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VR parks report profits and attendance up across the board

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VR parks report profits and attendance up across the board 090829-1_VR-parks-report_hwss.jpg

In results for the 2009 financial year, Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet'n'Wild Water World have reported strong growth in attendance and profits, off the back of new major attractions such as Hollywood Stunt Driver (pictured) and the successful Q150 promotion.
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And that just has to nail it for Dreamworld. If these figures are accurate (which I have no doubt that they are), Dreamworld can't keep turning a blind eye to what Village Roadshow are doing. They have to open their eyes to the upcharge not being a feasible idea without enough anchorage attractions to support it. They need a big WOW attraction, and they need it before the end of the 2008 financial year. (yes I can count, and that is my point). Certainly there has been a lot of grumbling going on at WVTP, but the cuts to middle management, IMHO aren't that bad. Middle Management is normally where a lot of money is wasted, if it can be done more efficiently, then do it. Cutting opening times by 30 minutes here or there isn't much in the scheme of things either, but more easily noticed, and therefore a bad idea. So long as they don't do what eisner did, and group them together by theme, rather than by business line (eg grouped by "WB kids vs Main St vs Wild West" as opposed to grouped by "food" vs "merch" vs "attractions") Then you will have managers left in those areas who know what they are dealing with, because most operational managers have worked their way up and know how its done. We all have our ideas on what WVTP should do to succeed (Gazza, I'm looking at you), and some of the cost cutting measures they have made recently aren't their proudest moments, but they have stayed ahead of the curve in a time where discounting was rampant, and they should be proud of what they have achieved. Again, we have all grumbled about what they're doing, but as has been said - the typical "once a year or less" guest, who is their primary demographic, won't notice the changes, and won't care. Those of us visiting on a more regular basis will notice, but since we don't spend much in the park, and already have our annual or VIP passes, they've already got our money and to hell with us extra bodies in queues that are otherwise profitable. I'd love for them to operate the way we all think they should, but as Richard always says, they are a business, in the business of making money, and so long as the money comes in, it means whatever they are doing is right. Although, I am sure Macquarie is off bragging to their shareholders how their upcharge business model netted an EXTRA $0.16, and wow isn't that great?!?!?! At least they didn't charge for AVPX, and hopefully a sign of things to come - but seriously, they were big when they built big things - GD\TOT\CLAW\WIPEOUT\CYCLONE..... they're overdue for a big one, and they need to do it soon. WVTP on the other hand are solid, despite the cost cutting, and I can't wait to see what they do next... (Gazza i'm looking at you again).

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My initial thoughts too, and I really was hoping we would see these sort of results (Not only because we want our parks to do well, but also because it really drives home the point that Major Attractions >>>> Small Upcharges) I'm waiting for the full financials to be released, simply to see what has happened to per caps overall. If they have gone up it could have some interesting long term implications for how the theme park sells to locals. I don't really have a problem with cost cutting, but as I have always maintained, efficiency needs to be sought by doing things better and reducing waste, not by simply cutting standards to cut costs. The way some shops at MW open at 11 is a good point, by not opening they are not losing money at these hours, and at the same time guests aren't really inconvenienced by them being closed because at that point people are doing their first rides. But stuff like opening later, removing drinks from meals, disallowing food from home etc are little niggles that might net more money in the short term, but will do long term damage. As Richo has stated many times in the past, the theme park industry is a long term business, so looking to make the quick bucks is ineffective.

Although, I am sure Macquarie is off bragging to their shareholders how their upcharge business model netted an EXTRA $0.16, and wow isn't that great?!?!?! At least they didn't charge for AVPX, and hopefully a sign of things to come - but seriously, they were big when they built big things - GD\TOT\CLAW\WIPEOUT\CYCLONE..... they're overdue for a big one, and they need to do it soon.
I think that sums up my thoughts on Dreamworld, I mean they call these upcharges 'upselling opportunities', but how can you do upsell if people haven't come through the drive thru and brought a McValue meal in the first place (Ah what a wonderful analogy) I'm almost playing the devils advocate here, but I couldn't care less if DW built upcharges as long as we were getting major rides at the same time, then I would actually go to the park. IMO if they wanted this strategy to work they should almost be treating the upcharges as their own business unit within the park, with their own capital budgets. If these things have pay for themselves (This was mentioned by them on the Redline Blog a few months back) then they shouldn't be cutting in to that yearly 6 mil capital budget of the rest of the park.

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I think the Village numbers are pretty useless without the attendance/ revenue breakdown. Included in those attendance/ revenue numbers is SWR, PC, AOS and I bet Whale Watching/ Cruises too. Overall, you'd expect those businesses to be more affected by the economic slowdown so I suspect that the overall attendance for the 3 parks may be a bit higher then the overall group result. Overall I think its disappointing that revenue was only up less then 3%. Food prices in some parts of the park are up 150%, a bunch of rides have been closed, staffing levels slashed, the parks have opened later, customer satisfaction has genrally been knocked on the head and put in the back seat while the revenue department has been given free reign over the parks and overall the revenue barely budged? Perhaps (and I'm just an uneducated outside observer talking here) sacking most of the marketing department before Xmas when there was $17million worth of new stuff to promote wasn't a great idea afterall. Again, in my uneducated observers opinion, the run up to Xmas last year may have been a good time to go the other way and expand the marketing division. Maybe that way the parks wouldn't have been forced to give away the gate to the extent they did despite having a couple of new attractions to sell. All I can say is good luck getting people back into the park when the VIP passes expire. Admittadly I've made a few assumptions in this post because as I say, on their own, these numbers say very little. What I infer from these numbers as is is an attendance growth brought on by new major attractions, which were given away to an extent they shouldn't have been, inflating the gate numbers a little bit but doing very little to budge overall earnings.

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^I did actually find it surprising that Jet Rescue never had a proper ad campaign...It was only ever promoted with a few seconds of footage as part of a general ad for SW. On the other hand HSD has had dedicated ads, as well as posters in shopping centres, train stations etc.

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^ That's one of the things I wanted to mention, but I figured everyone would just call me a SW fan-boy and to get over it. I understand HWSD getting more of an ad campaign given it cost $4million more, but I think a new ride at SW should be given a good campaign since it should drive attendance far more then a new show at MW can.

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Does that mean we should see a multi-channelled, multi-million dollar campaign for Sea Viper? I have to say, I do think Dreamworld did it best - Bus Stations that looked like they were torn to shreds by the Claw... takes the cake.

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I have to say, I do think Dreamworld did it best - Bus Stations that looked like they were torn to shreds by the Claw... takes the cake.
And I believe DW's Claw marketing campaign was very successful. I remember people I worked with at the time in Sydney talking about the Claw and saying how fun it looked. They were just going by the ads they saw. It shows it was effective when the message breaks through so well interstate like that. I think DW's attendance increased significantly around the same time. I was really surprised at the lacklustre marketing given to Jet Rescue at Sea World. Everything from the rides naming (as Rich mentioned) to its presentation (ie. lack of decent themed signage) and seemingly no commercials. We heard nothing about it down in Sydney. It just seems crazy afterall it was a NEW ROLLERCOASTER for SEA WORLD! If I was the Marketing Manager I would have sent out the message like crazy!

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