Chain parks at night a thing of the past?

So, with Six Flags for the most part, the Busch parks, and the former Paramount parks only open til 9 PM on weekdays, I have not been on any coasters at night this year.

I always have thought that parks at night were a great experience that you got for about one hour per visit. I won't forget going to Knobels and Hersheypark in the summer of 03 and having many night rides. Six Flags uses the excuse that they are focusing on families more, but I think we all know that it's really because of the huge debt they have, and not wanting to pay workers for the extra hour or two.

Busch Gardens used to be open til 11 PM on some occasions, now they want you to leave right as it's getting dark.

Is this just a trend this year, or do you see it becoming a permanent thing? Is anyone as annoyed at this as I am?

This may be the case -- but only until the Halloween events start. Also, honestly what can you not do during the hours that the park is open that you would be able to do in the extra hour or so that you are "missing out" on? Sure a night ride, but other than that what?


PKI's normal summer schedule is 10PM closes.

Swoosh, that's his point. You miss out on night rides. You can't tell me that night rides are much more exciting than day rides. That's big enough in and of itself. Plus it's a different atmosphere at night. Flashing lights, cool breezes, etc. I hope this is not a trend. Personally I wish parks would stay open later. There's just a different vibe in the park after the sun goes down.
Well, it's not as much a thing of doing as seeing. Night rides of course are the big thing, but seeing all those rides and coasters lit up and everything is just an experience that I've loved for years.

I mean, Carowinds has been closing at 8 PM for like 4 years now, so I haven't been able to do it there, but Kings Dominion, which has been my home park since around 1990 was always open til 10 in the summer, and I always loved the last hour or two of my visits the most due to short lines, different ride experiences, and the experiences were just more memorable. Not to mention the fact that it was about 10 degrees cooler.

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
There's more to that last hour than just getting night rides. Experiencing a park at night is different than while the sun is out. Sure you can ride the same things, but the park experience is different. The atmosphere changes with all the pretty lights, and the cooler weather. The lazer shows are even entertaining if I'm not stuck in a long line past closing. Personally, I usually only go to Adventureland for the last hour it's open to experience the park at its best, all lit up against a dark sky. Not getting to experience a park in the dark, puts a damper on my experience. Finishing off the day with that last magical hour leaves me satisfied with my visit.

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

I don't know, I got the Goliath South night credit this year :)

Yeah, overall it does seem to be dying out. Shame too, they haven't invented a coaster that's not better at night. Even clunkers like Vortex at CFCar are a bit more fun with the darkness, lit up midways and cool breeze. I specifically remember a particular time at Carowinds being on Vortex's lift hill as fireworks were being set off... nirvana.

Hmmm. Maybe it's just the parks in the southeast then mostly?

Even if it is, I must say that the current theme park situation as a whole is very scary. Six Flags thinking of bulldozing Magic Mountain instead of selling it originally, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion closing, and who knows if Cedar Fair will keep Carowinds and Great America for long...

Those things along with less hours, Six Flags becoming family parks, which may mean bulldozing a few coasters in the future, and the new parks coming up in Myrtle Beach and West VA sounding like small regional parks, well....

Do they want us to have heart attacks?

We barely got to see Indiana Beach lit up, and the park was open until 10pm in June! Due to them changing over to Daylights Savings Time, it was still really bright around 9:30-45pm at night. Well, the one good thing is that the sun is setting sooner now (around 8:15pm on the east coast), so you'll still have some night rides in August even if a park closes at 9pm.
I am fully aware of the "other things" I was just being facetious and stating the perspective that the park would have. Is there any ROI from stating open later? Does it cost more to be open when it is dark vs. when there is light? Etc.
I'd assume that it would cost more to operate at night versus at light. When it is dark lights have to be turned on, and you may not think that's much, but then consider how many lights can be on in a single park at one time. Not only widway lights, but ride lights, and coaster lights.

Also, I'd assume drink and food sales would decrease, and it may not be as profitiable to operate in dark then in light, thus giving reason to cut the hours.

Although, at least a Carowinds and KD, the funnel cake sales go through the roof at night.
Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
It may be less profitable directly, BUT the guest who wants to experience the park at night will be much happier.

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

rollergator's avatar
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say there's lots of benefits to staying open later...the Nightrider thingy at K-Wood on Sunday drew quite a crowd...and while no chain parks could be considered "comparable" to Kennywood, I'd wager that for most parks, expenses AND revenues increase after the sun goes down and the lights come on...

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

A lot of chain parks aren't really anything special at night. Kings Island has all the charm of an oil refinery at night. Geauga Lake, with the exception of the ferris wheel, is equally dismal.
eightdotthree's avatar
What was the "Nightrider thingy at K-Wood on Sunday"

BGA had tons of banners throughout the park about "Summer Nights" and "It's A Whole new park At Night" when I was down there, seems like they were pushing more people to stay later.

millrace said:
A lot of chain parks aren't really anything special at night. Kings Island has all the charm of an oil refinery at night. Geauga Lake, with the exception of the ferris wheel, is equally dismal.

Well, there are different types of night visits. There are parks with light packages, and ones without. Sometimes I like the "I feel like the park is closed" feel. Kings Dominion used to have pretty good light packages though. Last few years they were basically spotlights on some of the coasters, however. There's just something different about riding a coaster at night with or without lights. Heck, even the Hurler, which is now a backbrace waiting to happen, is better at night, and it's never really had lights.

Night parks are.... I'm looking for a good word here.... iconic?

^You mean parks like Lakeside?

Swoosh said:
^You mean parks like Lakeside?

Sadly I've never been to Lakeside, so I wouldn't know. But I did see it in part of a documentary on Discovery about 9 years ago. The park was shown at night, with what I think was the Cyclone featured.

I just thought of another possible reason for some parks cutting hours. Could it be the recent upturn in city enforced curfews for those under 18? I know that that's been quite the trend lately in VA at least. Dunno about elsewhere....

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