Carowinds attendance grows

mlnem4s's avatar

In case anyone is interested, check out the web cam today overlooking Intimidator at Carowinds and you will see the parking lot is filled all the way to the Southside entrance. Clearly, folks are craving Intimidator and Planet Snoopy as I am hearing significant attendance gains already this early in the season. With the water park opening today (and its PACKED) I suspect this is going to be a VERY busy summer, one justifying the increased hours of operations the park made. This may just be the proof Cedar Fair was looking for to begin making significant investments into this decent park to make it even bigger and better.

Jeff's avatar

Bigger isn't necessarily better, but certainly there is a point to grow a park to a certain audience size that fits the market.

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^That's the analysis I'll miss with no podcast being recorded this weekend...

mlnem4s's avatar

It struck me today as ironic, what is working here at Carowinds or Kings Dominion to draw the crowds just doesn't work at the flagship park any more. I think from an investor stand point I would be pretty upset to see parks with very clear opportunities to grow be overlooked because of some silly focus on maintaining some "status symbol" in Sandusky. Carowinds really has a lot of potential, I hope it continues to get the attention and financial support it deserves.

Jeff's avatar

Yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at. I think those two Atlantic parks were just a ride short of being superawesome, but I still strongly believe that the wild cap ex strategy of the industry in general is not entirely right. There comes a point where you keep feeding the addiction, but at what cost? Cedar Point has so many rides now, and I can only wonder what that's doing to their maintenance budget. The upside is that not very many rides have truly long lines anymore, but it's also clear that the rides alone no longer boost attendance.

But take a place like Kennywood, and the new installations go years apart and are not always huge roller coasters. And let's be honest, Kings Island did OK for a long time without a ridiculous number of big ride installations.

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mlnem4s's avatar

You are absolutely right about CP and look what is happening, they are already building the same cycle of marketing a new thrill for 2011 and we can't even get the ride for 2010 up and running! It's like, guys come on already! One thing at a time, do it right and milk the product for all you can. I have to say too, the one thing I really wish CP would get better at is MAINTAINING attractions, especially those with special effects which would get me back in the park more often versus simply building "yet another rollercoaster." I know some will disagree with me, and Dick specifically says "a ride will sell itself without all the theming" but I really disagree in todays world. For example, Magnum when it first opened was so awesome, not only because of its height and speed, but also for the visual and hearing sensory experience in the tunnels. People love that kind of stuff, we live in a world of sensory overload and people need that. With the advent of LED lighting, you can't tell me that re-working the tunnel effects can't be done in a cost effective way while at the same time suprising people with an enhanced ride product which in turn gets the "buzz" about the park going again.

I am asking for too much, I know. Sad thing is, I had a great conversation with the guy who builds the electrical floats for Disney and Six Flags so I know a little about the cool technology and effects that could really blow folks away on Magnum again or enhance Maverick's launch tunnel or or or.....if only someone would break out of their old habits..............

LostKause's avatar

I agree with mlem4s, Cedar Fair parks could be even better if they would just figure out that special effects do matter. Take Cedar Point's recently redesigned games area near the front of the park, for example, or the light show on the Frontier Trail. I wish that each park would take a year off of building any new rides, and focused on giving each area of the park some high-tech lighting, including the rides.

There are some amazing things that CP could do in the tunnels of Magnum and Maverick. I saw a screen made of fog, at Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge last month, that had my "reflection" projected onto it. Something so simple really tripped me out. There are also some incredible things being done with LED's that could really be an awesome spectacle.


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I agree that I'd like to have CP focus more on theming, including (but not exclusively) lighting and effects. I really appreciate Disney's perspective on their attractions as being works in progress. When a ride is built, it isn't set in stone but is constantly tinkered with to improve the experience. Granted, whenever you get into the "CP should so what Disney does" argument, you're asking for trouble. But in this case I think they could learn something.

Maybe Starlight Experience is a first step down this road, to gradually adding more "wonder" to the park. If so, I applaud the effort.

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mlnem4s's avatar

I should add that I never expect Cedar Fair parks to be on par with a Disney or Universal. Rather, I miss a lot of the "old style" theming from back in the 70's/early 80's.....things that were somewhat simplistic but it was just enough to create a little bit of fantasy at a seasonal park. A perfect example using Cedar Point: now with StR right next to Snake River Falls, could you just imagine how insanely cool that area would look had the mountain been built below Snake? Not only could it have had waterfalls overflowing into StR but seeing the train go through a tunnel in the mountain with animatronic scenes inside and then coming out in front of guests queued up for would be fantastic in so many ways!

A great example here in Charlotte at Carowinds: they have what is really a great layout for a mine train ride, its fairly exciting and a fun ride. There is so much potential with that ride to add some enclosed dark tunnels, buildings, animatronics, etc. Again, basic stuff that enhances the experience and I guarantee there would be long lines for the ride once again (especially considering it would be geared towards families who can experience it together.) I would love to see the same thing happen to Cedar Creek Mine Ride and get that back up to being as popular as it was in 70's and 80's

These are all little ideas that don't require a ridiculous outlay of 15-20-25 million dollars, I would guesstimate 5 million or less and yet you have a "new attraction" to market.

PS.....It's Sunday and again Carowinds is packed with folks taking advantage of the military deal today. The main parking lot is filled to the South Gate entrance and they are also parking cars in the field along the entrance drive. The weather here is hot, humid and sunny! If this holiday weekend is any indicator of the remaining season, give us good weather here and Carowinds is bound to have a record setting season!

Last edited by mlnem4s,

Take Cedar Point's recently redesigned games area near the front of the park, for example

That's a really good example, and it not only works well on its own, but it also ties in with the Troika Troika Troika paint job and the color scheme/lighting package for maXair. The area is just a *lot* more interesting than it used to be with those horrid facades---especially at night.

I don't know how many of you remember Walt's "Perfect Day" CP video. But, that's what these parks are selling---a day'o'fun. The atmosphere and ambiance contributes to that as much or more as any particular thrill ride.

obxKevin's avatar

As far as Carowinds being packed again, I wonder how much of it, if any, has to do with the Nascar races being in Charlotte this weekend.

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Trust me, if people are in town for the Nascar race, they are there for the Nascar race, not Carowinds.

mlnem4s's avatar

The race today, if anything, would have pulled people from the park but again they were doing gangbusters. Yesterday definitely might be attributed to the race as well as tomorrow with visitors being bombarded with promotions/advertising from the park. I know in downtown Charlotte there was a race-oriented street festival and it looked like a display from Carowinds was there promoting the park, including a test seat (?) from Intimidator...I saw it out of the corner of my eye watching the news so not 100% sure what it was all about. Tomorrow is another military admissions day so again I predict big crowds due to that as well.

I am not originally from CLT but the few years I have been around this area I don't recall the park being this busy so early in the season. Definitely I am hearing from folks around here they are pumped about the coaster, especially since everyone could see it under construction all winter driving along 77. I highly suspect Scarowinds is going to do extremely well if there is good weather then too, that event is really pulling in the guests. Fortunately, Intimidatorit is another B&M people-eater so the lines have been very managable as well.

CoasterDemon's avatar

It is just me, or is the park nearly empty today?

I can never remember if Memorial Day is a big park day for the GP.

Jason Hammond's avatar

Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom had a decent crowd. At least until the rain came.

884 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

mlnem4s's avatar

It was a slow day for the park, there have been thunderstorms and rain all day around Charlotte. This area has been in a weather pattern of just two days or so of nice clear weather and then rain for three or four, its getting on everyone's nerves. The malls were the place to be today, they were packed.

I know so far they are happy with the response to the new attractions and are holding out hope for great weather this summer. Already continued plans for more pavers to reduce heat in the park are in the works, more painting projects over the off-season and I wouldn't be surprised to see a flat ride and/or water park additions as well (especially if WWK in Aurora ends up being closed after this summer.)

Tekwardo's avatar

Yeah, Dani said that they'd be replacing all the asphalt with pavers over the next 5 years, which is a good thing. Dunno who thought asphalt all over would be a good idea in the Carolinas...

Carowinds seems to have a good 5 year plan in place. I'm excited to see what happens next.

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Jason Hammond's avatar

Pavers look so nice. I love that there puting them at many of the parks.

884 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

mlnem4s's avatar

I really am shocked at the huge difference the simple act of putting in pavers improves the midway experience by lowering the heat threshold. I am wondering what can be done in water parks to cut down on the heat and glare from all the white concrete...I know concrete can have addititives added for color, maybe that would make a difference with the intense glare/reflection of sunlight?

Tekwardo's avatar

I would say that Saturday anyways, Carowinds probably got a bit of a NASCAR boost on top of the already large crowds they would have had for Memorial Day weekend. They had Speed Street in Charlotte, plus the hall of fame is now open, and Intimidator. If you're a NASCAR fan, Charlotte is now a destination, especially on Race Weekends. I'm 15 minutes from the raceway, and all weekend, starting last week, there were signs warning about race traffic, and it was definitely present.

Traffic DURING the race was non-existant, though. Drove to Charlotte Sunday evening during the race, and came back hours after it was over.

I think even more so now that there's been a major race that Carowinds put the right coaster with the right theme in at the right time. Seeing how much stuff they had going on this weekend all over Charlotte & Concord, and knowing that they have the hall of fame there now, Carowinds will become part of the NASCAR destination.

It's a shame that it rained on Monday, though. They really could have been packed.

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