Food & Amusement Go Hand-in-hand

Posted on December 12 2017

Attractions, merchandise and foods must blend and complement each other so the guest is able to flow from one area to the other in an entertainment facility, but ironically enough, there are many theme parks that follow the policy of forbidding visitors from bringing food and drinks into the park. Because of the guests' necessity to eat while they are in the theme park or FEC itself, the value of the food to the guest is critical to the entire entertainment experience. Let’s face it though, food and drink are important components at family entertainment centers.

Nowadays, FEC and Theme park guests want the food served as fast as possible so they can get back to exploring the various arcade games, rides and attractions on offer. Many such entertainment centers usually sell hamburgers, hot dogs, sweet corn, ice cream, shakes and sundaes and other such rapidly-procured fast food offerings, but there is a growing trend toward more table service and themed restaurants in amusement centers today.

All FEC operators shall agree that food completes the guests’ experience at a family entertainment center. They can play and eat at the same place, making the visit to your FEC all the more pleasant. And if get food where they are and don’t have to leave to get food to eat, that means more money in your pocket. However, the degree of food offerings can vary radically among facilities. There exist huge FECs with miniscule snack bars and small FECs with food ops that would compete with actual eating joints.

All FECs should follow a few common food principles when it comes to dining selections. Every FEC needs cool, refreshing beverage options as gaming is thirty work. Even a cooler full of cold bottled water by the cash register quenches thirst and equals more profits. Also, sell what your guests want to buy food wise, not what you think they want.

What to Offer

FEC operators should always interact with the customers themselves to know what they like and what they don’t. It’s like a verbal survey. Of course, some things will always be more lucrative than others. Popcorn, cotton candy, fountain soft drinks, pizza, and ice cream low-cost options that any FEC Operator can use to advantage. Less successful choices include perishable items like a sandwich or salad counter. FECs often throw away more of these products than they sell because of its low shelf-life. Pre-packaged goods, like candy bars and bags of chips, also negatively affect the profit line because of a high theft rate.

Two Kinds of Menu Options

Operators can follow a simple approach to food selection. A snack bar offering pizza, hot dogs, ice cream bars, candy bars, fountain soda, and smoothies, is always a great option. FEC should abandon a few menu items to simplify its food operations.  On the opposite end of the FEC food spectrum, comes FECs with a vast buffet-type menu options. Such FECs typically require buffet purchase for entry with prices below most quick casual restaurants. For some, food is secondary, but for these operators, food and beverage options shares equal weight with their amusements.

Themed Restaurants are on the Rise

Certain entertainment facilities house eateries housing locally-sourced produce, benefiting local farmers in the UAE and even catering to the healthy eater with vegan, gluten-free, organic restaurants. Take for example, the gourmet restaurant in Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi which offer diners scrumptious Italian food ­­­using a blend of locally-procured and imported produce.

Or take the Bollywood themed restaurant Mughal-e-Azam at Bollywood Park, Dubai Parks & Resorts. This regal Bollywood restaurant offers fine dining with a variety of Mughlai delicacies in a majestic environment. Inspired by the historic architecture of India’s Amber Fort, guests are treated like true royals...diners can experience the decadence and luxury of Rajasthan, India like no other.

Vending Trends

FEC owners do not necessarily decide on their vending machines as a significant source of income, but the snack and drink machines do provide a service for their patron’s impulse purchases. They also serve as a add-on and/or substitute to the typical FEC food options like pizza and hot dogs. Certain FEC operators keep their hot food options open only during peak summer months when guest foot fall is historically highest. For the ‘leaner’ months, they rely on vending machines. Detailed below are several trending options carried by profitable FECs nowadays.

  • Glass-front merchandisers. While not accurately new, this option will remain popular for a while. Guests love seeing the robotic arm grab the exact drink they selected.
  • Energy drinks. Whist not being the a healthy option exactly, more and more people look for their caffeine/sugar fix from products like Red Bull, Amp Energy, and Rock Star.
  • Frozen. Refrigerated vending items like sandwiches and fruit only have a shelf life of a few days, but frozen products last so much longer. In addition to ice cream, some brand-name manufacturers have now packaged their goods to fit in vending machines. They vend out in a frozen state only to be microwaved later by the customer.