The BLOGFlume--Disappointment, Communism, and Controversy
Kings Island takes a title, a Mickey invasion, major "Turbulence," and Universal blinks
Written by Russell Meyer
Cedar Point Losing Its CloutTweet
Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/17/04
This was a story I had to read twice to believe it, and I’m still stunned. In another attendance drop that was blamed on weather, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, has lost its title of #1 seasonal theme park in the world. That designation has now been claimed by its Ohio rival Paramount’s Kings Island, which is located just outside of Cincinnati. Kings Island ranked 15th in attendance among all amusement parks while Cedar Point dropped to 17th. Cedar Point, located on a peninsula on Lake Erie, claims that 40% of its 146 operating days were hindered by weather, while Kings Island was much more fortunate with mild temperatures and below average rainfall. In recent years, the two parks have gone back and forth with the title. The public exhibited a “what have you done for me lately” attitude by rewarding Kings Island for its Boomerang Bay waterpark addition in 2004, while Cedar Point did not add a single major attraction to its lineup.
In related news, Geauga Lake, (formerly Six Flags Worlds of Adventure), acquired near the beginning of 2004 by Cedar Fair, has had attendance drop 25% over the past three years, and is out of this year’s top 50 among North American parks. The move to acquire Geauga Lake is looking more and more like a poor decision by Cedar Fair, as attendance has tumbled over its first year of ownership. I hope Cedar Fair has a plan to improve, because Kings Island is not resting on their laurels. PKI has Italian Job Stunt Track on the drawing board for next year, while Cedar Point is countering with maXair, a ride very similar to Delirium, already operating at Kings Island. Not to mention, Cedar Point will also lose its title to the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster with Kingda Ka on the way. Geauga Lake is adding new movies to the already existing motion simulator and 4-D theater, which does not bode well for a dramatic attendance increase. With coaster enthusiasts jetting to New Jersey, and no dramatic additions for 2005, Cedar Fair may have trouble retaking the guests it lost in 2004.
Mickey Mouse is a Communist
We all know that Mickey Mouse is one of the most powerful icons of the success of capitalism in the world, but for the foreseeable future, Mickey Mouse has teamed up with the Chinese Communist Youth League. The partnership will promote Disney characters to all of the children of China before the opening of the company’s Hong Kong Disneyland in 2006. In return, the Chinese government will gain 57% share of the park’s profits, estimated around $19 billion over the next 40 years. While China gets a large sum of money, the youth of China will be bombarded and “poisoned” by the capitalistic principles represented by the Walt Disney Company. Somewhere Karl Marx is shaking his head at the largest surviving socialist society left on Earth.
The Trouble With Turbulence
A few weeks ago coaster enthusiasts were getting excited about the prospects of riding the world’s first “frequent faller” roller coaster at Hersheypark in 2005. Today though, dark clouds are shrouding the installation of this new attraction. Interactive Rides, the coaster’s manufacturer, claims that it is still unaware of Hersheypark’s decision to cancel the ride installation. They also claim ignorance of the lawsuit against them for monetary damages related to the park’s removal of the Giant Wheel and costs for marketing surrounding the new coaster. Hersheypark has made it very clear on its website and through local media that the ride is not going to be installed for the 2005 season, but Interactive Rides insists that it is still working on the attraction.
The controversy centers around the rumor that Interactive Rides wants to charge Hersheypark more because of the higher prices for steel now than was originally estimated when the ride was proposed. Hershey feels that it was misled about the cost of the attraction, and promptly announced its elimination from the 2005 line-up, but Interactive Rides has maintained its position that it has never been notified of the cancellation. Interactive Rides is currently working on the installation of Insanity on the Stratosphere Tower, and may still be working on Turbulence, or may be using the controversy to draw attention and sell the coaster to another park.
Universal Orlando appears to be having a very successful holiday season. With “Grinchmas” in full swing at Islands of Adventure and the Macy’s Parade appearing every day at Universal Studios, it looks to be a very successful year for the theme park resort. What better way to finish off a great holiday season than to announce a superb headliner for their New Year’s Eve concert at Citywalk. Alas, Universal has announced that David Lee Roth - yes, the former singer of Van Halen - will be the headliner for the annual concert. I’m a huge Van Halen fan, but even I would not be terribly excited to see David Lee Roth on New Year’s Eve. His shows tend to be crude, and his act has become almost a parody of his former self. However, I will admit that at $109 including dinner, the tickets are rather affordable.
However, Universal’s other tickets are taking an unprecedented third hike in 2004. A single-day ticket to either of the two Universal properties will be going up another $5 to $59.75. Universal was in a perfect position to capitalize on Disney restructuring of their passes, but instead they are botching it by jacking up their prices 9%. The single-day pass has gone up nearly $8 since the beginning of last year, and even the multi-day passes are being hiked up with 5-day passes increasing a whopping 25%. This strategy is eventually going to backfire on these parks, because people’s paychecks cannot keep up with the seemingly unstoppable price increases. Expect Sea World to follow suit in a week or two, as the Busch-owned park is the low-man on the totem pole with the bargain price of $53.75. Just 5 years ago, $50 a day seemed ridiculous for a day at a theme park, but today, it’s a bargain.
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