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The Week: Lessons from Vince McMahon, Cirque du Soleil and Andreas Andersen | Planet Attractions
     

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The Week: Lessons from Vince McMahon, Cirque du Soleil and Andreas Andersen

Featuring the WWE, Hula Hoop supermo Elena Lev, Liseberg’s Andreas Andersen and a manatee called Lesley, welcome to the latest edition of The Week with Planet Attractions






We’ve managed five of these so far and as each week passes the landscape of the visitor attractions industry seems to shift dramatically, even more so this week with theme parks across the world announcing opening dates for the 2021 season.

Education and understanding is also a key message this week, with leaders from the circus to the boardroom peeling back the curtain to offer us the insight on how to succeed.

Welcome to your seven day breakdown of everything related to the visitor attractions industry. Welcome to The Week from Planet Attractions.






The absolute peak of professional wrestling came between September 1995 and March 2001 - a period historically known as the Monday Night Wars.

During that six year period, pro wrestling reached heights it probably never will again, with two major companies - the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) - going head-to-head each and every week on prime time television.

Fighting each week in the same time slot for the same viewers, WWE and WCW had to pull out all the stops in order to succeed. It was a real-life rivalry between two companies, which steadily escalated through the 1990s to include the use of often underhanded or outrageous tactics, as well as the defections of major stars between the two organisations.

As well as these sneaky tactics, the ratings war created fantastic innovation on both sides, WCW for example bringing in something not seen on mainstream television before with lucha libre, while the WWE launched its Attitude Era, adopting an adult-oriented style, which created household names such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

This back and forth between the WWE and WCW was driven by a rabid fan-base, with people tuning in each and every week to see how their favourite promotion would try to top the other. On May 10, 1999, WWE broadcast an episode of Raw that achieved an 8.1 rating in the US - a record that still stands today. WCW’s peak came on August 31, 1998 when it scored a 6.0 - more than three times that of a modern day episode of Raw.

The ratings war ultimately ended due to mismanagement. WCW sadly made a number of promises it couldn’t keep and ran into severe financial difficulties, leading WWE owner Vince McMahon to later purchase his competition, officially ending the Monday Night Wars.

A different perspective

So why am I telling you this story? It’s no secret, but not everyone in the attractions community knows that I have a rather unique side hustle. In-fact, I think it’s probably safe to say that I am the only person in the world who is both a visitor attractions journalist and a professional wrestler (proof of that here just in-case you don’t believe me).

The wrestling side of my life is also the reason I’m so confident to give you social media advice (see my column in issues three and four of The Week) because the reason I became a professional wrestler was as a direct result of the huge following I've built up in that world - a following that totals around 300,000 people across Facebook and Twitter.

So combine my 20 plus years of wrestling knowledge with nearly a decade writing about the visitor attractions industry for a living and suddenly you’ve got a very unique perspective on how one world is very similar to another.


When you look closely, the fandoms of pro wrestling and theme parks are almost identical - Credit: Disney

Like looking in the mirror

For both attractions and wrestling, I’ve seen both sides of the proverbial coin - as an avid fan of attractions, particularly theme parks, and as a huge professional wrestling fan and now as a pro wrestler.

It’s seeing the fan worlds in both of these completely different realms that I realised how similar they actually were.

If you want to contrast and compare, just look at the social media sections for any major theme park and any major wrestling promotion. What you will find in both cases are probably memes, in-fighting, people praising the product, people criticising the product and general conversation about hopes, dreams and nightmares when it comes to their favourites.

What underlines all of that though is something you can’t buy but definitely can leverage as a business - passion.

The reason both WWE and WCW found their greatest successes during the Monday Night Wars was fan passion created by in your face competition. It was exciting. You didn’t know what was going to happen next and attractions, particularly the theme park industry, are well-placed to try and replicate this success.

A new challenger emerges

Today, WWE has new competition with a relatively new promotion called All Elite Wrestling (AEW). Each week, AEW airs in the same US time slot as the WWE’s home for developmental talent and independent stars - NXT.

AEW’s entire identity pitches to a niche where it acts as the alternative to WWE and as a result, it’s gained a hardcore following in a very short period of time.

WWE has significantly changed since the Monday Night Wars and is today a much more corporate entity. In public, AEW doesn’t really get a mention, with the promotion instead taking its rivalries in house with its separate Raw, Smackdown and NXT rosters. In the age of the internet, that doesn’t stop the debate. There are WWE fans who think AEW is inferior to the big player, while AEW fans say the WWE product is lacking.

While WWE hasn’t really engaged, AEW has filled the void, forging partnerships with major promotions all over the world, primarily Impact Wrestling in the US and New Japan Pro Wrestling, masking those partnerships as rivalries and piquing fans interest. For a non wrestling fan, imagine if Marvel and DC suddenly opted for a major crossover movie. That’s what a promotion like NJPW turning up in AEW means for the fans of those brands.

The bottom line

So here’s the lesson for businesses - stop ignoring your rivals.

I’m not urging you to do anything drastic like driving a tank to the gates of Disneyland (WWE once drove a tank to a live WCW show) but what you should be doing is leaning into that spirit and building a healthy fan-facing competition with your biggest business rivals.

Visitor attractions, like professional wrestling, have a rabid fanbase who want their favourites to succeed at all costs. Stoke those flames, build that rivalry. Maybe even build it together.

If you’re a company that owns multiple theme park attractions - take Merlin Entertainments for example - pit your biggest brands against each other. Imagine an advertising campaign where Thorpe Park tries to top Alton Towers. It’s an opportunity that is screaming to be put out there. It’s so simple yet so effective and I guarantee it will start a conversation and drive up interest in both your brands. Done right, everybody wins.

Even if it’s not in-house, a debate like Universal vs Disney is one that will forever rage on. If Bob Chapek happens to be reading this, you should be taking that ball and running with it. Work with your biggest rivals and done right everybody - you, your rival and most importantly, the fans - will reap the rewards.

Stop ignoring your rivals. Be like WWE. Go give someone a stunner.






After a dreadful year, the global theme park industry might finally be turning a corner, with more than 40 theme parks in the US and around the world announcing reopening dates in 2021.

Parks worldwide were forced to close for the majority of 2020 thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and now major operators including Disney, Universal, Merlin Entertainments and Cedar Fair are all…keep reading

Meanwhile, part of Universal’s new Super Nintendo World awkwardly might not actually be a part of the Nintendo universe.

An eagle-eyed Twitter user has pointed out an interesting feature in Universal’s upcoming Super Nintendo World - designs that appear to be based on fan-created content…keep reading

Finally, have you ever wondered how you can make it to a place like Cirque du Soleil? Veteran performer Elena Lev has revealed all in a new video.

Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1981, Lev has become famous for performing in iconic Cirque productions, such as Saltimbanco, Varekai and Quidam. Her signature act combines the art of...keep reading






This week’s Quote of The Week comes from an industry leader in Liseberg’s Andreas Andersen, who has discussed how to make positive changes in business during the global pandemic.

Read his thoughts here




More reading

Where have all thrillseekers gone?

Projection mapping a desert landscape with Meow Wolf

Mexico’s first Nickelodeon resort to open in June



Our influencer of The Week is a British theme park fanatic known for his homemade immersive attractions, who has taken his time in lockdown to move in a new direction - producing a remote game show based on rollercoasters.

Adam Reeves, who created The Joy Sequence in 2018, has developed a number of walkthrough attractions, with the immersive experiences running primarily out of his garage and back garden.

These experiences are designed in his own words to “tell stories of folklore and pseudoscience through escapism, immersion, and a dash of fear thrown in for good measure”.

His home-made game show, Hexagon Bridge, is about giving theme park fans a platform to test their knowledge and express their passion



This week Adam spoke to Planet Attractions about his creations. click here to read more






Museums of Impact

Italian speaking museum professionals are invited to participate in the second stakeholders meeting of MOI! Museums of Impact. The meeting will focus on strategies of social impact.

During the event, Italian museums will focus on the strategies they are implementing to maximize their social impact and will discuss with institutional representatives to share visions and propose possible new tools.

Click here to register

Cocktails with Creators

The Strong National Museum is set to host an online Zoom series featuring the most influential and creative innovators in the videogame and toy industries, starting with former Sega, Mattel and Leapfrog CEO, Tom Kalinske.

Among the topics to be included in the inaugural Zoom session, Kalinske will discuss how he revived the Barbie and Hot Wheels brands, disrupted the video game industry by marketing Sonic and Sega Genesis to an older age group and reveal what led him to the world of toys and videogames.

Read about it here

Museums in 2020+: The search for meaning

The Network of European Museums Organisations (NEMO) is kicking off the 2021 training year with a free webinar.

Ece Özdil, Jüniör, will guide attendees in the search for meaning during the pandemic and a time when the role and relevance of museums are questioned. By presenting museum trends and related design methods, she will help the participants reflect on a meaningful future for museums.

Click here to register






Our Photo of The Week comes from SeaWorld, which this week following a near three-year rehabilitation period, released a manatee called Lesley back into the wild.

A new video from the organisation has highlighted its work with the manatee, which arrived at its Orlando park following an injury sustained after a collision with a boat in March 2018.

Read about it here




Show your support

We’re in extraordinary times right now and this website is a direct result of that. Featuring a team of world-class attractions journalists and behind-the-scenes team of equal calibre, we need your support to make Planet Attractions happen.

We believe that everyone deserves equal access to accurate and compelling content, so we won’t hide anything behind a paywall.

We’re here to support both the industry and the consumer and to achieve our goals, we would love it if you could support us right back.

So how can you do this? It’s easy. Just contact our sales team sales@planetattractions.com and let us know about your company. We will create a package tailored to your specific needs and deliver that in the way we believe will benefit you the most.

You can also support us at no cost to you. All you need to do is follow our social channels.

You can do this by:

Liking us on Facebook

Following us on Twitter

Liking our Instagram page

Subscribing to our YouTube channel

Following our LinkedIn page

Most importantly, once you’ve subscribed, make sure to go on these social channels and engage! We’re building a community and we love being able to bring you all together.

Thank you,

The team at Planet Attractions.


Visitor attractions

 

The Week: Joe Rohde shoots for the stars, restrictions lifted and Peppa Pig’s new Florida home





From The Industry: Underwater attractions, become an astronaut and restoring art from the capitol riots





Stand-alone Peppa Pig theme park coming to Legoland Florida in 2022




Industry insights



Effective operations within a storied environment



Video



Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry to celebrate 80 years of Marvel when it reopens in March


In Depth



Meet the theme park fan who creates immersive experiences and rollercoaster game shows in his back garden


© Planet Attractions 2020


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Home Opinion In depth Video
The Week: Lessons from Vince McMahon, Cirque du Soleil and Andreas Andersen | Planet Attractions

news

The Week: Lessons from Vince McMahon, Cirque du Soleil and Andreas Andersen

Featuring the WWE, Hula Hoop supermo Elena Lev, Liseberg’s Andreas Andersen and a manatee called Lesley, welcome to the latest edition of The Week with Planet Attractions






We’ve managed five of these so far and as each week passes the landscape of the visitor attractions industry seems to shift dramatically, even more so this week with theme parks across the world announcing opening dates for the 2021 season.

Education and understanding is also a key message this week, with leaders from the circus to the boardroom peeling back the curtain to offer us the insight on how to succeed.

Welcome to your seven day breakdown of everything related to the visitor attractions industry. Welcome to The Week from Planet Attractions.






The absolute peak of professional wrestling came between September 1995 and March 2001 - a period historically known as the Monday Night Wars.

During that six year period, pro wrestling reached heights it probably never will again, with two major companies - the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE) and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) - going head-to-head each and every week on prime time television.

Fighting each week in the same time slot for the same viewers, WWE and WCW had to pull out all the stops in order to succeed. It was a real-life rivalry between two companies, which steadily escalated through the 1990s to include the use of often underhanded or outrageous tactics, as well as the defections of major stars between the two organisations.

As well as these sneaky tactics, the ratings war created fantastic innovation on both sides, WCW for example bringing in something not seen on mainstream television before with lucha libre, while the WWE launched its Attitude Era, adopting an adult-oriented style, which created household names such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.

This back and forth between the WWE and WCW was driven by a rabid fan-base, with people tuning in each and every week to see how their favourite promotion would try to top the other. On May 10, 1999, WWE broadcast an episode of Raw that achieved an 8.1 rating in the US - a record that still stands today. WCW’s peak came on August 31, 1998 when it scored a 6.0 - more than three times that of a modern day episode of Raw.

The ratings war ultimately ended due to mismanagement. WCW sadly made a number of promises it couldn’t keep and ran into severe financial difficulties, leading WWE owner Vince McMahon to later purchase his competition, officially ending the Monday Night Wars.

A different perspective

So why am I telling you this story? It’s no secret, but not everyone in the attractions community knows that I have a rather unique side hustle. In-fact, I think it’s probably safe to say that I am the only person in the world who is both a visitor attractions journalist and a professional wrestler (proof of that here just in-case you don’t believe me).

The wrestling side of my life is also the reason I’m so confident to give you social media advice (see my column in issues three and four of The Week) because the reason I became a professional wrestler was as a direct result of the huge following I've built up in that world - a following that totals around 300,000 people across Facebook and Twitter.

So combine my 20 plus years of wrestling knowledge with nearly a decade writing about the visitor attractions industry for a living and suddenly you’ve got a very unique perspective on how one world is very similar to another.


When you look closely, the fandoms of pro wrestling and theme parks are almost identical - Credit: Disney

Like looking in the mirror

For both attractions and wrestling, I’ve seen both sides of the proverbial coin - as an avid fan of attractions, particularly theme parks, and as a huge professional wrestling fan and now as a pro wrestler.

It’s seeing the fan worlds in both of these completely different realms that I realised how similar they actually were.

If you want to contrast and compare, just look at the social media sections for any major theme park and any major wrestling promotion. What you will find in both cases are probably memes, in-fighting, people praising the product, people criticising the product and general conversation about hopes, dreams and nightmares when it comes to their favourites.

What underlines all of that though is something you can’t buy but definitely can leverage as a business - passion.

The reason both WWE and WCW found their greatest successes during the Monday Night Wars was fan passion created by in your face competition. It was exciting. You didn’t know what was going to happen next and attractions, particularly the theme park industry, are well-placed to try and replicate this success.

A new challenger emerges

Today, WWE has new competition with a relatively new promotion called All Elite Wrestling (AEW). Each week, AEW airs in the same US time slot as the WWE’s home for developmental talent and independent stars - NXT.

AEW’s entire identity pitches to a niche where it acts as the alternative to WWE and as a result, it’s gained a hardcore following in a very short period of time.

WWE has significantly changed since the Monday Night Wars and is today a much more corporate entity. In public, AEW doesn’t really get a mention, with the promotion instead taking its rivalries in house with its separate Raw, Smackdown and NXT rosters. In the age of the internet, that doesn’t stop the debate. There are WWE fans who think AEW is inferior to the big player, while AEW fans say the WWE product is lacking.

While WWE hasn’t really engaged, AEW has filled the void, forging partnerships with major promotions all over the world, primarily Impact Wrestling in the US and New Japan Pro Wrestling, masking those partnerships as rivalries and piquing fans interest. For a non wrestling fan, imagine if Marvel and DC suddenly opted for a major crossover movie. That’s what a promotion like NJPW turning up in AEW means for the fans of those brands.

The bottom line

So here’s the lesson for businesses - stop ignoring your rivals.

I’m not urging you to do anything drastic like driving a tank to the gates of Disneyland (WWE once drove a tank to a live WCW show) but what you should be doing is leaning into that spirit and building a healthy fan-facing competition with your biggest business rivals.

Visitor attractions, like professional wrestling, have a rabid fanbase who want their favourites to succeed at all costs. Stoke those flames, build that rivalry. Maybe even build it together.

If you’re a company that owns multiple theme park attractions - take Merlin Entertainments for example - pit your biggest brands against each other. Imagine an advertising campaign where Thorpe Park tries to top Alton Towers. It’s an opportunity that is screaming to be put out there. It’s so simple yet so effective and I guarantee it will start a conversation and drive up interest in both your brands. Done right, everybody wins.

Even if it’s not in-house, a debate like Universal vs Disney is one that will forever rage on. If Bob Chapek happens to be reading this, you should be taking that ball and running with it. Work with your biggest rivals and done right everybody - you, your rival and most importantly, the fans - will reap the rewards.

Stop ignoring your rivals. Be like WWE. Go give someone a stunner.






After a dreadful year, the global theme park industry might finally be turning a corner, with more than 40 theme parks in the US and around the world announcing reopening dates in 2021.

Parks worldwide were forced to close for the majority of 2020 thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and now major operators including Disney, Universal, Merlin Entertainments and Cedar Fair are all…keep reading

Meanwhile, part of Universal’s new Super Nintendo World awkwardly might not actually be a part of the Nintendo universe.

An eagle-eyed Twitter user has pointed out an interesting feature in Universal’s upcoming Super Nintendo World - designs that appear to be based on fan-created content…keep reading

Finally, have you ever wondered how you can make it to a place like Cirque du Soleil? Veteran performer Elena Lev has revealed all in a new video.

Born in Moscow, Russia, in 1981, Lev has become famous for performing in iconic Cirque productions, such as Saltimbanco, Varekai and Quidam. Her signature act combines the art of...keep reading






This week’s Quote of The Week comes from an industry leader in Liseberg’s Andreas Andersen, who has discussed how to make positive changes in business during the global pandemic.

Read his thoughts here




More reading

Where have all thrillseekers gone?

Projection mapping a desert landscape with Meow Wolf

Mexico’s first Nickelodeon resort to open in June



Our influencer of The Week is a British theme park fanatic known for his homemade immersive attractions, who has taken his time in lockdown to move in a new direction - producing a remote game show based on rollercoasters.

Adam Reeves, who created The Joy Sequence in 2018, has developed a number of walkthrough attractions, with the immersive experiences running primarily out of his garage and back garden.

These experiences are designed in his own words to “tell stories of folklore and pseudoscience through escapism, immersion, and a dash of fear thrown in for good measure”.

His home-made game show, Hexagon Bridge, is about giving theme park fans a platform to test their knowledge and express their passion



This week Adam spoke to Planet Attractions about his creations. click here to read more






Museums of Impact

Italian speaking museum professionals are invited to participate in the second stakeholders meeting of MOI! Museums of Impact. The meeting will focus on strategies of social impact.

During the event, Italian museums will focus on the strategies they are implementing to maximize their social impact and will discuss with institutional representatives to share visions and propose possible new tools.

Click here to register

Cocktails with Creators

The Strong National Museum is set to host an online Zoom series featuring the most influential and creative innovators in the videogame and toy industries, starting with former Sega, Mattel and Leapfrog CEO, Tom Kalinske.

Among the topics to be included in the inaugural Zoom session, Kalinske will discuss how he revived the Barbie and Hot Wheels brands, disrupted the video game industry by marketing Sonic and Sega Genesis to an older age group and reveal what led him to the world of toys and videogames.

Read about it here

Museums in 2020+: The search for meaning

The Network of European Museums Organisations (NEMO) is kicking off the 2021 training year with a free webinar.

Ece Özdil, Jüniör, will guide attendees in the search for meaning during the pandemic and a time when the role and relevance of museums are questioned. By presenting museum trends and related design methods, she will help the participants reflect on a meaningful future for museums.

Click here to register






Our Photo of The Week comes from SeaWorld, which this week following a near three-year rehabilitation period, released a manatee called Lesley back into the wild.

A new video from the organisation has highlighted its work with the manatee, which arrived at its Orlando park following an injury sustained after a collision with a boat in March 2018.

Read about it here




Show your support

We’re in extraordinary times right now and this website is a direct result of that. Featuring a team of world-class attractions journalists and behind-the-scenes team of equal calibre, we need your support to make Planet Attractions happen.

We believe that everyone deserves equal access to accurate and compelling content, so we won’t hide anything behind a paywall.

We’re here to support both the industry and the consumer and to achieve our goals, we would love it if you could support us right back.

So how can you do this? It’s easy. Just contact our sales team sales@planetattractions.com and let us know about your company. We will create a package tailored to your specific needs and deliver that in the way we believe will benefit you the most.

You can also support us at no cost to you. All you need to do is follow our social channels.

You can do this by:

Liking us on Facebook

Following us on Twitter

Liking our Instagram page

Subscribing to our YouTube channel

Following our LinkedIn page

Most importantly, once you’ve subscribed, make sure to go on these social channels and engage! We’re building a community and we love being able to bring you all together.

Thank you,

The team at Planet Attractions.


 
© Planet Attractions 2020