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Theme Park Industry Year in Review 2012 : part 3

Update : 16:59 Published by François Mayné the 18 January 2013, Feature.
We conclude today our retrospective of the year 2012 in the theme park industry by focusing on the trend of water parks and on the highlights of the leading suppliers and manufacturers. We conclude with an original twist summarizing the year in numbers!

Booming of water parks

An other popular trend in the industry is the development of the waterparks market and therefore, the development of related equipments (water slides, water playgrounds for children, interactive water play structures, etc.) for which dedicated manufacturers and suppliers are constantly looking for innovations.

In addition to the announcement of multiple projects around the world (eg in Las Vegas where two water parks are currently under construction), the year 2012 has been marked by several acquisitions such as that of Noah's Ark (the largest water park in the United States) which has become part of Palace Entertainment (a subsidiary of Parques Reunidos) or Knott's Soak City San Diego which is now owned by Seaworld Parks & Entertainment and will soon reopen as Aquatica San Diego.

Noah's Ark (now property of Palace Entertainment), XLR8 by KMGAquatica San Diego (formely Knott's Soak City San Diego)

After seing the opening in 2011 of the world's longest lazy river at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, the United States remained at the forefront of the industry with the opening of the world's longest electromagnetic water slide at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (Mammoth). Designed by ProSlide Technology, the ride has won several awards including the prestigious IAAPA Impact Award of the most innovative product introduced in the market. At the same time, the main attractions operators in North America (led by Six Flags, Cedar Fair and Seaworld) have invested heavily in their water parks properties, eg at The Great Escape, Kings Island and SeaWorld San Antonio.

To differentiate themselves from their competitors, the leading manufacturers are investing in developing new product concepts that now integrate theming elements and media-based contents. As a notable example, we could mention the hugely successful King Cobra waterslide designed by Polin of which copies have opened for the first time in the United States (at Six Flags Great Adventure) and France (at Aqualand Fréjus). The intellectual properties are also interested by these developements, eg Cartoon Network which has contracted the same company to build an entire indoor water park based on its famous characters in pattaya, Thailand.

Air Meeting (Sky Fly) at Nigloland, France (Gerstlauer Amusement Rides)King Cobra at Six Flags Great Adventure, USA (Polin)

In the coming years, the water park market will see more and more projects that integrate multimedia contents such as video projections, lighting effects, interactive features... the possibilities are numerous and nothing is left out by the suppliers. In this area, Whitewater has recently acquired Apptivations, a company specializing in the integration of new technologies in attractions with for goal to study new ways of experiencing a waterslide.

A good summary of this whole set of innovations is the highly anticipated Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi, UAE which is scheduled to open at the end of the month. Already considered one of the most beautiful water parks in the world, it will offer a thirty waterslides including a world premiere by ProSlide and an interactive experience designed by WhiteWater.

Highlights of the main suppliers and manufacturers

Regarding the leading manufacturers and suppliers of the amusement park industry, the year 2012 was first marked by several significant acquisitions.

The Japanese company Sansei Yusoki, specializing in rides and stage equipments, thus entered the capital of the U.S. manufacturer S&S Worldwide aiming to strengthening its position in the market of attractions and roller coasters. Renamed S&S Sansei, the company took the opportunity to present a series of rides concepts and technical developments during the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando.

In addition to Apptivations, the Canadian group WhiteWater has acquired another company that now complements its product portfolio: the manufacturer of water rides Hopkins Rides. The company also opened a sales office in Barcelona to develop its business in Europe.

Several market leaders in their respective categories have also made acquisitions during the year such as Electrosonic (audio-visual design specialist) with Global Immersion and Lo-Q (specialist solutions for virtual queues) with accesso.

Among the other highlights of the year, the Dutch company Jora Vision - a specialist in theming - launched a subsidiary called Jora Entertainment whose mission is to develop creative content for special events, live entertainments and shows. The roller coasters and rides manufacturers MACK Rides and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides also have extended their production facilities to meet the demand for their products. Finally, the U.S. roller coasters manufacturer Premier Rides has, meanwhile, had an excellent year and opened a new office in Shanghai, China to be closer to its Asian customers.

As for the new amusement rides introduced in the market, we could mention first the beginnings of the Gerstlauer Sky Fly. Delivered in 3 copies (in the United States, Germany and France), this new thrill ride consists of seats equipped with wings that passengers can manipulate to start a rotate motion. The Dutch manufacturer KMG has launched two new thrill rides including the XLR8, a ride using the principle of speed whose originality is to recover a part of the braking energy for the next acceleration. At last, the Italian Zamperla Rides continued to deploy its newest ride Air Race with the creation of new versions including a transportable model.

Mammoth at Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, USA (Proslide Technology)

To conclude this overview of suppliers and manufacturers, we also mention the popularity of Dinosaur's Alive, a concept of outdoor walkthrough with giant animatronics of dinosaurs. The company behind, Dinosaurs Unearthed, has delivered five new installations for Cedar Fair (including at Cedar Point and Kings Dominion) and a sixth at SeaWorld Australia. The Finnish amusement park Särkänniemi has, meanwhile, made the buzz in the international press after inaugurating Angry Birds Land, a themed area whose main attraction is a themed playground based on one of the most popular mobile games of the digital era. Since then, the company which has developed this concept Lappset, has delivered several installations around the world, creating the buzz every time.

Dinosaur's Alive at Cedar Point, USA (Dinosaurs Unearthed)Angry Birds Land at Särkanniemi, Finland (Lappset)

Finally, the principal trade association for the attractions industry - IAAPA - made a very positive assessment for the three trade shows it has organized in Hong Kong (Asian Attractions Expo), Berlin (Euro Attractions Show) and Orlando (IAAPA Attractions Expo) where attendance records were noticed. At the top of the organization, Will Morey became President of the Board for a term of one year, replacing Roland Mack.

2012 in numbers…

To end this retrospective, we thought that a few figures was a rather amusing way to summarize the year 2012: 1, as the billion that The Walt Disney Company has invested over five years for the expansion plan of Disney California Adventure; 5, as the number in millions of Butterbeers - the famous drink of Harry Potter - sold at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort since 2010; 10, as the ten millionth visitor welcomed at Plopsaland De panne, now the most popular theme park in Belgium; 24, as the 24-hour opening of both Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California as part of the 'One More Disney Day' event; 50, like the amount in billion that Disneyland Paris has brought in terms of value into the French economy since its grand opening in 1992; 50, also like the 50 millionth visitor welcomed at LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark, the first LEGO branded theme park in the world; 100, as the 100 millionth visitor of Universal Studios Japan in Osaka and finally 120, as the height in meters (394 feet) of the world tallest freefall tower that opened during the summer at Six Flags Magic Mountain, USA.

In conclusion

The year 2012 was therefore successful, despite the economic gloom, for most players in the amusement park industry worldwide. According to IAAPA, the sector now globally represents about $24 billion (approx €18 billion) and perspectives are considered encouraging at both side of operators and suppliers/manufacturers.

See our "related articles" section below to read the two first parts of our Theme Park Industry Year in Review 2012.
Waterpark - - -
Written by François Mayné François Mayné Publishing Director » Contact Us
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