December 8, 2010

No Big Thrill

Pending all the funding coming into place, it seems like Orlando will finally get the Six Flags styled park some coaster enthusiasts have wanted for years. Will Orlando Thrill Park give the other theme parks in the area some serious competition? My guess is a resounding "no" and here's why.

From Circus World to Splendid China, theme parks in the theme park capital of the world have come and gone over the years. Raw steel roller coasters are just another theme, another gimmick- and the park would appeal to a limited market.

Parents bringing children to Orlando most likely will pass by a park they can find close to home. Those with teens in tow will find their thrills at Universal Orlando or even at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Most adults traveling without younger ones will choose Islands of Adventure, Epcot, or even the Magic Kingdom.

Take a quick lesson from South Carolina's Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach- the concept is dead. Orlando's local tourism market is not like that of Anaheim and Disneyland. Only a handful of places will survive as time goes on, Cedar Point being one of them. But that park is an institution that has survived decades of economic ups and downs.

What's a park developer to do? If they truly want to capture a thrill market, folks like Disney could add a bundle to the bottom line by spreading out the wealth with new thrill attractions with terrific stories, appealing to more folks than a bare steel ride ever will. Think Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Expedition Everest, or even the much less themed Rock N Rollercoaster. If you are Universal, a few more attractions on par with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will do the trick.

Most likely, the Orlando Thrill Park will open and close within a season or two. Disney will sit back, content with Fantasyland Forest, and Universal will again take the lead by adding more to Harry's World. As the song goes, the times they are a changing, and the real thrills will come from watching the transformation of the parks take place- or not.

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