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The BLOGFlume—Save The Parks!

A Disney invasion, Cedar Point lawsuit, and Six Flags adds to its California water parks.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: February 20, 2005 at 9:49 PM

Mickeystone Park
Orlando Sentinel 2/19/05

As if the theme park and cruise business weren’t enough for the Mouse House, Disney is going to attempt to do Disney-themed tours through two of America’s most popular National Parks. The vacations will tour through Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (two places that I WILL visit before I die). The tours will offer some experiences unique to each area varying from surfing lessons on the famous waves in Hawaii to horseback riding through the meadows of Wyoming. The “test” tours this summer will be a little on the pricey side, with a vacation for a family of four costing between $5,600 and $7,800, not including airfare. If popular, the vacations may be expanded to include other picturesque areas of the United States. Disney has been famous for bringing great experiences to their theme parks and cruises, but bringing guests to great experiences in the greatest natural places in the world may be a little more than most people would want. The price point of these vacations is far above what a family of four would normally spend on their own. The prices are basically inexplicable, because unless Disney can somehow purchase “private” pieces of real estate for guests to enjoy, this will not be the one-of-a-kind vacation that people would expect from such an expensive vacation. Then there’s the “Micky-fication” of some of the most sacred tracts of land in the world that might never be the same if Disney is allowed to shuttle thousands of vacationing guests through the Great West and the fragile volcanic wilderness of Hawaii. These secluded places are great because they’re secluded, and if they become overcrowded with tourists, these wonders of nature will lose their charm. My message to Disney, “STAY OUT OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS!” and stick to your own parks.

More Lawsuits
Toledo Blade 2/16/05

As if enough lawsuits have not been filed in the last month, two men who rode Top Thrill Dragster last June, during its much-publicized cable breakage, have filed suit against Cedar Point for negligence and failure to properly maintain their attractions. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $25,000 for injuries sustained during the catastrophic failure of the launching mechanism, and damage caused to clothing when a thick lubricant coated everything during the incident. These allegations are fully warranted (particularly since a “reasonable” judgment award is being sought), but one has to wonder why it takes nearly six months to file a lawsuit where it is fairly obvious as to whom is at fault. I feel really bad for the people who had to experience the massive failure of Dragster, and hope that other rocket coasters do not have similar problems in the future, but you have to question why this lawsuit has to be filed. Cedar Point should do whatever it takes, within reason, to make this situation right, and if necessary, file a complaint against Intamin AG for assistance in compensating the victims of a primary design flaw. Dragster is an amazing experience, but is not worth it if it’s going to hurt people. Cedar Point needs to just suck it up, admit that the ride failed, and that the failure injured some guests. $25,000 is much less than the amount the park could lose because of more negative press that will be generated because of this lawsuit, especially since TTD’s records are about to be broken in a couple of months by Six Flags’ Kingda Ka.

New Rides and New Names
Sacramento Business Journal 2/17/05

Two water parks in California are getting new names and new attractions for the 2005 season. Waterworld parks in Sacramento, California and Concord, California are adding the Six Flags moniker to their names and will be known as Six Flags Waterworld Sacramento and Six Flags Waterworld Concord, respectively. Six Flags has owned the parks for a number of years, but suddenly needs to add their corporate name onto the name of the park. The two parks will also be receiving new attractions. The Sacramento park will be getting “Honolulu Halfpipe,” which will be a simulated surfing experience where riders will be dropped into a rush of water on a raft simulating riding a big swell. The Concord park will add “Tornado,” which looks more like a raft getting flushed down a toilet than an exciting water ride. Tornado rides are being added in just about every Six Flags water park around the country, so the addition of another one is no big surprise. However, the addition of the Six Flags name to these two parks has been a long time in the works, and it is quite a surprise that this has not happened sooner, especially considering how proud the company is of its acquisitions.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on February 21, 2005 at 6:49 PM
Disney already has done something like this. Being part of the Vacation Club, you can use your points to go to places around the world including the places you mentioned. However, this time Disney removed the middle men of being approved by Disney to actually being Disney. I would stay there. It would probably be very nice!
From Erik Yates on February 22, 2005 at 4:38 PM
Hey thats great. Disney wants to rape and pillage our national parks! As if hacking out a chunk of florida and becoming the smiling mafia of orlando and plundering the 7 seas with their vile cruise ships werent enough. Camp Mickeystone national theme park. Maybe they'll even cap off old faithful and use it to steam drive the new park! YIPPY OH BOY!
From J. Dana on February 23, 2005 at 5:53 PM
Wow, somebody's pissy today....let me guess, Erik...you tried to sell Disney an idea and they said that you were full of crap. You can't fault them for stating the obvious. Maybe you should try some breathing exercises. Or buy a dog. Or better yet, go on one of those Disney cruises...it'll make you feel better.
From Kevin Baxter on February 26, 2005 at 5:52 PM
Okay, if you need Disney to take you around a national theme park, you need serious mental help. I think Yellowstone is the most beautiful place in the continental US and bringing Mickey into the picture totally taints it. I certainly don't want to be sitting near a geyser waiting for it to start spitting with one of these friggin' groups nearby.

As for the Waterworld name changes... Six Flags doesn't like to name things until they are "Six Flags caliber" parks. Whatever that means. Considering both parks haven't changed much over the past few years, I can only imagine that the delay in this process was due to a major accident at the Concord park, where high school students all went down a slide at once, breaking it. One death, if I recall correctly. So I think SF was just waiting for everyone to forget that little incident.

From TH Creative on February 28, 2005 at 2:20 PM
Anyone know how many millions of people visit Hawaii and Wyoming per year? Hawaii is especially enjoying a tourism boom.

According to the news reports Disney wants to send a meager 450 people to each destination this summer -- not the thousands (or millions) some imply.

Further, some of the people who book the Disney vacation may have already intended to go to these destinations -- thus having no impact on attendance.

Further, nothing has been reported that would indicate that Disney has any intention of incorporating characters or other theme park schtick to the tours.

Finally, reference the February 25th Motley Fool (hardly a bastion of Disney fans): "Folks are already willing to pay a premium for a branded travel experience from a company that they trust. Young families don't have a problem paying more to set sail on the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic over other cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean -- hitting similar ports of call. So why not cash in on those who elect not to travel to one of Disney's theme parks?"

If Disney were building a theme park in either Wyoming or Hawaii, I would line up squarely against them. But grabbing two or three thousand of the millions of visitors that roll into these destinations every year not only seems rather reasonable -- it seems rather smart.

From Robert Niles on February 28, 2005 at 2:48 PM
Personally, anything that gets Disney out of the office and into esthetically pleasing locales like Hawaii and Wyoming sounds better to me than awaiting the results of the next Powerpoint-driven idea from Burbank.

I hope that Disney learns something about why people want to go to these locations, and applies what it can from those lessons to its full range of entertainment offerings, including theme parks. If Disney decides to take it the other direction, and impose itself on these destinations, we won't need to wring our hands over them because these efforts will fail soon enough.

From TH Creative on March 1, 2005 at 4:59 AM
It seems to me that the most telling sentence in the Orlando Sentinel article is as follows: "If the tours prove popular, they could become a fixture in Disney's lineup of vacation offerings and even be expanded to other destinations, the company said."

Disney is already has a travel reservations system in place and have enjoyed remarkable success in the timeshare and cruise industry. This new idea seems a natural evolution for that division.


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