RE: New Show in Italy
I thought I read in those worldwide park attendance estimations that come out annually that the attendance was down by around 5-6% at most SW/BG parks for the past couple of years, but I cold be wrong. Also, during my visits (four days most summers year since 1991) it seems to me that the parking lots, entrance areas, and ride queues have been much less crowded during the past couple of years than they were in the early to mid 2000s.
I really wonder if the cutbacks in entertainment are because of the economy or a deliberate change of course. On one hand, it's something the park had always done brilliantly, so why would they alienate certain customers who have come to expect that? That makes me think it's the economy, and a way to save money while still offering entertainment to some degree. On the other hand, BG Tampa, even during the off season, still offers a great array of top notch entertainment. BGT had minor cutbacks in entertainment, but nothing nearly as severe as BGW. During my recent visits to BGT there have been more and tremendously better quality shows than what BGW has produced these past couple of years. On top of that they bring in even more during the summer in the way of street performers and a revised version of Kinetix. That's got me perplexed why they have continued the focus on shows while BGW has not. Back when BGW had fantastic shows, they beat BGT in that department but BGT had the animals. Now, BGT has both the added benefit of the shows and the animals.
Illuminights is another thing that perplexes me. You're correct that the fireworks, elaborate sets and costumes, and the number of performers and technicians required are probably expensive, but for all that expense, it doesn't pay off in my estimation. The fireworks are great, the the shows were mostly lackluster and unimpressive to me. I saw each of them multiple times, and they short, unexciting, and lack real talent of singers, dancers, and powerful stage presence. The Italian acrobats were my favorite, but that was still a minimal performance. Imaginique, Kinetix, American Jukebox, and Starlight Orchestra were all far superior shows full of talent and stage power. Not to belittle anyone, but the performers in most of the Illuminights shows are slightly above costume walkaround characters and I imagine they are paid less than singers most singers, dancers, and musicians. I think they should have kept a lineup of shows with quality similar to past years and added fireworks on top of it all.
Celtic Fyre is an awesome show and demonstrates that they still know how to produce great things. It's another confusing part of the puzzle in light of other cutbacks.
Previously I also forgot to describe last year's shows in the Canadian Palladium. One consisted of three people dressed as lumberjacks who drummed. It was a short show, very similar to the Rhythm Chefs, but the jokes were identical to the old Boogie Band. The other short show consisted of two guitar players and one female singer who sat stationary on stools while playing 70's folk songs. This was done on a stage made much smaller than the past with portable fencing as a backdrop and bench seating replaced by picnic tables. In hindsight, I should have taken it as a sign that the venue's days were numbered.