For me, our old friends at ARN&R summed it up best:
Cacophonous anthropomorphic mustachioed toadstools? I don't give a crap.Last edited by bjames, Sunday, November 17, 2013 8:09 PM
SPEBSQSA 'shrooms? Who WOULDn't love it!
For those who are younger than, say 28 years old or someone who never visited Kings Dominion before 1993 (1st year under Paramount). Then it probably does not mean much to you.
Back in the days of the Family Leisure/KECO days of ownership (1974-1992 | for KD). The park had 5 distinct themed areas; the shops, restaurants, show venues, rides & attractions, and even the employee uniforms in each area had a distinct theme. They were designed, built, and given names with that theme in mind. Even as those areas expanded and changed over that time frame; the park kept doing their best to stick to the theme of the area.
The park chain back then, (Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Carowinds, Canada's Wonderland, and CA Great America), were more well rounded in the way of having something for everyone. A whole variety of rides, shows, and other attractions (Lion Country Safari) to see and do.
Paramount came into the picture starting for the 1993 season. Under the Paramount Studio's years of ownership, (which really was only for the first 3-4 seasons), Kings Dominion lost Lion Country Safari, our steam train, and sky-ride cable cars.
The park chain entertainment division, Kings Productions, was eliminated. For Kings Dominion, we went from having 10-13 show options during the prime summer season to just 2-3 shows. Three show venues were removed from the park during the years under the Paramount name. The entertainment back then was on par with what you would find in a Herchend or Busch park today. Keep in mind that 16%-18% of the customer base that visited the park during those years, came mainly because of the entertainment options. After 2-3 seasons under Paramount, that demographic of park visitors drifted away and did not come back.
Paramount started placing movie themed attractions all over the park without regard to the existing themed area it was in. The park ended up looking like a patchwork quilt. What remained of the original detailed themes in each area were ignored and gradually removed as they wore out/rotted out.
After the first 3-4 years under Paramount Studios, the park chain was bounced around the corporations under the Viacom conglomerate like a red-headed step-child no one wanted. The last 3-4 years under the Paramount name was bad for all the parks. They suffered a lot of neglect because no one under Viacom wanted to invest in them.
Here comes Kinzel and gang in 2006 to take over the Paramount Park chain. They did show some love to the parks by slowly working to repair the neglect caused by the last 3-4 years under Paramount. Course, they certainly did add new rides and attractions as well. But, Kinzel and the existing Board of Directors back then, were still of a ride & attraction mindset; with entertainment and themeing taking a distant 2nd place. (Well, to me, Cedar Fair mainly consisted of amusement parks instead of theme parks; up to the takeover of the Paramount Park chain).
Now, Ouimet is in charge and a BOD that now has a nearly 70% makeup of folks that are new to the BOD over the last 2 years. I think Quimet is using a park by park review to figure out what will hopefully make each of them stronger and grow in attendance and in-park spending.
If that means going back to a central theme for each area in a park, whose legacy was being a "Theme Park", then so be it. Keep in mind that Kings Dominion, and the other former Paramount parks, were never at the theme detail level of a Busch park and certainly no where near the detail of a Disney park. Plus, Cedar Fair does not have the money to spend on themeing at that level; Quimet stated that in his keynote address at the 2013 IAAPA show.
One thing I have noticed over the last 2 seasons at Kings Dominion, is that our entertainment options have nearly tripled under Quimet. Don't get me wrong, we still need work on our existing show venues and we really need a couple more entertainment facilities at the park. The show production values are still sub-par compared to what was offered under the years of Kings Productions; but, they are slowly improving. In today's world, with all the competition for people's time and money; if Cedar Fair can improve the entertainment options, to try to recover some of those 16%-18% demographic of folks that were lost after the Paramount takeover, then I say go for it.
I feel what Cedar Fair is doing for Kings Dominion in 2014 is a strong step in the right direction. I realize that this doesn't mean much to a coaster fanatic, (Cedar Fair already has you by the wallet for existing and upcoming coasters). But, if they can increase the bottom line for the Cedar Fair chain by increasing/improving the entertainment options and giving us cohesive themed areas again; that, in turn, could bring back former visitors who have not set foot in the park in over 20 years. More open wallets makes Cedar Fair happy and, in the end, all of us happy.
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