Theme parks ride a roller coaster to Cash Mountain

Theme parks across the globe have leveraged popular movie characters and virtual-reality rides to crank out record-setting revenues.

By keeping tabs on what the kids are watchin’ — and with help from a little VR magic — the world’s largest theme park companies had a record-setting year, Bloomberg reports

In the past quarter, Six Flags Entertainment Corp’s revenue jumped 30% and Universal Studios boosted owner Comcast’s theme park division revenue by 15%. Mickey also recently had his biggest quarter ever — bringing in $5.2B in revenue at Disney theme parks.

Mickey, Minions and Jedi are conquering the world

America and Japan have the biggest collections of scream-machines, but China has built or planned construction of 65 major parks in the last few years. Analysts expect China’s theme park industry to be the world’s largest by 2020. 

Mickey’s taking note — 4 of Disney’s 7 resorts are outside the US, and Six Flags recently announced a deal to build a park in Saudi Arabia. These new parks focus on popular characters — from Harry Potter to Stranger Things — to attract entertainment junkies of all ages. 

But this ain’t your grandma’s Magic Kingdom

On top of popular movie characters, many theme parks are using VR to appeal to young’ns with more “immersive” experiences.

Riders at Disney’s popular attractions suit up as Star Wars rebels and shoot up Imperial bases with virtual guns, and Knott’s Berry Farm visitors use 3D goggles and in-ride scoreboards to battle in “Iron Reef.”

Back in our day, “immersive” meant getting dunked under a dirty waterfall in a log boat.  

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