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 10:43 PM
LostKause's avatar

Well, you could be right. If "I" ran a year-round park, I would always have an extra train for each coaster on site, just for maintenance purposes.

Monday, January 10, 2011 10:46 PM
Jeff's avatar

LostKause said:
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.

That's the weakest argument ever. It assumes that people are too stupid to read a brochure or ask a cast member what Fastpass is. Seriously dude, we've been through this with you a hundred times. Why are you so insistant that the system is unfair?

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, January 10, 2011 11:00 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

LostKause said:
I bet they sold a lot of Gold Flashpasses that day.

Mayhaps. But seeing as how there aren't an infinite amount of Q-Bots, which are considered limited and expensive, maybe they didn't.

Would that have caused any of you to rent a bot too?

No, because I wouldn't have went to one of the largest parks in the country, just outside of one of the largest metro areas in the country on a Sunday.

Therefore, it you wanted to have a good "riding" day at SFMM

And there in lies the rub. You're assuming that everyone there is going to have a good riding day. Is that why the average guest goes? To ride as much as they possibly can? Cause when I went with my family, we watched shows, ate, rode some rides together, and on the big rides that my parents wouldn't ride, us kids didn't care if we had to wait in line, we just wanted to ride. I suspect much hasn't changed.

you had to shell out even more money to be able to get on a reasonable amount of rides.

Just like I'm about to shell out a bunch more money to see Janet Jackson front and center in a couple months at Radio City Music Hall. I guess I'm screwing all of those people that either can't afford to go/sit up close, or don't get tickets on time.

And I wanted to comment on the 'gaming the system with knowledge' angle. I'm screwing someone because I choose to educate myself on how to use the system or when tickets are available? Wow. I can't help it someone else didn't care enough to educate themselves.

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.

Except that you always seem to forget that parks make money by selling stuff other than tickets and q bots, and if the lines are ridiculously long, people start to leave, and stop spending money, therefore that would be a bad strategy. And in the report you reference, even Alvey said that the park seemed to be having an off day, as it been like that in quite a while, but it was this past Sunday. Wonder how many times he's been on a weekend during the last few years? You know, on the weekend, when it gets busy, because people aren't in school or working...

That makes for a poor value, in my opinion, and the disgusting feeling of being blackmailed. :)

And that you see it as a poor value is fine. Many other people don't feel that way, otherwise the park likely wouldn't be open. And you can't be blackmailed into paying more money at a luxury complex. Theme Parks are a luxury, not a right, and you're never being blackmailed when they try to make you spend more money (you know, like every other business ever created that was successful).

If "I" ran a year-round park, I would always have an extra train for each coaster on site, just for maintenance purposes.

And would you raise gate prices to cover that, or try and sell more Q-Bots to cover that?

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, January 10, 2011 11:06 PM

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Monday, January 10, 2011 11:41 PM
obxKevin's avatar

Anyways, the outtakes at the end of the podcast were phenomenal. Mike waiting til the introductions to point out the year and Jeff's reaction actually made me lol.

One of my favorite episodes

The poster formerly known as 'Zcorpius.' Joined 2004
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:03 AM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Jeff said:

That's the weakest argument ever. It assumes that people are too stupid to read a brochure or ask a cast member what Fastpass is. Seriously dude, we've been through this with you a hundred times. Why are you so insistant that the system is unfair?

Not to mention, you can't turn on the TV in your hotel room in the morning without seeing the girl talking about all the benefits. It's pretty hard to miss Fast Pass at Disney.

Even if someone manages to somehow completely miss all the advertisements and signage, I'm sure those random "robot box thingies" near every ride are going to stir up some interest.

R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:55 AM
LostKause's avatar

I wasn't really talking about just knowing how to use it. I was commenting about how to really take advantage of it. You know, like grabbing 10 Fastpasses in the morning to use later in the day, among other tricks. I'm not against it, because I use it. Sometimes, something about using it just doesn't feel right though. I feel like I am taking more than my share, because I might know a trick or two that other people do not.

Why did waiting in line for a ride at an amusement park have to get so complicated?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 9:59 AM
Raven-Phile's avatar

I think grabbing 10 of them in the morning is against the rules, and really takes some planning or pressing buttons that you're not supposed to. I prefer to just get that as I'm able to, and enjoy my day.

R.I.P LeRoi Moore 9/7/61 - 8/19/2008
Tuesday, January 11, 2011 10:59 AM
rollergator's avatar

Disney won't allow you to "break the rules" regarding FastPass. How exactly those rules are set up is debatable (for instance, those who prefer to sleep in won't be able to use the system *as effectively* as those who do mornings and/or mornings and evenings). But you can only acquire one fastpass per ticket per time-frame - you may USE them at your discretion any time during or after your designated ride window. I believe the "of after" part may have been what Dave ran across in his example re: Space Mountain's long FP queue at night.

Myself, I do try to use the system to its fullest....within reason. When my brother and his family visited last year, they were pretty amazed at how much we got to do without waiting in bad lines. Having non-riders in your party is a HUGE plus for that...because their tickets can be used to get some "extra" FPs...ones that come in really handy when the smaller ones are doing character meals or whatever... ;)

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 12:10 PM
Jeff's avatar

LostKause said:
Why did waiting in line for a ride at an amusement park have to get so complicated?

That was exactly my point. It's not complicated. And even if it was, that's not what you were arguing. You were contending that it's unfair.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:14 PM
LostKause's avatar

Even when I have the advantage, I do feel as if it is a bit unfair. I honestly realize that it's an unpopular notion.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:19 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'll never feel like it's unfair to take advantage of the ability to reserve a spot for anything rather than wait in some sort of stand-by line.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:26 PM

Is it unfair to preorder the hot new video game release to guarantee you'll pick it up on day one?

Just asking...

"You seem healthy. So much for voodoo."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 11:34 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Yes. Even more so if you put a down payment on said game.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 12:44 AM
LostKause's avatar

I'm kind of not getting the analogy with the video game pre-orders, but I have quite an opinion against that as well. If I just absolutely NEED the game the first day it comes out, I'll go out and get it the first day it comes out. I've never seen a store run out of a new game on release day. Pre-order is a ploy for the gullible, in most cases, playing on the fear that one could miss out. :)

...But that's another topic.

I understand that everyone is gaga for being able benefit by messing around with the unspoken rule of lines. I'm not gaga for it, but I have no choice but to use it. I've accepted it, over time, because I can't change it. I have to play the game, or get out of the ballpark, so to speak. :D

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 1:32 AM

Jeff: I tend to visit at odd times of the year, and that's part of it. When Indiana Jones and the Three Hour Line is posting a five minute wait at Noon...or heck, when Dumbo is posting a 20-minute wait (!)...then you know there is something screwy going on. The instruction given was to come up with some strange reason, so I figured I'd address the challenge at hand. 8-)

I guess I was the schmuck that day. It never occurred to me that I shouldn't actually *use* the FastPass tickets I had collected. Grabbing the tickets and then using them long after their stated expiration isn't against the rules, but it is not the way the system is intended to work. It results in both overloads and underloads of the fastpass entry. I wouldn't say it means the system is fatally flawed, but it does indicate ways in which it is imperfect, and in fact points out the *necessity* of the standby queue. Which is, of course, the part that Cedar Point completely overlooked back in 2000, but that's another discussion altogether!

I know someone has already mentioned this, but for the sake of completeness...

KPJB: Far back in the mists of time, back when men were real men, women were real women, small furry creatures from the Crab Nebula were real small furry creatures from the Crab Nebula, and most important, back when Tierco was still an unremarkable real estate company in Kansas City...(and, I daresay, probably before many people reading this were even born! That's frightening!)... Way back then, when Six Flags bought a roller coaster, they typically bought n+1 trains for it, where n is the maximum number of trains the ride was capable of running. The idea was that they could always run at full capacity that way, even if a train had to be pulled for maintenance. And at Magic Mountain, that meant they could continue to operate multiple trains even during off-season maintenance.

Of course, for today's Six Flags it isn't n+1 trains anymore. Now it's one working train, one train being worked on in the shop, and a bunch of parts cars standing by to serve as organ donors...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 3:47 AM

What's the difference between Fastpass, and say, calling a few days ahead to a popular restaurant and making a reservation for a specific time? Sure, you arrive there, to find there's others waiting for tables, but you get seated because you made a reservation. Are those people getting screwed because you thought ahead? They had the same opportunity to call ahead, but didn't. Right?

Michael McCormack

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 8:14 AM

If you guys really want to discuss fairness, stand up in the airplane on the way down to Orlando and ask each person back there in coach how much they paid for their ticket. Everyone going the same place, getting the same service, in the same uncomfortable conditions. You are likely to find a variance of $200-$300. Is that fair? Not hardly...but we all take it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:14 AM

Noble Family Fact #1: Life is not fair. You can wish Fact #1 weren't true. You can be sad that Fact #1 is true. Doesn't matter. It's simply fact. Accept it, and move on.

I completely accept that those who do not use virtual queueing systems are at a disadvantage compared to those who do use them. There's just no debating that. You can debate the degree of disadvantage (I'd argue it is modest) but it certainly is there. Free VQ systems (Disney) reward those who get to the park early and take the time to understand the system, at the expense of the lazy and stupid. Pay-to-cut systems (everyone but Disney) reward those willing to spend more to have a better day, at the expense of those not willing to do so. And, at some level, that's just vastly better than the airplane situation; in an airplane, you get at most next to nothing for paying more (maybe a better seat, a few extra FF miles, and a marginally better chance of an upgrade; usually, you get just plain old nothing). In a pay-to-cut system, at least you get to skip a few lines.

As an aside, the Noble Family Facts address every childhood complaint I've ever heard. The Family Facts turn out to be useful in other domains as well. For reference, the other Facts are:
Fact #2: You have the meanest parents ever.
Fact #3: You are not the center of the universe.

For example:

Spawn: "Dad, everyone else has a phone, why can't I have one?"
Me: "Fact #2".
Spawn: "But that's not fair!"
Me: "Fact #1".
Spawn: "I hate you!"
Me: "Fact #2, again."
Spawn: "But I really really want one!"
Me: "Fact #3."

It's great.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, January 12, 2011 9:16 AM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 10:14 AM
Vater's avatar

LostKause said:
Sometimes, something about using it just doesn't feel right though. I feel like I am taking more than my share, because I might know a trick or two that other people do not.

Would you feel the same way if you were offered more money than your coworkers for the same job because you have more experience than they do?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 5:49 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

You know, I never thought of it tha way but thats a good analogy.

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