Amusement Parks Look for Debt Relief and Customers

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 By

Amusement Parks in tough times

Amusement parks are in dire straits, and you could reap the benefits.

Amusement parks are in dire straits, and you could reap the benefits.

Amusement parks are looking for debt relief by bringing in new customers. Both Disney and Universal theme parks are facing a tough time. They know that to manage their finances they need to find new customers to lure in. These two, and many smaller parks, are looking to deep discounting prices of entry and ride fairs, to spur attendance once again.

Operators are trying to come up with the lowest admission prices they can reasonably work with. “This is the most aggressive year that I’ve ever seen for discounting in the theme park industry,” stated Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider web site. The recession has driven many families to cutting out their vacation plans altogether, opting for close-to-home activities or visiting and staying with relatives.

Discounts are huge

For the first time, Disneyland, Universal Studios and many Six Flags parks are digging deep to bring their prices down. Besides the prices of admission, they are discounting items and rides inside the park.

Disneyland is offering three-day pass for just $99. Many of the Six Flags parks are offering buy-one-get-one-free ticketing. Universal Studios will be offering a $60 six-month pass to people living in the area. This is the first time parks are offering these types of discounts beyond the normal “slow season pricing,” which is normally offered only during early spring and late fall.

Staycationers

A trendy term in the amusement park industry is “staycationers.” A staycationer is someone who lives close to the theme park. Parks are trying hardest to lure these visitors in, because they seem to be the most receptive to advertising.

Haley Marks, spokesperson for Disneyland stated, “It’s unrealistic to think families will drive hundreds of miles to Disneyland anymore. At least not during the recession. … So our marketing and advertising is focusing on the families already in the area. We are trying to bring them in to keep our finances flowing, even though it’s at a much slower rate.”

That seems to be the philosophy behind wooing staycationers into parks. Although the numbers will be down, there will still be people in attendance. For parks to remain open and manage to find debt relief, they need to keep revenues coming in, regardless of how slow them become.

The future of amusement parks

Like businesses in all industries, amusement parks are going through a change. Smaller parks are unable to withstand the drought of customers and closing. Mid-sized parks are fighting for their lives. Large parks are the only ones with enough capital to be creative with marketing and advertising, hoping to bring in a new customer base that will carry them through the recession.

Mark Kane, park president of a Six Flags park stated, “The whole world is on sale, and we are emphasizing our sensitivity to the economy and trying to offer more deals … not only at the gate but throughout the park.”

Take advantage of savings

This is a great time for consumers who are looking for debt relief to still find fun vacations. Eliot Sekuler, Universal Studios Executive, stated “I can’t remember a time when we really worked harder to come up with new things for people to come see and more value to make it more affordable.” Everyone believes that the discounting will remain until the market recovers. As Sekuler added, “Parks are competitive and will not give up their market shares. We will fight for customers for as long as it takes.”

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