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The changing face of theme park guests in 2020

The theme park and attraction industry has made a step-change in 2019. Exciting expansions to existing parks, new park investments in new countries and the ever-closing relationship of attractions within retail spaces has had a huge impact.

Now, the latest benchmark report by IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, has revealed how these developments have changed the guest’s experience and relationship with the operators. Here’s our top findings from the latest Amusement Benchmarking Report.

Guests are getting younger

The average age for a guest to a theme park or attraction has dropped from 24 to 22 in the last 12 months. Could this be a sign of a greater number of families with younger children visiting the park? The 2018 benchmarking report saw that 80% of surveyed operators had children’s rides yet 26% still desired more. This figure has dropped to 12% but is still in the ‘top 5’ most desired rides – a sign that the younger family market is being eagerly accounted for.

Guests are travelling further

Guests are travelling on average 56 miles to get to their chosen theme park, up from 53.7 miles the previous year. While average repeat visits have stayed static in the industry, the finger as to why guests are travelling further is pointing at the focus on park accommodation. 2019’s report is the first version that has delved into the statistics of park accommodation, which already shows the important step that destinations have taken to increase their offer and generate more spend per head too. 70% of respondents said they had accommodation, with hotels (49%) being the most popular type.

Guests are staying longer

The rise in accommodation obviously means that guests are staying longer on average at theme parks – but could it be that there is simply more to do (or more to queue for) at the park? The average guest in 2019 spent 6.4 hours on-site, compared to 5.1 hours the year previous. As long as there are exciting F&B provision and facilities throughout the park, this gives operators a greater chance of capturing that additional spend.

Guests are spending more

2019’s Benchmarking Report reveals a tremendous increase in guest spend over the past 12 months, but these results should be put into context. There has been a 43% increase in ‘destination parks’ being part of the survey, therefore some data will be skewed when compared to the previous year. For example, total average spend per head has increased from $38 – $68. Nevertheless, this year’s report shows that guests are spending more money overall on their visit to a theme park. Admission, F&B, retail and rentals, and games have all seen increase spend.

2020 and beyond

The themed attractions industry is flourishing globally, with visitor numbers increasing and a greater cultural focus in the western world to enjoy experiences, instead of owning ‘things’. 2020 will see an extension of those themes with greater leisure spend by consumers and a burgeoning loyalty to the industry that is satisfying their craving to enjoy experiences with others, rather than simply owning ‘things’. The full report by IAAPA can be purchased and read on their website.

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