York Pines Tourism Attraction


Table of Contents

Project History
Preliminary Location Plans
Prospective Components
Potential for Success
Regional Economic Benefits
Why the City of Sanford?
Proposed Timeline
Contact Us


Project History

York Pines Inc., a local committee of business and community leaders, is exploring the possibility of creating a tourist attraction complex in Sanford/Springvale to attract additional tourism to southern Maine. The preliminary concept for the project contemplates a mix of uses that would showcase the unique characteristics of the State and its people, focusing on, but not limited to, outdoor recreation activities.

It is also assumed that the development of the facilities to be included will provide an opportunity for manufacturers, outfitters, service providers and retailers serving the outdoor recreation industry to provide an authentic experience for overnight and day visitors to the complex, and possibly significant funding for the creation and operation of the various elements thereof.

Cochrane Consulting (economics) and Wyatt Design Group (entertainment design) have been commissioned to assess concept, market and economic feasibility of the project on a preliminary basis. A two-day CHARRETTE was conducted on July 30 and 31, 2013, starting with a helicopter tour of the area The CHARRETTE was a brain storming session to better understand the proposed concept and vision. After their preliminary evaluation of that data, they provided economic models for each element of the selected concepts for the first stabilized year of operations - Summary seen in the Regional Economic Benefits Section.

Preliminary Location Plans

Prospective Components

Potential for Success

Indoor Waterpark Resort


The World Waterparks Association (WWA) estimates that attendance at waterparks of every type amounted to 79 million in 2010, and rose to 82 million in 2011 and 85 million in 2012. Those are impressive numbers. Again the top 20 list is led by Disney waterparks in Orlando, FL, the largest at over two million annual visitors as shown in the table at right.

The WWA estimates that at the end of 2012, there were 783 outdoor and indoor waterparks in North America, of which, 131 featured indoor facilities. There will be more than 800 in operation by year-end 2013. Most are outdoors, and some date back as far as half a century. The outdoor parks are limited to short summer operations except in a few warm weather southern states. The recent Indoor Waterpark Resort trend is the focus of this analysis and recommendations.
Geographically, the densely populated Northeast has only 81 waterparks (at year-end 2012); the less dense Midwest has the most at 331; there are 241 in the South; and only 131 in the sparsely populated West. The disparity is even greater for Indoor Waterpark Resorts, with the Midwest having 99 and representing 75 percent of the national total. Thirteen are located in the Northeast, including parks at Jay Peak in northern Vermont and North Conway, New Hampshire. An Indoor Waterpark Resort has been approved for a Great Wolf Lodge at Fitchburg, MA. There are a couple of other hotels with smaller (less than 30,000 square feet) indoor water parks in Massachusetts, but they are not true destinations.


Estimated Capacity Required and Development Cost for Maine Adventure Theme Park

In a cold weather climate like Maine and the northern tier of states in north America (including Ohio, the location of Cedar Point), outdoor attractions normally restrict their operation to weekends from April until Memorial Day and then run daily through Labor Day. They revert to weekend and holidays through the rest of September and possibly October to stage a special Halloween event. The result is an annual operation of only about 140 to 160 days, with the shoulder season weekends presenting some difficulty in finding part-time staff.

CC recommends a limited operating schedule to avoid the probability of lack of midweek demand in the fall and winter months when schools are back in session.

Development costs are higher in colder climates because the peaking of attendance is more severe:

  • The summer months of July and August are each expected to attract 26% of the annual attendance, or about 469,000 visitors = 106,000 per week. Las Vegas would be half that and Hawaii about two-thirds.
  • CC estimates that Saturday and Sunday will each serve 22% of the peak week volume, which is defined as the design day.
  • Based on a six hour average stay, roughly two-thirds of the day’s attendance is expected to be in-grounds roughly between noon and 3:00 p.m. The park design must offer enough ride and entertainment capacity to give those visitors in grounds 1.25 activities per hour, or roughly 19,200. 
  • Using a generous budgeting factor of $15,000 per unit of capacity results in an all-inclusive development cost of $288 million. We suggest that the initial construction for a grand opening may be on the order of $175 million, with the remainder completed over the following three years to reflect the fact that Maine Adventure Theme Park will be a new facility and need additional overnight accommodations on site and in the area to handle new visitors induced by the park itself and York Pines Resort as a whole.

Estimated Attendance, Financial Performance for Maine Adventure Theme Park

To estimate the potential for induced visits, we have used an additional penetration equal to 10% of the current overnight visitors and 5% of day-trips to approximate the outer-band numbers.

  • The result is that the composite capture rate is only 10.1%, which is less than even the lowest numbers on the AB magazine top 50, and recognizes that the theme park is a key part of an attempt to create a new destination resort.
  • The preliminary estimate ofattendance is 1.8 million annual visitors when the stabilized year is reached.

Preliminary operating estimates are shown in the table at right:

  • Assuming development of a quality theme park that will justify an adult ticket price of $60.00 and a yield of $45.00 after considering a normal mix of adults, children, seniors and discounts, admissions revenues are estimated to approximate $81 million in the third or fourth year of operation
  • Average length of stay should be about six hours, so food and beverage expenditures of $20.00 is estimated per capita.
  • Good merchandising of unique Maine products is expected to yield another $16.00 per guest, and another $5.00 is added for other items or services. It is assumed that parking will by free.
  • At these levels of per capita spending, admissions revenues should approximate $81 million, and represent 52.3% of gross revenues of about $155 million.

Regional Economic Benefits 

Resident and tourist markets available to support tourism facilities development

The two main components of the market for tourism facilities development are the resident population of an area within up to 100 miles of the project site, that being about a two-hour drive to and from a destination. Beyond that distance/time, people tend to include an overnight stay at the destination rather than driving both ways in a single day, day trippers. Those visitors stayi

ng overnight at the destination are generally defined as “tourist”, and include business travelers and others on non-leisure trips. As the magnitude of the attraction increases, the ability to generate overnight tourism also grows.

The primary goal of the newly formed York Pines, Inc. is to improve the economy of the Sanford area and create new jobs for local residents, so it is assumed that the projects proposed will, at least collectively, have adequate critical mass to reach visitors from beyond 100 miles. They will also serve to entertain local residents.

This section of the report quantifies the magnitude of the available markets and supplies examples of success in several areas served by single parks, some of which are somewhat rem
ote from major urban populations.

Resident population projected for 2018 within 25 miles of Sanford (the Primary Market Area) is relatively small, at 386,000. An additional 1,004,000 people will reside in the 25 to 50-mile radius band (Secondary), and a large number (almost 5.8 million) will live between 50 and 100 miles distant, including much of the Boston, MA, metropolitan area. The total resident population within 100 miles is projected to be a robust 7,163,000 by 2018.

These residents in our target market can be generally characterized in comparison with national averages as having:

relatively small household size

higher household ($75,038) and per capita incomes ($41,009)
a higher median age

Nonetheless, in 2018 there are projected to be an abundance of residents in typical family age groups to support the types of facilities currently contemplated for development in the Sanford area:

Under age 15 = 17% = 1.2 million

Ages 15 to 24 = 13% = 0.9 million
Ages 25 to 44 = 25% = 1.8 million
Total under 45 = 55% = 3.9 million, within 2.0 hours drive

Families with school age (and pre-school) children typically prefer destinations within a two-hour drive because they have not yet reached peak earning power, and traveling with the whole family plus recreation gear can be somewhat of a logistical challenge.

Data from the Maine Office of Tourism shows that Massachusetts residents constitute an astounding 61% of Maine day tourists annually  with New Hampshire at 22%. New York overnight travelers are second to Massachusetts travelers, at 17%. When we consider that 95% of day-trip travelers and 90% of overnight visitors fall in love with Maine and become repeat visitors, it’s clear that if we supply the draw, people will come, time and time again.

Why The City Of Sanford?

There’s plenty to do in Southern Maine when you get off the beach!

Only ten miles from the scenic beaches of Southern Maine, Sanford is a perfect day-trip destination. The Sanford area has ample access to freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers for fishing and waterskiing, or simply relax, lie back, and listen to the loons calling over the water.

  • Catch a baseball game! Sanford is home to the Sanford Mainers, who play in beautiful, historic Goodall Park, where Babe Ruth hit his last home run as a member of the Red Sox.
  • Get hands-on with your food! Sanford and its Village of Springvale are home to pick-your-own farms featuring strawberries, blueberries, apples, and much more. The Sanford and Springvale Farmers Markets offer fresh produce and local crafts every Saturday and Wednesday, May through October. Or satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy a treat at one of Sanford’s three homemade ice creameries.
  • With 21 miles of recreational trails to choose from, you can hike along the scenic Mousam River, enjoy the fresh air, and perhaps see the region’s only waterskiing team practicing on Number One Pond. Or go bird-watching at one of the area’s best kept secrets: the Sanford Advanced Waste Water Facility, which hosts over 225 species of birds throughout the year and is one of York County Audubon Society’s premier birding sites. 
  • The Sanford Historic Museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the historic and cultural impact of the textile industry. Today, the mill buildings host a variety of businesses including a salon and day spa if you feel like being pampered. Or take a tour of the famous Tom’s of Maine, manufacturers of toothpaste and other organic body care products, and maybe come away with some free samples! 
  • Get up in the air! Take a spectacular sight-seeing flight and view Maine as you’ve never seen it before—choose to tour by conventional airplane, bi-plane or helicopter. Or go a step further and take flying lessons from the qualified instructors at Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport. The airport also offers first class service and amenities for all general aviation and corporate aircraft.

Only 90 minutes from Boston and midway between Portland, ME, and Portsmouth, NH, Sanford is a great destination when you want to get off the beaten track and experience an authentic slice of Maine.

Proposed Timeline

Planning Process Schedule
Preliminary Economic Analysis Complete 2013
Program Development Components
Complete 2014
Master Development Plans
December 2014
Secure Deposits and Investors June 2015
Construction Phase One August 2016
Construction Phase Two
August 2017
York Pines Resort Grand Opening
June 2018

Contact Us

Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council

917 Main Street, Suite D
Sanford, ME 04073

Phone: 207.324.9155

Email: info@sanfordgrowth.com

Fax: 207.608.4114