Project Management

Thrill-Seekers: Theme Park Projects Don't Have To Be A Wild Ride

Novid Parsi

When Walt Disney Co. launched the first foreign-backed theme park project in mainland China, the global entertainment power knew it had to go big or go home. The US$5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, which opened last year, delivered one of the company's fastest roller coasters ever—and the tallest and largest castle in any Disney park.

And Disney's not the only organization raising the bar for amusement parks worldwide. With global attendance and demand for new attractions at an all-time high, theme park projects must meet soaring consumer expectations—whether they deliver sprawling new parks, heart-pounding rides or IT improvements that reduce wait times.

“We have to reinvent ourselves every year as part of a master plan,” says Patrick Marx, a project manager responsible for new rides and attractions at Europa-Park, Germany's largest theme park, in Rust, Germany. “We have to think many years in advance to make sure we meet the needs of all of our guests. If we don't have a new ride or attraction every year, many of our guests won't come back the following year.”

But getting it right could bring a financial boon. The record 236 million people who visited the world's 25 most popular amusement parks in 2015 marked a 5.4 percent increase from the previous year, according to a 2016 report by Themed Entertainment…

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