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Derek Potter

Cedar Fair says goodbye to Nickelodeon

Published: August 29, 2009 at 8:32 PM

It would appear that Cedar Fair is saying goodbye to Nickelodeon sooner rather than later.

Canada's Wonderland, Kings Dominion, Great America, and now Kings Island have all announced that Planet Snoopy will be coming in 2010, marking the end of Nickelodeon's stay in the former Paramount Parks. While still a sort of rumor, Nickelodeon appears to be moving forward with Southern Star amusements in a partnership at the now closed Six Flags Jazzland site in New Orleans.

I don't know if there were any negotiations, but the only reason I can come up with for this dissolution is money. Nickelodeon is one of the most relevant child franchises out there, and was always one of the biggest draws for all of the old Paramount parks, and they probably know that. I know that Cedar Fair's current business model (albeit successful) seems to contain an utter refusal to develop themed areas and rides, and that in order to maximize the potential of Nick, those attractions must be built.

In the end, I don't think that either party will benefit from this move. While Cedar Fair seems to have the confidence in them, it's now up to the somewhat disconnected, aging Peanuts to fill the large shoes of Dora, Spongebob, and the other Nick characters at the Cedar Fair parks. Meanwhile, Nickelodeon loses it's national theme park presence and if the rumors are true, will toil in the small obscure market of New Orleans with a reportedly undersized budget. I have a feeling that both companies will revisit their decisions and think that perhaps they should have stuck together.

Ever heard of Nintendo, Cedar Fair?

Replies (14)

SC Todbear

Published: August 29, 2009 at 8:38 PM

Carowinds has also announced Snoopy is coming and I for one am very excited. I know a lot of people that do NOT like Nick and are so thrilled to see it leave the parks. Maybe now the parks will get back to having characters that have moral standards that are obvious. But on the other hand I do agree that CF should do themeing, it really does make a difference in the amount of time a person spends in a park and revisits that park. This is especially true in the smaller parks that get cookie cutter rides and smaller thrill rides.
Robert Niles
Editor

Published: August 29, 2009 at 9:57 PM

I think it should be quite clear that theme parks are not a significant part of Viacom's corporate strategy. If they were, the company wouldn't have unloaded the Paramount Parks in the first place.

Viacom gave Cedar Fair a couple years with Nick to help get the park sale deal done. After that, Viacom wanted its properties out of the parks.

Viacom management doesn't get the cash-cow, cross-promotional potential of theme parks and has shown no sign of wanting to learn. If they did, they would have stayed in the business, then bought the Busch parks when they became available, giving them the all-important Orlando and SoCal presence that they'd lacked. As well as a park management team that could have challenged Disney/ABC and Universal/NBC across the country for visitor loyalty.

Brandon S

Published: August 29, 2009 at 11:11 PM

This is sad, but it was inevitable. People who are excited to see Snoopy coming to their park need to realize that it won't be that great. The Peanuts will not have the same presence as the Nick characters did. I will assure you of that. You will hardly ever see Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Woodstock, etc. walking around hugging kids and taking pictures with them, at least not as much as the Nick characters were out and about. As for getting a renewed license with Viacom, that would have most likely cost Cedar Fair a fortune. This is a very bad thing, and may ultimatly cost Kings Island the Golden Ticket for Best Childrens Area, which is a very big marketing tool.
David Kirby

Published: August 29, 2009 at 11:20 PM

As you've mentioned, the Peanuts are becoming so irrelevant. These are characters that do not appeal to kids. This seems like a stupid move for both parties.
Robert Niles
Editor

Published: August 29, 2009 at 11:26 PM

There hasn't been a new Peanuts strip since Schulz died nine years ago, and per his request, no new strips or shows based on new content will ever be produced.

Given that that means that there has not been and will not be any new Peanuts content produced during the entire lifetimes of all the new Camp Snoopys' target audiences, yeah, I'd agree that this is not the franchise around which to build a kids' area.

It's a franchise around which to build an aging baby boomer manager's concept of what a kids' area should be.

James Rao
Writer

Published: August 30, 2009 at 4:21 AM

I loved the Peanuts stuff when I was a kid, but the characters are almost completely unknown to my kids. My daughter, who hugs every character she sees at a Disney park, is actually scared of Snoopy when she sees him at Worlds of Fun. So much so that she makes me scout ahead and make sure the costumed characters are not out and about before proceeding into the Camp Snoopy area of the park.

Now, Nintendo, that would be a huge success with my kids.
Andy Guinigundo

Published: August 30, 2009 at 5:54 AM

It's been quite a few years since I've been to Cedar Point. In fact, I think it was when Top Thrill Dragster opened - 2003. We dropped the kids off at Grandma's in Cleveland and drove on over to visit the "Roller Coast". This was before I was a theme park writer, but I distinctly remember noticing the lack of theme especially in the kids area not only in the rides dept, but in everything - t-shirts, other assorted Peanuts toys. We struggled to find a baby-sized Snoopy t-shirt. All emphasis was on those coasters (as a new dad, I didn't mind that so much).

I am dreading this here in my hometown Kings Island, namely because it has always been a well-themed area. I remember Hanna-Barbara land as a kid. There was the Scooby-Doo roller coaster and the Smurfs Enchanted Voyage. The parking lanes were names after characters - who could forget their car was parked in Wilma Flintsonte Row 3? My kids have grown up with the Nick area. I don't believe that "growth" in the kids area was necessary, only maintenance. Heck, there are 3 coasters in the area including the rare kid's suspended coaster. But, I fear we're bracing for a decline.

Don't think kid theming is important? I know this mouse...

98.122.22.237

Published: August 30, 2009 at 6:51 AM

The park at the Mall of American is totally Nickelodeon themed, so they aren't totally out of the parks.
James Koehl
Writer

Published: August 30, 2009 at 7:34 AM

Ok, break out the pitchforks and torches again. My kids love Camp Snoopy, Planet Snoopy, Snoopy on Ice, etc. at CP. They are now 14 and 10, and still enjoy spending time in Camp Snoopy, and when they were littler we always had to watch the shows in the outdoor stage of Camp Snoopy. We never had problems finding Peanuts-themed items, but CP doesn't flood every shop in the park with them- they are usually much more plentiful in the shops in the children-themed areas. Just because CP doesn't have hidden Snoopys all over the park, and didn't rebuild the Ballroom as Snoopy's doghouse doesn't mean they don't know how to theme. Camp Snoopy is a wonderful area, beautifully landscaped and designed and loaded with rides for kids of all ages. Snoopy and the other Peanuts characters don't usually wander around the park- if you want to see them, you know where to find them- in Camp Snoopy and Planet Snoopy. I've seen lots of kids and adults line up to hug and get pictures with Snoopy. Not everyone is fond of him- not everyone is fond of Micky Mouse, either. My wife made me promise her that I would let her know if I saw a Disney character approaching her at WDW, because she really doesn't like costumed characters coming up to her. There are lots of pictures of kids crying on Santa's lap- should he be replaced with the Nick character dejour? Not every park has to be Disney!
Rod Whitenack

Published: August 30, 2009 at 8:55 AM

Hey, is it too late to change it to the World of Sid & Marty Krofft? I want to see kids hugging H.R. Pufnstuf when I go to King's Island! I want to ride the Lidsville spinning hats and run through Dr. Shrinker's play area. I can't wait for the Bigfoot and Wildboy musical extravaganza. That's what kids today will enjoy.
Derek Potter

Published: August 30, 2009 at 11:34 AM

I don't have anything against Snoopy and the Peanuts. I grew up watching them...even though my kids haven't The issue isn't necessarily that the kids won't like the Peanuts. The kids will learn to like Snoopy eventually, but the departure of Nickelodeon leaves some huge shoes to fill. The fanbase of Kings Island contains just as many families with children as it does thrillseekers, whereas a park like Cedar Point caters almost exclusively to thrillseekers, and the kids areas seem almost like an afterthought. They can get away with Camp Snoopy at Cedar Point because most people don't go to Cedar Point for Camp Snoopy. They come to go high and fast. At Kings Island, a large portion of their customers were families that came for Nickelodeon Universe. There were days that you couldn't move in Nick Universe, yet other areas of the park were only marginally busy.

One of the best features of the old Paramount parks was the quality (and huge draw) of their children's area. Anyone who has been to Kings Island (Paramount and before Paramount) has seen a kids area that's vibrant in color, has characters everywhere, a parade, and rides that aren't all necessarily themed, but at least all give reference to the characters in their name and appearance. Cedar Point's Camp Snoopy has nowhere near the look of Nick Universe, and doesn't generate the same kind of excitement with kids because frankly the only time they see Snoopy is when they go to the park. If Cedar Fair learned a thing or two from the Nick parks about designing a kids area and they follow the example that Kings Island set, they may be able to make up for the shortcomings of the franchise they are using. If they come in, strip everything down, and take the minimalist approach, they run the risk of losing some business from the large family fanbase that has developed as a result of the Nick brand and KI's ability to package it in an amusement park. They won't sell as much food, drink, and merchandise

The question is, how will the large family market that Kings Island has collected over the years respond to a drastic change in appearance and perhaps quality as well? Granted, Cedar Fair probably had little choice in the matter when it came to keeping Nickelodeon. Customers however, really don't care about why Nick is gone. They only care that it's gone. They also care about at the very least maintaining the standards that have been set, be it with or without Nickelodeon. If they can deliver the goods with the Peanuts with a good design, they they will do great because the fans will respond and adapt. If they do a half-arsed job with the design, the family business that made a ton of money for the park will be a shell of it's former self.

Don't let me down Kings Island. My kids loved Nick Universe. My family will be back with me at least once next year. The question is, how many times will they return with me next year?

Adam Clinard

Published: August 30, 2009 at 3:28 PM

I think it will be a great change of scenery. Nickelodeon has been at these parks for many years, and now it is simply time for a change! However, as I read that someone said on CarowindsConnection.com that scenery does not change the ride....Kids will get the same ride, just with a newly painted up-do! I love Nickelodeon, however, many of the rides are themed after shows that are not on Nick any more! The Rugrats, Wild Thornberries, Hey Arnold.....etc....now many of the cartoons on TV are just plain crap! Not to go off on a rant, but think of it....when I was younger, the Flintstones and the Jetsons and Snoopy were big and violence in schools was nearly unheard of......now look at the cartoons....Pokemon, and all of those other violent cartoons.....not that a TV should play babysitter....but anywho, it is time for a change and I look forward to something fresh and NEW!!!
Jeff Elliott
Writer

Published: August 31, 2009 at 7:26 AM

The problem with theming to a current childen's channel stable of characters is that by the time the contracts get signed and the attractions built, the shows are nearing the end of their lifecycles.

The only sets of characters to buck this trend are the Disney characters (taken), and the classic Warner Brothers characters (taken). Even the Hanna Barbara characters are aging poorly (except for Scooby Doo who should have buried long ago if not for those meddling kids). Other than those, you are down to only specific shows that have enough staying power to stick around (Seseme Street (taken), Thomas the Tank Engine (taken), SpongeBob (taken), ...

I think Derek nailed this one from the beginning. What other stable of characters have been around for 15+ years and is still popular? Well, that would be the Nintendo characters: Mario, Luigi, Sonic, Yoshi, Bowser and their compadres. A kids area themed to this group would be good because the characters will maintain their popularity for many years.

Although take this another step further...why not sign a deal with a different video game publisher like EA or Ubisoft? Ubisoft would bring Tomb Raider, Prince of Persia, the Rabbids, Assassin's Creed, Petz, and the Tom Clancy games. EA would bring Rock Band, Command & Conquer, Sims, Spore, as well as their stable of EA Sports products.

You would think that if you went with a video game publisher, they would be much more willing to keep up the theming of a land in order to keep an audience focused on their latest and greatest. In fact, I could see a really good kiddieland themed to either Rock Band or Guitar Hero...not that those games are really focused on that age group...but it might work...maybe a Tweenland would be better for this idea...? Or maybe just buy these properties for the adults...I would personnally ride the Teacups again if it was themed to Guitar Hero or Brutal Legend...

The fact of the matter is that if you don't have Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, you are going to need to refresh occasionally. At least with Cedar Fair they are going with a long term solution by taking on a classic character that won't need to be refreshed any more now than in 20 years...

91.185.30.126

Published: September 1, 2009 at 9:19 PM

I love Nickelodeon very much!!!!!
and a lot of people too!! not only kids!

and i hate some new cartoons there///;(((((((((((

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