Attractions Review 2018: February
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Attractions Review 2018: February

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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.

For February, two major resignations rocked the attractions sector, while Disney asserted its dominance at the top of the theme park world by announcing multi-billion dollar expansion plans for Disneyland.

IAAPA shakeup

Paul Noland, president and CEO of global attractions association IAAPA, stepped down from the role after five years, leaving to take up a new position as CEO of technology solutions provider Accesso.

"It has been one of the true joys of my career to be associated with such a talented and committed staff and volunteer leadership," said Noland. "The association is well positioned for the future, and I know that its best days are ahead."

IAAPA would spend a number of months on the hunt for a new successor. Hal McEvoy, who joined IAAPA in April 2017 from Busch Entertainment/SeaWorld, took up the position of acting president and CEO during the leadership transition, ultimately taking up the role on a permanent basis later in the year.

SeaWorld flounders

SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby resigned from his position as the company’s CEO during February, with the troubled operator launching a search to find a permanent successor following the move.

Manby, who was named CEO in March 2015, had taken numerous steps to turn around the company’s fortunes, which has struggled in the wake of Blackfish – the 2013 anti-SeaWorld documentary which focuses on the killer whale Tilikum and the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.

To combat attendance declines, Manby introduced a five-point plan focused on "Experiences That Matter" – an extensive rebranding effort that included the elimination of theatrical orca shows and the promise that the operator’s current generation of orcas would be its last.

Under its transition plan, chief parks operations officer John Reilly succeeded Manby on a temporary basis, a position he still currently holds 10 months on.

Disneyland expands

At the end of the month, Disney revealed a major expansion of Disneyland Paris, with the operator unveiling €2bn (US$2.46bn, £1.77bn) plans which included new areas based on its Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars IPs.

Disney chair Bob Iger announced the plans alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palais de l'Elysée, promising multiple new attractions and live entertainment experiences for Europe’s most visited attraction.

Set to break ground in 2021, the multi-year plan will include a significant expansion of the main Disneyland park. In addition to three new themed areas, the park will also gain a new lake, which will act as a focal point for entertainment experiences, while also connecting each of the new areas with the rest of Disneyland.

"We're very excited about the future of Disneyland Paris and continue to invest in its long-term success," said Iger.

Check back with Attractions Management tomorrow for a look back at the highlights from March

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For February, two major resignations rocked the attractions sector, while Disney asserted its dominance at the top of the theme park world by announcing multi-billion dollar expansion plans for Disneyland.

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