March 18, 2010

USA: Symptomatic preference for free amusement park rides vs high-tech thrills

. LOS ANGELES, California / The Los Angeles Times / Business / Leisure / March 18, 2010 Tiny amusement parks by the sea draw penny-pinching crowds Vacationers are turning to old-fashioned Ferris wheels and carousels over expensive, high-tech thrill rides. What's the appeal? Free admission. By Hugo Martín In the midst of one of the worst recessions in decades, tiny beach-side amusement parks along the California coast are reporting robust business and big crowds while most of the state's big theme parks have seen shrinking revenue. Small, privately owned seaside parks, such as Pacific Park at the pier in Santa Monica, Belmont Park in San Diego and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, don't have multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns or 3-D attractions as do Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. But they boast something even more appealing to penny-pinching tourists: Free admission. As a result, vacationers are turning to old-fashioned Ferris wheels and carousels over expensive, high-tech thrill rides. [rc] Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier offers just 12 rides on 2 acres of sun-baked boardwalk. But in 2009, it drew nearly $18 million in revenue, a 5% increase over the previous year, on top of a 5% increase in 2008. Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times For more of the report, click here. Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times