Attractions industry news

31 Dec 2017

Attractions Review 2017: December

In a year of ups, downs, loops and scoops, Attractions Management looks back at some of the biggest stories to hit the headlines, giving possible indicators at what’s still to come in the year ahead.

The biggest news of the year came in its last month, as Disney acquired Fox, with Bob Iger also extending his contract through to 2021. Also in December, Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer spoke to Attractions Management about working with operators in the theme park capital, while BRC revealed how it applied theme park design to a museum experience at the newly opened Museum of the Bible.

Mouse eats Fox

Disney confirmed this month a US$52.4bn (€44.27bn, £39bn) mega-deal with Fox, acquiring Twentieth Century Fox Film and Television studios, along with Fox's cable and international TV businesses.

The deal means 21st Century Fox will separate from the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company.

“The acquisition of this stellar collection of businesses from 21st Century Fox reflects the increasing consumer demand for a rich diversity of entertainment experiences that are more compelling, accessible and convenient than ever before,” said Disney chair and CEO Bob Iger.

“Rupert Murdoch has entrusted us with the future of businesses he spent a lifetime building, and we’re excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings.

"The deal will substantially expand our international reach, allowing us to offer world-class storytelling and innovative distribution platforms to more consumers in key markets around the world.”

At the request of both Fox and Disney’s boards, Iger agreed to continue in his role until 2021 – a position he had intended to vacate in June 2018.

“I’m convinced this combination, under Bob Iger’s leadership, will be one of the greatest companies in the world,” said Rupert Murdoch, executive chair of 21st Century Fox.

Orlando’s brand

Orlando’s mayor, Buddy Dyer, spoke about the importance of tourism to the theme park capital’s economy, making the city its own brand with attractions feeding back into its economy.

In an exclusive interview with Attractions Management, Dyer spoke about how Orlando works with its major theme park operators and how that supports the city’s wider development and growth.

In 2016, Orlando welcomed a record 66 million visitors, making it the most-visited destination in the US. The volume of visitors has been driven largely by the area’s theme parks, with Orlando boasting six of the 10 most visited parks in the world.

“You can go anywhere in the world and people will know Orlando,” he said. “In its own right, it’s a fantastic brand name and that brand is so good because of tourism.”

Dyer praised major operators such as Disney and Universal, calling them excellent “corporate citizens”, with taxes helping to generate new revenue streams for Orlando.

“We continue to improve our tourism infrastructure, which in turn benefits Orlando even more,” said Dyer. “The tourism community has been extremely good to us in terms of supporting community assets. Tourism doesn’t just support tourism, it supports everything.”

Theme park design in a museum setting

Experience design firm BRC revealed how it took the concept of a theme park attraction and placed it inside a museum setting at the new Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

A US$500m (€424m, £374.5m) project, the 430,000sq ft (40,000sq m) museum has been created inside a former refrigerated warehouse built in 1922.

BRC’s role was to create a themed experience over the museum’s Narrative Floor, with its aim to tell the story of the Bible through history and the first part of that mandate focusing on the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.

“It’s akin to a theme park in the way that it was designed,” said Matt Solari, creative director for BRC, speaking to Attractions Management. “Believe it or not we took inspiration from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

"We did some pretty daring things where the overall effect is so unexpected and surprising for guests. We want this to stand as a new benchmark for how to tell stories in a museum setting.”

Check back with Attractions Management on New Year’s Day for our take on the biggest openings set for 2018

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