Thursday, May 29, 2008

Woodleigh, Past Its Time...

This doesn't surprise me...the market for heritage related tourism has pasted with a new generation of visitors. In fact I golfed with a gentleman from New York last year who had been to PEI 30 years earlier with his parents. They had taken him to Woodleigh Replicas as a kid and he couldn't wait to take his 8 year old son there. Unfortunately his much anticipated visit didn't meet his memory expectations as his son was "very bored" and he hadn't remembered "how damp and small" the buildings were. Many of our old "standards" like our lobster suppers haven't changed that much in 30 years and the tourism marketplace is bypassing them. I can remember when a family of 4 could take in a lobster supper for $50 and now you would be hard pressed to get out of there for under $200...and in most cases you're still sitting on the same stacking chairs. Like most businesses, tourism is rapidly changing and the customers have more unique demands. If we are going to succeed with this new tourist generation we all have to get ready for change through new investment and new ideas...and the cheapest investment, with the greatest return, will always be "service and hospitality" something our neighbouring competitors have caught on too. I feel bad for the Steele's as they are "proven" hard working folks that own a "dated" attraction that doesn't draw the interests of our visitors today...
Woodleigh theme park up for sale
Owner walks into P.E.I. Lending Agency and 'surrenders' the keys to the site
A British theme park in the heart of Prince Edward Island is being sold after the owner turned over the keys to the P.E.I. government, saying he could no longer operate the 40-acre site.For five decades, Woodleigh Replicas and Gardens has welcomed visitors to tour more than 30 replicas of the most spectacular castles and cathedrals of the British Isles. The theme park features replicas of St. Paul’s cathedral, Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Shakespeare’s birthplace. Peter Wilson, CEO of the P.E.I. Lending Agency, says the owner of Woodleigh simply walked into his office and surrendered the keys. He said the owner, 71-year-old Peter Steele of Burlington, is not in default of his loan.In fact, Steele’s payments are fully up-to-date. “While the loan was not in default, the current owner, citing health reasons, decline in sales, chose not to reopen the facility,” Wilson told The Guardian. “He’s been unable to sell it. He’s been trying for three years to sell it. There’s been no buyers. So he basically surrendered the keys.”.The province is not saying how much is still outstanding in its loans to Woodleigh. It is also not saying what it will do with the property if it doesn’t sell at the mortgage sale next month. This marks the third major theme park to close in the province, following Fairy Land near Charlottetown and Rainbow Valley in Cavendish.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Suggestions (no charge) to make Woodleigh more relevant to today's audience:

Young folk - introduce some animals. Since the demise of the PEI Wildlife Park in North Rustico, we have had no place to see animals in their natural habitat (although castles and water fountains may not exactly be natural!).

Older kids - how about turning it into a real-life "Dungeons and Dragons" game, with web-site tie-in and real characters?

Teenagers - Laser Tag among the castles - get a few smoke generating machines, and you're in business.

Adults - Murder Mystery venue - Murder in the Cathedral, Crime of the (Last) Century. Search Google for "Murder Mystery Castle" - there are lots.

All ages - Halloween venue - Haunted castle with Skeletons in the dungeon, Maze, etc.

Son et Lumière - (see and - bring history to life with sound and lights, as they do in France, with sound and light shows that may be attractive to today's audience - no actors needed - just a sound track and some lighting.

Build your own castle - how about a section with mini-bricks and mortar where you can make your own castle to take home (real Lego!).

British Invasion - how about some sort of tie-in with the BI2 show at the Confed. Centre, and the double-decker buses which park outside it?