Busch Tampa positions itself against Animal Kingdom

Posted Monday, June 7, 2004 11:44 AM | Contributed by supermandl

Busch Gardens Tampa is trying to capture some of the Disney magic and reverse three years of sagging attendance at a time when Disney's competing animal theme park near Orlando, Animal Kingdom, is not experiencing attendance declines.

Read more from The Tampa Tribune.

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Monday, June 7, 2004 1:33 PM
I thought that Animal Kingdom has experienced attendance declines each and every year since it opened?
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Monday, June 7, 2004 4:45 PM
While I certainly have NO complaint with getting a new ride, I think BGT more than any other "park" in FL needs a better ATTITUDE toward their employees and their guests...

The indifference in Tampa is only rivalled by that at Boomers!, and that's pretty sad considering what an awesome park BGT could (and should) be.

Then again, perhaps I got spoiled in San Antonio and Arlington (TX), but those are two parks I can't wait to get back to...the attitude and enthusiasm of the staff at those parks was *contagious*, and I mean that in the best way possible...:)

Busch might be well-served to remember they're in the HOSPITALITY industry first and foremost...the rest, as they say, is GRAVY...;)

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Monday, June 7, 2004 4:48 PM
That's the one thing I don't get about BGT. The park is beautiful with amazing attractions, yet has the hands down the worst staff of any of the Florida themers.
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Monday, June 7, 2004 5:48 PM
Rob, the last report I read (I forgot where) showed that AK attendance had flatlined the last 2 or 3 years.
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Monday, June 7, 2004 5:56 PM
Amazing attractions? really? two excellent coasters and one good coaster. The problem with Busch (my new home park btw) is that they really dont have that much to do as far as good rides- I LOVE Kumba, and Montu- and I think Gwazi is good, but what else? The sarangetti plain is just ok- as is the Tanganika Tidal wave- but lets face it- thats about it- They have held a monopoly for rides for a long while, and it shows -now that they have real competition, they are exposing the fact that they have been a little cheap on the rides side of things- come on Python? Congo River Rapids? and don't get me started on Rhino Rally- a true disaster.

Why do they have to try and copy disney anyway? Katonga? please. Im not saying I need a hypercoaster- IOA doesnt have one, and I would prefer to go there any day over Busch. Its just that Bush needs to build quality rides that are fun- This new dive coaster could be a real mess if they try and rely on making it a theme experience instead of a thrilling experience- Kumba and Montu work because they are excellent coasters, they have very little theme- and if Busch would build a few more exciting coasters like those two, they would be able to compete very easily with Disney- and anywhere else for that matter

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Monday, June 7, 2004 6:10 PM
If you're judging on rides, AK can't touch BGT. I don't get your comparison.
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Monday, June 7, 2004 6:50 PM
Gator: At least at Boomers the people were nice even though they were indifferent. At BGT they are indifferent and rarely friendly.
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Monday, June 7, 2004 8:30 PM
Busch might want to concentrate more on rides- forget broadway musicals, and rhino rally- thats disney stuff- if they built a cool new coaster every couple years- theyre attendance would'nt be sagging. Get rid of python, and rhrino rally, dont spend a fortune on a show. My point is that really Busch doesnt do rides or animals really well. Theyre just ok at both.

I think they could concentrate on building better rides- more consistantly (a la- Cedar Point), and let Disney produce the shows, and have the "magic".

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Monday, June 7, 2004 9:03 PM
Tigers, that sounds like the old Six Flags plan, and you know where it got them, Since they sorta did a 160 (not completely a 180) with staff, etc. it's been better to visit. I had fun at SFMM without there being a new ride, just because the people were a little friendlier. Rides bring you in, a hospitable staff keeps you coming back
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Monday, June 7, 2004 9:14 PM
I think this whole thing is stupidos! even though I have no regrets to each park1
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Monday, June 7, 2004 9:29 PM
If they want to improve customer relations, one thing they should do is get rid of their stupid loose article policy where someone stands at the entrance to the coaster and scrutinizes everything on you that may be considered a loose article (even if it isn't loose). If you have any said loose articles on you and you want to ride, they make you PAY to use a locker, conveniently located ride at the ride's entrance. My wife and I have had this happen to us a couple of times and it feels like such a scam. Now I realize that some other parks probably do this too, but when your in direct competition with parks that don't do this (IOA offers free lockers for a limited time), getting rid of this policy could go a long way in helping improve the park's image and getting guests to come back. *** This post was edited by Pale Rider 6/7/2004 9:30:53 PM ***
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Monday, June 7, 2004 10:33 PM
What exactly have you been turned away for?
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Monday, June 7, 2004 11:25 PM
Jeff,

I've been turned away from Montu for a having a very small, zippered camera case that was secured through a loop by my belt. My wife was turned away from Gwazi for having a small wallet that is on strap and slung cross ways across her chest. When we ride, she usually stuffs it into one of your side pockets to secure it. I wouldn't call either loose but I guess they do and they make the call. In the case of my camera case, I showed the guy how it was secured, tugged on it to show him, and offered for him to do the same. He wanted no part of it and just pointed to the lockers. Now in the case of my camera, maybe they thought that even though it was secured, I was maybe going to try and use it. If thats their loose article policy, then fine. My problem is them seemingly making an ultimatum to you to either pay for a locker or dont' ride. Especially when most parks (including BGW) have spots for loose articles in the station and others offer free lockers. Both episodes really left a sour taste in my mouth.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 12:02 AM
I had the same issue Pale Rider. I have absolutely no qualms about a "no items" policy, but forcing people to pay for a locker to store items as the only alternative is a really cheap and rude moneymaking tactic. Use IOA's free locker system, or provide a suitable storage area for items in the station is how it should be done.

I had a camera that I was putting into my zipper pocket just as I walked through the entrance and was insisted to pay for a locker before I could ride. I would probably have thought fair enough, a bit crooked of them, but whatever, had it not been for the girl's incredibly rude attitude when she told me.

And of course the ironic part is that you're left with a key, which is no more or less a loose item than the camera I just payed $0.50 or whatever to store (obviously, the price isn't the issue here).

Anyway...

Six Flags' problem with their "built it and they will come" philosophy was that they were doing at the expense of customer support. I say without any hesistation that Busch Gardens is the worst major park in Orlando (never mind that it's an hour away). They tried to beat Animal Kingdom - Rhino Rally - and ultimately failed. They were leading the thrill ride market until Islands of Adventure came along. All they need is a few more seriously decent thrill rides and they'll claim that back from IOA in a matter of years (IOA's hardly in a position to expand, so I can't see too much retaliation from them). Make them look nice and fit in with the African theme of the place, but don't go overboard and try to do a Disney or you'll end up with Journey to Atlantis again (decent ride, but the less said about the "storyline" the better).

And duh, give the customer service a much needed bump and you'll actually look decent in comparison to what Orlando has to offer.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 2:29 AM
I just got back from a Florida trip.

And let me say that people at Boomer's made BGT seem like they were having the times of the lives. I don't know of any park employees that seemed as depressed an indifferent than those at Boomers Dania Beach. I think I saw a rock smile more than they did.

Personally, I didn't find BGT that bad...actually quite nice. Now it is NO WHERE even close to awesome like BGW, but it's a great park.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 7:43 AM
Yeah...that's the question that I've always had with BGT. How can the operations at BGT be so mediocre, when BGW's, at least the last time I went, seem damn near perfect? Maybe I was just lucky but my day about a year ago at BGW, people were friendly, rides were run well, and I never ran into any sort of policy that interrupted my plans. Really close to a perfect day there, and considering the size and amount of attractions at your average park, that sort of thing is becoming rarer and rarer.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 8:09 AM
That "six flags philosophy" was doomed because they were trying to compete with established ride parks (again Cedar Point). This is my point exactly- why would they try to do the SAME thing in order to compete? I would bet any amount of money- that if Disney would have purchased Geauga Lake, destroyed most of the coasters, and did thier "magic" schtick- they would have given CP a serious run for thier money. Now obviously that is an extreme example. Why does Busch seem so intent on trying to do what disney does, instead of doing what they are capable of doing?

All you have to do is look at BGW - that park is awsome. Why did BGT get Python- when BGW got Loch Ness?

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 10:07 AM
ummm ya all i have to say all the disney parks together has like what 4 or 5 coasters bgt beats that

im done

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Tuesday, June 8, 2004 10:51 AM
The ONE thing that made Boomers! ops even WORSE than those at BGT....was when I saw an op RIDING the coaster from the ready brakes to the station by STANDING on the hitch between the cars. I nearly fainted, I could not BELEIVE the MASSIVE stupidity there. If he had slipped on a *greasy* coupling, the train woulda just run his butt over, no question about it.

As far as Python, just look at the year it was installed...sure it gets no ridership, and I personally don't care to ride it, but I guess I can understand the park keeping it (esp. since I have no choice in the matter, LOL).

But when it comes to operations and policies, there really is NO excuse...the GM from BGW could come down and turn BGT into a gold mine, IMO. A lot of you seem to think you caught BGT on a "particularly bad day"....my question is this: how do SO many people roll snake-eyes?

There ARE better rides at BGT than at ANY other park in the state, there's almost no question about it...bring the level of "GUEST satisfaction" to that same level, and they'd be turning people away due to crowds just like the Mouse has to do....

I should mention that despite my *complaints*, I still go at least 3-4 times a year and have a great time...:)

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