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.
Not much to add to the conversation but.... I like BGT in terms of steel coasters and landscaping. However, the last time I was there I was actually able to get a MONEY refund for 4 due to poor operations. I remember telling the Guest Services manager that the County Fair Ferris Wheel loaded faster than the 2 vehicles they had operating on Rhino Rally did that day. He actually took my dare to walk back from the front of the park to RR in an attempt to prove me wrong (about the 2 vehicles which he claimed they were running more). When all was said and done he had to apologize and refund the money. RR was just a small portion of the problem that day, but a big part of what I remember.
I too cannot see why there is such a big difference between Williamsburg and Tampa. Obviously there is either a local management issue or scenario that makes parallel operations impossible at the different locations.
BGT's first mistake was building Gwazi. I enjoy the ride, but it is a maintenance nightmare and is difficult to market. Coming off two major steel installations and competing with IOA's opening, it didn't stand a chance. The next mistake was Rhino Rally. While I think BGT was trying to build a ride that appealed to everyone, it fell severely short in execution and marketing. Then, things got really bad. The park realized its last two major installations were flops, and decided that without a new coaster coming, their only hope was to cut costs. Thus, we started to see 1 train operation on the big three along with many other frustrating decisions. But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I'd like to believe that BGT's philosophy (which I'm not sure I agree with) was that IOA was incapable of being defeated, so BGT would just lay low for a while and cut costs while they're at it. This new coaster I'm sure will be a huge boost for them and then we'll probably see the staff and operations return to form. Although it has gone downhill, I still think it's a good park and is starting to turn around (Katonga and Cheetah Chase).
As for the comments about Boomers, that is too bad. I live not too far from the ride but haven't even gone in three years. The ride is smooth and nice, but simply too tame for me. There is good air in a couple of places, but nothing that will make an otherwise disappointing ride worthwhile. I'm pretty sure that is a losing investment for its owners, because I know that when it opened, there was talk about a second coaster right next to it depending on how well the Hurricane did. Based on the severe lowering of prices, lack of lines on any days, and empty space next to the coaster, I'd bet that it was a bust. So, they have tried hard and it just wouldn't work, which is why they don't care about their employees' behavior.
Couldn't disagree MORE about Gwazi....a wooden coaster (with NO inversions, unlike ALL of the other coasters at BGT at that time) was *precisely* the right purchase at the right time, IMO. The MARKETING of the ride left LOTS to be desired, I don't remember much at all in the way of commercials or print media advertising the ride....and they followed up a substandard marketing campaign with absolutely nightmarish operations policies and almost no maintenance to the ride. Before the Canadians came in, I was *stumping* for GCII to "dis-own the ride", kinda like CCI did with Waterville's Cannonball Run....now it's back to pristine condition, but for how long??? Wooden coasters REQUIRE constant and dedicated attention....maybe before Starliner runs its last laps, someone from BGT can go ride it and see how wooden coasters are MEANT to be maintained....hire the guy who's chiefly responsible for Starliner, he obviously *knows* about wooden coaster maintenance....;)
Cheetah Chase was another HIT, and certainly seems to have helped that whole area of the park...
Rhino Rally was and is an unmitigated DISASTER. I have a grand total of two rides on it, one WITH effects, one without. I just can't justify waiting an hour minimum for a ride that measures capacity in *people per month*...not when there's FIVE coasters there I'd rather ride (would be six if they decided to operate both sides of Gwazi on a consistent basis).
BGT...the reason the crowds are low is because your commitment to the GUESTS is low...raising the expectations of yourselves and your employees, and your operational policies, THAT will raise the attendance....much like Justin Wilson, I "gar-on-tee" it.
In the interests of not sounding too negative, I'm going to mention that BGT is the park responsible for turning me into the lunatic you know (and love). I have a VERY soft spot for the park, which is probably the reason I'm so hard on the place....call it "tough love"...:) *** This post was edited by rollergator 6/9/2004 10:00:28 AM ***