Sunday 18 June 2017

The DC Rivals Hypercoaster: The Suicide Squad Theory

This week WB Movie Worl have FINALLY announced the name and theme of the up coming Hypercoaster; the DC Rivals Hypercoaster! Now we've known about this coaster for a long time so we already knew this was going to be the biggest, longest, pinkest  coaster in the country. The big reveal however was not just the theme of DC Rivals but also the fact that the back row of the ride will be reversed, so you can ride it backwards. 

What do I think of the theme? It's weak. Generic and bland in a park that usually is at l But I've got my own crackpot theory for why this theme exists. What do I think of the backwards ride? It's great but it's odd. It is our first Hypercoaster, it's going to be insanely popular, why add this feature for opening? Surely this could have been added after popularity had dipped 2-3 years in. Particularly since it affects capacity (the back two rows have been replaced with a single backwards facing row). Well good news, my crackpot theory covers that too.

Tinfoil hats everyone! Here we go:
I believe this coaster was originally going to be themed to the Suicide Squad. When we first heard about this coaster there was a strong suggestion it would be announced last September/October. There was industry buzz around before that time about the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Then two things happened, first the horrible tragedy at Dreamworld where 4 people lost their lives. Secondly the Suicide Squad movie tanked, and tanked hard. Obviously even if the theme wasn't Suicide Squad, Movie World would have delayed announcing their coaster out of reapect. But I expected a pause for two or three months, since we could see construction starting. There was nothing. Maybe they were waiting to see the Suicide Squad be enough of a hit they could get away with the obvious lack of sensitivity. Think about this, a fuscia tracked coaster with a giant Joker face launching from the middle of their "Heroes" precinct? (Remember the villains are now relegated to the back of the park.) Smells like Suicide Squad to me!

No one in their right mind could try to sell a coaster with the word Suicide in the title, themed to a failed movie in this climate. So they had to retheme. But what about the pink track, the joker face and the hero location. It's not like the could drop a Flash or Wonderwoman theme on it without a bucket of cash. I imagine somewhere a Movie World executive is crying himself to sleep over not choosing Wonderwoman from the start. So that is why we have this brand new concept,  the DC Rivals. 

But by now everyone who cared knew it was a Hypercoaster, so people would notice that lack of theme straight off the bat. How do you distract the hardcore theme park nerds from a lack of theme? You can ride it backwards! Now maybe I'm reading too much into it and they always planned for backwards on open, but you've got to admit the Suicide Squad theory has legs. 

Let me know in the comments below if you think the DC Rivals is just some makeup on top of the Suicide Squad Coaster, or if I am crazy? Bonus question, why wouldn't Movie World build a Wonderwoman coaster?

Tuesday 13 June 2017

2016 Annual Attendance Data Review

So it is that time of year when the Annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index, is released! This report gives us a deep insight into the global theme park market, by listing out the attendance data for the top 25 Theme Parks. As in previous years, I've pulled out the data, and had a detailed study of it, and made my own conclusions.

If I was to summarize this years results very quickly, Universal maintains rapid growth, however Disney maintains it's mammoth lead. Paris is tanking badly, as is the Hong Kong market, but all points success for Shanghai. Let's take a look at a few pretty graphs.

If we look at the overall attendance graph, we see that the general trend for this year is very flat, if not slightly lower attendance. It's hard to pick out much out of this, so let's look at Disney and Universal separately and then some winners and losers.

It's a very flat year for Disney Parks, with two obvious exceptions. Disneyland Paris is really starting to nosedive, and Shanghai Disneyland had a strong debut. We'll come back to Paris in a second, but you should notice that Shanghai is just a fraction under Hong Kong Disneyland. That is despite Shanghai not being open for the full year. It opened on June 16, which means that it was only open for 54.25% of the year.  It this was extrapolated to a full year result, they would have just topped 10 Million (I calculated 10,323,232) would have put the park straight in between DCA and Animal Kingdom on this graph. I predict that next year we will see them around the DCA mark, which is pretty phenomenal for a new park. Let's take a look at the competition:

Universal is all about growth. Steady growth across the board, is great news for this chain. Only Singapore had a slight loss, but we must remember it is very different to the other Universal Parks. By that, I mean, no Harry Potter. I have left Magic Kingdom on this chart, only to show that while these parks keep growing, there is a long way to go. USJ, one of our biggest Big Winners, still needs to grow by a THIRD of it's current size, to catch up to Magic Kingdom.

The Biggest winners are really the 4 Universal Parks, but it is definitely worth mentioning Lotte World and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom who had incredible years. While parts of Asia flourished, other parts fizzled:

Hong Kong was a big loser this year. It's two big parks both had major losses in 2016, but this isn't surprising. Hong Kong had a large tourism problem last year as it's currency is pegged to the US Dollar which was rising, while the Chinese economy slowed, which mean that Hong Kong was very unattractive to local Chinese tourists.  As for Sea World Florida and Disneyland Paris, these are parks with well documented image problems at the moment, that don't seem to be going away any time soon.

If we look the the overall Growth graph, we can see the main pattern is almost a direct reversal of 2015. Most of the parks that were up in 2015 were down in 2016 and vice versa. If we look just at Disney:

It's a very flat year. The little improvements of 2015 are very much flattened out.

Universal's growth is certainly more positive. While there is slowing growth at the Florida parks, there is still an improvement going on here. The hardest thing about looking at these graphs is that individual years can have a lot of variation, even due to things like the weather. So it pays to look at a more long term growth chart. So here is how Disney is growing over 5 year averages:

You can see most of the parks are averaging between 0 and 5 percent attendance growth, which I think is a good achievement! Until you compare it to Universal:

Universal (if you discount Singapore) only have one in that 0-5% range, while the 3 main Studio parks are all averaging around 5-12% growth, which is extraordinary!

But I don't want Universal to get to far ahead of itself:

This graph shows the average attendance per park at the multi-park resorts. For me this just illustrates how far Universal have to come to pass Disney. The Tokyo, WDW and Disneyland Resort all average around 14-15 Million guests per park, while Universal Orlando is just started to crest 10 Million. This is a lot more quests over a lot of parks, which just goes to show that while Universal is making up ground at the moment, there is no foreseeable reason why Disney shouldn't be the leading theme park operator for many years to come.