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Theme Park Insider's 2011 Year In Review - June

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Published: December 29, 2011 at 7:47 PM
Note: The editor of these articles has insisted that I make the soon to be obvious point that while there may be some real news in here, the key to these articles is a sense of humor. While your own recollection of these stories may be a little different than what is presented below, your recollection is quite possibly closer to truth. While it was requested that I keep to the facts, I realized quite quickly in this process that 1) Who needs facts when made up stuff is much fun to write and 2) Scribbling incoherent thoughts is very calming.

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June, the month where instead of making announcements or building things, those of us theme park geeks can actually get off the couch and make an appearance out our favorite theme park before heading home and deriding it in a public forum on the internet for the perceived lack of quality and attention to detail. Since we are all out there doing instead of speculating or reporting, there is very little going on this month.

The captain has turned off the no-fooling-around sign. Please feel from to move about the cabin and fool around to the greatest extent of your abilities. Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. And if a window gets broken again while we are at altitude, I am going to be very upset….again…...

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Theme Park Insider's Year In Review – June

Nothing helps you deal with the current press of visitors like looking at last year's attendance figures. This month, the TEA/AECOM Global Attractions Report was released that showed anything even remotely associated with Harry Potter garnered huge attendance gains even if the attraction wasn't at that specific park. Anything associated with Disney held fairly steady at the top of the food chain. And everything associated with Killer Whales and Sea Lions, dropped off sharply. What we can extrapolate from this report is that SeaWorld needs to dump the whole sea creature thing and start building attractions based on pimply faced kids that know how to shake their wands, and, no, Perry Otter and the six foot mice is not going to cut it. What is also interesting is that among the seasonal parks, Cedar Fair is standing tall well above the Six Flags parks, which of course happens when every single Six Flags park has the same exact rides. You know, now that I am looking at the figures a second time, what I find is that the parks with major fires in the last year are the ones that did the best, so therefore a good conclusion would be to build attractions with tissue paper, purchase motors that heat up excessively, use poor and low grade electrical wiring, and the old standby of free matches for kids.

Cedar Fair – Matt Ouimet, the savior of the Disney parks, was hired by Cedar Fair to take over leadership duties after Dick Kinzel was caught trying to load the free gift hyper-toaster into the back of his pickup truck. When the executives questioned him about it, Mr. Kinzel stated that he had ordered an additional 27 WindSeekers in order to get another free hyper-toaster to replace the one he was taking. The police were called. The additional WindSeeker orders were cancelled. Now a Disney guy is in charge of a company that prides itself on not being Disney. Within days of being hired, Matt Ouimet was seen strolling through the different parks in the chain, muttering under his breath, “What the %^&%$*^ am I going to do with this %$^&%$*^ mess??”

Kentucky Kingdom – Here is a trivia question for you. If Walt Disney were to suddenly show up alive in the mid 1980's and say, “Hrrmmm, I don't think this is being run according to the original plan, let me fix it up for you and get this thing back on track,” would you A) Welcome him back with open arms B) Wonder why he is alive and call the National Enquirer C) Let him spend $5 million of his own money to fix up the parks, or D) Kick him to the curb because you know far more than he does, even though you are running the thing into the ground? Well, Kentucky Kingdom, that had been closed since Six Flags had dumped and walked away from the park, did C & D to the original creator of Kentucky Kingdom. Unwilling to spend the money that it would take to get a return on their investment, the municipality that owns the site kicked Ed Hart to the curb after he had already spend close to $5 million of his own money securing the site and working toward getting it reopened. You should have been there; the look on the commission's faces was priceless when they found out that Ed Hart then turned around and sued them to get his money back. Let's hope that Ed Hart takes over one of the other standing but not operating parks, like Ghost Town in the Sky, Hard Rock Park, or Six Flags New Orleans. In fact he would make much more sense than putting a Disney guy in charge of Cedar Fair…hint hint….

Disney's California Adventure – They promised us it was only temporary. They promised us that it would go away eventually. They promised us that it would be replaced by something up to traditional Disney standards. They lied to us. This month, Goofy's Sky School opened, replacing Mulholland Madness with a coat of paint and a couple of signs. Seems to me with that kind of mindset, they should have just left the Timon and Pumba parking lot as it was.

Six Flags Magic Mountain – Since I had the report open, I checked out an interesting fact. All of the amusement parks that have the most rides actually have the highest attendance of among the non-themed parks. But nowhere on the list is Six Flags Magic Mountain, even though it is tied for most roller coasters. Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Great America are on the list down at the bottom, which is interesting because both of these are seasonal parks whereas Magic Mountain stays open year round on weekends. So with that many roller coasters and that many extra days in its season, you would expect it to be a higher attendance park, but it is not. To make matters worse, Magic Mountain this month opened Green Lantern, the first ZacSpin roller coaster in the country, with an hourly guest capacity of about 10 people. I don't know about you, but I would only plan to go back to Magic Mountain after someone else was running the park. How about Bernie Madoff? Or Keith Richards? Or Robert Niles?

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So there you have it: June. If you don't remember the month like I do, please set a monkey-boy straight in the discussion below.

All monkey pictures have been lovingly borrowed from the amazing artist Frank Cho and his long deceased comic strip Liberty Meadows. Monkeys were harmed during the production of this article, but they really enjoyed… trust me….

Readers' Opinions

From Tracy Bates on December 29, 2011 at 9:54 PM
Six Flags Magic Mountain should have put something in Green Lantern to make you spin. Depending on the weight, you just go back and forth, and that really blows after spending a couple of hours in line. (That, and it throws your full body weight into that bar across your chest almost cracking your ribs.) At least X2 forces the car to rotate. (That ride was equally uncomfortable to me, but for different reasons.) I'll stick with Cedar Point for big coasters, or Busch Gardens Tampa for coasters and animal experiences.

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