decorations at the Full Throttle section of Six
Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., on Dec. 7,
2014. For the first time, Six Flags Magic Mountain
is converting the park for the holidays, a
recognition of the revenue available during the
ANGELES ó While children waited in line to snap photos
with Santa Claus, the aroma of freshly steamed tamales and
hot cocoa lingered in the warm fall air.
itís snowing," a teenage girl screamed at the tiny
bubbles that masqueraded as the white stuff sprayed from
electric blowers hidden in nearby trees. Christmas tunes
blared from outdoor speakers, the music mixing with the
rumble of a roller coaster speeding along steel tracks.
holidays have arrived in a big way for the first time at
Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, known more for
stomach-churning rides than for heartwarming nostalgia.
Similar scenes have played out in theme parks across the
country in a push to boost year-round attendance, increase
food and souvenir sales and make the winter holidays a
merry moneymaking season.
remains the top revenue-generating time for theme parks,
followed by Halloween and spring break. But theme park
executives are investing heavily to persuade park-goers to
make a theme park visit a holiday tradition.
is a way for them to goose revenue," said Martin
Lewison, a theme park expert and business management
professor at Farmingdale State College in New York.
"For a relatively small investment, they can get a
few more operating days to draw visitors."
Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, north of Los Angeles, is
the latest park to jump in, this year adding light shows,
live music, carolers and new food items as part of a
"Holiday in the Park" promotion that began on
select days in late November and stretches to early
January. The park has extended its hours to 8 p.m.,
instead of the usual 6 p.m. closing time.
is a significant investment for us," park President
Bonnie Rabjohn said. "People are really responding to
Crocitto of Los Angeles brought his 4-year-old daughter,
Valentina, to Six Flags for the holiday festivities,
saying she is too young for most of the high-thrill roller
coasters. Instead, she met Santa Claus and colored
pictures of Christmas scenes.
pretty cool for both of us," he said.
Californiaís Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and
Knottís Berry Farm, among other parks, have offered
holiday celebrations for decades. But nearly all have
upgraded in the last few years.
Berry Farm extended its holiday event by six days this
year and produced a new ice show. Legoland in Carlsbad
added nine days to its holiday gala this year and
installed a new ice skating rink, plus extra snow for
last year internationalized its annual Christmas
celebration with a Latino-themed element dubbed "Viva
Navidad," which includes folkloric and samba dancers
and giant dancing mojiganga puppets. The Jungle Cruise
ride was converted to a holiday-themed attraction called
"Jingle Cruise." Both holiday additions returned
the holidays, Disneyland will launch a "Frozen
Fun" festival to capitalize on the popularity of the
animated movie "Frozen."
Studios Hollywood has amped up its annual "Grinchmas"
celebration with cookie decorating, a storytelling time, a
book drive and a new musical performance featuring a boy
successful program appeals to a broad demographic,"
said Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios
U.S. theme parks have reported steady attendance growth
over the last three years. The holiday push is an effort
to reinvest profits to keep attendance and revenue rising,
theme park experts say.
parks are seeing success and they are looking for ways to
expand the seasons at appropriate times," said Dennis
Speigel, a theme park consultant who helped launch
"Holiday in the Park" at Six Flags Over Texas 30
holiday makeover isnít limited to Southern California.
year, Six Flags Over Georgia launched its first
"Holiday in the Park" event, including a
130-foot Christmas tree, a stained-glass nativity scene
and roasted símores.
Dollar City in Branson, Mo., this year added a $1 million
light parade to its annual "An Old Time
Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., added a
Hanukkah celebration this year to its annual "Holiday
in the Park" event. The Hanukkah activities include
menorah lighting, live music, card making and dreidel
cookie decorating, plus Jewish-style food.
holiday events also give parks the chance to entice
visitors to spend on new foods, drinks and souvenirs.
of food, beverages and merchandise generate nearly 30
percent of theme park revenue, with admissions generating
about 53 percent of the take, according to a study by the
International Association of Amusement Parks and
Attractions, an industry trade group.
Knottís Berry Farm, the menu now includes pumpkin-spiced
churros ($5.99) and símores ($2.49).
park is always looking for ways to improve," Knottís
spokeswoman Leidy Arevalo said.
Flags Magic Mountain this year added tamales ($9.99),
peppermint funnel cake ($13.99) and cinnamon spice latte
($3.99), among other offerings.
source of revenue is the $2 that Six Flags charges for
each pair of 3-D glasses. The spectacles let park visitors
see sparkling Christmas images when they watch the
five-minute light shows that begin every 10 minutes.
by churros and light shows, Leanna Brassell, 15, and her
friends also cited other, more practical reasons for
visiting Six Flags during "Holiday in the Park":
The lines to the roller coasters are shorter than they are
during the busy summer months.
the lines have been less than 30 minutes long," she
said, munching on a churro. "I like it a lot."