Georgia Aquarium beating attendance expectations, Six Flags Over Georgia has record spring break

Posted Monday, April 24, 2006 10:11 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The Georgia Aquarium says it's on track to have 1.5 million visitors in its first 140 days of operation. That would quicken the pace for downtown Atlanta's newest attraction. It took the fish tank 98 days to reel in its first million visitors. The aquarium predicted 2.4 million visitors during its first year.

Six Flags Over Georgia also is riding a wave of enthusiasm. The amusement park on Atlanta's west side is reporting its new hypercoaster, Goliath, is attracting record numbers of thrill seekers.

Read more from Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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Monday, April 24, 2006 10:13 AM
Jeff's avatar Hey, but expensive rides never pay for themselves. ;)
Monday, April 24, 2006 10:42 AM
Wouldn't it be interesting if the Aquarium passes up SFG in attendance? Maybe Shapiro will demolish the Georgia Cyclone for "Foghorn Leghorn's Barnyard Fish Hatchery and Aquatic Supplies".

Monday, April 24, 2006 11:06 AM
Its awesome that the aquarium is doing so well. Living 15 minutes away, I myself still havent made it!

On another note, of course Goliath is doing the park right. Not only is the ride one of the most exciting coasters I myself have been on, havent we been saying for years and years that the smartest move SFoG could do was build a hypercoaster? Its the one idea that made so much sense. I only have one thing to say to that: DUH.

Monday, April 24, 2006 12:57 PM
Its not a smart move, its a move that was forcded upon the industry during the normal 'arms race' between parks. All large parks basically need one in their arsenal, and almost all of them now have one.

Instead of 100 years ago when averyone wanted the new 'jumping carousels', now they need a $12 million out and back steel coaster.

Monday, April 24, 2006 1:16 PM
janfrederick's avatar We'll see what Holiday World has to say about that later this year. ;)
Monday, April 24, 2006 2:02 PM
Its is a smart move as it very well will add increased attendance, possiblly souevnir sales, and any park that wants to be considered a major park needs a signature attraction amd that is what SFOG got with there new roller coaster..

The so-called arms race is good both for the park and customers if impplemented properly unless of course one wants only carousel type rides to be built.

Monday, April 24, 2006 2:13 PM
So the infamous "no more Goliaths" line has come back to haunt Shapiro has it not? Oh, the irony. This is good news and the only thing that can change people who only know the bottom line is actual proof that coasters are a justified expense at times.
Monday, April 24, 2006 2:14 PM
SFoG was my favorite SF park before they got a hyper. With Goliath, this really seals the deal as a top SF, flagship destination. The Time-Warner settlement seems to have cleared to way for SFoG to get some regulated, possibly mandated TLC on a regular basis. The law suite makes you wonder if SFoG is the only only park intentionally neglected for business purposes.
Monday, April 24, 2006 2:49 PM
I almost went to the aquarium a few weeks back but was turned off by terrible online reviews regarding the crowds and their affect on enjoyment of the nice facilities. These terrible reviews were backed by the concierge at my hotel and a couple “locals” who I talked to. It certainly sounds like a popular attraction for the city. I wonder if there is an inelastic demand for this type of attraction. Once the “newness” wears off, you have to wonder if they might need some repeat customers to make it work long term.

For those not familiar, the online reviews and word of mouth indicate unbearable crowds at the aquarium. Many times you can only see, and feel, the people around you as they pack them in like sardines. Other problems include long security lines (I’ve read up to an hour) only to get there and buy a ticket that is good for return HOURS later. I’ve not experienced any of this firsthand and am only relaying the research results I came up with a couple weeks back, so please do not take this as an unjustified bash, but instead consider this a “heads up.” I really wanted to see the aquarium as I’ve heard great things about the actual facilities, but it would appear they are working out quite a few services and pricing issues that are interfering with guest experience (funny that they would mention this facility along with a Six Flags park)!

If you are seriously considering a trip to the aquarium it is strongly suggested that you buy your tickets ahead of time and get in the first group of the day! Otherwise, it appears you are risking less than stellar conditions. Like anything else…you should do your own research. I just wanted to give a heads up that a visit to the Atlanta Aquarium is not as simple as heading down there after lunch on a Saturday for a leisurely fish walk. Think of their admission practices as one huge Fastpass system that can often fill up early in the day! Weekends versus weekdays can be a crap shoot based upon school field trip schedules, etc!

P.S. Goliath is indeed a good one… :-)

*** This post was edited by Jeffrey R Smith 4/24/2006 2:50:54 PM ***

Monday, April 24, 2006 2:59 PM
I wish to re-iterate what I said. Goliath was a good move in the short term, but time will tell on the long term effects. Not me. Second, it was a 'natural' move for a park that size to add a hyper coaster.

Sort of like, "Hey, we have a hyper!". Response. "Its about time." I hope it works out, since while Shapiro is right to state that family business is good for business, you still need to cater to the thrill seekers every few year.

They should look across the state to Wild Adventures and see some good capital expenditures.*** This post was edited by Agent Johnson 4/24/2006 5:25:53 PM ***

Monday, April 24, 2006 3:15 PM
janfrederick's avatar Right. I think they would need more than a couple of good months to make up the investment. Probably a couple of years at least with that price tag.
Monday, April 24, 2006 4:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar SFOG with a 20% increase over the same time last year.

Yup, those inflated parking prices, much higher ticket prices and upcharges like Q-bot are sure keeping people away. ;)

Monday, April 24, 2006 4:35 PM
It's not even keeping the people who are constantly whining about the prices away. Anytime you over- generalize about anything you wind up eating your own foot. That goes for Shapiro and the "price gouging" group.

When are people going to get that all markets cannot be looked at the same. That's the one thing that Burke obviously began to see towards the end.

Monday, April 24, 2006 5:24 PM
JRSmith, it's a good thing they are packing them in like sardines as that would be appropriate considering it's an aquarium. Sorry, I just had to laugh at your unintentional (or was it?) pun.

As for your question about getting repeat visitors, I can tell you what the National Aquarium in Baltimore has had to do over the years. The first thing they did was to change out exhibits from time to time. They would have an exhibit for a year or so, then they would pass it onto another Aquarium. Many of these exhibits were already on tour, so to speak, by the time the National Aquarium got them. The second thing they did was to add another pavilliion that has a dolphin show. The third thing they've done and that just opened was to add a whole other pavillion dedicated to the Australian Outback and all of its wild creatures.

So, of course the easy answer is to frequently change and add on to what you have. It also helps that the surrounding Inner Harbor has undergone a radical change as well. For example, when the Aqaurium first opened, there wasn't an ESPN Zone, Hardrock Cafe, Barnes & Noble, or Gold's Gym right next door. There also wasn't a Camden Yards (home to the Orioles), M&T Bank Stadium (home to the Ravens), or new Convention Center nearby. Another key player in the equation was the Baltimore Science Center (located caddy corner to the Aquarium). They just added another wing on and renovated two years ago.
*** This post was edited by Intamin Fan 4/24/2006 5:26:19 PM ***

Monday, April 24, 2006 9:55 PM
Hey Intamin Fan, you forgot to mention that what the National Aqaurium in Baltimore did have as a neighbor when it first opened was the Six Flags Power Plant!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 9:23 AM
" Wouldn't it be interesting if the Aquarium passes up SFG in attendance?"

I'd bet it will simply because it is open much more than SFOG is. Plus, its the new game in town. If SFOG beats the aquarium, that will be a hell of an achievement.

I think these numbers are off - attendance is pretty flat from last year AFAIK.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:48 AM
janfrederick's avatar But Gonch, according to a couple of recent trip reports, it sounds like SFOG is actually a good value. You know that discussion was all about value anyway.

But yah, looks like they will do just fine with their new pricing. And if I'm ever in the area, I'm SO there with wallet in hand.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:20 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar You might have a point there. It just seems that so many people claimed they were 'boycotting' SF parks until they lowered parking prices or brought ticket prices to a more reasonable level or whatever.

Let's just say the people claiming the pricing didn't matter that much were few and far between.

Granted it is very early in the seaso and there's a long way to go, but the numbers don't seem to exactly be suffering at this point.

Can't wait to see if the CF parks that dropped prices really pull in much more of a crowd or not and more importantly what everyone's revenue looks like at year's end.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 12:36 PM
rollergator's avatar The hotel we stayed at for Fling had 29.99 admission tickets (reg. 39.99) *and* a shuttle to the park....just saying, for a park that just bought a hyper, the "price increases" didn't seem to have hit at SFoG yet... far as Wild Adventures is concerned - with admission pricing, in-park items like food and merchandise, *and* the money NOT being spent caring for the park and its rides, I'd say WA is a far cry from the park I used to come here and praise. The park in North Georgia, even on a busy Saturday, even paying full-price admission, seems like the MUCH better value at this point...IMO.


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