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2020s Theme Park Predictions

Matt N

Well-Known Member
Hi guys. I was just reading a really interesting blog post on Cupcakes and Coasters (@nadroJ's blog) about her predictions for the 2020s in the theme park industry, and it got me thinking about my personal predictions for what the 2020s could hold in the theme park industry. So I made this topic to discuss what we all predict will happen in the theme park industry during the 2020s; I'll get the ball rolling with some of my personal predictions:
  • Either a new coaster manufacturer will emerge or an existing one will massively regenerate themselves: This might seem like a rather bold prediction, but this seems to have happened in a number of decades in the past. For example, I'd imagine that if you told a 2010 enthusiast that a small construction company in Idaho would be one of the most sought after thrill ride manufacturers in the world, they would look at you rather blankly. Same with if you told them that Vekoma would be making smooth, intense thrill machines that were critically acclaimed. During the 2010s, RMC emerged from nowhere and changed the amusement industry forever, companies like Vekoma and Mack massively regenerated themselves, and even the likes of Gerstlauer massively upped their game in terms of the types of coasters they were producing. Even in terms of past decades, I'd argue that the 2000s really changed Intamin in terms of the sorts of rides they were producing, and B&M emerged and sent shockwaves through the industry in the 1990s. So I have reason to believe that this decade, we will either see a new manufacturer emerge or an existing one revitalise their product lineup.
  • We will see a 500ft coaster get built: Now, I know that the industry seems to be moving away from record-breaking on the whole, but I think that there is still a definite appetite for record-breakers within parks. Also, the specific reason why I put this one in there is because of a specific ride system that's being strongly hyped; RMC's TRex Track. Alan Schlike has said in interviews that this ride system is designed to reach heights of 300+ft, and if there's anyone in the industry right now who will do something so radical as break the height record, it's RMC. As for which park will build it; who knows? Cedar Point were the first to go over 200ft, 300ft and 400ft, respectively, so I could see them doing 500ft if they had the money & space. Or maybe a park in Asia could do it? They do seem to be in a real growth phase in terms of their industry compared to the rest of the world.
  • Disney will announce a major project in Florida to compete with Epic Universe: As many of you know, Universal is currently constructing its third theme park in Florida, Epic Universe, for a 2023 opening date. Now, Disney won't want to lose any custom to this major new project down the road, so I'm sure they'll probably unveil something to compete. Whether that's a fifth theme park or not I don't know, but I definitely think that they will want to compete in some way with Epic Universe. They seem to want to compete with most things Universal does; they've attempted to counter both Islands of Adventure and Harry Potter in the past.
  • Paultons Park will have grown into one of the UK's most prominent theme parks: Now this may seem like a very bold prediction, but I could definitely see it with the rate they're growing at currently. In 2010, Paultons Park was merely a speck on the UK theme park scene, with a Gerstlauer Bobsled Coaster and a Zamperla Disk'O as its two most notable attractions. But now, it's a growing name in the UK theme park scene with many notable things to its name. By 2030, I could easily see them becoming one of the UK park industry's most well-known and most visited names provided its current momentum continues, which I don't see any reason for it not to provided Tornado Springs is successful.
  • Six Flags will go bankrupt again: Now for a slightly less positive prediction; with the current pandemic having major effects on the world and Six Flags having not been in a particularly good place prior to bankruptcy (their debt was apparently nearing pre-bankruptcy levels even before the pandemic), I unfortunately think that it's looking more and more likely that Six Flags will go bankrupt again at some point during the 2020s. It's not a prediction that I want to be making, but it's one that I unfortunately feel is looking more and more likely, especially with the threat of a global recession looming.
So, those are some of my personal theme park predictions for the 2020s! But what do you guys think will happen this decade?
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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  • We will see a 500ft coaster get built: Now, I know that the industry seems to be moving away from record-breaking on the whole, but I think that there is still a definite appetite for record-breakers within parks. Also, the specific reason why I put this one in there is because of a specific ride system that's being strongly hyped; RMC's TRex Track. Alan Schlike has said in interviews that this ride system is designed to reach heights of 300+ft, and if there's anyone in the industry right now who will do something so radical as break the height record, it's RMC. As for which park will build it; who knows? Cedar Point were the first to go over 200ft, 300ft and 400ft, respectively, so I could see them doing 500ft if they had the money & space. Or maybe a park in Asia could do it? They do seem to be in a real growth phase in terms of their industry compared to the rest of the world.
2020 marks Cedar Point's 150th anniversary - and there were indeed many credible rumblings on the park going for something big this year. Ultimately it's going to be a quiet season ride addition wise (adding a new river boat ride), and is moreso focused on bringing back many classic nostalgia touches.

If 500 ft. is to happen, I would predict it's not happening in the U.S. Six Flags in shambles, Busch Parks very space constrained - the list grows short of where one would hypothetically build it.
 

Matt N

Well-Known Member
I agree with you all in predicting that 2020 will be a somewhat slow year for the theme park industry, but towards the middle to end of the year and as we start to see what 2021 will bring, I think we will see momentum resume, and we will still have 9 years ahead of us until the 2020s are over! Even in the very, very worst case scenario, where parks and things don't return to normal until a vaccine is widely produced (predicted to be at some point in 2021. By the way, I think the chances of this happening are pretty slim; I think normality will have resumed to an extent before 2020 has ended, for sure.), that only really writes off 2 years of the decade. There will still be 8 years for some great things to happen, and that is in a worst case scenario that is pretty unlikely to happen!
 

Pokemaniac

Mountain monkey
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If 500 ft. is to happen, I would predict it's not happening in the U.S. Six Flags in shambles, Busch Parks very space constrained - the list grows short of where one would hypothetically build it.
Another point to note is that 500 feet is a milestone only in the eyes of the US. For the rest of the world, those silly footsies have no sensible meaning. The next milestone in terms of coaster height is 150 meters. International parks who want to take the record would be likely to settle for that height milestone or just above it, rather than arbitrarily going above 152.4 m.

But yeah, I don't see either happening anytime soon. The Chinese economy is due for one mother of a property crash that may very well be initiated by the coronavirus. Dubai was already in shambles before the virus and is unlikely to recover for many years. European parks have all sorts of height restrictions going against them, and no real tradition for building really tall coasters. Coasters seem to be more expensive over here too, likely due to the high costs of steel and labour. And you already ruled out most of the US. So yeah, the situation for the world's next tallest coaster is much like the situation for the next tallest building: The current record holder is already taller than anything it makes sense to build, and none of the potential candidates to beat the records are in any sort of shape to do so.
 

Catmaydo

New Member
I agree with you all in predicting that 2020 will be a somewhat slow year for the theme park industry, but towards the middle to end of the year and as we start to see what 2021 will bring, I think we will see momentum resume, and we will still have 9 years ahead of us until the 2020s are over! Even in the very, very worst case scenario, where parks and things don't return to normal until a vaccine is widely produced (predicted to be at some point in 2021. By the way, I think the chances of this happening are pretty slim; I think normality will have resumed to an extent before 2020 has ended, for sure.), that only really writes off 2 years of the decade. There will still be 8 years for some great things to happen, and that is in a worst case scenario that is pretty unlikely to happen!
I think the idea of 'normal' coming back that quickly is a bit too optimistic. This isn't just life pausing, and then resuming as before. Many businesses may not be able to operate on the same scale as before, or at all especially if they were already struggling before coronavirus.

To give you an example, I currently temp at my place of work (NHS), and was on the verge of having the chance to go permanent before all this hit. Our trust was already under financial pressure before, and now our resources are being massively strained. I'm scared that when this is done my employer is going to have to make (more) big cutbacks to recover, and that my non-essential temp role will be cut as a consequence. This is the reality for many workers and companies right now.

All of this reminds me what happened to airlines after 9/11. Everyone took a massive hit; some didn't make it, whilst others like Ryanair grew massively because they capitalised on lower demand for planes. They were able to snap up 737s from Boeing at a reduced price because of lower overall demand for air travel, and thus lower demand for frames. They bet big during a slump and won.

TL:DR - things look bleak for the next decade unless you've got Disney-level money.

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