Amusement parks challenged by home entertainment

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Your local fun zone, amusement center and theme park is facing an existential challenge these days.



They need to lure you, the American guest, off your sofa with your high resolution, interactive video games and into their world of fun — real life fun.

A decade or two ago, folks went to theme parks big and small to experience the latest in entertainment and technology. Now, attractions need to come up with something better than the amazing quality of entertainment you can get on your computer or TV.

"There's clutter and noise everywhere nowadays from all of these different channels about things you can do with your time. You have to have an exciting product and you've got to be able to do things as a family together," said Jim Pattison Jr., president of Ripley Entertainment.

Pattison's company owns the Guinness World Records Attractions, Louis Tussaud's Wax Museums and the cataloge raisonne of bizarre, the Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museums.

This week, he and about 27,000 other theme park professionals descended on the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, to seek out the newest in cool, fun stuff that will lure you out of your home.

Walking around the nine miles of show floor aisles at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo is like riding a mechanical bull through a slot machine: wild and noisy and tiring. There's everything from Hawaiian-themed hot dogs to working carnival rides to the latest in roller-coaster track technology. One company even offers a turnkey theme park solution — they can plan, outfit and open an entire theme park. They've done nearly a dozen in China.

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