Arbors and water fountains

Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:45 AM

As our group was walking around Fiesta Texas in the abysmal Labr Day heat, trying to stay cool, wet, and shaded, a few REALLY nice amenities came to mind again.

One, SFFT, like SFStL and SFoG has those extremely nice shaded arbors (Carowinds has at least one as well). Put some benches in there, and it's a wonderful place to take a break and relax, to wait on friends who are riding or in restrooms, or just to sit down and have a snack. Benches + shade = love, esp. considering the extreme heat we face during the summer months.

Second, water fountains - not all parks are great about having them, functioning, in abundance, and with COOL (or even cold) water. Important to keep guests hydrated, no one likes to visit First Aid.

Three, fans. keep them running, on high, and use the misting fans where appropriate and available - esp. use the misting versions in queues when standing still in the hot sun.

Parks can easily add/adapt these, and keep their guests safer, happier, and more comfortable. Hospitality!

P.S. On a related note - be a smart guest. Go to the park early, stay until 2 or so in the afternoon when it's hot and crowded, and hit the hotel room/pool for some nice nice AC and quiet time to recharge. Come back at 6 or so, and you're well-rested, recharrged, and ready to enjoy a cooler evening at the park when lines are getting shorter.

Last edited by rollergator, Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:45 AM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:57 AM

Are you saying that SFFT lacked in these amenities?

Comfort is pretty important when on a vacation or mini vacation. I like your suggestion to go back to the hotel to recharge in the middle of the day.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:05 PM

Quite the opposite - bathrooms were plentiful and clean, the water fountains were COLD, and the arbor that ran alongside the railroad/rapids ride was chock FULL of families. The arbors are something EVERY park should have these days, and can build at relatively low expense (plus, the flowers small nice, which at, say, Carowinds, was esp. nice since it was situated next to a restroom).

So many times I visit a park and water fountains are hard to find, inoperable, or "room temp" - not a great thing on a 100* day...

Last edited by rollergator, Thursday, September 5, 2013 1:34 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:44 PM

Lack of queue shade is my biggest complaint about GateKeeper (and Raptor for that matter). They have a relatively small section of the queue covered, and on my visits, it's been the section of queue they open last.

Regardless of whether or not it's open, you spend the majority of your wait baking (and in my case, burning) in the sun. I get that there's really no measurable ROI on providing guest comfort, but it seems like such a silly thing to skimp on when building a $25 million dollar attraction.

Last edited by djDaemon, Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:48 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 1:09 PM

^ Heh, I had typed up a post about Raptor's queue but decided not to post it. I guess I will now. :)

We were noticing that the other day: When Raptor gets a line, why not open that section beneath the transfer track first, instead of that breezeless hotbox over toward Blue Streak?

I do think there's some money to be made on keeping guests cool and hydrated on hot days, though. Will Koch used to talk about how much they saved on First Aid and ambulance costs once they started giving away beverages.

Plus, non-exhausted guests are likely to stay at the park longer, increasing chances of shopping and buying dinner. Although I suppose one could argue that a heat-exhausted guest will spend more time in stores just to enjoy the air conditioning... (Wasn't there an old rumor about some park covering midways with blacktop to increase daytime heat and thus soda sales?)

Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:04 PM

Yea. While reading the replies here, I got to wondering if providing less comfort encouraged people to buy more drinks and stroll into the gift shops more.

What other benefits would a park have to keep people hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable?

What are some other ways a park could add to the comfort of their guests besides providing plentiful shade, cold water fountains, and misting fans?

Park guests spend many long hours outdoors, exposed to the weather, hot, cold, or rainy. I would love for the park management people reading this topic to review this issue at their park and see if they could give it some attention.

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:04 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:09 PM

LostKause said:

What other benefits would a park have to keep people hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable?


Not that I agree, but I suspect the cost of installing, caring for, staffing and maintaining such amentities is an issue on the spreadsheets.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:14 PM

That's what I was thinking. Not enough benefit for the cost.

I mean, it's clear that they understand that guests prefer to be comfortable, otherwise they wouldn't go to the trouble of installing any shade/cooling stuff in the first place. But it seems they stop at "meh, good enough to look like we care" in many cases.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:16 PM

Wow. Travis, I think it's time for an intervention.

People have some crazy conspiracy theories, but most of them involve things that would actually matter/be life changing. Parks could start putting up more shades, and people would scream because they weren't getting a tan, and they felt like they were spending their day in a tent instead of outside.

Trees can be planted, but they take time to grow, and importing a full grown tree isn't easy, or cheap.

Coaster fans are on both sides of the aisle on the types of pavement used - some say concrete is too bright and reflects the sun back up at you, making you too hot. Others say the blacktop absorbs heat and makes people hotter. Personally, if you're outside in the summer, it feels like you're outside in the summer. I don't think they're intentionally cranking up the heat to sell more drinks.

Soda is far from the most hydrating beverage out there, and it could cause dehydration in large amounts combined with that. So, I really, really doubt they employ tricks to make you drink more of it. Not only is it unethical, it's also unsafe.

Now, as far as selling foods that make you want to have something to drink with them (or, in the case of some bars giving away nuts and pretzels), that's a completely different story that I find nothing wrong with. People choose to partake in the salty foods, but they don't choose to be cooked in a blacktop oven.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:37 PM

Talk to Birdhombre, Josh. I was just replying to his post just above mine.

And what makes the salty food at the bars theory more crazy sounding than providing less shade theory? They sell bottles of water right in the long queues. If they know people are going to be thirsty anyways, why not give them just a little less shade to sell more water?

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:39 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:37 PM

The main stream sodas (ie the stuff they sell at parks) are not dehydrating. They are mildly hydrating, as the caffeine is so dilute that you drink more water in then you will urinate out from ingesting the caffeine. Add in the fact that the park dilutes the soda more (with loads of ice) and you actually end up quite ahead, providing you drink and/or eat the ice as well.

Energy drinks and coffee are a different story. They are much more potent sources of caffeine (the caffeine in one cup of coffee is equal to 5x the amount of caffeine in a can of soda.)

I have also completely avoided talking about the other electrolytes in the fluids, as that is way more complicated to explain but the take home point is soda is not the best thing to hydrate with on a hot day, but it does hydrate you, not dehydrate you.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 4:49 PM

djDaemon said:

That's what I was thinking. Not enough benefit for the cost.

This is where you have to "get freaky" - Freakonomics rears it blessed little head once again. What exactly IS the nebulous "benefit" to having happier guests? How can that be counted, tallied, incorporated into your spreadsheets? It's been my position for the last 46 years (or thereabouts, LOL) that most stuff that can't be readily counted is either ignored, miscounted, inappropriately "dis-counted."

If you could get to the point of what it's REALLY worth (not what people might say if asked, but the reality of their actions in light of various scenarios) - then you would likely find that the cost of some mesh-tarp awnings over the queues is really quite small in proportion to the benefit.

Just thinking about the top of Blastenhoff Tower last weekend, and how many people danced around or stood in the shaded areas of the queue because the concrete was SO hot. Made me happy Jill insisted on me bringing water-shoes. (NB: There is some shade from tarps, but the line-ropes are not set up in a way that makes it easy for staff to "herd" guests to those shaded areas while they wait in line.) Again, Da Bahn is da that place like crazy. But everyone can improve...

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:03 PM

I haven't been to Disney in a long time, but one of the best (For lack of a better term) Mini-side-attractions was that walk-through fountain at EPCOT. Kids were having a blast getting hit with alternating sprays while cooling off.

I'd love to see more of those around different parks.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:20 PM

rollergator said:...then you would likely find that the cost of some mesh-tarp awnings over the queues is really quite small in proportion to the benefit.

I tend to agree with this. Though, in that sense the benefit is so obscure that it might as well not exist for CP. They don't seem to "get it" on the same level as, say, Disney. Then again, Disney can better afford to throw cash at esoteric stuff like this.

Last edited by djDaemon, Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:21 PM
Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:21 PM

LostKause said:

Talk to Birdhombre, Josh. I was just replying to his post just above mine.

OK, I wasn't suggesting park managers actually think like this though, or that they would try to find ways to make guests more uncomfortable... I was sort of playing devil's advocate to my previous sentence. Just to clarify.

I tend to be more with Gator that parks should have a vested interest in making customers happy, even if it's difficult to track monetarily. That seems to be something Ouimet has been trying to implement since he came to Cedar Fair. Cedar Point is becoming increasingly fun to visit at night, with something as simple as strings of lights all over buildings and rotating shadow gobos on the midway.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:26 PM

^I also think this is also an effect of the Halloween events becoming so darn popular. While I love the mazes and such, really the main reason I go is for the extended night riding and the awesome atmosphere the parks have. Ive convinced so many of my friends that were not all that excited about going through a haunted house to come along with the atmosphere argument (The sun sets at 7pm, and the park is open until midnight and oh yeah they use a #*$load of theatrical fog to blanket the midways.)

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:43 PM

Everything is a conspiracy. Making money is bad. War is good. INGSOC.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 5:57 PM

Making money is not bad, and things like this are not necessarily conspiracies. I would probably call them trade secrets.

Movie theater popcorn has an ingredient in it that gives it the popcorn smell. It is designed to permeate the air.

Many things produced these days are not made to last, so that people have to buy another one sooner. "They just don't make thing like they used to".

Do frozen food makers put chemicals in food to make you hungry soon after eating, so you will want more? Yes I watched a clip online somewhere in which the people who design natural and artificial flavors said that when a company asks for a flavor, they want one that will make the person eating it crave it, and want more. They want them to eat more of their product. Of course they do.

I could go on and on and on. It's not crazy to think that any business wants to figure out what to do to make more money. Josh said himself that free nuts and pretzels increase drink sales at bars. Why wouldn't a business look for ways to increase sales?

Thursday, September 5, 2013 6:06 PM

You know what's in popcorn to make it smell like popcorn? Um, popcorn.

I worked at a movie theater for quite some time when I was 17 or so, and I can tell you, it's bags of dried popping corn, cooked in coconut oil with salt.

Now, there's a fan in the top of the machine that helps move the scent out into the air, but it's not some kind of chemical additive.

Thursday, September 5, 2013 6:09 PM

Oh, and free nuts/pretzels at bars makes sense, because a bar's primary business model is selling what? drinks. That's how they remain in business. An amusement park? Not so much.


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