Design and development of touristic products Main author: Gábor Michalkó Szilvia Boros, János Csapó, Éva Happ, Pál Horváth, Anikó Husz, Mónika Jónás-Beri, Katalin Lőrinc, Andrea Máté, Gábor Michalkó, Erzsébet Printz-Markó, Krisztina Priszinger, Tamara

Name of the park and business group that it belongs to

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Name of the park and business group that it belongs to


Number of visitors (in 2007)

Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

USA, Florida, Lake Buena Vista



USA, California, Anaheim


Tokyo Disneyland

Japan, Tokyo


Disneyland Paris

France, Marne-La-Valle


Tokyo Disneysea

Japan, Tokyo


Epcot, Walt Disney World

USA, Florida, Lake Buena Vista


Disney’s Hollywood Studios

USA, Florida, Lake Buena Vista


Disney’s Animal Kingdom

USA, Florida, Lake Buena Vista


Universal Studios Japan

Japan, Osaka



South Korea, Kyonggi-Do


Source: TEA and Economics Research Associates (2008)

The theme park offer in the world is dynamically developing year after year. The newly built theme parks do not follow the American base model; they are functioning by new organisational and operational principles. TEA reports suggest the trends and tendencies listed below should be expected on the market of the theme parks:

·                choice of topic on the basis of the endowments of the country/region,

·                a growth in the proportion of locations and facilities of mixed use;

·                an increasing participation and activity of the visitors;

·                simulation and virtual reality,

·                water-related establishments,

·                theme parks independent of the weather conditions.

5. Environmental conditions of the operation of the market

Theme parks are among the most capital intensive tourism products. They are fashionable and popular attractions where the life cycle and the amortisation of the product elements are extremely accelerated. The return on investment requires a very high number of visitors, the source of which, in addition to tourists, is local inhabitants. The biggest parks offering entertainment in the classical sense of the word can be found in developed countries with a large number of population (e.g. USA, Japan, Germany). At the establishment of the parks another issue to be considered is the pleasant climate, which is also a dominant factor in determining opening time. A basic criterion for the operation of parks is security, whose continuous monitoring is one of the most important tasks of the management of parks. During the development of new toy elements the major tasks of the manufacturers is to minimise the risk of accidents.

6. Cooperation with other products, synergy effect

Theme parks have indirect relations to other tourism products, which is best seen in the case of heritage, aqua and adventure parks. Heritage parks can be related to cultural tourism inasmuch as they process a historic period or the cultural heritage of a region/country. Aquaparks can relate to wellness tourism, while adventure parks can have relations to different sorts of active tourism. A common connection point of all parks is to youth tourism which is also one of the main target groups.

7. The practice of product development

The focus of the product development in the theme parks is the selected theme. All toy elements and the related and support services must serve and implement the authentic processing of the theme.   The product development characteristics of the parks come from the structure of the product. The rides and toy elements of the theme parks influence the range of tourists visiting the park, and thereby also the composition of potential and actual tourists. Support services make the experience, the feeling of the experience full; they support and strengthen experience. Accessibility involves transport access to the park by the consumers. In this respect both public and private transport possibilities must be taken into consideration, where, in addition to the means of transport used, other important aspects are speed, comfort, reliability and price. The image of the theme parks must not necessarily be based solely on the consumers experience; it can also be influenced by the motivation of visiting parks. Package offers have also appeared on the market, which requires cooperation with external actors. Such “packages” include, in addition to the visit to the park itself, further services such as accommodation. A classic method for pricing in theme parks is the so-called pay-one-fee, which means that the entrance ticket allows the visitor to use all toys in the park. In Hungary this general principle is applied differently, usually an alternative pricing policy is applied by the parks.

8. Product-related research characteristics, difficulties, and recommended databases

Theme parks are among the fastest developing attractions in the tourism sector, still the researches on them are rather few. Research and literature on theme parks go back to the last 30 to 40 years, as parks in the modern sense of the word appeared after the 1950s, only. Most of the studies deal with marketing problems and opportunities, mental maps, or segmentation strategies; others look at the opportunities of smaller and larger parks in a given region. Almost all books written on the system of tourism, tourism geography or tourism economics and management mention theme parks when raising examples for man-made attractions.  

The academic research of theme parks is a topic hardly visible in Hungary, not only in domestic tourism geography but also in the researches of other disciplines. As a result of this Hungarian literature on theme parks is very limited, a very few authors have devoted time to write an essay or two in this subject. Of the few who did so, Puczkó László and Rátz Tamara must be mentioned, who are practically the only Hungarian researchers of this field. In my opinion the main reasons for the lack of such researches are as follows:

·         theme parks have appeared in Hungary in the last few years, only (exception from this are the funfairs with classic entertainment functions, making the basis of the development of today’s theme parks),

·         their number is still limited and they are concentrated spatially,

·         actors of the business sector are hardly accessible for the academic researches, a reason for which is the value of the information. An analysis of this type requires the comparison of the respective locations, for which actors are reluctant to provide data, referring to the protection of their business secrets.

In the last third of the first decade of the 2000s we can see the more and more frequent appearance of the promotion of the supply of theme parks in the development directions of the tender systems. Calls for tenders and the preparation of the scientifically established evaluation system of the bids require professional studies, which might be a motivation to conduct studies in this area.   For the introduction of the theme parks and the analysis of their market positions statistical databases are only available at the international level, which are regularly published by TEA [1] and ERA [2]. TEA is an international non-for-profit organisation gathering theme attractions, with over 500 economic organisation members now from 39 countries: operators, planners and builders of theme attractions. ERA is an international consulting company that focuses on the economic analysis of establishments concentrated on entertainment and recreation. During the data collection I wanted to show the latest data in each case and where possible, and also to demonstrate the temporal and spatial change.

[1] TEA: Themed Entertainment Association

[2] ERA: Economic Research Associates

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