James Rao

Published: August 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Fun and funny stuff as usual, Jeff. Thanks for taking top billing on the Blog Flume away from that one family's oh-so-boring Ohio trip report.

Herschend buying BGW would be huge. The park would fit right in with SDC and Dollywood and as a season Passholder to SDC, I would get half price admission to the Williamsburg park. Terrific!

Jeff Elliott

Published: August 27, 2014 at 11:13 AM

I had a couple more comments about the Comcast/SeaWorld thingie...but we were running a little long...

So in case you were interested...

One of the problems that SeaWorld has had is the identity crisis trying to figure out if it is an amusement park, a highly detailed theme park, or a zoo. Comcast would solve that problem very quickly and in a matter of years would have UniversalSea set up as a highly detailed theme park.

A huge win for Comcast would be the SeaWorld park in San Antonio. This is an underutilized market that has plenty of land around it and no competition from the Mouse. Just putting in a parking garage at SeaWorld would allow the expansion of the park to put in a new Islands of Adventure park along with a Harry Potter Land feeding the middle of the United States. There is a Six Flags park nearby but a highly themed park with Harry Potter could bury Six Flags Fiesta Texas in a short amount of time. From where I live, I would much rather go to San Antonio (even though it is in Texas) instead of Los Angeles or Orlando. With the original Schlitterbahns nearby, this would make San Antonio the emerging market of the theme park industry.

Another huge win would be the Sesame Street IP. The kiddy lands at the Universal parks are aging poorly and while the Dr Seuss area is wonderful, an immersive Sesame Street environment would be probably the only other evergreen children’s IP and exactly what the company has been looking for. Overseas, Universal has the IP rights to The Street, so it already has some rides that could be cloned in the United States for fractions of what it would cost to build something new from scratch. Even Sesame Place in Pennsylvania could be kept as a boutique park with new rides cloned from the other larger parks.

Published: August 27, 2014 at 11:21 AM

It is Six Flags Great America's 40th season. Opened in 1976, marking its first season. Therefore, 1985 was its 10th season. Meaning 2015 will be its 40th. Who knows what it'll include.

Published: August 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Also, it will be "Justice League: Battle for Metropolis" and not Batman themed from what was leaked. Maison Rouge may also end up being a dark ride.
Court E

Published: August 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Ha, who were all those people saying a few weeks ago SeaWorld wasn't in trouble when they announced the new Orca habitats? Blackfish just ripped and tarnished this companies reputation with a super effective smear campaign, and they did nothing to combat it other than offering some discounts and tweeting some hyperlinks. I guess they thought this controversy over the animals well being would pass over? SeaWorld just didn't handle any of this very well, and could have done a lot more at the time to win back public opinion.

Here are your Captain Hindsight ideas: Acknowledge that the Orcas captured were done so in distasteful methods. Suggesting that the current Orcas were captive animals and not fit to survive or be rehabilitated to the wild. Pulling the shows and trainers and focusing on an aquarium type exhibit. Releasing the blue sky plans to improve orca habitats much sooner. Providing a larger sum of money and effort into conservation and rehabilitation of injured aquatic animals. Give the dads and moms enough free beer to forget about the controversy... Lots and lots of beer.

The animal rights movement is a scary one. They aren't easy to win against.

Tim Chatlos

Published: August 27, 2014 at 11:54 AM

I completely agree that Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Herschend would be a perfect match. BGW has always been neck-and-neck with Dollywood and Silver Dollar City as my favorite regional theme park. I'd love to see what Herschend could do if given the chance in Virginia.
James Trexen

Published: August 27, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Rookie mistake Jeff: Batman's home is Gotham. Superman resides in Metropolis. Must I quiz you where Aquaman lives? :)

On a serious note, if anything, the ride will probably have something to do with the upcoming Batman v Superman movie. With comic book fans pummeling it left and right, it's going to need all the marketing help it can get.

Anon Mouse

Published: August 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

The Shamu shows are a big draw. I still love them. Without the Orcas, the parks have no marquee attractions. It would be like Disneyland have no Mickey Mouse. Certainly, they could convert the park into a DisneySea type park instead so it will be like Animal Kingdom with maybe 25% animals and 75% rides and attractions. There still isn't much of a major attraction.

I do think having trainers in the tank with Shamu to be irrelevant. It isn't that important. The park's attendance hasn't dropped that much, but it could be better.

SeaWorld definitely needs to have a buyout to take the park private to save itself from the Wall Street vultures. This takes a lot of money and much litigation. I have no fear for SeaWorld if Comcast wants to buy it, but it needs strong management to keep the course with Shamu. Save the Killer Whales.

BTW: Changing the name to UniversalSea is lame and worse as a marketing scheme to erase Blackfish. SeaWorld is fine as it is.

Russell Meyer

Published: August 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM

I agree. Sea World is not as crippled as Blackfish supporters and conspiracy theorists seem to think it is or want it to be. The park has demonstrated that it can put on a great Orca show without putting trainers in the water, and their strong financial commitment to renovating the habitats should be viewed as a big up yours to the blackmailers over at PETA and the dishonest Blackfish supporters.

Has the chain made some missteps in the wake of the scandal, yes. Were they financially hurt as a result of the inaccuracies and misrepresentations presented in Blackfish, yes. Should the park have fought harder against the documentarians more focused on a gold statuette than presenting an objective look at the Orca captivity, absolutely. But they didn't, and it's too late now to try to clean up the mess that Blackfish created. They have also focused too much on bottom line attendance instead of per-cap spending, which resulted in a slight dip in revenue during the 2Q14. The chain has been honest and up front with investors as to what caused the dip, despite slight attendance growth, and instead of blaming it on the weather, like Six Flags and Cedar Fair love to do, they looked in the mirror. Instead of pulling in the reigns, which many parks tend to do with declining revenue, it triggered a huge investment. People seem to forget that their most profitable park is caught in the crossfire of the biggest theme park war in history as Disney and Universal are poised to continue to fire volleys back and forth at each other for the next decade or more. Sea World has been able to maintain attendance without any new attractions, despite the opening of Diagon Alley and New Fantasyland. Sure, the park didn't increase as investors would like, but it is holding steady as a sideshow to the massive battle for Orlando supremacy.

I think the park model (50% animal attractions/50% rides) can survive in this market, but they appear to be a bit rudderless in terms of vision as a company. Blackfish damaged their reputation and mission as a vehicle for conservation, and perhaps a renewed focus on that may help. They could use a strong CEO to lead the company through this recovery, and I don't think getting snatched up will save their park model. The only advantage of being bought would to eliminate the unhelpful influence on the parks from parties that have ulterior motives. They need to focus on the older crowd, and appeal to guests that are willing to open their wallets for more exclusive experiences, like Discovery Cove and Up-Close Tours. Partnerships should be forged with local upscale resorts and conventions to bring in bigger spenders, instead of trying to appeal to locals and value-conscious tourists.

Rob Pastor

Published: August 27, 2014 at 1:44 PM

Yes,I agree that Herschend would be a good match for BGW. Blackstone has been running it like a Six Flags. It's my thought that Herschend could restore BGW to the glorious "Theme Park" that it was when run by AB.

Published: August 27, 2014 at 3:59 PM

I really wish Magic Mountain would do something with their entrance plaza and the entrance gate; the whole entrance area in general is aged and really sets the tone for the rest of the park. In my opinion the drab theme is carried throughout the entire park. I know this is an extreme park, but the lack of caring for aesthetically pleasing design just irks me and is one of the reasons why I am dissapointed when I go there.

It's too bad Hurricane Harbor is in between Colossus and the entry, it would have been amazing to create the same truss work entrance with the supports of Twisted Colossus.

Anthony Murphy

Published: August 27, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Interesting news out of SFGA

Season passes (with parking) are $62 for this weekend.

Published: August 28, 2014 at 12:24 AM

I'm aware of SeaWorld parks being located in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego... and Busch Gardens parks being located in Tampa and Williamsburg.

I too like the idea of Herschend Family Entertainment (owner of Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, & Wild Adventures) acquiring BGW, but not sure what BGW would be renamed as. Another possible buyer I could picture, if Herschend doesn't get BGW... CNL Lifestyle Properties (owner of Herschend-operated Darien Lake, Premier Parks operated Elitch Gardens and Frontier City, and Amusement Management Partners' Magic Springs & Crystal Falls).

Also like the idea of Six Flags acquiring BGTB, which I believe would be huge... and could already picture it getting "Six Flags Tampa Bay" name. And like the idea of Universal Theme Parks acquiring SWSA. The fate of SWO and SWSD would remain to be seen.

I'm looking forward to Six Flags 2015 announcement. I figured SFMM and SFNE wood coasters Colossus and Cyclone, respectively, would likely be in line to receive RMC transformations. Not sure what to make of Larson Super Loops ride that a couple of Six Flags parks are to receive. I would prefer SFGADV getting GCI wood coaster to make up for Rolling Thunder's departure... or SFGADV getting something along the lines of X-Flight, X-2, or Full Throttle. I believe SFSTL and SFOT are getting DC Comics themed dark ride/SFX coaster. Great Escape is long overdue for new coaster. I'm hoping that SFGAM could receive either 242ft tall SkyScreamer, or a Tsunami Soaker/Aqua Twist, or maybe both as part of proposed 40 Seasons celebration.

Anthony Murphy

Published: August 28, 2014 at 4:34 AM

DING DING DING! You were correct sir for SFGA.

Off year for us! Kind of a "year of a million dreams" thing going on!

Oh well, Goliath is awesome!