CoasterEXT Q&A - Cutbacks and Cost Cutting is the Future

Jeff said:
And that makes you chuckle based on your many years of experience maintaining old rides, right?

Zero years experience maintaining rides. I think you missed my point. I understand the reason they don't want to keep the Skyscraper is that the upkeep is costly - I wish that was the way Bill Spehn explained it... There are plenty of rides around that are old, well maintained and still operating wonderfully; blaming a ride's age for the reason to remove it is silly in that context.

MDOmnis said:
Bill Spehn might not be a great public speaker and might not even always "say the right things" like a PR person might, but I suspect you were hearing his honest thoughts about what is obviously a very tough situation. I'd rather hear that than a bunch of sugar coated BS.

I very much agree with you. However, my hopes going into the Q&A was that Bill Spehn would have some positive things to say about the park's future and offer some hope that my speculation about cutbacks is wrong. I applaud him for offering an honest, straight opinion about the park. Regardless, that doesn't mean I'm still not disappointed with what I heard.

Jeff said:
The original post in this thread demonstrates the complete lack of understanding that this is a business, and one that Six Flags failed to understand.

How long will everyone play the blame game and idolize Cedar Fair while demonizing Six Flags? I don't understand that this is a business?.. Um, thats exactly WHY i fear the cutbacks. The goal of a business is to maximize its profit through whatever means necessary; however, while this may be great for the business, it is not always great for the customer. When airlines cutback to lower their costs they make more money... and they piss off a lot of customers. When tech companies cutback on call centers or outsource them to lower costs, they make more money... and offer the customer a much poorer experience. I get the point, I think that your post demonstrates the complete lack of understanding that cutbacks make the customer experience worse. I'm a customer, not a Cedar Fair executive; my concerns are different from the company's and don't think I should be belittled for voicing that concern.

Jeff's avatar
Who is getting a poor experience? You're attributing it to the fact that they're pulling out rides that you like, and neglecting to see the bigger picture. I visit on lunch and have a great time, and I'm threatening bringing the swimming trunks at this point!

You aren't being belittled for voicing concern, you're being belittled for the tone of your original post, which as others have already pointed out greatly exaggerates the state of the park as falling into a downward spiral. I bet if you surveyed guests, you'd hear a lot of comments like those that Brian made above.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

I would love to survey guests, but consider who I'd be talking to. The attendance at Geauga Lake has been so poor over the past several years that the people who are inside are those who haven't been so turned off as to not show up anymore. I'm not going to go into a retail store and ask the shoppers if they like the store and its merchandise, who is going to say they don't like it? I am sorry, but your logic is flawed.

Perhaps if my tone exaggerates the state of the park then the entire Q&A did as well. I went, I listened, I reported what I heard. Did you?

Jeff's avatar
So my logic is flawed because the people you'd ask don't know any better? I don't understand what you're getting at. People don't know they're enjoying themselves?

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Let me guess: Positive comments = Intamin hyper
Negative comments = anything shorter than 200 feet.

My local CF park draws wayyyyy more than 700,000 people and has never had the following items:

-A full-circuit inverted coaster
-More than seven waterslides
-Rides themed to ANY character
-A wavepool
-A looping coaster using later than 70s technology
-A waterpark update in the last ten years
-A park official who'd answer self-serving questions from RCT-trained armchair quarterbacks

Count your blessings.
Heaven knows I've already listed a bunch...


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

ShiveringTim's avatar
Here's what I saw at GL on Saturday afternoon:

- A line for Dominator that stretched at least to the queues under the cobra roll
- A line on the Tornado slide that filled the stairs
- A parking lot where I had to park near sign B-1 (which is conveniently located next to B-FE :) )
- A Villain that is running much better than the past few seasons
- A chance for a repeat and then some next weekend when Cleveland Clinic shows up
- A Pittsburgh steel workers union picnic. Obviously, they chose to travel to Aurora than to stay relatively close in West Mifflin.

Read what you will from these observations, but it appears to me that some part of the new cost-cutting plan is working as people are showing up. Not sure if the crowds were there for EXT, other picnics, or just a day at the park, but I hope that this isn't the last day like this at GL.
*** Edited 6/18/2007 6:07:36 PM UTC by ShiveringTim***

Scott - Proud Member of The Out-Of-Town Coaster Weirdos

ShiveringTim said:

- A Pittsburgh steel workers union picnic. Obviously, they chose to travel to Aurora than to stay relatively close in West Mifflin.

That's what surprised me the most. It's a strong statement that the park can draw a Pittsburgh steel workers union for a company picnic where KW could not. I know it's not a huge deal but I do think it is a step in the right direction.

Paddle Faster! I hear banjo music.

^ I would not put too much into a Pittsburgh union attending GL vs. KW. While it is great news for GL, they need much more than just this one union.

KW does not have anything new in 2007 that is a big draw. Chances are, those in this particular union have been attending KW for many years and needed a breath of fresh air. GL was a perfect fit.

And GL probably gave them a great price for their travel.

Jason Hammond's avatar
^^^On Friday at Cedar Point Bryan Edwards said that including onsite registration, about 1700 people signed up for CoasterMania. I would think it was less than that for CoasterEXT. The EXT attendees were obviously a decent percentage of the guests, but I'd still say the crouds that were at the park were definatly better than I've seen in a while. *** Edited 6/18/2007 6:20:41 PM UTC by Jason Hammond***

884 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

ShiveringTim's avatar
By my estimate, there were around 300-400 EXT attendees...enough to fill two picnic pavillions.

Scott - Proud Member of The Out-Of-Town Coaster Weirdos
^^^^^^^ (^x7)

Jeff, I think what Paul was pointing out was that if you survey guests who are in the park, you're introducing bias into your survey. The sample (people currently attending the park) isn't the same as the population (people who have ever attended the park). These are the customers (many of them, at least) who have seen what Cedar Fair is doing and have chosen to come back. So naturally you're going to get a more favorable response than if you were to survey the greater pool of people. That's like asking people at a Tribe game, "Do you like the Indians?" and expecting a scientifically useful result.

That's not to say surveying guests at the park doesn't have its uses, just not the one you suggested.

My author website:

Jeff's avatar
You can't have an opinion on the park if you're not in it! His original assertion is that the all of the "cutbacks and cost cutting" hurts the park. My point is that it does not.

If it's his intent to argue that there's a perception problem out in the wild, well, yeah, no kidding. We've been over that countless other times. That's not how he slugged the topic though.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

So -- playing dumb here -- since I'm not currently standing in Hersheypark, I can't have an opinion about the place or how it's run?

As far as the effects of the cost cutting, I think we'll get the full picture after the season closes and CF posts quarterlies. In the meantime, anybody who thinks they can give you an accurate picture of how GL is doing based on some anecdotal observations from a couple visits is obtuse. I've been there on two different days in 2007, and quite frankly the crowds were pretty light on both. But I wouldn't use that as a basis to authoritatively state how the park is faring this year. I would hope that it's doing well, and that Cedar Fair knows what it's doing to achieve that result. But CF makes its share of mistakes as well, and the devotion and loyalty of enthusiasts to the chain does not change that fact. So in the end, only time will tell.

My author website:

I think the corporate approach that the park has had since the late nineties, has been a problem. Plus yes the changes certainly have never helped. The problem is that with it being a smaller park, in a state ran with two larger parks in the same chain now i think they should really market it to some of those people. I know it sounds crazy but i can tell you that geauga lake has that one selling point to market itself that kings island and cedar point do not. They have the best waterpark of the three.

Also if were going on to that, im sure its not enough to draw those people who are more familiar with rides, because im sure most of your general public go to the others go for water parks, but it offers all in one. I believe that when you look at geauga lake now, it seems that even marketing the rides would almost be a moot point for those people, but especially it would be nice for that southern audience would be apt for a visit to both northern parks, if maybe they could put some plans together for a deal to both. It would help maybe draw more for them.

Obviously also you look at the area you have a lower income city, nearby, i dont know if marketing cedar point does so well in cleveland. Geauga Lake would be a good option, but i know they have been trying. It would be interesting to see figures of the people that go from cleveland to each park. But the corporate approach has ruined the park. When it was Funtime it seemed like it was just done for everyone. I miss those days but im not saying that the park isnt fun, and that it doesnt have the potential. It just really needs to find its niche, it seems misguided for the last 9-10 years. Cause when my family of four went there it was just a normal trip maybe just to eat and ride a few rides for a few hours. Cedar Point or any other park that we would go to was special. It had a way back then, it had its family approach and cedar point was just hitting its stride as a thrills provider in the late 80s.

The truth is lowering prices within might also help because when you can eat for a less and even park for less it seems that maybe that might allow for more spending within the park or savings for people if they enjoy amusement parks. I also agree that the corporate outings need to come back the big one is still the cleveland clinic. It all stems back to non-union work at the water park. Aligning these problems with the corporate approach might allow for some improvement. Although i am not an investor or a business man of any kind people like to have a good time, and save some money doing it. I also do like the ticket price, i dont see a problem with that. They have done that right, but other approaches are still needed, kennywood is slowly starting to take the area over with its advertising. I dont necessarily know also how that is cutting into attendance, but when other parks are putting themselves into play, any possibly more to offer it hurts. Most people who own passes to the cedar fair parks probably overlook the simplicity of geauga lake, in the rides department, because of a bad rap it has been getting, ie the word around needs to spread, mainly the waterpark.

Resident Arrow Dynamics Whore

matt. said:
I believe in a previous thread I had found that World's of Fun does around 800,000 year.

Last year Worlds of Fun did over 1.2 Million. I cannot not show you that in print, but can assure you that the park did VERY WELL last year and is one of the more profitable parks in the chain after PNL is taken out for operational costs.

Jason Hammond's avatar
I thought Cedar Fair didn't publish attendance nembers on a park by park basis. They'll say it went up 2% or down 3%, but they don't actualy tell you the number.

884 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries My YouTube

Jeff's avatar
It varies a lot by year, and sometimes it's just a remark in conference calls.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Jason you are correct, in the press releases that they publish they are going by location now as opposed to the park by park. My figures come from random discussions that I have had with the park itself and not from Home Office

Swoosh said:
Last year Worlds of Fun did over 1.2 Million. I cannot not show you that in print, but can assure you that the park did VERY WELL last year and is one of the more profitable parks in the chain after PNL is taken out for operational costs.

Of course WoF received a big marketable attraction last year so the fact that attendance was at least that high is not surprising.

It's kind of odd with the CF quarterly results they don't mention the smaller parks much at all, maybe a quick note that maybe Dorney's attendance was up or Valleyfair's in park spending was flat, but you don't get a real gage on how some of the parks are doing when they announce the quarterly results. When it comes to GL most of the words used are "disappointing" or "hasn't performed to where we would have liked". And we usually don't hear that until after the season is over.

X Factor *** Edited 6/22/2007 12:56:51 AM UTC by X Factor***

Actually the largest influx of attendance was during Halloweekends at Worlds of Fun which has proved time and again to be the "cash cow" for WoF.

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