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Jul 22, 2010
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http://www.teaconnect.org/pdf/TEAAECOM2013.pdf

BGW down 4.5%

SWO down 5.0%

SWSD down 3.0%

BGT down 6.0%

Hate to say I told you expect at least a 4% drop in BGW but I told you so.  Cuts across the board in the BGT. SWO, and BGW markets are what hurt them.  Couple that with a sharp drop in quality at BGW and you have a recipe for disaster.  Those markets rely on local populous to maintain attendance and tourism to boost it.  When locals stop going it creates a grim picture and that is just what happened.

Political items that are not fit for this thread relating to that Blackfish nonsense and cuts are to point at for SWO's drop.
 

b.mac

Indiana Beach Vibe
May 14, 2011
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RE: TEA 2013

The only other park to drop in attendance that wasn't apart of SEAS was Canada's Wonderland, and that's primarily due to the fact that Leviathan's hype has now died down and it's now a normal ride apart of the chain.

What you should be impressed about however, is part time parks like Cedar Point, Kings Island, and Hersheypark beating out a full-time operations park like Six Flags Magic Mountain even with their Full Throttle addition last year. Great Adventure had larger growth than SFMM even though their major addition was turning the drive-through Safari into an in-park attraction. Magic Mountain really needs to have the game stepped up big time, maybe actually adding capacity rides instead of going for a two train nightmare, one-of-a-kind crapshoot coaster?
 

netdvn

Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
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RE: TEA 2013

So it's official. BGW wasn't the "dragging anchor" bringing the whole chain down, like practically everyone said it was gonna be. Both Tampa and Orlando took even bigger hits.

I'm surprised though. Just a few months ago, the chain claimed all three Sea World parks had record attendance, yet over here, both CA and FL parks took nice hits despite Antarctica and Aquatica opening. Maybe Blackfish did have an impact on attendance.

The rest of the list doesn't really come off as a huge surprise for me (except maybe seeing Kings Island so high up on the list again - maybe the park's always been within the top 20 most visited parks, but I've never noticed). If KI sits that high on the list, I'd expect it to pass CP and come close to CW this year because of Banshee.
 
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Zachary

Administrator
Sep 23, 2009
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RE: TEA 2013

Busch Gardens Williamsburg is now #20 in TEA's list of parks in North America sorted by total estimated attendance. This means that if they get pushed down one more spot, TEA won't even publish attendance estimates for BGW anymore. With numbers like this, it's almost getting hard to consider Busch Gardens Williamsburg a top-tier park anymore. Hell, two Six Flags parks even passed us in attendance last year.

Anyway, before anyone blames the economy (as I've seen so many do- not really on the forum, but on Facebook and the like), the US amusement industry as a whole picked up huge numbers in 2013. The only parks with attendance drops in the US are SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment owned properties and every last one of them showed substantial losses. In fact, I did the math and if you pull out all the SEAS properties, the average attendance growth for US parks in TEA's top 20 comes to a 4.2% average attendance increase. So top-tier, non-SEAS properties are, on average, up 4.2% while Busch Gardens Williamsburg is down 4.5%. That's really bad. Anyway, if you'd like to check it out, you can see the full PDF here.

Lastly, here's the updated list of all of TEA's published attendance estimates for everyone. It's worth noting that 2013 had more operating days than any previous year in the park's history so the drop in attendance is even grimmer when you factor that in. I'd actually love for someone to work up a list of attendance numbers adjusted for the number of days the park was open each year if anyone has time...


  • 2013: 2,726,000 [ -4.5%] (Food & Wine Festival)
  • 2012: 2,854,000 [ +4%] (Verbolten, Entwined)
  • 2011: 2,744,000 [ -2%] (Mach Tower, Mix it Up)
  • 2010: 2,800,000 [ -3.4%] (Europe in the Air, IllumiNights, Celtic Fyre)
  • 2009: 2,900,000 [ -6.2%] (Sesame Street Forest of Fun, Christmas Town)
  • 2008: 3,094,000 [ -2%]
  • 2007: 3,157,000 [+12.5%] (Griffon)
  • 2006: 2,762,000

I should also note that Water Country USA's attendance dropped by 2.9% in 2013. Not a good year for Williamsburg at all.
 
Jul 22, 2010
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RE: TEA 2013

netdvn said:
So it's official. BGW wasn't the "dragging anchor" bringing the whole chain down, like practically everyone said it was gonna be.

Wrong. BGW IS a dragging anchor. It has the lowest dollar spending per guest of any SEAS theme park (obviously water and sesame included). Much lower. Dragging anchor.

SWO and BGT are quickly headed to that direction in the meantime.
 

Zachary

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Sep 23, 2009
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RE: TEA 2013

Plus, to add to what Atlantis said, it's also worth factoring in the continuing drops since 2008 (with the exception of an exceedingly disappointing 4% increase from a $54 million capital investment in 2012).
 
Sep 11, 2010
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RE: TEA 2013

Williamsburg did have really bad weather last year...that has to be a factor (not the only one mind you, but a factor). This time last year the park had been closed about three times due to weather days and it was a rainy weekend spring season and very hot summer. I hardly ever saw them parking in the Scotland parking lot last year, but this year it appears they have gone nearly every Saturday and some days during spring break and on concert days...this year's weather has been amazing.
 

Ziva

fancy cafe latte
May 30, 2011
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RE: TEA 2013

The local economy is a huge factor in Williamsburg tourism. There are so, so many military personnel and government employees in this area -- don't underestimate the importance of the shut-down in attendance drops. That's obviously not the whole picture -- we'd be foolish to point at one single factor as THE CAUSE. That's just not how these things work. But military/government employees not having any money to spend means that a good chunk of the BGW-surrounding population won't be at the park.
 
Jun 22, 2013
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RE: TEA 2013

Looking at the estimates, no real surprise there. BGT didn't add anything new last year, and we all saw how big some of the cuts were, especially at the end of Summer Nights.

But a few points for everyone to keep in mind when viewing the numbers:

- TEA's numbers are estimates. That's not to say they are incorrect, but since most parks don't release actual figures, there is the possibility the numbers are off, if only a little.

- Attendance itself is only one factor of the financial health of a park. More and more, the parks (especially the bigger chains) are focusing on increasing per guest spending as opposed to increasing the number of guests. Echoing what Atlantis said above, while a x% decrease in attendance may not look all that bad in comparison to another park, that number doesn't include how much each guest is spending.
 

netdvn

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Jan 12, 2012
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RE: TEA 2013

Zachary said:
Plus, to add to what Atlantis said, it's also worth factoring in the continuing drops since 2008 (with the exception of an exceedingly disappointing 4% increase from a $54 million capital investment in 2012).

I think that partially had something to do with the park's terrible marketing team. I've talked to a few locals that STILL have no clue what Verbolten is or even knew the park built a coaster to begin with. Contrast that to Griffon, which everyone and their grandmother practically knew about thanks to the constant TV and radio airplay the ride kept getting.

I'll even say DarKastle and Ireland got significant airplay too. I think the park seriously needs a new marketing team.
 
Oct 12, 2013
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Yorktown, VA
RE: TEA 2013

I agree with netdvn in regards to the park's marketing team is doing a poor job in promoting the park.  I'd also add that the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance is doing a poor job in marketing the area as well.  Prior to the economy "tanking", the area started to experience a decline in attendance which was accelerated when the economy bottomed out.  Other tourist areas have seen a increase as the economy slowly improves, but the Williamsburg area has not.  I don't think the alliance along with the BGW/Water Country marketing teams know how to reverse the decline or at least stop it.  A few years ago, as I traveled around the east coast (mainly from NC northward) for work, I've always seen commercials for BGW on TV or in print.  I don't see that now when I travel unless I'm within a 2-3 hour radius of Williamsburg.  I don't see anything for Williamsburg anymore.  I think they are relying too much on social media for their advertising and forgoing the traditional methods of TV/radio/print.

They need to reach out to other industries to help promote the park/area.  An example would be reaching out to the new Peoples Express airlines based in Newport News - they need to partner with them to promote the Williamsburg area and/or the park. A perfect marketing campaign would benefit both the area and the airline.  Maybe the airline could sponsor some concerts - they sponsored a lot of concerts/events in Virginia Beach for the last few years.  Another is Amtrak - Amtrak has been reporting that their ridership has been increasing every year - why not do some sort of promotion with them?

I just think the marketing team at both BGW and the Williamsburg Commerce & Tourism Alliance is doing a poor job in promoting this area.
 
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Oct 9, 2013
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RE: TEA 2013

For the record, advertising for BGW and WC has been everywhere this season(Radio, TV, Online). I would agree with you if this were 2013, but for this year they have stepped up the game tremendously.
 
Feb 9, 2013
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RE: TEA 2013

I have heard one radio ad for BGW, and have seen two billboards. For WC I have heard 3 radio ads so far, but that should be expected, they just put a major attraction there. I've still seen tons of KD40 ads though.(T.V. Radio ads, and billboards)
 
Feb 9, 2013
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RE: TEA 2013

Well, I do live 1 hour from BGW, but 2 1/2 hours from KD, and I have seen too many advertisements from them than I can even count though.
 

b.mac

Indiana Beach Vibe
May 14, 2011
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RE: TEA 2013

Bill said:
- TEA's numbers are estimates. That's not to say they are incorrect, but since most parks don't release actual figures, there is the possibility the numbers are off, if only a little.

I can tell you Great Adventure's attendance was 2.985 million last year, we're shooting for 3.2 million this year with Zumanjaro and marketing is really ramped up for it, too. In fact the only rides that aren't beating last year's numbers at the moment are Green Lantern and Kingda Ka (the latter for painfully obvious reasons). We have 7 coasters on pace to break 1 million riders by September even though three days have been shortened due to weather.

- Attendance itself is only one factor of the financial health of a park. More and more, the parks (especially the bigger chains) are focusing on increasing per guest spending as opposed to increasing the number of guests. Echoing what Atlantis said above, while a x% decrease in attendance may not look all that bad in comparison to another park, that number doesn't include how much each guest is spending.

Upselling for guest spending is on a huge upturn this year here, too. Great Adventure currently is offering a $25 group ticket deal for all their upcharge attractions when the price for them all individually totals to $90. Season Pass members have a discount on some games and pretty much any major eatery in the park is apart of our updated Season Pass dining program. Not to mention an uptick in food quality without a price increase, a larger push for souvenir cups, and merchandise discounts and you'll have an idea of just what Great Adventure alone is pushing for this year. Even with Zumanjaro delayed we're on pace to break our numbers from last year.
 
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Alf33

Life is short, so eat dessert first.
Jun 8, 2013
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RE: TEA 2013

Bill said:
- Attendance itself is only one factor of the financial health of a park. More and more, the parks (especially the bigger chains) are focusing on increasing per guest spending as opposed to increasing the number of guests. Echoing what Atlantis said above, while a x% decrease in attendance may not look all that bad in comparison to another park, that number doesn't include how much each guest is spending.

I thought I read where Seaworld mentioned this very issue a little while ago. They want to try to increase the in-park spending of guests to help improve their net revenue due to declining attendance. Right now they only have two categories that represent income that they report, a)Admissions and b)Food, merchandise and other. The Admissions accounted for about 65% of their net revenue and Food, merchandise and other 35%. These are from the 1st Qtr SEC filing. For the first quarter 2013 year the figures were only different by 1% (64 and 36%). They do give "per capita" figures ($$$ per category divided by attendance) for both categories but it's for the entire company and not broken out by park. As such it won't be for a while before those figures come out to see if there's any improvement.

Just remember about things like this. There are three types of lies in this world; lies, damn lies and statistics! :)
 
Dec 23, 2011
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RE: TEA 2013

Honestly, one of the issues I see with pricing in general at SWP&E is prices keep going up ever so slightly. I remember when ticket prices were only like $60 full price and now their up to $72. I remember when I could get a turkey leg for near $5 full price and their now $10 full price.

Then also keep in mind the souvenir refills increased as well. The issue they face is how to strategically price their items. Using the excuse, "well it's a theme park, we should expect high prices" is really not a viable excuse. Honestly, if turkey legs or pork shanks increase one more dollar I definitely will not be getting as much as I did in previous years. I used to get a turkey leg almost every visit, now I very seldom do.

Personally as far as souvenir cups go, I think if they had a cup for each season, (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) that offered free refills for that season only. I would totally get at least four cups per year. Then again, full price better not be any more than $15 per cup or at least stay in that price range. Then again, I constantly buy cups because I don't like washing them or I forget them at home, etc.

Still though, raising prices is not the way to help the situation. You could raise the refill price to $100 and people just would not pay for it at all. Sure if people paid that price for a refill and everyone was okay with it, the park would be doing a lot better; however, there is a point when you just have to say that is too much.
 
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