By Tracy Kahaner (left), president Kahaner Research and News Editor, Blooloop.Note 1: We believe the information in this article to have been well-researched and accurate at press time - late Oct' 2010 and apologise for any inadvertent omissions or errors. We are indebted to the owner/operators who took the time to review this information for accuracy.
Note 2: Updates: Recent developments include:
This is the third annual study I have conducted regarding ownership of major theme parks, amusement parks and park chains. This year’s was expanded to include smaller branded attractions. Related: Walt Disney Co’s 2010 results – Woody and Buzz do the business / A look at EuroDisney's 2010 results / Compagnie des Alpes - poor weather and economic depression lead to a fall in sales for 2010 / Not bad for a Boy Wizard! Universal's Magical Ride / EuroDisney’s Strategy to 2030: Doubling Capacity and Eco Tourism
The TEA already compiles, jointly with AECOM, an industry-wide annual study regarding attendance at the various parks (the TEA/AECOM “Theme Index”). As in previous reports, the “Top 10 Theme Park Chains” from that report was a foundation for this study.
Retail districts, overnight accommodations and residential communities, including cruise ships and campsites, are excluded from this report.
Each listed attraction is an amusement or theme park, unless otherwise noted. In several cases the descriptive term used to define an attraction can vary from one chain to the next. For example, attractions defined as a “midway site” (1) by Merlin might be defined as a “family entertainment center” or “themed attraction” by another. Other changes this year include the following:
Merlin Entertainments opened LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Manchester, SEA LIFE Aquariums in Phoenix, AZ and Porto, Portugal and a Waterpark alongside LEGOLAND California. Scheduled to open in 2011 are Madame Tussauds in Vienna, Blackpool, UK and Bangkok, SEA LIFE in Jesolo, Italy and Dallas/Fort Worth and a LEGOLAND Discovery Center also in Dallas/Fort Worth. In January 2010, Merlin purchased historic Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida and will open LEGOLAND Florida on the site at the end of 2011. A second LEGOLAND Park is scheduled to open in Malaysia in 2012 as well as several other ‘midways.’
• Since around August 2010, reports have been appearing that the owner of Parques, private equity firm Candover, was reviewing options for the park. An October 2010 report indicated Candover was about to scrap plans to sell, having received two offers below asking price.
• Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom was omitted from this listing. During February 2010, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. decided to reject the lease with the Kentucky State Fair Board and will no longer operate the Louisville theme park.
• Six Flags New Orleans has been excluded. This park had been closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005; however, the property still appeared on earlier listings. During the third quarter of 2009, Six Flags mutually agreed with the City of New Orleans to terminate their lease with the City.
• Anheuser-Busch InBev sold Busch Entertainment Corp. to the Blackstone Group and the parks are now referred to as SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
• Besides a change in order, Aspro Ocio replaces Herschend Family Entertainment on the listing of the Top 10 Chains.
• The ownership structure of Merlin has changed. In June of this year CVC Capital Partners took approx a one third stake in the company joining Blackstone Group, KIRKBI (LEGO’s investment company) and the management team. Dubai International Capital sold its stake.
• Universal Singapore recently opened.
• Compagnie des Alpes (CDA) Group became leading shareholder in Futuroscope 18 Oct, 2010.
With the exception of some Merlin properties, as in previous versions of this study, only those parks with separate gates are included.
The following three chains are included here due to the fact that they own significant properties.
• Herschend Family Entertainment Corp.
• PARC Management/CNL Lifestyle Properties
• Village RoadshowTop Ten Chains1. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts WorldwideDisney’s Animal Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaDisney’s Blizzard Beach (water park), Lake Buena Vista, FloridaDisney California Adventure, Anaheim, Calif.Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaDisney’s Typhoon Lagoon (water park), Lake Buena Vista, FloridaDisneyland, Anaheim, Calif.Disneyland Paris, Marne-La-Vallée, FranceEpcot, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaHong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island, Hong KongMagic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FloridaTokyo Disneyland, Urayasu, Chiba, JapanTokyo DisneySea, Urayasu, Chiba, JapanWalt Disney Studios Park, Marne-La-Vallée, France
2. Merlin Entertainments GroupAlton Towers Resort, Staffordshire UK Chessington World of Adventures, London The Dungeons (midway site), London, Edinburgh, York, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Warwick.Earth Explorer (midway) Oostende, BelgiumGardaland, Verona, Italy Gardaland Aquapark (midway), MilanHeide Park, Soltau Germany LEGOLAND Parks, Billund, Denmark; Windsor, UK; Günzburg, Germany; Carlsbad, Calif. (and Winter Haven, Florida in 2011)LEGOLAND Discovery Centres (midway site), Berlin and Duisburg, Germany; Manchester, UK; and ChicagoMadame Tussauds (midway site), London, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, Hollywood, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, with Bangkok, Vienna and Blackpool to open in early 2011The Merlin Entertainments London Eye, (midway site) SEA LIFE Centres (midway site), Over 30 centres in more than 11 countries.Thorpe Park, UK Warwick Castle (attraction), Warwickshire UK3. Parques Reunidos
Aqualud (water park), Le Touquet, FranceAquarium of the Lakes (zoo & nature park) Cumbria, UK Aquópolis (water park), seven centers in Spain Benalmádena Cable Car, Andalucia, SpainBig Kahuna’s (water park), Destin, FloridaBlackpool Zoo, Lancashire UK Bo Sommarland (water park), Bø, Norway Bobbejaanland, Lichtaart, BelgiumBoomers (family entertainment centers), Locations throughout California, Florida, New York, USABonbon-Land, Holme-Olstrup, DenmarkBournemouth Oceanarium, Bournemouth UK Castle Park, Riverside, Calif.Delfinario Costa Daurada, (zoo & nature park), SpainFaunia (zoo & nature park), Madrid Idlewild, East Ligonier, PennsylvaniaKennywood, East Ligonier, PennsylvaniaL'Oceanogràfic (zoo & nature park), Valencia, SpainLake Compounce, Bristol, ConnecticutMadrid Cable Car, SpainMalibu (family entertainment center), Norcross, Georgia; Redwood City, Calif.; and Houston, USAAquarium Mar del Plata, Argentina Marineland, Antibes, FranceMirabilandia, Ravenna, ItalyMountain Creek (water park), Vernon, New JerseyMountasia (family entertainment center) Marietta, Georgia and Dallas, USA MoviePark, Bottrop-Kirchhellen, GermanyParque de Atracciones, MadridParque Warner, MadridRaging Waters (water park), Sacramento, San Jose and San Dimas, Calif. Sandcastle (water park), West Homestead, PennsylvaniaSea Life Park Hawaii (zoo & nature park), Oahu, HawaiiSelwo Aventura (zoo & nature park), Estepona, SpainSelwo Marina (zoo & nature park), Estepona, SpainSilver Springs (zoo & nature park), Florida, USA SpeedZone (family entertainment center), Los Angeles and DallasSplish Splash (water park), Riverhead, New YorkStory Land, Glen, New HampshireTusenFryd, Vinterbro, NorwayWater Country (water park), Portsmouth, New HampshireWild Waters (water park), Silver Spring, FloridaWet ‘n Wild (water park) Greensboro, North Carolina and Orlando Zoo Aquarium de Madrid, Spain4. Six Flags Entertainment CorporationLa Ronde, MontrealSix Flag America, Largo, MarylandSix Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, Calif. Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, Texas Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New JerseySix Flags Great America, Gurnee, IllinoisSix Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park), Arlington, Texas Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (water park), Jackson, New JerseySix Flags Hurricane Harbor, Valencia, Calif.Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, Calif.Six Flags Mexico, Mexico CitySix Flag New England, Agawam, MassachusettsSix Flags Over Georgia, Atlanta, GeorgiaSix Flags Over Texas, Arlington, TexasSix Flags St. Louis, MissouriSix Flags Wild Safari (drive–through safari), Jackson, New Jersey Six Flags Whitewater (water park), Marietta, Georgia
5. SeaWorld Parks & EntertainmentAdventure Island (water park), TampaAquatica (water park with marine animals), OrlandoBusch Gardens Tampa BayBusch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia USASeaWorld Orlando (marine-life park)SeaWorld San Antonio (marine-life park)SeaWorld San Diego (marine-life park)Discovery Cove, OrlandoSesame Place (family oriented play), Langhorne, PennsylvaniaWater Country USA (water park), Williamsburg, Virginia6. Universal Studios Parks and Resorts
Islands of Adventure, OrlandoUniversal Studios Florida, OrlandoUniversal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, Calif.Universal Studios Japan, OsakaUniversal Studios SingaporeWet’n Wild (water park), Orlando7. Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.California’s Great America, Santa ClaraCanada’s Wonderland, TorontoCarowinds, Charlotte, North CarolinaCedar Point, Sandusky, OhioDorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown, PennsylvaniaGeauga Lake’s Wildwater Kingdom, Cleveland, OhioGilroy Gardens Family Theme Park, Gilroy, Calif. (management of this park)Kings Dominion, Richmond, Virginia Kings Island Cincinnati, OhioKnott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif.Knott’s Soak City, Buena Park, Palm Springs, and San Diego, CAMichigan’s Adventure, Muskegon, MichiganValleyfair!, Shakopee, MinnesotaWorlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri8. OCT ParksHappy Valley Beijing, ChinaHappy Valley Chengdu, ChinaHappy Valley Shanghai, China Happy Valley, Shenzhen, ChinaHappy Valley (Wuhan), China (under construction)Splendid China/Folk Cultural Village, ChinaWindow of the World, Shenzhen, ChinaOCT East (Eco-Resort)OCT Taizhou (Eco Resort)OCT Yunnan (Eco Resort) (under construction)9 Compagnie des Alpes Family RecreationAquapark, (water park), Le Bouveret, SwitzerlandAquarium du val-de-loire, FranciAvonturenpark Hellendoorn, NetherlandsParc Bagatelle, Merlimont, FranceBellewaerde Park, Ypres, BelgiumBioscope, Ungersheim, FranceDolphinarium, Harderwijk, NLFort Fun, North Rhine-Westphalia, GermanyFrance Miniature, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, FranceGrand Aquarium, Saint Malo cedex, FranceGrevin, (wax museum) ParisLa Mer de Sable, Ermenonville, France Mini-Chateaux, Amboise, FranceParc Asterix, Plailly, FRPlanete Sauvage (safari park), Port Saint-Pere, FrancePleasurewood Hills, Suffolk- Angleterre, UKWalibi Aquitaine, Rocquefort, FranceWalibi Belgium, WavreWalibi Rhone-Alpes, Les Avenieres, FranceWalibi World, Pays-Bas, Netherlands10. Aspro Group
Alpamare (water park), ZurichAqualand, 14 parks throughout EuropeAqualeon (safari & water park), Costa Dorada, SpainAquarium Grand Lyon, FranceBlue Planet (aquarium), Cheshire, UKBlue Reef Aquarium, Newquay, Portsmouth, Hastings, Tynemouth, Bristol, UKBoudewijn Seapark, Brujas, BelgiumCaptain Jako, Cap d’Agde, FranceDeep Sea World (aquarium), Fife, ScotlandDeltapark Neeltje Jans, Vrouwenpolder, NetherlandsJungle Park (zoo), Tenerife, SpainL’Aquarium, Barcelona, SpainMarineland, Mallorca, SpainOakwood Theme Park, Pembrokeshire, UKPalmitos Park (zoo & botanical gardens), Gran Canaria, SpainPuuhama, Tervakoski, FinlandSerena, Espoo, FinlandSmugglers Adventure, Hastings, UKTropiclandia, Vaasa, FinlandVisulahti, Mikkeli, FinlandWasalandia, Vaasa, FinlandWestern Park (water park), Mallorca, SpainAdditional Major Park ChainsHerschend Family Entertainment CorporationAdventure Aquarium, Camden, New JerseyClassic Cable Car Sightseeing, San Francisco (2) Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (3)Dollywood’s Splash Country (water park), Pigeon Forge, Tennessee (3)Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede (dinner show), Branson, Missouri; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (3)Newport Aquarium, Newport, KentuckyRide the Ducks (sightseeing tour), Branson, Missouri; Newport, Kentucky; Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and San FranciscoShowboat Branson Belle (cruise and dinner show), Branson, MissouriSilver Dollar City, Branson, MissouriStone Mountain Park, Atlanta (4)Talking Rocks Cavern, Branson, MissouriWhite Water, Branson, Missouri Wild Adventures, Valdosta, GeorgiaPARC Management / CNL Lifestyle PropertiesCamelot Park (family entertainment) Bakersfield, Calif.Darien Lake, Buffalo, New YorkElitch Gardens, Denver, ColoradoFiddlesticks Fun Center, Tempe, ArizonaFrontier City, Oklahoma CityFuntastics Fun Center, Tucson, Arizona Magic Springs & Crystal Falls, Hot Springs, ArizonaMountasia Family Fun Center, North Richland, TexasMyrtle Waves Water Park, Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaNASCAR SpeedPark, St. Louis, Missouri; Sevierville, Tennessee; Concord, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaPavilion Nostalgia Park, Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaSplashTown, HoustonWaterworld, Concord, Calif. White Water Bay, Oklahoma CityWild Waves & Enchanted Village, Seattle, WashingtonZuma Fun City, 2 in Houston, Texas; Knoxville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North CarolinaVillage RoadshowAustralian Outback Spectacular 2 ‘Heroes of the Light Horse’ (dinner show), Gold Coast, AustraliaKelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World, Auckland, New ZealandOceanworld Manly (aquarium), SydneyParadise Country Aussie Farm Tour, Gold Coast, AustraliaSea World, Gold Coast, AustraliaSydney Aquarium, AustraliaSydney Tower Observation Deck, Skywalk and Oz Trek Ride (open air attractions)Sydney Wildlife World (interactive attraction), AustraliaWarner Bros. Movie World, Gold Coast, AustraliaWet’n Wild Water World, Gold Coast, AustraliaWet’n WIld Hawaii, Oahu (5)Wet’n Wild Phoenix, ArizonaCHAIN OWNERSHIPWalt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide
The US theme parks are owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division of The Walt Disney Company. The Company manages and has 51 percent effective ownership interest in the operations of Disneyland Paris. The Company also has a 47 percent ownership interest in the operations of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, with the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region owning the majority interest. A separate Hong Kong subsidiary of the Company is responsible for managing this resort. Tokyo Disney Resort is owned and operated by an unrelated Japanese corporation, the Oriental Land Co., Ltd. of Japan. The Walt Disney Company earns royalties on revenues generated by the resort, but has no equity interest. Merlin Entertainments Group
Merlin’s ownership structure is now: KIRKBI 36 per cent, Blackstone 34 per cent and CVC 28 per cent. The management of Merlin holds the remaining shares.Parques Reunidos
The company is currently owned by European private equity firm Candover Investments. However, in August of this year it was reported that Candover had been reviewing options for Parques Reunidos and has received offers from various private equity firms. Movie Park Germany was acquired in 2010.Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation owns or operates most of its theme, amusement, and water parks. The Six Flag properties that are less than wholly owned currently consist of Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags White Water Atlanta. During February 2010, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation decided to reject the lease with the Kentucky State Fair Board and no longer operates the Louisville theme park.SeaWorld Parks & EntertainmentIn December 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev and The Blackstone Group announced closing the transaction for Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P. to purchase Busch Entertainment Corporation from Anheuser-Busch InBev for up to USD $2.7 billion. The purchase price was declared to be comprised of a cash payment of USD $2.3 billion and a right to participate in Blackstone’s return on its initial investment capped at USD $400 million. Busch Entertainment Corporation is now known as SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.Universal Studios Parks and Resorts
Universal Parks and Resorts is a division of NBC Universal. Before September of 2010, NBC Universal was 80 percent owned by General Electric and 20 percent owned by Vivendi. During the later part of September, Vivendi sold 7.66 percent stake to GE and is scheduled to sell the remaining 12.34 percent of its stake in NBC Universal to GE later in the year. NBC Universal wholly owns Universal Studios Hollywood and has significant interests in Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Japan, Universal Studios Singapore, and their respective theme parks. Universal City Property Management and affiliates of the Blackstone Group equally own the Universal Orlando Resort. USJ Co Ltd. operates the theme park in Japan (Universal Studios Japan) under a license by Vivendi Universal Entertainment LLP and other Universal group companies regarding use of intellectual properties. Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. The Partnership is one of the largest regional amusement park operators in the world. All parks are owned and by Cedar Fair, LP. OCT Group
Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Co. Ltd., formerly Overseas Chinese Town Enterprises Company (OCT Group), is a China based enterprise that owns a series of enterprises and brands, including Splendid China, China Folk Culture Villages, Window of the World and Happy Valley.Compagnie des Alpes Family Recreation
Compagnie des Alpes is a public company that operates many amusement and leisure parks. During March 2009, Compaigne des Alpes adopted a single-tier management structure with a Board of Directors.Aspro Group
Aspro Ocio, S.A. operates leisure parks and centers in Spain, France, Finland, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Additional Park Chains:Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation
Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation is a family-owned company that owns, operates or partners in themed attractions in the US. It is the largest family-owned theme park corporation in America. PARC Management /CNL Lifestyle Properties
PARC management owns and operates entertainment facilities across North America. Its portfolio consists of theme parks, water parks, family entertainment centers and more. PARC Management is the largest attractions operator of CN Lifestyle Properties.Village Roadshow
Village Roadshow is the largest theme park operator in Australia. Having acquired 100 percent of the theme parks in mid-2006, Village Roadshow remains Time Warner’s licensed partner for the Warner Bros. Movie World property in Australia. In February 2008 Village Roadshow acquired Sydney Attractions Group and now owns Sydney Aquarium, the Sydney Tower and other attractions. About the Author
Tracy Kahaner of Kahaner Research and News Editor for Blooloop conducts studies for the attractions industry. Her expertise is in providing vital information to the concept phase of a leisure time attraction, to analyse the market potential and competitive environment.
Images from the top: 1 & 2 kind courtesy Disney 3 courtesy LEGOLAND® California 4. © 2010 Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.
This article is also featured in print in the 2011 TEA Annual & Directory published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).
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