Guest Column - January 2005
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Innovative Trends in the Global Amusement Industry

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

By J. Clark Robinson


Many of these new waterparks are part of a larger phenomenon—multi-activity "destination" parks, which we continue to see being developed in various parts of the world and in various segments of the amusement industry. Offering an escape of two, three, four, even seven days is very attractive to parks, as it caters to many vacationers' desires for some variety in their stay—such as rides, shopping, water activities, dining and entertainment—but all in one place.

The industry also has spearheaded the development of themed environments, whose features of elaborate set decoration, vivid special effects and colorful interactive figures have been applied to restaurants, shops, rides and entire parks. The concept remains popular, as people can't seem to get enough of experiences that truly surround you and make you feel as if you're in a certain place or time. For example, parks of all shapes and sizes continue to capitalize on the brand equity of various TV and movie entertainment in their rides, games, characters and shows.

Additionally, amusement parks and attractions have gradually extended their seasons by putting on creative and fun celebrations during fall fests, Halloween, the Christmas/New Year holidays, and spring or Easter breaks.

This adaptability to various changes and trends is an important reason why parks and attractions of all types and sizes should continue to thrive. This positive outlook is further bolstered by the fact that the industry is well-placed to take advantage of certain larger developments taking place in the world, albeit at varying speeds.

First, the number of people with both leisure time and discretionary income seems poised to continue rising globally in the future. If amusement facilities keep providing an enjoyable product at a good value, then we will continue riding this wave of leisure expansion.

Second, amusement facilities know that tomorrow consumers are likely to have increased expectations. More and more, people are demanding an "experience" from even mundane activities like a doctor's office visit, a development that has been termed the rise of the Experience Economy.

As this trend extends to additional leisure and non-leisure outlets, the amusement industry's expertise in this area will be in increasing demand, for providing experiences is what this industry has always been about. The dynamic should have positive spillover effects for parks and attractions, as they are used more and more for company and industry gatherings, weddings, and educational outings.

Recently, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions made it easier for consumers to find such experiential places in their hometowns. IAAPA's new Web site, www.ticketforfun.com, provides the most comprehensive directory of amusement facilities worldwide, as well as tips for visiting amusement parks, event information and more.

With all of the changes and challenges facing the world, the amusement industry remains poised to adapt and anticipate its guests' needs and desires. As IAAPA members have shown time and time again, the industry is proudly and successfully meeting those demands.

J. Clark Robinson is president and CEO of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. For more information on IAAPA, visit www.iaapa.org.