A small rant about park operations.

Thursday, June 8, 2000 5:12 PM
At the risk of offending people, I think that there's an issue that needs to be addressed. It's an issue that normally isn't a large problem, but has come into sharp relief with the problems that both CP and PKI are having with their flagship rides (PKI, obviously, much more severely then CP).

It's the issue of ride maintaince-park operations-customer communication.

This year, I've been seeing a pattern whenever a ride, especially a large ride such as MF or SoB, has to be adjusted or goes DDM. Park maintainence is called to work on the ride, but once they diagnose the problem, they communicate it to noone save for park management. The information, to quote a park ops manager at CP, is "classified" and kept local between the ride and management. Operations is entirely left out of the loop, as are the line workers (queue, Guest Relations) that have to deal with irate guests. Nothing gets communicated to the customer, so they cannot make a clear judgement on a ride.

At the worst case, this results in situations like the eight-hour nightmare at Son of Beast a couple weekends ago, waiting for it to open from major maintainence.

What should the parks do? Well, obviously, there's a PR element to this. Most of the GP have not the slightest clue what sort of maintainence and adjustment goes into a major coaster. They'd be likely to panic or blow a gasket if the park was TOO open. BUT -- once a problem was diagnosed as either major or just standard-maintainence (such as MF's wheelset swaps), the park could at least give people an inkling of how long the ride/train/etc might take to come up. This is a controversial opinion, I know, but if it's major maintainence and adjustment, the park should simply disband the line until the ride's approaching opening. That would allow to people ride other things without worrying about possibly losing their only chance to ride should it come up late. If they still wanted to hang around and wa琀 ⴀⴀ 眀攀氀氀Ⰰ 琀栀愀琀✀猀 琀栀攀椀爀 挀栀漀椀挀攀Ⰰ 戀甀琀 愀琀 氀攀愀猀琀 椀琀✀猀 愀渀 䤀一䘀伀刀䴀䔀䐀 挀栀漀椀挀攀⸀  㰀戀爀㸀਀㰀戀爀㸀਀伀渀 琀栀攀 漀琀栀攀爀 栀愀渀搀Ⰰ 椀昀 椀琀✀猀 猀琀愀渀搀愀爀搀 洀愀椀渀琀愀椀渀攀渀挀攀 漀渀氀礀Ⰰ 琀栀攀 瀀愀爀欀 匀䠀伀唀䰀䐀 欀渀漀眀 愀戀漀甀琀 栀漀眀 氀漀渀最 椀琀 眀椀氀氀 琀愀欀攀 琀漀 挀漀洀瀀氀攀琀攀Ⰰ 愀渀搀 最椀瘀攀 瀀攀漀瀀氀攀 愀 瘀攀爀礀 爀漀甀最栀Ⰰ 戀愀氀氀瀀愀爀欀 昀椀最甀爀攀⸀  䤀昀 漀琀栀攀爀 瀀爀漀戀氀攀洀猀 搀攀瘀攀氀漀瀀Ⰰ 漀昀 挀漀甀爀猀攀Ⰰ 琀栀愀琀 戀愀氀氀瀀愀爀欀 昀椀最甀爀攀 洀愀礀 戀攀 瀀爀漀瘀攀渀 眀爀漀渀最Ⰰ 戀甀琀 愀琀 氀攀愀猀琀 椀琀✀猀 匀伀䴀䔀 椀渀昀漀爀洀愀琀椀漀渀⸀㰀戀爀㸀਀㰀戀爀㸀਀∀䤀 搀漀渀✀琀 欀渀漀眀∀ 椀猀 猀漀洀攀琀椀洀攀猀 愀 爀攀愀氀椀琀礀 眀栀攀渀 戀椀最Ⰰ 攀砀琀爀攀洀攀氀礀 挀漀洀瀀氀攀砀 洀愀挀栀椀渀攀爀礀 搀攀瘀攀氀漀瀀猀 最爀攀洀氀椀渀猀Ⰰ 戀甀琀 瀀愀爀欀猀 愀爀攀 最攀琀琀椀渀最 眀愀礀 琀漀漀 搀椀猀椀渀最攀渀甀漀甀猀 ⴀⴀ 攀瘀攀渀 最氀椀戀 ⴀⴀ 眀椀琀栀 猀瀀漀甀琀椀渀最 琀栀愀琀 漀昀昀 琀漀 琀栀攀 䜀倀⸀  倀䬀䤀 椀猀 琀栀攀 眀漀爀猀琀 漀昀昀攀渀搀攀爀Ⰰ 戀甀琀 洀漀猀琀 瀀愀爀欀猀 䤀✀瘀攀 戀攀攀渀 琀漀 愀氀猀漀 栀愀瘀攀 琀栀愀琀 瀀漀氀椀挀礀 椀渀 瀀氀愀挀攀⸀ഀ਀ഀ਀ഀ਀ ⨀⨀⨀ 吀栀椀猀 瀀漀猀琀 眀愀猀 攀搀椀琀攀搀 戀礀 䄀爀挀栀吀攀爀礀砀 漀渀 㘀⼀㠀⼀㈀   ⸀ ⨀⨀⨀
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Thursday, June 8, 2000 5:53 PM
I agee 100%. I was one of the unlucky few that waited the 8 hours for SOB to open. They should have at least said what was going on. All they came up with was,"It may not be open for a while. We don't know how long until the problem is fixed, BLAH BLAH BLAH." They should have came out and said our guys are doing some major modifications and we expect it to take a few hours longer. Or even gave out tickets to return for your ride after it opens. Like tickets 1 -100 be here between 1 and 2 for your ride. Although it was nice of PKI to had out free sodas after we rode SOB. They didn't have to do that.

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Parks hit for 2000!
PKD,BGW,Knoebels,Dorney,Hershey,PKI,HW,SFKK,SFA, Camden
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Thursday, June 8, 2000 6:40 PM
I hate to sound mean-spirited, coasterpunk, but where were they at 2-4pm? Selling those same sodas to the nearly six-hour-old line at $3 a pop.

They didn't have to do that, but it was very much a too little, too late gesture as far as I am concerned. My friends and I waited nearly the entire eight hours...one of whom was on a single day admission...and got nothing from PKI.

Still, it's off-topic to my original post. Sonny's just the most extreme example of the pattern...there are many others. *** This post was edited by ArchTeryx on 6/8/2000. ***
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Thursday, June 8, 2000 6:58 PM
In away though it was kinda our own faults for waiting. The did come around and sugest riding other things untill the "problem" was fixed. We personally figured we drove from central PA to ride so we might as well wait to ride. Our friends were from Richmond, VA and they thought the same thing. Who knows how often SOB will be running this year. I imangine next season SOB will have trim brakes galore like its father. At least we can say we rode it unbraked. We were on like the 5th train out when it finally started to run so we did kinda get on quickly. ;) We managed to salvage the rest of the day at PKI though we rode all the coasters except OLFOF and King Cobra.

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Parks hit for 2000!
PKD,BGW,Knoebels,Dorney,Hershey,PKI,HW,SFKK,SFA, Camden
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Thursday, June 8, 2000 7:08 PM
ArchTeryx, I think you really answered your own question. The "GP" doesn't understand things, so when you tell them the real reason behind a problem, they would interpret it as a safety issue.

For example, if you told someone that MF was down because of a bad wheel, it wouldn't be unreasonable for them to assume that it could be disasterous. We know better, but you can't expect them to know the difference between John Q. Guest and one of us.

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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Friday, June 9, 2000 4:47 AM
To carry on what Jeff said, from the park's perspective there is no difference between John Q. Guest and one of us. Remember, enthusiasts are just a subset of the GP; a fact many enthusiasts forget way too often. Granted we know more about coasters and rides than the average park goer, but that doesn't mean the park should tell us everything. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

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Scott W. Short
sshort@mediaone.net
http://welcome.to/midwestcoastercentral
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Friday, June 9, 2000 4:54 AM
Yes, but there are compromises a park can make that allows guests an informed choice -- especially if they actively seek it out, as opposed to just waiting passively in line -- and not expose the park to liability. That was part of the point of that overly long editorial.

How can you tell between an enthusiast and the GP? The GP either waits passively in line or -- if they are more informed -- go to Guest Relations and yell. An enthusiast will ask to speak to a park ops manager and try to get the information from someone "in the know". Trouble is, even they aren't told anything by maintainence.

And sometimes that policy has a wonderful chance of backfiring in their faces. Yesterday, while the GP was being stonewalled about the reasons MF was only running a single train in the morning, maintainence was CLEARLY visible on the transfer track, both from the line and from the railroad, changing wheelsets. Why keep something classified if it is in plain sight? SOMEONE besides an enthusiast is bound to notice.
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Friday, June 9, 2000 5:57 AM
If I were a park manager, I also would not tell the GP *EXACTLY* what was going on. That would give rise to too many questions, many of which would have an answer than most non-engineers wouldnt understand. I would however shut the ride down completely and disband the line. In addition, posting a sign near the queue entrance as to the approximate re-opening time would be the right thing to do. As for the free sodas thing, I think I might have taken that as a condesending act (after an 8 hr wait, I would be living up to my name). I might be inclined to take that cool frosty beverage...shine it up real nice...turn that son-beast sideways and (well you know the rest =])
lata
the hostyl one
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Friday, June 9, 2000 6:44 AM
Do you encounter the same enthusiasts I do? I'll come out and say what Scott said politely, a lot of enthusiasts are idiots toward park employees. Not only that, but many will try to dazzle the crowd with their knowledge. Makes you wanna barf.

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Jeff
Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com
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Friday, June 9, 2000 7:26 AM
Good point, Jeff. I admit that I've not had to deal with too many Coaster Bobs, but they are certainly out there.

I also admit to a little of the latter myself, but mostly, when I tell a ride-partner or my queue neighbors about the ins and outs of a ride, it's for educational purposes. If I find members of the GP that AREN'T idiots, and ARE interested in the mechanics, it's fun to give them some info.

I've also turned several friends into coaster enthusiasts -- including people that previously broke out in cold sweats at the sight of a Beastie or Woodstock Express. Educating them in the rides' ins and outs -- and how safe they truly are -- helped them lose their fear. Now THAT'S gratifying. :)
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