Could a recent article, about the Wonders of Wildlife Museum (WOW), appearing in the
"Dire" is defined as "urgent" or "desperate" in one context and as a "warning of or having dreadful or terrible consequences" in another. But wait, how could anything "dire" happen to a world class attraction that is located within a stones throw from the Mother Of All Bass Pro Shops, one of
The article reports that Mr. John Moore, WOWs Board Chairman, said, "We've got some significant challenges ahead." WOWs Director of Finance, Peggy Smith, said, "In December, we will face challenges unless we can get greater attendance, reduce expenses, or identify other revenue streams."
"OK Seagull, so WOW has some financial challenges. Don't we all?" Sure we do but, in this case, it is the depth of the financial challenges and their cause that make the situation dire, for WOW and serves as a warning for the future of Branson Landing.
According to the article, WOW is expected to draw 242,000 visitors this year which is about a third less than the 350,000 visitors needed this year to make just the payment on WOW's indebtedness. In what could be the understatement of the decade, the article goes on to point out that the 242,000 visitors is "far short of the 927,000 visitors officials once anticipated the museum would draw this year."
As most attraction and theatre operators know, "visitors" or "patrons" translate into potential revenue or, in the alternative, its lack. The depth of the problems at WOW can better be appreciated when one considers that, according to the article, WOW "had an overall operating deficit for the first three months of 2003 of $1.97 million. It had budgeted to lose $289,523." In Ole Seagull math that's a loss that's about six times greater than projected.
Does common sense indicate that the projections and estimates made for the Branson Landing project are going to be anymore accurate than those relied on for WOW? Were the people making the projections for WOW any less intelligent than those making similar projections for the Branson Landing Project?
What's really scary is that Bass Pro Shops and an aquarium are two of the three touted main anchors of Branson Landing. If WOW is having these problems, located right next to the Mother Of All Bass Pro Shops, what impact is a smaller Bass Pro Shop, located about 50 miles away from it, going to have on Branson Landing? How many people will it draw to Branson Landing, especially when one considers that there are Bass Pro Shops in, or committed to,
People have all sorts of ideas why WOW is having problems such as you can't find its front door, poor marketing, no central theme that appeals to the public etc. To an Ole Seagull it appears that WOW's house was built on a "foundation" of projections, estimates, and most important of all, anticipated "visitor" needs, wants, and desires for a "product" that were, quite simply, wrong. That foundation is now crumbling around a project it was never capable of supporting.
President Harry S. Truman said, "The only thing new in this world is the history you don't know." The American philosopher, George Santana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." WOW's history is known. An Ole Seagull can not help but believe that we ignore its dire warning at our own peril.