Why coasters boost attendance at some parks but not at others?

Edited: June 25, 2019, 10:52 PM

After hearing rumours that the CGA expansion is delayed cause the RMC raptor didn't boost attendance like they hoped. Got me to wondering why some parks coasters draw people to the park but at other parks it fails to bring in many people.

I have heard that Kings Island didn't get much of a boost for Mystic Timbers or Banshee. Look at Cedar Point, they add in one of the best coasters in Steel Vengeance, and it didn't do much to draw people in.

Then you look at a park like Wonderland and Leviathan boosting attendance. Carowinds had a big boost after adding Fury 325.

Why is it that coasters draw at some parks but not at others?

Replies (3)

June 25, 2019, 3:24 AM

Demographics come into play: Toronto and the Sun Belt have been considered high growth areas over the past decade hence why Cedar Fair has been putting so much money into those parks. Same could be said for Texas. Northern California on the other hand has seen population growth stall because of the affordable housing crisis. Cleveland has seen population decline over the past few decades.

Also don't under estimate the in park experience and how it can affect attendance as well. I will definitely not be returning to Cedar Point anytime soon because my last several visits there were crap.

June 25, 2019, 7:29 AM

It really comes down to markets and demographics as the_man has noted. Parks have come to realize that the serious roller coaster enthusiasts make up a very small percentage of their fanbase, even for big coaster parks like SFMM and Cedar Point. Those that go out of their way every year to take a roller coaster trip or plan to visit the newest coasters every year are a very small group. A new roller coaster (even a record breaking one) is not going to draw all of the coaster fans, particularly those that may have visited that park recently (most rotate their trips to hit different geographical areas each year). That's especially true at parks that already have massive collections of top-ranked coasters. If you've been to a given park in the past 1-2 years, a new roller coaster is not going to get you to alter your schedule to go to a different part of the country/world.

Then there's the regions. As the_man has noted, a lot of the parks that possess world class roller coaster collections have rather stable population bases in those regions (and in the case of Cedar Point, perhaps a slowly declining population). In those cases, the coasters are not necessarily made to boost attendance, but to maintain attendance. While these regional parks have a relatively stable and somewhat loyal fanbase, there is always turnover from year to year. In order to hold onto the fans that they have, these parks need to keep providing new products. It doesn't necessarily have to be a record breaking roller coaster, but anything that is unique to the area that can give long-time fans a reason to return to the parks for the new season. If these parks ever stop churning out new products, their fans will slowly turn to alternative forms of entertainment (other theme parks or other activities altogether).

When all is said and done, the regional theme park business is not one of rapid growth. Attendance is fluid, and does tend to gravitate towards parks that add new, unique attractions. However, there's not a lot of room there for parks to grab 10+% annual growth without dramatically increasing their operational calendar or investing hundreds of millions of dollars (like Disney and Universal). Regional parks simply don't have that type of capital to invest, so they are smartly keeping their parks refreshed to maintain their current fanbase while strategically steering investments to the regional markets that are growing faster than others.

Edited: June 25, 2019, 9:14 AM

If the rumours are to be believed, that CP is not putting in a new coaster for its 150th, the lessons learnt from SV may be beginning to resonant across the regional park universe. Yes, Kings Island is getting the giga in 2020, but that would have been decided years ago. Has Cedar Fair started to go the conservative approach and take a step back from providing more record breaking rides, to one that follows more along the lines of the Orlando parks? The demographics are certainly changing, and are we at the tipping point where people are getting more and more blah about larger than life coasters and want more of a Disney/Universal experience even at the regional parks ? SWE has seemingly singled out the 2 Busch parks for the new thrill/extreme coasters next year, but just how well will the Gwazi redo be received at BGT by the vast majority of the tourists that visit the park.

Has the RMC bubble burst … ?

Has Universal’s Hagrid ride now set the standard that others will have to follow, if coasters are still to be the main reason people visit a theme park …. ?

Is the age of bigger, faster, taller a thing of the past …. ?

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