Monday, June 14, 2021

Editorial: Creative risks and theme park attendance

by Judith Rubin, IPM editor

The TEA/AECOM Theme Index comes out about the same time each year, close to the beginning of June, sharing attendance numbers for the world’s most-visited theme parks, waterparks and museums. Our industry and industry watchers soak up those numbers and put them to work in various ways. Communication and media channels buzz with analysis. As the season progresses, the numbers provide context for observing the current year’s performance and identifying factors for future growth and success.

While enjoying historic international expansion and growth, the attractions industry is being challenged and reshaped by rapid cultural and technological change. Staying current and relevant in the market isn’t just about tech breakthroughs anymore – it’s about how a technically integrated audience has shifted the perspective on everything. It is reinvestment and innovation that drive attendance, but the definition of smart reinvestment has become more complicated.

Here’s a salute to our innovators! The attractions industry is at all times a creative laboratory, operating on a highly visible public platform. This issue of InPark features many examples of the visionaries, creatives, operators and investors taking creative and financial risks to build a better industry. They deserve our deep appreciation. Their R&D and their reinvestments show what works and what doesn’t – ultimately measured by attendance (but don’t rush to premature conclusions – the researchers behind the Theme Index know to give something new a full year of operation to prove itself). Their innovations and their successes will influence what happens next. We hope you will be inspired.

IMAGE: 2019 TEA Thea Award recipient Nemo & Friends SeaRider, a reinvestment in and re-imagining of the fifteen year old StormRider attraction at Tokyo Disney Resort. Credit: Disney/Oriental Land Company

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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