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The BLOG FLUME - Surprise!

More announcements about new attractions around the country. And Knott's serves up a promotion that will live in infamy.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: November 11, 2004 at 12:01 PM

Additions to Geauga Lake
Screamscape 11/10/04

On the coattails of announcing disappointing earnings, Cedar Fair L.P. announced additions to their lowest performing park, Geauga Lake. The property will create a massive new waterpark, appropriately named Wildwater Kingdom, that will not be fully completed until 2006. The first phase of construction will be completed on Memorial Day 2005, and will be located on the former Sea World side of the park. The park will also add 2 “new” attractions, Escape From Dino Island 2 and Robots of Mars. Dino Island will occupy the former Mission: Bermuda Triangle simulator and Robots of Mars will be staged in the former Pirates 4D theater. The park also plans to reduce daily park admissions by $10.

While these changes are steps in the right direction, is this really going to differentiate Geauga Lake from its nearby (80 miles away) sister park Cedar Point? The waterpark was an obvious move since the former Six Flags Worlds of Adventure waterpark was about as big as a county recreation center. In order for Cedar Fair to justify a separate admission, changes and improvements needed to be made. The 2 multi-media attractions do offer experiences Cedar Point cannot provide, but these additions are not what I would call “big.” Apparently, they will also be rehabbing The Villain and Raging Wolf Bobs, although little but demolition could improve two of the worst wooden roller coasters on the planet. It’s great that Geauga Lake is rising from the burning ember it was under Six Flags, but I doubt Cedar Fair is ever going to make it the park it was before the Six Flags acquisition.

Losses in Europe
EU Business 11/9/04

The Euro-Disney parks continue to bleed money, with losses double those of the same period last year. Attendance remained generally flat while hotel occupancy dropped nearly 5%. The parks are nearing a breaking point, and will need some serious help to dig out of a $187 million hole. These parks also felt a big sting for having to pay royalties to use the Disney characters (rather illogical, shouldn’t Disney’s partial ownership allow the use without fees?). Cloned e-tickets aren’t going to solve the problems with these parks. Disney doesn’t seem to realize that when Americans travel to Europe, riding Space Mountain is the last thing on their minds. In order to build a successful overseas park geared towards American tourists, you have to give people an experience they can’t get on a traditional summer vacation to Orlando or Anaheim. The Tower of Terror and Buzz Lightyear are never going to solve the problems at the European parks.

Theme Park in Branson
Screamscape 11/8/04

I was checking around, and never realized there was actually a theme park in Branson, MO. I thought it was all rodeos and casinos, but low and behold, there’s Silver Dollar City. They’ve recently announced Powder Keg, a new spin on the S&S air launched roller coaster. While the top speed is only 53 MPH, the layout is much more interesting than Dadonpa and Hypersonic with a lot more theming. Additionally, the coaster will utilize some of the track sections of the dismantled Buzzsaw Falls. I may just have to hitch my horse up in Branson in the next couple of years.

Six Flags Undercuts Competition
Yahoo Finance 11/10/04

Yahoo Finance 11/9/04

In two interesting marketing moves, Universal Studios Hollywood counters Six Flags Magic Mountain’s $47.99 season pass with their own "Buy A Day, Get 2005 Free" promotion ($49.75). While the USH pass will have a number of blackout dates, I know I would much rather spend a season at USH rather than dealing with the mismanaged SFMM. To counter the move, Six Flags Magic Mountain used their “unlimited” resources to purchase the title sponsorship of the Hollywood Christmas Parade (SFMMHCP for the acronym fans out there). Take that, USH!

Will they EVER learn?


Publicity Stunt
Business Wire 11/8/04

In more California news, Knott’s Berry Farm has announced their plans to formally open their newest roller coaster, Silver Bullet. The B&M inverted roller coaster recently completed construction and will begin testing in the coming weeks. Knott’s will introduce the coaster to the world with a “Silver Bullet Salute” (and no, Coors is not a sponsor). The event will take place on December 7, 2004 (Pearl Harbor Day) and will honor survivors, veterans, and active military personnel with free admission, and allow their family members free entry with a donation to Toys for Tots. This seems to me like a rather insensitive way to open a coaster. What a way to mark a “day that will live in infamy,” than to pile a bunch of military people on a roller coaster for a publicity stunt! On top of it all, you make the families of these incredibly distinguished people have to bring a $10 toy to get in for free. I can see it now, the Star Spangled Banner being played in the station by a marching band, and Semper Fi blasting through the speakers on the lift hill. How patriotic!

Readers' Opinions

From Mr. D. T. on November 11, 2004 at 9:03 PM
They took down Buzzsaw Falls?!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I thought that was a really good ride.

From alan mills on November 12, 2004 at 1:10 AM
Where do you guys get your financial info re. EuroDisney? I think Russell hasn't got the full picture of what is going on in France. ~Having worked over there as a young man it worries me that the general feel does not understand the European situation at all. Having just spent a great week in Orlando the differences between Europe and the states, both in style, expectations and financial implications needs to be better understood by your correspondents. Want some help?
From J. Dana on November 12, 2004 at 1:23 AM
Fill us in, Alan.
From Kevin Baxter on November 12, 2004 at 4:23 AM
Where does he get his financial info???? Well, right up there is a little link to an article in EU Business. Think that may be the place???

Congratulations, Russell. First week and you already got your first moron.

From Kevin Baxter on November 12, 2004 at 4:50 AM
Oh, and the buy-one-day-get-an-Annual-Pass thing isn't new for USH. They've done it at least twice over the past couple years. And it usually happens in the fall, since attendance is slow until Spring Break.
From daniel sears on November 12, 2004 at 6:36 AM
i think that's a good article russle.

it's nice to know the theme parks are getting some cool rides!

From TH Creative on November 12, 2004 at 8:55 AM
When Mr. Mills asks where Russell gets his financial info from, Mr. Baxter Responds: "Where does he get his financial info? Well, right up there is a little link to an article in EU Business. Think that may be the place? Congratulations, Russell. First week and you already got your first moron."

I Respond: This is my last post. Robert the website has always been a wealth of great news and information. But unnecessarily abusive responses from Mr. Baxter make it classless.

I'm out of here.

From Russell Meyer on November 12, 2004 at 9:24 AM
But I was looking forward to intense tete a tete discussions with you TH. I think opinionated snide remarks are part of being associated with a message board. I'm sure no one means any harm. Resorting to baseless tactics is the way some people try to prove their points, and you just have to accept that, and rise above it.

I am inquisitive as to what daniel means, and how he could enlighten us as to the inner workings of Euro Disney. As I understand, the Euro Disney parks operate similar to the Tokyo parks with much more Disney influence. Euro Disney pays for rights and licenses just like anyone else, and must get Disney approval for any changes made to the parks, which means the parks are for the most part really controlled by Disney through a puppet company. The Tokyo parks are given more freedom, and are able to develop their own attractions and vision for the future, and merely purchase Disney licenses for use as branding and merchandise. From their success and ratings it's clear which way works better.

From steve lee on November 12, 2004 at 9:50 AM
Wow.

I'm stunned.

It took Kevin THAT long to push TH over the edge?

Kevin, if you're ever in my neck of the woods, I owe you a beer.

From Jason Moore on November 12, 2004 at 10:03 AM
I think THC is just throwing a tantrum because he doesn't have Kevin to play with anymore. It's ok THC, you can take your ball and go home now.
From Robert OGrosky on November 12, 2004 at 11:32 AM
While i think the waterpark should help GL, i dont think Dino Island will help at all, i dont think this is a brand new film, and even if it is the first one was extremely lame!!!
Why doesnt Cedar :Point use the Snoopy characters and make a new/unique expereince rather than offer up a lame Dino Island.
From jazken . on November 12, 2004 at 3:17 PM
About KBF's latest publicity stunt... big deal. They do this sort of promotion every year for the military, firefighters, police, etc. To my knowledge, no other theme park recognizes/rewards public servants in such a generous way. And you think it's such a terrible thing to give free admission in exchange for a $10 gift that's going to charity? Sheesh! Nice to meet you, Mr. Scrooge.
From Russell Meyer on November 12, 2004 at 4:45 PM
I don't have a problem with them honoring our veterans and military families. The problem I have is that they're using the veterans and military as a publicity stunt to debut their new roller coaster. BTW, many parks honor veterans and active military. Busch has been offering free admissions to military, police, fire and EMS since 9-11. Many other parks have promoted special days and admission discounts for military personnel. Abusing the honor of our military, especially WWII veterans on Pearl Harbor Day to open a coaster is pathetic!
From Mike Duchock on November 12, 2004 at 7:01 PM
In Branson, i never saw any rodeos or casinos, but there are pleanty of country music shows and outlet malls.

Silver Dollar City is a well done low-key theme park. They have a delightful cave that guests can tour and some decent entertainment. I believe they are even building a second theme park called Celebration City.

For those of you in the Southeast, you may be familiar with Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta which is managed by Silver Dollar City's parent company. The themeing at Stone Mountain's Crossroads section is very similar to SDC.

From Robert OGrosky on November 12, 2004 at 8:09 PM
Any park that does something that gives the military reduced or free admission or does the same i think is great!!!(I benefited from this 2yrs ago and it is greatly appreciated).
If the military personnel feel they are being used for a pr stunt and dont like it then nothing is forcing them to be invovled in it.
From Kevin Baxter on November 13, 2004 at 1:43 AM
Lord, the thing that set THC off was nothing compared to what I have done in the past! Hell, I'm usually far meaner to THC in every post I mention him.

The whole thing was less mean than sarcastic, but I guess if you are the sensitive type it could come off as me being a jerk. I was trying to be funny (notice the familiarity of the last name). But if it really and truly got rid of THC, then I will certainly not apologize for it!

Y'all owe me!

From Mr. D. T. on November 13, 2004 at 10:56 AM
I think THC and Kevin have debated enough. They need to learn to get along with each other. Reconciliation at least. I didn't think Bush and Kerry were that serious in their debate. THC will be back and I know it.

I still never went to MM, but until Six Flags gets their act together to fix up the park, I'm not going in there.

The new ride at SDC, which is Powder Keg, uses up portions of the old Buzzsaw ride, but it won't be the same without the watery theming.

From J. Dana on November 13, 2004 at 6:27 PM
Personally, I think the Kevin/THC thing was a stunt for November sweeps. Keep those ratings up!
From Derek Potter on November 14, 2004 at 9:40 AM
While Dino Island isn't new, anything is better than what they had. I'm looking forward to Geauga's improvements, and the waterpark illustrations look pretty good. I suspect that when it's finished in 2006, it will be responsible for a lot of the attendance. Why does this go well with Cedar Point? Soak City is an ok waterpark, but not anything to write home about, and it also carries a separate admission with it. Wildwater Kingdom is a much more ambitious project thats almost three times bigger. It has more attractions, more acreage, newer slides...not to mention the fact that it will be included with the already ridiculously low Geauga Lake admission. Offering what Cedar Point doesn't have is what will make Geauga Lake successful, and a good waterpark is something that Cedar Point doesn't have. Another good thing that they are doing is overhauling their wooden coasters. Villian will get some retracking, and the long neglected Raging Wolf Bobs will finally get the surgery it's needed for a long time. People don't remember RWB as a good ride because it's been mistreated for so long. I remember it being a great ride in it's first few years. As for Villian, it's not the greatest, but there are a lot of wooden coasters out there that are worse. There are a lot of other improvements on tap for the park next year including an overhaul of the children's area and a new large picnic area.

Lest we forget that the Geauga Lake before Six Flags wasn't really that good either. It was a charming place up until a few years before the owners sold it, then the signs of cost cutting and low funds were evident. What really helped it was the fact that Sea World was across the lake.
The $25 dollar admission price is the kicker for me. Once all the rides are up to speed and in place and the waterpark is finished, people will be hard pressed to find a better bargain anywhere in the country. If you ask me, things are looking better and better for GL.

The Knotts thing?? December 7th is kind of a morbid date to be opening a coaster called Silver Bullet. I'm sure that their intentions are good though, and they are giving some love to the military with the free admission. Magic Mountain?? do we need to send some white coats over to the management offices? THC and Baxter....kinda reminds me of a bad reality show. THC will be back for the grudge match in THEMEPARKMANIA 2 where Baxter will call him a moron and he will leave again in protest. Can't we all just get along???


From Kevin Baxter on November 15, 2004 at 12:57 AM
Please... calling him a moron never worked. I think Jason is right. He was only here to irritate me and I haven't been around that much so whatever fun he found in his idiocy is mostly gone. Think about it, here is a guy who worked for Imagineering AND Universal Creative and how much "wisdom" did he ever offer from those two jobs? His love for Michael Eisner ran so deep that he acted like just like him. Instead of being someone on the site that people would love to hear from, he instead chose to be someone who did nothing but react (poorly) to other people, mostly me. Good riddance.
From Derek Potter on November 15, 2004 at 9:20 PM
He had love for Eisner???

What a moron.

From Chuck Campbell on November 16, 2004 at 8:28 PM
How about a special stipulation cage match between Kevin and THC? No rules, no disqualification, with Al Lutz as special referee. Loser has to ride Superstar Limo for eight hours straight, followed by eight hours on Small World, without earplugs or a blindfold.
From Robert Niles on November 16, 2004 at 8:47 PM
Sure, but after Kevin and THC gang up to kill Al... then what?

(kidding!)

From Derek Potter on November 16, 2004 at 9:44 PM
eight hours on small world....now that's torture. What a great interrogation device that would be. Hearing that song over and over would be like Chinese water torture.
From Jason Herrera on November 17, 2004 at 12:29 AM
THC was quite a character.

TPI isn't what she used to be. I can't put my finger on what it is, but this site just isn't as good anymore.

I hope, Russell Meyer can pull it out and make it fun again. If anyone can do it, he can.

From patrick sayre on November 17, 2004 at 2:12 PM
I have been thinking the same thing...something is different. The fun is slipping away.

As a long time lurker and occasional poster what I've noticed is a creeping sense of political correctness has taken hold, in fact politics is injected far to often anymore.

As if it has any place on a message board about Rollercoasters, Log flumes, and Tea cups rides.

Has there been one post the last 6 months where one political party or the other hasn't been mentioned in derogitory terms? As if Bush and Kerry had anything to do with Legoland.

Not to point fingers but especially DNC centric views have really taken root. Oh Both sides have done it,injected politics where it doesn't belong, but Baxter and Niles do tend to wear their liberalism on their sleeves.

Talks about National health care in reguards to Euro Disney? Working your love of Al Franken into trip report about Legoland?

I know the "powers that be" can do as they please...it is Niles board after all.. it is a free country and opinions are like A**h*les everyone has one, but isn't it possible to leave the politics at home when talking about a mutual love of things? The occasional Jab is fine.Americans are by nature a hard core bunch of ball busters.its all in good fun...but things have taken on a nasty and persistant tone as of late.

This is like a family of people who like Amusment/Theme parks..and there are just somethings you shouldn't bring up
around family.

It is almost like post Election therapy is needed.

From Robert Niles on November 17, 2004 at 3:18 PM
Actually, it's the slow season for theme parks, and there's not been much great news.

Kevin and Joe haven't been posting as much, and neither have I.

But... look for some new features on the most popular (by attendance) parks in the next few weeks, including a new Q&A format that I think folks will find more useful and lively than just the discussions we have here.

(Long time readers will know that when I get quiet, that usually means I'm working on something....)

Stay tuned. I'll entertain ya!

From Jason Moore on November 18, 2004 at 7:42 AM
Actually patrick, if you look around, the issues you are commenting on are not just limited to this site. It's everywhere in our current American society, especially the websites. This most recent election season truly brought out the worst in people from both sides, and even worse than that, instead of calming back down after the election, it got even more heated. you should visit some of the other sites I frequent and see the utter hatred that is being spewed back and forth between the 2 sides. It was enough to make me take a break from a few places.

Also, as Robert pointed out, the news out of the theme parks has been phenomenally slow lately.

From Robert Niles on November 18, 2004 at 11:32 AM
Heck, you should have seen the thread we had on Violinist.com.

Still, long-term I know that some people are just interested in trip planning and reminiscing, and don't want to bother with the industry stuff (which often gets into broader economic and political issues.) So my next set of tweaks will be designed to help better distinguish between those two types of discussion.

From patrick sayre on November 18, 2004 at 11:50 AM
Thank you Robert.

We all have our personal convictions. Just the way the founding fathers intended. This is good and right, and what makes us strong in the history of the world.

But let this space act as a Continental Congress of Fun, a place to put aside those differances, differances we no doubt express forcefully in other forums. A meeting place of common goals and common ground.A place to come when the ignorance of the Yahoo chat boards have taken their toll on our sanity.

Yes there is room for discussion on the business and social aspects of the Theme/Amusment park topic.

I sincerly hope those discussions will be just that,Discussions. Lit with the flame of honesty, factuality, and mutual respect and not the torch of ignorance and hostility we've come to expect from society as of late.

I look forward to your coming tweaks, and will avail myself of all your site has to offer.

From Derek Potter on November 18, 2004 at 7:56 PM
People do want to plan trips and remember, but there is also a place for us geeks to talk about the industry as well. That's what I like about this site. As for politics and such, people will express their political views whenever the door is open, no matter what the site is really about. The whole healthcare thing got a little far off of the page, but there hasn't been much news lately so no big deal.
From alan mills on November 19, 2004 at 1:25 AM
Having been called a moron I feel I need to explain!!!When you move from a discussion of a European enterprise's finances to the statement "Disney doesn’t seem to realize that when Americans travel to Europe," you wonder what perspective is paramount. European theme parks don't exist to cater for Americans - you have enough of your own! Hopefully when an American travels to Europe - Disney isn't the main thing on their mind. The whole approach to leisure activities in Europe is different, which is one of the reasons why so many Brits go to Florida. What I was trying to say (moronically?) was that you can't judge the progress, vision or business plan of a French based enterprise by using the same criteria as you would for California. A different route was adopted in Paris once the mistakes of trying emulate to WDW were recognised. I have been to the Paris park(s)at least twice a year since they opened and visited most of the other big European parks too.

I think too often in your columns, financial issues are discussed very naively. Probably what I have written doesn't meet the right tone for your columns but like anyone else who likes Theme Parks I love TPI. I don't want to see it publishing things that don't make sense. This is probably my last ever comment, not because I am going off in a sulk but because I probably want to take it all too seriously.

From Tim Hillman on November 19, 2004 at 6:16 AM
You shouldn’t take it personally, Alan. Kevin has a very bombastic style, and he doesn’t hesitate to let you know what he’s thinking. Don’t think of his comments as a putdown. Heck, that’s just Kevin’s way of welcoming you to the site. (Kind of like the big ugly guy who puts his arm around your shoulders on your first day in the cellblock and asks if you want a buddy.)

Bjorn Borg was once asked how he was able to focus on the match when he was playing the likes of John McEnroe and Ile Nastase. He basically said; “I watch the ball and not the player.” You should apply the same philosophy to Kevin’s posts. Evaluate the content and ignore the context.

Speaking of context…..Are you crazy, Kevin? How in the world can you even begin to describe the BBC as an objective news source? I always though Robert was a bit out there with Salon, Slate, and Air America, but the BBC being objective about American politics? Uh huh. Yeah. Right. And Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are real. ;-)


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