From a Park Manager...."Visit the Independents thi

Wednesday, May 2, 2001 8:35 PM
Just a opinion of mine, and I have been in this business for over 10 years now. If those of you must make the summertime park trips, why not stop at an independent. I know the season pass program is not as flashy, and the number of mega-giga-hyper-coasters are few and far between, but remember where it all started.

I am not bashing Disney or Universal or Six Flags, but rather suggesting a trip to a more historic and quieter venue. Take Conneaut Lake Park in PA. Classic rides, and small waterpark, a historic hotel all on the shores of a beautiful lake. The ballroom echoes the sounds of Perry Como, and they still have live pony rides.

Lakemont Park in PA. How many parks have a baseball stadiums. What a bit of Americana. Its really too cheap to believe the price of a POP. Kennywood and Idlewild. I consider them independents, since it is family money doing the work. NO stockholder money involved here. Those 2 parks hold more memories than anyone can describe. The families that operate them have done more for other independents than anyone can possible know. They are they the shining example of how "Pride" is displayed when you walk through the park grounds. They never back down from a challenge.

New Jersey. Clementon Park. They have thrived under the shadow of major themers. They have a wonderful waterpark. Morey's Piers in Wildwood. The world's largest independent stands tall against all competition. Over 80 rides, the greatest games, and incredible food. All on the ocean, with their 2 awesome waterparks. They gave away a major ride without thinking twice, since they easily remembered what they had 30 years ago, one single sky slide. You will always find the Morey family out on the piers, no matter when you show up.

Knoebels. Everyone loves them. Great family. Hersheypark. You think of this place everytime Willy Wonka is on, or you see a Hershey candybar in the store. Holiday World in IN. Another family that lives what they do. Lakeside in COLO. Still thriving. They were in a USAirways magazine 2 summers ago. The neon photos were the talk of the industry. Camden park in W.VA. When you would least expect it, you come upon a great little park.

The basic moral of this to mention that practically all of these places are very old, and very loved by the prople who have visited over the years. They are places that your grandparents can still visit and participate. You can have picnics under trees, and the entire family can enjoy themsleves as one group. Lifelong memories. The system of tickets or POP allows a choice that makes everyone ride at their own pace.

Just something to think about. I have never known anyone in the industry to have a bad story about a visit. This century or the last. *** This post was edited by Agent Johnson on 5/3/2001. ***
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Wednesday, May 2, 2001 8:41 PM
Independent parks are great. I am a fan. Now more than ever, they seem more appealing in a world of Six Flags, Cedar Fair and DISNEY. Go independent parks. There is just a certain charm to them.

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Home Park: Knotts Berry Farm!
but also Disneyland and DCA
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Wednesday, May 2, 2001 8:44 PM
I grow sick of seeing the same rabbit at park after park, and finding the exact same coasters in them.

The parks that you mentioned are all amazing places. Years ago, I would have never imagined some tiny little park I had never heard of in the middle of Indiana would become a favorite.

Kennywood, Knoebels, Lakemont, Camden, Holiday World, and more are among my favorites. I always have fun at the big rich corporate parks, but they will never be able to offer some of the things the little guys can.

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- Peabody *** This post was edited by Peabody on 5/3/2001. ***
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Wednesday, May 2, 2001 9:06 PM
I'm itching to get to Knoebel's and Kennywood this summer. Holiday World is one of my faves. Independent parks are so much more relaxing and you actually feel like you're on vacation. If only Dick Knoebel would get the plans for the Idora Wildcat. ;) Hey I can dream. I hope these parks can continue success and be around for a long time. Batman and Superman can only go so far.

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PKI-Wooden, Helix, and Kiddie Coaster Capital of the World!
The First and Only Gigabuzzer bigger than Millie, rising Faster than Maggie, and pulls more BS than MS ever will!!!
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 5:16 AM
I am making a special effort to seek out these parks. I've had my fill of Six Flags for a while. Before the internet, I didn't know that most of these parks existed. I've been so close to many of them in the past but never knew about them.

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everything's better with a banjo
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 5:18 AM
Lake Winnie is really nice too!
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 5:54 AM
John, that was very well put! Independent parks need, as well as deserve, our support.

I live within 90 minutes of both SFGAdv and Dorney Park, and I have a great time each time I go. But there is something to be said for the smaller, family-owned and operated parks all around us. They don't all have multiple B&M coasters or rides utilizing the latest LIN technology, but they have one thing that most corporate theme parks lack- SOUL.

These independent parks are direct extensions of their owners... they are a reflection of the people who invest in them and manage them. They aren't run by people who need to earn a living, they are run by people who chose to earn a living by doing something they are passionate about.

The best thing I can say about these independent parks is that I have not made the 90-minute drive to Six Flags or Dorney Park in the last 2 years, yet last summer I drove twice that distance to get to Hershey, Lake Compounce, and Knoebels.

This summer, you may find me in line for Talon, Nitro, Medusa, and Steel Force... you will definitely find me waiting for Boulder Dash, Lightning Racer, Phoenix, and Twister. Not to mention the two weeks I can be found in Wildwood on Morey's Piers! *** This post was edited by Rob Ascough on 5/3/2001. ***
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 6:39 AM
I for one will visit more independant parks than corporate parks this year. Twice as many, at the least. Kennywood, Conneaut, Lakemont, Idlewild & possibily Hershey are all on our list for this summer and I can't wait. Of course, I can't wait to hit CP and PKI also, but the smaller parks offer so much more for the entire family.

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Thank you for riding America's Roller Coast
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 8:58 AM
We're already booked to go to Holiday World (SRM), Michigan's Adventure (TimberFest), and Kennywood. We're hoping to get to Indiana Beach this year.

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"I'm going off the rails on a crazy train." - Ozzie Osbourne
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:06 AM
This year I will be going to Kennywood, Knoebel's, Hersheypark, Lakemont, and Indiana Beach for sure. I hope to also get to Holiday World and Big Chief's at some point as well. I will actually be bypassing my home park this year (SFGAm). I have never really enjoyed the park that much (although I really like Viper a lot), and the two new rides don't appeal to me. *** This post was edited by chris on 5/3/2001. ***
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:11 AM
I'd just like to clear something up...

In another thread about "should I go to Knoebels or Hershey", it was mentioned that Hershey is a "corporate" park.

TECHNICALLY, yes, okay, it is... part of HERCO (or Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, or what ever they are calling themselves after their most recent organization), so that does make it a corporate park... HOWEVER, while it is on the large scale, it still does maintain a more "traditional" park feel, and is not a corporate park in the way that Six Flags and Parmount parks are. (I even have a hard time calling Busch parks "Corporate" parks).

But to use the deffinition of "Corporate" park as any park run by a corporation, you would have to technically count Delgrosso's Amusement Park in Tipton PA as well. A better Deffinition would be "Corporate Chain" parks.

Anyway, yes, in central PA I'll put in my vote for Knoebels, Lakemont, and Delgrosso's as well. And while Hersheypark may not be a "Chain" park, it is certainly in a different position than the smaller Traditional parks that still exist. It's these small parks that are becomming endangered species in this day of cookie-cutter-corporate-chain-mega- theme parks.

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Oh the good old days... when superheros were superheros and coasters were coasters...
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:12 AM
Well, we cant have any "one-sided" threads around here. Somebody has to give the flipside of the coin, might as well be me.


"but remember where it all started.
It all started from a bunch of rich people who wanted to be richer and only hang out with rich folks. That's a part of history I'd rather not re-visit.

The ballroom echoes the sounds of Perry Como, and they still have live pony rides.
Perry Como? In today's atmosphere? Surely you jest? BTW: They have pony rides at state fairs too, if you're into that sort of thing (I am not).

Lakemont Park in PA. How many parks have a baseball stadiums. What a bit of Americana.
Case you hadnt noticed, baseball is hardly the sport of choice in the good old USA anymore (basketball is I believe). Not to mention, many of the players are not original to the US but rather from Latin American (which is still all good ;)).

Kennywood and Idlewild. (SNIP) Those 2 parks hold more memories than anyone can describe. The families that operate them have done more for other independents than anyone can possible know. They are they the shining example of how "Pride" is displayed when you walk through the park grounds. They never back down from a challenge.
While Kennywood is one of the handful of traditional parks I would even consider visiting, why is there sense to "never back down from a challenge" such a great thing? It seems to me that they are simply trying to play the game that the 'corporate' parks dominate.

New Jersey. Clementon Park. They have thrived under the shadow of major themers. They have a wonderful waterpark. Morey's Piers in Wildwood.

Admittedly, the Jersey Shores are pretty cool, but they are more of a 'sideshow' with the headliner being the Atlantic Ocean itself.

All on the ocean, with their 2 awesome waterparks.
But come on, why be impressed by man-made waterslides when there is a living breathing OCEAN mere yards away?

Knoebels. Everyone loves them. Great family.
But why? What is so special about seeing the 'owners' of the park walking around? I really dont get too involved with who else is around. So I dont see them being around making too much of a difference.

Hersheypark. You think of this place everytime Willy Wonka is on, or you see a Hershey candybar in the store.
One of the other 'handfull' of parks. But hey, I've always had a soft spot for Reese's Cups. And again, this park is up there with the big boys of the 'corporate' world.

Holiday World in IN. Another family that lives what they do.
Again with the 'family' thing. My own fam is big enough thankyouverymuch. If it wasnt for all of y'alls raven (pun intended) about SRM. I would never think twice about the place. Free pop or not.

The basic moral of this (SNIP)
During my short time on these 'enthusiast' boards, I have gained the general sentiment that "older is better". These pages are littered with comments equated to "the good old days". I never knew those times, and the stories I hear dont appeal to me (and I know I am not alone). I dont need quiet to feel relaxed as I can have that same feeling quite well in the middle of hustle and bustle.

Now I'm sure that these smaller parks have their place. I bet that they are GREAT for/with the locals. Heck, maybe if I grew up near one I would have a different opinion of them. But as it stands, most of them are out of the way and offer little in return for the large investment of time and resources that I would have to expend to reach them. And if they are counting on my dollars (from hundreds of miles away) to keep from closing, then I guess that they will join the defunct parks list. Otherwise, I'll visit them when they join the Six Flags family :)
lata,
jeremy
--who has never been afraid to share an unpopular opinion
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:13 AM

I cant say enough about hershey, but it seems to have lost the independent feel.
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I'm 2 for 2 so far!!!
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:25 AM

Giga Coasters Rule said:
"I cant say enough about hershey, but it seems to have lost the independent feel."


I can't fault you there. It has lost some of that "charm" that it once had. That is I think why Knoebels struck me as it did... in 1999 it reminded me of what I remembered of Hershey in 1971... and also from books and old pictures.

But yet there is still some of that "independent" feel. It is backed by the might of HERCO, but it does not have that mass produced feel.

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Oh the good old days... when superheros were superheros and coasters were coasters...
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 9:40 AM
Speaking of Hersheypark, I think that most people mistakenly assume that it is owned by Hershey Foods, the candy people. It is not.

HERCO is an independent company started years ago by Milton Hershey, whose name the park bears. The candy bars and costumed characters you see within the park are all part of a sponsorship/licensing deal that Hershey Foods has with HERCO.

HERCO today is no more corporate than Kennywood or Holiday World.

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I refuse to add a signature. Damn, too late.
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 10:39 AM
Applause, applause. Parks like Michigan's Adventure and Kennywood (both of which I'll be visiting this year) offer great coasters at lower prices with less people than theme parks. It's a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I love Disney, Kings Island, and can even suffer through Great America for some coaster fun... but the smaller parks are the best.

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Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.
--Groucho Marx
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 10:46 AM
Yes, I agree that Hershey is "technically" a corporate-owned park, but I think Agent Johnson was referring to the non-chain parks in the country, such as those that are NOT part of Disney, Cedar Fair, Six Flags, and Paramount.

If Hershey is to be called a true "corporate park", then Kennywood might as well be referred to as a "chain park" because the same people that own Kennywood also own Idlewild and Lake Compounce.

I am partially in agreement with those who feel Hersheypark has lost some of its traditional, independent feel, that is something that will inevitably happen when a park adds many large, world-class rides and expands so much. I applaud Hershey for expanding, and I feel the park has retained enough of its charm and soul to keep it one of the best amusement parks out there.
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 4:11 PM
I'd rather have the latest B&M and LIM thing than an independant park. Rides matter, "soul" doesn't, at least not to me.

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Cedar Fair hates valleyfair... boohoo.
2001: SFWoA,SFEG,SFoG,VF,BC,CP
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 5:25 PM
I apologize for not listing some more parks, like ones in Georgia, Indiana, and Michigan. Many of you are proud to have those happy memories in your 'hometown' park. Every state has that unique park that time and the 'big guys' have passed by. Just something we go by, is that families focus 100% on the business at hand. I wouldn't change where or how I work for anyone who offered less.
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Thursday, May 3, 2001 6:15 PM
That is good advice Agent Johnson think I'll go to some indie parks this summer like Bell's in Oklahoma and Joyland in Kansas.
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