December 10, 2012
Since having started my journey as The Theme Park Guy back in 2007 - and I have spent the price tag of a roller coaster doing this - I acquired invaluable field insights into over 200 theme and water parks covering more than 50 countries.
I am on the ground during all stages of development, examining construction sites, operational wonders and post-fun graveyards, mingling with industry professionals over hundreds of lunches, dinners and site visits, witnessing things succeed and fail.
This, coupled with tons of inside statistics gathered through themeparkguy.com, allows me to get a little closer everyday to understanding what distinguishes a theme or water park that works from one that doesn't.
It's time to get involved. Investors can get a better ROI, theme parks can get better rides, rides can get better stories, and suppliers and contractors can get paid on time.
Please navigate through the menu links to learn how I can specifically help you.
Setting up a theme park is a challenging and risky undertaking. A flawed concept can ruin it right from the start, and you may never be able to fix the initial mess later on. Breaking even can take 7 years and longer.
There are plenty of theme and water park consultants, designers, ride suppliers and operators out there. Most of them I have met in real life. I know what they did, when they did it, and in the majority of instances I have witnessed on the ground how their product and/or work performed in the end.
Having been to more theme and water parks than anyone I know of, across all continents, over a period of more than seven years, and having had in-depth conversations with investors and politicians behind the projects, I have learned and continue to learn and get to understand what works and what does not.
You will find few people who are more committed to this industry.
In many instances I will not be the right person to get your project off the ground, but I will perfectly be able to direct you to a company or individual who fits your vision, requirements, experience and budget. I can get you in contact with the right people, for your specific circumstances.
Don't hesitate. Call me or contact me here. I strive to get back within 24h, even on Sundays.
To be frank, some theme and water parks generate a good and healthy long-term return on investment. And many do not.
Here's a common story: excited governors dance the tango with unwary investors and decide to bring that leisurely missing something to their country or community. They haven't done this before. But they know how it should look and how wonderful it would be. Since they associate Disneyland quality with a price tag of billions, they will look for the best value in negotiations. And they will find consultants, designers and suppliers who are happy to assist them within the budget constraints.
They will then get a theme park, complete with a Wild West Town, looping roller coaster, log flume ride, dolphin show and costumed oversized yellow plush dragon to hug the kids. The whole thing will open. And people will come.
Not twice, though. With time I have come to understand that people don't fall for this, even if they live in an underdeveloped country and have never travelled. Everybody can sense the love in things. And there's no warmth in the eyes of the oversized yellow plush dragon.
Imagine that it was you who danced that tango.
Shortly thereafter, you will struggle to maintain the park, and after years of slow decay, staff layoffs and desparation for a buyout, you'll decide to either abandon the project or, if any money is left, demolish it and sell the land to a juice factory warehouse. The tanned juice factory owner will shake your hands, with a healthy smile, and ask you if you have tried space tourism, too. No, you haven't.
Now look in the mirror: this experience will have made you look 30 years older in a fraction of time.
So, why not invest in a casino, hotel, mall or parking lot instead? Because - and this is very important - you can get it right, too. Theme and water parks, if crafted with passion, can create an emotional attachment - like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Batman do. Casinos, hotels, malls and parking lots, by themselves, cannot.
Consider the movie business: it's all about taking the risk of building emotional attachments, and there's huge potential for profits. Now, you are even better off than them, because theme and water parks can't be fileshared. Those parks that manage to build up that emotional attachment are perfectly profitable and grow year by year.
I can help you avoid grave mistakes right from the beginning; blunders that can cost you millions or even your entire investment. I am someone with an affinity for taking risks myself - I became an entrepreneur at age 19, hold German citizenship but haven't lived back home since 2005 and spent a fortune visiting and trying to understand theme and water parks worldwide. If you prefer consulting with somebody who has a wide angle on life, not a comfort zone guy, I am the right man for you. And if I don't know something, I will point you to the person who does.
Contact me at +971 55 6678108 or write me here.
Two free (sample) tips for investors:
- See a theme park as part of a bigger picture. That can be anything: brand-building, a hospitality project, a property development, or a government license that you wouldn't get otherwise. Just don't create that stand-alone theme park in the middle of nowhere. You want to turn a profit in a reasonable time.
- Don't save on the INITIAL designers and suppliers. An ugly theme park is nearly impossible to fix. Maintenance and staff costs will inevitably ruin your investment if you don't get return visitors. Contact me at +971 55 6678108 or write me here.
OWNERS & OPERATORS
There are many issues I cannot help you with, but with some of the following no one else can as well as I do.
Headhunting (for better management):
Having networked and met close to a thousand theme park professionals personally over the years, I can genuinely help you find executives and creative specialists – VPs, GMs, project managers, designers, engineers, marketers – for your project.
I have a professional attitude and results can be achieved fast, much faster than non-industry related headhunters can deliver. In 2013, four theme park executives have found new roles through me in other countries than their own.
Please get in touch with me to discuss your criteria and time frame.
Theme Park Testing (for a better theme park):
It usually gets tumultuous in the pre-opening phase. Once the rides are up, the signage is being installed and minor things may still be changed, you can book me to take a walk through the park, alone or with a team of specialists, and provide a full written report with a detailed list of last-minute change suggestions. If you are looking for the commonsense guy with the ability to compare and put things into context (I have been to over 200 theme parks), give me a call.
I may be able to help you survive the first 500 TripAdvisor reviews.
OWNERS & OPERATORS
Safeguard Consulting (for fewer leaks):
Even the biggest theme park brands pay too little attention to safeguarding what is supposed to stay confidential. During my years of scrutinizing theme park construction sites, I found myself in situations where I could have picked up top-secret contracts and blueprints without even trespassing. Just a little unwary stupidity can leak ride systems, technology and storylines out of your control for good.
Being the guy on the other side, who appreciates seeing all these leaks on his website, I can discuss strategy with you on how to avoid this from happening.
SUPPLIERS & CONTRACTORS
First and foremost, congratulations for building rides. I look up to you for what you do.
I may be able to help you with two issues:
Recover outstanding payments:
I am aware that, frequently, clients delay or default on payments or installments. Chasing your bills across borders is very stressful and a lawsuit may be difficult to initiate. I can recover outstanding payments and I charge NOTHING unless successful. Yes, I will get started without any retainer. Contact me today!
Advertising on themeparX:
The themeparX Construction Board has ALL your potential clients on-site, many of them silent readers. There is only one single prime advertising slot on it, which will make sure you are seen by everyone, and can deliver several hundreds of clicks per day. It is as good as exhibiting at a trade show. Take a look.
I am open to other business proposals, as well.
Given my background as a filmmaker and cartoonist, ride design is my true delight in the theme park industry. This is what I really want to do: revolutionize the ride experience and bring it much closer to the adventure, dimension and depth of performing and visual arts, motion pictures, and real-life interaction.
The word immersive is overused in connection with every other new high-budget theme park ride. But the majority of dark rides are little more than a combination of predictable effects, stiff animatronics and raucous noise, lacking turning points and a comprehensible, captivating storyline. If you want me on board to create the cutting-edge experience of tomorrow, I'm all open. Take a look at my past here:
The Theme Park Guy has been featured in countless publications such as AP, CNN, Fast Company, Focus, Foreign Policy, Frankfurter Allgemein Zeitung, La Repubblica, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, The National, among others. If you are simply looking into a quote for a park opening, or an opinion, please give me a call at +971 55 6678108. I'm always happy to help!
Collaboration on theme park related stories is also possible, please send me an e-mail.
Use of Photos:
As you can imagine I have spent a small fortune taking all these theme and water park photographs around the world. If you'd like to use up to three of them online keeping the watermark, you are invited to do it for free, as long as you place a visible link to my site. If you are looking for high-res versions without the watermark for your print publication, please get in touch with me for pricing. You will then receive written permission to use them in that specific edition and a proper invoice.
+971 55 6678108
+65 9448 2753
The Theme Park Guy
Twofour54 Free Zone
Khalifa Park, Salam St, Lime Green Bldg
PO Box 77804
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
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Headhunting (no one can do that better in this industry. You will get a guaranteed result!):
$5,500 retainer + 1 month's salary commission
Consulting (on ideas, contacts, rides, procedures, experiences and common mistakes):
The initial meeting (30 minutes) is free, subsequent hours: $450
Masterplanning, Design, Ride Supply, Project Management, Operations:
Since 2007 I had the pleasure to get to know nearly a thousand theme park professionals in person and can perfectly point you to the right people for your project
Collaboration on articles, including content such as research & high-res pictures:
$1,000 flat rate + $200-$2,000 per picture