Chain parks at night a thing of the past?

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 11:27 AM
DawgByte II's avatar Don't forget at night... at least this is the trend I see at Cedar Point... that a LOT of the retail outlets (ie: gift-shops) seem to be a lot more crowded at night, as people grab their souvineers.

I'd bet ya that people wouldn't be as willing to grab a souvineer if it were closing much earlier where it's still somewhat light out vs. at night when things are closing down, and the only major things open are the few last rides on a coaster & the gift shops. People flock into there & buy their souvineer merchandise.

THEREFORE, there actually may be a ROI by closing later. It could, in fact, be in my head... but that's how I see it. You do see peeps in the gift shops at all times of the day, but I see a trend of them being there at night more-so than anything else.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 1:02 PM
SFoGswim's avatar Goliath South... is that what we're calling it now?
Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
Tuesday, August 8, 2006 1:29 PM
By closing earlier, they allow guests more time to hit the fast food joints and restaurants outside the park. Oh wait, that's NOT a good thing, is it?
Tuesday, August 8, 2006 1:45 PM
eightdotthree's avatar Its not like if they close at 10 instead of 11 customers are not going to have the opportunity to buy their funnel cake or ice cream. They will just plan for it based on the closing time of the park, just like they always have. IMO the only people this will affect are the evening customers who will have one less hour.
Tuesday, August 8, 2006 2:41 PM
I wonder how much of the change is budget connected and how much of it is an effort to prevent teens and young adults fromn using the parks as a hangout in the evening.

Meanwhile, parks like KW and Lakeside continue to promote their nigntime image and keep their parks open late enough for people to enjoy this.

One more thing as some of you mentioned -- wouldn't a later close mean more food and drink consumed in the park? Maybe those Six Flags parks trying to get more people to spend extra money on Flashpasses instead by tightening up the time that the rides are available.

Arthur Bahl

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 2:53 PM
I remember when great adventure and other parks used to stay open till midnight (and later) back in the day. For those of you that haven't experienced parks at night it is a whole different experience. Coasters are fun and scary especially the ones in wooded locations. The grizzly at pki was always fun at night...and busch gardens big bad wolf is awesome at night..especially when you get stuck before the second lift hill in the back! the beast...goes without mention... Most coasters seem to give the illusion of speed at night too. All of the lights (or lack thereof) make the parks seem different...kinda reminds me of going on the wildwood boardwalk till 1am way back when. I really miss it. I still prefer Disney and Universal at night too...oh well..
...location and theming...thats the ticket....not always height or speed...
Tuesday, August 8, 2006 4:43 PM
I guess night culture in everything is basically on the downswing. Even movie theaters are seeing less people.

I guess that maybe in 20 years or so, nights may be more of a big thing like they were 20 years ago presently.

I can only hope so. Until then, I guess there's always the stand alone parks and Cedar Point & such. Maybe Cedar Fair will bring back the 10 PM closings next year. After all, it was CBS that made these changes to KD's schedule.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 5:08 PM
Its an interesting trend. I've always thought there was a special "magic" about being in a park at night, too.

Maybe they're cutting costs, maybe they're trying to cut down on being a teenage hangout--probably all of those things--but I would think it also discourages local season-ticket holders from stopping by the parks after work or whatever. In financial terms, maybe the parks aren't drawing a ton of money out of those people, but on the other hand--well--that's always been one of the perks of living close to a park--being able to "pop in" whenever you want. In that sense, early closings are a bummer.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 6:30 PM
GREAT thread! ;)

When I was growing up in the mid 70's and early 80's, my dad used to take me to Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans nearly EVERY Friday night after he got home from work. This is where I fell in love with both wooden roller coasters (The Vettel-designed PB Zephyr), the mystique of riding coasters and other rides at night, and just the magic of being in parks after dark in general.

We would get there around 6 PM, the sun would set at around 8 PM, and with the MIDNIGHT closing time we had time to get night rides on EVERY ride in the park's arsenal with MULTIPLES after dark on the Zephyr over and over again in the last 30-60 minutes before closing.

In those days many of the regional theme parks had similar summer hours, but not any longer. If the "after work crowd" got there at 6 PM now, they would not have very much time in the park OR for night rides.

Like others who have posted in this thread I have noticed this hasn't happened overnight, but been a gradual shift over the past several years. One thing that concerns me is that there is probably a segment of the public that likes to leave early no matter WHEN the closing time is (to beat the traffic and such). So as this segment gets used to earlier closing times, they may still end up leaving before closing anyway, and this may show up on the park's statistics and be interpreted as less demand for the night hours. (In other words, maybe the people who left at 8:30 with a 9 PM close WOULD have stayed until 9:30 with a 10 PM close).

This was a trend I noticed at SFNO whenever they would cut hours on short notice due to budget cutbacks, similar to those that just happened this year at other SFs. The 8 PM hour would be crowded with a 10 PM close, but less crowded if it was the last hour of the night after budget cutbacks.

The park was always pretty dead the first couple hours of the day, which always made me wish they would simply open later in the day and keep the cooler, more "magical" night hours, as Rollergator has suggested in a similar thread.

Anyway, I'm glad I got hooked on Fright Fest type visits in the mid 90's! Even if you still had the midnight closes near the summer solstice, you would still get about 2 hours more time for night rides with a midnight close in October. And compared to a 10 PM (or earlier) in summer, October wins by a landslide. Other then special enthusiast and upcharge events (such as Flags All Night at SFOG which, on the year I did it, lasted until 6 IN THE MORNING!), October is really the only time to get TONS of night rides like I remember being a COMMON highlight of park visits in my youth.

Basically, Halloween events have become the only time I do my "major regional themepark" trips. All of them outside of Florida and California are basically free, non-upcharge events if you have a season pass, with the notable exception of Carowinds.

The Christmas events at Dollywood and SDC are also INCREDIBLE from both a night ride and atmosphere point of view, and take on even greater significance as they are basically the ONLY time those parks are open to the public after dark.

One of the many reasons why the Magic Kingdom is my favorite park in Florida is they have the best night hours BY FAR in the state, with the sublime Wishes fireworks taking place nearly 365 days a year!


Wednesday, August 9, 2006 2:11 AM
rollergator's avatar

eightdotthree said:What was the "Nightrider thingy at K-Wood on Sunday"

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, I was busy at Coney Cinci, Skyline, and PKI all day today....hehe.

"Nightrider" (other than being a horrendously bad TV show - pardoning my abuse of proper spelling, LOL) is what Kennywood calls their twilight admission, after 5pm. I happened to be returning to the park at that time, and there were LINES for people buying those (discounted) admission tickets...

*** Edited 8/9/2006 6:12:40 AM UTC by rollergator***

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

Sunday, August 13, 2006 1:45 AM

whitelightnin said:
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.

SFKK has for the last few weeks been only open until 7pm on weekdays. There has also been a LOT of sending employees home early/not promoting employees who deserve it and practically anything else they can think of to save money.

(above post not approved by Six Flags, Inc. and was written by a former employee [today was my last day])

Sunday, August 13, 2006 4:15 PM
joyland is open friday and sat from 9:30 - 12:00(adults only)with the bar open till 2. It was awesome riding the ferris wheel and log jam at night.I cant wait for the coaster to be done.

Its a different world . I love the lights and the almost magic feel of the park at night.the skycoaster is more of a rush at night , guess it seems like your falling further.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 4:43 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar Man, I can't wait for Phunfest and Fright Nights at Kennywood this October! Both parks are THEE best at night.

There is nothing like snapping the Knoebels flyers in the rainy, cold, October air when the sun goes down. ;)


Sunday, August 13, 2006 5:14 PM
Yes, parks take on a different life after dark and I always take a spin on my favorite coasters at night just because of a different ride.

Yep, the Nightrider is a good deal at Kennywood. If you came at 5PM last night, you had a solid 5.5 hours of ride time since the park stayed open until 11:30. All for a measly $15.

I also like how the park is open from 7PM-1AM for Fright Nights. The first year it was 6PM-Midnight and it was just too light for the first hour. If I recall, the haunted attractions didn't open until 7 anyway. So it made sense for them to just have everything open from the start.

KW Team Member

Sunday, August 13, 2006 8:26 PM
Conneaut Lake Park cut some of their weekday hours starting this week. The reason was lower than expected weekday attendance. They are also no longer opening on Mondays except Labor Day.

Hopefully this doesn't mean the end of the park. Bad weather may have been part of the problem this year, both rain and the lightning bolt that knocked the Blue Streak out of operation for several days.

What CLP needs to do is to capitalize on the closing of Erieview following the close of the current season. The park's next big challenge (other than debts) will come in 2008 when Ravine Flyer II opens at Waldameer. This could make that season a tough one for CLP because many people might decide to go to the Erie park instead. There is also the matter of GLs comeback and the possible effect it could have along with more aggressive advertising by both KW and GL in each others markets.

Arthur Bahl

Sunday, August 13, 2006 10:33 PM
Wow. You all are lucky. 9 or 10pm?! PGA closes at 8:00pm. Back when I had my season pass, they were closing at 6(!) during the week. Needless to say, I didn't renew.

I really miss late nights at the park. Even Disneyland is now closing at 11 on weekdays instead of midnight.

PGA is also going to weekends only sooner. This week (8/18) is the last weekday operation. Are other parks doing the same? I thought most parks keep weekday operations until Labor Day.

Monday, August 14, 2006 1:25 AM
Conneaut lucks out because alot of Pittsburghers know about it (though unfortunately don't necessarily patronize), where if I hadn't driven a charter bus to Waldameer years ago, I would probably never have heard of it until visiting this site!

Waldameer just doesn't have mainstream attention down these parts (Pittsburgh)...where everyone around here has at least heard of Conneaut, if not been there. Even the indoor water park in Erie gets some amount of publicity around here (though offhand I couldn't tell you the name of it..heh heh).

Monday, August 14, 2006 11:00 AM
Some parks close on weekdays during the week before Labor Day because in many cases, school is back in. Others like KW go to evenings only.

As for Waldameer, when Ravine Flyer II goes in, many people in Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh that never heard of that park will know about it. That coaster is going to give the park a big attendance boost.

Arthur Bahl

Monday, August 14, 2006 1:57 PM

coasterqueenTRN said:

There is nothing like snapping the Knoebels flyers in the rainy, cold, October air when the sun goes down.



Tuesday, August 15, 2006 6:52 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar ^Oh come on, you have to admit that was hardcore snappage last year! ;) I can do without the rain, but I am sort of hoping it will be as windy as it was last year.

We will have to meet up! :) I spent a majority of my time on the flyers last year. We probably met but didn't properly introduce ourselves. :)

There's really a full moon on Oct. 7th? Sweet!


*** Edited 8/15/2006 10:56:06 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***


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