As we all know the 80s and 90s were a coaster renissance that harkens back to the golden age of the twenties, but has that era ended?
While new coaster constuction has slowed in the 2000s most of us have assumed that it was just a tempoary stop while the country bounced back from 9/11. However of the 6 major chains (Six Flags, Cedarfair, Busch, Paramount, Universal and Disney) one has been sold (Paramount) one is on the selling block (Universal) and one is activly talking of selling/closing a bunch of parks (Six Flags.) Could this be a sign that the industry is on the verge of colapse on scale with what happend in the 30s/40s?
But wasn't The Depression responsible for what happened back then?
But to answer you, I would say no. The industry is simply evolving. When things go through a period of evolution it warrants drastic changes. These changes I believe you are viewing as a demise. There is no demise going on.
It wasnt caused by the Depression, people stopped going to parks because they didnt have free money to spend and then during WWII people were in no mood to go to parks. I think some of these issues are starting to face the industry again (but not as severe.)
I may have overstated demise, but I think that we may be on the verge of a major deduction in parks across the country. A bunch of small family owned parks are on the verge of foreclosure as well and you certainly dont here about many new parks being built.
The big coaster emphasis in the foreseeable future is likely to involve wooden coasters. Small parks can afford them and some bigger parks could use more of them. I don't believe that GG and other wooden coaster builders have anything to worry about.
The industry is changing. After the age of huge regional theme parks, I think the next big thing is going to be smaller local parks and regional parks that are less overwhelming. The wood coaster is going to play a big part as exceptional wood coasters can be had for a lot less money than merely decent steel coasters.
Remember, when a park like Astroworld closes, another opportunity appears for something else.
I think right now is a prime time for some minor-leauge player to come out and start growing. Blackstone Group, Herschend Family Entertainment, Kennycorp, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, or maybe even Holiday World in a few years. It's prime time now for someone to step up and start buying (SFEG/DL, maybe a few other SF assets, for example).
I think we may go into a recession with amusement parks but by no means do I see a depression in the coaster world anytime soon. It is historically a fact that ever time there is an empire it falls eventually. Well maybe some of these major them epark chains have outlived their time and some new cains will spring up. Nothing last forever. I agree with Dorney that the parks are simply evolving, it's nothing to worry about, in fact i think this will improve the industry in the long run.
I certainly don't see small parks going away. Look, BB, HW, Mt. Olympus, and Dollywood for example, all had enough money to buy coasters (and GREAT ones at that). Sure wood coasters are cheaper than their steel counterparts, but they are still a large investment none the less, especially for smaller parks. Look at it this way, Dollywood is expanding, Holiday World is expanding, the small parks have good, non-corporate, ideas and they are headed the right direction. Not to say that corperate ownership is bad, I just think small, family operated parks do things better.
And even large parks are not doing bad. I mean it's not like the paramount parks got sold and leveled. If anything, I would say the Paramount Parks are being born again. I think it is good the Paramount sold the parks because when you have your mind on too many things (movies, music, theme parks) and you are so caught up on making money, and ONLY making money, then you begin to go down hill as far as trying to operate an amusement park is concerned.
It just appears that amusement parks are headed in a new direct; a direction of change, and change is good. *** Edited 6/23/2006 6:44:34 PM UTC by DragsterForce***
2006 is probably the best year for new coasters since 2000, IMO.
2007 looks fine as well. The only real change I see in the coaster trends is the possibility of Six Flags slowing down on building new coasters, and frankly, my world never revolved around SF to begin with, so I really don't think much is going to change.
There's no reason to be fatalistic about any of this. The rapid nature of coaster building from around 1994 to 2000 was an anomaly. Until something dramatically changes, there will be no reason for major parks to build a huge coaster in consecutive years like many did. So it goes. *** Edited 6/23/2006 6:45:40 PM UTC by matt.***
^My problem is not with coaster building slowdown, its with parks closing. 6 Six Flags parks, family parks (ex. Santa's Village) and even the Universal Parks are in danger of being closed, when in recent years have we had so many parks been in danger of shutting down?
Coaster building comes in cycles, I know that, but when a park closes it closes forever.
The Universal Parks are in danger of being closed?
Is there a source for that?
And Santa's Village closing is not really a sign of some sort of trend. Several family parks have been on the bubble for quite some time now. Its not some sort of sudden development, IMO. *** Edited 6/23/2006 6:55:39 PM UTC by matt.***
NBC is looking to unload the Universal Parks (IOA Central) and anytime a park is on the selling blocks there is a possiblity for closure. However I agree the chance is low, assuming NBC lets them keep the rights to their characters.
As for other parks, LeSourdsville Lake, Kiddieland, and Conneaut Lake Park (a mainstay on this list.)
In other words, Conneaut has been on the verge of closing for a long, long time. Same with LeSourdsville. Elswhere in the country, small to medium sized parks have been thriving.
I think its important to look at this all as a case by case basis. All of these parks are in unique markets with unique populations run by unique teams. I hardly think Conneaut's problems really spell danger for the rest of the group.
No. This is not the end of the silver age of roller coasters. I don't buy in to the concept of there even being a Silver Age, or Gold, Platinum, Bronze, or Pewter. Are we to discount the breakthroughs of years earlier than Millennium Force? There was Big Bad Wolf, there was Loch Ness Monster, there was Drachen Fire, there was Revolution, there have always been breakthroughs of some form. As someone else has already noted, availability of financial resources impacts how quickly things are purchased and installed, ... are we saying something about the US Economy? I'm sorry but I haven't grasped the point of this topic.
- J *** Edited 6/23/2006 7:27:59 PM UTC by ErinGoBraugh***