I used to go each year for my birthday when I was a kid. Several relatives and I would spend the evening there, usually going on everything several times in a row, going to something else, then doubling back.
When I was there in 2001, things were in definite need of improvement. The Merry-Go-Round had been stripped down and plastic horses set in place of the original wooden ones. The haunted house only had a few buzzers -- not even the ghost that leaned down at riders moved -- and a landscaper was badly required, BUT the coasters were every bit as fun and the overall atmosphere was still like I remembered. "WV's Coney Island" is what I think of when I think of Camden, really.
I'm seriously going to have to go this Summer. Especially because I've been wanting to create a Roller Coaster Tycoon track of the BD, but can't remember everything about it. *grin*
It's really sad to say, but the park is not safe, its dirty and I think the people working the rides should be trained on how to operate them. Most are young people that were more interested in talking on the cell phone or eating.
We arrived there yesterday afternoon after a two hour drive. We stood in line to pay for 25 minutes. Yes, 25 minutes. That's one minute for every person in line at the time. Now, with a two year old, that's tough in itself. We rode the Haunted House first, then the carosel. Not a good start. We rode the little dipper and it almost jumped the tracks. It has three LARGE divots in the track area and it bottoms out. We bypassed the 50+ person line for the log ride because there were only two logs running. For a ride that takes 3-4 minutes, that means most people were waiting 30+ minutes to ride.
West Virginia NEEDS entertainment, but I'm sorry to say that this isn't it!
I've done the research and I know there are rides from other parks out there that are for sale. Even little ones. Here are my recommendations. Now, no I don't have millions of dollars, but here's my two cents...
First... Have a sign company fix the clown and pave the lot. That's the first thing people see and it would go a long way. The management could work with a paving company as a sponsor and allow them to sponsor a key ride or two.
Second... Have rides sponsored by companies in the West Virginia area. And perhaps themed rides like the "Runaway mine" or something. This would be perfect and really play on the whole WV theme! By allowing sponsors to fund the ride, you could buy more up to date stuff.
Third... Make the midway something fun. Add lights, banners, what have you, but have it fun. Play music. Have a greeter with a flier. Something.
Fourth... Make earings, pagers, cell phones, what have you off limits. And a more professional dress code would be good. (Not to mention names, but one guy had a bad case of BO and three earings with a bunch of tattoos showing). Not your typical family atmosphere.
Fifth... Music on the merry go round. THat would help.
Sixth... Partner with Lowes or someone to paint the park.
Seventh... Blacktop what isn't repaved
Ninth... Shows / entertainment daily. I loved what they used to do in the past. Capitolize on that.
Tenth... You have history on your side. Use it. Make it a big part and have special themed days.
That's my little bit. Honestly, I think the carnival rides at the fair are better and the games section really gets peoples attention. If there could be some corporate partnerships made this would help sell. THink of it as the ultimate marketing opportunity. There is NO OTHER park in West Virginia. We are prime for something like this, but no one has done it.
I tell you what... I'll go back in a year. If things are better, I'll eat my words and give a $50 bonus to the park. If not, I'll pass the word to the multitude of folks in WV that I know and spend the monies 3 hours south in Charlotte or Pigeon Forge.
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