Do you want to start an amusement park? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a amusement park business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample amusement park business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample amusement park marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for amusement parks. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting an amusement park business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start an Amusement Park Business?

When Walt Disney decided to build Disney® Land, most people who knew him never taught he would achieve success. As a matter of fact, Disney Land is the number one spot for children and adults looking for a park to catch maximum fun. People travel from all over the world and pay expensive fees to visit Disney Land.

The truth is that any entrepreneur can model a business after Disney Land in any part of the world and still make huge success from the business. So, if you are passionate about making children catch fun, then you should think of starting an amusement park.

No doubt starting an amusement park requires huge startup capital and serious planning, but it is indeed a profitable venture especially if your amusement park is equipped with facilities that can guarantee every child that visits maximum fun.

Starting an amusement park requires long term planning and a collection of experts to help you execute the plans you have drafted on paper. As a matter of fact, you would need project managers, architects, civil engineers et al. The only way you can escape the rigors involved in starting your own amusement park from the scratch is by acquiring an existing amusement park that is put up for sale, or buying a franchise of an existing and successful amusement park.

So, if you are desirous of starting your own amusement park business, all you need to do is read this article and you will be well equipped. You can start your amusement park business from a small town in the United States and if you are consistent and creative, it won’t be long before your brand becomes nationally recognized and you start welcoming children and parents alike from all across the United States of America and other countries of the world.

Starting an Amusement Park Business – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Companies in the amusement and theme park industry basically operate mechanical rides, water rides, games, shows, themed exhibits, refreshment stands and other attractions. It is important to state that companies in this industry may also lease space for parties and other shows on a contract basis.

A close watch on happenings in the Amusement and Theme Parks industry shows that the industry has grown over the years and it is driven by a rise in international and domestic visitor numbers, and rising consumer spending.

Even though the industry is highly competitive, major amusement park operators in the United States have used their intellectual property rights to major film franchises and entertainment to their advantage, pivoting beloved films and characters into exciting new features and rides to propel revenue and increase their profit margins. It is worthy to mention that the industry is dominated by a small number of massive entertainment companies, which have pursued both domestic and international expansion opportunities.

The Amusement and Theme Parks industry is indeed a very large industry and pretty much thriving in all parts of the world especially in developed countries such as United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, China, France, Australia and Italy et al.

Statistics have it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 624 licensed and registered Amusement Parks that are into franchising responsible for employing about 139,041 employees and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $18 billion annually with an annual growth rate projected at 5.4 percent between 2011 and 2016. It is important to state that Cedar Fair LP, NBC Universal, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Six Flags Inc. and The Walt Disney Company have lion shares of the available market in this industry.

A recent report published by IBISWORLD shows that the Amusement and Theme Parks industry has high barriers to entry particularly for theme parks with major roller coasters and other attractions. The industry has a high level of concentration with the four largest players expected to account for more than 80 percent of the total industry revenue in 2017.

This can pose a significant barrier to entry for new players, since the sheer cost of constructing worthwhile rides and attractions represent an enormous initial investment. The report also stated that significant opportunities exist for smaller and niche players operating in local or regional markets.

In recent time, the Amusement and Theme Parks industry has experienced revenue growth despite many families being time – strapped. While the industry contended with mounting competition from alternative leisure activities such as bouncing castles, gym and fitness centers and cinemas, many operators generated industry revenue growth on the basis of convenience. In the coming years, industry revenue is forecast to grow as family entertainment centers such as amusement parks will continue to enhance their product portfolios to attract families, despite their reduced leisure time.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own amusement park facility business could be that the business can easily get support from the government at all levels and the business is indeed a profitable venture despite the huge start – up capital and the high industrial entry requirements.

It is important to state that the amusement park business is indeed a growing business. Even though the business is not considered a green business in the United States of America, one can comfortably say that the business is booming and open to potential entrepreneurs who are interested in the business.

Over and above, starting an amusement park business in the United States of America can be somewhat stressful, it requires enough cash to acquire land large enough to accommodate the kind of facility that can comfortably attract families and also cash required to equip the facility to meet the standard expected by potential users.

Starting an Amusement Park Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who visit amusement and theme park are not restricted to children who love outdoor activities and games but it also extends to adults and families. There is a wide range of clientele who patronize amusement and theme parks for different purposes.

In essence, the demographic composition cum target market for an amusement and theme park facility is all encompassing; it is not restricted to any age group, gender, race, tribe or group of people.

So, if you are looking towards defining the demographics for your amusement and theme park facility business, then you should make it far reaching to include households and families, schools, churches and religious centers, sport clubs, corporate organizations, travelers and tourists et al.

List of Niche ideas Within the Amusement Park Business That You Can Specialize in

Most amusement and theme park facilities tend to operate general services that a standard amusement and theme park facility provider is expected to offer. That is why it seems like there are no niche areas in the industry. But on the other hand, some amusement and theme park facilities may decide to major in some key areas such as;

  • Operating theme parks
  • Operating water parks
  • Operating amusement parks

The Level of Competition in the Amusement and Theme Parks Industry

The level of competition in the Amusement and Theme Parks industry to some extent depends on the location of the business, your niche area of operation and of course the capacity of your amusement and theme park facility. If you can successfully create a unique niche for your amusement and theme park facility business, then you are likely going to experience little or no competition.

For instance, if you are the only amusement and theme park facility business in your location that is operating 24 hours, 7 days a-week services and also operating a water parks, you can successfully monopolize the market for a long time before you start having competitions.

List of Well – Known Brands in the Hospitality Industry

In every industry, there are always brands who perform better or are better regarded by customers and the general public than others. Some of these brands are those that have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.

These are some of the leading amusement and theme parks in the United States of America and in the globe;

  • Cedar Fair LP
  • NBC Universal
  • SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
  • Six Flags Inc. (Six Flags Great Adventure!)
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • The Hersheypark
  • Holiday World
  • Funland Amusement Park, North Little Rock
  • H20asis indoor waterpark, Anchorage
  • Scandia Amusements, Rohnert Park and Sacramento
  • Pixieland Amusement Park, Concord
  • Dry Town Water Park, Palmdale
  • Quassy Amusement Park, Middlebury
  • Pier Park Amusement Rides, Panama City Beach
  • Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Ocean City
  • Amusement Park Drive In, Laurel
  • Clementon Amusement Park, Clementon
  • Cliff’s Amusement Park, Albuquerque
  • Carolina Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park, Carolina Beach
  • Bay Beach Amusement Park, Green Bay

Economic Analysis

When it comes to starting an amusement and theme park facility business, you just have to get your costing cum economic analysis right if your intention of building the business is to generate profits, grow the business and start competing the at national level while attracting clients from all across the globe.

When conducting costing and economic analysis for your amusement and theme park facility business, you just have to critically examine these key factors; place, pricing, and promotion. As a matter of fact, you would have to continue to review these key factors at regular intervals while running your amusement and theme park facility business. As an amusement and theme park facility business owner, you just have to have a proper grasp of your competitive landscape if indeed you want to maximize profits and be in the frontline of the industry.

It is important to note that security and facility maintenance cost are some of the most important factors contributing to the overall cost of running an amusement and theme park business and should be considered as a major factor when carrying out your costing and economic analysis.

Starting Your Amusement Park Facility from Scratch vs Buying a Franchise

Although there are some amusement parks that are into franchising, but if you are looking towards starting an amusement and theme park facility business, it will pay you to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get a franchise of an amusement park facility business at affordable price to buy.

Besides starting an amusement and theme park facility business from the scratch might be stressful initially but it is profitable and can run on auto – pilot. With amusement and theme park facility business, you should just try as much as possible to secure a good location then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet to market your amusement and theme park facility.

Please note that most of the big and successful amusement and theme park facilities around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting an Amusement and Theme Park Facility Business

A common challenge is that many amusement parks are subject to extreme revenue volatility throughout the year. Besides, if you decide to open your own amusement and theme park facility today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established amusement and theme park facilities and of course other players in the family entertainment and recreational industry in your target market location. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.

Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your amusement and theme park facility are mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), and stiff competition. So also, unfavorable government policies, seasonal fluctuations, demographic/social factors, downturn in the economy which is likely going to affect consumers spending for leisure services such as amusement and theme parks and of course emergence of new competitors within the same location where yours is located. There is hardly anything you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to be optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.

Starting an Amusement Park Business – Legal Matters

  • Best Legal Entity to use for this Type of Business

You have the option of either choosing a general partnership, limited liability company which is commonly called an LLC, or even a sole proprietorship for a business such as amusement and theme park facility. If your intention is to grow the business and welcome visitors (children) all across the United States of America, Canada and other countries of the world, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.

Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.

These are some of the factors you should consider before choosing a legal entity for your amusement and theme park facility business; limitation of personal liability, ease of transferability, admission of new owners, investors’ expectation and of course taxes.

If you take your time to critically study the various legal entities to use for your amusement and theme park facility business, you will agree that limited liability company; an LLC is most suitable. You can start this type of business as limited liability company (LLC) and in future convert it to a ‘C’ corporation or an ‘S’ corporation especially when you have the plans of going public.

Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your amusement and theme park facility business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company; you will enjoy flexibility in ownership and in your management structures.

Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for an Amusement and Theme Park Facility Company

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting your own amusement and theme park facility business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Hill Top Amusement and Theme Park, LLC
  • Fantasies World® Amusement and Theme Facility, Inc.
  • Eaglets Abode® Amusement and Theme, LLC
  • Adventurers® Amusement and Theme Parks Ltd.
  • Hype Kids Community Amusement and Theme Park, LLC
  • Golden Hearts Amusement and Theme Park Facility, LLC
  • Trans Generational Amusement and Theme Park Facility, LLC
  • Watergate Amusement and Theme Park, Inc.
  • Port Harbor Amusement and Theme Park Facility, Inc.
  • Little Angles® Amusement and Theme Park Facility, Inc.

Insurance Policies

In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance policy cover and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your amusement and theme park facility business.

Here are some of the basic insurance policy covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own amusement and theme park facility business in the United States of America;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Risk Insurance
  • Workers compensation
  • Building/Property insurance
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Payment protection insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

If you are considering starting your own amusement and theme park facility business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is so because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

On the other hand, it is important to point out that major amusement park operators in the United States have used their intellectual property rights to major film franchises and entertainment to their advantage, pivoting beloved films and characters into exciting new features and rides to propel revenue and increase their profit margins.

If you want to leverage on this business opportunity within the industry and also to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even operation concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run an Amusement Park Business?

When it comes to operating an amusement and theme park facility business, you do not need to have any formal training or special certification before you can be allowed to open and operate an amusement and theme park facility business in the United States of America and in all countries of the world. All you need is informal training that will expose you to the in and out of managing an amusement and theme park facility.

On the other hand, if you come across any form of certification that can aid you to conduct your amusement and theme park facility business, then by all mean try and pursue such certification.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run an Amusement and Theme Park Facility

These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own amusement and theme park facility company in the United States of America;

  • Business and liability insurance
  • Federal Tax Payer’s ID
  • State Permit
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Health inspection Certificate
  • Copy of license for the service support facility and/or a recent inspection report
  • Non – disclosure Agreement
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Employee’s Handbook
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  • Building License
  • Franchise or Trademark License (optional)

Financing Your Amusement and Theme Park Facility Business

Starting a standard, secured and well – equipped amusement and theme park facility business is capital intensive even if you choose to launch the business on a small scale and you only have a handful of full time employees on your payroll. Leasing of a standard facility that can accommodate your customers and staff members and of course equipping the facility are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital. If you choose to start the business on a small scale, you will still need to source for fund to finance the business.

When it comes to financing a business, one of the major factors that you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business.

Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your amusement and theme park facility business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell of shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank/banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from government, donor organizations and angel investors

Choosing a Suitable Location for your Amusement Park Business

Generally, in business, it cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your business is key to the success of the business; hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of children and parents (people) with the required purchasing power and lifestyle.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing a facility for your amusement and theme park facility business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.

Most importantly, before choosing a location for your amusement and theme park facility business, ensure that you first conduct thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar businesses that just closed shop in the location you want to open yours can’t be ruled out. This is why it is very important to gather as much facts and figures before choosing a location to set up your own amusement and theme park facility business.

These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your amusement and theme park facility business;

  • The demography of the location especially as it relates to children and families
  • The demand for the services of amusement, theme parks and other recreational related facilities in the location
  • The purchasing power of the residents of the location
  • Accessibility of the location
  • The number of amusement and theme park facilities and other recreational related services businesses in the location
  • The local laws and regulations in the community/state
  • Traffic, parking and security et al

Starting an Amusement Park Business – Technical and Manpower Details

On the average, there are no special technologies or equipment needed to run an amusement and theme park facility except for the various mechanical rides, water rides, games, themed exhibits, refreshment stands and other attractions. You will definitely need a public address system, computers, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables and shelves).

When it comes to choosing between renting and leasing a facility for your amusement and theme park facility, the size of the facility you want to own, and your entire budget for the business should influence your choice. Besides, you will need a facility that is in a serene environment, a facility that is big enough to accommodate the number of visitors and staff members working for you.

As regards the number of employees that you are expected to kick start the business with, you would need to consider your finance before making the decision. Averagely, when it comes to starting a standard amusement and theme park facility business on a large scale, you would need the services of the following professionals; Chief Operating Officer (you can occupy this position), Marketing and Sales Executive (Business Developer), Accountant, Park Safety Instructor/Assistant, Human Resources and Admin Manager, Facility Manager, Customer Services Executive, Ticketers/Front Desk Officer, Security Guards and Cleaners.

You would need a minimum of 10 to 15 key staff members to effectively run a medium scale but standard amusement and theme park facility.

The Service Delivery Process of an Amusement and Theme Park Facility Business

The service delivery as it relates to amusement and theme parks to a large extent depends on the organization and what they stand to achieve.

Basically, an amusement and theme park facility that is ready to welcome visitors, primarily children, places gate fees and perhaps ticket fees. Before visitors are allowed to come in, they are expected to pay the gate fee and in most cases, they also pay to ride some mechanical rides, water rides, and play some games.

It is important to state that an amusement and theme park facility business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility.

Starting an Amusement Park Business – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies

The fact that the entry barrier for starting a small – scale amusement and theme park facility services business is not too high means that there is bound to be more players in the industry no matter the location you choose to start yours. In essence, you must come up with unique and fun filled mechanical rides, water rides, games, and themed exhibits if you must carve out a market for yourself within the available market in your community, city, state or country.

So, when you are drafting marketing plans and strategies for your amusement and theme park facility, make sure that you create a compelling personal and company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience, it is important to clearly state in practical terms what you have been able to achieve in time past as it relates to your line of business. This will help boost your chances in the market place when marketing your services.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your amusement and theme park facility;

  • Open your amusement and theme park facility services with a party so as to capture the attention of residents who are your first targets
  • Print out fliers and business cards and strategically drop them in offices, libraries, public facilities and train stations et al.
  • Deliver consistent customer experience to all your visitors; make your first impression exciting to those making use of your amusement and theme park facility for the first time
  • Make use of attractive hand bills to create awareness and also to give direction to your amusement and theme park facility
  • Engage in roadshows in targeted communities from time to time to market your amusement and theme park facility
  • Advertise your services in community based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business and products on yellow pages ads  (local directories)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your amusement and theme park facility
  • Engage in direct marketing and sales
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  • Leverage on the internet to promote your amusement and theme park facility
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industries around you with the aim of networking and marketing your amusement and theme park facility; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing for you

Strategies to Boost Your Amusement Park Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

If your intention of starting an amusement and theme park facility business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national and international brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.

The truth is that no matter the industry you belong to, the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your amusement and theme park facility business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and family entertainment and recreational magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community based events/programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your amusement and theme park facility
  • Install your billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
  • Engage in roadshows from time to time in targeted neighborhoods to create awareness of your amusement and theme park facility
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • Contact religious organizations, sport clubs, children’s clubs, schools, corporate organizations, households and key stakeholders in and around the location where your amusement and theme park facility is located informing them about your facility and the services you offer
  • List your amusement and theme park facility in local directories
  • Advertise your amusement and theme park facility in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site
  • Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your amusement and theme park facility is located
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles are branded with your company logo et al.