Aquarium Developer: How to Start 

Leisure Business Advisors LLC (LBA) conducts the feasibility study, the first step in starting a new aquarium. Industry consultants typically prepare this study for the developer, and it is generally required by financing institutions. 

The study forecasts targeted usage by applying market penetration rates to market segments. These rates are influenced by market size, demographics, competition, and the experience of comparable facilities elsewhere.

The feasibility study also projects potential financial performance and recommends the maximum development costs that would allow an acceptable return-on-investment to investors. These are key issues for those that may finance the project.  

The study also provides initial physical planning parameters to assist the aquarium designer during the design stage of development. It is critical that the designs are in line with market needs and expected cash flow. These physical planning guidelines need to be in place before construction and building can start. Designers, builders, and managers can all benefit from the guidance provided in the study. 

John Gerner, our managing director, has conducted many feasibility studies for aquariums and oceanariums over the past 20+ years. Gerner Consulting (the previous name of LBA) evaluated the attendance and financial impact of expanding the Maine Aquarium.

As a subcontractor to International Theme Park Services, he prepared valuations of Ripley's Aquarium in both Myrtle Beach and Gatlinburg, as well as a valuation of Colorado's Ocean Journey. This aquarium was later renamed "Downtown Aquarium - Denver" by Landry's Restaurants, Inc. He also conducted a feasibility study for a commercial aquarium that would have been part of the proposed Pointe Anaheim retail entertainment center in Southern California.

As a subcontractor to Economics Research Associates (ERA), he evaluated the expansion of the Virginia Marine Science Museum. He was a former principal of that consulting firm. During his time with them, he prepared an examination of the North American oceanarium industry for Dentsu, Inc. He evaluated expansion alternatives for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Miami Seaquarium and the New York Aquarium. He also studied the feasibility of developing oceanariums in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We pride ourselves on prompt service and are also sensitive to time constraints. If needed, assignments can be accelerated for an extra fee. 

Click here to learn more about feasibility studies and other services offered to aquarium developers.