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2009 Amusement Park Attendance Figure Report


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The 2009 attendance numbers are out and according to the TEA and AECOM report Great Adventure came in at number 19 in North America with 2,634,000 visitors - down 4.6% from 2008. It was the highest attended Six Flags park with Magic Mountain and Great America both close behind.

 

Hurricane Harbor came in 18th with 360,000 guests.

 

You can read the entire report HERE.

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Sadly, those numbers don't reflect the deep discounting Six Flags, Disney, and partially Universal provided to entice visits. Six Flags "gave away the gate" with steep discounts on Season Passes, "The Big Six Pass", and "Everyone Pays Kid's Price" promotions. I don't have the data to support how much worse attendance in 2009 would have been without it, but I'm sure the declines would have been much greater.

 

Not having a hotel on-site is clearly hurting Great Adventure too I believe. Look at Hershey Park's higher attendance. One could make a case the benefits of on-site lodging, even at a regional theme park helps bring in more guests. It encourages longer stays and increased visits too. Hershey may be a better run operation than Six Flags and specifically Great Adventure; but there's no reason it should draw greater considering locales. Burke was correct in wanting a hotel (which Shapiro is on record as being against). Lodging has helped Cedar Point.

 

"Disney's California Adventure" ("DCA") attendance is the biggest surprise of all. The "failing" theme park ranked #11 globally, and #6 in North America. Most operators wished they could fail so good! Like Six Flags however, one must wonder if those numbers were "juiced"? How many DCA visits were park hoppers, promotional SoCal "2fers", or overflow traffic from Disneyland? I would suspect those numbers to sharply decrease, but still wind up ahead of SIX.

 

Universal Orlando's numbers have to be greatly disappointing. Universal Orlando has to be the greatest non-Disney destination in the world. It opened a new attraction at Universal Studios Florida and jettisoned some of their deep discounts. Attendance dropped like a stone. "Harry Potter" better do something quick. 10%-11% drops are scary.

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment ("BEC") continue to impress. Despite having significantly less properties and discounts than Six Flags; they almost outdraw them. BEC is renowned for their operations, and show you people will pay for quality even at the regional level. What's scarier for SIX or even Cedar Fair is they don't need excessive properties and cut-throat promotions to achieve their numbers. I would say, even without SeaWorld Orlando, BEC is a more valuble asset and an operation with superior senior talent.

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I agree with you Thunderbolt, a hotel is really needed. I think many 'locals' would even stay there and turn a couple of days into a true get away or close to home 'staycation". Especially with Great Adventure's three seperate gated parks, a hotel would be a wise move.

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It still amazes me that there is no hotel really close to the park. Hershey has their own hotels and many other hotels and motels in the area, Dorney had 2 hotels right across the street from the park and I bet that any hotel within a few minutes of the park would do very well.

 

If Six Flags does build a hotel, it would be nice to see an indoor water park to make it a year round attraction.

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I hope one day soon a Great Wolf Lodge is built on the right side (side owned by Gadv) of 537 with an indoor waterpark and the works like Castaway Bay at Cedar Point. Most people don't see Gadv as a 2+ day at all of the parks here. We should name our entire complex "World of Adventures" because honestly there are 3 different amazing things to do that all can't be done in one day. And with the indoor waterpark, there is another day right there!

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I still think it would be perfect to build a resort right up on 537 so it could be accessed all year without having to go on property, but still have access to the park. Enough trees could be left between the hotel and parking lot to screen the view of the lot, and the parking lot could be reconfigured at the same time for better access for trams and pedestrians.

 

I Photoshopped an aerial of one of the Great Wolf lodges on an aerial of the park (both at the same scale so you can see the size match):

 

SFGAaerial.png

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Unfortunately, I do not believe Great Adventure's numbers have anything to do with hotel accomodations. It's purely reputation. Considering the park's location amid so many major metropolitan areas, it should be the most visited regional theme park in the country from locals alone. No one wants to plan a vacation to Six Flags.

 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is not close to any major metroplitan areas. the closest one is Richmond and there is a major theme park there to compete with. The park also has no on-site hotels. Yet it has higher attendance than Great Adventure. The reason is it's reputation for providing quality.

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Unfortunately, I do not believe Great Adventure's numbers have anything to do with hotel accomodations. It's purely reputation. Considering the park's location amid so many major metropolitan areas, it should be the most visited regional theme park in the country from locals alone. No one wants to plan a vacation to Six Flags.

 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is not close to any major metroplitan areas. the closest one is Richmond and there is a major theme park there to compete with. The park also has no on-site hotels. Yet it has higher attendance than Great Adventure. The reason is it's reputation for providing quality.

You make the most important point; i.e. "quality". Six Flags needs to decide whether they're a proper "theme park", or simply an amusement park operator ala Cedar Fair. Until the company can commit to a quality, cohesive vision beyond lip service, they will remain a "disposable" (i.e. a nice day trip, but not a big deal to visit) destination.

 

Six Flags is scheduled to emerge from bankruptcy on Monday May 3, 2010. Its debt has been greatly reduced, but still hovers in the ~$1B ball park. Mark Shapiro has to demonstrate he can grow this company. No more excuses and no more blaming "old management". Every mistake and success from this point out belongs to him.

Edited by Thunderbolt
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THATS WHAT NEED TO HAPPEN! Dont add any new rides to the park in 2011, except for the 5d theatre, spend money on improving the themes. Make Main St. a really extensive colonial themed area like BGW and have it themed to colonial NJ and make FortIndependance look red white and bluish. Keep Fantasy Forest and Dream St the same, make The boardwalk a real NJ boardwalk. Repaint it all and add white fences and get rid of all the old right stuff theming, make all the rides seem like midway attractions. Make Fronteir Adventures good again with a new Teepee and increased western themiong. Really make Movietown into a 1920's movie set, or Gotham City. THEME NITRO TO JOKERS JINX and make the area from Nitro to Stunt Arena a really good Gotham city with skylines, building, police stations and cars, the whole 9 yards. Turn the arcade into Gotham Gaming Hall themed to a crooks hidaway and add garbage cans, cop cars, and other stuff around the area. Reopen Old Country and add a few new flats. I WANT TO BE GLAD OF OUR PARK AGAIN!

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We werem only 500,000 people away from the top seasonal place, so were getting better. The top seasonal park was Kings Island with 3,000,000 people. We all know GADV has a potential to attract more than that! I'm not expecting anything in 2010, I think attendance will go up but not a huge boost, but I have huge hopes for 2011!!

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We werem only 500,000 people away from the top seasonal place, so were getting better. The top seasonal park was Kings Island with 3,000,000 people. We all know GADV has a potential to attract more than that! I'm not expecting anything in 2010, I think attendance will go up but not a huge boost, but I have huge hopes for 2011!!

 

Actually we're 660,000 behind the #1 seasonal park, Canada's Wonderland. I'm always amazed CW does so well... :huh:

 

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