Six Flags Great America's Hurricane Harbor turns roads into a disaster area

Posted | Contributed by redman822

Six Flags Great America's renewed popularity, caused by the new water park, has brought with it severe traffic issues. Great America is on pace to draw at least 3 million visitors, about 500,000 more than last year, according to the village of Gurnee.

Read more from The Daily Herald.

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I saw the traffic issues first hand this morning. I was planning on taking a quick jump on Batman before work, but that plan quickly ended once I saw what the traffic was like leading up to the park.
If the numbers are true....that'll be a 20% increase over last year. WOW.

Now just think about it in pure dollars and cents. Let's just say that only 1/3 of the increased attendees are season passholders. That means that they are selling an additional 333,333 tickets this season. Even at a discounted price of $35 per ticket, that is an additonal $11.5 million dollars at this park this season.

At this rate, the HH will pay for itself in just the increased ticket sales in 3 years - not to mention the increased ticket prices.

See, it's results like this that are the cause of the recent wave/trend of many parks adding new water parks or expanding their current water parks. It makes sense doesn't it? Why spend so much money on a single large new rollercoaster that only caters to hardcore thrillseekers (tens of millions of dollars or more), when you can draw thrillseekers AND families alike with a water park that costs millions less that could be patronized the entire day? The industry has really picked up on this. I mean, Paramount's Great America's Stealth flying coaster was removed solely for the Boomerang Bay waterpark, Kings Island also recently opened up their own Boomerang Bay, Six Flags Great America's Hurricane Harbor, Geauga Lake's new waterpark, Cedar Point's new Castaway Bay, and Idlewild's new slides and water-play structure are some of a few examples of very recent waterpark installations and major additions. Here's an article that goes into detail about this seemingly recent phenomenon
Jeff's avatar
That's the same article we linked to weeks ago. It has been in virtually every newspaper in the country now.

I still think the park is pissing away money by not charging it as a separate gate. Huge misstep if you ask me.

But if they are hitting capacity of the waterpark everyday, they are at least saving their customer service reputation in their pissings. At least now, when they hit waterpark capacity, they can give you the option of riding all the other rides rather than waiting in line. Plus, I'm sure most of these people see it as a bargain, getting both the waterpark & amusement park with one price. The attendance figures might not be as high as they are now if they weren't doing it this way.

I am not sure if they would have that type of gate increase if they made it a seperate admission for the waterpark. Several parks like the idea of advertising it as two parks for the price of one, and that seems to do well. Paramount Kings Island, Holiday World, I think the rest of the Paramount Parks, and some others offer that type of model.

I think that offering both for the price of one is the more popular and common method. I would have to do some research, but only a few parks like Cedar Point have the seperate admission. Indiana Beach offers a combined and seperate, so that is sort of different. Cedar Point I think also does it like that, with a combined pass. But is the extra gate admission enough to offset the loss in attendance from doing it that way and the extra in park spending from the increased amount of guest.

I almost would think of that 500,000 more people going half would reconsider going if there was an extra cost for the water park. Admission is 40 dollars anyway, how much more do you want people to pay to do everything in the park. 65 or 70 dollars? That is almost as much as a season pass. When I went there the park was busy for a monday, but still enjoyable. Most waits were 30 minutes or less, and the waterpark did look very nice, but did not go over there. On a side note, Raging Bull is really good, and is great in the last seat. Also those Boliger and Mabilard hyper coasters have great capacity, probably around 1600 pph or higher.

Just curious to find where your drawing your conclusions that they are giving away potential revenue by doing this. It is not like Six Flags and other park chains did not research it. I would also bet they surveyed their guest and asked them if they would be willing to pay a seperate fee for a waterpark.

Kinda reminds me of the traffic jams on RTE 214 for SFA's opening day back in 99.....of course their HH is also pulling in the peeps from what I hear.
Making the park separate admission would just leave hundreds of people each day stranded in the parking lot waiting to get in. The park really isn't big enough for the crowds it draws to be separate admission and I think Six Flags realized this, and that's probably the reason they decided to combine them.
It works well for other parks, sure. BUT this is the closest major waterpark to a city the size of Chicago. Next closest big one is in Rockford and then there's Wisconsin Dells. People drive out there and hand over money all the time.

They could have opened it as a second gate, named their price and got it. Plain and simple. Fish in a barrel.

I think the early separate park pass sales weren't meeting expectations, they choked and made it complimentary. Had they stuck to their guns, they still would have had those crowds.

-'Playa*** This post was edited by CoastaPlaya 8/7/2005 9:00:28 AM ***

Jeff's avatar
Exactly! If you're packing them in, you undervalued the product. It's the only attraction of its kind unless you keep driving up to Dells. Not having a season pass add-on and separate gate was a tactical error.

And please, if they did any research at all, they wouldn't have changed their mind about whether or not to include it in the gate. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If you do any major capital expenditure at an amusement park, you justify it by figuring out how much money it's going to bring in to pay for it. Business 101. I wouldn't open a lemonade stand unless I knew exactly what the margins were, how much I would have to sell, my expenses, etc., before I broke ground. Six Flags didn't do that. They made the decision after they began construction.

*** This post was edited by Jeff 8/6/2005 1:54:07 PM ***

See, Jeff, I look at it differently. I think the early "It's going to be a separate admission." Followed up later with "Great news! We've decided to include the waterpark in the main park admission!!!" falls in line with SFGAm's marketing the past few years.

Such as, "We're going to tear down Whizzer and build a new coaster." Followed later with, "Due to popular demand, we've decided to take out Shockwave instead."

Same basic concept.

Jeff's avatar
I'd chalk that up to the revolving door on the GM's and marketing offices. :)
Jeff. I always was under the impression that a park's core money maker is in-park spending. If that is the case, how is combining the 2 parks a bad thing if the intention is to get people through the gate and drop some cash inside the park?

Just curious.

With the way the waterpark has been received, they are definitely going to have to expand on it and soon.

rollergator's avatar
I can say I've seen a grand total of ONE waterpark that had the rides capacity to handle the visitors....outside of New Braunfels, EVERY waterpark I've seen this season has been PACKED to the gills....and then some.

Following up on George's comment: "At this rate, the HH will pay for itself in just the increased ticket sales in 3 years - not to mention the increased ticket prices." Early "projections" from my accountants ;) said two years at most....and once you include the in-park spending, that works out just about right... :)

I sure hope 'Playa is happy, I've been pushing this waterpark boom like CRAZY over the last few years....and he *still* hasn't gotten me another RoS OWE me 'Playa... ;)

WOW thats great . now reconfigure the roads to hold all the traffic. Water parks are so in now. its seems that if you build it they will come,if the weathers nice and hot. The east coast has had a heat wave and this means good buss. for water parks COOL!!!!!

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