Y'know, is it me or are amusement parks going for more themed attractions? You've got Mummy, Tower of Terror, Busch Gardens Williamsburgh new attraction, etc, etc, etc...
Is this a trend the amusement industry is going through? Much like 1990's when building higher faster roller coasters was the thing to do? Or is this just something that'll die out in like 2-3 years.
I've got to admit though, nothing's better then rides that the whole family can ride together. Not saying this Italian Job Stunt Ride is a family ride, but it'd be more incline to get a family of 4 on it. Unlike a Top Thrill Dragster, Storm Runner, Golitah, etc...
Are we seeing a shift of the times in the amusement industry? Or is this nothing more then a brief occurance? With the high, fast, white-knuckle thrill rides coming back faster then a train load of riders blowing through an overbanked turn?
Part of this may have something to do with family rides, but I think Paramount has decided competing directly with the Six Flagses and Cedar Points doesn't work and is trying to transform itself into more of a themed experience. The Scooby Doo shooters and Tomb Raider have probably done much more for their parks than any other rides. PGA got the first flying coaster IN THE WORLD and it has already been removed from the park! I think this is an intelligent business decision and Paramount should keep on this track for the next decade.
I for one think that this is a good move, at least for Kings Island. They are pretty much considered the flagship park, and there is a lot of competition around. Ohio and it's surrounding states have about 13 major park operations and a countless number of smaller parks all battling for attendance. Out of all of them, PKI is really the only one that is heavily pursuing the theming route. Since it is a seasonal operation, I wouldn't look for them to spend money on theming on the scale of Universal or Disney, but they are paying a large amount of attention to theming, which has separated them a little from Cedar Point and the other thrill parks and has given them a different product to push...not necessarily a better product, but a different experience than CP and it's peers. In other words, it doesn't really compete with Cedar Point as much as it used to. In a way, the parks actually compliment each other. What Cedar Point lacks, PKI is providing, and what PKI lacks, Cedar Point has. That's good news for us in Ohio. I know quite a few people who have season passes to both places, and I know even more who make the journey to both parks at least once a year.
As for the rest of the Paramount Parks, I guess that it all comes down to the market place. PKD and Carowinds seem to be starting the same treatment that PKI started a few years ago. There isn't quite as much regional competition in Virginia and Carolina, so on what scale they theme remains to be seen. As for Great America, who knows? They are in California, home to many theme parks. Will they try to directly compete with Disney and others?, or will they not. One thing is for sure, if they plan to compete with the California theme parks, than they better throw a lot more money towards Great America.
I was at Kings Dominion last week and was really surprised with how much more theming they have as opposed to Carowinds. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that PKD is in a competitive market with BGW, but if this is a sign of things to come for Paramount, then I may actually go renew that Season Pass after all...
(oh, and if you want a dramatic theming comparison, compare the Scooby Doo attraction at Carowinds with the one at PKD - the theming is so much better at PKD, it almost cancels out the fact that the ride itself is pretty much a "meh.")
But, yeah, I'm still kicking myself anyway.
But wow, I can actually fill in some of the blanks on this little discussion! You wanna know what it is that's caused this change of heart?
Yup, that braindead busta-box of theme park bankruptcy is one of the reasons that Paramount decided to pursue the themed route back home. The Spanish park is one of the finest themed parks in the continent. And it's this element of the park that guests love. From customer feedback they've been recieving since they bought the park, they've noticed that theming something makes the guests more relaxed. End result? Guests complain less, spend longer in the park, and the three key words that make park execuitives light up like a novelty Christmas decoration...
THEY SPEND MORE!
Sure, you get the odd remark that there isn't enough for teenagers to do there. And in the open-all-hours resort of Benidorm, that has about as much impact on business as a Disney park with no rides for kids. That's why profits are currently in the pan, with things only beginning to point upwards when they added Tizona, an impressive SLC. But for families? Sorted. They seem quite content to throw vast amounts of money at buying up the sort of crap souvenirs that you'd probably even have trouble moving in Disneyland.
All that from one attraction with a helicopter and a couple explosions? Maybe not, but it gets the structure set up for developing the imagination factor, and from there it becomes a whole lot easier.
Some unofficial stats. The ride manufacturer looks to be Premier Rides. It will be located where the antique cars are now. Where they move them or if they keep them, I don't know. The trains are mini coopers with onboard audio effects. The launch speed is still fuzzy, but there are a couple of numbers out there, with the highest being 64 mph in about 4 seconds. Lots of special effects are being planned, one of which is a shooting helicopter that triggers explosions around the cars. Others are driving through a billboard, through tunnels, down stairs, and a splashdown at the end. This is by far their most ambitious theming project to date, and probably a sign of things to come in the future.
PGA has had major problems ever since SF bought Marine World several years back. PGA's only competition was the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which wasn't much competitionwise. SFMW has kicked its ass ever since. Part of the problem is that people can get SPs for either PGA or for SFMW and the two WaterWorld parks, which are located in the East Bay and Sacramento, for the same price. That added benefit - not to mention three superior coasters, animals and free access to SFMM down I-5 and Paramount was out of luck.
Even weirder for PGA, SFMW is kind of themed too. Some areas aren't anything to brag about, but the animal areas carried over their nice African theming. So should PGA theme up its park to compete better? It's hard to tell since they've only themed the kiddie area (which is superb) and the new water park. (Apparently the water park is supposed to compete with SFMW and its WaterWorlds.) They haven't gotten any of the recent themed rides here, though an online survey asks specifically about the Scooby Doo shooters. There is actually talk of a SpongeBob dark ride too. Themed rides are still better than the crappy coasters they tend to get. I think two themed B&M coasters would really help them in their fight with SFMW.