What's new

Are shows essential to a good theme park?

Are shows essential to a good theme park?

  • Total voters

Matt N

Well-Known Member
Hi guys. Sorry if there's already a topic like this, but I'd be interested to know your opinions on whether you think shows are essential to a good theme park. Now, I read a lot of Alton Towers forums, and one of the most common complaints on those about Alton Towers in its current state is that it lacks entertainment outside of CBeebies Land, so it would seem that a lot of people think that shows are essential to a theme park.

However, I personally think that I disagree. I know that this might be somewhat of an uncommon opinion, but I don't really tend to watch shows at theme parks (the only shows I would ever really be inclined to watch are the night shows at places like Disney and Universal). While I admit that shows do not require queueing and can offer a break from rides, and that there are many places that rely on shows like Puy du Fou, I don't personally think that shows are essential to a good theme park. My personal view is that if you asked every visitor who entered a theme park why they were there, I'd imagine that very few of them would say that they were there to watch shows. I don't know about anyone else, but the reason I like theme parks is a combination of the rides and the theming. When I visit a theme park, I would rather spend my time riding rides and soaking up the atmosphere than watching a show.

Although having said that, I suppose shows are good for those who don't necessarily want to ride rides.

So, what do you guys think?
P.S. Sorry if this post seems a little self-centred.


Active Member
Good shows improve parks. Doesn't mean that good parks need/have shows.

Phantasialand has a ton of shows, but most of them are poor. Plenty of my visits there I have completely ignored all the shows, forgotten of their existence, and had some of my best days at a park. If you took away all the shows, sure there'd be more people on park, but I wouldn't enjoy the park any less (probably more tbh, as they'd have more entertainers roaming the park).

Movie Park Germany is a bit of an opposite. They have their car stunt show which is on my top 3 theme park shows*, a random parade/show which was fantastic as well. And whilst I enjoyed my day at the park, it's far from a good park.

Towers, however, is a park that needs shows in my opinion. It's a huge park, which currently has little more than roller coasters and junior rides (yest, there's a couple of family attractions, but they are few and far between). Shows give people something to actively do whilst still taking a break from all the movement around the park.

So whilst not necessary for a good park, it is necessary for some parks. Towers is one of them.

*Top 3 shows: Thorpe's Spiderman stunt show from 2003/4, Efteling's Raveleijn, MPG's Crazy Cops, in that order


Active Member
I suppose shows are good for those who don't necessarily want to ride rides.

I'm similar to you in that I'll only stick around for a good night time show generally and only Disney comes to mind as a place where this is a high priority on my list of things to do.
I'll do them in a park that is suited to doing lots of well rounded attractions once in a day, where a particularly special one can enhance a park, but they aren't really suited to a cred heavy environment.

Towers could do a good one. Start it at 4pm (ride close, ha!). Fountain projections and fire on the lake. Hex theme. Done.

Donkeys in hats. They also work apparently.


New Member
I personally think night time shows whether with or without fireworks really improve parks e.g. Alton towers fireworks or fiestaventura. They make you have a nice feeling at the end of the day where you would have otherwise been exhausted from queues, tiredness and cold.


New Member
I'm all for shows and roaming characters in parks. I fondly remember strolling through Phantasialand and seeing a random little stunt show- was a nice distraction that added a little to our day. I haven't seen many park shows (purely because most of the UK ones are based at little kiddies) but I believe they can really add to a day. If you look at Alton Towers for example, their busiest time of year is because of a show. Granted, doing a fireworks show every day would be impossible, but it shows that err, shows can be popular. They may not always draw the crowds in but they'll help soak up queues and keep people around for longer.


Active Member
Love a good show, me. Emphasis there on the 'good', though. If it's a sh*t show, don't bother, but a good show, yeah bring it on. Port Aventura's got some great shows. Sea World, obvs. Saw a good medieval jousting show at Europa Park once, don't know if they still do it? Aquanura at Efteling - that's a good one, but we missed Raveljin, gutted.
Can't be doing with any of that poncey Cirque du Soleil sh*t though.
And the Blue Man Group can f**k right off.


Well-Known Member
It's a tough one.

Are shows essential, or even worthwhile, for a park? Not for me.

Are they essential to a resort though? Definitely.

If you're only spending a day at a park, I don't think shows are a worthwhile investment. If the park is clearly aimed at attracting multi-day visits though (and I think only really Alton falls into this category and even then, its location exempts it somewhat) then shows massively help bolster its offering.

When I think of the parks I've been to where I've made time to see the shows, it's really only been Port Aventura, and that's for two reasons; it's been Halloween, so they've been themed appropriately, and it's helped pad out some of the visit.

I honestly don't think we have the captive audience for shows here in the UK, a lot of people would turn their noses up at the slapstick comedy of it imo. Yet those same people would probably love Disneyland and their shows.


Active Member
Essentially, shows don't make a good park. Just look at Disney: they have show rides (PhilharMagic, Country Bear Jamboree, MonsterInc Laugh Floor, Turtle Talk) but as far as shows, they have really few shows (not counting fireworks) in their properties. Diseny aside, shows are a good alternative to catter for a demographic that will probably visit the park with family but doesn't necessarily want to experiment more intense attractions.

Having said this, shows need to have some quality to them and few parks can pull that off nicely. Efteling's Ravelejin is something to behold, and as much as I hate PortAventura, they have a rather wide range of decent shows (although quality has gone downhill at the same rate tackiness has gone uphill). I guess it depends on what you are looking for: some people just like their show with upbeat music and a few acrobatics, whilst other people like shows that are well-themed and more cohesive.

An example of a park that I wasn't impressed with its shows was Phantasialand. The stunt show is kind of meh, their acrobatics show in Berlin was so random and vague I wasn't really impressed with and Tiempo de Fuego was just fire for the sake of fire with some mapping projections. This is a park that can really do without shows and still be amazing. Granted shows help increase park capacity and alleviate queuetimes for other major attractions.

Basically for me, when it comes to shows: go all the way or just don't bother with them.


New Member
Yes. I think a good theme park should have something for all ages and abilities. Personally, I am not a huge fan of shows but they do give guests a break from rain or the hot sun. I did enjoy the Jack Sparrow show in Disneysea - great stunts. Theme parks are expensive so I think a show gives guests who cannot enjoy all the rides more value for money.
Depends on the show. If it's just a singing/dancing show it's not important. If it's a cirque, stunt show, or the Horror Make Up Show than it's worth watching.


Slut for Spinners
Yes, absolutely. I don't see a whole lot of news from across the pond regarding non ride related additions, but here in the states, almost every park is looking to add that new thing to attract anybody and everybody, including but not limited to shows. Shows have been present in amusement parks for so long that it feels like if a given park does not have one, they're behind the ball.

What seems to be the latest trend is hosting various forms of festivals and other events to get just that many more people through the gate. We're seeing Cedar Fair make a big push at this with Monster Jam, Grand Carnivale, Frontier Festival, among other things. It seems like every park has a Brew and BBQ event as well as a food and wine fest now, because nothing says dollar signs like a throng of drunk adults. We live in an age where everything moves quickly and we can access anything and everything instantly through our smart phones - this has led to a paradigm shift where a new ride every couple years, no matter how big or small, just isn't quite enough to attract people, especially if a park is not keeping up with the rest in terms of event offerings. These festivals and events are a relatively low cost, quick, easy, and temporary means of maintaining status as an attractive amusement park.

Finally, we need to ground ourselves (and many people who have responded to the topic have done so) when discussing parks holistically. What exactly is an amusement park? We're all roller coaster fans - we're a group with a highly specialized and focused interest within the industry. Most of us could hardly care less about the shows, let alone attend one, but that does not mean that they aren't just as important as the coasters in many respects.