The case of Theme Park clusters is probably the most different from all other types of tourism clusters, as they have little or no relationship with natural or cultural resources, and so their development is rather similar to other industries’ clusters. They have unique dynamics and therefore require a separated analysis. Both the key success factors and the development stages of Theme Park clusters are hereby explained and illustrated through a few well known case studies.
Beyond the traditional Amusement Parks, usually targeting the local markets, Theme Parks were created to become a destination themselves, offering a more or less unique value proposition, bringing the visitor to an imaginary world or to somewhere far away, either in terms of distance or time, like those reproducing ancient civilisations. The experience of immersion within another world is what set Theme Parks apart from Amusement Parks, even if they have many attractions in common. Then, however, the ability to recreate a different world to make it also entertaining for visitors is something that few operators have.
Walt Disney was in fact the first company to leverage the imaginary world of their film stories to develop Theme Parks. Then, other film producers such as Universal Studios followed their example by leveraging their own story worlds, also in many locations worldwide. Apart from them, there have been other Theme Parks based on toy brands such as Lego, comic series such as Asterix, Smurfs or Tintin, and car brands such as Ferrari.
When analyzing the internationally competitive clusters, there may be found many things in common, related to their cluster development key success factors and phases. In this regard, there are four key success factors for the development of Theme Park clusters, of which at least three should be well accomplished:
- Internationally competitive destination with important tourism flows and accommodation capacity, usually a city.
- Good accessibility to the main targeted markets
- Location with good weather conditions all year round.
- Internationally reputable Theme Park brand (at least one).
Beyond these key success factors, there are about four typical phases in the Theme Park cluster development process:
- The base for the cluster development is an attractive location and compliance of at least two of the aforementioned key success factors.
- Development of a Theme Park
- Good results stimulate expansion with new facilities. These may be themed hotels, Water amusement parks, new attractions, facilities to offer new products such as MICE or Golf.
- New smaller Theme Parks settle down in the area to take advantage of the increasing tourism flows in the cluster.
In the Whitepaper on Clustering Strategy you may find several case studies that illustrate this theoretical approach.
Do you think of other key success factors for Theme Park clusters development?