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Thanks to improving attendance and in-park spending, U.S. amusement park foodservice sales have surpassed prerecession levels, according to Packaged Facts' just-released report, "Amusement Park Foodservice Trends in the U.S."
Make no mistake: food and beverage sales at amusement parks are big business, whether the parks are large or small; national, regional, or local; sedate or thrilling; and driven by teens, families, or a combination of both.
According to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, foodservice revenue at U.S. amusement parks are projected to reach $2.9 billion in 2012.
Entertainment district growth, national restaurant brand opportunities, the need for healthier fare, and evolving promotional activity are all shaping amusement park foodservice strategies.
While the recession was not kind to the amusement park industry, both absolute amusement park visits and percentage use among the adult population increased during 2008-2011.
However, some consumers have migrated away from destination amusement parks and toward regional parks, reflecting the downward shift in household income that occurred during the recession, such that a higher proportion of consumers are seeking less expensive amusement park alternatives.
For amusement park operators, distance from residence to amusement park helps inform the foodservice paradigm, which differs significantly depending on a park's status as a local, regional or destination draw.
Packaged Facts survey data show that amusement park foodservice programs should, in general, orient service and features toward feeding small groups: 40% of visitors come in groups of 3 or 4, and almost 40% come in groups of 4 or more people. At the same time, growing amusement park foodservice revenue involves matching an amusement park's unique attributes to guests' foodservice habits and preferences.
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