Local Attractions Hoping For Trickle-Down From Disney’s 50th Anniversary

If dreams really do come true for San Diego’s theme parks and attractions, they’ll become the after-party destination for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary celebration and see a spike in gate counts this summer.

Judging from some recent numbers released by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, they need a boost like that.

Theme park officials typically keep attendance figures and business strategies close to their vest. However, figures on aggregate attendance supplied by ConVis show that the total gate for attractions in April was 983,397, down 15.7 percent from the same year-ago month.

Meanwhile, local amusement park officials expect to cash in on Disneyland’s advertising campaign commemorating its 1955 opening.

Disney officials haven’t said what they plan to spend. But Reint Reinders, chairman and chief executive officer of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, said industry sources have placed the figure at $150 million to tout the anniversary bash throughout the United States and abroad.

“They’re spending more money than they ever have in the past for an event, so all this promotion outside the region, throughout the nation and the world, will benefit all of Southern California’s tourism,” Reinders said. “This is the mouse that roars. Disney is probably as powerful a brand as Mercedes.”

Ed Litrenta, vice president of marketing for SeaWorld San Diego, said he thinks the park, as well its competing venues throughout Southern California, will feel the trickle-down effect of Disneyland’s advertising.

“Disney, with all its media now, and in the past, has benefited Southern California theme parks,” Litrenta said. “Even without Disney, I think we’re going to have a strong year, however, I think they’ll help us to improve (attendance) with the longer-haul visitor.”