Frank’s Top 20 FEC Attractions and Why.

Last month, we covered 16 key considerations you must take into account when evaluating and choosing the best attraction for each unique FEC. (Read Frank’s 16-point checklist in the RePlay Magazine November issue or online at www.replaymag.com/frank-talk-1118)

Once you’ve taken each of those 16 points into account, it comes down to figuring out what your projected revenue is going to be for that particular attraction and how it increases your target market reach, the frequency of visitation and, most importantly, how much it will increase your facility’s total net revenue.

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Getting Started

The first point of reference is to provide some of the average per capitas (“per caps” in industry lingo) of my top 20 attraction picks. This is an across-the-country look at what each attraction generates in revenue as it relates to a percentage of the total revenue for different sizes of FECs. Remember that the percentage of total revenue for each attraction decreases (as does each attraction’s per cap) as the number of attractions and revenue-generating services an FEC offers increases.

So, in simple terms, per capita is a percentage of what a particular attraction earns in a FEC. But when we’re looking at the numbers out there, we’re really just uncovering the percentage of revenue an attraction brings in within someone else’s location. How much something earns is dependent upon how many attractions there are in the facility and what the per capita is for that particular area and size of facility, and it’s going to be different for each location. In short, those numbers are going to be all over the place. But, understanding the real-world financials of FECs in operation does give my team at AEM a big advantage in zeroing in on any specific market.

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As a simple math example, a pair of mini bowling lanes that cost $52,000 and generates $1,000/week (or $52,000 annually) in a $20-per-capita facility grossing $2.6 million per year ends up generating just 2 percent of total revenues (or an average 40 cents per capita per visit). That may not seem like a lot, but it is enough for the mini bowling lanes to earn in a single year what those lanes cost (a 1:1 ratio), satisfying one of the “requirements” we covered last month. As a side note, this facility has an annual attendance of 130,000. To back up our math (a good practice to avoid mistakes), we see it checks out: $0.40 x 130,000 = $52,000.

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Another example might be a bowling center that grosses $2.1 million annually that has a laser tag arena (the only attraction outside of bowling) that brings in $300,000 each year (or 14.29 percent of total revenue). Using a $15 per capita average spending for this market, equates the laser tag’s average per capita at $2.14. This bowling center has an attendance of 140,000. To back up our math, $2.14 x 140,000 = $299,600 (close enough).

So, in simple terms, this is what average per capita is and why it is key for ranking attractions.

AEM has access to over 1,200 actual financials from FECs throughout the planet that show what each attraction earns and its per capita, so I believe that puts me in a unique position to give readers a realistic Top 20 that makes sense. This holds true even with all the disclaimers:  “different” demographics, per capita spending, average household income and average median household income, facility square footage, the percentage of total FEC square footage the attraction takes up, whether or not the attraction is the anchor attraction, the FEC’s rent plus CAM (common area maintenance), the price per-play, alcohol/no alcohol, etc.

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Frank’s Top Indoor Top-tier Anchor and Second-tier FEC Attractions

Here is the list of my top-tier indoor anchor attractions for FECs:

  • Bowling: This includes everything from regulation to open play, plus leagues plus shoe rentals. About 60 million people bowl at least once annually! A $6 to $7 per cap average is reasonable.
  • Go-Karts: Yes, these tracks take up a lot of space but people drive further for this attraction since there are not that many indoor tracks. You’re looking at a $7 to $8 per cap if go-karts are 25 percent of total revenue. Pro-karting gets a much higher per cap often as high as $20 to $30.
  • Laser Tag (Multi-level): This is usually the first choice added to a bowling center. Across the board, a $2 to $3 per cap for FECs is reasonable, but I have seen $1.75 and also $3.50 per caps dependent upon marketing capabilities of the FEC.
  • Soft Play: A $1 to $2 per cap is reasonable depending on the size of the play unit and the number of elements. I have seen higher per caps ($5.00) at children’s centers that just have a large soft play unit and charge an entrance fee. When I calculate the per caps, I am counting all attendance, even the parents. For this article, I am concentrating on soft play as one of a FEC’s multiple attractions.
  • Ice Skating/Hockey or Skatepark or Roller Skating: This depends on size and investment, but the per cap range is $10 to $12.
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While those are clearly the cream of the crop, there are a lot of great attractions in this second-tier of indoor FEC attractions:

  • Major Ride (a Himalaya for example): You’re looking at a $3 per cap average, but this depends on what ride it is and its price tag.
  • Ninja Warrior Courses: Sizes run 20’ x 50’ and larger (and higher). Revenue ranges are from $60,000 to $250,000 with a per cap range of $0.60 to $2.50.
  • Blacklight Mini-Golf (either 9 or 18 holes): $0.75 to $1.75 per cap at $75,000 to $175,000 in gross revenues.
  • Virtual Reality Arenas/Stations (two to eight players): This includes Hologate, Virtuix Omni­verse VR Arena, ModalVR. Most are averaging $2,000 per week with $1 to $2 per cap.
  • Ropes Courses: A $1.50 to $2.75 per cap is reasonable (remember these usually go above other attractions or services).
  • Escape Rooms, Puzzle Rooms, Story Rooms: This attraction is very viable assuming there are a minimum of three rooms. Per caps range from $5 to $7 just for escape room as an example, since many FECs charge a separate hourly fee (and operate the attraction as a separate business) and the number of participants ranges from 2 to as high as 10 per session.
  • Triotech’s XD Dark Ride: The $1.30 per cap depends on how many seats. Most FECs would have four or eight seats.
  • Trampoline Jump Pads: Assuming six to eight jump pads, the per cap is $1.00 to $1.50.
  • Mini-Golf Regular (18 holes): $1.00 to $1.50 per cap when offering a quality, challenging course.
  • Bumper Cars (and subset items like Lazer Fury, Spin Zone and Flip Zone from Amusement Products): 75 cents to $1 per cap.
  • Rock Climbing Walls: For low-throughput, one-attendant attractions with two stations, a 50-cent per cap is reasonable.
  • Laser Maze (10’x20’): Per cap ranges from 50 to 75 cents with $50,000 to $75,000 gross revenues.
  • Mini Bowling (two lanes): 50 cents to 60 cents per cap (this per cap would be almost double for four lanes).
  • Iron Rides: This category includes Dragon Coasters, kiddie roller coasters, carousels and smaller indoor rides, plus rides that go up in the air and come down like Frog Hopper. Per caps are 50 cents to 75 cents.
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Honorable Mention Indoor Attractions (in no particular order):

  • Photo, Movie, Karaoke, Recording Booths (too varied to get an accurate average per cap).
  • Ax Throwing, Archery, Knife Throwing.
  • Interactive Floors, Walls, etc.
  • Indoor Batting Cages (usually do not do well indoors unless you have a good hitting instructor).
  • Shooting Galleries.
  • Sports Simulators (golf, football, baseball, etc.)
  • Inflatables.
  • Projection Attractions like Eye Click (if you can charge for use).

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Frank’s Top Outdoor Attractions

In case you’re curious, these are my picks for the top-tier outdoor attractions that do best in pocket parks (in order):

  • Go-Karts
  • Mini-Golf
  • Bumper Boats
  • Rides/Iron Rides
  • Driving Ranges

Second-tier outdoor attractions (in no particular order):

  • Spray Parks/Splash Mats
  • Paintball
  • Tactical Laser Tag
  • Water Playgrounds
  • Zip Lines
  • Batting Cages (baseball and softball)
  • Outdoor Trampolines (low throughput if one person per trampoline)
  • Mazes – small
  • Water Wars
  • Par 3 Golf
  • Galaxy brand attractions
  • Extreme Sports Parks
  • Picnic Areas
  • Hay Rides
  • Off-Road Competition Courses
  • Drone Racing (also run on indoor go-kart tracks)
  • Slides
  • Extreme Sports – Parachute Drops, Freefalls, Parachute Simulators

Amusement Entertainment Management, LLC, we offer a full range of consulting services, including early-stage feasibility analysis, business plan development, funding assistance, and conceptual design and layout services.

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RePlay Magazine – December 2018