Geauga Lake and Kennywood battle with ads

Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 8:58 AM | Contributed by supermandl

With summer in full swing, Geauga Lake and Kennywood park in Pennsylvania are taking each other on with rattles and rumbles worthy of one of their signature wooden roller coasters. Running pointed ads and sending mascots deep in each other’s territory, the advertising battle echoes all along the 120 miles separating the two parks.

Read more from Crain's Cleveland Business.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 9:23 AM
Is this any real suprise? Kennywood probably noticed that Geauga Lake's attendance was either flat or dropping the past few years and decided to take advantage of the situation by epanding their market while Geauga Lake is trying to hold onto their attendance. I personally have always found Kennywood to be the superior park and am glad to see them trying to expand their markets. I was also just thinking about it and there have been so many ads on the radio as well as billboards this summer for kennywood.
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Thursday, July 27, 2006 10:48 AM
Provided both parks have enough attendance to continually add new attractions, this competition can only be a good thing. While Kennywood is my prefered choice, I found Geauga competent and on a path to improving it's park's situation.
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Thursday, July 27, 2006 11:32 AM
I would like to see KW add a couple of new coasters and for GL to add more family rides and better landscaping. If that happens, more people will decide to go to BOTH parks and that is good for each of them.

I just hope that the smaller parks like Conneaut Lake and Waldameer don't get squeezed out in the battle. I do believe that Waldameer will do all right because of the new things that are on the way there.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 2:07 PM
Deja Vu??


http://www.coasterbuzz.com/2005-158-846604.htm

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:44 PM
Okay, I'm putting in my $.02.

I was at Kennywood yesterday, and I have to agree with the GL billboard.

First off, I find Kennywood to be the more beautiful park, but they sure don't know how to operate it. Phantom's Revenge and Thunderbolt operated with one train all day, even though the line for PR was over a half hour wait, and T-bolt was near 20 minutes, for the majority of the day. I understand, that they are trying to save on wear and tear on the coaster trains, but at what expense. There were people actually leaving the cue for PR because the wait was WAY too long in the hot, humid weather.

Plus, they need to be consistent in their policies. Thunderbolt operators would not release the train if there were empty seats, and someone was waiting for a specific seat...even though cues are set up to pick your favorite seat. They kept insisting on filling in the empty seats. Yet, on the Raging Rapids, with full cues, rafts were leaving with empty seats.

That, plus the fact that there's nowhere to go indoors to beat the heat (save one gift shop in Lost Kennywood), how, as a disc jockey, am I supposed to recommend Kennywood as "great place to go"?

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:52 PM
Jeff's avatar Comparing the rapids ride to a coaster isn't fair. They want a full train to make sure it'll come back, and no solo rides because two people keep each other from coming out by moving their legs around.
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Thursday, July 27, 2006 3:58 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Phantom's Revenge and Thunderbolt operated with one train all day, even though the line for PR was over a half hour wait, and T-bolt was near 20 minutes, for the majority of the day.

But it's okay because they're a small park and not a SF park. ;)

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 4:50 PM
It's not that Geauga's attendance is dropping, it's actually the opposite - Kennywood's scared (and rightly so) of losing attendance to Geauga. When CF bought the park, they're basically trying to turn the place into a bigger and better Kennywood; a family friendly picnic park ... except Geauga has what are percieved by the GP as a superior coaster collection, not to mention a huge waterpark ... all for less than Kennywood's admission price.

Kennywood does have some reason to be concerned. They won't take a huge hit, but there could definitely be some siphoning; both ways!

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 7:05 PM
The all-seats-full policy on the Thunderbolt is actually for a very good reason. The trim brake located right before the second-to-last drop is operator controlled. Ever wondered what the little knobs with the signs "20 = on" and "0 = on" did? They adjust the two trims. There is a set of two sensors, about 3' apart from each other, located on the brake run. The goal is to line the train up so that the cars stop next to at least one of the sensors. If the train stops too short, the sensors won't read it; if the train stops too far, it'll bypass the sensors completely -- either situation results in a fault. As a result, the operators adjust the aforementioned trim brake in order for the train to stop correctly at the final brake. There are a number of factors that affect the train's stopping distance that are out of the park's control--time of day, temperature, moisture, etc. The number of people in the train also affects how fast it enters the brake, and that is a variable the operators can control. The ride ops have to reduce the trim brake every time there are empty seats, and then re-raise it for full trains, which is a tedious process. It's much easier to wait for full trains, as the operators can focus on the ride's operation instead of counting seats and adjusting the brake for every load.

The policy for the ride is to put on a second train when 2.5 queues are filled, which is the minimum length that guarantees every train will go out full. If the line was longer than 2.5 queues and they were running only one train, then the situation was out of the park's control, such as maintenance conditions or weather (can't run two trains if it's even drizzling).

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Thursday, July 27, 2006 11:17 PM
kpjb's avatar

First off, I find Kennywood to be the more beautiful park, but they sure don't know how to operate it. Phantom's Revenge and Thunderbolt operated with one train all day, even though the line for PR was over a half hour wait, and T-bolt was near 20 minutes, for the majority of the day. I understand, that they are trying to save on wear and tear on the coaster trains, but at what expense.

The above person gave the proper reason for not running two trains at certain times on the T-Bolt. On the Phantom, you also must dispatch trains full because of the magnetic brakes. With a lesser load, they slow down the train more, and it's possible that the second train will get to the crest of the lift before the other is fully in the station, causing the train to be stopped on the lift. The park is currently remedying this situation, but it's a two year process.

Be assured that the park does not ever run one train just to save wear and tear or money. The Jack Rabbit rarely removes a second train. The Exterminator will run 8 cars even on the slowest day. Those coasters are not affected in adverse ways by their respective braking systems.


Plus, they need to be consistent in their policies. Thunderbolt operators would not release the train if there were empty seats, and someone was waiting for a specific seat...even though cues are set up to pick your favorite seat. They kept insisting on filling in the empty seats. Yet, on the Raging Rapids, with full cues, rafts were leaving with empty seats.

Yet you stated the lines were 20 minutes long... would you rather them dispatch empty seats, making the line longer? The Rapids ride is a different situation. The boats never stop. If there are three groups of four in a row, they aren't going to wait for a twosome or break up these groups. They need to keep the line moving.


That, plus the fact that there's nowhere to go indoors to beat the heat (save one gift shop in Lost Kennywood), how, as a disc jockey, am I supposed to recommend Kennywood as "great place to go"?

All four gift shops are air conditioned, and we got plenty o' shade.

I don't get the DJ comment. Why would your job affect if you can recommend the park? Also, I may look to a DJ to recommend CD's or concerts, but are people really putting all of their leisure activities in the hands of DJs?

I'm not trying to be argumentative, by the way, just trying to explain what was going on so you have a better understanding of park policy.

Kennywood is well aware how to operate their park... they've been doing it for almost 110 years.

*** This post was edited by kpjb 7/27/2006 11:22:14 PM ***

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Friday, July 28, 2006 8:15 AM
Seems GL is actually expanding their advertising. Here in Northwest Ohio we are being flooded with GL ads on local radio and Toledo and Lima TV Stations.

GL has only ever been advertised here during the Six Flags years, prior to that few people here had ever heard of the place.

We also have plenty of CP ads as always along with a smattering of MIA ads.

A veritable smogasbord of Cedar Fair advertising.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 8:38 AM
Amusement parks don't just compete with other amusement parks; they compete with other entertainment such as video games, DVDs, CDs, concerts, sports, etc. Cedar Fair doesn't have much direct competition in NW Ohio so they are trying to get people to go to their parks more often or to go to amusement parks instead of doing something else.

I wonder if GL has posted billboards near Waldameer or Conneaut Lake. I would expect them to try to draw some business away from these parks as well as from KW.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 1:00 PM
kpjb's avatar Honestly, as far as the billboard on Kennywood Boulevard goes, I don't see it as trying to draw business away from Kennywood. You only see the billboard when you're leaving the park. It's not like people are turning around at the gates and going to Geauga.

I think it's just a case of hitting your target demographic. If you want to advertise to people from Pittsburgh that like amusement parks, where would you put your billboard?

They're just trying to jump on the coattails of people that just had a fun day at an amusement park. I'd do the same thing.

(Although the "park that's closer doesn't come close" line does smell foul in a business that has always prided itself on friendly competition and helping each other out.)

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Friday, July 28, 2006 1:14 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Has the location of the billboard moved?

Last year, I seem to remember it was just a little before the park/parking entrance if you came through Rankin, across the bridge and up the hill and it was facing people coming toward the park from that direction.

At any rate, the fact that they're agressively getting in front of people visiting amusement parks and not moving attendance makes it seem to me like the theory of "park visitors stay local" is very true.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 2:59 PM
Phonatom Tails & kpjb,

Thanks for informing me as to why the coasters are run the way they are. I guess you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.

As far as shade goes, they have plenty around the carousel, but not near enough around the Potato Patch, and Lost Kennywood.

I wasn't trying to pick on Kennywood, I just didn't understand why the two most popular coasters were running with less trains...now I do.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 3:15 PM
kpjb's avatar No problem... I'd feel the same way, too. I'm an advocate of "if the line's one minute with one train, it should be 30 seconds with two."

Hopefully, next year, that'll be the case on the Phantom.

LG- I thought that the billboard was viewable going from the park towards the Waterfront, but I could be mistaken, I don't go that way too often. Regardless, the point is the same. Once people see it, they're already here.

I agree to a point about park visitors staying local. For parks like Geauga, and Kennywood too, that's always going to be your core market and I think it serves you better by trying to get locals to come back a second or third time (especially for a park like KP that doesn't have season passes.)

I don't see Geauga being a major destination for Pittsburghers when they can get to CP or CF(P)KI in little more time. Those parks scream out "destination." Much like Sea World used to for people here. I think the general concensus of people in western PA is that Geauga is now "just another" amusement park.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 3:29 PM
GL's attendance figures appear to indicate that they aren't yet attracting enough of their local base. They are still affected by the Six Flags days and many of the locals just decide to go to CP instead.

What Cedar Fair needs to do is to differentiate GL from CP in more ways. A waterpark within the gate helps here but GL needs more family attractions. I look at parks like HP and could imagine GL as this kind of park in the future, a family oriented park that also has a good selection of coasters.

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Friday, July 28, 2006 9:41 PM
Honestly does GL need to differentiate itself from CP?

With 4 parks within such a relatively close proximity, does Cedar Fair really care which park they go to as long as they go to one?

The parks don't so much compete as add to the bottom line.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:54 PM
Many of the family's i know still liked SFWOA better than CF/GL for one reason: The animals and shows. yeah, it had faults under 6flags, but with the animals a lot to the Gp never noticed those problems.
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