Carowinds attendance grows

Thursday, June 10, 2010 9:33 AM
mlnem4s's avatar

While Cedar Fair doesn't break out individual park info, I definitely think we are going to hear over the winter that this season was the beginning of a "new Carowinds." I am even convinced this park, on a smaller scale, will be another hidden gem just as Canada's Wonderland was discovered to be.

I was disappointed last year that Cobra really didn't get the marketing push it deserved, but then I learned how severe the marketing budget was cut for the park. Still, by the time Halloween Haunt rolled around the final big marketing push was on, you could tell this event at the end of the season was doing for the park exactly what Halloweekends does at CP, especially when the weather was great. The region simply responds, especially given the amount of "Northerners" living here who are use to these type of events back home that have been missing here. This year, they have gone all out giving the park appropriate financial support for the marketing it needs and the results are there just by the "buzz" around the region. By the time Haunt is here the place should be packed to the rafters with people trying to get in one last trip.

Tekwardo is definitely right when he says the park feels like a whole new place with all of the infrastructure improvements. A few more seasons and it will be phenomenal. I am even happy that the operations department is starting to come around, that is definitely a Cedar Point influence.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 9:41 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

I definitely think we are going to hear over the winter that this season was the beginning of a "new Carowinds."

Heck, Dani was pushing that before she left. And even going to the Camp Snoopy/Intimidator construction tour and then going back to the park when it was in full swing, it was major progress.

All I want now is a water park expansion, some thrill flats, a launcher, and a decent woody, but then, I'm selfish.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:47 AM
Jeff's avatar

Apparently most of the Paramount Parks were in need of some "refreshing," as I think Dominion has absolutely "arrived" as well. Doesn't change my opinion, and it has nothing to do with what I think about the area (I've not yet been there, though my father-in-law now lives about an hour away). My point stands that enthusiasm shouldn't drive massive capital improvements. Ask Six Flags how that worked out. Gradual and rational expansion makes a lot more sense.

After all, when everyone finally leaves the Midwest, then where will people come from? :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:03 PM
rollergator's avatar

^SFWoA is obviously the ultimate in extreme cases, but "too much too soon" definitely creates a whole new set of problems (infrastructure, expectations, "completeness of offerings", etc.).

I definitely see Charlotte as remaining in the expansion phase (albeit possibly slowing in the next few years) - but the place has a ton of potential, and unlike KD, without any real competition in terms of other amusmement parks nearby. Slow but steady growth, keeping an eye out for all-ages entertainment instead of just thrills - that would serve the park best in the long run.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 1:51 PM

I've never been to Carowinds, which limits my credibility, but. . .

According to rcdb, Carowinds received:
--an inverted family coaster in 2003,
--a four year old flying coaster in 2004,
--a 13 year old Verkoma shuttle in 2009,
--a hyper this year.

It already had:
--an inverted coaster,
--a mine train,
--a double loop & double corkscrew,
--a kiddie coaster,
--a Wild Mouse,
--a stand up,
--2 woodies.

What more does the park need, even if it grows quickly? It has 3/4 as many coasters as CP, when do we expected it to have 3/4 the attendance?

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye, Thursday, June 10, 2010 1:52 PM

This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:48 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

You can't say "Oh, they have this many coasters, which is this fraction of a park that has this". It just doesn't work. Carowinds currently has 13 coasters...but that doesn't mean there are a lot of other rides and attractions. The last non-coaster thrill ride they got was in 1997, and that was Drop Zone. They only have 3 non PPE thrill rides acording to them. They have 19 kiddie & family rides combined, and add in the 2 water rides, thats 21 for a total of 24 non-coaster rides and 34 non PPE rides all together. Plus their water park is rather bla.

Cedar Point has like 70. Granted its a larger park, and should have that many. But that isn't saying Carowinds shouldn't have more attractions.

I seem to remember Carowinds hitting 2 million at some point, or higher (at least that was reported). I know in the 70s it hit over 1mill in attendance. But, then, Canada's Wonderland gets more attendance that CP, why don't THEY have 19 coasters if you use that logic?


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 2:55 PM
rollergator's avatar

Using that same logic, Disneyland should get about 1.2M visitors per year... ;)

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 4:03 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Or have 50 coasters. I like that idea better. Even if they're Disney level coasters.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:59 PM

Tekwardo said:
Carowinds currently has 13 coasters...but that doesn't mean there are a lot of other rides and attractions. The last non-coaster thrill ride they got was in 1997, and that was Drop Zone. They only have 3 non PPE thrill rides acording to them. They have 19 kiddie & family rides combined, and add in the 2 water rides, thats 21 for a total of 24 non-coaster rides and 34 non PPE rides all together. Plus their water park is rather bla.

Cedar Point has like 70. Granted its a larger park, and should have that many. But that isn't saying Carowinds shouldn't have more attractions.

I never said that "Carowinds shouldn't have more attractions." If your numbers are true, how would building more coasters compensate for the lack of thrill rides? If what you say is true Carowinds, needs more thrill rides, kiddie & family rides, and a jazzing up of their water park, not more coasters. Which I believe was Jeff's point. ("I'm not convinced that building another huge ride has huge ROI potential")

Tekwardo said:

But, then, Canada's Wonderland gets more attendance that CP, why don't THEY have 19 coasters if you use that logic?

I've never been to Wonderland, but 1) don't they have more flats? and 2) when Wonderland added Behemoth attendance increased. When CP added Maverick attendance decreased. So maybe you are right--Wonderland can use more coasters.

rollergator said:
Using that same logic, Disneyland should get about 1.2M visitors per year... ;)

I didn't know Disney marketed itself as a "rides" park. CF, although reaching for families, markets its parks to thrill seekers, which Disney does not.

Also, using that same logic, CF should draw about 17.1m (prorated down to reflect the shorter operating season in Ohio) because it has 3x as many carousels as Disneyland :)

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye, Thursday, June 10, 2010 6:06 PM

This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 7:43 PM

Wonderland is part of the Greater Toronto Area and the amount of growth in that area is ridiculous at the moment; they could add no rides for a few years and there wouldn't be much of a change in attendance

Also, yes they do have a lot of flats; and people actually ride them too. Put into perspective, I hardly recall seeing a line for MaxxAir longer than 15 minutes; you'd be pressed to see the same at Wonderland for the same ride

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:53 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Hawkeye, I'm not even sure what you're arguing now.

Jeff said that he wasn't convinced the park needed a new big investment (huge ride, he never specifically said huge coaster) because he wasn't sure it would give them ROI. Now, that was in response to someone saying, among other things, that the park was going to be grown in to the CP of the south AND that they were trying to top Intimidator at this point (which could just be PR language, as many things could 'top' Intimidator without being taller). No one ever said Carowinds would be competing with the coaster capital and flag ship of the chain directly, but turning Carowinds into a destination park with rides and resorts could be what they meant as well.

But you're the one that focused solely on coaster count with your post, which didn't really make sense.

I agree that I don't think the park will/should get a huge new coaster right away, but I know based on what the former PR person said in March that they have a 5 year plan in place that they're currently executing. And I figure at the end of that plan they may add another coaster during their next short term plan.

I agree that the park needs thrill rides. Heck, take a look at any post I've made here (and even more so at CarowindsConnection) and you'll see I'd really liked new thrill rides. But those aren't 'small investments' always either. How much was MaxAir? SkyHawk? Any of the larger Intamin flats? Also, a huge ride could be something like Shoot the Rapids (when they get those working) as Carowinds also lost their flume for a brand new coaster, much like CP.

I was responding solely to your comment that seemed to imply that because Carowinds had 3/4 the coaster count that CP does, it doesn't need anything else at all until they do 3/4 the attendance. That logic is flawed.

And I could very well be mistaken, but Jeff never implied that 'huge rides' only meant coasters. He seems to be saying that he's not sure that any huge ride (really large cost for a ride) is a good ROI based on park attendance. Some of us disagree, but Jeff's logic is sound.

SImply saying "It has 3/4 as many coasters as CP, when do we expected it to have 3/4 the attendance?" makes no sense, as you have to look at the overall offerings of both parks, which you did in your 2nd post, and I commented on as well.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 9:49 PM

Tekwardo said:

And I could very well be mistaken, but Jeff never implied that 'huge rides' only meant coasters. He seems to be saying that he's not sure that any huge ride (really large cost for a ride) is a good ROI based on park attendance. Some of us disagree, but Jeff's logic is sound.

A coaster is $20m+. I am not aware of any other ride that comes remotely close to $20m unless you theme it like Disney does.

I noted that I thought Jeff was, at the very least, referring to a $20m+ coaster investment. ("Which I believe was Jeff's point") But you could be right, he could be arguing against something smaller like a Maxx Air or a Sky Hawk, as well. Only he knows for sure.

I, however, am arguing Carowinds appears to have enough coasters at the moment. Never having been to Carowinds (as I noted), I am in no position to take a position on flats or the water park. :)

I am sorry if I wasn't clear that I was only referring to coasters. And, please note, I was not only referring to numbers--I listed the types of coasters that Carowinds has. They really don't seem to be lacking in any type of coaster.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:00 PM
LostKause's avatar

Tekwardo said:
Also, a huge ride could be something like Shoot the Rapids (when they get those working) as Carowinds also lost their flume for a brand new coaster, much like CP.

GRRR. I hope that they have plans to replace the flume in the five-year plan, but not with another ride like StR, which is nothing like a flume.

When it comes to coasters, I also kind of think CW seems to be lacking something. A launch would be nice, maybe build a Flight of Fear clone. Get rid of that crappy old Arrow looper thing and build a proper B&M floorless.

And flats too. I really think that an big S&S Swing Thing would be really popular at CW!

I don't believe that the park has a train.


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Friday, June 11, 2010 2:36 AM
Jeff's avatar

Wow, all this Jeff said stuff. I feel like I'm not even in the room.

If they said they wanted to "top Intimidator," then yes, I suppose I'd be talking about installing another big coaster, but really, I'm extending that to any "expensive" ride investment. I think it's premature to be installing stuff like that, and as an investor that's already pissed about the lack of vision that has tanked the unit price, killed the distribution and nearly sold the company, I wouldn't favor it.

Again, cap ex to keep up with demand is OK, and to an extent it's OK to drive growth, but it can't be premature.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Friday, June 11, 2010 8:24 AM

Going back to the question of expansion: It has been a long time since I drove past Carowinds. Is there still a big outlet mall just outside the gates? (I remember seeing a monorail that went around the mall.) I wonder how it is doing these days.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 9:50 AM
Tekwardo's avatar

The mall is still there, and a few years ago they completely revamped it into a Latino themed mall. I still haven't been, but it's done very well since the change.

http://www.plazafiestacarolinas.com


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Friday, June 11, 2010 1:23 PM

wahoo skipper said:
Going back to the question of expansion: It has been a long time since I drove past Carowinds. Is there still a big outlet mall just outside the gates? (I remember seeing a monorail that went around the mall.) I wonder how it is doing these days.

It has been a long time wahoo. The monorail was removed in 1995 ('94 was it's last season). Here is an article if interested:
http://www.carowindsearlyyears.com/monorail_article.jpg

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Friday, June 11, 2010 3:52 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

The monorail story reminds me of some of the "dry-ride expansion" ideas I believe make the most sense in the next 5 years at the park. They did a good job this year replacing the bad windows on the observation tower and I would love to see them move the sky ride from Great America to Carowinds to make it easier getting from one side of the park to the other. Of course a monorail or train ride would make a great addition as well.

I really hope that with the heat and humidity in Charlotte the waterpark gets the most attention, it is already packed as it is. Carowinds needs a 8 or 10 lane racing slide, a funnel slide(s), a water coaster to name just a few. There appears to be the room for additions on that end of the park, it should be interesting to see if it happens.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010 9:30 AM
Vater's avatar

swampfoxer said:

The monorail was removed in 1995 ('94 was it's last season).

Wow. I've been to Carowinds twice--once in '94 and then again last year. Until wahoo brought it up, I'd completely forgotten there was a monorail...which means I didn't miss it last year. Observant I am not.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010 4:00 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Spent a few hours in the park today. There is, yet another, Jesus worshipping festival going on bringing in the crowds which forced them to use the South gate again. Intimidator line was using overflow queueing, wait amounted to about 35 minutes with 3-train operation. Afterburn was about 25 minutes. Vortex and Nighthawk had really long waits due to their slow operations. Peeking into the waterpark it was packed with long lines for all the slide towers, I suppose it is to be expected when the temps are hovering around 97 degrees with really high humidity.

I am even more convinced now that definitely a big addition to the waterpark and some sort of transportation system linking one side of the park to the other should be the next capital improvement projects.

(And if anyone from Carowind's operations department happens to read the comments on this web site, do your employees on the mine ride coaster a favor and give them TWO attendants on the platform checking restraints. Its absolutely brutal and ridiculous to think one person can manage it all by themselves; it may be an older ride but by the slow, long line it is still popular.)

Last edited by mlnem4s, Saturday, June 12, 2010 4:01 PM
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