2020s Theme Park Predictions

January is always a fab time for theme park enthusiasts - a brand new season on the cusp of launching a year of possibilities and opportunity. January at the start of a new decade is this...well times ten I guess if we're being mathematically accurate. Thinking about what kind of theme park madness the 20s are going to bring is so interesting and exciting to me. Towards the end of the 2010s it felt that we were in a bit of a theme park renaissance when it comes to innovation - Disney and Universal constantly at each others throats trying to outdo one another has lead to leaps and bounds in the theming and storytelling corner of the industry, amusement industry booms in China and the Middle East has seen coaster manufacturers continue to thrive and innovate and frankly it feels like we're back to the glory days of the 90s when it comes to awesome theme park shit.

And looking back at the 2010s too it's insane how much has happened, when you think what kind of coasters were topping the polls in 2010 compared to those in 2019. It's been an incredible ten years and I simply cannot wait to see what the 2020s bring! Based on this, I put together a list of predictions that I'd love to glance back at in 2030 to see how many I got right!

I will never tire of the Disney vs. Universal war because let's face it, the more they go after and try to outdo one another the bigger and better stuff we get, so I'm far from mad at it. When Universal dropped the Potter bomb back at the start of the 2010s I swear I'm not alone in saying that I felt Disney physically shaking in its boots. It seemed to us outsiders that Disney had severely under-estimated the power of that IP and the thirst for immersive worlds delivered in that Wizarding World style and I would argue that Disney are still yet to replicate this as effectively as their rivals have (but hey, I'm yet to visit Galaxy's Edge myself so I'll hold out on my full judgement). The only step towards this that I can see is the Star Wars: Galactic Cruiser immersive hotel experience that Disney are looking to launch in 2021. To which I am 100% expecting Universal to counteract with the announcement of an immersive Potter hotel. It's a no brainer, surely?

And on top of that, Disney simply MUST have something up their sleeve for 2023 when Universal open Epic Universe in 2023. I refuse to believe that the Mouse will allow their rivals to open such a major piece of new news without having something truly spectacular to combat it. I do not think it will be a 5th gate for the Orlando Resort, but it will be something, and it will be obscene. Potentially I guess it could just be the collective overwhelming awesomeness of them finally getting their shit together and sort out the remaining parts of the parks that they've essentially left to rot over the past few years but I'd be extremely surprised if we don't see some kind of major announcement from Disney for Disney World.

Yes the Six Flags Saudi Arabia concept art and videos are dumb as hell and yes I laughed my arse off at that ridiculous video of the big bad boi cred, but truthfully I do think Saudi Arabia has the potentially the blow up in the theme park scene. The place is so unimaginably wealthy and filled with the kind of venture capitalists who are constantly looking to outdo each other with the biggest and best whatever that I would be very surprised if we don't see some major investment and development in this part of the world in the 2020s. Tons of huge entertainment brands like WWE are expanding their portfolio over there so it's no surprise to me that the parks are following. So yh, I'm predicting that not only will Six Flags Saudi Arabia not be an epic failure like Six Flags Dubai but that it will be a roaring success and will spark a boom for the brand in the Middle East and Asia.

I don't like typing this one but let's face it, the outlook for a lot of the smaller UK parks is pretty bleak. The 2000s saw the closure of once thriving parks like Southport Pleasureland and American Adventure, the 2010s claimed Camelot so it only makes sense to me that at least one struggling UK park will bite the dust in the 20s. There have been rumours for years and years that the likes of Lightwater Valley are struggling and just the other day I heard a rumour that Drayton Manor are planning on selling Apocalypse and Maelstrom (unsourced but still). It makes me incredibly sad to picture a dwindling theme park landscape in the UK but it does unnerve me enough to be making pilgrimages to these parks at least a couple of times this year just in case my worst fears are realised.

Considering there are cars that can quite easily smash the 200mph mark I'm actually pretty surprised that we haven't had a coaster do the same yet. In fact it's almost been an entire decade since the speed record was broken, and another half-decade before that that another coaster managed it. We're just not that obsessed with speed it seems when it comes to snatching those world records but out of the records out there to be broken it certainly seems to me that there's certainly a lot of space to go with regards to what kind of acceleration and speeds the average rider can handle - I guess the question is more down to the tech behind getting there and building something that's not going to tear itself apart in the process. But I certainly think it'll happen in the next ten years or so and my money is on Energylandia to snatch the title!

I'm not the biggest fan of inversions but again, 14 to me doesn't even seem close to peeking in terms of what is acceptable to the average rider - especially when you have rides like Topspins and endless amounts of funfair spin 'n' spew types that invert guests many more times than that during one cycle. I'd love to see a coaster designed that could pull off the feat off the back of just one lift-hill but I am certain that if Gerstlauer can cram 14 inversions into that tiny footprint then it can easily be topped given a larger space and budget to work within. My money is on China to smash this one - potentially one of the Wanda parks if they're willing to invest in something really custom.

Nothing too wild there and I am absolutely certain that the 2020s won't be without their what the fuck moments when it comes to theme park innovation and developments! What do you predict for what the coming decade will bring?

Talk later xoxo,

CONVERSATION

5 comments:

  1. What are you thoughts on the future of Wonderland Eurasia?

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    Replies
    1. Honestly it's not something I've given much thought to. Is it struggling?

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  2. I think that Disneyland Paris might get an indoor waterpark in this decade.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting! I wouldn't say it's outside the realms of possibility for sure

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  3. I think they will be monitoring how Europa park does with their new park. There has always been talk of making Disneyland Paris a three park theme park so could be the solution

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