Does crowd level affect one's opinion of a park?

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:15 PM
Interesting theory I had while at Great Adventure a few weeks ago. It was my first visit to the park and it was dead. When I say dead, I mean everything was a walk-on. I had a great day, not only because I could ride everything, but I enjoyed the other things the park had to offer like it's unique buildings, it's rather odd "comfort" center, and the friendly employees (especially the ride ops who do their own spiels).

I theorized, however, that if the park was getting killed with attendance and lines were an hour plus for every attraction that my opinion might have differed. Waiting in long lines and the inability to ride everything I wanted would have made me grumpy and when one is grumpy, they start noticing things that are wrong, and ignoring the things that are right.

I guess my theory took real flight when I started seeing other reviews from the park over the last couple of weeks. Those reviews, for the most part were negative. Most of the reviews painted the park as a typical Six Flags park with inefficient operations, rude employees, and just an overall sour time. I started to wonder if they had visited the same park...

Then I realized that all of these people visited the park on days where lines where atrocious and they got very few rides in during the day.

I then think back to my Magic Mountain experience from a few years back. It is probably the worst amusement park experience I've had. But, to be fair, the park was packed to the gills and it was 108 in the shade that day. Did that affect my opinion? Heck, I've read great reports from the park, but they were all on days where they were walking on to all the rides and waiting only a half hour to ride X.

So, I put this question to you. Do you think crowd levels affect your opinion of a park?

It's the old catch-22. You want to the park to be busy so that the park gets attendance and does well and stays in business. You just dont want the park to be busy the day you are there. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:22 PM
For me, without a doubt.

And the more parks I get to, the less patience I have with crowds.

But the more I've been to a park, the less pressure there is to get on things and the crowds tend to bother less.

I think that's why my favorite parks tend to be the ones I've visited the most.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:25 PM
I absolutely believe crowd levels affect my opinion. I think I said that some time back, maybe even recently.

Case in point: SFGAM ;). My first and only trip there was on the first day of an 8 day Chicago school trip. I had actually just graduated, but it was the summer right after graduation. We were on a bus all nite, I didn't sleep hardly at all, the day was hot, the park was crowded. Aside from the fact that everything at that point (end of June, 1999) needed a fresh coat of paint, the park was fairly nice.

But at this point, I prefer SFA to SFGAm. The lines were long, it was hot, I was exhausted from being on a bus with a bunch of other kids all nite long. The coasters were good, but it was far too busy.

Then I think about SFMM in March. Sure, the park needs paint. Sure, the coasters need maintained. But my first half of the day, which wasn't busy and I got on quite a few coasters, was really good. The latter half of the day, with long lines and closing rides, really made me see why people think what they do about SFMM.

OTOH, Knott's was far from empty. But because of Early Solace ERT, which got me on Xcel, Supreme, Boomer, Monty, and Jag, I then had the mid-morning after opening to do things like the mine ride and log flume and Silver Bullet. Then we did lunch, My friend and I went back to our room for a nap while everyone else in our group went to Scandia, and I went back at around 7pm, where the line for Monty and Xcel were longer, but I was still in a better mood. Then I had nite time ERT on Ghosty and Silver Bullet, and once the group got back from Scandia, I hit Plunge, the top spin, the afterburner, and then hit the ERT. All with friends. One of the best days at a park, ever.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:28 PM
Absolutely. I enjoy myself a lot more at an empty park than a crowded one. That said...

There are some crowded parks that I enjoy than empty ones. I'd rather deal with long lines at Kennywood rather than short lines at SFMM. There are parks that any amount of light crowds wouldn't be able to improve.

But all in all, I have a much higher opinion of a park that had light crowds than one that had heavy ones.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:28 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
And the more parks I get to, the less patience I have with crowds.

Amen! I have very little patience for crowds at this point, and make it a point to visit parks when I know crowds will be lowered.

But the more I've been to a park, the less pressure there is to get on things and the crowds tend to bother less.

Absolutely! When I go to PCar or Myrtle Beach, I don't worry so much about fitting stuff in. I've done it all before (unless it is new, which I head to first), and so I can just do the things I really like again and again, while taking breaks for food, sights, etc.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:31 PM
I don't know. I suppose that can vary for me.

I remember during the CPlaya 100 SFGAM trip how waiting for a guest services rep (5 minutes), season pass processing (20 minutes) or my food tab (maybe 10 minutes) annoyed the living crap outta me...but standing an hour-plus for an on-again, off-again, on-again, off and finally running DV didn't bother me in the slightest.

Or how waiting with friends on a packed day at VF for coasters I walked on a month earlier didn't bug me because the line was constantly moving.

I suppose perception is everything. If you don't feel you should be waiting, thirty seconds is aggravating.


Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:35 PM
I'm annoyed by crowds, sure, but I am able to garner an opinion on a park regardless of crowd size. That being said I do take into consideration how a park handles a crowd. I don't care if I have to wait an hour in line if the ride is being run at its best capacity and the line is moving. Nothing can ruin a day more than waiting in a line -- long or short -- only because the ride is being run understaffed or with few vehicles.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:36 PM
I think it depends for me. I can take immense crowds, heat, etc as long as lines are moving and employees are doing thier job (ie getting people through AND providing good guest service).

On the other hand, when you get to a park and you wait a good 30 minutes plus just to get into the parking lot it does something to you. Its like you already have that "this is gonna suck" mentality in your head. So no matter what happens, during the day nothing will truly please you because you already have a bad impression up front.

The best park day for me is a balance between walk on and madness. I actually like a little bit of a wait, adds to the experience. Hearing people scream, seeing hands in the air, the sight of full capacity operation on rides...something I love to be a part of. *** Edited 6/8/2005 7:39:24 PM UTC by haiderodes***

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:38 PM
Yah I agree. When I was inline for Millenium Force two summers ago for the first time, I waited 2 hours, but had a blast because I was just so excited to ride it. At my home park (Valleyfair!), I am used to thirty minute lines and walk-ons. But if I go early in the season I get everything done in two hours and am kind of bored. So I guess some crowds make my day better in some aspects, but worse if there are crowds and one train ops on lots of coasters.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:41 PM
I guess I agree with you, moosh. It really is all about how the park handles the situation. If a line is moving constantly (hey, I'm ADHD here ;)), then I don't notice the wait.

But when you wait 75 min. for Colossuck, doing a one train, one side op, it gets annoying for a butchered classic.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:43 PM
Moosh is right (I know he likes to hear that) ;) The way a park handles the crowd makes a big difference. And yeah, there is something to be said for the people you're with. Standing in line with friends is a lot more fun than standing in line by yourself.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 3:45 PM

Mamoosh said:
That being said I do take into consideration how a park handles a crowd. I don't care if I have to wait an hour in line if the ride is being run at its best capacity and the line is moving. Nothing can ruin a day more than waiting in a line -- long or short -- only because the ride is being run understaffed or with few vehicles.

Just thought that was worth repeating....slow and/or stalled lines kill a day faster than anything. If a line is 20 minutes or over, and you CAN add another train and/or employee to help move things along, DO IT!

I am FAR from the biggest CP fanboy, but that being said, one of the things I *constantly* appreciate about the place is their ability to handle crowds exceptionally well....

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 4:04 PM
Crowds don't affect my opinion of a park. Crowds affect my opinions of crowds though, without a doubt ;)

Forget parks, let's talk about rock concerts, early morning Starbucks, freeways on Friday evenings in LA and so forth. Actually parks are one of the few places I can deal with crowds, especially if the park is handling them well, ***Disney***

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 6:11 PM
I really have no tolerance for huge crowds and long lines. Most of my park visits have been to small to mid-range parks with every ride a 10 minute wait or less. I really don't think I would handle a crowded theme park very well. I could never spend more than 15 minutes in line no matter how good the ride. It's not that I'm impatient, I just prefer to spend my life doing something other than waiting!

But a completely dead park isn't good either. I like to have a bit of crowd so there is some "energy" in the park and a little bit of anticipation before each ride. A mixture of walk-ons to an under 10 minute wait is ideal.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 6:16 PM
...and full trains, too!
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 7:33 PM
Don't say that Moosh. When a place isn't crowded on Memorial Day, like Indiana Beach, instead of dispatching the train they will wait till the whole damn thing is filled. They will move people out of line for the front into any open row. If the people don't move, they aren't allowed to ride. I feel that's unfair, I paid like 25 bux for a ticket, I should be able to pick any damn seat to wait and ride for. Not be told I have to sit in one seat or I must leave. That seems pretty stupid. By the train looking full, does it entice more people to ride or what?

I don't understand.:(

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 7:45 PM
I was at SFKK and SFA and would not have enjoyed myself as much if there were actually people there. I like empty parks (love them in the rain especially). SFGAm (my home park) is mich more enjoyable empty (my hubby got in 30 rides on the Bull Sun nite due to no crowds), and I despise it when it's super crowded.

MiA is also bad when crowded.

If I am on a road trip and want to go to a bunch 'o parks, no crowds means we get through the park quicker. Some parks I expect the crowds (any park on a weekend I assume will tend to be crowded and I plan accordingly).

Large crowds means more jerks and line cutting (well, except at CP, imho). CP is the only park at which I do not mind crowds.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005 7:48 PM
If this was an essay test, I would have failed with my above comments. Crowds do not per se affect my opinion of the park; crowds affect my enjoyment level but not my opinion of the park (unless we are talking about the quality of people there -- I know, this is a whole other can-of-worms). *** Edited 6/8/2005 11:50:21 PM UTC by ltlbat***
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 7:49 PM
In my opinion, it's a win-win situation. Less crowds means more coaster rides and a great time. Heavier crowds cause lines to be longer, but it also shows that the park is making money, which eventually leads to more rides for us :)
Wednesday, June 8, 2005 10:56 PM
KTS - I was one of the SFGAdv trip reports that shortly followed yours. And, yes, it was hella-crowded when I went. I got one ride on KK and two on Nitro... and that was it. Everything else was at least a 60-minute wait (most were longer), and I didn't feel like standing in line that long for that many rides.

That said, I still appreciated the thought that SFGAdv must be awesome on an un-crowded day. I had one of those days when I went to PKI in 2003. Three-train operation on Vortex, and the trains weren't even half-full. I managed to get in something like 26 rides in four hours... I was exhausted from riding.

So crowded parks definitely affect my enjoyment, but they don't necessarily affect my opinion of the park.

Tekno, you have to go to SFGAm on an un-crowded day sometime in the future. Seriously...


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