Written by Russell Meyer
Published: August 7, 2005 at 5:17 PM
The summer season may be winding down, but things are starting to ramp up at Paramount’s Kings Dominion for 2006. They have begun to sell season passes for 2006 at an incredible price. A 2006 Gold Season Pass can be purchased now through the end of the year at $59.99, when you purchase two passes or more. Purchased individually, the passes cost the normal $79.99. The passes are valid for the rest of 2005, and all of the 2006 season at all of the Paramount Parks across the country, and include parking. That’s right, a season pass for a regional park that includes parking! The pass also includes a complimentary ticket good through September 2005, additional bring-a-friend-for-free days in 2006, and Gold Season Pass perks throughout the term of the pass (early entry, special discounts, and events, etc…). My wife and I couldn’t resist a good deal, and postponed a trip up to New Jersey to try again to ride Kingda Ka to head down to Kings Dominion today.
When processing my season pass, I noticed some signs advertising the new season pass deal, and those signs also spilled the beans about Paramount’s Kings Dominion’s new attraction for 2006. While it hasn’t officially been reported anywhere, it appears that the rumors are true, and the park will be getting a new roller coaster in 2006. Italian Job Stunt Track is being advertised as the new attraction for 2006, and the likelihood is that it will be similar to the other two versions at Paramount’s Kings Island and Canada’s Wonderland. The site for the coaster is where Diamond Falls used to be, and may extend into the Anaconda Lagoon or into the north side of Water Works. Basic site preparation has begun, but there’s no indication from inside the park what is on the way. I’m guessing that Paramount will announce the new coaster in the coming week, but for right now, these signs throughout the park are the only proof of the new coaster. The addition may not be what thrill seekers are looking for, considering the reception that the coasters received at the other two Paramount Parks, but it should be a big hit with families and just about everyone else.
Signs throughout the park advertising next year’s new attraction
The future site of Italian Job Stunt Track
More of the construction site
It’s difficult to tell right now if this attraction will be a direct clone of the first two versions of the coaster, but the introduction of this coaster could not have been better with the likely release of the Italian Job sequel, tentatively titled The Brazilian Job, coming in the summer of 2006. I cannot provide any specific details about the new coaster, but I would expect it to be very similar to the first two, with coaster trains made to look like Mini Coopers, multiple launch zones, and numerous special effects. While I think the coaster will be a good addition to the park, and I am encouraged by the increased theming that Paramount Parks are incorporating into their attractions, I’m not sure that this attraction may be the best thing for this park. The park already has three launching coasters (Hypersonic XLC, Flight of Fear, and Volcano). Also, the location of this new attraction makes the east half of the park (Congo area) very crowded, leaving the west half of the park with very few new attractions. This is still one of the few regional parks without a B&M, and for at least one more year, that streak will continue.
In Search of Magic
New York Times 7/31/05
The New York Times ran a very interesting story last week concerning Walt Disney World. It questions whether Disney has begun to lose their “magic” when it comes to its theme parks. Disney has been known for years to be the “Happiest Place on Earth,” and most people traveling to one of the company’s theme parks usually go home with a lighter wallet, but memories to last a lifetime. However, there are still instances of guests leaving the resorts with more complaints than compliments. The Times reporter had more than his fair share of annoyances from the newer Saratoga Springs Resort, and found a number of other guests who were equally disappointed from their Disney experience. From room problems to some other minor flaws in the resort, caused guests to have less than expected quality from a company that prides itself on near perfection. So is Disney losing its magic? Has it stretched its abilities too far? Does it no longer care about us, or are we just becoming too critical, and expect more than we should from a Disney vacation? I would tend to lean towards the latter. I do agree that the reported incidents of guests having complaints about their Disney vacation have increased over the past ten years, but like any large company, mistakes are bound to happen, and as the attendance at the theme parks and resorts increase, the likelihood of mistakes also increase. We as Disney guests have also set a standard for Disney that may not be attainable from any other company but Disney. Most of the trip reports posted to Disney fan sites analyze vacations down to every infinitely miniscule detail. From the number of towel animals folded by the maid, to the number of freebees obtained throughout a vacation are posted for all to see, and those fans compare their experiences. Everyone wants to have the best vacation, and if they only get towel animals on three days of their 5-day vacation, or if their Golden Mickey Ears are not delivered to their room on the first day of their stay, they're disappointed. Disney has become a victim of its own success, and the expectations of a Disney vacation are so high, that the probability of a guest going home dissatisfied are increased. Today’s cost of a Disney vacation also has something to do with that, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to take an average family to Disney World for a week for under $3,000. Guests are now paying first-class prices stay at the cheapest Disney resorts, and those guests are not getting first-class service. It has become a Catch-22, and I don’t see things changing dramatically any time soon. Should we lower our expectations for a Disney vacation, or should Disney raise their level of service? I would probably say both, but the reality is that neither will happen, and as more and more people visit the “Happiest Place on Earth,” the list of people disappointed with their vacation will continue to grow. However, the list of people who will love their vacation will also continue to grow, and a Disney vacation will still be the gold standard, aside from cruises, that family vacations will be judged.