Dennis Speigel is the Founder and Owner of International Theme Park Services, Inc., a company centered around theme park consulting with specialties in feasibility and master planning. Starting out as a ticket taker at Coney Island in Cincinnati, Dennis found his love for the amusement industry and found a major interest in the business side of entertainment. After graduating, Dennis was invited to join the Coney Island team and later Kings Island, now one of the most popular amusement destinations in America. Years later, Dennis took his master planning and business experience to create ITPS, pioneering the expansion of the attractions industry worldwide. In this interview, the IAAPA Hall of Fame inductee tells us about feasibility & master planning, future trends, and how everyone wants to have fun.
Feasibility & Master Planning
“The least fun we have is conducting a feasibility study, but it’s the most important thing we do.”
One of Dennis’s first major projects was the $60 million construction of Kings Dominion in Virginia. Since then, Dennis has dedicated his life to mastering the economics of theme parks. When studying a new proposal and trying to bring it to life, the same feasibility study process has been used since the building of Disneyland. It charts the course for the design and planning of any new development in the industry, which results in a 10 to 12 week process.
However, theme parks aren’t immune to the unpredictable market. With recessions and inflation, ITPS has also helped banks and theme park investors through whatever troubles they may be having. ITPS has sold over $800 million in theme parks and also helped many companies recover from an economic downturn. Whatever the challenge is, Dennis has worked through it before.
“We’ve continued to evolve and expand through technology, and through the people’s love of our business.”
Covid-19 changed the world, and technology still continues to grow at a shockingly fast rate. The direct effects of these recent events have resulted in per capita spending skyrocketing to levels we have never seen before. With ‘revenge traveling’ from the pandemic and touchless and cashless technology continuing to grow, consumers are being more monetarily engaged than ever before.
However, Dennis knows the real challenge is keeping the demand up. Although we may see opportunities while we sit at the master panel, we have to make the calls that keep our core values of the industry alive. The attractions industry is a mature business now, and managing the varying factors of the ever growing business is something we need to focus on.
Everyone Wants to Have Fun
“The one common denominator of people all over the world is that people want to have fun.”
After traveling across the world hundreds of times, Dennis knows that the one universal language is fun. After wars have shredded through countries and people start to rebuild, one of the common things that every culture looks for is fun. It’s why the attractions industry was able to march across the world in the past decades, and why the market is consistently growing to this day.
New generations like Gen Z and Gen A are engaged in the industry, and Dennis stresses that we need to capitalize on that to keep our guests coming. Unlike other industries, we don’t put smoke in the air or pollute rivers, but instead we market memories. By capitalizing on the core values of our industry, we can keep growing for years to come simply because the market for fun will never disappear.
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Summary by Mason Nichols
- Video editing by Abigail Giganan
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