2010 Is Off to a Great Start

February 1, 2010 No Comments

The economy is slowly waking up from the long nap it took in 2009. People are still cautious, but are actively thinking about changing the way they do business and doing their homework, going to shows, attending seminars, and using Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine to gain more information. Knowledge is power in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

One of the first shows of the year, AmericasMart (the Atlanta merchandise and gift show) took place in January. As expected, there were fewer exhibitors but traffic was very strong and people were doing business. The Bowling Summit took place January 23-27 in Arlington, Texas, with the historic grand opening of the International Bowling Campus that includes the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame and the new 20-lane International Training and Research Center. Attendance was huge and industry donations have already passed the $1.5 million level. These are positive signs for upcoming shows: ASD Las Vegas (late February), 2010 Amusement Expo and St. Louis’ Transworld Halloween and Attractions show in March.

Sure, the shakeout will continue, as the weaker companies disappear or are consolidated, but the survivors are optimistic and starting to rebuild. The Wall Street Journal reported a few months ago that small businesses are not asking to borrow as much money as they used to. This statement alone can mean at least two things: 1.) Small businesses have become ultra efficient and have reduced their operating costs and are able to operate on cash flow; and 2.) A significant number of small businesses have closed their doors or are about to so and they obviously are not looking to borrow money. The banks are also doing their homework. Personal finance statement forms now require additional information and the answers to many more questions, as the banks want to lend only to strong businesses.

What are the strongest sectors?

Bowling is perhaps the strongest sector as it continues to expand into the family entertainment market.

FECs continue to do well, as inexpensive out-of-home entertainment has become a staple. Even during the bottom of the recession, families made it a point to go out to eat at least once a week and many chose a family entertainment center or restaurant with family entertainment. FECs have reported that the number of birthday parties has decreased in those centers where birthday parties were a significant part of their business (50-plus parties a week) but has remained flat or even increased in those centers that previously did less than 30 parties a week.

Amusement parks are still a major draw but the weather (first) and the economy (second) still have an effect on attendance.

What About the Big Parks?

We predict that some big theme parks will be sold off individually this year. Universal-NBC (part owned) is being sold to Comcast. Anheuser-Busch was recently purchased by InBev for $52 billion. InBev sold the 10 parks (including three Sea World locations and two Busch Gardens locations) to private equity firm Blackstone Group for $2.7 billion. Blackstone will try to buy more parks to build themselves up to go public and get their investment out. Apollo Global Management has purchased Cedar Fair for $635 million (the deal needs to be approved by two-thirds of Cedar Fair stockholders). JP Morgan Chase is among others looking to purchase Six Flags’ 20 parks.

Other Sectors

Museum donations are down due to the economy and these attractions have to hustle and become more like FECs. Special events are being used to draw in more families and kids. Zoos have more children attending than museums, and are in a perfect position to add FEC attractions and amusement games to the mix. Both sectors have an opportunity to cash in on birthday and group party business.

Food

The federal government is now trying to tell us what to eat. The first step is the removal of candy, soda and snacks from school vending machines. For the amusement industry, it seems that every time we try to sell healthy food, it does not sell well. People still associate cotton candy and certain foods with amusement parks and FECs, just as they do popcorn with movie theaters. This cycle has been going around and around for many years, but it may soon come to a head.

Yes, our industry faces many challenges, but we are positioned to be one of the most stable of industries in 2010 and in the coming years. The only thing we have to accept is change. The old ways of doing business can no longer guarantee success. We all have to work smarter, and harder.

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Sponsors

See Coast Manufacturing Co., Inc.

Coin-operated binoculars and telescopes.

Tube Pro

Waterpark tubes.

Aquaventronics

Research and development of interactive water games for use in the commercial amusement industry.

Beckman Insurance Agency

Amusement attractions insurance.

Sureshot Redemption

One-stop source for prize redemption counters at entertainment centers.

Gerber Manufacturing, Ltd.

Outdoor furniture, benches, picnic tables and grills.

Broaster Co., The

Food programs and food service equipment.

A\’maze Ventures, Inc.

Mazes for every location, new and used.

Gould Manufacturing, Ltd.

Concession trailers and Antique, Jeep and Grand Prix auto rides.

CFX Composite & Effects

Special effects make-up and prosthetics

Tarobots

Boxerjocks robotic boxing amusement ride game attraction.

Harris Miniature Golf Course

Design and construction of miniature golf courses and water rides.

Center Edge Software

Facility Management Software Solutions

Tokens Direct

A wide variety of tokens.

Challenger Industries

Sports surfaces, carpets and mini-golf surfaces.

Friedman Group Ins.

Insurance for amusement devices.

Extreme Engineering

Industry leader in zip lines, climbing walls, jumper systems and adventure products.

S&S Worldwide

Large Park amusement rides.

Rio Syrup

Over 250 flavors, syrups and concentrates for shaved ice, sno cones, shushes, food colors. Now featuring Hawaiian Flower Cups.

GloCones

Flashing cotton candy cones.

Lil Orbits Inc.

Food equipment, donut machines and vendor carts.

Brunswick Bowling

Entertainment bowling center developer and manufacturer of bowling equipment and entertainment products.

Safari Ltd.

Leading manufacturer of innovative educational toys.

Ride Development Corp.

Electric floor, gas and battery-powered bumper cars.

Amusement Entertainment Management (AEM)

Premier entertainment consultants.

Midway Concepts (Circus Tops)

Premier designers of stainless steel food service equipment.

Hamilton Manufacturing Corp.

Manufacturer of unattended entry systems and change machines.

West Coast Netting, Inc.

Experienced netting manufacturer on the leading edge of innovation.

Empex Water Toys

Aquatons Water Toys

Store on Wheels

Importer and distributor of quality toys, lighting and novelties. Cater to the amusement, retail and entertainment industries.

Soft Play

Leader in designing, manufacturing and installing soft contained playground equipment.

Klopp International, Inc. (Playmeter)

Quality coin counters and sorters.

Price Chopper, Inc. Wristbands

Admission, financial equipment and wristbands.

Deltronic Labs Inc.

Ticket dispensers.

Qubica

Sells capital equipment to bowling centers.

Spectrum Sports

Climbing walls, ropes courses, go-karts and more.

Master Pitching Machine

Batting cages and pitching machines.

Art Attack

Theming, miniature golf, parade floats, 3D props, air-brushed murals, signage and art panels.

Namco

Namco America is a premier manufacturer of coin-op arcade attractions, ranging from the hottest titles like Crazy Typhoon and Jumpin’ Jackpot to classic game-room experiences such as the Pac-Man 25th Anniversary upright that features Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. Specialized pieces such as Wonka Sweetland and Flamin Finger are favorites too! For arcade gaming fun, Namco America is your answer.

Sacoa

Designed and manufactures PlayCard, the rechargeable debit card system.

California Portable Dance Floor Company

R&R Creative Amusement Design

Designers of unique themed parks, attractions and environments for the entertainment business.

Formula K Raceways

Go-karts, kiddie cars and bumper boats, go-kart parts and tires.

Subway

Fresh food and sandwich options.

Xtreme Inflatables

Repair and service for all inflatable products.

Martin Professionals

A lighting supplier of choice for the entertainment industry.

Wells Fargo

Commercial insurance for inflatables and event planners.

Belson Manufacturing Co.

Park and recreation outdoor furniture and equipment.

Precision Dynamics (PDC)

Wristbands with no hidden costs, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Wristband System.

Laser Star

Laser shooting galleries, laser tag, dark ride target systems, overhead target ranges.

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