CoasterBuzz Podcast #183 posted

Posted Monday, June 28, 2010 12:54 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Jeff, Mike and Carrie review this week's news in the amusement industry.

  • Will Koch's passing has brought about an outpouring of support and appreciation.
  • Iger speculates that Marvel characters could appear at Disney parks, but obviously not in Orlando. We ponder what Universal's contract length might be, but it's probably in the decades.
  • King Kong ride will be filmy at Universal Studios Hollywood. Jeff wishes they'd revisit the banana breath giant monkey.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens at Universal's Islands of Adventure, and the reviews are mostly positive despite enormous crowds.
  • Jack Falfas did leave Cedar Fair, and Jeff got it right. The aftermath has resulted in a lot of gossip, but not any huge answers. The conversation still leads to the ultimate question: When will Dick Kinzel step aside? Carrie is cautious about what the ex-employee club has to say.
  • Chang was on, then off, the agenda for Six Flags Great America. Now it sounds like it'll end up at Six Flags Great Adventure. Stand-up roller coasters still seem like a remarkably bad idea.
  • Jeff wore is his recycled Dorney Demon Drop T-shirt to work, and one guy at least knew what Demon Drop was.
  • Mike got a spin on Little Dipper at Six Flags Great America.
  • Six Flags partners with Foursquare for prizes. Jeff hates the service and wonders why people want to advertise when they're not home.
  • Kennywood's Sky Rocket is about to open, and we're pretty excited about it.
  • ACE donates some cash to Connaut Lake to refurb Blue Streak. The podcast crew believes that throwing all of this cash at something that isn't sustainable seems like a waste of time and money.
  • CoasterBuzz launches the CoasterBuzz 100... the top 100 roller coasters according to track record data. Complete your track record to have your voice heard!
  • Give Kids The World is competing for some cash from Pepsi to do some upgrades at the village. Vote now! Coasting for Kids information will be updated this week.
  • Check out the event list on the CoasterBuzz Club page. Got a ticket for Holiday World? Come to the Fall Affair for a couple of bucks extra!
  • You can get the latest headlines on CoasterBuzz from the Twitter. Follow us @coasterbuzz.
  • CoasterBuzz Club is $25 per year. You can join or renew today. Enjoy CoasterBuzz with no ads.

Link: CoasterBuzz Podcast

Sunday, July 4, 2010 3:03 AM

Just listened; I guess I am all caught up now...

• King Kong
The King Kong attraction is a stop on the backlot tram tour, just as the old one was. While this podcast was being recorded, my parents were talking to me on the phone, describing the experience (they attended a special preview). Basically what it amounts to is a ridefilm simulator with a motion base and a 3D film. The complicating factor is that the motion base carries a 4-unit studio tour tram (presumably with its suspension locked as it is for Earthquake) which means the action not only has to happen on all four sides but also has to extend the full length of the tram and has to be designed so that all four cars can see the show. Actually that was one of the cheesier things about the old King Kong attraction: the show on the bridge was only long enough (referring to distance) for two tram cars, so the show had to run twice for each tram. No word from Universal yet on whether they are going to upgrade the rest of the scenes on the tram tour to 3D.....

• Little Dipper
When I rode the Little Dipper at Kiddieland, not only were the brakes run by hand using the big wooden levers, I think it was set up to automatically unlock the lap bars when the train came into unload.

• Sky Rocket
Does there exist any Premier Rides coaster, looping or not, that has shoulder bars on it *other than Speed*? Built after 2001?

• Blue Streak
Of course Conneaut Lake is doing poorly...the Blue Streak is not operating. How many people are putting off trips in hopes that they will get it running?

Are you familiar with the Conneaut Lake backstory beyond "it failed but the Trustees havent given it up yet"? How a former owner made a series of wrongheaded moves that basically dug the very deep hole for the park, destroying what had been a successful business? The other key here is that while the park can't seem to catch a break, the level of support locally is absolutely unbelievable. The attitude seems to be that the region lives or dies by Conneaut Lake, and that is why they seem to think there is a chance for success.

What is a worthy cause, anyway? On the one hand, it's a wood roller coaster, one of two surviving Ed Vettel rides. Maybe in the grand scheme of things that is not so important. Maybe it is a better investment to try and cure terminal childhood diseases, or if we can't do that, to invest in services that make life a little better for those kids. On the other hand, the Blue Streak may be the most important thing Conneaut Lake has to attract the crowds necessary to keep the park alive. And keeping the park alive may be critical to the long-term viability of several small towns in that little piece of Northwest PA. Does that make it a more worthwhile cause? I'm not saying it does...just thought I should put the argument out there.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010 10:02 AM

Well said Dave.

Speaking of Conneaut's Blue Streak, while ACE was there for Convention, they observed that a lot of work had been completed. The park said their hopes are now to get it open some time in August. Keeping in mind that a month ago, the rumor was July. So, we'll see.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010 1:06 PM

How are they going to do that without money?

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Sunday, July 4, 2010 11:33 PM

Hate to sound like a total d-bag, but I'm tired of seeing the Pepsi refresh links for the Blue Streak everywhere. If GKTW didn't win, I don't think a roller coaster deserves a winning spot, either.

There are so many better causes out there, that will actually put the money to use, and not be back, and broke, again next year.

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Monday, July 5, 2010 3:30 AM

Not sure Jeff. Just relaying info.

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Monday, July 5, 2010 1:53 PM

Yes, Dave, I know the back story. It doesn't change the present condition of things at the park. That park isn't in need of a restoration. It needs an entire rebuild and I don't see how that can happen given it's already in the hole as much as it is.

The Blue Streak cannot sustain that park even if it's working. It wasn't enough in last few years it was operating, was it? So more people come out if the coaster is running? Then what? They don't have anything else to offer. There isn't enough there to provide a solid revenue stream.

And I beg to differ on the idea that the park has anything to do with the viability of the area. The Beach Club is the draw. That's where the people are. They are enjoying the lake and the beach and the boardwalk. It would make way more sense for the area to put their efforts into restoring Hotel Conneaut and build on the lake side attractions. The park isn't necessary.

Last edited by Carrie M., Monday, July 5, 2010 2:31 PM
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 1:52 AM

Fair enough. For what it's worth, I'm inclined to agree with you; I'm just trying to decode the messages I'm getting through the endless barrage of Meadville news stories that appear here. :)

What I am curious of...the park seems to draw and it seems to bring in some revenue when it operates. But it never brings in enough to operate AND to cover its considerable (a) debt and (b) tax liability. My question, the one that nobody seems to be asking seriously, is whether it is successful enough to cover its operating costs in the absence of (a) and (b).

Of course, from the sound of it, I wonder if *anybody* actually knows enough about the books on that place to know for certain.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 4:56 AM

But you see Carrie, there IS more to do now, even more than there has been in several years. Some of my employees just got back from spending a day there Sunday. They were excited to report quite a crowd sporting ride-all-days, they were thrilled to see all the new wood on the Blue Streak turnaround, the coaster train in the station, but were most impressed by hearing the lift chain running sporadically throughout the day.

Yeah, they say the park has a ways to go, lots more to clean up and do, but the buzz amongst the locals there seemed the most positive it has been in a very long time. They had a great time and can't seem to understand why it seems some people are actually rooting for the park's demise.

I run my own business so I understand a bit of the numbers game and the questions about where the money will come from to pay for their restoration efforts. God knows I'm far from getting rich from my efforts. But it is my passion, and the good I do for the kids who patronize my business is not much different than the good that comes from the memories built while experiencing CLP.

These people running things now seem to have the passion and may just understand things that we may not. Maybe we should try running a park before we tell them where they are going wrong. Just maybe they CAN turn this around.

I, for one, am rooting for this park's survival.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 8:17 AM

Oh, I'm totally rooting for their survival. I'm just not going to be throwing any [more] of my money into the hole.

I'll pay for tickets and drinks and food when I'm there, and I'll even volunteer to help clean up, but any sort of charity on my end, goes to any number of causes which I feel are much better.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:37 AM

Dave, I guess I believe the answer to your question lies in the fact that year after year they borrowed the money to be able to operate and still came in at the year end in the red. Operating kept making the debt bigger. The problem isn't that it has debt to make up, the problem is the park doesn't have all of it's operations. It's practically a start-up endeavor. Maybe leasing operations this year will make the difference. I don't know. But there sure weren't many people there on Saturday when I visited.

Kev, you can't discount the customer experience, though. That's the perspective I offer when I walk around and see what I see. I'm not saying the park operators are doing it wrong. I'm saying there isn't enough to offer to sustain a customer base beyond those who want to walk around and share memories.

And I get really frustrated that discussing the park for what it is brings about the accusation that folks are wishing for it's demise. That is, unless you are referring to the arsonists, who are the only ones for which there is evidence of sabotage.

I wish the park well and if it can come back, then I would be thrilled for them. It has a history, however, of believing that they can just borrow (and fund raise) their way to a come back and time after time, they have shown that doesn't work. And in the meantime, what they are passing off as the CLP experience is a desecration of what it was.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 9:47 AM

Man, I remember going to the park with my parents when I was younger, and it was so different. Hell, I remember going 10 years ago, and it was different. It used to feel like a classic lakeside hangout, and while that part of the park is still there, the debris and fire damage, plus a combination of everything else going on, seem to make it much more sad.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 1:16 PM

@ Carrie. Sorry, wasn't an attack on you or even this site, I respect your views more than most others here. I'm just relaying their observations from several sources. And these guys are too young to stroll around sharing memories, they are creating new ones. They are the new customer base. They don't have an old CLP experience to be desecrated. They know the history and can see through the closed midway buildings and see in their minds the possibilities ahead. They just hate hearing that since previous trustees efforts haven't worked before, that they can't now.

Josh, you're right, it has changed. A lot of the riffraff is now gone. That's good. I also respect you for your gifts to causes you feel are worthy. Others just feel this cause is worthy of their gifts.

And I'm sorry of it offends, but yeah, there is a feeling that some of the people on this site are rooting for the parks demise. Maybe it's not true, but that's the way it comes across. Other than I don't like to see any park fail, it doesn't matter to me. (on the plus side, it has one of the only two Vettel coasters that remain)

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 1:28 PM

Suggesting that anyone wants parks to fail is nonsense. Some people (myself included) just have a more realistic view of the world.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:03 PM

I'm not offended, Kevin. I understand where you're coming from. I wish you could try to understand where I'm coming from. Jeff is right; suggesting that anyone is wishing for the park's demise is silly. Nothing remotely like that has been said. I've tried to be as fair and honest about what I think as I can. I even went there this past weekend so I could see it for myself.

Here's the thing... When I look at a closed store front I can also imagine in my mind the possibilities of what could exist there. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Not in the least. It takes more than a vision and a dream.

If the Blue Streak is necessary for the park to be successful, then they have no business operating until they have it ready. Same with any of the attractions. Same with cleaning up the debris and getting those closed midway buildings torn down or opened up with new offerings. Operating the park in any condition before they believe they have what they need to bring in a profit is a bad decision.

If the Blue Streak requires $125K to be restored and they have only raised 30% of that, but have already began the restoration process, then it would seem that past is prologue in terms of the way they are choosing to operate. Why not wait until they have the $125K to begin restoration so they know it can be completed?

In the end, it makes no difference what you or I think. If people want to give to this endeavor then more power to them. Time will tell if this attempt is going to be any different than the past.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:04 PM

I would absolultely LOVE for CLP to succeed. And for Whalom to return. And for Joyland in Wichita to re-open so I can get that Schmeck off my to-do list...

But I'm an economist by nature and training....and I'm dubious that any of those will come to pass...

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:13 PM

If you re-read some of the posts in the Conneaut threads, tell me again how it sounds, especially to a non-enthusiast not used to the culture of this forum. Like I said, the negativity they encountered wasn't just from this site. Actually, most of it was in print. However, they specifically mentioned to me their interpretation of the views here since I'm the one who pointed them to CB and specifically the threads relating to Conneaut.

Maybe they are dreamers, as being musicians that wouldn't surprise me one bit. Maybe their view is just as realistic to them as yours is to you. Maybe they see things as you don't. Doesn't necessarily mean that their view is less realistic. Sorry if my thought here sounded a bit wandering, but I was thinking of how they see potential, not a sad memory.

I, for one, am glad for the dreamers. If everyone was realistic about everything and no one dared to dream, we wouldn't even have these great parks to discuss, or the laptop I'm typing on now, or the internet, or space travel, or...or...

Random thought: Just because most others say so, not everyone believes that grass is green.


EDIT: Dang it Carrie and Gator! Quit slippin' stuff in while people are typing. :)

Last edited by obxKevin, Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:18 PM
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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:20 PM

Thankfully, I'm not responsible for the world's misconceptions.

And you are wrong. It takes realistic planning and implementation in conjunction with a dream to get those things you describe. They are realities. It's in the name.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:26 PM

obxKevin said:
If you re-read some of the posts in the Conneaut threads, tell me again how it sounds...

Sounds like people are realistic, to me.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:28 PM

@ Carrie. Not sure how this works, but if they have 30% of the $125,000 needed, and those monies were given specifically for use on Blue Streak, why wait to start work? Get busy while others try to raise more of the funds needed.

Can the park use that money elsewhere, even if it would be more beneficial, if the money was specifically donated for use on the coaster? I don't know and am just asking. Maybe that's why they are working on it, someone is forward thinking here.

Last edited by obxKevin, Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:29 PM
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