PENNIES FROM KEVIN - 2004's Losers

Kevin's back with a deeper look into two of the big theme park losers of 2004, why they dropped, and why they should probably get used to it.

Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: January 4, 2005 at 5:34 AM

I'm back! For a few columns, at least.

We've seen the attendance numbers and we know the big losers were Cedar Fair and Six Flags. As if that weren't bad enough, their most talked-about parks - Cedar Park and Six Flags Magic Mountain - both lost visitors when many other parks stayed even or made gains. Even worse, these are the two parks that have had the most public battle in amusement park history. Well, it's worse for them; highly entertaining for me.

Longtime readers will know how moronic I believe their whole coaster war has been. Both parks have basically ignored other parts of their parks so they could have MORE coasters or HIGHER coasters or WILDER coasters or FASTER coasters. Hey, I love coasters, but a park that only offers coasters is like a restaurant that offers only hamburgers. It's not a horrible idea, but few people want hamburgers all the time. And, apparently, few people want roller coasters all the time.

Want proof? People travel from all over to visit the mostly coaster-free Disney and Universal parks. SeaWorld Orlando has flourished with a whopping 1 1/2 coasters. Yet coasterized parks near them like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Magic Mountain and Knott's can't get close to those top-tier parks in attendance. BGTB is about an hour's drive from Orlando, but its commendable 4.1 million guests this year is 1.5 million lower than SWO, Orlando's least-attended park. Magic Mountain is only about 30 minutes from Anaheim (or 45... or an hour!) yet its 2.7M is less than half that of the mostly-reviled California Adventure. SFMM isn't that much farther than Universal Studios Hollywood, yet 5M fought horrible traffic to get to that smallish park. But the worst of the group is Knott's, whose respectable 3.6M becomes a little less respectable when you realize that not only does much of that total come from their popular Halloween event, but it is only a few miles away from Disneyland. You don't even have to get on the freeway and it still gets less people than the faraway USH.

But Six Flags and Cedar Fair have mostly ignored these facts. And how they have paid. Cedar Point, which used to be the country's most popular "regional park" (Cedar Fair's Knott's is actually a more popular park than CP, but its proximity to Disneyland and USH disqualifies it from its regional status) has been replaced by another Ohio park, Paramount's Kings Island. To be fair, the parks have gone back and forth for years, but PKI's recent attendance numbers show an upward trend, while CP's only rises in "New Coaster!" years. And if it never ever EVER rains, apparently, since that is Cedar Fair's excuse for PKI's current dominance.

Instead of focusing so much on SFMM, why wasn't Cedar Point focusing on PKI? It's not like there's much of a crossover in SFMM's market and CP's. Yet, there is certainly a lot of crossover between the two Ohio park markets. If they had been paying attention to what PKI has been doing - and doing successfully - the past few years, they might not be having the troubles they are having now. While Six Flags was constantly trying to outdo Cedar Fair and vice versa, PKI ignored the both of them and decided they were going to outdo a park company that is more successful than all three of them. Disney? Universal? Nope.


Specifically, the deadly duo of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. BGTB's numbers are impressive for a mostly regional park in a not-too-populated area. BGW's numbers - 2.4M - put it at over a million people below PKI, but it is highly regarded park with a following almost as fervent as Cedar Point's. (While in a fairly populated area, BGW's low attendance is mostly due to lots of competing parks in the area, like nearby Paramount's Kings Dominion, but it does manage to beat them all.) Busch, unlike these other three park chains, has a history of theming up their rides. Not as much as Disney or Universal, as Busch can't afford to pop out $100M rides on a regular basis, if ever. But enough to separate it from most of the crowd. So Busch is actually a great company for a themeless park company to aspire to. Or to aspire to beat.

Which Paramount is clearly trying to do. Recent PKI additions like Scooby Doo, Tomb Raider and the under-construction Italian Job Stunt Track (which, for some friggin' reason already has TWO FRAPPIN' VOTES... how retarded are you if you rate a ride that hasn't even been built yet???) show more attention to theming than has ever been present in the past. An online survey is filled with many such themed attractions that prove PKI is not the only Paramount park that will be getting the Buschlike upgrades.

Of course, all the dorks out there who can't see beyond the gates of CP or SFMM will act unimpressed, but this IS impressive. Buzz is all important in the theme park world, and who is getting it for 2005? Kingda Ka, of course, is getting major buzz for Six Flags, but that's probably because the park with the TALLESTEST coaster will no longer be Magic Mountain or Cedar Point but Six Flags Great Adventure, SF's most popular park. The Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is getting major buzz as everyone wonders whether this will be Busch's second worthy Disniversal-level ride since SeaWorld Orlando's Journey to Atlantis (recent attempts Rhino Rally and Haunted Lighthouse didn't live up to their buzz). There's the new Space Mountain in Disneyland, of course, and, to a lesser extent, its Buzz Lightyear clone. (Epcot's Soarin' clone and Disney/MGM's auto stunt show aren't generating a tenth of the buzz of Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest, which won't debut until 2006.) There's minor buzz out there for other projects, like BGTB's SheiKra, which should be getting more buzz considering it is the country's first dive coaster. Maybe because it screams One Trick Pony? (Actually a Two Trick Pony, but still.) Plus, a little for Knott's' Silver Bullet, but most of that is because Knott's sucks. No one's going to get that excited about another inverted coaster. Then there is PKI's Italian Job Stunt Track, which may be generating the most buzz. Not because it is the most exciting ride idea ever, but because it is THE ride that has informed the world of Paramount's major new business plan.

This buzz threatens to hurt Magic Mountain and Cedar Point even more than their construction choices. SFMM will be getting a new Batman stunt show this year, and CP MAY be getting what sounds like a Giant Frisbee. Not that those things are necessarily so bad; shows should be changed regularly and I absolutely love Frisbees. But both parks are spiralling downward and having no buzz this year will not help. Both parks will probably add coasters in 2006, but by then all the focus will be on Expedition Everest and IOA's and USH's next attractions. Everest is already big, and the Universal rides both promise to be huge too. 2006 already promises to be a big one for attractions, and SFMM and CP will have to compete with that, instead of competing this year, where buzz is so far fairly moderate.

I applaud both parks for getting away momentarily from their coaster obsessions, but having ignored the family market for so long puts both parks at a disadvantage that will take many years and many millions of dollars to overcome. Good luck to them! (They'll need it!)

That's my two pennies... Gimme yours!

Readers' Opinions

From Ben Mills on January 4, 2005 at 12:41 PM
Nice to see the Pennies back again...

It's a shame that Six Flags learnt nothing from their European experience. Despite many years of fairly constant misery, Six Flags Belgium started doing particularly well attendance-wise in the later years, after the park started getting suspiciously theme-parky on us, and adding the superb interactive shooter, The Curse of Tutankhamun.

And WBMW Madrid, a really well themed park that Six Flags were actually responsible for designing, came into mass critical acclaim, topping many European critics' favourite park lists. It failed, unfortunately, due to some pretty awful marketing techniques, but remains a magnet for true theme park fans.

But of course, none of that would apply in the States, would it...

From Robert Niles on January 4, 2005 at 1:25 PM
Let everyone in the theme park business repeat this right now:

Roller coasters move the turnstyles for one year. They generate buzz among teens and preteens on Internet message boards.

But themed attractions generate visits for years to come. And generate buzz from older readers with real incomes on Internet *booking pages.*

Coaster wars are the crack of the theme park industry. They make participants feel an addictive rush when they play, but they leave those participants broke and lonely in short time. Six Flags is already close to a management and financial meltdown. Both Six Flags and Cedar Fair are relying on massive discounting to keep their attendance numbers up.

It's time for those companies to put down the coaster crack and focus again on winning family visitors with well-themed attractions. (And for Disney, Universal and Busch to quit flirting with thrill ride wars and go back to doing what they've always done best.)

From Chuck Campbell on January 4, 2005 at 4:21 PM
Indeed--more power to Paramount and Busch for going for something other than airtime, g-forces, and inversions. How many ways can you be flipped upsidedown before it ceases to amuse (and shakes out your funnel cake)?

A question, Kevin: when you refer to BGW having "lots" of other parks to compete against, to what other parks are you referring, other than PKD? Six Flags America? Carowinds? I live in Willy's Burg, and I'm just trying to clarify BGW's "territory."
From J. Dana on January 4, 2005 at 5:03 PM
Kevin, GREAT article here. And Robert's followup comments are right ON POINT!!! I'm glad to see that is doing what it needs to do: kicking the Titanic in the teeth and letting it know there are white things floating in the water ahead....GREAT STUFF. Great stuff. Great stuff. These are the type of things I like to see us brawling about on this site (although it appears as if no brawl has broken out yet--where's THCreative when we need him?).

(have I said how much I like this article?)

From Mike K on January 4, 2005 at 5:06 PM
Kevin, glad to hear your opinion on Cedar Point, as the Head Editor of a Cedar Point fansite, I completely agree that Cedar Fair needs to add more than just coasters to their parks. But I do not see a major change in this trend until 2007 when the CEO retires. He has already claimed Cedar Point will build a roller coaster that will top Dragster, so we believe Cedar Point will get a major coaster (possible over 500ft) for the 2007 season.

However, theming is starting to make a comeback at Cedar Point. With the addition of Castaway Bay, Cedar Point has had at least made some attempts to start to theme again. If you have never been inside Castaway Bay, you need to check it out. There is a lot of theming right in the lobby, including two animatronic talking birds.

Also, the restaurant Game Day Grille makes an attempt at a sports theme. Dragster's theme also is apparent in Cedar Point adding theming to areas/rides. I personally hope the theming continues, and possible a dark ride will appear soon.

It all depends on what Cedar Fair though does with the Dinosour ride at Knott's. If they put in a interactive Sally dark ride, then I believe Cedar Fair may be on the comeback (not like it was ever "down" though).

As for the weather, I paid close attention to it this summer and there were some major Saturday's that did have bad weather that the park needed. If those days would have been sunny, they could have easily added a couple hundred-thousand people in attendance.


From John Franklin on January 4, 2005 at 6:02 PM
I'm surprised that you did NOT mentiomed in your response how two attractions that are almost 40 years old can get people to go great distances to get to the theme park.
I'm refering to Pirates and the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Matt Ouimet was quite surprised when he found out that posters of Pirates are used to get people to book vacations at Disneyland from as far away as Seattle, WA.
Aside: Pirates opened in spring 1967 (shortly after Walt's death) and the Mansion in 1969.
Not to mentioned the fact that Disneyland also hosts top attractions like the Matterhorn, It's a small World, Splash Mountain, and (the soon-to-be-reopened) Space Mountain 2.0 doesn't hurt either. (Of course, they can't mentioned the poor Winnie the Pooh ride or the trouble-plagued Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.) And, hopefully, soon the only submarine ride in the world.
From Derek Potter on January 4, 2005 at 7:45 PM
Why in the world does Italian Job have 2 votes? I listed that ride early so that people could talk about it a little bit, not be an idiot and vote.

Anyways...Cedar Point attendance is down. We can say it's the weather...which did have something to do with it, we can say that it's no new coaster...which also had something to do with it. Keep in mind though that Cedar Point has remained at the top of the seasonal heap consistantly without a new coaster every year, so while it's true that they are a big loser of 2004, I wouldn't write them off as being in a downward spiral quite yet. Castaway Bay was a great addition in terms of theming, and getting bumped off of their throne by a park in the same state has probably rattled their cage a little bit. I also believe that Dick Kinzel's replacement will bring some changes to the Cedar Fair model.

Having been to both parks numerous times over the last few years, I've been asking myself Kevin's question for a while now. Why hasn't CP payed attention to the park down south? The only answer I can think of is that PKI's transformation has been so quick. Ever since building the wooden disaster called Son of Beast in 2000, Kings Island has focused on theming and nothing but theming. They have built rides such as Tomb Raider and Delirium, but in 3 years, they have also rethemed 3 rides, performed swan-like plastic surgery on their waterpark, overhauled numerous restaurants throughout the park, and expanded their children's area...all while maintaining the integrity of most of their classic rides like the Racers and the Beast. Quite simply, Kings Island has changed the way it plays the game in the seasonal market. Simply offering something different in amusement park world is enough to generate buzz everywhere, but they aren't just doing it, they are doing it very well.

Cedar Point on the other hand, has stuck with what brought them to the dance, and they have been successful. Robert's observation has some validity, most coasters move the turnstiles for one year. However that isn't the case if you build them good enough. Cedar Point's 15 year old Magnum has given almost 30 million rides. Millennium Force has given about 2 million rides a year since it's opening. The quality of their coasters, along with the way that they operate them has brought them much success. The coaster war hasn't broken Cedar Fair's bank...they still make a handsome profit every year. Six Flags on the other hand....well we all know how it's been for them. I've heard the term coaster "war" used a lot, but it's all about money in the end, not bragging rights. Cedar Point makes lots of money with coasters, but no multimillion dollar business in their right mind would chose bragging rights over money...wait a minute...Six Flags maybe???

I'm so glad to see PKI finally getting the attention that it deserves. It really is a beautiful place and I encourage all who haven't been recently to get there soon. It won't be long before Kings Dominion and Carowinds start to get the same treatment that Kings Island has been getting. When that happens, BGW may be in the same boat that Cedar Point is in right now...The second place boat.

From kyle sussman on January 4, 2005 at 8:24 PM
whats the numbers for disney?
From Kevin Baxter on January 5, 2005 at 1:38 AM
Chuck, I am not thinking of just Virginia, but the whole Richmond/DC/Baltimore area, which has BGW, PKD, Six Flags America, Hersheypark and Dorney Park within about a two-hour drive (basically the radius for a regional park). I don't know how far Carowinds is from Richmond. If it is within two hours of BGW, then it would be a competitor for that park, but not most of the others mentioned.

Mike K, it's amazing to find someone so fond of a theme park can still be realistic about that park. Which is harder to find when that park is Cedar Point. Still, a couple hundred thousand extra guests would not have beaten PKI. I, too, am anxious to see what they do with the Dinosaurs building. I, of course, hope it will be great, but I'm not holding my breath.

Derek, I tend to agree that PKI's theme-a-thon came around quickly, but that's not an excuse for CP to focus more on SFMM than a park that can actually steal customers away. Is a Giant Frisbee supposed to compete with PKI's past three years? And how stoopid is it to be planning yet another height-buster? The higher you make the coaster, the fewer people you have who want to ride it. Which coaster will have a larger audience, a 500-footer or PKI's highly themed Italian Job? In fact, Knott's' Silver Bullet, a not-so-special inverted coaster, will have a far wider audience than the new creation decided by a man with serious inferiority issues.

As for Magnum and how many rides... that's not the point. New coasters drive attendance for one year. People don't suddenly decide to head to CP to ride a fifteen-year-old coaster. People decide to go to CP because they like the experience. Same with PKI. But PKI increased attendance greatly without a coaster. CP cannot.

While we are at it, let's lose two myths right now. One, Six Flags is not losing money. They are heavily in debt, but they are making money, just not as much as they used to. Two, CP has not been "consistently" at the top of the seasonal heap. 2004: PKI won. 2001: PKI won. 2002 & 2003: CP had wins of less than 100K. 2000 was the last year CP decisively beat PKI. Not even close to "consistently."

What irritates me the most about Paramount is their focusing too much on PKI. Yes, it's very important to focus on their most popular park. But Six Flags Marine World has really eaten into their Great America numbers, and they haven't been 1/100th as inventive there. Especially considering how little SFMW has done the past few years. You've conquered CP, move on to Virginia and California now!

From Russell Meyer on January 5, 2005 at 12:44 PM
Carrowinds is almost in South Carolina, south of Charlotte, so it would not compete with BGW. However, the other parks mentioned would, and I think PKD is putting forth a serious and concerted effort to be more competitive with BGW.

PKD has always been a haven for coasters...ACE was founded there and it was the setting for the movie Roller Coaster. When Paramount purchased the park, they made many changes to bring in more elaborate themed rides and attractions including Outer Limits Flight of Fear, Days of Thunder, and Wayne's World. They also threw in other random movie themed areas such as the Bubba Gump Shrip Shack restaurant and the miscelaneous Star Trek displays around the park. However, for whatever reason, the park got away from its movie themeing and went for thrills with Volcano, Hypersonic XLC, and Drop Zone, all of which could have been easily adapted to movie themes to further the guest experience, but that extra $1 million or so was too much at the time. Now Paramount as a whole is going back and realizing the way to compete with the top theme parks in the world is to create a story around their rides to make a complete experience. It's one thing to hop on a roller coaster and be flung around at high speeds and pulse-pounding g's, but it's completely different to experience the same forces and be immersed in a story. The turns and drops feel more exciting and thrilling than just watching the track in front of you. By being a part of a story, a guest feels like they've actually done something, and not just sat in a seat to be flung around. Space Mountain and The Matterhorn would be about as thrilling as Dumbo if not for their elaborate themeing, and Paramount is finally catching on that the extra expense for themeing can propell an attraction to last twice as long as it would without themeing. Thus with the additions of Italian Job, Tomb Raider, and Scooby Doo attractions, Paramount is beginning to stake its claim to be a theme park instead of just an amusement park like Six Flags and Cedar Fair. As far as ignoring Virginia, 3 pretty big attractions (Drop Zone, Scooby Doo, and Tomb Raider) with the last 2 being in Paramount's new themeing philosophy, is a pretty agressive investment. You also need to look at the competition. BGW and SFA, the 2 biggest competitors to PKD have been rather conservative the past few years, so PKD has not needed the same capital investment that PKI has needed to keep pace with Cedar Point.

From Chuck Campbell on January 5, 2005 at 5:08 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Kevin. BGW has another point in its favor: its proximity to both Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. Both, of course, are major tourist attractions (although historical vacations have lost some popularity), and Virginia Beach is the most populous city in the state (425,000+). Promising the kids a day at BGW (and Water Country) and the beach is a pretty fair trade for a few days at Colonial Williamsburg.

I'm hoping that PKD and BGW will push each other to keep improving. DarKastle sounds like a pretty strong answer to PKD's Scooby-Doo dark ride and Tomb Raider spinner. If this goes on, I might be tempted to a PKD season pass, too.

From alex morehouse on January 5, 2005 at 6:15 PM
I read your article, Kevin: IMPRESSIVE.

Cedar Point getting what you call "a giant frisbee" isn't going to lure visitors for years. They need to try some kind of themed entertainment rather than a regular amusement atmosphere (coasters, amusement rides, etc.), even though they have not been known for it.

I also heard that "Kingdom Of The Dinosaurs" at KBF is closing down. I heard rumors that there could be a Sally dark ride or the loading station for a new coaster. I would like to see a Sally dark ride there.

As for PKI, PKD, BGW or BGTB... I can't say anything because I've never been there.

From Derek Potter on January 5, 2005 at 7:04 PM
Maybe I should rephrase a little. When I say consistantly at the top of the heap, that doesn't necessarily mean number one all the time to me. That means that their attendance has been pretty much the same for years while ranking in the top few seasonal parks. PKI's "margin of victory" was about 300,000 this year. Those two parks have traded visitors and position back and forth for years, and this year PKI came out on top. However, I totally agree with you Kevin, I was just offering up a possible explanation. There is no excuse for Cedar Point focusing on SFMM and their coaster count, and now they've gotten themselves into a tight spot because the majority of their money is currently being tied up in other Cedar Fair properties...namely Geauga Lake. Not that this is a bad thing, but MaXair won't do much for attendance at all. As for a 500 footer, I will believe it when I see it. There have been rumors about it, but that is just what they are...rumors. Personally I think that it would be lunacy to do a 500 footer after the Dragster fiasco, and also when there is so much more that could be done around the park for that kind of money. I too am one that thinks Cedar Point should be working on theming concepts. For the kind of money a 500 footer would cost, they could develop a whole themed area.

Another point to consider is this. Up until January of 2004 Cedar Point was competing with a foe that was much closer to them than PKI. They were dealing with Six Flags Worlds of Adventure in Cleveland. Back in 2000, Six Flags added 4 big roller coasters, a waterpark, and a large kids area. In 2001 they bought Sea World and added all of the marine life to the park. We all know what the park ended up as, but when WOA's attendance approached the 3 million mark in 2001, it was a bonafied threat to Cedar Point's immediate marketplace. In those years that PKI was beefing up it's theming, Cedar Point was battling a closer park for attendance. Perhaps that's another reason why Cedar Point chose to build 3 giant coasters in 3 years. Again I am by no means making any excuses for the Point, just offering up possible explanations as to why they've chosen to ignore PKI and build big.

To clarify my point about Six Flags. The value and stock of the company is way way down, as are profits. Are they making money? yea maybe a little, but they are making a whole lot less than they used to and they've gone deeper and deeper into debt with each passing year. While they may still be in the black on paper, they've lost a pile of money in recent years. As far as Paramount focusing on PKI....hey I'm not complaining any (hehehe), but I think that PKI has been a bit of a testing ground. Kings Dominion has been getting more of the treatment PKI has gotten, so I imagine that it would be next in line. As for Great America, they got Boomerang Bay, so Paramount may be poised to invest there, but PGA seems to be low on the totem pole so who knows.

From Justin Smith on January 5, 2005 at 8:41 PM
Actually Alice in Wonderland is less than 50 years old. Sorry about nagging. As for every thing else: no comment because I'm not intrested in parks like Six Flags or Paramount. I'm intrested in Universal and Disney more.
From John Franklin on January 5, 2005 at 8:46 PM
What do you mean that theming would make an attraction last twice as long?
Have you forgotten that the following attractions at Disneyland are approaching the following anniversities:
The Matterhorn (opened 1959)
Space Mountain (opened 1978)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
(opened 1979) 26 YEARS
Pirates of the Caribbean (opened 1967) 38 YEARS
Hunted Mansion (opened 1969)
It's a Small World (opened 1966) 39 Years
Plus throw in attractions like Peter Pan, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Mr. Toad, and the Jungle Cruise which been there for 50 YEARS. (note: I know that the current Peter Pan et al. are the second generation of these attractions rebuilt in 1983).
So, Russell all of these attractions show that highly detailed and themed attractions will last for decades and many generations can enjoy them (and save Disney from constantly changing attractions as well).
Plus to complete the list, you can throw in:
Mad Tea Party about 50 YEARS OLD.
Story Book Canal Boats about 50 years old (and still VERY popular with guests).
Casey Jr. Train about 50 YEARS old.
The Tiki Room about 44 years old.
True, some of these attractions had undergone some changes through the years to bring them up to date.
The rebuilding of Fantasyland allowed Peter Pan, Snow White, Mr. Toad, Dumbo, Mad Tea Party, and Alice to be rebuilt.
The Matterhorn was enclosed around 1977.
The Jungle Cruise had new scenes added in 1977.
And none of the above attractions have been earmarked to be removed or shut down ANY TIME SOON.
So, Russell, when will SFMM and Knott's and other parks learn the lesson that Walt Disney taught the world about 50 years ago?
Namely: if you give people what they want at a fair price and good quality, people
will buy.
And when will Michael Esiner relearn this lesson?
I know that the failure of EuroDisney had a lot to do with Esiner's current outlook about spending money on E Ticket rides. (The Subs are still waiting approval to be reopened while Monsters, Inc. redo of Superstar Lemon has been approved).

From J. Dana on January 6, 2005 at 2:22 AM
Uh...John Franklin, that's EXACTLY the point that Russell is making. He's saying that theming gives attractions MUCH longer shelf lives. So, John Franklin, everything you just said illustrates Russell's point...keep up, dude.
From Kevin Baxter on January 6, 2005 at 4:23 AM
The biggest problem with CP is the fact that it is focusing on ANYONE else. Disney constantly hits creative lowpoints when Eisner focuses on other parks instead of being original. Disney/MGM took over a decade to be a decent park because the whole thing was created to kill USF. Animal Kingdom is STILL half a park because Eisner thought building it would keep people away from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. California Adventure sucks hardcore because Eisner wanted his own Magic Mountain/Knott's park.

About 6 or 7 years ago, Cedar Point had a major reputation. It tended to top most non-Disney park site lists. Then Islands of Adventure came along. Once IOA started topping lists, CP should have quickly realized that hypercoaster after hypercoaster wasn't going to get them back on top. Yes, PKI snuck up on them with their theme-a-rama, but IOA has been wowing for almost 6 years now. There is absolutely no excuse for ignoring them.

From Derek Potter on January 6, 2005 at 5:56 PM
While we are on the subject of Cedar Fair, here's another piece of news. The new partners at Mall of America have foolishly decided not to renew Cedar Fair's management contract for Camp Snoopy. Obviously it's a cost cutting thing, because Camp Snoopy was highly successful under CF's watch. Guess the new owners are going to try their own hand at it.
From Derek Potter on January 6, 2005 at 6:10 PM
Also forgot to mention. PKI is having an open construction tour of the Italian Job coaster on January 14th. Anyone in the area wishing to come, just show up at the employee entrance by 9 am. The marketing dept. will be there to answer questions. I will be attending and will return with a report for everyone.
From Robert Niles on January 6, 2005 at 11:11 PM
Thanks, Derek! If you can take pictures, be sure to send them and I'll include 'em with your report.
From Andy Saito on January 7, 2005 at 11:42 AM
Don't forget that PCW is getting the identical ride as well...and they have lots of recent construction photos online at

The decent weather we have had so far has probably been helping the construction proceed nicely.

From Ben Mills on January 9, 2005 at 5:23 AM thoughts:

What's the deal with interactive shooters in the States? I know both Disney resorts and UO have or are going to have one in each, but have any other chains picked up on the technology? See, they've really become quite the "must-have" attraction in Europe, along with my beloved Mad Houses. They're not a great deal expensive, and pull in a helluva lot of repeat riders, trying to best their scores.

Most importantly to this discussion, they're something that everyone enjoys. Not just teens, not just little kids, not just adults, but everyone. If Tussauds can muster the courage to build two relatively well themed installations, I don't see why Six Flags, Cedar Fair or Busch could be against throwing a few million down on one, even if it's an off-the-shelfer.

And Mad Houses don't even cost much more than restaurants! What is with you people?

From Chuck Campbell on January 9, 2005 at 8:50 AM
Good point regarding "Madhouses," Ben. I've always thought that Disney should've included some sort of high-tech funhouse in the Paradise Pier section of DCA. I have rather fond memories of the old, classic funhouse at Santa Cruz Boardwalk, with its spinning barrel and varnished, wooden super slide.

Unfortunately, these sort of attractions seem passe in the states. "Walkthroughs" seem to be the kiss of death on this site, too.

From steve lee on January 9, 2005 at 9:57 AM
Ben, in response to your question about shooters, Paramount has the Scooby Doo Haunted Mansions - they're not on par with Buzz or Men in Black, but they're fairly popular on their own.
From Ryan Traylor on January 9, 2005 at 3:59 PM
I got it! Let's all toss in a few pennies of our own and buy out SF and CF and then change them for the better.

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