Press Release

Americans Eager to Get Back to Theme Parks as COVID Restrictions Ease

Research from Oracle and Merlin Entertainments, operator of LEGOLAND®, shows US consumers ready to cut the screen time and get back to their favorite theme park attractions and treats

London, UK and Austin, TXJuly 14, 2021
View theme park consumer trends

New research shows that Americans are ready to put down the phone and pursue some in-person theme park adventures. Consumer confidence jumped from 68% to 80% from May and June, with people noting they are ‘optimistic’ about the prospect of spending quality time with families and friends at their favorite leisure attractions. The survey also shows that people increasingly want to book ahead not only to have an outing to look forward to, but to also enhance the safety and convenience of the trip. This includes everything from planning and paying for activities to ordering food and drinks in advance.

The research from Merlin Entertainments and Oracle Food and Beverage looks at how consumers are traveling this summer, while COVID-19 still lingers. The research1 highlights how new technologies will enhance the experience for visitors at their favorite theme parks and attractions such as Merlin Entertainments’ brand-new LEGOLAND® New York Resort, SEA LIFE® Aquariums, and THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD at LEGOLAND® California Resort.


New requirements for new adventures

One in three travelers in the US are staying closer to home, while 20% are booking more weekend trips and shorter stays than previously seen. “Togetherness & Escape” are most valued by US consumers when visiting attractions. They also noted they welcome the chance for screen-free experiences.

Visitors are also increasingly looking to plan ahead and personalize their journey and continue to reduce contact. Technology is fundamental to providing visitors the control and comfort they crave. For example, the research shows:

  • 54% of people would love to plan their itinerary in advance so they can beat the queues
  • 59% favor some sort of “fast pass” system which provides priority access to food, shops and facilities
  • 40% would pay extra to be able to pre-book their day’s activities in advance
  • 58% would like to be able to see hotspots on a map in order to avoid the busiest places in a theme park or attraction
  • 48% of millennials would like to provide preferences in advance to receive relevant offers while at the destination

“After a difficult year, with limited entertainment, guests are excited about a summer of fun. Our customers want to plan and purchase ahead. Pre-ordering meals, refreshments, photos and checking-in online are all happening before they even arrive,” said, Chief Technology Officer at Merlin Entertainments Lee Cowie. “Our guests are excited for feel-good experiences, but they want to feel safe and in control at the same time. For Merlin, the pre-planning technology we’re bringing in offers guests the ability to tailor and personalize their stay while allowing us to flex our business to allow for things like social distancing, staff support and food and beverage pre-ordering.”


Cotton candy on demand

Upwards of 80% of consumers (79%) agree that refreshments are an integral part of their theme park experience and technology will play a key role in ordering moving forward. Over half (52%) of customers would purchase more if they could avoid queues all together, and 54% of consumers say they think food and drink pre-ordering and pick-up should be the new standard. Families are especially supportive of this idea, with 55% of parents with kids under 12 wanting to schedule food or drinks before arriving at a theme park. In addition:

  • 41% of families would love to interact with the park via a dedicated mobile app
  • 24% of Gen Zers noted that using a QR code system is their preferred system for ordering food and drinks
  • 28% of Baby Boomers still favor staffed-concessions for food and drinks orders

“Nearly 70% of consumers want to visit a theme park as soon as possible and technology will play an increasing role in delivering a memorable experience,” said Simon de Montfort Walker, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Food and Beverage. “As patrons return, Merlin Resort Theme Parks (RTP’s) are well prepared to meet new customer expectations, such as using technology to order food ahead, while driving additional revenue streams.”


Partnerships are paramount

Building a strong network of nearby partners can provide theme parks with the ability to earn additional revenue, and perhaps, more importantly, learn more about their customer. Creating package deals with nearby restaurants and hotels offers parks an additional opportunity to learn about and better serve customers with informed marketing and loyalty programs for compelling personalized experiences.

Consumers are on board with the package idea: 67% said they would be likely to visit nearby hotels, restaurants and bars if they received a personalized offer as part of their theme park trip. Meanwhile, half of millennials and Gen X audiences would love to get mobile notifications with personalized offers for nearby food or drinks outlets.

1 Source: Theme Park Trends 2021, Oracle Food and Beverage

Contact Info

About Merlin Entertainments

Merlin Entertainments is a global leader in location-based, family entertainment. As Europe’s number one and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates more than 135 attractions, 20 hotels and 6 holiday villages in 25 countries across four continents. Merlin’s purpose is to deliver memorable experiences to its 67 million guests around the world, through its iconic brands and multiple attraction formats, and the commitment and passion of its c.28,000 employees (peak season). See for more information and follow on Twitter @MerlinEntsNews.

About Oracle Food & Beverage

Oracle Food and Beverage, formerly MICROS, brings 40 years of experience in providing software and hardware solutions to restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, coffee shops, cafes, stadiums, and theme parks. Thousands of operators, both large and small, around the world are using Oracle technology to deliver exceptional guest experiences, maximize sales, and reduce running costs.

About Oracle

Oracle offers integrated suites of applications plus secure, autonomous infrastructure in the Oracle Cloud. For more information about Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), please visit us at


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