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Theme Park attendance up 4.2%


Captain Nemo
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PKI`s attendance was down to 3.3 million, down 5.1% from the 3.5 million that visited in 2004. PKI was ranked 16th in North America, based on Amusement Business`s list. Cedar Point was down 2 percent from last year to 3.1 million, to rank it 18th on the list. However, as a chain, attendance at the Paramount Parks was up 2.2 percent. I have not seen the official top 25 list, but do know that the Disney parks performed well, and that the Universal parks saw large dips in attendance (the Florida properties saw a loss of 8%).

Read more here in the Dayton Daily News.

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That's interesting how collectively Paramount Parks grew 2.2% yet their biggest park loses 5%.

Has anyone seen the whole list (or at least the top 50) yet? I'm not surprised Cedar Fair grew - Michigan's Adventure I assume did well, and Geauga Lake must have gained since last year thanks to lower gate pricing and Wildwater Kingdom.

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Seasonal parks in the US, yes. But apparantly, Paramount Canada`s Wonderland continued its success and beat out PKI for top dog on attendance in the Paramount Parks chain. According to Florida Today Wonderland saw attendance jump 7% to 3.6 million ranking it 14th on the list. (Boy is that a little shocking!) I wonder why PKI saw such a decrease while PCW saw such an increase, considering they both added the same attraction.

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I think I've got your answer right here:

Over the summer was saw some of the highest gas prices in history. PKI expected a spike in attendance as a result of that because families would elect to go to PKI instead of driving to Florida for example. Now, this may or may not have been true, but they probably lost a lot of their market from other states. This may also account for the low attendance at the Florida parks.

Now, Toronto is a much bigger city than Cincinnati, so the same theory listed above may have worked to a much greater advantage to PCW.

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Yep, that makes sense to me. PKI draws from a larger area than PCW which probably did hurt them. Besides, those numbers are just estimates, and the PKI numbers don`t include the small amount that WinterFest would contribute to PKI`s yearly total. (Kind of odd that they are reporting the yearly attendance figures, when parks down in Florida and California still have another couple of busy days before the end of the year.)

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Also, Canadians have always paid more for their gas and the increase was not as significant up there. That would definitely have and impact. While in the US we have seen an increase of about 100% in gas prices over the last couple of years, Canada has only had an increase of about 25%-50% (when you do the conversion to gallons and US dollars they are still paying about $3-$4 US per gallon). That can make a big difference.

As stated previously The Greater Toronto Area is much bigger than Cincinnati or even Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus. In addition to that Canada's Wonderland draws US visitors (due to the advantage of the US dollar in Canada), international visitors (Toronto is a very cosmopolitan city), and visitors from outside Ontario.

Canada's Wonderland has a local visitor pull going from the US borders in Detroit and Buffalo, all the way east to Ottawa. Going north the typical local "season pass" types extend all the was north past Barrie and Orillia, up to 3-4 hours drive north of Toronto. Look at a map and see how large an area that is, or even add up some of those cities populations. It's quite large.

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PKI has always been thought of as the "big dog" of Paramount Parks. However PKI has been steadily slipping for the past 5 to 8 years as Wonderland has been picking up steam. PCW regularly was beating PKI in attendance and in revenue and per caps. Even PGA and PC were able to overtake PKI in some revenue areas. PKD also was topping PKI just a few years back. Since I am no longer at the park, I can't tell you if this trend has reversed, but I can tell you that it was of great concern to Marketing and Resale. There were many weekdays during the summers (a few years back) that attendance at PKI barely broke the 10,000 mark. Most of the time it hovered in the 13,000's. This is extremely low for a park desinged to hold about 65,000. Most Saturday's were in the low to mid 20,000's, again a low number for the park.

There was some research done by Marketing, and a few possible explanations were discovered. One was that the park had "priced" themselves out of the market, just too expensive. A decision was made however by the GM that the admission would not be lowered. He felt that PKI offered a product as good as the Disney and Universal resorts, and lowering prices would "cheapen" PKI. The other explanation was that the tri-state area had pretty much been tapped out. The population growth in the region where PKI draws its customer base was flat. The third was that theme parks had "peaked" in the late 80's to early 90's, and that many parks were declining in attendance. PKI was one of those parks.

Whatever the reasons, it sounds from the original post that overall attendance has increased this year for many parks. I just want to add one more thing. As several of you may know that work in the park in revenue generating departments where attendance is a factor in your budgets, PKI is notorious for adding tens of thousand of guests to the final attendance number at the end of the year. I am not trying to imply that they are fudging the numbers, but one has to wonder how on the last day of the year when the attendance was say 15,000, but then the next day the daily ops would show 3 or 4 times that number. Interesting.....

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That's not true at all. '96 was the best year ever for the park according to a lot of sources.

Well I am really talking late 90's and early 2000's. I remember like 2000 through 2003 as when PCW was really making a move forward, while PKI was flat or losing ground. The year that Titanic was at the park was a good summer, but the years after were pretty flat.

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A_Titanic_Mess, keep in mind that these attendance numbers are only estimates. Secondly, the last weekend the park was open, was very busy because of all the free admission tickets the park gave out. Trying to boost merchandise, games and food sales.

Thirdly, I don`t think PKI is loosing as much money or in as bad of a position as you are making it out to be. True, they were not the highest attended Paramount Park, but by no means do I think they are in as bad of a position as you make it to be.

Besides, PKI`s attendance has continually hovered around the 3.3 million mark. True, they have some seasons where they have more and a couple when they have less. Yes, 1996 was the best year for the park in terms of attendance. I believe they topped out at 3.6 million.

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I don`t really think that it was because of PKI theming IJST poorly. I think the big issue was gas prices. The fact that IJST was a short ride, and was not quite on par with what the park was proclaiming it to be, could have hindered repeat visits, but I doubt that it was the main reason that attendance was down. IJST also debuted at PCW, and they saw a 7% jump in attendance. Both rides are the exact same, with the exact same theming.

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Secondly, the last weekend the park was open, was very busy because of all the free admission tickets the park gave out. Trying to boost merchandise, games and food sales.

Thats fine if the park gives out free tickets, the problem is when at the end of the day we have an attendance figure of say 15,000 for example, but when the daily ops are posted the next day, they attendance number has jumped to 40,000. My question is how do they just come up with 30,000 extra people? This pretty much happened at the end of every season. An extra 30,000 to 40,000 people added to the attendance. Marketing did say once that these were "group sales" numbers that were never included over the summer. Frankly I think they were just massaging the numbers for a more positive attendance number. The goal of course every year is to beat Cedar Point's number.

As far as handing out free tickets the last weekend to boost resale, I would disagree with that. It would be to boost the final attendance number. Giving out free tickets for an already budgeted weekend for Resale just wrecks the precaps. Now of course you cannot take percaps to the bank, but much of the budget is built upon percaps. Free tickets, gold pass bring-a-friend days always hurt resale. Actually any days with high season pass percentages spelled hurt for resale.

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Speaking from experience, something my company has learned about itself is that competeing within the company is not successful. Putting that into place with PKI, the key element here is that PKI is not out to compete with its own parks, it is out to compete with the parks in its marketing area and again PKI has done very well.

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Yes, the campground may have contributed to some of the decline in attendance. But I still think the high gas prices and the several days with the temperature over 90 were the real culprits to the drop in attendance.

And yes, Paramoount Parks have done well on a whole (attendance chain wide is up 2.2%). That doesn`t translate into the per capita spending at the parks though. Attendance figures do not really demonstrate how well the parks are doing, because as was demonstrated on the final weekend, they sometimes give away lots of free tickets. Per capita spending is a better judgement of how well the parks are doing. And Paramount Parks don`t release that information about their parks. But I think it would be safe to say that they are doing pretty well.

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PKI's attendance in 2004 was a 7% increase over 2003...so I guess you can take the positive perspective of saying that 2005's attendance is +2.0% above 2003 biggrin.gif

To be honest, it's never made a lot of sense to me why PKI was always the highest attended park in the chain anyway... With the exception of Carowinds, all of the other Paramount Parks are in much larger metro areas with less competition from other parks in the market. (Of course, I've always thought the real mystery was why PGA doesn't do better than it does considering the HUGE market it has to draw from...)

That being said, however, this appears to be just the normal ebb and flow of KI's attendance. If you chart attendance over the years, KI/PKI ranges from around 3.0M visitors (a bad year) to around 3.5M visitors (a good year).

From a personal standpoint, I know I visited the park less often this year. Not because of gas prices or the lackluster IJST, but just because I started a new job and didn't have the time. (I didn't make it to CP at all this year...)

So, congrats to Wonderland! It's a good park and deserves the recognition. I'm also glad that a Paramount Park has retained the top seasonal spot. (Should make it a lot easier to sell the chain next year...just joking!! tongue.gif )

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Its not the thrill ride or a themed ride. I think that since PKI themed IJST poorly that really hurt alot of attendance.

Yeah I am sure that family from California decided not to come to PKI because they heard that IJST was poorly themed... rolleyes.gif

I know it stabs any fanboy to their very core to see their home park fall behind... But life goes on. In the mean time we can focus on more important things, like studying the migratory patterns of African swallows. Or to keep it PKI related, we could talk about how adding Cedars of Lebanon around the Boomerang Bay parking lot might cause Boomerang Bay to beat out Schlitterbahn next year.

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Speaking from experience, something my company has learned about itself is that competeing within the company is not successful. Putting that into place with PKI, the key element here is that PKI is not out to compete with its own parks, it is out to compete with the parks in its marketing area and again PKI has done very well.

huh.gif I work for Portman Equipment co, and and our Company started with 5 people, and is now employing 2000 and sales over $350 million now and we still compete from within like they did when the company started in 1960.

I don't think Pki has anything to worry about, gas prices kept everybody to trips of nesesity. next year save up some gas money for hurricane season smile.gif

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