscious. The guest who visits once a year, even more so for guests visiting once every few years, are the biggest in-park spenders. These are not the young teens that many people on here claim roam the park because their parents dropped them off. These are the moms and dads with their kids who actually see there visit as the family vacation.

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