The effects of Hurricane Katrina, Goliath is born, and the theme park ticket black market.
Written by Russell Meyer
Theme Park Review 8/30/05
It has become readily apparent from television news reports and pictures from all across the Gulf Coast, there is severe destruction. The question you’re probably asking is, what does that have to do with theme parks? First and foremost, Six Flags New Orleans is completely underwater, similar to how Six Flags Over Georgia was earlier this year. The park is currently shut down, and it is likely that it will remain so for the remainder of the season. Something tells me that even if the city were to be able to open back up to residents in the next month, most of them would probably not feel like going to an amusement park. Not only that, there have been long reaching effects of Hurricane Katrina. As some may have noticed, this disaster has caused a dramatic increase in gasoline prices. Some sections of Atlanta, Georgia (not even supplied by the Gulf Region) had fuel stations charging upwards of $5.00 per gallon for 87-octane gasoline, and people were paying it. There seem to have been fuel scares all across the country with people spreading false rumors about government shutdowns or stations running completely out of supply. Still, it looks like the prices will stabilize over the next week or two, but nationwide, the effect of this disaster will result in prices nearly $1.00 over what they were in the middle of August. These dramatically increased gas prices have already started to cause people to rethink their vacations over the next few months. It is still very popular for families to drive to Disney World, and a 30% increase in gasoline prices could force people to either reduce or even cancel a planned fall vacation to Orlando. Families that were already on a tight budget, and were making the drive to Florida to try to save a little bit of money, may find the long drive is not going to save much money at all. I can understand why people would reconsider making a big trip, but those traveling within the next four weeks would have to cancel their reservations and lose their deposits. It is possible that Disney may refund deposits in light of the disaster, but guests cannot expect that. Those guests who are traveling in November or later need to think a little more optimistically and hope that gas prices moderate. As with any disaster that has nationwide implications, we not only need to give whatever we can to those in need, but we need to keep the country moving. Life goes on, and while it may take years or even decades for New Orleans to recover, we, as a country, will be stronger and more resilient than ever.
On Thursday, Six Flags Over Georgia announced plans regarding its next roller coaster. As predicted, the coaster will be a B&M hypercoaster, and will have a layout unlike any other coaster on the planet. One of the most unique features of the coaster will be its lack of a mid-course brake run (MCBR). Goliath will tower at just over 200 feet, and is billed as so big, that it has to go outside the park. The new coaster will dwarf the 107-foot tall Georgia Scorcher as it passes overhead the B&M stand-up coaster. The coaster will maximize airtime with 775 feet of drops, feature a 540-degree helix that will likely make your feet tingle with high g’s, and 180-degree horseshoe turn. Goliath is not going to break any records, but looks to be a solid addition to a park that already has a great collection of coasters. It’s name and color scheme are rather unoriginal, but Goliath could easily eclipse the popularity and success of its California namesake.
Those who frequent sporting events and concerts know that buying tickets from a scalper or ticket agent can be a dicey transaction. Ticket scalping is usually more lucrative on events that are sold out, but it seems that ticket scalping is no longer limited to one-time events. Theme park tickets, in particular Disney tickets, have surged in popularity on the black market. That’s right, the black market. A number of illegal organizations have been linked to selling theme park tickets purchased with fake or stolen credit cards. As ticket prices have increased over the past few years, the market for ticket resale has increased, as families try to make the most out of their vacation dollars. Many families have no idea that they are purchasing these illegally appropriated tickets since they are often sold at hotel lobbies, souvenir shops, and even some travel agencies. Universal, Sea World, and Busch Gardens are also seeing their tickets sold illegally, but Disney is currently the only company trying to fight back. Disney now requires biometric data on even the least expensive ticket, and does not allow guests to determine how many days are left on a pass without walking up to a Disney resort or ticket gate. Also, when guests book their hotel reservations through Disney, they cannot pick up their accompanying theme park tickets until they check into their resort. The proliferation of tickets on Ebay is ridiculous, with 194 items listed when I just performed a search. I understand how many people are looking to save some money on their theme park tickets, but guests need to be very careful when purchasing tickets from anyone other than the theme park. Not only are the people selling the illegal tickets breaking the law, but those who knowingly purchase them are also subject to prosecution. After reading about the burgeoning black market for theme park tickets, I’m reassured knowing that my tickets for my vacation in November are coming straight from the source.
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