Theme parks to debut wealth of products


A wealth of attractions and promotions are being unveiled by U.S. theme parks, many of which are bolstering international sales and marketing efforts.

Topping the list are ambitious expansions at Disney's two parks. By autumn, Walt Disney World in Florida will have debuted 10 entertainment adventures, another themed hotel and Disney Wonder, the second Disney Cruise Line ship.

Pow Wow logoIncluded are Asia, a section at Disney's Animal Kingdom devoted to the rain forests and wildlife of southern Asia; Rock 'n Roller Coaster, featuring a high-speed launch and multiple inversions; a revamped Main Street Electrical Parade, and Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, themed around Disney films.

In 2000, Disneyland in California will open the Grand Californian Hotel, which will be part of Disney's California Adventure opening in 2001.

Additionally, Disneyland is revamping its Autopia attraction, set to reopen in 2000.

Promotional efforts are on the rise for both parks under Disney Attractions, which has begun pushing its three brands under one umbrella through its 13 international offices. "One of the things a lot of people forget is that Walt Disney Attractions is Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line," said Craig Parsons, vice president of international travel industry sales and marketing for Walt Disney Attractions.

Disney Attractions is training the trade abroad through the College of Disney Knowledge and participation in road shows and agency presentations. New offices were opened in Sydney, Australia, and in Mexico City.

On the product front, Disney Attractions is developing tickets for each international market. For example, it is augmenting the five-day ticket promoted in the U.K. to seven and nine days.

Universal Studios Escape in Florida will have its largest showing to date at Pow Wow to spotlight its transformation into a destination resort. The project encompasses Universal Studios Florida movie studio and theme park and new offerings such as Islands of Adventure, a 110-acre theme park set to open in July; CityWalk, a 30-acre entertainment complex that opened last year, and five hotels, two of which are the 750-room Portofino Bay Hotel, opening this summer, and the 650-room Hard Rock Hotel, opening in 2005.

Abroad, the park is boosting sales staff in the U.K., and it opened an office in Sao Paolo, Brazil, this year. "We're really working the industry and educating agents and tour operators about Universal Studios Escape," said Bruce Ream, vice president of international sales for Universal Studios Escape. "We're more than just a one-day park now. We're a total destination resort."

The heaviest focus internationally is on the U.K., Brazil, Germany, Japan and Canada. Product seminars and training programs are being developed in these markets, Ream said.

Products to debut at Pow Wow include multiday passes at Universal Studios Escape and the addition of Islands of Adventure to the Orlando FlexTicket, providing admission to four or five parks in central Florida.

In California, Universal Studios Hollywood is doubling the size of its CityWalk dining, shopping and entertainment promenade, which is expected to be finished in 2000. This month, the park will launch Terminator 2: 3D, a virtual adventure ride. "Terminator 2: 3D is the No. 1 rated theme park ride in central Florida, so we're very excited about having the same attraction here," said Nan Marchand, vice president of sales at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Abroad, Universal Studios Hollywood expanded its office in Japan and is poised to open an office in Mexico.

At Busch Entertainment, a number of new offerings are debuting at the three parks in its portfolio that lure the largest international audience: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and the Sea World adventure parks in Orlando and San Diego.

Included are a complex for groups, a sea lion and otter show at Sea World Orlando and a Ship Wreck Rapids water ride at Sea World San Diego.

Premier Parks is expanding its Six Flags brand, which it acquired last year. Attracting the healthiest international crowd are Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., and Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI