The economic impact of theme parks on regions

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The economic impact of theme parks on regions

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The economic impact of
theme parks on regions
Michael Braun
NEURUS – participant 1999/2000
(UCI – WU)
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
1.1. Area of examination 1
2.1. Two sides to tourism 3
2.2. The Export basis – multiplier effect 4
2.2.1. The “Multiplier Effect” of Tourist Spending 5
4.1. A Comparison: Tourism in Europe and the U.S. 13
4.1.1. United States of America 13 The Los Angeles tourism industry – closeup 14
4.1.2. Europe 15
5.1. Background 18
5.1.1. The U.S. Theme Park Industry 18
5.1.2. The European Theme Park Industry 21
5.1.3. The North Asian Theme Park industry 22
5.2. Types of Theme Parks 22
5.2.1. Definitions by characteristics: 24 Recreation Parks (collective term) 24 Enjoyment parks 24 Urban entertainment center 24 Sport- and fun parks 25 Theme parks 25 Bath parks 25 Experience resorts 25
5.2.2. Hierarchy 26
5.3. U.S. – Theme park facts in general 28
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
5.3.1. General impacts of major parks 28
5.3.2.Customer catchment area 28
5.3.3. Attendance 1998 29
5.3.4. US – Theme park market structure 31
5.3.5. Top 10 Amusement / Theme Park Chains Worldwide 32
5.3.6. Age distribution of U.S. theme park visitors 33
6.1. A brief history 35
6.2. Where and when did the Theme park development start? 38
6.3. Milestones in U.S. – Themepark History 40
6.4.Development of the theme park industry in the coming future 43
6.4.1. Disney’s California Adventure 43
6.4.2. Tokyo Disney Sea 43
6.4.3. Universal Studios Japan 44
6.4.4. Disneyland Hong Kong 44
6.4.5. Universal Studios Port Aventura, Spain 45
6.4.6. The Wonderful World of Oz 45
6.4.7. Atwater Theme Park Project 45
6.4.8. Seapark 46
6.4.9. Veda Land 46
6.4.10. Neverland East and West 46
7.1 Major theme parks requirements 48
7.2. Major theme parks problems 49
7.3 Theme parks – Requirements to impact destination tourism 51
8.1. The Walt Disney Company – A brief introduction 53
8.1.1. Description of Business Units (BU) 53 Business Unit Creative Content: 53 Business Unit Broadcasting 54 Business Unit Theme Parks and Resorts 54
8.1.2. Financial Key Numbers and Ratios 55
8.1.3. An Analysis of the company’s status 59
8.2. Introduction of the Case-study project 67
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
8.2.1. Map of project site 69 Theme park district 70 Hotel district 70 Parking District 70 Future Expansion District 70
8.2.2. Construction activities and phasing 71
8.2.3. Project objectives 71
8.3. Current theme park market structure of the L.A. Area 72
8.3.1. Admission fees 72
8.3.2 Visitor numbers 73
8.3.3 Origin of Visitors 73 Disneyland Anaheim 73 Knott’s Berry Farm 74 Six Flags Magic Mountain 74 Universal Studios Hollywood 74
8.4. Impacts of the project 75
8.4.1. Impacts from construction / expanding the existing theme park 75 Employment 75 Housing 75
8.4.2. Final impacts of the project 76 Employment 76 Direct employment 76 Workforce demanded by the project 79 Potential and induced employment 80 Housing 81 Impacts on the Hotel industry 81 Projected supply and demand for hotel rooms in anaheim 81 Projected growth in average daily room rate 83 Public Costs and Benefits 85 Costs 85 Benefits 94
8.5. Other impacts of the project 101
8.5.1. “Macro” – The Anaheim theme park in competition with Las Vegas 101
8.5.2. Impact of the new Retail- and Entertainment Center at Disneyland on the region 103 Proposition 13 103 Map of the influenced area 106
9. SUMMARY 107
10. OUTLOOK 109
10.1. A comment on theme parks in comparison USA – Europe 108
10.2. Theme parks conquering Austria’s tourism industry? 110
10.3. Developing Trends of the theme park industry 111
10.3.1. Themed to country/region 111
10.3.2. Part of larger mixed-use destination projects 111
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
10.3.3. Greater visitor participation and interaction 111
10.3.4. Use of simulation experiences and virtual reality 112
10.3.5. Greater water orientation 112
10.3.6 Design for all-weather operation/artificial environments 113
INDEX OF FIGURES………………………………………………………………..120
INDEX OF TABLES………………………………………………………………….121
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
1. Introduction
Amusement parks respectively theme parks can be met all across the United States of
America and in the region of Greater Los Angeles respectively. Those theme parks are
tourist attractions as well as recreation areas for the citizens of the Los Angeles Area –
they enrich the recreational possibilities for the residents.
Theme parks look for adjacencies to agglomerations and represent an important “income
generator” respectively an important economic motor for each single region. But theme
parks are not homogeneous among themselves; there are different peculiarities in design,
composition and in the hierarchy and different dimensions of economic impacts as well,
so following questions are coming up:
• How does the establishment of a Resort park effect the surrounding region?
• Is it advantageous for a region to own a Resort park?
• How are parks linked to the rest of the region’s economy?
• How exactly does the park enrich the region economically?
Analyzing how parks effect their own and the surrounding regions is very interesting to
me because the introduction of theme- and Resort parks into Austria’s recreation industry
is imminent.
1.1 Area of examination
A survey of the theme park industry in the United States of America shall be undertaken
by analyzing the example the four theme parks in the Los Angeles Area, Southern
California, gives.
The case study deals with the expansion of Disneyland, located in the City of Anaheim.
The Disney Company was responsible for introducing a new era in the theme park
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
industry by erecting Disneyland in 1955. This was a milestone in the theme park history,
and many other companies followed Disney’s example and erected large scaled sized
theme parks all over the U.S.
Further, the establishment of Disneyland leveraged an enormous economic growth to the
City of Anaheim.
Due to these and due to the fact, that the expansion of Disney’s Anaheim Resort is
currently under construction, I thought it would give an perfect example to analyze the
impacts which appear from constructing the park as well as to analyze the impacts, which
occur from running a theme park.
Last but not least, the NEURUS-Program, which was set up by each 3 well known
European and U.S. Universities, provided an excellent framework to this study.
The NEURUS program also provided an internship for my research at the Disney
Corporation which gave me a lot of background knowledge about this kind of business
and eased the data collections for my research.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
2. The economic and social impacts of Tourism
Theme parks of a size like Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm,
Universal Studios are visited by tourists frequently. The additional spending of tourist
dollars in an area affects the economy, that cannot be questioned. However, the extend of
its effect, its implications, and its repercussions are debatable.
Much of the research in tourism is concerned with the economic impact made by tourism
on a state, nation, island or community. But since there are countervailing forces at play
within an economy, the arising costs and benefits from tourism are not immediately
quantifiable. The costs and benefits of tourism are not evenly distributed. What may be a
benefit to one group may cost another group within the same community or area. For
example, hotel and restaurant operators may benefit from tourism, but the permanent
residents may suffer in terms of crowding, pollution, noise, and in some cases, a changed
way of life. Sometimes, immigrants must be invited to serve the tourists, which
constitutes a cost to the community through the increased use of schools, hospitals, roads,
water systems etc.
Does tourism introduce costs in the form of reduced quality of life at a destination? The
answer is “yes”, when the destination is not prepared for such a large number of visitors.
Some of the negative effects are obvious: Traffic congestion, increased crime, noise, air
pollution, vandalism, excessive demand on all public facilities, parks, water supplies, not
to mention the overcrowding of beaches, mountains, forests, and their destruction.
2.1 Two sides to tourism
In well-developed areas, tourism may enrich the community by providing additional
shops, theaters and restaurants, the permanent resident is offered options which were
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
previously unavailable. In less developed areas, tourism might lead to frustration and
resentment when only the tourist areas are given good roads, adequate water supply, etc.
It is important, that the native population can participate – their position vis-à-vis the
tourist accentuates their poverty and may lead to violence (Lundberg, 1995, p144).
As dollars are brought into an economy by tourism the economy gets stimulated – costs of
goods and services increase, the price of land may skyrocket. In some areas the economy
gets “overheated”, Landowners and developers may become rich, but the cost to the
average citizen usually multiplies because of the increased cost of housing.
2.2 The Export basis – multiplier effect
The Export-basis theory rests upon a multiplier effect as described under point 2.2.
Generally spoken, the “export basis theory” supposes that the economic basis of a region
is the sum of all companies, which export their products into another region. This is
called the “basic sector”. The part of the industry that does not export, depends in its
development from the basic sector by a multiplier which is similar to the Keynesian
multiplier, but derives from exports and not from government spending.
A positive as well as a negative interconnection can be observed: Extremely prospering
exporting companies create additional demand and precipitate a demand boom in the
whole region.
The term 1 / (1 – c + q) is called the export basis multiplier. The larger the marginal
propensity to consume c and the smaller the marginal propensity to import q is, the larger
is the multiplier. Y, the income of the entire region depends on the multiplier and on the
income of the basic sector YX (Smith, p.25).
Y =
1 – c + q
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
2.2.1 The “Multiplier Effect” of Tourist Spending –
A special case of the export basis model
In economic terms, the tourist dollar spent in an area or region is an export which brings
in new money. When a “fresh” dollar enters an economy, it affects that economy in
various ways. Some of the dollar immediately leaves the economy as profit and in various
kinds of imports. Technically, these monetary streams can be lumped together as “leaks”.
The part of the dollar that remains in the economy may be saved or loaned to another
spender, invested, or used for purchases. Technically, this is the “first-round-spending”.
Like the share of the tourist dollar that stays in the economy, this first round spending
generates additional income for example for manufacturers and producers. Once again, a
percentage of the dollar might be leaving the economy for necessary imports, so further
“leaks” will occur in this round, but the rest of the dollar will be respent for a “second
round spending”. The rounds go on and on, but it is plain to see that rounds of spending
are kicked off by the injection of the initial spending, which in this case is the tourist
dollar brought to the destination’s economy.
As the money that stays within the economy is spent and re-spent, it stimulates the
economy, causing further spending. The various sectors of an economy are linked
together, each part affecting the others. When the links increase in number and strength,
the impact of the tourist dollar on the economy also increases and less money leaves the
area. In other words: The more money that remains in the economy, the fewer the leaks
and the higher the multiplier effect. Note that the result is a stimulation of income,
employment in non-tourism related sectors of the local economy and increased tax
receipts for governments.
“In economic terms, the tourist dollar is an export that brings in new money. The part that
remains in the economy, being spent and respent, sets a “Tourist Income Multiplier”. The
greater the percentage of the tourist dollar that remains in the economy and the faster it is
respent, the greater its effect in accelerating the growth of the economy” (Lundberg, 1995,
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The Tourist Income Multiplier can therefore be calculated as follows:
TIM – Tourism Income Multiplier, or factor by which tourist expenditure should be
multiplied to determine the tourist income generated by these expenditures.
TPI – Tourist’s propensity to import, or buy imported goods and services that do not
create income for the area
MPS – Marginal propensity to save, or the resident’s decision not to spend an extra
dollar of income.
MPI – Marginal propensity to import, or the resident’s decision to buy imported goods or
spend money abroad.
If the outcome is for example 1.7, it means that from every single tourist dollar spent 70
additional cents are spent within the regions economy.
Further it has to be noted, that the multiplier effect can decrease sharply when labor had
to be imported into the regional economy. That is, when the economy asks immigrants to
serve the tourists: Tourist dollars spent in a region might leave the region quickly,
because the wages and salaries the immigrants earn are likely being sent out to the
workers families.
1- TPI
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Following figure shall show the importance of tourism to a region and which economic
activities are being influenced:
Figure 1: Economic sectors influenced by the tourist dollars:
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce 1978
This figure shows the influenced economic sectors of a region that serves as a tourist
destination. Furthermore, it illustrates the “rounds” of spending. It can be seen clearly,
that the initial spending, which is undertaken by tourists, goes into typical services as
food, lodging, entertainment, retail stores, etc. In the 2nd round of spending, many more
sectors of the region’s economy participate – also economic sectors, whose typical core
business is expected to lie elsewhere (e.g. legal services).
Hotels /
Restaurants Tourist
Retail Stores Entertainment
Groceries Insurance Advertising Repair – and
Laundry Real Estate Legal Services Fuel Energy
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
3. The impact of tourism on local government expenditures
Very often, local policy makers have assumed that economic activities associated with
tourism improve the quality of life. As such, much of the analysis of this industry has
focused on the positive impacts on employment, income, tax revenue, and local economic
growth and development, generally.
It is reasoned that promotion of tourism will result in:
• Improved transportation facilities and other infrastructure which will benefit local
• The generation of enhanced local government revenue which will result in
improvement of community facilities and services, and
• The multiplier effect of tourism on development of other economic sectors.
It is also argued that, as a service industry, tourism is able to create a large number of jobs
in a short period of time for little cost. It is within this context that the tourism industry
has acquired the nickname of being a “smokeless industry.”
The general logic behind local government initiatives to promote their region as a tourism
center is lying on the assumption that local residents will benefit from the employment,
income, and tax revenue generated from tourism. Tourist industry promoters argue that
the impact on the local tax base is positive. First, the tourism industry will facilitate
expansion of the property tax base through development, which will facilitate stable or
declining tax rates. Second, a large portion of the tax burden may be exported through the
use of sales and transient guest taxes paid by tourists. Thus, it would seem possible to
import economic development at little or no expense, while at the same time exporting a
significant share of the tax burden on local taxpayers (Wong, 1996, p314).
According to Young (1973) there is a saturation level for tourism, if that level is
exceeded, the costs of tourism begin to outweigh the benefits. These saturation levels are
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
dictated primarily by constraints on land, labor supply, infrastructure capacity,
entrepreneurship, and local citizen tolerance, which lead to negative externalities being
imposed upon local residents.
Land related constraints include limits on the amount of developable land and the need to
preserve natural resources such as climate, land-forms, terrain, flora, fauna, bodies of
water, beaches, natural beauty, and water supply for drinking and sanitation which may
form the basis of the attractiveness of the area to tourists. In addition, the use of land for
tourist development prevents the use of that land for other purposes.
Labor shortages may also limit the potential for tourism development. Critics often point
out that much of the demand for tourism related employment is seasonal and that low
status and low pay characterize much tourist industry employment. As such, a
disproportionate concentration of seasonal and low-paid employment needed to service
the tourist industry can be a threat to the local employment structure.
“Infrastructure constraints involve heavy use resulting from increased tourism. As such,
local benefits from tourism should be weighed against the costs incurred in developing
the tourism industry“(Wong 1996, p318). In order for major tourism development to take
place, adequate streets, highways, and parking facilities; air, water, bus, train, and taxi
transportation networks; water and sewer systems; utilities; communications networks;
parks and recreation; health care facilities; and public safety systems must be established.
In addition, private lodging, eating and drinking, and retail facilities must be adequate.
Thus, infrastructure planning and development must involve a coordinated and concerted
effort on the part of both the public and private sectors. If a local airport does not have an
adequate air terminal or air service, surrounding hotels and attractions may well stand
empty. Likewise, adequate streets and highways are needed to allow people to get from
the airport to their destination. Wong (1996, p.323) concludes that: “To the extent
possible, infrastructure improvements should be planned to accrue maximum benefits to
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
local residents while justifying the resources and funding allocated through the economic
benefits derived from tourism development.”
There may also be limits to the tolerance of local residents to the negative externalities
imposed by the tourism industry. Increased tourism may result in overcrowding and
congestion on streets and highways, parking lots, public transit, shopping facilities,
amusement, entertainment, and sports venues, and other attractions.
Overcommercialization of tourist attractions may result in the loss of uniqueness and
authenticity of local customs and culture. Increased tourism may also lead to increased
undesired vice activity (e.g. gambling)
In addition to the private costs imposed on developers and externalities imposed on
individual citizens, there may be significant fiscal costs imposed on local governments.
Although there have been studies documenting the overall impact of tourism on local
government revenues, many of these studies have been conducted or commissioned by
the local governments themselves as justification for specific public projects. While it is
generally conceded that tourism development requires substantial public capital
commitments for infrastructure, little attention has been paid to the impact of tourism on
local government operating expenditures. To a large extent, it has been assumed that such
expenditures would be minimal relative to the additional revenue, which would be
generated from the development project. However, it must not be forgotten that tourism
development has the potential to impose significant operating costs on local governments
in such areas as public safety, transportation, parks and other public facilities, and general
administrative overhead.
Tourism has a significant impact on capital outlays because of the large capital
expenditures often necessary to construct and maintain the infrastructure needed to
support tourism. Tourism has a large impact on non-highway transportation expenditures
because of large expenditures needed to support and maintain airports, seaports, rail
stations, and public transportation, which may be used disproportionately by tourists.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Tourism may necessitate increased police protection expenditures to contend with the
increased need for security and crowd and traffic control at large gatherings, the need for
additional officers to respond to drunk and disorderly conduct, and the increased
incidence of vice offenses often associated with tourism. Accordingly, increased
correction expenditures may be necessary to house individuals apprehended for drunk and
disorderly conduct or vice offenses often associated with the tourism. Fire protection
expenditures are affected by tourism because of the increased need for fire fighting and
fire prevention services associated with convention, sports, and resort facilities and large
hotels. Park and recreation expenditures are affected by tourism because in many
jurisdictions park venues such as botanical or zoological parks may be secondary, if not
primary, tourist venues. Finally, tourism may have a significant impact on both financial
and general government administration expenditures because of the increased resources
necessary to manage capital facilities and infrastructure as well as the government
overhead necessary to deal with demands placed on local government by tourism.
The basic hypothesis of increased governmental costs induced by tourism cannot be
rejected. Local governments should carefully consider both the benefits and costs of
tourism development. This is especially critical for communities contemplating jumping
on the legalized-gaming bandwagon assuming a quick fix, costless means of revenue
enhancement or economic development (Wong, 1996, p.330).
Although it is generally assumed that tourism development will generate positive tax
consequences, this is not necessarily the case. One of the possible negative effects is an
increased tax burden on local taxpayers to finance tourism. To the extent that local
governments are financed predominantly by property taxes, increased real estate values
induced by the development of tourism related properties and other costs associated with
tourism development will be borne, at least in part, by local residents.
Despite these costs it is still possible that positive economic benefits may still
predominate over the increased local tax burden. However, as these results demonstrate,
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
it should not be assumed that the increased tax burden is insignificant (Wong, 1996,
Successful tourism development must focus on balancing the level of tourism activity,
which produces the maximum revenue against the costs generated by the tourism effort. It
should be indicated, that the share of tourism in the local economy can influence
expenditures on a variety of local government services. While tourism may not result in
the degree of direct environmental degradation as heavy manufacturing industries, the
required investment in public infrastructure and commensurate expenditures to support
so-called smokeless industries may be quite significant. As such, tourism should not be
regarded as a instrument of economic development which is totally for free.
4. Empirical Tourism Data
According to Smith (1998), travel and tourism is the largest industry in the world in terms
of employment, and ranks in the top two or three industries in almost every country in the
world by nearly every measure.
For example:
• Travel and tourism employs 101 million people around the globe – one of every 16
• Travel and tourism employment, investment and value-added exceed those of such
major industries as steel, automobiles, textiles, and electronics in virtually every
• Consumers in developed countries spend as much on travel and tourism as on
clothing or health care.
• Businesses spend at least as much on travel as they do on advertising.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
4.1 A Comparison: Tourism in Europe and the U.S.
4.1.1 United States of America
In the United States, travel and tourism is also the leading industry. As shown in the
following two tables, the 8.7 million employees and $191 billion value added are
substantially greater than all other industries.
Figure 2: Employment for selected industries (U.S.)
1996 Employment for selected
industries (United States)
2120 2184
(in thousand jobs)
Source: Foden, 1996
Travel leads the statistics in terms of employment by far. This industry is more than 4
times bigger as the second and third largest employment sector of the U.S. economy
(electronics and textiles), which are almost ranked equal.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 3: Value added for selected industries (U.S.)
1996 Value added for selected
industries (US., in billion US Dollar)
33 46
Source: Foden, 1996
Figure 3 shows the 1996´s value added for selected U.S. industries. Like in figure 2,
travel is ranked number 1 – the difference between gross-revenue and pre-revenue (or
input) is the biggest in this sector of the U.S. economy. The Los Angeles tourism industry – close-up
The city’s leading industry, tourism, is now booming again. Some 22.2m visitors
flocked to Los Angeles in 1996, spending $9.3 billion between them, more than in
any of the past ten years. With four of America’s top ten leisure attractions housed
in the Los Angeles basin, tourism employs more than 200,000 people in the area.
(The Economist 1997, p.25).
The city’s other big employer, the film and television industry took on another
15,000 jobs last year, bringing the total to 110,000. Today, twice as many
Angelenos work in entertainment as in aerospace.
The changes have not come without pain. The Los Angeles area bore the brunt of
California’s recession and, since it has the bulk of the state’s aerospace jobs, felt
the pain when defense cutbacks began to bite. As a result from that, three out of
four job losses in the whole of California over the past five years have occurred in
Los Angeles County.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
But the Los Angeles Area managed this structural change. In a study David
Friedman, an economic development specialist recently directed for the Los
Angeles city authorities, he found that three of the region’s fastest-growing
business sectors (entertainment, textiles and environmental engineering) owed
nothing to defense (Friedman, Vol. 1, p. 78).
“Even the naysayers have belatedly had to accept that the recovery of greater Los
Angeles is well under way. Retail sales within the county rose 4% in 1994 after
declining for three years in a row. Hotel-occupancy rates for the year were up
more than 14% and industrial-building permits increased by 9%–the first such
increase since 1989. The construction industry in Los Angeles is now expecting
double-digit growth this year. If greater Los Angeles were a country, its $380
billion of purchasing power would make it a bigger economy than South Korea”
(The Economist 1997).
4.1.2 Europe
Tourism in Europe is a huge industry boasting bright financial statistics. Last year, it
generated revenues of $1150 billions, or 14 percent of the total gross domestic product
(GDP) of the fifteen-nation European Union, according to estimates by the World Travel
and Tourism Council (WTC) in London. It employed 22.2 million people, or 14.6 percent
of the EU work force, and invested more than $245 billion. That makes the EU the
world’s biggest tourism market, pushing North America into second place (Barnard, 1999,
France is the world’s most popular destination for foreign tourists, attracting 66.8 million
visitors in 1997 compared with the US, in second place with 49 million. Spain, Italy, and
the United Kingdom occupied the next three places. And despite economic difficulties,
western Germans still lead in per capita tourism spending.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Europe has a head start on most of its competitors thanks to a combination of an
unrivaled historical and cultural heritage and a modern service infrastructure.
American money is pouring into the European industry with some of the best-known
names taking advantage of the current upturn.
Walt Disney is planning a second EuroDisney park following the success of its first
venture near Paris. A group that is part-owned by Microsoft’s Bill Gates bought Britain’s
Cliveden luxury hotel group, while London’s landmark Savoy was snapped up by
Blackstone Hotel Acquisitions, a company controlled by Blackstone and Colony, two USbased
investment groups. Meanwhile, a new Playboy casino was scheduled to open on the
Greek Island of Rhodes and if it proves successful, others will follow across Europe.
For some European countries, tourism is an economic lifeline. In Greece, tourism and
travel contributed 19 percent to GDP in 1998 and provides 17 percent of jobs. It also
accounts for 24 percent of all capital investments and 30 percent of foreign exchange
earnings. In Central and East European countries, tourism provides an invaluable hard
currency cushion to soften the painful transition to a market economy. In Croatia, it
generates 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
Mass tourism took off in Europe in the early 1970s with the arrival of the jet plane
launching a brand-new industry based on the annual summer migration of north
Europeans to the golden beaches of the Mediterranean. The exodus continues, but the
destinations have become more exotic, forcing the southern European countries to
repackage their attractions and sharpen their marketing – with some success. More than
40 percent of British package vacationers still go to Spain, which also remains the main
non-German destination for German tourists. (Barnard, 1999, p.22).
EuroDisney has become Europe’s most popular tourist attraction with 12.5 million
visitors in 1998. European tourists are flocking to cruises, and European cruise lines have
earned a sizable slice of the US market.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The industry suffered a setback last year with a sharp drop in high-spending visitors from
Asia. The economic crisis on that continent was likely to cut income last year by some
$23 billion, according to the WTTC. But this is a hiccup compared with the impact of the
Gulf War and the recession of the early 1990s.
Far from maturing, Europe’s tourism industry is set for faster growth which is caused by
the introduction of the single currency, the Euro, the ending of passport checks at many
border crossings and airports, the spectacular growth of low-cost airlines, and the spread
of high-speed rail links.
Equally important, Europeans have much more leisure time than Americans or Japanese
do – most workers have on average five to six weeks annual vacation, excluding public
holidays – and disposable income is rising steadily.
Eastern and Central Europe have become new favorite tourist destinations, although cash
shortages have hindered development and the region retains an image of a developing
country, although cities such as Prague and Budapest are in vogue with young highspending
Cruises, until recently a mainly American pastime, have also become popular in Europe,
although it remains a niche market. European firms like Britain’s P&O and Norway’s
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line have a sizable slice of the US market and are well
positioned to take advantage of burgeoning demand in their domestic waters. (Barnard,
1999, p24).
The arrival of the Euro will undoubtedly boost travel and tourism by removing the major
irritant of changing money, not just for Americans and others, but for European travelers
too. It will also make a difference in the tourist’s pocket – it is estimated that someone
traveling through all eleven Euroland countries and changing money at each border would
lose 40 percent of the value in commission and exchange costs. Although Euro coins and
notes will not enter circulation until 2002, Euros can be used for noncash transactions
with a credit card or by check (OeNB, p.282).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
5. Theme parks
5.1 Background
Let me begin with a little background on how people view the theme park industry in the
U.S. As is commonly acknowledged, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which opened
in 1955, is considered the first real theme park. Since then, the theme park industry in the
United States has grown dramatically. The theme park industry is now a $ 4 billion per
year business based on an annual attendance of about 130 million visitors at the 42 largest
parks in the U.S. Moderate-sized parks, with attendance of half a million to a million
visitors per year add another $ 600 million in revenue. Total revenue for the U.S. park
industry is estimated at $ 4.5 billion, making this a major industry. (IAAPA, 1999)
5.1.1 The U.S. Theme Park Industry
The U.S. theme park industry is by far the largest in the world, and it dominates the world
in respects to scale, product innovation, marketing savvy, and operating knowledge.
The Theme park industry in the U.S. is mature. Growth has been at a compounded annual
rate of about 3 percent over the last 10 years. About 1/2 of this growth has come from the
addition of new parks and not from attendance increases in existing parks. Per capita
expenditures have slightly exceeded the rate of inflation, reflecting admission price
increases and strong growth in merchandise sales and games revenues. Both Europe and
Asia are farther back on the growth curve (ERA 1998a, p5).
The majority of U.S. markets capable of supporting large-scale, outdoor theme parks
already have them. It is unlikely that a significant number of major regional theme parks
will be developed in the future. Growth in this industry has stabilized, and there should
not be any huge fluctuations in attendance or development activity. However, there are
opportunities for adjusting product to suit changing markets and to effectively compete
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
with other entertainment for consumers’ leisure time and expenditures. Disney’s
Expansion in Anaheim stays abreast of these changes.
Typical for a maturing industry, there have been numerous changes in theme park
ownership over the last several years. This indicates a strong consolidation trend. Now,
major corporate owners in the industry consolidating control are found: Disney, Time
Warner (Six Flags), Universal Studios, Anheuser-Busch (Sea World), Paramount (Kings
Entertainment). These major corporations control the dominant share of attendance and
revenues in the industry. Re-investment is, of course, a key factor in the operation of a
Several current trends can be seen:
• The “Arms Race” continues whereby parks must build the biggest, highest, fastest,
steepest, most complicated roller coasters.
• Another factor is the aging of the population, which suggests the need for a more
balanced entertainment offering, with emphasis on shows and lighter entertainment
compared to hard rides.
• New technology will be a powerful force in the theme park industry. New products
will include high-definition film, ride simulators, and virtual reality. Not all these
techniques are fully developed yet, but we can expect them to be important in the near
future (ERA 1998a, p7).
Three major corporations have left the industry (Taft Broadcasting, Marriott Corporation,
and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). In 1984, Taft’s entertainment group, King’s
Entertainment Company (known as KECO) for a $167.5 million in a leverage buyout
transaction, KECO now owns five parks and manages a sixth in Australia. Paramount has
recently acquired them.
The Marriott Corporation sold its two parks to divest themselves from the industry. One
was in Santa Clara and is now owned by KECO, and the other was in the Chicago area
and is now owned by Six Flags.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ), previous owners of the Sea World parks, sold all of
their parks to Busch, which already owned two parks. Busch’s theme park holdings now
total seven with a planned attraction in Spain.
The seven Six Flags parks have been sold as a group several times and are now owned by
Time/Warner. Four of the Six Flags parks started by independent operators.
Disney continues to increase their ownership in the industry by building more attractions.
Within the last several years they have opened two attractions: Typhoon Lagoon and
Pleasure Island.
Currently, it seems that the U.S. theme park industry is diversifying into new smallerscale
targeted products for “niche” markets, which may not be covered by the large-scale
theme parks (ERA 1998a, p10).
The 80s witnessed a narrowing of market and product focus with the smaller investment
waterparks. This was the first major diversification of the industry. Waterparks appealed
to a more narrow market, usually teens and young families, and were suitable for smaller
secondary markets.
The new entertainment attractions of the 90s represent a furthering diversification. These
attractions narrow the niche appeal even more with smaller capital investment and an
appeal usually to very specific market groups such as children, teens, young singles, etc
(ERA 1998a, p10).
Examples of the new entertainment attractions include the family entertainment centers
being developed in malls, the expansion of the outdoor family recreation and mini-golf
attractions, entertainment centers combined with urban mixed use projects, sports bars,
themed restaurants, children’s attractions, mini-aquariums, and a host of others.
The final point is that many U.S. park developer/owner/operators are looking beyond the
U.S. border for future growth markets, including looking at Europe and Asia. Certainly
Disney has been most active, but other major park operators are also looking for
opportunities throughout the world, as fewer new opportunities are available for major
theme park development in the U.S.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
5.1.2 The European Theme Park Industry
The growth of the theme park industry in the U.S. has been followed by development of
the industry elsewhere, in particular in Asia and Europe. In terms of size, Europe’s theme
park industry has grown to approximately $1.5 billion in current revenue coming from
approximately 19 major parks. Of course, the biggest recent news in Europe was the
opening of EuroDisneyland ( = EDL) in Paris, which has entertained approximately 13
million visitors. Although results in the first years may have been a bit disappointing, it is
expected that EuroDisneyland will be the catalyst to a substantial growth cycle for the
theme park industry in Europe. This impact can be identified in three key areas (ERA
1998a, p13):
• EuroDisney expanded the overall European theme park industry and focused
the industry in Paris by having created a multi-park destination attraction
• In a long run, EuroDisney will improve management expertise in the European
theme park business. EuroDisneyland will train and create a labor pool of
experienced theme park managers, which will in the future help to enhance the
performance of the European theme park business as a whole.
• Finally, EuroDisneyland will create the need for proper product positioning to
complement Disney in the market area. A variety of target marketing and
positioning strategies have proven successful elsewhere in markets shared
with Disney parks.
Currently, the United States show 0.46 theme park visits per capita per year, while in the
European Community only 0.08 visits per capita are experienced in one year (IAAPA,
The huge scale and broad appeal of the Euro-Disneyland project, is likely to create a
mass-market awareness of the theme park product. This awareness is expected to catalyze
further theme park development in Europe. This phenomenon has been demonstrated on
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
two continents, and in three locations. In Los Angeles and in Orlando, numerous other
theme park projects have thrived around the massive Disney attractions. In Japan,
development interest in theme park projects has been extremely high following the
success of Tokyo Disneyland. The experience in France of numerous theme parks
preceding a Disney attraction into a new market suggests it may be unwise to reverse the
timing of this development process. They all suffer from lacking attendance and some of
them were already shut down.
5.1.3 The North Asian Theme Park industry
The theme park industry in Asia is also in a growth mode. Estimates can be found which
say that a total of approximately 35 large parks attract attendance of about 71 million
visitors, generating a total of nearly $ 1.5 billion in revenue (U.S. dollars). Additional 49
moderate-sized parks generate $ 350 million in annual revenue. The total industry has
roughly $ 1.8 billion in annual revenue (IAAPA, 1999). Although parks in Japan
(particularly the Cities of Tokyo, Kobe and Osaka) dominate these figures, there is high
growth potential in other parts of the region, including Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and
Malaysia. China does represent a substantial growth area for developing themed
amusement parks as well.
5.2. Types of Theme Parks
There are overlapping names which can be found throughout the literature for different
types of parks and in addition to that, the fact that this branch of industry creates new
innovations every year (and therefore is changing permanently) makes it even more
difficult to categorize theme parks.
Nevertheless, it seems at least to be possible to name facilities that are not recreation
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Recreation parks (municipal parkways, botanical gardens), several spare-time and sport
facilities (chair lifts, Tennis courts, Golf courses, etc.) as well as cultural sightseeing sites
are tourist attractions as well as attractions for residents, but they cannot be regarded as
‘theme parks” in this sense.
This delimitation is deducted by sequential criteria:
• In opposite to recreation and theme parks the mentioned facilities are not
regionally closed and do not have a unitary business concept
• In opposite to recreation parks facilities like those mentioned above are mostly
run by government or by the municipal administration, what means they are run
within the local spare time- and recreation market.
• In opposite to recreation or theme parks, facilities like those mentioned above are
just a single part of the whole local recreation infrastructure.
At this point, two different approaches of how to categorize theme parks shall be
introduced: Categorization by
• Characteristics and
• Hierarchy with respects to economic importance of the parks to the region
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
5.2.1 Definitions by characteristics:
According to a study of the consulting company “Edinger Tourismusberatung” (1998,
p.8), following types of recreation parks can be distinguished:
• Enjoyment parks
• Urban Entertainment Centers
• Sport- and Fun parks
• Theme parks
• Bath parks
• Experience parks Recreation Parks (collective term)
Recreation parks are plants whose facilities are used for recreation purposes. The
design of those facilities does not necessarily need to be the same, there is also no
limitation in respects to activities in- and outdoors (it can also be mixed). Most
important criteria is that these facilities stick together spatially and functionally close. ENJOYMENT PARKS
Enjoyment parks are all facilities and contribute actively or passively to the
enjoyment of their visitors. These facilities do not have a certain topic in common,
neither do they have a preternatural teaching, sportive or shopping character. In
the empiricism, these facilities are built mostly outdoors. “The Prater” in Vienna
is a good example of these kind of parks. URBAN ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
Urban Entertainment Centers (UECs) are mostly indoor built entertainment
facilities with a concentration of experience shopping, a thematical gastronomy
and entertainment area or a tethered spare-time and overnight stay facility. The
“AEZ” (Vienna, 3rd district) and the “Mall of America”, Minneapolis (USA) are
examples of UEC´s.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
These are zoned areas (in- and outdoors) which contain a mixture of several sport
or spare-time facilities. These facilities can be either a kind of main sports (tennis,
squash, fitness, etc.), fun sports (skating, roller-blading, street hockey, etc.),
extreme sports (free-climbing, bungee jumping, etc.) as well as game- and fun
facilities. Example: “SäntisPark”, St. Gallen (Switzerland). THEME PARKS
A theme park contains facilities of a unitary theme which either spreads around
the whole park or only parts (areas, facilities) of the park.
Thus, a theme park is a “closed world” which aims at achieving the encounterance
of an illusionary world at the one hand and the visitor’s desire to leave the banal
things in life behind on the other. Examples: Walt Disney World, EuroDisney,
Universal Studios, etc. BATH PARKS
Out- and indoor bath facilities, which feature additional entertainment elements
and are of a certain size or offer wide spread possibilities to the visitor are called
Bath parks. They derive from traditional baths and are at a higher stage of
development, but they are an attraction on their own and therefore have become
tourist attractions. Typical example: “Rogner Dorint Resort Blumau”, Austria. EXPERIENCE RESORTS
Experience resorts are Hotel- and Bungalow-facilities with a large size of spare
time- and experience facilities, which are created for the stay of the visitor only.
Problems in this categorization arise because most of the parks which can be met in
empiricism are mixtures of two or more “types” of recreation parks. The example the
“SäntisPark” in Switzerland gives, reveals the difficulties in applying the mentioned
criteria on parks to categorize them. On the one hand, this park is characterized by it
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Sports- and Fun orientation, but it is a Theme park and features also characteristics of an
typical UEC (big shopping and entertainment opportunities) on the other.
5.2.2 Hierarchy
To show the hidden hierarchy, the 20 biggest theme parks in the U.S. shall be related to
the number of the local population – the result is a measure of the economic importance
of a park to the respective region. It could also be used as an information device for the
degree of the dependence of the region on the job- and tax revenue-creating characteristic
of a theme park. Thereby it has to be considered that the listing only deals with the
current status and does not show any development trends. For example, the government
could try to ease the dependence of the region by supporting the other part of the local
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 4: Top 20 U.S. Theme Parks ranked by the degree of export orientation
Top 20 U.S. Theme Parks ranked by the
degree of export orientation
Six Flags Magic Mountain CA.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Six Flags Great America ILL
Knott’s Berry Farm California
Sea World California
Six Flags Texas
Grand Slam Canyon, Las Vegas
Six Flags Over Georgia
Paramount’s King’s Island Ohio
Busch Gardens Florida
Disneyland Anaheim
Six Flags Wild Safari Park NJ
Sea World Florida
Six Flags Great Adventure NJ
Bush Gardens the old Century
Morey’s Piers, NJ
Cedar Point Park Ohio
Universal Studios Orlando, FLA
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk CA.
Walt Disney World, Florida
< 1
< 1
< 1
Talking about the regional economic importance of the top 20 US Theme Parks, it is not
surprising to find a complete different ranking of the parks compared to a table where
theme parks are ranked strictly by their visitor numbers.
Apart from Disney’s first place (Walt Disney World), which derives from its outstanding
number of visitors, we find Parks ranked top which are considered to be “small parks”.
And they are small, when considered the visitor number. Still, compared to the regional
workforce or regional potential employment capacity, it can be seen which parks rule
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
their region as an employer and wage-payer. The higher the park is ranked in the chart
above, the bigger its importance as the “economic backbone” of the region.
For the City of Santa Cruz, CA, owning a big park as the “Santa Cruz Boardwalk”, can
be beneficial as well as sacrificial. These two sides of the medal arise, when arguments
pro or con such parks shall be found: On the one hand, the “Boardwalk” is beneficial to
the region because it is a big employer (and there would be no big employer otherwise) –
the other side is, that this fact also shows a dependency of the region on the park. In the
worst case, employees perhaps have no other chance than to accept any working
conditions, wages, etc., the park provides, how good or bad they ever might be.
5.3. U.S. – Theme park facts in general
5.3.1 General impacts of major parks
Traditionally, destination attractions – and other types of tourist activities – have not been
subjects of big attention for economic developers. However, times are changing and
meanwhile, economic developers by all means seek job-creating opportunities in the
service sector of the industry. A major destination attraction can have a significant impact
on the region where it is located.
The investment in facilities, for example, can range from $ 150 to $ 300 million and up,
depending on the size and quality of the attraction itself and on the related investment,
such as resort hotels, conference centers and the like. The construction of the attraction
and the refurbishment required from time to time provide employment for the local
construction industry (all: Foden, 1996).
5.3.2 Customer catchment area
In the U.S., the locations of theme park sites are no longer demand-oriented (as in former
times) but are chosen by the best accessibility. It is a rule-of-thumb, that the maximum
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
distance to the theme park must not exceed 150 miles for day-trippers. Note that the
propensity for going there declines proportionally with the distance (Benesch, p.54).
For a major theme park in the U.S., following rules are accepted:
Table 1: Customer catchment area:
Catchment area Range (up to) Isochrone
(hours to drive)
Percentage of citizens
attracted to the park
Primary 50 miles 1 to 1,5 hours 20 – 45 %
Secondary 100 miles Up to 2 hours 10 – 15 %
Tertiary / Tourist 150 miles + – 1 – 11 %
(Source: Benesch, 1989.p 55)
This rule-of-thumb which holds true for all theme parks in the U.S. generally but must
not be applied to the theme parks in Orlando (Florida) and Southern California (Los
Angeles Area) because these parks are visited most commonly by “oversea-tourists”. For
example: Walt Disney World (Orlando, Florida) quoted the share of foreign visitors
compared to domestic travelers to its parks with 90 per cent (Benesch, p.55).
With exception of these two regions, it is estimated that “day trippers” contribute 75 per
cent of the visits to theme parks.
5.3.3 Attendance 1998
Theme park attendance alone is in the millions, as can be seen from following table:
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 2: US- Theme Park attendance numbers
Rank Park Operator/Owner Location Attendance
1. Walt Disney World,
Walt Disney Company Florida 41.7
2. Disneyland Anaheim Walt Disney Company California 13.7
3. Universal Studios
Universal Studios Inc. Florida 8.9
4. Universal Studios
Universal Studios Inc. California 5.1
5. Sea World Orlando Anheuser-Busch Corp. Florida 4.9
6. Busch Gardens Tampa Anheuser-Busch Corp. Florida 4.2
7. Sea World San Diego Anheuser-Busch Corp. California 3.7
8. Six Flags Great
Adventure NJ
Premier Parks / Time
New Jersey 3.4
9. Knott’s Berry Farm
Cedar Fair
Management Ltd.
California 3.4
10. Cedar Point Park Ohio Cedar Fair
Management Ltd.
Ohio 3.4
11. Paramount’s King’s
Island Ohio
Paramount Parks Ohio 3.4
12. Six Flags Magic
Mountain, Valencia
Premier Parks / Time
California 3.1
13. Santa Cruz Beach
Boardwalk California
Sta. Cruz Seaside
California 3.0
14. Six Flags Great
Premier Parks / Time
Illinois 2.9
15. Six Flags Texas Premier Parks / Time
Texas 2.8
Source: Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.78
This table shows the attendance at the 15 leading theme parks in the United States. The
most important and interesting fact of this specific market structure is that only 7
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Companies run the 15 largest theme parks. In this table, I considered Walt Disney World
as a single theme park. To be more precise, If Walt Disney World is split up into its 4
independent theme parks, following important fact has to be mentioned: One single
Company, the Walt Disney Corporation, runs the 4 biggest parks in the U.S.!
5.3.4. US – Theme park market structure
The market structure of major theme parks in the U.S. can be called an oligopoly.
Participating players are several Companies like Banks, Oil Companies, Insurance
Companies and Companies of the entertainment (movie and broadcasting) industry. The
U.S. theme park market is highly concentrated, which can be seen from the figure below:
Table 3: US – Theme Park industry market structure
Owner / Carrier Number of parks run by
Attendance 1998
Walt Disney Company 5 (WDW are 4 separate
55.3 millions
Premier parks / Time Warner 25 34.8 millions
Anheuser – Busch 9 20.4 millions
Universal Studios Inc. 5 18.5 millions
Cedar Fair Ltd. 8 13.7 millions
Paramount Parks 6 12.9 millions
Silver Dollar City Inc. 5 5.2 millions
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.81
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 5: Biggest Theme Park operators in the US
Biggest theme park operators in the
in million visitors
Walt Disney
Premier Parks /
Time Warner
Anheuser Busch
Universal Studios
Cedar Fair Ltd.
Paramount Parks
Silver Dollar City Inc.
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.81
Though disposing over 5 theme parks only, the Walt Disney Company exceeds the
attendance numbers of the second largest competitor by almost 60 %.
5.3.5. Top 10 Amusement / Theme Park Chains Worldwide
The unchallenged role of the Walt Disney Corporation as a leader of this branch of
industry can be seen much more clearly when considering the biggest Amusement or
theme park chains worldwide:
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 6: Biggest Theme Park operators worldwide
Biggest Theme Park Operators
Worldwide 1998
20,4 18,5 13,7 12,9 8,8 7,7
Walt Disney Corporation
Premier Parks / Time Warner
Anheuser – Busch
Universal Studios inc.
Cedar Fair Ltd.
Paramount parks
Grupo Magico international
Blackpool Pleasure Beach Co.
in million visitors
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.82
With just 9 theme parks worldwide, the Disney Company puts the Premier Parks/Time
Warner Company with 31 parks in second place. On third, Anheuser-Busch is to be found
with 9 parks (like Disney), Universal Studios is ranked fourth with 5 parks. Knott’s Berry
Farm is the most popular park the Cedar Fair Ltd. owns – the company owns 8 parks in
total. Paramount count 6, the “Groupo Magico international” owns 7, which are all
located in Central and South America. All of Pleasure Beach Co.’s parks (3) are resided
in England.
5.3.6 Age distribution of U.S. theme park visitors
Most theme parks have young families as their target group – that could be a reason, why
the share of 25-44 year old visitors in relation to the total number of visitors is the highest
in the statistics (if considered a family consisting of two adults with only one child):
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 7: Age distribution of Theme park visitors
Age distribution of Theme Park visitors
(w hole US-average)
65 years
and over
0-18 years
45-64 14%
Source: Benesch, p.141
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The roots of the amusement park industry go back to medieval Europe when pleasure
gardens began to spring up on the outskirts of major European cities. These gardens were
a forerunner of today’s amusement parks, featuring live entertainment, fireworks, dancing,
games, and even primitive amusement rides. Pleasure gardens remained extremely
popular until the 1700’s, when political unrest caused many of these parks to close.
However, one of these parks remains: Bakken, north of Copenhagen, which opened in
1583 and now enjoys the status of the world’s oldest operating amusement park (Kyriazi,
p.14). The second oldest amusement park is to be found in Vienna, Austria. The “Prater”,
as it is called, was erected in 1766.
In the late 1800’s, the growth of the industry shifted to America. Following the American
Civil War increased urbanization gave rise to electric traction (trolley) companies. At that
time, utility companies charged the trolley companies a flat fee for the use of their
electricity. As a result, the transportation companies looked for a way to stimulate
weekend use, or weekend ridership. This resulted in the amusement park. Typically built
at the end of the trolley line, amusement parks initially were simple operations consisting
of picnic facilities, dance halls, restaurants, games, and a few amusement rides often
located on the shores of a lake or river. These parks were immediately successful and
soon opened across America (Kyriazi, textual).
The amusement park entered its golden era with the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition
in Chicago. This World’s Fair introduced the Ferris Wheel and the amusement midway to
the world. The midway, with its wide array of rides and concessions, was a huge success
and dictated amusement park design for the next sixty years. The following year, Capt.
Paul Boynton borrowed the midway concept and opened the world’s first modern
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
amusement park – Paul Boyton’s Water Chutes on Chicago’s South side. Unlike the
primitive trolley parks, the Water Chutes was the first amusement park to charge
admission and use rides as its main draw rather than picnic facilities or a lake. The
success of his Chicago park inspired him to open a similar facility at the fledgling Coney
Island resort in New York in 1895 (Kyriazi, textual).
The amusement park industry grew tremendously over the next three decades. The center
of the industry was Coney Island in New York, which at its peak was home to three of
America’s most elaborate amusement parks along with dozens of smaller attractions.
Around the world, hundreds of new amusement parks opened, while many early trolley
parks expanded by adding new rides and attractions. New innovations provided greater
and more intense thrills to the growing crowds. By 1919, over 1,500 amusement parks
were in operation in the United States. Unfortunately, this development did not last for
long (Kyriazi, textual)
In 1929, America entered the economic depression, and by 1935 only 400 amusement
parks remained; many struggling to survive. World War II further hurt the industry, when
many parks closed and others refrained from adding new attractions due to rationing.
With the end of World War II, America and the amusement park industry enjoyed post
war prosperity. Attendance and revenues grew to new records as new parks opened across
America. A new concept, the Kiddieland, took advantage of the post-war baby boom,
introducing a new generation to the joys of the amusement park in the rapidly growing
suburbs. Unfortunately, this resurgence was short lived (Kyriazi, textual).
As the 1950’s dawned, television, urban decay, segregation, and suburban growth began
to take a heavy toll on the aging urban amusement park. The industry was again in
distress as the public turned elsewhere for entertainment. What was needed was a new
concept and that new concept was Disneyland.
When Disneyland first opened in 1955, many people were skeptical that an amusement
park without any of the traditional attractions would succeed. But Disneyland was
different. Instead of a midway, Disneyland offered five distinct themed areas, providing
“guests” with the fantasy of travel to different lands and times. Disneyland was an
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
immediate success, and as a result, the theme park era was born. Built at a cost of USD
17 million, Disneyland represented the largest investment for building an amusement
park that had been made up to that time. During the first season, a crowd of 3.8 million
visitors was registrated.
Over the next several years, there were many unsuccessful attempts to copy Disneyland’s
success. It wasn’t until 1961, when Six Flags Over Texas opened, that another theme park
was successful. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, theme parks were built in many major
cities across America. Unfortunately, while theme parks were opening across the country,
many of the grand old traditional amusement parks continued to close in the face of
increased competition and urban decay. However, some of the traditional parks were able
to thrive during the theme park era because the renewed interest in amusement parks
brought people back to their local park. In addition, many older traditional parks were
able to borrow ideas from theme parks and introduce new rides and attractions to their
long-time patrons.
As the 1980’s dawned, the theme park boom began spreading around the world.
Meanwhile, theme park growth slowed considerably in the United States due to escalating
costs and a lack of markets large enough to support a theme park (Kyriazi, textual).
During the 1990’s, the amusement park remains an international favorite. Many
developing nations are experiencing the joys of the amusement park for the first time,
while the older, more established amusement parks continue to search for new and
different ways to keep their customers happy. Rides are taking advantage of technology to
reach heights and speeds that thrill seekers only dreamt about not too long ago.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
6.2 Where and when did the Theme-Park development start ?
To answer this question, a survey of the world’s oldest Amusement parks which are still
operating at the same site are quoted here chronologically (Kyriazi, 1997, p.27-64).
Table 4 : The world’s oldest Theme Parks
Name of Park Location Founded
1. Bakken Klampenborg Denmark 1583
2. The Prater Vienna Austria 1766
3. Blackgang Chine Cliff Top, Ventnor UK 1842
4. Tivoli Copenhagen Denmark 1843
5. Lake Compounce Amusement Park Bristol, CT USA 1846
6. Hanayashiki Tokyo Japan 1853
7. Grand Pier Teignmouth UK 1865
8. Blackpool Central Pier Blackpool UK 1868
9. Cedar Point Sandusky, OH USA 1870
10. Clacton Pier Clacton UK 1871
11. Idlewild Park Ligonier, PA USA 1878
12. Sea Breeze Amusement Park Rochester, NY USA 1879
13. Skegness Pier Skegness UK 1881
14. Grona Lund Tivoli Stockholm Sweden 1883
15. Dorney Park Allentown, PA USA 1884
16. Coney Island Cincinnati, OH USA 1886
17. Pullen Park Raleigh, NC USA 1887
18. Beech Bend Park Bowling Green, KY USA 1888
Geauga Lake Aurora, OH USA 1888
20. Arnold’s Park Arnold’s Park, IA USA 1889
21. Carousel Gardens – City Park New Orleans, LA USA 1891
22. Conneaut Lake Park Conneaut Lake Park, PA USA 1892
Columbian Park Lafayette, IN USA 1892
24. Trimper’s Rides and Amusements Ocean City, MD USA 1893
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Name of Park Location Founded
Whalom Park Fitchburg, MA USA 1893
26. Lakemont Park Altoona, PA USA 1894
27. New Walton Pier Walton-on-Naze UK 1895
28. Widam Park Budapest Hungary 1896
Blackpool Pleasure Beach Blackpool UK 1896
Waldameer Park Erie, PA USA 1896
Lagoon Park Farmington, UT USA 1896
32. Takarazuka Familyland Takarazuka Japan 1898
Mumbles Pier Mumbles UK 1898
Village Park Old Orchard Beach, ME USA 1898
Midway Park Maple Springs, NY USA 1898
Kennywood West Mifflin, PA USA 1898
37. Tibidabo Barcelona Spain 1899
Toledo Zoo Toledo, OH USA 1899
39. Vollmar’s Park Bowling Green, OH USA 1900
40. Brighton Palace Pier Brighton UK 1901
41. Brittania Pier Great Yarmouth UK 1902
Canobie Lake Park Salem, NH USA 1902
Camden Park Huntington, WV USA 1902
44. Bushkill Park Easton, PA USA 1903
45. Grand Pier Weston Super Mare UK 1904
Keansburg Amusement Park Keansburg, NJ USA 1904
47. Oaks Amusement Park Portland, OR USA 1905
Carousel Village- Williams Park Providence, RI USA 1905
49. Frontierland Morcambe UK 1906
50. Toshimaen Park Koyama Japan 1907
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Santa Cruz, CA USA 1907
Clementon Amusement Park Clementon, NJ USA 1907
Lenape Park Mays Landing, NJ USA 1907
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
6.3 Milestones in U.S. – Themepark History
Disneyland opens. Generally, Disneyland is considered the nation’s first theme park. Built
at a cost of $17 million, Disneyland represented the largest investment for building an
amusement park that had been made up to that time. In spite of skepticism over such a
new concept, the park was an instant success, drawing 3.8 million visitors to its five
themed areas during its first season.
The Matterhorn – ride premiers at Disneyland. The first major tubular steel roller coaster,
it forever changes the face of roller coaster development.
The first Six Flags park opens in Texas. This was the first successful, regional theme
park. In its first full season of operation, 1.3 million visitors pass through the turnstyles.
Arrow Development introduces the Log Flume ride at Six Flags over Texas. The ride
quickly became the most popular ride at the park and soon the Log Flume was being built
at theme and traditional parks around the world.
Late 1960’s to Early 1970’s
Large inner city parks begin closing, reflecting changing times. As turmoil increases
throughout large cities, parks feel similar pressures.
Large corporate backed theme parks begin growing in numbers with such major
corporations at Marriott Corp., Penn Central, Anheuser-Busch, Taft Broadcasting, Mattel,
and Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich investing in theme parks.
Many small family owned traditional parks succumb to competitive pressures and go the
way of the mom and pop grocery store. Still other traditional parks renovate and expand
to compete with the new wave of theme parks. Examples include Kennywood, Pittsburgh,
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
PA; Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH; Dorney Park, Allentown, PA; Geauga Lake, Aurora,
OH; Lagoon, Farmington, UT; and Hersheypark, Hershey, PA.
The opening of Walt Disney World on 27,500 acres of central Florida. Disney makes the
biggest investment ever for an amusement resort, amounting USD 250 million.
Kings Island theme park near Cincinnati, OH, opens and is credited with the revival of
the classic wooden roller coaster by building the Racer. Wooden coasters once numbering
near 2000, had now dwindled to less than 100.
Opening of Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto, Canada. It was widely considered to be the
last theme park to be constructed in North America for several years. With costs up and
all major markets apparently taken, experts considered the American theme park market
EPCOT Center opens at Walt Disney World in Florida. Considered a permanent World’s
Fair, EPCOT is the first theme park to surpass $1 billion in cost.
The opening of Disneyland in Tokyo. Other corporations in the amusement business are
now looking to the Far East and Europe to expand their operations.
Sea World of Texas opens in San Antonio. Another major theme park to open in North
America since 1981, it reinvigorates a slumbering industry. Soon several other new parks
are under development, although not at the frenzied pace of the 1970’s. Other new parks
• Fiesta Texas, San Antonio (1992)
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
• Knott’s Camp Snoopy, Bloomington, MN (1992)
• MGM Grand Adventures, Las Vegas, NV (1993)
• Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, FL (1998)
• Lego World, Carlsbad, CA (1999)
• Heartland America, Indianapolis, IN (1999)
• Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL (1999)
• Jazzland, New Orleans, LA (to be opened in 2000)
Kennywood and Playland in Rye, NY are listed on the National Register of Historic
Places, the first operating amusement parks to be honored. This is symbolic of the
renewed appreciation of the heritage of the amusement park industry.
“Boardwalk and Baseball” in Florida closes. Opened in 1974 as Circus World,
“Boardwalk and Baseball” was the first corporate theme park to close. Facing stiff
competition from Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens and Sea World
of Florida, the park never made a profit during its existence.
Batman, the Ride opens at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. The first inverted
roller coaster, in which the cars travel underneath the structure, is an immediate hit and
soon parks around the world are building them.
“Superman – The Ride” opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA. This roller
coaster breaks previously untaught records for height (415 feet tall) and speed (100 miles
per hour).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
6.4 Development of the theme park industry in the coming future – Outlook
This shall only be an excerpt and an incomplete listing. The reason why this listing is
posted here is to give an idea about the ongoing competition in this industrial sector as
well as to show new radical ways in making business, theme park carriers and developers
think of:
6.4.1 Disney’s California Adventure
This new development in what was once Disneyland’s parking lot will be a complex of
shops, restaurants, a Hotel and some amusement rides, which are all themed to California
and its cultural icons.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction Anaheim Walt Disney Co. 2002 546 acres
Source: Own survey
6.4.2. Tokyo Disney Sea
The oriental Land Company Ltd., partners with the Walt Disney Company in the
development of Tokyo Disneyland, is once again building a state of the art theme park
with Disney’s help. DisneySea will be a futuristic ocean themed park near Tokyo
Disneyland. Disney wanted to build a similar park in Long Beach, California, but ran into
too much local opposition. Construction costs of the park are up to USD 2.7 billion.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction Tokyo Walt Disney Co. 2001 220 acres
Source: Interview 1
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
6.4.3. Universal Studios Japan
Universal, having noticed Disney’s success in Tokyo, is aiming at the lucrative Japanese
market with this new park, which will no doubt include many of the familiar rides that are
popular at Universal’s Hollywood and Orlando parks.
Universal’s Osaka project is 25% owned by the City of Osaka, with Universal holding
17%, Rank Holdings controlling 10% and the balance divided up among several other
companies in minority shares. Construction of the park costs USD 1.6 billion, and its
estimated attendance is 8 millions.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Preliminary site
Osaka Universal Studios
et. al.
2001 140 acres
Source: Internet: , Nov. 5, 1999
6.4.4. Disneyland Hong Kong
The deal Walt Disney Co. struck with Hong Kong to build a major Disney theme park
relies on a nearly $ 3 billion, tax-payer funded investment by the territory, and just a $
314 million infusion from Disney. Investing far less than Hong Kong’s taxpayers, Disney
will own 43 % of the park – a smaller share than its 49 percent of Disneyland Paris –
while Hong Kong will own 57 %. Critics say, that the cost might outweigh the benefits.
They say, that the project initially will provide plenty of construction jobs, but ultimately
will offer mainly low-skilled, low-wage employment.
Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa promised 16,000 jobs will be
created for construction and related infrastructure projects, with Disneyland employing
18,400 people when it opens. Tung defended the taxpayer’s investment and predicted it
will boost the economy by $ 18.980 billion over the next 40 years. It will be designed for
an attendance of 5 million per year and will be expanded only if more people are visiting
the park.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction Hong Kong Walt Disney Co. /
City of Hong Kong
2005 200 acres
Source: The Orange County Register, Nov 3, 1999, B3
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6.4.5. Universal Studios Port Aventura, Spain
Universal acquired a stake and management of the park in June 1998 for around $66
million from Pearsons Plc., and marks the company’ first up and running international
theme park. It is located in Port Aventura, 60 miles south of Barcelona, Spain. Owned by
Universal Studios Recreation Group (37%), La Caixa (37%), Anheuser-Busch (20%) and
Fecsa (6%). Universal controls the park, and will license its branded content to the park.
The 3-year-old, 117-acre park attracts around 3 million patrons a year. As part of the
purchase, Universal gets 750 acres associated with Port Aventura, as well as the option to
buy another 2,000 acres adjacent to the theme park. Already, Universal officials say they
want to expand the current facility, and are considering building a second gate in an
attempt to create an Orlando-style park in Spain.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction
Port Aventura,
Universal Studios
et. al.
2003 867 acres
Source: Internet: , Nov. 5, 1999
6.4.6. The Wonderful World of Oz
This park was scheduled to open in 1996. But, so far matters of site selection and
government sponsorship have held up the park. Like Visionland in Alabama, this park is
a cooperative effort between local governments trying to lure tourist dollars to their
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Pending site
Kansas City, Kansas Warner Bros. 2002 536 acres
Source: Internet:, Nov 5, 1999
6.4.7. Atwater Theme Park Project
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
A water and ride park featuring hotels, RV campground, Strip Mall, Ice Arena and an
Amphitheater is planned for Atwater, California. Ernie Wilkins regards this site as ideal
for a theme park.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction Atwater, California Ernie Wilkins
2001 62.3 acres
Source: Internet:, Nov. 5, 1999
6.4.8. Seapark
This park features a fascinating new idea is brought up by the SeaParks Entertainment &
Attractions Group: A theme park on a float. Seapark, a Canadian Company, is attempting
to realize that idea.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Under Construction India, Florida SeaParks
Entertainment &
Attractions Corp.
2002/3 –
Source: Internet:, Nov. 5, 1999
6.4.9. Veda Land
This park is also coming up with a completely new idea: Education in methods of mental
training shall be used as well as some rides. Yogi Mahrishi Makesh and developer Doug
Henning are the carriers of that new idea.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Pending site
New York State
Doug Henning
– 1400 acres
Source: Internet:, Nov. 5, 1999
6.4.10. Neverland East and West
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Pop star Michael Jackson has been in negotiation with the governments of both Poland
and South Korea over two possible theme parks. Since the Polish interior ministry did not
approve the original site at an abandoned airport, Mayor of Warsaw Marcin Swiecicki
presented four other potential locations.
Also, the development of the South Korean park does not proceed as fast as planned.
Status Location Company/Carrier Opens Size
Pending site
North Cholla
South Korea
Michael Jackson 2004 150 acres
Pending site
Michael Jackson 2004 222 acres
Source: Los Angeles Times 1999b
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
7. Major theme parks requirements and problems
7.1 Major theme parks requirements
The basic requirements that must be satisfied for a major theme park are summarized in
the following table:
Table 5: Destination attraction basic requirements
Destination attraction basic requirements
• Adequate market within 100 –200 miles with sufficient disposable
• Large site (100 – 400 acres and more)
• Excellent access to site (traffic)
• Appropriate zoning
• Available supply of part-time workers
• Acceptable weather (must be able to operate at least 140 days a
Source: Foden, 1996
Key to a successful theme park is an adequate market within 100 to 200 miles, consisting
of a population with adequate disposable income to afford the required expenditures. The
bulk of the attendees at theme parks are day-trippers and, in fact, successful theme parks
require repeat business, which is most likely to come from day-trippers. Disneyland and
Disneyworld are exceptions to this distance requirement in that each has either broad
regional or national and in the case of Disneyworld, international–appeal.
An adequate site is critical. A site of 100 acres or more is necessary to provide not only
the attraction itself, but also parking, buffer zones and expansion. (If a resort is planned,
of course, more land is required.) The land should be rolling to permit attractive
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
landscaping and changes in elevation to mask exhibits and rides, although level sites,
with proper inward-looking design, can work as well.
Access to the site is important because of the need to tap markets from which attendees
can arrive by express highways, with minimum delay to arrive at the site. Some
attractions (e.g., Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Six Flags over Georgia in Atlanta and
Opryland, U.S.A.) have been able to acquire direct access from the highway, thus
alleviating traffic congestion.
Appropriate zoning of the site is critical. A long drawn-out battle to change zoning
classification is highly undesirable. The theme park developer has no interest in becoming
involved in a battle for zoning change.
The availability of a large pool of part-time labor is a real asset for a locality hoping to
land a destination attraction. College students, spouses of military personnel, and
housewives seeking temporary or part-time employment are key sources. Location near a
college or a military base is particularly desirable.
Weather has a direct bearing on the number of days a theme park can operate and, hence,
on its potential profitability. Initially theme parks were designed to operate year round,
but now many can be successful with 140-150 days of operation. Warm, rain-free weather
is most desirable, particularly during the period April 1 to November 1.
7.2. Major theme parks problems
There are, of course, several problems that must be addressed, if a destination attraction is
to be developed successfully in an area (See next Table).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 6: Theme parks as destination attractions- Problems to be addressed:
Theme parks as destination attractions – Problems to be
• Need for larger site (100 –400 acres depending on concept)
• Traffic
• Large amounts of water required
• Seasonability in employment in most areas
• Lower wages
Successful destination attractions and their ancillary development require large sites with
top-notch access. A site of at least 100 to 200 acres, and possibly up to 300-400 acres
may be required. Obviously, unless such a site can be found, and at reasonable cost, a
destination attraction cannot be developed in a given area.
The availability of large amounts of water is another potential problem for some areas.
theme park rides, as well as overall ambience, often require large volumes of fresh water,
which may be difficult to ensure at a particular location.
The seasonality of employment, an asset in some areas with large college or military
establishment personnel, may be a detriment to some areas, which are seeking permanent,
year-round employment. Similarly, the lower wages associated with the parttime/
temporary employment at most facilities may be undesirable, although in other areas
the employment opportunities may represent a real opportunity to meet a need.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
7.3 Theme parks – Requirements to impact destination tourism
Having a theme park does not automatically insure an influx of tourism. To impact
destination tourism, a theme park must (ERA 1998a, p.9):
• Be unique, a “must see” destination.
This can be accomplished through character development (Mickey and his
friends), architectural form, natural features, special events and
programming (Opryland) or a combination thereof.
• Have large scale and a critical mass of attractions.
Investment levels to impact international tourism generally must exceed
U.S. $150 million.
• Combine high technology with human scale and quality service.
Investments in the thrill hardware must be combined with a high level of
service from the “hosts and hostesses” so that a unique local culture and
friendly human contact is balanced to the high technology.
• Encourage overnight stays.
The principal economic benefits of tourism come when overnight stays are
generated. Day visitors or tourists who stay with friends and relatives
generate only 20 percent of the economic impact of tourists staying in
hotels and motels ($50 versus $250 per day). Thus, in designing a theme
park for tourism, a multiple attraction destination (with experiences that
can occupy two or three days) is more likely to have the desired impact.
• Have complementary destination activities.
Tourist-oriented theme parks should be part of a mix of recreation and
leisure activities. A true tourist destination would also have supporting
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
recreation uses such as high quality hotels, convention and conference
facilities, resorts, recreational shopping and dining experiences, and sports
activities including golf, tennis, and water-related activities, and
excursions into nearby local tourism areas.
• Support media (TV) coverage and exposure.
Like most other things in life, future theme parks must be designed for
television. The use of theme parks and resorts as backdrops for variety
programs, celebrity games, sports competition, and convention/conference
broadcasting is increasing rapidly and the resultant TV exposure is very
important in creating awareness in tourism markets.
Given that these criteria are part of the theme park/tourist destination program, the results
can be dramatic and provide a sustaining economic base. For example, at Walt Disney
World, tourism increased from 2.8 million visitors in 1970 to over 35 million by 1992.
The increase in the number of air visitors alone was 20 million. This increase in visitation
(particularly overnight visitation) spurred the development of over 50,000 hotel rooms
and resulted in the direct employment of over 250,000 persons (Benesch, 1989,
This is quite a success story for what was once only a mosquito infested swamp bought
for an average price of $200 per acre.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
8. Case Study: The Disneyland Expansion
To analyze the impacts theme parks have on regions in detail, a case study shall be done.
While analyzing the Disney Company´s attempt to expand the existing Theme Parks in
Anaheim, CA, and the impacts from running and expanding the Theme Park closely, it
shall also be shown that the Disney Corp. is not only a world leader in Theme Parks but a
leader in the entertainment industry in general.
8.1. The Walt Disney Company – A brief introduction
The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1922, and has become a world leader in
family Entertainment. Today, the company is operating on a multinational level, has over
65,000 employees worldwide and over 189,000 shareholders. It is organized and divided
into 3 sections of businesses:
Figure 8: Business Units of the Walt Disney Company
8.1.1 Description of Business Units (BU) Business Unit Creative Content:
The Creative Content BU consists of following business fields: “The Buena Vista
Internet Group” (Infoseek), “The Fairchild Publications”, the Television
Production / Distribution. It has to be noted, that the most important sections of
The Walt Disney
Broadcasting Theme Parks
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
this BU are the “Walt Disney Studios” (Miramax, Home Entertainment,
Theatrical Films, Buena Vista Music Group, Network TV Production) and the
“Consumer Products” (Merchandise Licensing, The Disney Store, Disney
Publishing, Disney Direct Marketing, Disney Interactive, etc.) (Source: The Walt
Disney Company: “1998 Fact Book”, p.4). Business Unit Broadcasting
As the name speaks for itself, this business unit covers “ABC Radio Networks”,
“ABC Television Network” and “Cable Networks & international” (ESPN,
Disney Channel, Toon Disney). (Source: The Walt Disney Company: “1998 Fact
Book”, p.12) Business Unit Theme Parks and Resorts
The “Walt Disney Imagineering” and the “Disney Regional Entertainment” (Club
Disney, DisneyQuest, ESPN Zone) belong to this unit as well as the “Anaheim
Sports” unit (The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, The Anaheim Angels). Major
component of this business field are – of course – the “Walt Disney Attractions”
containing “The Disneyland Resort”, “Walt Disney World Resort”, “Disney
Vacation Club”, “Disney Cruise Line” and “Tokyo Disney” (Source: The Walt
Disney Company: “1998 Fact Book”, p.15)
While U.S. theme parks are always owned by the Disney Corporation, the way how parks
abroad the U.S. are operated differs from that:
• The Oriental Land Co. owns Tokyo Disneyland (opened in 1983) and
licenses Disney content for the park. Oriental Land is 59% owned by
several Japanese companies, including real estate giant Mitsui Fudosan
Co., construction Company Keisei Toshi Kaihatsu Co. and Rail
Company Keisei Electric Railway Co. The park’s visitor number is
approximately 16.7 millions.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
• The 1992 opened Disneyland Paris is 39% controlled by a Disney unit,
24% by the Saudi-Arabian Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal and 37%
controlled by shareholders. It drew 12.6 million visitors in 1998.
8.1.2. Financial Key Numbers and Ratios
Table 7: Financial key numbers and ratios:
Business Segments 1996 1997 1998
Revenues (in million USD)
Creative Content $ 10,159 $ 10,937 $ 10,302
Broadcasting $ 4,078 $ 6,522 $ 7,142
Theme Parks and Resorts $ 4.502 $ 5,014 $ 5,532
Total Revenue $ 18,739 $ 22,473 $ 22,976
Operating Income (in million USD)
Creative Content $ 1,561 $ 1,882 $ 1,403
Broadcasting $ 782 $ 1,294 $ 1,325
Theme Parks and Resorts $ 990 $ 1,136 $ 1,287
KCAL Gain – $ 135 –
Accounting Change ($ 300) – –
Total Operating Income $ 3,033 $ 4,447 $ 4,015
Source: Annual Report of the Walt Disney Company, 1998, p.70
During the second quarter of 1996, the company implemented SFAS 121 (different
method of accounting), which resulted in the company recognizing a $ 300 million noncash
charge related principally to certain assets included in the theme parks and Resorts
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The KCAL Gain derives from the acquisition of ABC networks – Disney sold its
independent Los Angeles television station during the first quarter of 1997 afterwards.
It is interesting that the operating income by segment is distributed almost evenly in 1998:
Figure 9: Operating income by segment
Annual Report of the Walt Disney Company, 1998, p.10
As can be seen clearly, the company´s operating income was contributed by the 3
individual business segments in nearly equal measure. With the exception of the
theme park – business unit, growth rated in operating income lagged behind
historical trends, which is reasoned with increased cost pressures (such as higher
key sports programming rights and increased action film production costs), and, of
course, the difficult economic conditions in 1998.
Operating Income by Segment 1998
Theme Parks and Resorts Creative Content
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 8: Characteristic data:
Characteristic data 1996 1997 1998
Operating Performance
Operating Income/ Total Revenue 17.5 % 19.0 % 17.5 %
Income before Income taxes/Total Revenues 12.8 % 14.1 % 13.7 %
Net income / total revenues 7.3 % 8.2 % 8.1 %
Return on Investment
Net income / Avg. Stockholder’s equity 9.2 % 10.6 % 10.1 %
Net income / Average Total Assets 4.0 % 4.7 % 4.6 %
Capital structure
Borrowings / Avg. Stockholder’s equity 78.2 % 66.3 % 63.7 %
Borrowings / Avg. Total Book Capitalization 33.5 % 29.2 % 29.3 %
Borrowings / Total market Capitalization 29.0 % 20.5 % 22.5 %
Debt Service Coverage
Income before Net Interest and Taxes / Total
Interest Cost
4.7 x 5.4 x 6.1 x
Income before net interest, depreciation and
Amortization / Total Interest cost
6.1 x 7.1 x 8.1 x
(Source: The Walt Disney Company: “1998 Fact Book”, p17)
These figures illustrates the financial status of the Disney Company. The capital structure
shows high ratios of liquidity and considered all the numbers, Disney Corp. can be
considered as an extremely wealthy corporation.
Considered all Disney’s theme parks together, the following development of theme park
related revenues can be quoted:
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 10: Theme park related revenues
Theme Park Related Revenues
in million USD
Food & Beverage
within Theme
Theme Park
Source: Annual Reports of the Walt Disney Company, 1994-1998
It can be seen clearly, that Disney gains a higher profit from its “Merchandise, Food &
Beverages sales” than the company does from admission fees.
The following graph depicts the average visitor spending trend for all Disney parks.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 11: Development of average per capita visitor spending
Average per capita Visitor Spending
Disney’s Theme Parks
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
in USD
in percentage change
Average Spending per Visitor for Food&Beverage and
Percentage Change
Source: Annual Reports of the WaltDisney Comp. 1994 – 1998
Current expenditures per person at Disneyland are USD 21.04. Expenditures at Disney’s
California Adventure (which will be subject of a detailed analysis later in this paper),
which has a substantial number of retailing and dining opportunities at a slightly higher
level than the current park, are estimated at USD 23.6 per person, which is 12 percent
above those at Disneyland (PKF Consulting, p29).
8.1.3 An Analysis of the company’s status
What are the factors that contributed to the company’s successes on its way towards
becoming the World’s largest family entertaining company?
The first force to be discussed is the threat of new entrants. Since the Disney company
has been able to find a very distinctive niche in the industry, the entrance barriers are
relatively high.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The company has been able to grow over a long period of time, and has developed from
within the departments of Research and development, marketing, and finance. By relying
on past experience, company officials know to a large extent what the target customer
wants. As Disney pretty much dominates the family entertainment market, it will be very
difficult for a new organization to develop brand recognition, brand identification and
product differentiation. Disney has focused on market diversification for years and the
company covers a wide array of products and services. Being a market leader has made it
possible for the company to practice effective economies of scale in production. For
example, over 500,000 copies of the Videocassette “Pinocchio” were sold in only
two months, and the Company has 40-50 million visitors to its theme parks every year. In
addition, an extremely large amount of capital investment is required for new entrants
into the industry if they want to compete with the Disney Corporation. For instance,
Disney spent USD3.6 billion in its European theme park (Euro Disneyland). Only very
large companies can meet such large capital requirement. Lastly, the government policy
towards the industry appears to be very favorable. The French government invested USD
1.2 billion (40%) in Euro Disneyland, provided public transportation facilities and a large
tax relief (from 18.6% to 7%) on the cost of goods sold.
The bargaining power of customers is high in the service and in the entertainment
industry. Since a large number of customers are needed to make Disney’s operations run
smoothly, the customers have certain powers. For instance, if the price on a particular
home video is too high, customers may be reluctant to spend the money needed to
purchase the product. Another example is the entrance fee charged at Disney’s theme
parks. It is stated in the case that the maximum amount of money that customers are
willing to pay is USD 39. Accepting this fact, the entertainment industry is designed in a
way that it will make the buyer spend more but the initial admission fee. A majority of
Disney’s product mix focuses on intangible returns on the buyer’s money. The case that
some customers may not realize that they are getting such a return may increase the
bargaining power of the customers.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The bargaining power of suppliers is moderate. As the Disney Company is operating in a
highly differentiated and unique industry with high switching costs associated with
operations, the suppliers are dominated by a few companies and are most probably very
concentrated. However, Disney is a unique and important customer of many of the
suppliers and the company’s size may certainly be a great advantage for them. By being
able to order large volumes of unique products from unique suppliers, a dependency
relationship in the industry will be created.
The threat to Disney that customers substitute their products or services is moderate to
low. Obviously, other cartoon figures, theme parks, and movies can penetrate the market
in which Disney is operating in, but this is not necessarily representing a significant
threat. The Disney Company has already placed price ceilings on many of its product
lines and should be able to compete with new competitors. However, the threat alone of
new entrants into the market requires Disney to hedge against such risk by concurrently
upgrading products and services.
Jockeying among current contestants does not play a very important role in Disney’s
external operational environment. It is true that the company’s exit barriers are extremely
high (who would buy a huge theme/amusement park?). Furthermore, capacity is
augmented by extremely large investments. However, there are no close direct
competitors to Disney’s operations. Competitors such as “Lonely Tunes” (Time Warner
Bros.) retail stores do not appear to commit themselves to expensive advertising
campaigns to obtain market shares. Moreover, Disney’s products are highly differentiated.
The switching costs are therefore quite significant.
A multinational corporation such as the Disney Company faces internal weaknesses and
strengths, which can, to a certain extent, be controlled. The external forces such as
opportunity and threats are more difficult to control, and Disney has to adopt and take
advantage to those forces. I would like to start-up focusing on the internal capabilities of
the company.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Disney’s main strength is in its resources and in the experience in the business. The
company clearly has developed a very strong and well-known “brand-name” over many
years. Disney has also been able to diversify its operations and products to hedge against
decreasing sales in product lines. In recent years it has diverted into Home Video, Film,
merchandise, Radio broadcasting, Network television and of course in theme parks. It has
also effectively globally diversified its operations from USA to Japan and Europe. The
main strengths in internal resources refer to human resources and financial stability.
Employees in the Disney studios appear to be extremely innovative and in recent years
they have produced several box-office productions. A Company without new ideas is
doomed in today’s competitive business environment.
Corporations always have internal weaknesses, and in Disney’s case they are:
• A very large work force,
• frequent change in top-management, and
• High overhead expenses. (Source: Interview 1)
In 1991, the company had 58,000 employees. This fact represents possible
communications problems, and a high level of bureaucracy within the corporation. By
diversifying into more businesses and niches, the company’s work force will grow even
larger, and the organizational structure has to be able to support an expansion of the work
force. The fact that the company very frequently changes its corporate officers makes the
corporate structure even more complicated. There are many positive things that
accompany changes, but change is also associated with resistance, and large expenses.
Large overhead costs are usually direct effects of a large work force and a large number
of fixed assets. For instance, ticket prices should not be able to exceed USD 39 for
entrance to Disneyland. Customers are not prepared to spend more money than that.
Therefore, we can conclude that overhead costs should be closely monitored to match the
price that customers are willing to pay for the goods and services offered.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Legal and legislative forces are usually identified as being negative external factors to a
company. Ironically, in Disney’s case, the French government contributed greatly in the
Euro Disneyworld project. The French government invested over USD 1.2 billion in the
project, built communication facilities, and gave Disney tax relieves on cost of goods sold
accounts as already mentioned. In addition, since the barriers of entry into the highly
specialized industry in which Disney is operating, competition will find it difficult to
penetrate the company’s highly diversified product/service mix. Furthermore, large initial
capital investments are required to enter the industry.
Major threats to the Disney Company include the following:
• Over saturated markets
• politics and economic aspects from a global perspective, and
• Foreign competition. (Source: Interview 1)
As the supply of services and products in the entertainment industry is starting to saturate
the markets, competition will be more intense, and only the most powerful companies
will be able to survive. Disney has leveraged this risk to a certain extent as it has
diversified and globalized its operations, but still, the company is in the
service/entertainment business. Some of its operations, such as the Network-television
division may not be able to handle the pressure from the Cable-giants such as Turner
Broadcasting Systems (TBS).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 12: Development of consumer products revenue
Consumer Products Revenue
in million USD
574 724 1082 1415 1798 2120 2518 3076 3452
Growth rate 0,0 26,1 49,4 30,8 27,1 17,9 18,8 22,2 12,2
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Source: Annual Reports of the Walt Disney Company, 1994-1998
The surpassing growth rate in consumer product sales in the years 1992 until 1994 can
probably be justified by the opening of Euro Disneyland. As more visitors from an undersupplied
market (Europe) visit the new theme park, they tend to buy gradually more
Disney-related souvenirs and consumer products.
After the first visitor-boom and the additional spending for consumer products in Euro
Disney eased up in the year 1994, the “normal” growth rate of almost 20 % a year on
average could be kept.
The effects of an economic depression could make it too expensive for people to utilize
the services and the products offered. Once again, I have to point out that the company
has hedged itself to the macroeconomics forces, as it has diversified its business
worldwide. If there is a depression in Europe, Euro Disneyland may operate on a loss,
meanwhile, the operations in Japan would be able to cover-up the losses by boosting
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
operating revenues. It is known that economic depressions very seldom strike the whole
world economy at once.
Competition is always a threat to a company. Even though that the entrance barriers are
relatively high in the niche in which the company is operating in, the threat of new
competition cannot be excluded. The movie business and the Network-television
departments are extremely risky. In those two areas of operation, Disney is the intruder,
and there are several very powerful rivals. A less significant threat comes from new
cartoon characters. New cartoon figures appears every-day in television shows, and in
movie theaters overseas. Will “Mickey and the Gang” be able to beat the war of the
limited market shares internationally and domestically? Only the future generation
cartoon lovers can answer that question, but tendencies in the market should be very
carefully monitored.
The corporate strategy is clearly focusing on diversifying its products and services. Rapid
expansion overseas and an increase in the product and service mix have created an
umbrella effect. Thus, risks have been minimized. If one product line fails, other product
lines will cover-up for its losses.
The following figure shall depict the quasi-monopoly status of Disney’s theme parks in
the United States and worldwide:
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 13: Visitor numbers biggest theme parks
Visitor numbers of biggest theme parks
1993 1995 1997 0
in million visitors a yea
Visitors U.S.
Visitors biggest 10 US
Theme parks (without
Visitors of all
Disneyparks worldwide
Visitors biggest 15
Theme parks (without
Disney) worldwide
Source: Amusement Business
Magazine 1993-1999
Regarding the chart above, it should not cause any astonishment that the Walt Disney
Corporation is by far the biggest theme park operator in the world. Note that they count
more than the double visitor number than the second largest operator in the world does in
figure 14.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Figure 14: Visitor numbers biggest theme park operators
Biggest theme park operators
worldwide 1998
20,4 18,5 13,7 12,9 8,8 7,7
Walt Disney Corporation
Premier Parks / Time Warner
Anheuser – Busch
Universal Studios inc.
Cedar Fair Ltd.
Paramount parks
Grupo Magico international
Blackpool Pleasure Beach Co.
in million visitors
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.82
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.80
8.2 Introduction of the Case-study project
The USD 1.4 billion Disneyland Resort expansion will include a new theme park
(Disney’s California Adventure), a new 750-room deluxe resort hotel (Disney’s Grand
Californian Hotel), and the “Disneyland Center”, a new retail dining and entertainment
esplanade, which is supposed to accelerate new economic growth for Anaheim, Orange
County and Southern California (Disney Corp., 1996a) .
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
As planned, Disney’s California Adventure will offer the following themed districts:
• The Hollywood / Beverly Hills area
• A beachfront boardwalk area
• A wilderness area
• A working farm and a farmer’ Market / manufacturing area showcasing
California’s products.
Based on their experience with EPCOT Center in addition to Walt Disney World in
Orlando, Florida, the Walt Disney Company estimates that as a result of the park’s
expansion, the numbers of visitors and the average length of stay will increase.
Attendance is expected from a stabilized baseline of 13.7 million people currently at
Disneyland to an expected stabilized level of 20.2 million people for Disneyland and
Disney’s California Adventure combined (PKF Consulting, p8).
To me, this appears to be a conservative estimate, since the park area will be doubled in
size, but the attendance will only increase by 40 percent relative to the 1996 attendance
(when construction began).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
8.2.1. Map of project site
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
70 Theme park district:
The theme park district is the largest of the land use areas and includes approximately 292
acres. The theme park District will include the existing Disneyland theme park (136
acres), a new theme park called “Disney’s California Adventure” and associated ticketing
areas and pedestrian circulation areas (147 acres), and the new Disneyland administration
building (9 acres). (EIR #311, V.1, p 4-34) Hotel district
The hotel district is the second largest area within the Disneyland Resort and covers
approximately 97 acres. The Hotel District is intended for hotels, meeting room space,
accessory retail, recreational uses (e.g. pools, tennis, courts), landscaped areas and
parking facilities (EIR #311, V.1, p 4-34). Parking District
The 76 acres Parking district consists primarily of two major parking lots, which have
easy access to the Interstate 5. Together, the parking lots contain 34,400 spaces (EIR
#311, V.1, p 4-34). Future Expansion District
The 81 acres future expansion district will accommodate a possible future expansion of
the Disneyland Resort.
Table 9: Land use at WestCot
Land use
Districts (acres)
Hotel Theme Park Parking Future Expansion
Hotels 97 – – –
Public Parking – – 76 –
Disneyland Theme Park – 136 – –
D’s California Adv. Park – 147 – –
Administration Bldg. – 9 – –
Future Expansion – – – 81
Total (= 546 ) 97 292 76 81
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
8.2.2 Construction activities and phasing
The construction activities for the Disneyland Resort will involve many stages within
each construction phase. Not all types of construction activities will occur at the same
time: Many will occur sequentially.
Table 10: Phases of construction
Typical activity
1 1993-1995 Adoption of existing Theme Park to future needs
ticket booths, people movers, etc.
2 1996-2002 Disney’s California Adventure –
Begin of construction & Park will be finished
3 2000-2010 Construction of 3rd Theme park in “Future
Expansion District” (81 acres)
8.2.3 Project objectives
The purpose of the expansion is to create an international, multi-day vacation destination,
which integrates existing and future theme parks, hotels, and other visitor-serving
facilities in proximity to each other. The 546 acre- Disneyland Resort will include a
number of opportunities for shopping, dining, amusement, and recreational activities that
will change the site from a single-day visit destination to a multi-day attraction. Since
many guests will extend their length of stay, incremental vehicle trips to and from the
area are expected to be reduced.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The objectives of the Disneyland Resort include (EIR #311, V.1, p 6-21):
• To reconfirm and enhance Southern California as one of the world’s greatest
tourist destinations.
• To transform the existing Disneyland Resort from a primarily day-use activity
into a multi-day destination resort for use by the Southern California
metropolitan area residents as well as visitors from around the world.
• To maintain and enhance the economic vitality of the City of Anaheim and
Orange County by providing business and job opportunities associated with
the construction and operation of the Disneyland Resort.
• To lay a foundation for future economic expansion.
• To minimize environmental impacts through comprehensive site development
8.3. Current theme park market structure of the L.A. Area
What are the environmental conditions to the project ? Which framework is already
existing in the case-study’s region ?
8.3.1. Admission fees
Table 10: Current admission fees:
Park Admission Adults Admission
Admission Seniors
38 USD 28 USD 36 USD (over 60
Knott’s Berry Farm 36 USD 26 USD 26 USD (over 60
Six Flags Magic
39 USD 19.50 USD (smaller
than 48 “)
19.50 USD (over 55
Universal Studios
29 USD 29 USD –
*) by Oct. 11th, 1999: own survey.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
The quoted prices are on a daily admission ticket basis. Note that the big parks like
Disney offer 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-day passes as well (on a cheaper per-day basis). It attracts
attention, that all parks have nearly the same admission prices. As Foden (1996) already
mentioned, visitors are not willing to pay more than 39 USD admission fee, so there is no
more room for maneuver for the competing companies.
8.3.2 Visitor numbers
Table 12: Visitor numbers of the L.A.-Area parks
Theme Park Visitors 1998
Disneyland Anaheim 13,680 millions
Knott’s Berry Farm 3,400 millions
Six Flags Magic Mountain 3,070 millions
Universal Studios Hollywood 5,100 millions
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.76
In the L.A area, as well as worldwide, the Park run by Disney leads the ranking by
attendance numbers by far. Ranked on second place is Universal’s park in Hollywood,
which counts only 37 % of Disney’s visitor number, almost equal on third respectively
fourth place Knott’s Berry’s Farm and Six Flags can be found with a visitor number of
approximately 25 % of Disney’s.
8.3.3 Origin of Visitors Disneyland Anaheim
Table 13: Derivation of Disneyland’s visitors
Derivation of Visitors Share
Local (Southern California) 47 %
North California 22 %
U.S. Domestic travelers 16 %
International (mainly: Japan, Canada, UK, Germany) 15 %
Source: Study of the Projected Future Tax Collections, p.5
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
74 Knott’s Berry Farm
Table 14: Derivation of Knott’s Berry’s visitors
Derivation of Visitors Share
Local (Southern California) 59 %
U.S. Domestic (Nevada, North Calif., Arizona, etc) 30 %
International (mainly: Japan, Canada, UK, Germany) 11 %
Source: Knott’s Berry’s Public Relations Dept. Six Flags Magic Mountain
Table 15: Derivation of Six Flags’ visitors:
Derivation of Visitors Share
Local (Southern California) 80 %
U.S. Domestic (Nevada, North Calif., Arizona, etc) 15 %
International (mainly: Japan, Canada, UK, Germany) 5 %
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.77 Universal Studios Hollywood
Table 16: Derivation of Universal’s visitors
Derivation of Visitors Share
Local (Southern California) 52 %
U.S. Domestic (Nevada, North Calif., Arizona, etc) 34 %
International (mainly: Japan, Canada, Mexico, UK,
14 %
Source: Amusement Business Magazine 1998, p.76
Regarding the market area, interesting differences can be found. Disneyland, for example,
has the lowest ratio of local customers, but the largest share of international visitors.
Also, the general composition of the visitors origins is most equal at Disney’s park – the
only park with a comparable composition of the visitors origins are Universal’s Studios in
The biggest dependency onto the regional market shows Six Flags Magic Mountain,
which is not only the park with the biggest share of local visitors, but also the park with
the smallest ratios of U.S. domestic (= other than Southern California) and international
visitors ever.
As we learned earlier, that does not necessary mean that this park has the smallest impact
on the regions economy compared to the others. Here, Six Flags Magic Mountain is the
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
smallest park in terms of visitor numbers and also the least “export-orientated” park in
the region (compare figure 4, p.28).
8.4. Impacts of the project
8.4.1. Impacts from construction / expanding the existing theme park Employment
Construction of the WESTCOT Center (see glossary) will result in 51,200 direct and
indirect person-years (equivalent to the hours worked by one employee 8 hours a day, five
days a week) of construction jobs in Southern California.
Of this total, construction will require 23,800 person-years to build the WESTCOT
Center. Indirect construction jobs within Anaheim will result in additional 1,500 personyears
of employment. Additionally, approximately 25,900 indirect person-years of
construction jobs will be located in the region, but outside of the City of Anaheim
(EIR#311, V.1, p. 3-252). The provision of these employment opportunities is a
beneficial impact to the economy. Housing
Construction employees do not typically relocate for a project. Although the construction
phase one and two will take place over 7 years, most of the required trades will only be
working for specific segments of the construction period. In addition, unemployment in
the construction field is currently high. There are many unemployed or underemployed
construction workers in the region who do not have to relocate for project employment.
Construction employees are not expected to have a significant impact on housing
(EIR#311, V.1, p 3-252).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
8.4.2. Final impacts of the project Employment DIRECT EMPLOYMENT
The project will directly add new jobs as a result of its construction and operation. It will
also induce new jobs as a result of income spent by workers filling these direct jobs, and
may, in addition, result in indirect employment, to that extend that direct employment
leads to local purchases of materials and services. The additional employment generated
by the proposed project is a beneficial impact for job growth in Anaheim and the region.
The following table presents an estimate of the number of direct, new jobs which will be
created as a result of the project. The estimates presented in the table were derived based
on human resource requirements of the existing Disneyland theme park and retail and
hotel operations in California.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 17: Employment projections
Jobs by Category WESTCOT and
Associated Uses
Employment in
Future Expansion
Employment in
Total Project
Employment by
Theme Park
(based on attendance)
6,630 3,315 9,945
The Disney Resort
Hotels (based on rooms)
5,600 0 5,600
Retail (in Theme Parks,
based on gross square feet)
2,100 0 2,100
Future jobs
14,330 3,315 17,645
Existing site jobs
(subtracted) a)
2,482 0 2,482
Net direct
11,848 3,315 15,163
5,198 1,034 6,232
Part-time 3,809 1,429 2,238
Casual/Temporary 2,841 852 3,693
FTE primary wage
4,258 1,010 5,268
a) Existing jobs that will be replaced by the Disneyland Resort are subtracted from the estimates shown
above for the Disneyland Resort
Source: EIR#311, V.1, p3-273
The development of the theme park, Hotel, and Parking Districts will result in 5,198
direct, new permanent full-time cast member jobs, 3,809 permanent part-time cast jobs,
and 2,841 casual/temporary cast jobs in the year 2002. WESTCOT represents 4,258 jobs
likely to be filled by full-time equivalents (FTE) primary wage earners who are workers
most likely to influence the residential location decision of their respective households, as
is discussed further below.
Assuming a third park in the Future Expansion District will be operational by 2010, it
will add 1,034 more full-time, 1,429 more part-time, and 852 more casual/temporary
jobs. Full-time equivalent earner jobs will number 5,268.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Since the proportion of the theme-park area to the Hotel-Retail area is changing
(disproportionately more Hotels and Retail-shops areas are added) the employment
structure also changes:
Table 18: Changes in cast characteristics
(deriving from expansion of the park)
Characteristic Current Cast Project Cast
Work site
Theme Park 85.0 % 77.3 %
Hotel 15.0 % 22.7 %
Job Status
Full-time 37.8 % 41.1 %
Part-time 37.5 % 34.6 %
Casual/Temporary 24.8 % 24.4 %
Median Age 27 years 28 years
Median Time Employed 36 months 36 months
Median Household size 3 persons 3 persons
Wage Earner Status
Primary 39.9 % 41.7 %
Secondary / Other 60.1 % 58.3 %
Housing Tenure
Owners 68.4 % 67.2 %
Renters 30.3 % 31.6 %
Other 1.3 % 1.2 %
Median months at current
48 months 48 months
Source: EIR#311, V.4, Appendix H, p.51
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
As can be seen from the table, the future Cast will consist of a larger portion of full-time
workers than the cast today. On average, future cast members will be slightly older than
the current cast and to a higher percentage of primary wage earners. WORKFORCE DEMANDED BY THE PROJECT
Table 19: Direct employment 2002 and 2010 forecast
Employment WESTCOT Jobs
(as percent of 2002
Total direct Jobs
(as percent of 2010
Total direct Jobs
as percent of projected
Job Growth (1990-2010)
Share in the City of Anaheim
Net jobs 6.2 % 7.0 % 32.4 %
FTE Primary
wage earner jobs
2.2 % 2.4 % 11.3 %
Share in the Northwest Orange County Subregion
Net Jobs 1.4 % 1.6 % 8.2 %
FTE Primary
wage earner jobs
0.5 % 0.6 % 2.8 %
Source: EIR #311, V.1, p.3-274
WESTCOT’s cast is equal to 8 % of the number of Anaheim resident labor force. At
buildout in 2010, the project’s cast will be equal to 9 percent of the City’s resident labor
Based on existing cast characteristics (taken from the existing Disneyland Resort), the
project labor force will most likely be drawn from an area larger than the City of
Anaheim (EIR #311, V.1, p.3-275).
The nature of many of the employment opportunities at the project (e.g. entry-level skill
requirements, part-time and temporary work with commensurate pay) and the
characteristics of the jobs suggests that the potential labor supply in the region will far
exceed the likely demand for additional labor generated by the project. Given the
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
characteristics of the jobs and the employees, it is likely that the project will find its
employees in the regional resident labor force. The project is not expected to induce
significant migration into Southern California or substantially increase intra-urban
mobility. The final project’s direct employment would not result in significant
employment impacts and would benefit the City with expanded employment
opportunities (EIR #311, V.1, p.3-275). POTENTIAL AND INDUCED EMPLOYMENT
The only reliable way to estimate indirect jobs and where such jobs are likely to occur is
through the operation of an econometric model of the region. It traces the flow of dollars
associated with construction and operation of the project as this spending filters through
the various sectors of the regional economy. Based on the WESTCOT Center, a fiscal
analysis of the project (Kotin, Regan Mouchly, Inc. 1991) included such an analysis. The
City of Anaheim has independently reviewed and evaluated this study which can be
summarized as follows:
The fiscal impact analysis indicates that each direct job associated with operation of the
WESTCOT Center in Anaheim will result in 0.777 indirect jobs. About 15 percent
(1,800) of these indirect jobs will be located in Anaheim (EIR #311, V.1, p.3-276).
Applying these factors to the estimate of 15,163 total net direct project employees and
3,211 induced jobs suggests that the project could result in 14,277 indirect jobs, of which
2,142 would occur in Anaheim. Some unknown portion of these jobs will be part-time
and temporary, and some will represent jobs for primary wage earners.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
81 Housing
The project does not include any dwelling units, and therefore will not result in any direct
increase in population in either Anaheim or the subregion of Orange County. To the
extent that project employees and indirect or induced employment associated with the
project result in net new households in either area, the project will cause an indirect
increase in population. It is not expected that any such indirect population growth will
result in significant impacts.
For the Disneyland Resort as a whole, it is estimated that 553 cast households will seek
housing in Anaheim, or 1,659 people, which represents 5 percent of the 1990 – 2010
population growth forecasted by SCAG for Anaheim. The proposed project’s direct
employment would not result in a significant indirect population impact, because the
estimated population increase associated with the project is well within growth
projections for the City (EIR #311, V.1, p.3-277).
The construction of the Disneyland Resort does not include the construction of any new
residential units. Thus, it will not have any significant direct impact on housing in
Anaheim or the subregion. As discussed in the EIR #311, the propensity of households to
move from one location to another is a result of being a cast member or keeping a status
of a “normal” theme park worker. Casual and temporary theme park workers are largely
students living at home, and therefore their decision to take a job at the project is unlikely
to influence their household’s decision about where to live.
Considered these factors, it is estimated that the WESTCOT Center will generate the
“need” for approximately 460 units while the future expansion district will generate the
“need’ for 63 housing units. Total estimated need for housing units in Anaheim to
accommodate cast households is 523 (EIR #311, V.1, p.3-278). Impacts on the Hotel industry PROJECTED SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR HOTEL ROOMS IN ANAHEIM
There are more than 80 motels and hotels within a two-mile radius of Disneyland, which
contain approximately 16,000 rooms (Source: PKF Consulting, p. 19). Within Anaheim’s
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
hotel inventory, the highest rated properties are the Disney branded, followed by the
relatively new Convention Center headquarters hotels. Because of their very large size,
the mentioned properties account for approximately one quarter of the City of Anaheim
rooms inventory.
As would be expected, there is an inverse correlation between property age and quality
(the younger the property the higher the quality). With a few notable exceptions, the
average daily rates for the aggregate market of mid-level properties ranges from USD 40
to USD 60, depending on proximity to Disneyland, age, condition, and brand. The by far
cheapest possibility to stay in the Anaheim Area is by using the Recreation Vehicle park,
which prices range from USD 20 to USD 30 (Source: own survey, Nov. 5th, 1999).
Table 20: Projected Supply and Demand for Lodging
Projected Supply and Demand for Lodging
Supply Demand
Addition Room
1998 0 6,214,125 – 4,289,079 – 69.0
1999 -146 6,160,835 -0.9 4,323,155 0.8 70.2
2000 0 6,160,835 0 4,146,641 -4.1 67.3
2001 750 6,434,585 4.4 4,143,243 -0.1 64.4
2002 2000 7,164,585 11.3 5,102,810 23.2 71.2
2003 1000 7,529,585 5.1 5,406,278 5.9 71.8
2004 1000 7,894,585 4.8 5,657,982 4.7 71.7
2005 750 8,168,335 3.5 5,844,132 3.3 71.5
2006 500 8,350,825 2.2 5,968,232 2.1 71.5
2007 250 8,442,085 1.1 6,030,282 1.0 71.4
Compound annual growth rate 3.5 4.1
Source: PKF Consulting, p20.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
At the start of the financial year (FY) 1996, approximately 146 older villa units at the
Disneyland Hotel will be demolished to make way for the retail, dining and entertainment
In FY 2001, it is expected that the first new private suppliers enter the market while the
estimation expects 2000 more rooms to be supplied in the FY 2002 (with the 750-rooms
of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel).
Another 2000 rooms will appear by other private suppliers in the years 2003-2004 (PKF
Consulting, p.18).
Beyond 2005, the estimation expects the demand to stabilize and that the market will
reach a plateau with regard to demand.
To talk about the demand side, it has to be mentioned that in the FY 1999, the new
“Tomorrowland” was opened and demand is expected to rise modestly from prior year
levels. In FY 2000, Disneyland will not offer any new attractions and the Convention
Center will be undergoing its last phase of renovation. Some visitor groups could
postpone their bookings to a time when the Convention Center is finished and since there
is no new ride at Disneyland, the demand is to decline by 4.1 %.
In FY 2002, Disney’s California Adventure and the Grand Californian will open and the
Convention Center will be in its second year of operation. Given the new attractions, the
demand will rise sharply.
After that, an abrupt decline in demand growth rate will occur, reflecting the maturity of
In the 1980s, the increase in the rooms supply depressed rates, then the economy caused
demand to decline, and most recently Anaheim’s hotel operators underestimated the
strength of the market and contracted long-term-agreements with wholesalers or other
groups for large room commitments at what are now currently below market rates.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 21: Projected growth in average daily room rate
Fiscal Year Average Daily
Room Rate
Growth Revenue
1998 72.97 6.0 312,191,003 4.3
1999 75.09 3.2 324,615,174 4.0
2000 78.22 4.2 324,355,429 -0.1
2001 82.02 4.9 339,813,126 4.8
2002 88.08 7.4 449,470,935 32.3
2003 90.65 2.9 490,101,563 9.0
2004 93.23 2.8 527,488,386 7.6
2005 95.97 2.9 560,867,656 6.3
2006 98.86 3.0 590,036,946 5.2
2007 101.91 3.1 614,541,792 4.2
annual growth
4.2 % 6.4 %
Source: PKF Consulting, p22.
In FY 2002, the year the California Adventure opens, the study forecasts an increase in
the daily room rate, at 7.4 percent. A significant portion of this is attributable to the
opening of the 750-room Grand Californian, which is envisioned to be the biggest hotel
in Anaheim.
Beyond the financial year 2007, the study forecasts the daily room rate and room revenues
to grow at the rate of inflation, which is assumed to be 3.0 percent annually.
To see an analysis of the impact of the additional hotel revenues see table 29, page 100.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
85 Public Costs and Benefits COSTS Infrastructure costs
The expanded Disneyland is expected to draw 20 million and more visitors
annually when finished. Currently, Disneyland attracts estimated 14 million
visitors per year – this growth in visitor numbers makes clear, that a huge
infrastructure investment programme has to take place.
Areawide improvements for WESTCOT costs are paid through issuance of
revenue bonds, Federal, State, and Regional funding, and by bed tax collections
and interest earnings. Disney and bond insurers have agreed to cover any bond
payment shortfalls, meaning that there is no risk to Anaheim’s taxpayers and the
City’s general fund. No new taxes have to be introduced on Anaheim’s taxpayers
to construct this project (all: Protocol of the “Special Meeting of the Anaheim
City Planning Commission”,p.59). Following table illustrates the summary of the
infrastructure investment costs:
Table 22: Absorption of costs
West Lincoln Ave. Widening /
$ 3.0
Miscellaneous Community Development
$ 1.2
Anaheim Canyon Substation $ 6.9
Fire Station Katella Street Relocation $ 1.4
Fire Station Clinton Street Modification $ 1.4
Anaheim Resort Area $ 450.0
Citywide Street Construction $ 26.0
Citywide Street Reconstruction $ 21.5
Sewer and Storm Drain improvements $ 8.3
Rail Improvements $ 1.5
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Traffic Systems and Signals $ 5.5
Katella Ave Improvement $ 41.3
Imperial Highway Project $ 10.0
System Undergrounding $ 43.7
Overhead Line Extensions $ 15.0
Residental Expansion $ 11.0
Energy Efficiency program $ 6.9
Substation Improvements $ 5.7
Transformers and Capacitors $ 4.0
Control System Improvements $ 2.4
Telecommunications $ 2.1
System Protection Improvements $ 2.0
Communication System Improvements $ 2.0
Remote Customer Services Location $ 0.1
Water Main Replacements $ 16.8
New Water Transmission Mains $ 12.0
Water Production System $ 10.3
Interstate Highway 5 Improvement $ 1,100
Disneyland Resort Expansion $ 1,400
New Commercial, Retail $ 690
Source: Addendum to “The Disneyland Resort Final EIR No.#311”, p. 85
We see, that the public carries the costs of 1,812 million USD, while the private carrier of
the project, the Walt Disney Company, invests over 2,000 million USD.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
87 Environmental costs of the project
The following significant cumulative impacts are identified (EIR #311, V.1, p 5-30):
• Loss of prime agricultural land
• Land use incompatibilities inherent in the juxtaposition of commercial and
residential uses.
• Cumulative air quality impacts related to emissions of ROG, NOx, CO and PM1O
which will exceed SCAQMD significance thresholds, significant cumulative SOx
emissions may also occur but are required to be offset.
• Construction impacts such as transportation disruption, air emissions, and visual
• Solid waste impacts due to limited landfill capacity
• Potential impacts related to cumulative consumption of electricity and natural gas.
a) Traffic
In the environmental impact report (EIR #311, V.1, p 5-33), the development of the
traffic density is forecasted until the year 2010 for the Interstate 5 which is the only
highway access to the site and an important North-South connection as well. Nearly
2/3 of project traffic arrives by the I-5.
Table 23: P.M. peak hour vehicle trip generation
Types of traffic
P.M. Peak hour vehicle trip generation
Year 1990 Year 2002 Year 2010
Theme park related 48.377 52.639 59.054
Trough-Traffic 46.386 52.503 58.618
Total 94.763 105.142 117.672
Total growth rate = 0 10.95 % 24.17 %
Source: EIR #311, V.5, p1-23
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
To host the additional arising traffic, following improvements of the Interstate Highway
Number 5 are being undertaken (in the amount of $ 1.1 billion, funded by tax dollars) and
can be indicated as mitigation measures. The I-5 improvement will be completed in 2001
and features mainly a widening of the already existing I-5 by 3 lanes each direction and
one additional lane which will be reserved for car-pooling (The I-5 Improvement Project,
p.2) for the length of 9.5 miles (between I-91 and I-22). Besides, additional ramps for
better and convenient access to the Anaheim Resort area and to the connecting Interstate
Highways will be constructed.
b) Water
Table 24: Projected wastewater flow
Component Existing Wastewater
Generation (thousands
gallons per day)
Proposed Wastewater
Generation (thousands
gallons per day)
Disneyland Theme Park 1190
Disneyland Hotel 490
TOTAL 1680
Proposed Uses (WESTCOT Center)
WESTCOT Theme Park 1900
Hotels 1160
Disneyland Park Additions 320
New Facilities Subtotal 3380
Existing uses to be credited 490
Future Expansion District 320
Subtotal 3210
Source: EIR #311, V.5, Section 4, p.55
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
“Existing uses to be credited” in the table above means that the elimination of
wastewater flows due to the replacement or removal of existing uses is referred to
as a credit and is subtracted from the projected wastewater generated by the
Disneyland Resort when finished.
The expanded Disneyland Resort will use an amount of water, which exceeds the
current amount by approximately 2.9 times.
In order to minimize water consumption, it is required by the City that water
conserving practices are adopted, such as (Source: EIR #311, V.5, Section 4,
• Use of reclaimed water for irrigation and washdown when it becomes
• Use of vacuums and other equipment to reduce the use of water for washdown
of exterior areas.
• Installation of flow-fittings and equipment such as low-flush-toilets and
• Include self-closing valves for faucets and drinking fountains.
• Use of efficient irrigation systems such as drip irrigation and automatic
systems, which use moisture sensors.
• Public information / awareness on water conservation via bathroom stickers,
table tents, etc.
• Maximize the use of water efficient technologies and practices in any new
Disney facility.
The use of low flow-fittings, fixtures and equipment will decrease the project’s
water consumption by 25 to 50 percent, according to the City of Los Angeles
(Source: EIR #311, V.5, Section 4, p.62).
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
c) Electricity
Table 25: Projected electrical consumption
Component Existing annual
Consumption (kWh)
Proposed Annual
Consumption (kWh)
Existing use to remain
Disneyland Theme Park 90,975,000
Disneyland Hotel 46,380,000
Subtotal 137,355,000
Proposed uses (WESTCOT Center)
WESTCOT Theme Park 206,885,000
Hotels 49,790,000
Public Parking facilities 34,059,000
Disneyland Theme Park Additions 18,865,000
Subtotal 309,599,000
Existing uses to be credited 19,412,000
Subtotal 290,187,000
Future Expansion District 88,000,000
Total net Project Consumption 378,187,000
Source: EIR#311, V.1, p.3-345
The expanded theme park as a whole will consume 378 million kWh annually with
average daily estimated consumption of approximately 1,05 million kWh.
Compared to the levels of electricity consumption in the already existing theme park and
in the park, when finally constructed, the development of the WESTCOT theme park
denotes a rise in electricity demand by a factor of 2.75.
Again, “Existing uses to be credited” in the table above means that the elimination of
electrical consumption due to the replacement or removal of existing uses is referred to as
a credit and is subtracted from the projected waste water generated by the Disneyland
Resort when finished.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
As mitigation measures, the City of Anaheim requires the Disney Corporation to
incorporate energy efficient technologies and practices to reduce on-site consumption of
electricity, such as (Source: EIR #311, V.5, Section 4, p.76):
• Time-controlled interior and exterior public area lightning. Aesthetics
lightning should be considered.
• The use of day lightning and photo cell controls for parking structures and
other common area lightning
• The use of reflectors in ceiling lights
• Thermal insulation of walls to exceed state and local standards.
• The use of high-efficiency motors and motor controls (i.e. variable speed
• The uses of variable volume pumping on water supply systems within the park
and hotel areas.
• The isolation of air conditioning to any selected floor or floors.
d) Air quality
Table 26: Projected cumulative operational emissions in the year 2002
IN THE YEAR 2002(in tons per day)
WESTCOT Center 0.1492 0.9081 0.0444 0.5248
Cumulative Projects 0.8214 6.3875 – 1.3049
TOTAL 0.9706 7.2956 0.0444 1.8297
• WESTCOT Center includes: Utility emissions, onsite engines and vehicles, offsite motor vehicle trips
• Cumulative Projects includes: Mobile source emissions associated with related projects
Source: EIR#311, V.1, p.4-15
The final EIR states that the Project will not result in exceedances of state or federal
carbon monoxide concentration standards at impacted intersections and, therefore, will
not result in significant localized carbon monoxide (CO) impacts. Operational impacts
due to emissions of sulfur dioxine (Sox) and particulate matter (measured as PM10) are
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
not significant. However, operational regional emissions of reactive organic gases (ROG),
nitrogen oxides (NOx) and CO from the operation of the Disneyland Resort will exceed
the significance thresholds established by the SCAQMD and accepted by the City of
Anaheim (Addendum to the Disneyland Resort EIR, #311, p.29).
Mitigation measures (Protocol of the “Special Meeting of the Anaheim City Planning
• The Disney Corporation is required to use clean fuel (not fossil) for attraction
rides and other uses, as far as practicable.
• To the extend practicable, goods movements shall be scheduled for off-peak
traffic hours by the carrier to avoid additional traffic congestion).
• Parking structures have to feature electronic and signage utilities to enhance
smooth traffic flows and to reduce additional pollution
• Due to the fact, that the projects main customers will be families, extra ramps
to the parking lots for car-pool lane – users will be constructed to avoid traffic
congestion and additional air pollution consequently.
• The use of electrical people movers and electrical shuttle buses from the
parking lots to hotels and theme parks has to be implemented by the carrier of
the project.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
e) Solid waste
Table 27: Projected solid waste generation
Component Existing
Solid Waste Generation
(in metric tons a year)
Solid Waste Generation
(in metric tons a year)
Disneyland Theme Park 10,950
Disneyland Hotel 4,745
Total 15,695
Proposed Uses (WESTCOT Center)
WESTCOT Theme Park 15,661
Hotels 3,460
Disneyland Park Additions 4,565
New Facilities Subtotal 23,686
Existing uses to be credited 1,172
Future Expansion District 7,290
Subtotal 29,840
TOTAL NET PROJECT GENERATION 15,659 + 29,840= 45,463
Source: EIR #311, V.5, Section 6, p.91
WESTCOT Center alone is estimated to generate an additional 23,686 tons of solid waste
per year or 65 tons per day. The city of Anaheim requires the Disney Corp. to reduce their
solid waste by 25 %, which means a reduction from 45,463 tons to 36,370 tons. This shall
be achieved by (EIR #311, V.5, Section 6, p.87)
• Using recycled paper products for stationary, letterhead, and use of recycled
paper for packaging
• Recovery of materials such as aluminum and cardboard.
• Collection of office paper including most offices and work sites in the park
• Receptacles for recycling of polystyrene (foam) cups. The cups are
compressed into discs and a vendor hauls them to a local recycler for
reprocessing them.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
• Use of recycled toilet tissue and recycled paper towels. BENEFITS Monetary impacts
The Disneyland Corp. has a study being done, which estimates that the Disneyland Resort
expansion will generate approximately USD 25 million per year in new revenues to the
city of Anaheim and almost 36 million US Dollar to the state.
Figure 15: Forecasted additional annual revenues
Forecasted additional annual revenues
(in million US Dollar)
City County State
Source: The Disney Corp. 1996a (Inflation until 1999 considered)
Not only the City of Anaheim receives new revenues, also the County and in
particular the State are financial “winners” of the new expanded theme park in
This makes clear, why not only the City of Anaheim alone has to afford the
infrastructure investment program.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
95 Visitor spending
Figure 16: Visitor spending in the city of Anaheim
1998 City of Anaheim Visitor Spending
4% 1%
Meals &
Groceries &
Source: Anaheim/ Orange County Visitor Bureau 1998, p.6
In 1998, the average length of stay for visitors was 3.2 nights, while the average
daily expenditure per travel party was $ 167 (an avg. travel party equals 3.1
persons) in 1998.
a) Orange County employment Impact of visitor spending (direct and indirect)
Orange County visitor spending of $ 5.6 billion (which is undertaken in the City
of Anaheim by approx. 90 percent) directly and indirectly creates jobs in all
sectors of the local economy:
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
Table 28: Orange County employment impact of visitor spending
Industry Sector Employment
Number % of Total
Eating & Drinking Establishments 39,800 26.5 %
Hotels & other Lodging Places 23,800 15.8 %
Retail Trade 23,600 15.7 %
Personal, Business & other Services 21,800 14.5 %
Amusement & Recreation Services 20,100 13.4 %
Financial, Insurance & Real Estate 6,100 4.1 %
Manufacturing 3,500 2.3 %
Transportation 3,200 2.1 %
Wholesale Trade 3,100 2.1 %
Government 1,800 1.2 %
Communications & Utilities 1,600 0.9 %
Construction 1,200 0.8 %
Agriculture, Other Resources and Mining 600 0.4 %
Total 150,200 100 %
Source: Anaheim / Orange County Visitor Bureau 1998, p.6
Presenting the results of the study (Anaheim / Orange County Visitor Bureau
1998, p.6) it has to be stated that:
• Each 1 % increase in visitors creates 1,500 jobs,
• 26 jobs are created per million dollars of spending,
• nearly 49 % of visitor industry employees are minorities,
• Visitor industry employees are 52 % male and 48 % female.
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
97 Projected tax revenues from the Hotel Industry to the City of Anaheim
The “transient occupancy tax” (TOT) is based upon a percentage of a hotel guest’s nightly
room rate. Like many other cities, Anaheim has increased its TOT periodically over the
past decade in order to fund tourism generating improvements or to augment the general
fund in ways that will not affect local voters. It rose from 8.0 % in 1983 to 15.0% at
The Anaheim Public Financing Authority will assist the City of Anaheim by issuing
lease revenue bonds to finance the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, the
construction of infrastructure to improve the Anaheim Resort Area and the construction
of a public parking facility.
The lease payments measurement revenues (LPMR) made by the City of Anaheim to the
Financial Authority are determined by the tax receipts collected as follows in detail (PKF
Consulting, p.28):
• For all hotel properties except those on Disney Property, 3.0 percentage points of the
15.0 percent tax to be collected from January 1st, 2001, onward is to be utilized to the
• For the Disney hotel properties, the LPMR will include the sum of the 15 percent
TOT and 1 % percentage point share of sales tax. As Disney’s California Adventure
and Grand Californian Hotel open only in 2002, the numbers in the following table
are dated from 2002 onward for “Disney’s share” of the LPMR payment.
I would like to discuss the sales-tax a little more: It is an added element of tax receipts
and is utilized to measure the lease payments which, in turn, provide revenue to repay the
proposed bond debt. Specifically, the City’s one percent portion of sales tax received,
aggregated with TOT on Disney Hotels, on all sales subject to sales tax and TOT on
Disney properties is to be utilized in the calculation of the LPMR. These sales consist
essentially of the following:
• Food, Beverage and merchandise sales at the existing Disney branded Hotels
The Economic Impacts Of Theme Parks On Regions Michael Braun
• Food, beverage and merchandise sales at the proposed Grand Californian Hotel;
• Food, beverage and merchandise sales at Disneyland and Disney’s California
• Food, beverage and merchandise sales at the proposed Retail / Entertainment Center.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michae
Table 29: Total LMPR Payments
Financial year Non-Disney Hotel
Room Revenue 15 % TOT
3 % of Room
Revenue (used for
LMPR payment)
TOTAL LMPR Payment Flow
(From City of Anaheim to
Financial Authority)
2001 270.450.055 40.567.508 8.113.502 2001 8.113.502
2002 326.140.101 48.921.015 9.784.203 2002 35.461.918
2003 363.070.804 54.460.621 10.892.124 2003 37.340.171
2004 396.646.704 59.497.006 11.899.401 2004 39.140.889
2005 426.100.724 63.915.109 12.783.022 2005 40.841.754
2006 451.227.006 67.684.051 13.536.810 2006 42.437.305
2007 471.567.554 70.735.133 14.147.027 2007 43.914.536
2008 485.714.581 72.857.187 14.571.437 2008 45.231.972
Financial year
Room Revenue from
Disney’s additional
15 % TOT
and Merchandise Revenue
Sales Tax
at 1 %
TOTAL TAX REVENUE to the City of
Anaheim from Disney Sources (used for
LMPR Payment)
2001 – – – – –
2002 123.330.834 18.499.625 717.809.000 7.178.090 25.677.715
2003 127.030.759 19.054.614 739.343.270 7.393.433 26.448.047
2004 130.841.682 19.626.252 761.523.568 7.615.236 27.241.488
2005 134.766.932 20.215.040 784.369.275 7.843.693 28.058.733
2006 138.809.940 20.821.491 807.900.353 8.079.004 28.900.495
2007 142.974.238 21.446.136 832.137.364 8.321.374 29.767.509
2008 147.263.466 22.089.520 857.101.485 8.571.015 30.660.535
SOURCE: PKF Consulting, p.26, p.30 Data in US Dollar
LMPR-Lease: The City of Anaheim makes lease payments to the Anaheim Public Financing Authority which will be used to pay interest and
principal on the bonds. The LMPR payment is the aggregate of the 3.0 percentage points of the City-wide transient occupancy tax (TOT), and the
full 15 % TOT and 1 % share of sales tax generated on Disney Properties..
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
100 Analysis of the total economic impact
The direct and indirect economic impact can be summarized (Anaheim / Orange County
Visitor Bureau 1998, p.6):
• $ 5.6 billion in direct visitor spending
• nearly $ 12.8 billion in direct and indirect spending within the county
• $ 3.2 billion in total personal income generated by visitor spending
• Each 1 % increase in visitor spending adds $ 128 million to Orange County’s
economy and creates $ 32 million in earned income for residents.
Local governments receive $ 112 million in general fund fees and taxes from visitors and
visitor-related industries. The State of California receives $ 157 million in tax revenues
from Orange County visitor spending.
17.7 million
Overnight Visitors
per year
19.9 million
Day Visitors per year
$ 5.6 Billion
in direct spending
$ 12.8 Billion
in Total Economic
150,200 FTE Jobs
Multiplier Effect
$ 112.0 million
General Fund Fees &
Source: Anaheim / Orange
County Visitor Bureau
1998, p.8
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
8.5 Other impacts of the project
8.5.1. “Macro” – The Anaheim theme park in competition with Las Vegas
With regards to the competition for gaining the visitor’s recreation budget, the
geographically closest competitor to the Los Angeles Area with its 4 theme park
(dominated by Anaheim’s Disneyland) is the City of Las Vegas, Nevada which also has to
be considered as a true competitor in terms of size (dollars spent) and visitor numbers.
From an American perspective, these two places of interest are very close to each other –
the distance is 265 miles, which takes approximately 5 to 6 hours of car travel.
Figure 17: City of Anaheim visitor derivation
City of Anaheim Visitor Derivation
Source: Anaheim / Orange County Visitor Bureau 1998, p.7
As it can be seen clearly, the key visitor market for the City of Anaheim lies in the
domestic visitors, in particular in the Western U.S. (California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon)
– it can be assumed that this holds true for Las Vegas as well.
The second most important visitor group are foreign visitors (particularly Japanese and
European travelers). Other U.S.- domestic travelers amend the pie to 100 percent.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
In the 1990’s, the City of Las Vegas with its gambling resorts and casinos repositioned
itself as a more family-oriented destination, and due to the must-see nature of its newer
generation of mega-casino resorts, it temporarily upstaged Southern California’s theme
parks in the regional family travel market. The biggest problem, however, was that
gambling and other forms of entertainment did not mix in the long run.
In the early 1990s the casinos wanted to broaden their market base and thought their
future lay in family entertainment. The city transformed into a cross between Disneyland
and a gambling adventure by spending USD 1.7 billions to entertainment constructions
over three years (Korman, p.26). The goal was to grow into a sort of desert Disneyland,
but it did not quite work out – in 1995, only 7 % of the visitors brought their children. As
“The Economist” stated, “the families stayed at home” (The Economist, 1998, p.70).
As already mentioned, this upstaging was just of a temporary nature which could be
brought down to the problems Southern California faced in the years of 1992 with the
civil unrest following the Rodney King trial, 1993 with immense wildfires and finally
1994, as strong earthquakes shook the region.
After that, Las Vegas’ major Casino operators had recognized that the families that were
attracted by attractions as pirate ships and volcanoes have a relatively low propensity to
gamble and are refining Las Vegas’ image as a “Disneyland for adults”, with less
emphasis on the family market (PKF Consulting, p.3).
If there has to be seen a competition between the Disney Resorts and Las Vegas, it is not
identified in the fight between Disney’s Anaheim Locations and Las Vegas, but between
Disney’s Carnival Cruise Lines and Las Vegas.
Disney’s Carnival Cruise Lines has focused its attention on a growing rivalry with landbased
destinations. Las Vegas has proven itself a formidable land-locked foe to Walt
Disney Company’s attractions in Florida. In January 1994, Carnival launched its first
salvo on the “Desert City”, positioning itself as the gambling alternative to Las Vegas.
However, Las Vegas’ response to the Disney Company’s action reflects the industry’s
growing awareness that current gambling competition is coming more from land than
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
from the sea. In the last few years, gambling was legalized in some other states of the
U.S., and in almost all major Indian Reservations to ensure income sources for the native
population. Apart from that, the cruise business has only a 5% share of vacations where
the traveler spends more than $1,000 (Zbar, p45).
8.5.2 Impact of the new Retail- and Entertainment Center at Disneyland on the region Proposition 13
In June of 1978, California voters enacted Proposition 13 by a vote of 65 to 35 percent. It
made six basic changes to the state’s constitution (California Budget Project, p.14):
As follows by the inauguration of that, the income of the Californian cities was strongly
restricted. An impact of proposition 13 was, that cities now are competing for sales tax
revenues – they are in favour to support the erection of shopping malls and entertainment
facilities because this is almost the only way to raise the city’s budget.
Considered this, the economic impact of Downtown Disney will have not a citywide
impact, but an impact, which influences the entire region.
Downtown Disney is modeled after a much-larger complex of the same name at Florida’s
Walt Disney World. Several major parts of the Florida project currently aren’t part of the
Anaheim project, which at 20 acres is much smaller than 120-acre Florida complex.
Disneyland unveiled a lineup of high-profile restaurant and entertainment tenants in fall
1999 – from a New Orleans-style eatery to Latin and live-music nightclubs – that will
anchor Downtown Disney, the shopping and entertainment complex that will link its two
Anaheim theme parks. The complex is scheduled to open in 2002, along with Disney’s
California Adventure.
But Downtown Disney will be joining an increasingly crowded entertainment-retail
market in north Orange County, which has seen the opening of two large centers over the
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
past 18 months. And at least three more such projects, all of them near Disneyland, are
planned (Los Angeles Times, 1999a).
The complex will have some of the biggest restaurant industry’s chains, and due to the
high variety of bars and clubs, this project is very unique even in an overcrowded
entertainment market as the one in Orange County.
Experts believe that other centers, such as the Century Stadium Promenade in Orange,
Santa Monica’s 3rd Street, Universal’s Boardwalk and a proposed project in Garden
Grove, are the most likely to suffer from the increased competition (Los Angeles Times,
Downtown Disney is one of several huge-sized entertainment and shopping complexes
planned for Orange County. Combined, it would add another 3 million square feet of
stores, eateries and entertainment venues – the equivalent of South Coast Plaza, a big
shopping mall, which is just 8 miles away.
The others are Pointe Anaheim across the street from Downtown Disney, the Sportstown
Entertainment Complex, also in Anaheim, and Riverwalk in Garden Grove (7 miles).
Pointe Anaheim would include three hotels, stores, restaurants and a nightclub district
with three stages for touring Broadway shows and Las Vegas-style concerts. A 24-screen
movie theater could be substituted for the live entertainment (Los Angeles Times, 1999a).
Riverwalk would include “neighborhoods” of music with similarly themed restaurants.
For example, a section for country-western music would include a restaurant selling
Southern-style food.
Downtown Disney’s AMC Theatre also will have plenty of competition, some of it selfinflicted.
In neighboring Orange, AMC operates a 30-screen Theatre at “the Block” and
the Century Promenade center includes a 25-screen Theater. The county’s busiest movie
house is the Edwards Spectrum Theater in Irvine, which has 21 screens with plans to add
more. Theatres Circuit Inc. of Newport Beach, the county’s largest theater operator, plans
to boost its total number of movie screens by 25% over the next three years. Its threeThe
Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
screen theater at South Coast Plaza is being renovated and will become the first in the
county to serve light meals and alcoholic drinks.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
106 Map of the influenced area
3rd Street
„The Block“
at Orange
South Coast
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
9. Summary
Several impacts of theme parks on regions are discussed in the chapters above. After
naming the most important impacts, what is the quintessence from all this?
It is doubtless to say that tourism increases the region’s economic balance of services –
foreign money is brought into the region which had less income without tourism. Up to a
critical point, tourism promotes the regions welfare. Beyond this point, the region suffers
from overuse of the nature or generally spoken, negative externalities.
From a regional perspective, theme parks agglomerate the regions touristic industry and
activities. Theme parks allow regions to split their industrial activity spatially. While
some parts of the region underlie heavy touristic use, it would be possible to encourage
other branches of industry in the other, or even to act considerably with the nature and the
ecology. This is only possible, when the tourist dollars spent are reallocated across the
whole region, e.g. by taxes and benefit payments.
Still, a question is unsolved. What happens with the “theme park subregion” in this
model? Who is it who wants to live there?
Not only, that much of the demand for tourism related employment is seasonal and that
low status and low pay characterize much tourist industry employment, the biggest
danger lies in a disproportionate concentration of seasonal and low-paid employment
which can be a threat to the region’s employment structure. The case of the City of
Anaheim illustrates this very bluntly: Hispanics are the biggest share on the city’s
population, and most of them work in traditionally blue-collar jobs. It is fact that those
who can afford it, move to surrounding cities because of the low quality of live in
From my perspective, it is the task of politicians to avoid social inequality by introducing
laws or acts which limit the amount of touristic activity to a regional “desirable” and
reconcilable level.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
10. Outlook
10.1 A comment on theme parks in comparison USA – Europe
How is the different development in those two continents possible ? What are the reasons
for the fact, that the theme park industry is so mature in the US and relatively new in
Europe ? Which development can be seen respectively expected in the future ?
First of all, I would like to summarize some aspects, which definitely have to be made
when a comparison of the situation of theme parks in the USA and Europe is being made:
1.) The American way of how to consume spare-time differs strongly from the European
Europeans mostly prefer relaxing in their spare-time, while the typical American
wants to consume attractions and fun – in an from European sight unbelievable short
period of time. From an European perspective, this has to be considered as leisuretime
In Europe, the tourist business is characterized by a wide variety of different
opportunities, while in the US, the opportunities lack in respects to variety. For
example, the missing of a regimen industry, which we know in Europe, in particular
in Austria and Italy, expresses that.
On the other hand, the situation of insufficiency in types of recreation opportunities
supported the development of the theme park industry in the U.S.
2.) The missing of cultural sites embosses the theme park industry in the U.S.
a.) The U.S. show “historical reviews” or “historical landmarks” which are
contemplated by Europeans without any understanding. Houses and Sites built in
1890 do not have such a high “historical” status in Europe than they have in the
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
b.) Foreign culture and their histories, respectively the European and Arabic ones, are
simplified to an extremely basic level, which does not seem to be justifiable from
a European perspective. A drastic example is “Bush Garden’s” theme park in
Orlando, Florida. The “amusement area” of the park is called “Timbuktu” (named
after the city in West Africa), and it contains a brewery, designed in a Bavarian
“Bierhaus”-style. Accordingly, the Americans associate Alcoholic beverages,
more exactly beer, with an Islamic Country!
3.) Regarding the transferability of recreation parks of the U.S.-style, Europe’s
recreation industry is considered as lagging behind the one in the U.S.
It has to be doubted if facilities of the size of Disneyland or Walt Disney World are
economically viable in Europe.
The number and the geographical density of cultural attractions in Europe is
immensely high and portrays an strong competitor to theme and recreation parks.
“Fancy fair”-facilities are familiar to the Europeans already, so parks who specialize
on this aspect of theme parks only, are not going to present something unique and
new. Therefore, the long-run viability of parks of this kind is doubtful.
Nevertheless, the introduction of the EuroDisney-Park was an enrichment for
Europe’s recreation and spare-time industry, and once again, several other parks
followed Disney’s example by erecting a theme park in Europe (for example: Warner
Bros. – theme park in Bottrop, Germany).
These two parks can be considered as a possible way of how to export the culture of
theme parks from the U.S. into Europe, because they are way smaller than the
“normal-sized” parks in the U.S.. That makes them performing economically quite
well in a huge market with strong competition in the recreation industry.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
10.2. Theme parks conquering Austria’s tourism industry ?
One year ago, dozens of theme parks were planned all over Austria. RegioPlan
Consulting, a market research company in Vienna, named investments of ATS 28 billions
for constructing new theme parks in Austria (p.9). This year, only some projects, all
together amounting ATS 12 billions, are still in the race. Most projects were stopped
because they failed in the environmental compatibility test which is mandatory in Austria
before the start of construction. Most prominent example is Frank Stronach´s “World of
Wonder” and a project close to Vienna’s city boarder, at Wiener Neudorf – with planned
investment costs of ATS 7 billion each, both south of Vienna. The study names two main
reasons why so many projects failed: First, the projects were late in planning – Austrians
travel a lot and know theme parks already from abroad. So the effect of something unique
and new is lost. Second, most of the carriers of the projected theme parks were foreign
companies – which underestimated the high degree of organization of so-called local
pressure groups which have a huge resistance-know-how.
The currently biggest project is a theme park next to Parndorf’s factory outlet center, the
carrier plans to invest ATS 3 billions. The dimension of the project and its catchment
area (from Budapest to Vienna), and the fact, that Stronach’s World of Wonder will not
be constructed, makes experts think that this project will perform perfectly.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
10.3. Developing Trends of the theme park industry
Theme parks are considered to evolve as a component of the international tourism
industry. From an international view, they will not blindly follow the U.S. model, but
evolve new forms of attractions where tourism is a more important source of market
The following trends seem to be reasonable and likely:
10.3.1 Themed to country/region
New parks will have stronger theming tied to the country or local region, especially in
Europe. Theme parks are increasingly becoming a symbol and showcase for regional
pride, culture, and technological achievement. The danger here is that by being too
serious about “cultural” tourism the parks can be too educative and could leak to be fun
(ERA 1998a, p14).
10.3.2 Part of larger mixed-use destination projects
In the urban/suburban context, it can be seen that theme parks and large-scale attractions
are being designed into regional and specialty shopping complexes, mixed-use waterfront
developments, and even some multi-use office buildings. In more rural settings,
additional components often include destination resorts, bungalow parks,
shopping/restaurant villages, and special event centers / trade expositions.
10.3.3 Greater visitor participation and interaction
New attractions are being designed to provide greater participant control and encourage
interplay between the visitor and his environment. This is a natural outgrowth of both
available technology and the demonstrated appeal of such involvement at places like the
San Francisco Exploratorium. New thrill rides are being offered where the rider can
individually control the experience and intensity of the ride (see next point). Future
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
thematic concepts will be based more on participative activities (sports, music) that relate
to the audience rather than comic book characterizations (ERA 1998a, p15).
10.3.4 Use of simulation experiences and virtual reality
Perhaps one of the most exciting areas of development is in the area of simulation
achieved by the introduction of high-tech. Advances in technology have allowed
attractions designers to realistically duplicate virtually any natural or special effects
experience. By combining extremely high quality visual imagery with seats that are
programmed to move with the action, visitors can realistically enjoy experiences that
were previously unavailable in a theme park environment. The first highly popular
example of this technology is the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland.
Note that these simulations are produced for a fraction of the cost of traditional
attractions. The technology is also more flexible (one can change the experience by
simply changing the software (film) rather them creating a new attraction), and more land
efficient (a 45-seat simulator needs only about 300 square meters). A major challenge,
however, will be to have the technology breakthrough and still maintain the thrill and
spontaneity of perceived personal risk and group interaction.
10.3.5 Greater water orientation
A greater use of water related activities, attractions and landscaping is occurring in theme
park design. Several parks (Tokyo Disney Sea, Universal Studios in Port Aventura, Spain,
Seapark, etc.) combine an active water park with more traditional themed rides and
amusements. Performance parks such as Sea World are still popular but future expansion
will be limited by restrictions on capturing and displaying aquatic mammals. We see a
continuing acceptance of new, high technology aquariums using acrylic tunnel concepts,
which combine a scuba diver’s view of the undersea world with a ride experience.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Park on Regions Braun Michael
10.3.6 Design for all-weather operation/artificial environments
New theme parks are designed to have more covered attractions as well as climatecontrolled
walkways and rest areas. This allows for shorter amortization of high capital
investment and fixed cost components. New theme parks are being designed with a higher
degree of weather protection in order to enable a longer operating season and longer
operating hours per day, which is an important topic in locations farther north than
Florida (ERA 1998a, p15).
When one looks ahead at the larger number of tourists who are expected to travel to new
destinations (particularly within the Asia – Pacific region), there will be increasing
pressure on sensitive environmental and social resources at the destination. A new role
for theme parks is emerging. By their nature, they are designed to handle large numbers of
people within a controlled space and with manageable impacts. In the future they will
have the chance of providing a greater educational function to introduce, interpret, and
sensitize the overseas tourist to the environment and to the host community and its
values. They can become a new gateway for host country tourism. Rather than being
viewed as a stand-alone attraction, theme parks will become part of a balanced leisure
product and tourism system that contributes to the economic development, employment,
and resource preservation of an entire region (ERA 1998a, p15).
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Braun Michael
• Addendum to “The Disneyland Resort Final EIR No.#311”, by: Planning Consultants
Research, prepared for the City of Anaheim, July 31, 1996.
• Amusement Business Magazine 1993, “The Top 50 Global Amusement / Theme
Parks”, December 20, 1993, No.: 51, p.67 – 78, Nashville, Tennessee
• Amusement Business Magazine 1995, “The Top 50 Global Amusement / Theme
Parks”, December 18, 1995, No.: 52, p.78 – 85, Nashville, Tennessee
• Amusement Business Magazine 1997, “The Top 50 Global Amusement / Theme
Parks”, December 22, 1997, No.: 51, p.86 – 95, Nashville, Tennessee
• Amusement Business Magazine 1998, “The Top 50 Global Amusement / Theme
Parks”, December 28, 1998, No.: 52, p.75 – 82, Nashville, Tennessee
• Anaheim / Orange County Visitor Bureau, 1998. “The economic impacts of the
Visitor Industry in Orange County”, Booklet.
• Barnard, Bruce: “Business is booming in the world’s biggest tourist market”, March
1999, p.22-24, Journal of Commerce, Brussels.
• Benesch, Dieter, 1989: “Themenparks in Florida – Eine Analyse von Angebot und
Nachfrage sowie Regionalwirtschaftliche Auswirkungen”, Master’s Thesis at the
University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna. Advisor: Prof. Dr.
Karl Sinnhuber, Library.
• California Budget Project, Proposition 13: Its Impact on California and Implications
for State and Local Finances, April 1997.
• Disney Corp. 1996a: Booklet “Building Economic Growth”, The Walt Disney
Company, Public Relations Department, Anaheim.
• Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Disneyland Resort EIR #311. Vol. 1-6, by:
Michael Brandman Associates, prepared for the City of Anaheim, 1992.
• Friedmann, David: “Status Report of the Los Angeles County Economy”, Vol. 1,
prepared for the “Los Angeles Board of Commerce”, 1999.
• EconData.Net (Andrew Reamer & Associates and Impresa, Inc.): United States
Census Data (County population),
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Braun Michael
• Edinger Tourismusberatung GmbH: Study: “Die Entwicklung von Freizeitparks in
Österreich”, 1998, for: „Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Angelegenheiten,
Wien“ – Innsbruck.
• ERA (Economics Research Associates) 1998a: “The Future Role of Theme Parks in
International Tourism”, Clive B. Jones & John Robinett, Los Angeles
• ERA (Economics Research Associates) 1998b: “A Bumpy Road Building the
European Theme Park Industry”, John Robinett & Raymond Braun, Los Angeles
• Foden, Harry G. 1996, “Destination attractions as an economic development
generator”, Economic Development Review, Fall 1996, 10., American Economic
Development Council
• IAAPA: International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
(, – “Theme Park Industry at-a-glance” (Brochure), 1999, Atlanta,
• Interview 1: Ph.D. Gregory Shank, working at: “Disney Research & Development
Department”, at the Disney Administration Building, Anaheim, Oct. 18th, 1999.
• Korman, Richard, 1995: “Don’t forget to bring the kids”, in: Engineering News-
Record (ENR), April 19th, 1995, 230(16):30
• Kotin, Regan, Mouchly, Inc. 1991: “The Summary Report of the Anaheim
Commercial Recreation Area”, in: EIR # 311 and in Addendum to EIR #311.
• Kyriazi, Gary, “Amusement Parks : A Pictorial History” Secaucus, NJ : Castle Books,
• Lundberg, Donald E. (ph.D.): “The Tourist Business”, 1995, 5. Edition – Published by
Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.
• OeNB, Österreichische Nationalbank: “ Kompendium von Texten zur Wirtschaftsund
Währungsunion”, Wien, Österr. Nationalbank, 1997, 6th. revised Edition.
• PKF Consulting, 1997: “Study of the Projected Future Tax for: The City of Anaheim,
the Anaheim Public Financing Authority , November 13, Collections From
Designated Sources to be Received by the City of Anaheim”, 1997, prepared -1997
• Protocol of the “Special Meeting of the Anaheim City Planning Commission”,
Wednesday, April 28, 1993 at the Anaheim Inn Park Hotel, 1200 Harbor Boulevard.
• RegioPlan Consulting: “Freizeitzentren in Österreich 2000”, 2000, Vienna.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Braun Michael
• Smith, Alan D. (1998): “Tourism – The Underestimated World’s Industry”, published
by: Beckman Company, Chicago.
• The Economist 1997: “The Los Angeles economy: Bigger than South Korea”, Feb. 4.
1997 page 25-26, London.
• The Economist 1998: “Business: Casino capitalism”, Oct 17, 1998, 349(8090): p.69-
70, London.
• The I-5 Improvement Project, Brochure 6/1997, Editor: Caltrans (California Transport
Association), Santa Ana, California.
• The Los Angeles Times 1999a:”Joining Action Downtown”, Daily Newspaper,
Thursday, October 14, 1999, Orange County Edition, B-1.
• The Los Angeles Times 1999b: “Jackson goes for it”, Daily Newspaper, Monday,
Nov 1, 1999, Orange County Edition, B1, B4
• The Orange County Register, Daily Newspaper, Wednesday, Nov 3, 1999, B3
• The Walt Disney Company: “The Annual Report” 1994 – 1998, The Walt Disney
Company, Anaheim.
• U.S. Department of Commerce, Census 1977, Washington D.C. in: Benesch, 1989,
• U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Travel Service, Appraising Tourism
Potential, Vol. 1, University of Missouri 1978 in: Benesch, 1989, p.145.
• Wong, John D., “The impact of tourism on local government expenditures”, Growth
& Change, 1996, 27. , New York.
• Young, George. 1973. “Tourism: Blessing or blight?” Baltimore: Penguin. In: Wong,
1996, p.15.
• Zbar, Jeffery D.:”Carnival sets sail to outrace resorts”, Advertising Age Magazine,
March 6th, 1995, 66 (10): 4.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Michael Braun
Anaheim Resort – consists of Disneyland, the WESTCOT Center and the Anaheim
Convention Center.
Cast members – Important employees in a Theme Park. Typical kinds of employment of
cast-members are actors and performers.
CO – Carbon Monoxide, is a gas considered responsible for global warming. Carbon
Monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that can pose a significant
threat to health if left undiagnosed and untreated. Public awareness of this threat
will reduce its incidence and save lives.
EIR – Draft Environmental Impact Report. The City of Anaheim has had an EIR being
done by Michael Brandman Associates in 1992.
FTE jobs – Full time equivalent jobs. Full time equivalent means a full annual salary
and benefits. Government agencies use this in budget planning. If a department
has ten full time equivalents, then it has ten salaries guaranteed. It may not,
however, have to hire ten people. It might hire eight full time people and four part
time people etc.
LMPR – The Anaheim Public Financing Authority will assist the City of Anaheim by
issuing lease revenue bonds to finance the expansion of the Anaheim Convention
Center, the construction of infrastructure to improve the Anaheim Resort Area and
the construction of a public parking facility. The City of Anaheim makes lease
payments to the Anaheim public Financing Authority, which will be used to pay
interest and principal on the bonds.
Multiplier impact – the total income, output, employment or other economic measure
resulting from export sales (such as tourists) of a regional or national economy,
comprising the sum of the impacts of (a) the initial sales to tourists, (b) purchases
by those selling directly to the tourists that support these sales (called the “indirect
impact”), and (c) sales to the employees of these organizations in spending their
wages and salaries in the economy (called the “induced impact”) (Lundberg,
NOx – Oxides of Nitrogen. NOx emissions influence and damage the atmospheric
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Michael Braun
PM10 – Particulate matter (dust), 10 micrometers or less in diameter.
Particulate matter is solid matter or liquid droplets from smoke, dust, fly ash, and
condensing vapors that can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. These
microscopic particles can affect breathing and respiratory symptoms, causing
increased respiratory disease, lung damage, and premature death. Most particulate
matter pollution comes from woodsmoke, dust from paved and unpaved roads,
construction, motor vehicles and outdoor burning. Educating residents to burn
wood cleanlier, paving high traffic streets, improving street cleaning and
maintenance, and encouraging alternatives to outdoor burning will help reduce
particulate pollution.
Primary wage earner – the person who pays the basic bills in a household.
ROG – reactive organic gases.
SCAG – Southern California Association of Governments. The Southern California
Association of Governments (SCAG) is the largest Metropolitan Planning
Organization in the U.S. The Association serves a population in excess of 16
million persons, and provides regional planning and inter-jurisdictional
coordination for an area encompassing over 38,000 square miles. This includes
six counties, and 184 cities, represented by a 70 member Regional Council of
local elected officials.
SCAQMD – is the Southern California Air Quality Management District, which
includes LA, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
SFAS 121 – Accounting standard. This accounting standard changed the method that
companies use to evaluate the carrying value of such assets by, among other
things, requiring companies to assets at the lowest level at which identifiable cash
flows can be determined.
SOx – Oxides of sulfur, is considered responsible for acid rain. When fossil fuel is burnt,
byproducts are created which are potentially dangerous. Carbon-based petrochemical
products are broken up in combustion to form, among many other
products sulfur oxides (SOx).
TOT – The “transient occupancy tax” (TOT) is based upon a percentage of a hotel
guest’s nightly room rate. Currently, it is at 15 % in the City of Anaheim.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Michael Braun
Tourism – Term for all activities undertaken by or related to tourists on trips away from
home. (Lundberg, 1995)
Tourism industry – the various firms and establishments, including business and nonprofit
organizations, that wholly or partly provide goods and services to tourist,
directly or indirectly. (Lundberg, 1995)
Tourist – any individual on a trip to a place more than 100 miles away from his
or her home or spending the night away from home and who returns home within
12 months; same as visitor and traveler. (U.S. Department of Commerce, Census
1977, p.21)
Theme Park worker – Worker in a Theme Park, usually of a low skilled level. In
opposite to “cast members”, typical kinds of employment are cashiers, cleaners,
Ride-operators, etc.
Value added – the difference between the value of goods or services produced and the
costs of materials and supplies used in producing them. Consists of wages, interest
and profit components added to the output of a firm, industry or region.
Visitor days – a measure of tourist demand: the number of visitors to an area multiplied
by the number of days spent spent in that area. Visitor expenditure – expenditure
made by or on behalf of a visitor to an area in that area. (Lundberg, 1995)
WESTCOT (resp. WESTCOT Center) – means the expansion of the already existing
Disneyland Theme Park in the City of Anaheim. The WESTCOT Center will
include a second gated Theme park and related service areas (referred to in this
study as the “WESTCOT Theme Park”). It also includes modification of the
existing Disneyland Hotel and the addition of new hotels, entertainment areas,
internal transportation systems, and two parking facilities. Used as a term in the
literature and in the EIR #311.
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Michael Braun
Figure 1: Economic sectors influenced by the tourist dollar 7
Figure 2: 1996 employment for selected industries (U.S.) 13
Figure 3: 1996 Value added for selected industries 14
Figure 4: TOP 20 U.S. Theme parks ranked by degree of export orientation 28
Figure 5: Biggest Theme park operators in the U.S. 33
Figure 6: Biggest Theme park operators worldwide 34
Figure 7 : Age distribution of Theme park visitors 35
Figure 8: Business units of the Walt Disney Company 54
Figure 9: Operating income by business segment 57
Figure 10: Theme park related revenues 59
Figure 11: Development of average per-capita visitor spending 60
Figure 12: Development of consumer products revenue 65
Figure 13: Visitor numbers of biggest theme parks 1998 67
Figure 14: Visitor numbers of biggest operators worldwide 1998 68
Figure 15: Forecasted additional annual revenues 95
Figure 16: Visitor spending in the City of Anaheim 96
Figure 17: City of Anaheim visitor derivation 102
The Economic Impacts of Theme Parks on Regions Michael Braun
Table 1: Customer catchment area 30
Table 2: U.S. – Theme park attendance numbers 31
Table 3: U.S. – Theme park industry market structure 32
Table 4: The world’s oldest Theme parks 39
Table 5: Destination attraction basic requirements 49
Table 6: Theme parks as destination attractions: Problems to be addressed 51
Table 7: Financial key numbers and ratios 56
Table 8: Characteristic data 57
Table 9: Land use at WESTCOT 71
Table 10: Phases of construction 72
Table 11: Current admission fees 73
Table 12: Visitor numbers of the L.A.-Area parks 74
Table 13: Derivation of Disneyland’s visitors 74
Table 14: Derivation of Knott’s Berry’s visitors 75
Table 15: Derivation of Six Flags’ visitors 75
Table 16: Derivation of Universal’s visitors 75
Table 17: Employment projections 78
Table 18: Changes in cast characteristics 79
Table 19: Direct employment and 2010 forecast 80
Table 20: Projected supply and demand for lodging 83
Table 21: Project growth in average daily room rate 85
Table 22: Absorption of costs 86
Table 23: P.M. peak hour vehicle trip generation 88
Table 24: Projected wastewater flow 89
Table 25: Projected electrical consumption 91
Table 26: Projected cumulative operational emissions in the year 2002 92
Table 27: Projected solid waste generation 94
Table 28: Orange County’s employment impact from visitor spending 97
Table 29: Total LMPR – payments 100

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