Europe 2017: last year in numbers

Is Virtual Reality the solution for attendance growth in Amusement Parks?

  According to the TEA annual report for 2017, the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) results for the top-attended theme parks in 2017 may seem unspectacular.  

The chart compares the evolution of attendance growth in top 20 parks within the EMEA region and top 25 parks worldwide

  However, a closer look at some of the numbers, combined with a review of the performance of smaller parks in the region, show some interesting changes across the EMEA geography.  

Circles represent the size of attendance at ranked parks at the geography indicated. Slices within circles represent proportions of attendance at the geography from the ranked park indicated by the number. Shading indicates attendance growth at the ranked park versus all other ranked parks.

  The chart reveals that consumer confidence in Great Britain took a hit prior to the Brexit vote. Following that vote, British consumer confidence appears to have remained at a depressed level for the duration of 2017, whereas consumer confidence in some of the other large European economies trended upward over the course of the year. All countries recorded a net increase in GDP for 2017. The loss in consumer confidence may well be behind the dull results in the U.K. theme park industry. Moving on to France, consider that most theme parks performed well for 2017, with significant growth of above 8% at Parc Astérix. Disney too did very well, recuperating from its slide of the prior year. Puy du Fou showed good attendance growth for 2017 at around 2% but this was the first time in three years that the park did not post an increase of more than 5%, likely simply because there was no significant new addition to the property. Such high growth rates as they have posted over the past couple of years are almost impossible to sustain in the longer term. Interestingly, a number of smaller parks that don’t quite make it onto our charts grew attendance at higher percentages than the largest parks.  

The chart shows the attendance growth between 2016 and 2017 in Europe

  Despite rising consumer confidence in Germany, performance there was mediocre if not poor for many parks. In this case, bad weather — especially poor during peak season — was the likely culprit and given the blame by many operators. Weather is one of the biggest enemies in the attractions industry, and Motion Simulator Rides will do the trick. Amusement parks can benefit from the use of new technologies, such as Virtual Reality and simulators. As a production studio, we know all about the advantages of using ride films in this industry that is evolving at the speed of light. Imagine if you didn’t have to worry about the weather anymore. How can you convince people to come to your venue despite the rough weather conditions? With a motion base simulator ride this question will just be part of your past. This is a growing industry and we don’t want to repeat what happened in 2017, meaning that to advance and keep pace with the evolution in this sector you’ll have to consider the use of digital attractions. The word “immersive” is developing further, encompassing new types of experiences such as the Secret Cinema in London (UK) and sound-and-light shows using projection mapping on historic buildings like the one in the cathedral in Strasbourg (France).

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