Entertainment businesses all compete with each other for your money and time, but they rarely go head-to-head with the same concepts. Every once in a while at the movies you’ll see something like Pixar dropping “A Bug’s Life” at the same time that DreamWorks releases “Antz.” Or “Madagascar” coming out with “The Wild.”
But when two companies want to go after the same audience, they usually deliver productions in the same broad genre rather than getting as specific as “animated movie where zoo animals are released in Africa.”
Which makes last week’s new attraction reveal from Legoland California so unusual. The Carlsbad theme park announced that next summer it will open Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, a submarine ride where riders will use touch screens to learn about sea animals and complete tasks on their trip.
If that sounds familiar, it should, because it is the same concept as the Submarine Quest ride that SeaWorld San Diego opened this summer as the anchor of its new Ocean Explorer kiddie land. Why wouldn’t Legoland try something different, rather than duplicate a ride that SeaWorld already has brought to the same market?
Well, Legoland is not duplicating SeaWorld’s attraction. And the contrast between the rides says plenty about the different directions the two parks seem to be heading.
Legoland’s Deep Sea Adventure appears to offer everything that SeaWorld’s submarine ride should have offered, but did not.
It will be an actual underwater adventure, placing riders in vehicles where they can look through the water at a variety of live sea creatures. SeaWorld’s ride never sees any actual water, running on an elevated track, instead. It’s a cute experience for little kids and offers them some always-welcome high-up views, but a sky ride is pretty much the antithesis of a submarine adventure, isn’t it?
Like SeaWorld’s ride, the Legoland attraction will offer interactive touch screens, but the Legoland ride will include living undersea creatures, instead of showing only recorded video and animation. In short, with Lego City Deep Sea Adventure, Legoland seems ready to “out-SeaWorld” SeaWorld itself.
But actually, Legoland has been doing that for years – at least with its core audience of families with children in elementary school.
The park has marketed aggressively to book school field trips to both Legoland and its neighboring Sea Life Aquarium, a market that SeaWorld used to dominate. With its mix of…