Theme parks:

Thrills await in the world's best parks

Selling Travel - - Contents -

Grav­ity slams the full weight of my body against my shoul­der har­ness. I’m al­ready up­side down and have climbed a dizzy­ing 150 ver­ti­cal feet – and that’s be­fore be­ing flipped and sent into freefall through a 360-de­gree ‘heart’ roll.

It’s a ma­noeu­vre that leaves my ac­tual heart lodged some­where be­tween my pound­ing chest and scream­ing mouth.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, con­sid­er­ing my cur­rent predica­ment, I’m Down Un­der, swapping the rel­a­tively safe rollers of Queens­land’s

Gold Coast beaches for the roller coast­ers of Dream­world, Aus­tralia’s largest amuse­ment park.

Blood is surg­ing to my head as my brain – which clearly wasn’t en­gaged when

I boarded the park’s ‘Buz­zSaw’ – starts ques­tion­ing the sci­ence. “Will the har­ness carry the full weight of me and my bon­zaidea-at-the-time break­fast?” and then, in­evitably, my san­ity: “What am I do­ing?”

My ques­tion is an­swered, in a fash­ion, as I’m plum­meted earth­wards, the wind whiplash­ing my hair. My stom­ach rolls, adren­a­line and dopamine flood my body and loud, un­abashed laugh­ter re­places my screams.

Freed from the har­ness, I exit on shaky

legs, smooth down my mid-Eight­ies Bon Jovi hair and re­join the queue.

With roller­coaster rides, I’ve found that one hit is never enough…

High rollers

World­wide at­ten­dance fig­ures would sug­gest that I’m not the only one ad­dicted to the thrill of an amuse­ment-park ride.

The Global At­trac­tions At­ten­dance Re­port

2016, pub­lished by the Themed En­ter­tain­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (TEA), recorded a 4.3% in­crease in visi­tors among the ma­jor theme park op­er­a­tors, grow­ing from 420 mil­lion to

438 mil­lion at­ten­dees over the year.

“While weather, tourism and po­lit­i­cal is­sues have tapped the brakes on growth a bit this year,” says TEA’s Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Eco­nom­ics, John Robi­nett, “we feel con­fi­dent that the busi­ness, through some ex­cit­ing new in­vest­ments and op­er­a­tional im­prove­ments, along with strong leisure con­sump­tion glob­ally, will con­tinue its char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally steady growth pat­tern over the long run.”

Florida’s iconic parks are still set­ting the pace, but other mar­kets are def­i­nitely in the race and catch­ing up fast.

“There are hun­dreds of theme parks around the world, vary­ing mas­sively in both qual­ity and pop­u­lar­ity,” says Kevin Brett, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of HAT Tourism Mar­ket­ing, which rep­re­sents a range of at­trac­tions in the U.S.

“North Amer­ica re­mains the lead­ing mar­ket, and is the home turf of giants Dis­ney and Uni­ver­sal. But Asia and the Mid­dle East are emerg­ing hotspots for thrillseek­ers, while Europe of­fers some out­stand­ing at­trac­tions.”

With amuse­ment parks open­ing up in more var­ied des­ti­na­tions, agents have a great op­por­tu­nity to in­cor­po­rate pre-booked tick­ets into their cus­tomers’ hol­i­day pack­ages.

Annabel Cove, Head of Trade Sales & Mar­ket­ing at Do­Some­thingDif­fer­ent.com, says: “The key to sell­ing at­trac­tion tick­ets is to re­mem­ber that there’s al­ways some­thing ex­tra you can rec­om­mend. This isn’t a case of hard sell­ing, but pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble ex­pe­ri­ence for your cus­tomer. They’ve come to you be­cause they trust your knowl­edge and you’re uniquely placed to make rec­om­men­da­tions to en­hance their hol­i­day and save them money.”

Pur­chas­ing at­trac­tion tick­ets in the UK prior to travel al­lows cus­tomers to take ad­van­tage of spe­cial deals and avoid the risk of an ac­tiv­ity be­ing sold out on ar­rival.

“Car hire and air­port ho­tels are of­ten added to hol­i­days with­out a se­cond thought,” con­tin­ues Cove. “How­ever, some agents are miss­ing out by not of­fer­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. Sell­ing tick­ets can reap great re­wards – our av­er­age book­ing is £800 for tick­ets alone – im­prov­ing mar­gins and the bottom line.”

The Amer­i­cas

A tri­umphant mix of hu­man imag­i­na­tion, ex­pert en­gi­neer­ing, com­mer­cial cun­ning and a sprin­kle of mar­ket­ing magic draws mil­lions of visi­tors to the U.S amuse­ment Mec­cas each year: seven of the world’s top 10 most-vis­ited theme parks are here (Ja­pan scoops the other three).

Orlando in Florida is the main at­trac­tion, with giants Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort, Uni­ver­sal Orlando Re­sort and Le­goland Florida Re­sort.

The west coast is home to Dis­ney­land

Re­sort, plus Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Hol­ly­wood

“As well as sav­ing your clients money, com­bi­na­tion and multi-park tick­ets of­fer greater flex­i­bil­ity and al­low them to park hop, so they’re not re­stricted to one park for the en­tire day” Mal­colm Davies, Prod­uct Des­ti­na­tion Man­ager, Fun­way Hol­i­days

Asia-Pa­cific

For cus­tomers head­ing to Asia there are plenty of world-class parks to lighten any cul­ture-heavy trip. Ja­pan is lead­ing the charge with Tokyo Dis­ney­land, Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios

Ja­pan in Osaka and Tokyo Dis­ney Sea.

In China, Over­seas Chi­nese Town (OCT) has six parks in the re­gion’s top 20, in­clud­ing Win­dow of the World and Happy Val­ley in Shen­zhen, while lead­ing Chi­nese the­mepark brand Fantaw­ild will have more than 30 parks op­er­at­ing in the next eight years.

Shang­hai Dis­ney­land opened in 2016, with Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Beijing slated for 2020.

Aus­tralia’s big­gest park, Dream­world on the Gold Coast, is worth in­cor­po­rat­ing into itin­er­ar­ies, along with neigh­bour­ing Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet ’n’

Wild, all avail­able on a combo-pass.

What’s new

USA: Pixar Pier (dis­ney­parks.dis­ney. go.com) comes to Dis­ney Cal­i­for­nia

Ad­ven­ture Park in sum­mer 2018.

Toy Story Land (dis­ney­world.dis­ney.go.com) opens at Florida’s Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood

Stu­dios in June 2018.

Uni­ver­sal Orlando’s Fast & Fu­ri­ous – Su­per­charged launches in Spring

2018 (uni­ver­sa­lor­lando.com).

The Won­der Woman Golden Lasso Coaster (sixflags.com) opens in spring 2018 at Six Flags Fi­esta Texas. Six Flags Dis­cov­ery King­dom (sixflags.com) in Cal­i­for­nia will add a new

Har­ley Quinn Crazy Coaster in spring 2018. Europe: France’s Puy du Fou (puy­du­fou.com/en) is de­vel­op­ing new venues in Spain and China.

New ac­ro­batic show, CARO, comes to Eftel­ing: World of Won­ders (eftel­ing.com) in the Nether­lands in Septem­ber 2018.

Al­ton Tow­ers Re­sort’s (al­ton-tow­ers.com) new Wicker Man at­trac­tion, a wooden roller­coaster, opens this spring.

The Isle of Wight’s Black­gang Chine (black­gang­chine.com) is cel­e­brat­ing its 175th an­niver­sary through­out 2018.

The Walk­ing Dead: The Ride (thor­pepark.com) will ar­rive at Thorpe Park for Easter 2018. Other: Dis­ney­land Hong Kong (hongkongdis­ney­land.com) is un­der­go­ing a $1.4bil­lion ex­pan­sion plan.

The Bat­man-themed Gotham City opens at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi (wb­world­abud­habi.com) this sum­mer.

A new Vir­tual Re­al­ity Park has opened at The Dubai Mall (vr­park­dubai. com) with an in­door roller­coaster.

Where to book it

GREAT­DAYS– 0161 928 3242

A typ­i­cal pack­age at Dis­ney’s Ho­tel Santa Fe in Dis­ney­land Paris costs £576, based on a fam­ily of four shar­ing. In­cludes three nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion and a two-day Dis­ney Park Ticket. Great­days is a group travel spe­cial­ist tour op­er­a­tor and has its own award-win­ning Dis­ney team. great­days.co.uk

AMER­ICA AS YOU LIKE IT – 020 8742 8299

The 14-night Cal­i­for­nia’s Pa­cific Coast High­way: San Fran­cisco to San Diego itin­er­ary costs from £1,840pp, based on a fam­ily of four shar­ing. In­cludes re­turn in­ter­na­tional flights, ac­com­mo­da­tion, car hire and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Ci­tyPass tick­ets. amer­i­caasy­oulikeit.com

“The key to sell­ing at­trac­tion tick­ets is to re­mem­ber that there’s al­ways some­thing ex­tra you can rec­om­mend. This isn’t a case of hard sell­ing but pro­vid­ing the best pos­si­ble ex­pe­ri­ence for your

cus­tomer” Annabel Cove, Head of Trade Sales & Mar­ket­ing

at Do­Some­thingDif­fer­ent.com

Above: Dare you ride For­mula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, in Abu Dhabi? Right: The ter­ri­fy­ing Wicker Man ride, new to Al­ton Tow­ers this spring

This page, clock­wise from top: a brainy Smurf at Dubai Parks & Re­sorts; the Won­der Woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fi­esta, Texas; bot­toms up, Dis­ney-style. Op­po­site: Eftel­ing in the Nether­lands; Le­goland

Clock­wise from top: a fire­work spec­tac­u­lar at Dis­ney Orlando; meet­ing Bat­man at the Warner Bros Movie World in Queens­land’s Gold Coast; Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Orlando’s new Vol­cano Bay

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