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