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Thread: Small theme parks: revenue generators?

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    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Small theme parks: revenue generators?

    We have a hunch that a small, Medieval times theme park is looking for land in the area. Someone on the town Economic Development Board pointed this out to me and we'll be discussing this tonight at our meeting.
    However, while this will certainly be a regional attraction, I cannot help but wonder about the types of sales tax revenues this would bring into the town. Ticket sales? Gift shop sales? Food?

    Anyone have experience with an operation like this?
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian MazerRackham's avatar
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    I wouldn't recommend it. Here's what happened in oz...

    http://www.bizjournals.com/wichita/s...09/daily1.html

    Tired themes won't attract anything but losers. And whatever you do, don't offer incentives or help with any finance packages. From what I understand, the city is now on the hook for a cool million in industrial revenue bonds it backed. Just recently the owner was charged with fraud.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    Does the town have anything else going for it that attracts regional visitors? any natural assets? I think families these days are looking for recreation without the price tag.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Richi's avatar
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    It is unlikely that many people will drive more than an hour to get to the park. Think an hour there, an hour back plus maybe 8 hours at the park. With kids, that's a full day. Will people likely stay over night? Is there enough population density within a 1 to 2 (maximum) hr drive? I too would be very wary of giving any money upfront. Maybe forego permit fees, or if you can, a tax break for a couple of years. At least that way if it folds you will be giving up only tax revenue that you would not have received anywya.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Close the thread.
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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    See also:

    Old Chicago
    Bolingbrook, IL

    http://www.defunctparks.com/parks/IL...oldchicago.htm

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The medieval theme makes me wonder - is this something like a Renaissance Faire? There are a couple successful, long-running ones I am aware of in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but I do not know how much revenue they really generate. The Faire only runs for about a month during the summer season and the rest of the time the property sits unused. On th eflip side, popular attractions draw huge numbers of visitors. That is one reason to avoid the roads around Six Flags Great America, just to the south of the Cheddar Curtain, in Illinois. I am sure that traffic congestion also results in a high demand for police services, beyond what would be generated from the theme park itself. Do the property taxes and sales taxes it pays, along with the hotels it has attracted, pay the costs it generates? I don't have an answer.
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    Google 'Ghost Town in the Sky' and see the financial havoc that is currently going on in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. These small amusement parks that are centered around a specific theme--particularly a tired and outdated theme--are becoming a thing of the past.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Skimming the Pro-Forma and Business plan (have yet to read it in detail) I am finding that this is a to good to be true sort of thing. We're talking millions in town revenues, etc.

    Not sure on its permanance and size yet. More later.


    This could be just another crack-pot idea from the Chair of our Econ Dev committee...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Renaissance Faire

    Hello - We have an annual Renaissance Faire attraction which runs about a month or two, in the far east valley of the Phoenix-Apache Junction area. It is always held during Feb, March, April when our weather is beautiful and it is prime tourist season.Because Phoenix is such a large metro area, it seems to attract enough customers and many return every year. I understand some people like to dress up in medival costumes when they attend. One of my kids, age 20, has stated she would like to go visit it sometime. I don't think the public should be sponsoring such an endeavor. A possible solution is for the county fairground to rent the space for a month or so.
    Good luck and keep us posted,

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    This could be just another crack-pot idea from the Chair of our Econ Dev committee...
    Discreetly do a thorough background check on the Chair and any committee member who is strongly pushing the awful idea.

    Almost guaranteed you'll find that they have vested interests--be it direct, indirect, or delusional.

  12. #12
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    zman, run from this proposal. Very, VERY few small theme parks have true positive cash-flow, much less a discernable impact on city coffers.

    ...plus it's a renaissance faire... they are probably bartering 90% of the time!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    zman, run from this proposal. Very, VERY few small theme parks have true positive cash-flow, much less a discernable impact on city coffers.

    ...plus it's a renaissance faire... they are probably bartering 90% of the time!
    I'll still meet with this guy and see what it is all about. To tell the truth, I don't see much happening with this at all and I will be probably not be recommending any help by the Town (we really haven't the means...).
    Plus there are issues with space on existing town lands, annexations, and town/county relations.

    But we'll see what the next couple weeks brings.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Skimming the Pro-Forma and Business plan (have yet to read it in detail) I am finding that this is a to good to be true sort of thing. We're talking millions in town revenues, etc.

    Not sure on its permanance and size yet. More later.


    This could be just another crack-pot idea from the Chair of our Econ Dev committee...
    I'd love to review the economic impact analysis for this project. It's fun to deconstruct the underlying assumptions and then call people out on the more outrageous ones.

    If you're interested, there's a good book on sports teams and stadiums and their overall non-impact on local economies. While this isn't a stadium per se, it is a vaguely similar use and probably uses similar logic as sports teams do to bolster their economic impacts:

    Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    I'll still meet with this guy and see what it is all about. To tell the truth, I don't see much happening with this at all and I will be probably not be recommending any help by the Town (we really haven't the means...).
    Plus there are issues with space on existing town lands, annexations, and town/county relations.

    But we'll see what the next couple weeks brings.
    I can relate except my theme park was on a much larger scale. Its all a bout the money and my guess is he is going to ask for some dollars, or grant assistance. USDA and EDA do not count amusement parks as economic development for their funding requirements. If he had the dollars he would be pushing for incentives and development help with the project. Let us know how it turns out!
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  16. #16
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Confusedly, I scheduled my meeting with this owner during my wife's ultrasound appointment today, so I had to reschedule. I did speak with him over the phone yesterday:
    -He wants a SECTION... all 640 acres.
    -Only 60-80 acres would be the theme park. Unlike the Colorado Ren Fest in Larkspur (between Colo. Springs and Denver) which is seasonal, this would be a year round gig.

    So the park takes up a small part of the total land, what else will it be used for?
    -He wants to do a working organic farm of sorts. Maybe a thing where people can purchase memberships or help work the fields in turn for locally grown goods. Maybe this would be an education center for school groups to learn about simple, non-commercial argiculture. We are in one of the top agricultural counties in the US so there is plenty of aerable land and space. Even single owners of whole sections nearby.
    Of course, we'll meet on Tuesday and see what he wants to do and whether it would work in town or not.

    But it seems more down to earth than I originally thought and is a better idea than first proposed (or assumed on my part).
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Serfs that pay the lord for the land? Sweet deal!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Confusedly, I scheduled my meeting with this owner during my wife's ultrasound appointment today, so I had to reschedule. I did speak with him over the phone yesterday:
    -He wants a SECTION... all 640 acres.
    -Only 60-80 acres would be the theme park. Unlike the Colorado Ren Fest in Larkspur (between Colo. Springs and Denver) which is seasonal, this would be a year round gig.

    So the park takes up a small part of the total land, what else will it be used for?
    -He wants to do a working organic farm of sorts. Maybe a thing where people can purchase memberships or help work the fields in turn for locally grown goods. Maybe this would be an education center for school groups to learn about simple, non-commercial agriculture. We are in one of the top agricultural counties in the US so there is plenty of aerable land and space. Even single owners of whole sections nearby.
    Of course, we'll meet on Tuesday and see what he wants to do and whether it would work in town or not.

    But it seems more down to earth than I originally thought and is a better idea than first proposed (or assumed on my part).
    What this tells me is he has 100 ideas and is going to try to do them all. An amusement park, organic farm, co-op,educational center. Come out and ride a roller coaster and them plant some organic soy....buy some cotton candy play a game and then till the soil...WTF. Few businesses survive when their business has so many different focuses that are not related. This sounds even more like a Piker than he did in your earlier posts.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  19. #19
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy
    Serfs that pay the lord for the land? Sweet deal!
    Never thought of it that way, but yes I suppose. There are a couple other set-ups like this around Northern Colorado that have been pretty successful.

    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    This sounds even more like a Piker than he did in your earlier posts.
    The jury is still out for me. Maybe I sympathize (for now) because I am a descendant of Hungarian gypsys .

    Regardless, if things go in motion I will not be recommending monetary incentives for this use, nor will I be offering land. The main reason... we don't have land or money. I could offer expedited review, but anyone would get that because we don't have much going on.

    The responses are good and letting me know some things that I haven't thought of before. Thanks.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I ahve made the suggestion that public open space now leased mainly for ranching or growing feed crops (alfalfa, etc.) be made available at low cost to foster organic production. The idea went nowhere, but it is a good one. Hundreds of acres could be added to the state's inventory of organic crop land. Products grown there could help to boost the local organic foods initiative.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Related News: Six Flags Files for Bankruptcy
    http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/20.../?ref=business

    The parks will continue to operate normally, but analysts have questioned whether attendance would fall off as some consumers shun waiting in line for roller coasters at a bankrupt theme park operator.

    The moribund real estate market also precluded the company from selling off property, like unused land in Maryland and New Jersey, to raise additional cash.
    752 news websites carried this.

    Would this be considered bad timing to try to enter into such a venture ?
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    I ahve made the suggestion that public open space now leased mainly for ranching or growing feed crops (alfalfa, etc.) be made available at low cost to foster organic production. The idea went nowhere, but it is a good one. Hundreds of acres could be added to the state's inventory of organic crop land. Products grown there could help to boost the local organic foods initiative.
    Off-topic:
    Crops, yes! Ranching, no!

    I have gotten lost on public lands in Colorado where cows were allowed to graze. Not only did their trails cris-cross with ours but they also defiled the land and and fouled the water.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  23. #23
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    He wants a SECTION... all 640 acres. . . Only 60-80 acres would be the theme park. Unlike the Colorado Ren Fest in Larkspur (between Colo. Springs and Denver) which is seasonal, this would be a year round gig.

    So the park takes up a small part of the total land, what else will it be used for?
    -He wants to do a working organic farm of sorts. Maybe a thing where people can purchase memberships or help work the fields in turn for locally grown goods. Maybe this would be an education center for school groups to learn about simple, non-commercial argiculture. We are in one of the top agricultural counties in the US so there is plenty of aerable land and space. Even single owners of whole sections nearby.
    Being this is the West where "first in time, first in right" water laws appy - will he find arable land that has adequate water rights for the organic farm? Large-scale farming operations in the West use a lot of water - even when growing alfalfa, hay or wheat. Vegetable farming requires even greater quantities of water. If the land has been used for regular agriculture, it take years of organic agriculture practices before produce on the land can be legally marketed as "organic."
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    Being this is the West where "first in time, first in right" water laws appy - will he find arable land that has adequate water rights for the organic farm? Large-scale farming operations in the West use a lot of water - even when growing alfalfa, hay or wheat. Vegetable farming requires even greater quantities of water. If the land has been used for regular agriculture, it take years of organic agriculture practices before produce on the land can be legally marketed as "organic."
    Good things to keep in mind. Thanks.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  25. #25
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    First thing the guy says in our meeting yesterday was thay they have no money to do this project.
    I told him we don't have money to give out.
    He told me he is looking for land in a lease-to-purchase sort of gig.
    I told him the town has no land to give.

    Then I got a history lesson on Medieval times. I had to wrangle this guy in from his verbal "flights of fancy" a couple times in order to keep the meeting on topic and keep my sanity (I hate people that ramble... and talk around a topic).

    Bottom line is, we'll talk again once he gets land (if he gets land around here). Right now, there is nothing to do.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

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