Disney--traditionally the market leader--is expanding its brand franchises as competitive tools to keep attendance growing. Star Wars is a tried-and-true draw. Now Disney is also opening Avatar attractions. For an infographic illustrating the evolution of Disney's theme park/movie brand doings, see here. Interesting, Disney Tokyo is both popular and crowded, which is affecting foreign tourist attendance (not in a good way). For an unusual look at Disney and theme parks (namely, what didn't get built), see here.
More theme parks are opening year after year to satisfy international interest in exciting rides, water parks, and entertainment with branded elements. Warner Bros., for instance, is partnering to create a theme park in Abu Dhabi, featuring two brand franchises: Gotham City (Batman) and Metropolis (Superman).
In the high-stakes world of theme parks, where attractions run into the millions of dollars to design and develop, companies are competing with some of the most fascinating new rides ever. Brands are a key way to bring in fans who know and love the franchise...but the rides have to deliver if the parks are to enjoy all-important word of mouth.