Dick Kinzel reflects on 39 years at Cedar Fair

Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2011 3:26 PM | Contributed by Jeff

For Cedar Point, its parent firm, Cedar Fair LP, and especially for Dick Kinzel, things will change again in a very large way on Jan. 3 when the 71-year-old chief executive officer retires after 39 years with the Sandusky-based amusement park company -- 25 years as its top executive.

Read more from The Toledo Blade.

Thursday, January 5, 2012 1:49 AM

Fluff pieces in general don't annoy me too much provided they are filling in for the lack of any other real news happening. What annoys the crap out of me is when real news doesn't get fully covered to make time/space for some stupid fluff piece. That's when my blood starts to boil.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 8:57 AM
Vater's avatar

That's kind of what I was getting at in my last post. Then again, to me there's almost always enough real news to fill an hour. It's the 24-hour news stations that could get away with the occasional fluff piece, but even then people generally don't tune into those stations for hours at a time. Well, my wife does, sort of...but she's not really 'tuned in' the whole time, with the kids in the house.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 9:20 AM
Carrie J.'s avatar

What is considered to be fluff news anyway? I'm not sure I know the concept. Sounds to me to be something of an opinion rather than an objective concept.


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 9:28 AM
Jeff's avatar

Objectivity is exactly the issue, actually. When you report news in an objective way, you certainly follow a lot of basic concepts in terms of how you organize a piece (inverted pyramid, lead, and what not), but you give context that is generally representative of what you're reporting on, without bias. Of course, humans are inherently biased, but you do your best to judge what offers the most complete context for the space you have. These days, the space consideration has gone away since so much is posted online and not in physical space on paper.

Fluff tends to leave out context or serve more along the lines of entertainment. Not saying there isn't a place for that, but as a few of us have said, it seems like it's all that now. And really, a feature that isn't straight news can still offer objectivity and context, and still be entertaining.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 9:35 AM

I suspect that fluff is in the eyes of the beholder.

You also need to look at the goals of the various news outlets/media. One major goal is to make a profit. And not all viewers/readers are looking for 100% news at all times (or in many cases anything close to it). And a lot of folks do not want news coverage that goes into much detail either (our attention spans haven't increased at this point). Outlets/media will give us what we want (and that often times is not what we probably need).

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 9:41 AM
Carrie J.'s avatar

I guess I'm still a little stuck on my opinion that this wasn't a fluff piece simply because a single event wasn't mentioned. Though I can see how a reflection of one's own career isn't really "news" for the masses.

But, seriously, if you think this was fluff because it omitted the GL purchase, why post it in your news forum? Especially if one of your causes is railing against fluff journalism?

Even considering that most (all?) amusement industry news has an entertainment hue, don't we see a lot of news threads based on articles that we think lack context and journalistic value? If you're as passionate as you indicate on the topic, perhaps you could help matters by not giving "bad" journalism a space on this site. (Truly just a suggestion. Think of it as akin to the way you always challenge people who think the discussions lack value to do something about it through their own participation.)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:57 AM
Jeff's avatar

I need the page views. :)

Seriously though, CoasterBuzz serves as an aggregator more than anything, not a true journalistic endeavor. If I skipped on everything that was suboptimal, there wouldn't be much to post at all. That's part of what causes my annoyance. You used to just expect that from small papers, but even the big ones drift too frequently into the realm of weak reporting.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 9:50 PM

Jeff said:
Objectivity is exactly the issue, actually. When you report news in an objective way, you certainly follow a lot of basic concepts in terms of how you organize a piece (inverted pyramid, lead, and what not), but you give context that is generally representative of what you're reporting on, without bias. Of course, humans are inherently biased, but you do your best to judge what offers the most complete context for the space you have. These days, the space consideration has gone away since so much is posted online and not in physical space on paper.

Fluff tends to leave out context or serve more along the lines of entertainment. Not saying there isn't a place for that, but as a few of us have said, it seems like it's all that now. And really, a feature that isn't straight news can still offer objectivity and context, and still be entertaining.

There is definitely a blur between reporting, editorializing and entertainment (ratings whoring). Our culture of celebrity worship doesn't help either, and probably helps drive the ratings whoring. Another thing I once heard, and may sum up the entire problem, is that nowadays the reporters feel the need to insert themselves into the story.

No longer is it reported that "police found a dead body..." Now it's "Channel 24 was first on the scene when police found a dead body..." The focus changes from both the dead body and the police investigation to how great this particular TV station is. "Tune in for our exclusive report about whatever." It's no longer about the hurricane, it's about Jim Cantore's standing on the beach with the wind and rain blowing wildly.

We're the best, so watch us. Even better, advertise with us. That brings in another angle, because the paper or TV station is not going to print or broadcast something that will piss of its advertisers or be critical of them in any way. Print something about Dick Kinzel screwing up with Geauga Lake and maybe the Toledo Blade doesn't get the scoop on anything big and new happening at Cedar Point.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 11:23 PM

In the 1780's few were probably interested in Washington's opinion of his tenure commanding the Continental Army. Today, of course, such a record would be considered an historical treasure.

Not that DK is in the same league as Washington, but in the future Kinzel's opinion of his tenure might be of interest to anyone researching CP/CF history, even if today it is considered "fluff."


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Thursday, January 5, 2012 11:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

But is it history if it's incomplete? It seems to me that if you want to regard it as a historical record, leaving out really important parts of it is "bad."

RGB points out the dance moves a lot of "reporters" do, and nowhere is this as bad as it is in technology news circles. No one wants to piss off Apple because, from big paper gadget reporters down to college kid bloggers, because no one wants to be banned from the party and miss out.

I've had to play that game even here to an extent, but there's still a line I eventually draw. You can bet that I've been denied access to media events and dissed for future events for stories I've linked to. Nevermind that it was bona fide news you could get anywhere on the Internet.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012 5:21 PM

Depends what you regard as history. Certainly the interview is not a comprehensive history of DK's time at CF, but DK's view of his tenure is a part of history.

You're right, DK didn't think GL was his "worst moment," but that attitude is a part of CF's history. Equally a part of CF's history: the fact that DK's attitudes on his tenure (as expressed in that article, anyway) focus almost exclusively on CP, with a little bit of other Ohio parks thrown in.

BTW, I view history as a collection of documents from the time period. Neither Grant nor Lee could write a comprehensive history of Gettysburg, but their memoirs are certainly a part of the written history of Gettysburg.


This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Thursday, January 12, 2012 2:46 PM
Fun's avatar

I was able to find the Kermes & Park Review magazine at home with the Kinzel Interview:

K&PR: Looking back, do you have any regrets?

Dick Kinzel: Probably that we couldn't convert Geauga Lake. It was a big investment for us, and we thought we could get 2.5 million people there annually, and we put a lot of money into it, but it just didn't work out.

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Friday, January 13, 2012 5:20 PM

I think GL's record was about 1.5m visitors. Why on earth would he think he could bring about a 60%+ increase over the record?

Clearly, any plan for GL should have been based on 1.5m or so visitors--and that would require it being as big of a draw as Dorney.

Last edited by Captain Hawkeye, Friday, January 13, 2012 5:22 PM

This Isn't A Hospital--It's An Insane Asylum!

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Saturday, January 14, 2012 12:01 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Maybe Dick doesn't think Geauga Lake was his worst moment because WWK actually contributes significantly to the company's bottom line now.

As for the attendance numbers, the highest the combined Six Flag's Worlds of Adventure did was 2.5 million which is what I am assuming Dick was alluding too. Before the park was branded Six Flags Ohio it was averaging 1.5 million, give or take. As Six Flags Ohio it was close to 2 million.

Dick's failure with the park was trying to make Geauga Lake a carbon copy of Cedar Point but with the Geauga Lake name. People came expecting Geauga Dog and the Fun Bunch, or they came expecting a lot of the heritage from Geauga Lake to return and it wasn't there. Regardless what anyone reads online, the park WAS improving; it was Dick who was impatient and killed any chance the park had by making decisions like cancelling the VERY successful Haunt event in the Fall, thinking a lot of the work could be done by the full-time staff at Cedar Point (who frankly could care less about GL), and on and on. The nail in the coffin was the day the Paramount purchase went through forcing Cedar Fair to take on enormous debt, had that not occured Geauga Lake would still be open.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Saturday, January 14, 2012 12:02 PM
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Saturday, January 14, 2012 7:19 PM
Jeff's avatar

Really? This many years later we're going to revert to the "he killed it" stuff? At some point, you have to cut your losses. His error wasn't impatience, it was buying the property in the first place. Geauga Lake was done when Busch sold SeaWorld. That was a symbiotic relationship that lasted for decades, and at some point in the late 90's, it stopped working. When Busch started treating single-day tickets as season passes, the writing was on the wall.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Sunday, January 15, 2012 12:50 AM
mlnem4s's avatar

Jeff, all I can say is you have been wrong about comments related to Great America and you are wrong about comments you make related to Geauga Lake. There is a lot that you, and the people you talk to at Cedar Point, are not privy to. That is all I am going to say.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012 12:23 PM
Jeff's avatar

Whatever dude.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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