CoasterBuzz Podcast #199 posted

Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 12:59 AM | Contributed by Jeff

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

  • CoasterBuzz has a Windows Phone 7 app. Check it out.
  • Carrie went to Tennessee for the New Year. Did the Dollywood holiday thing, found Thunderhead to be just OK. Doesn't mind saying that she's not that interested in riding in bad weather.
  • Holy Land in Orlando comes off as completely strange to many.
  • The Cedar Fair vs. Q Investments saga continues, with mudslinging worthy of a political campaign. Jeff asks who is lying about the Falfas situation: termination or resignation?
  • Experts say Freestyle Music Park won't reopen. Really?
  • Disney's queue management isn't just Fastpass, it's getting the crowds to go where there's excess capacity, even if that means parades.
  • Disneyland and DCA close on two days because of crazy attendance.
  • Knott's sells "Hate to Wait" passes, as the premium virtual queue comes to a Cedar Fair park. Doesn't seem like a particularly good deal to us.
  • Dudley Doo-Right catches fire at Islands of Adventure. It's a water ride.
  • Fun Spot expands on International Drive. Mike thinks the karts look cool. Jeff says try the electric carts if they exist near you.
  • Block Party Bash retired at Disney Hollywood Studios.
  • Zamperla gets fined for tearing down Shoot The Freak. So goes the Coney Island "character."
  • If you get photographed at a park, deal with it. You pretty much have no rights in said public place.
  • Disney prices go up on both coasts for the locals. Gonch says they apparently stayed the same in Orlando for the better part of a decade.
  • Conneaut Lake Park begs for more money from Pepsi. We all say "I told you so." Just let the place die peacefully.
  • Cedar Fair attendance up significantly, we suspect it has a lot to do with the Halloween events, combined with the big cap ex in the southern parks.
  • Legoland Florida is selling a lifetime pass. Only $2,500!
  • Mike saw Tron. He thought it was cool.
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Monday, January 10, 2011 3:58 PM

Geez. We really are the 'bad guys' of park-related podcasting.

Tune in to hear us spew hate-filled rants against everyone and everything in the industry...on a "whenever we feel like it" basis.

Definitely the punk version of things. :)

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Monday, January 10, 2011 4:13 PM

Yeah, that one was kind of toxic, but in an amusing way (to me at least). Good times.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 4:15 PM

Truly all in good fun. I just hope it's taken as such.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 4:30 PM

Still not done listening (I'll finish on my drive home), but I really enjoyed the Dollywood discussion. I completely agree that this isn't a destination park, but a good place to stop by when driving through the area. I only spent a couple hours in the park, and I admit I wish I had more time to do more, but I still feel like I 'got' it. This was the year before Thunderhead was built, so I can't comment on it, but I am glad to hear your comparison to Lightning Racer and Wildcat, Carrie. Now I don't feel like I'm missing the best thing since...uh, the cinnamon bread at Dollywood...which I apparently missed when I was there. :)

Tornado really is a special Arrow. I think the best part (aside from the cool giant loop) is its location in the mountains, and that first drop is truly something unique.

Were you able to get on Blazing Fury? That's a fun little ride.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 4:36 PM

Indeed, we did ride Blazing Fury. I don't understand why everyone was not more concerned that the entire town was on fire. How does that happen anyway? ;)

It was cute. It was particularly entertaining given I was riding next to a fire fighter. :)

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Monday, January 10, 2011 4:58 PM

Just finished with the part about Dollywood, and I think your opinions for a first timer, who isn't a 'hard core' enthusiast (I think you're an enthusiast, you're just not hard core) are spot on.

My first trip to Dollywood was December 2004, the year that Thunderhead opened, and after driving 4 hours, getting there, it being cold, and not having been to the park...I wasn't impressed with Thunderhead. It was fun, but it was just like 'whatever'. At that point I really didn't believe in the whole 'nite time makes a coaster better', but when I rode Thunderhead that nite, in the dark, it was a completely different ride. Sadly, you don't get to ride it at nite much.

In fact, Matt wasn't that impressed with Thunderhead before he got on it at nite either. Not sure why it's so much better (and I'm talking about during the day it's a 5, but at nite it's at least an 8), but it is. That's why I like going during the 'off season', I get to ride at nite, and to be honest, if Dollywood were more than 4 hours away, I wouldn't make the trip unless it was on the way.

I think it's a good family park. Not a thrill park by any means, but I also don't think they're trying to be as much a thrill park as they are trying to have a bit of everything. My first visit was in 2004, and the big new thing was Thunderhead (and btw, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Tornado!), but the park is SO different since I went the first time. The only part that hadn't really been touched was craftsman's valley, but with what they've added and are adding for 2011, it won't look as 'stale'.

P.S. The real reason that Dollywood is SO highly regarded by enthusiasts isn't as much for the rides as it is for the food. They don't call it Dollyfood for nothing.

But I do think you need to go during the spring/summer when the water rides are open. Slidewinder is really a great ride, and the park is beautiful in the spring. Unless, like me, you go opening weekend and it rains ;).

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, January 10, 2011 4:58 PM
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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:06 PM

By the way, does it make me less of an enthusiast than Carrie if I've only been to two Halloween events and zero parks between October and April? ;)

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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:08 PM

Yes.

Actually, I've only been to Carowinds and Kennywood during their Halloween events, though I never go specifically for the Halloween event. I think once I get back from Disney next week, the only months I can think of that I haven't ridden a coaster is Feb and November (and I'm not so sure about November).

Edit:

Gonch, Universal still does the skip the line (once) pass, I did it with my free SB ticket in Sept of 2009, and it was $20 (because it was the off season). I thought it was a great value at that price, but during the busy times it's $79. Not sure I'd pay that, but it helped me get a lot of rides on that day. Having said that, don't use it for rides like Disaster, Posideon, or any of the 'show' rides like those because you have to wait a mandatory 20 minutes, and it didn't help at all.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, January 10, 2011 5:13 PM
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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:13 PM

I confess, we love Dollywood. But, not from a "roller coaster enthusiast's" perspective. Rather an "amusement park enthusiast's" perspective. We've gone down twice now, both times in the summer, when the water park is also in full swing, and had perfectly enjoyable weeks both times. We also did other stuff---some go karting, some mini-golf, some MagiQuest, hiking in the Park---but we'd hit Dollywood or Splash Country for at least a brief visit most days we were there. We use it as the entertainment home base for our week, buying the combo season passes so that we can come and go whenever, and then add stuff on to it. Dollywood itself might not be a destination, but the area certainly is.

I also think Tek is spot on: if the Slidewinder isn't open, you're not really "at Dollywood". And, the food *is* good. The shows are great, too (better, IMO than the lineup at SFFT, but you probably do need to at least tolerate Mountain Music.)

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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:19 PM

Thunderhead - I does take a lot of work to travel to further away new parks, and I have felt that anticippointment as well with new rides that have been hyped. I do, however, disagree about Thunderhead, Carrie. It was one of the best, in my opinion. Dollywood is fantastic, though. Did you do Adventure Mountain, the challenge climbing course? It is better than any roller coaster, in my opinion.

I do wish that S&S would build more coasters like Tennessee Tornado. It is short but very unusual.

Religious Orlando theme park - Passion of the Christ haunted house! lol

Queue management - Jeff, you waited "so little", by utilizing Fastpass at Disney, but the time that you didn't wait had to go somewhere, right? It went to other people. I don't hate Fastpass, but someone has to get screwed.

Hate To Wait is priced perfectly, compared to other unlimited pay-to-cut systems, in my opinion. The cheaper it is, the more people want to use it, and the longer the overall wait times get. It's a fine balance.

Pepsi Refresh - That entire conversation was hilarious. And you are right; the situation is laughable.

Tron - was really cool. The art direction and the music was the reason to see this. The story lacked a little bit. I'm with Mike; I liked it a lot.

Avatar was an experience.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:31 PM

I don't even understand your question about Fastpass. No one got screwed. You either participate in the system or you don't. I was not given any special treatment. I didn't pay anymore than anyone else to get in.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:36 PM

LostKause said:
Queue management - Jeff, you waited "so little", by utilizing Fastpass at Disney, but the time that you didn't wait had to go somewhere, right? It went to other people. I don't hate Fastpass, but someone has to get screwed.

If someone has to get screwed, then let's remove that from the equation. What happens if we offer up 100% of the ride's capacity to Fastpass? No one gets screwed - everyone reserves a window of opportunity.

The logistics of running it perfectly would be insane so you'd still need a stand-by line of some kind with no wait or guarantee on riding...

Hold on - that's exactly what the stand-by line kinda is already... a stand-by line. It's not a queue anymore. The status-quo has changed. If you choose not to reserve a time (or reservations are no longer available) you can wait in the stand-by line for a chance with no guarantees. Airlines do it, restaurants do it, many shows do it. It's not a foreign concept.

It's like we said in the podcast - if you want to get on the ride, get a Fastpass. Otherwise, you can fly stand-by.

And this is all especially true of a system like Disney's where there is no upcharge involved.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, January 10, 2011 5:37 PM
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Monday, January 10, 2011 5:53 PM

Yeah, I'm still not seeing how people get 'screwed'. If you're in the standby line, barring mechanical failure or something comparable, you're going to get to ride, you just have to wait longer. Where has any park every said that you wouldn't wait a long time to ride their rides? I mean, we complain and moan about capacity and how some parks could be better at it, but I've never heard of Disney being in those complaints. They offer a day at the park, they don't guarantee you'll get to ride anything, the offer a standby line for those people who don't way to get an assigned time to ride.

Basically the parks that offer 'pay to cut' are charging you admission to the park and access to standby lines, or you can pay for a ticket and ride either right away, or at a time designated. You're only being guaranteed that if a ride is open, you can 'stand by' and wait your turn. If you purchase an upgrade, you're purchasing the right to ride then.

Why are we still saying people are getting screwed? Last time I looked, theme parks were a luxury, and one that many people don't even take advantage of because they don't enjoy them.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 7:02 PM

If someone doesn't use the fast-pass system and goes through the standby line, does that mean they're screwing everyone in line behind them? I'll never get why virtual queuing is so hard for some people to understand. If they're not using something that gets them to the front of the line, aren't they likely standing in line at some point anyway? Kind of a zero sum thing if you ask me. I assume this is the place in the script where you the anti virtual queue crowd will cite some instance where they saw a coaster train at a Six Flags park go out with empty seats on their trip 3 years ago as evidence that virtual queuing doesn't work.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 7:59 PM

Well, I could explain in great detail how, on a light-attendance day at Disneyland (when the stand-by line for the notorious Indiana Jones ride was less than 30 minutes all day long) the close of the evening fireworks show combined with the single biggest shortcoming of FastPass caused the FastPass line for Space Mountain to hit 40 minutes...I have no idea what that did to the stand-by queue, as I was at the front of that line...got there just as eleven hours' worth of FastPass holders all showed up at once...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 9:15 PM

I feel like I overhyped DollyWood and set Carrie up for disappointment. Sorry. I'm sure you'll enjoy the place more if you get to visit on a warm, sunny day. I still love the place and it is certainly a destination park for me. It's not that any one element makes me want to visit every year. It's the combination of several above average elements. We all like different stuff for different reasons and experience some of the same things differently. :)

Regarding "the more you ride, the less differences in rides you find.." For me personally, even after almost 600 coasters, I still like the variety I get from riding similar rides all over the place. Each one is a unique experience to me and just because I have similar ones closer to home, I still have the urge to get back to the rides farther away. I don't really rank rides either, other than having some I love, some I like and some I don't care to ever ride again. Even though I think The Voyage is the greatest coaster ever, I still crave riding Raven, Legend and all of the other "lesser" coasters that I enjoy, not to mention my personal favorite, the wimpy little Space Mountain at Disney World. Variety is what keeps me interested.

Last edited by Acoustic Viscosity, Monday, January 10, 2011 9:53 PM
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Monday, January 10, 2011 9:47 PM

Dave... you always have fringe cases for Fastpass, but I've never seen any evidence, or have first-hand experience, to show it is fatally flawed.

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Monday, January 10, 2011 9:57 PM

Jeff, "getting screwed" wasn't the point. The point I was trying to make is that when you and I and everyone else who knows how to really take advantage of Fastpass do so, someone else who doesn't know how to take advantage of it, or even someone else who wasn't there earlier in the day to get a Fastpass, pay for our great experience.

bigboy said:
I assume this is the place in the script where you the anti virtual queue crowd will cite some instance where they saw a coaster train at a Six Flags park go out with empty seats on their trip 3 years ago as evidence that virtual queuing doesn't work.

It's funny that you should mention that. Just today, I read a Magic Mountain trip report on another popular roller coaster enthusiast website (that we hate. lol) that Riddler's Revenge, Tatsu, and Revolution all had two-hour waits, with only one train running each. I bet they sold a lot of Gold Flashpasses that day. I know that would have caused me to march to the Lo-Q booth and rent one. Would that have caused any of you to rent a bot too?

Therefore, it you wanted to have a good "riding" day at SFMM, you had to shell out even more money to be able to get on a reasonable amount of rides. If I owned a park, and I wanted to sell more Q-Bot$, lowering capacity and making the lines ridiculously long would be the easiest way to do so.

When I do finally make it out to Magic Mountain, I plan on just springing for the Gold bot, not because it may be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me, but because that park is notorious for long lines and crappy capacity, and I want to be able to ride some rides on my one, and only, visit. :) I feel like when visiting a SF park, I need to include a bot rental in the admission price, in order to get rid of the problem of having other people cut in front of me. That makes for a poor value, in my opinion, and the disgusting feeling of being blackmailed. :)

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Monday, January 10, 2011 10:32 PM

It's the middle of January and they're a year round park. When would you do your train maintenance? It's entirely possible that every instance may not be part of a vast conspiracy to take your money. Then again... maybe it is.

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