Six Flags WoA attendance continues to plummet.

Monday, December 22, 2003 1:38 PM
The Plain Dealer ran a story today citing the drop in attendance at Worlds of Adventure. Attendance at the Aurora park has been reported to have dropped 25% in the past two years. THAT is a significant number. From 2.7 million to 2 million guests in two years.

Blame was placed on a number of factors including poor weather, bleak economy, etc but that blame is difficult to accept when the park over in Erie County showed an increase for the second year in a row.

I think it is high time for Burke and company to admit that the (mis)management of this park from the top down has as much (or more) to do with the poor performance as anything else.

So much potential at that property is being wasted.

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Monday, December 22, 2003 1:40 PM
I think the whole "decrease due to weather" thing is getting a little out of hand. That's all they ever blame it on. They are blinded from the truth, and it is going to hurt them if they don't do something about it.
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Monday, December 22, 2003 1:53 PM
You have to figure something's totally wrong with the park. I don't want to make this a "vs" thing but CP has to be considered their main competition. SFWOA has roughly twice the acreage, a comparable line-up of rides (to a large degree) and a full blown aquatic/widlife park attached and included with admission. There's absolutely no reason their numbers shouldn't be on par with (or higher than) CP's other than flat out mismanagement and bad decision making.

I (and many others) thought SFWOA was going to be a major player in the area when the whole SFO/SFWOA thing happened - and they should have been. There's is no reason that park can't compete with the right approach.

I'd be curious as to the combined attendance figures from back when it was still Geauga/Sea World vs Cp's for the same time period. That would be the most telling info of all.

*** Edited 12/22/2003 6:54:19 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Monday, December 22, 2003 2:17 PM
Seems like a lot of parks are blaming the weather. Personally I like overcast/light rainy days......keeps the crowds away. :-)

I don't do the CP vs SFWOA crap because I prefer to enjoy what each park has to offer.

I don't visit SFWOA nearly as much but when I do I have enjoyed it with a few exceptions. Personally I think the park has improved dramatically in the last 2 years since becoming "WOA"). I have even noticed an improvement with personnel and the overall look of the park.

The times I was there this year it was packed to capacity, so this could of fooled me!

-Tina

*** Edited 12/22/2003 7:23:31 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Monday, December 22, 2003 3:38 PM
What was SFWOA attendence prior to becoming a SF park in comparision to CP. I honestly don't remember Geauga Lake ever being as busy at its been under SF. My dislike for this park has nothing to do with the CP vs SF thing, If the park was good in my eyes, I'd visit both, but instead we frequent CP, CLP, and KW, eventhough SFWOA is the closest to my house. *** Edited 12/22/2003 8:39:43 PM UTC by Snap43***
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Monday, December 22, 2003 3:41 PM
Most estimates put GL+SW around 3 million if I recall. If you identify what portion of that was overlap, you have to start asking the question of why you'd ever combine the gate in the first place.

Article from PD is here.

*** Edited 12/22/2003 8:43:05 PM UTC by Jeff***

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Monday, December 22, 2003 3:58 PM
I don't know if GL ever did 3 million, at least not when I worked there. High 2 million, maybe.

Jeff hit the nail on the head though. I think a good number of these problems go back to the combination of the two parks. (A form of mismanagement, for sure.)

It was my assumption that they combined the parks that first year b/c with the loss of some of the marquee animal attractions they didn't feel the wildlife side could stand on it's own. Unfortunately, they rushed the combination to prepare for that first upcoming season and it was painfully obvious.

If they would have stopped to think about it though you would think they would have decided not to go that route. Disney/MGM and Epcot are fairly close together but Disney has never considered combining those two parks...and why would they?

If Jeff's guess at the figures is correct then 6 million visitors a year has turned into 2 million even with the massive capital investment in rides. There is way more to it than bad weather or even competition from Cedar Point.

People are not enjoying their visit to WoA because they obviously aren't coming back. Why?

It isn't the rides/attractions package because we would all agree that a ride park/water park/marine park all at the same price as Cedar Point is a hell of a value. And, while WoA may not have the tallest coasters in the world they do have some good ones...and an excellent waterpark and kiddie area.

It isn't location. Both CP and WoA share traffic problems. CP might have Detroit/Michigan/Cleveland to draw from but WoA has Cleveland, Akron/Canton and a good chunk of Pennsylvania.

It isn't price. Both parks are comparable.

So, what does that leave you with? The people don't feel that the park is worth their visit, or at least a repeat visit. I have an idea why that might be the case. Your thoughts? *** Edited 12/22/2003 8:59:45 PM UTC by wahoo skipper***

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Monday, December 22, 2003 4:10 PM
I think he meant GL&SW did 3 million combined (or did I read that wrong?)


So, what does that leave you with? The people don't feel that the park is worth their visit, or at least a repeat visit. I have an idea why that might be the case. Your thoughts?

I'm not sure entirely. Bad operations. We first visited in 2001. It was a nightmare - no ice at many drink stands (on a 95 degree day) and employees that couldn't tell you where rides were located, trash everywhere. Very frustrating.

We decided to return in 2002 and found improved grounds (and ice) but employees who seemed like you were interupting their "personal time" by being at the park. Almost to the point of being uncomfortable. Staff training/morale seems to be the #1 thing that hurt both of our visits.

In 2003 we didn't even bother even though we had the time and drove right by the park on our to other parks. We opted for a day at my parents over giving SFWOA another chance.

We may try again in 2004 if we have a free day with nothing better to do, but it's certainly not a priority.

*** Edited 12/22/2003 9:17:59 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Monday, December 22, 2003 4:16 PM
Well that would make more sense but it still blows. 3 million for two parks (with a total of 4 coasters) has turned into 2 million with all of the new rides, new waterpark, etc.

Still pretty ugly.

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Monday, December 22, 2003 4:21 PM
Well exactly. They've lost roughly 33% of their attendance by combining parks and adding attractions. It makes no sense...

...unless you refer to the staff issues I mention in my post above.

I think most people would rather go to a park that has less to do or is less value but is enjoyable to visit rather than one with more rides or "bang for the buck" ,but you're miserable the whole time you're there.

People are seeing something that makes them stay away and I think it boils down to customer service.

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Monday, December 22, 2003 4:43 PM
But see, it *does* make some sense that SFWoA is less attended than GL and SW combined. Instead of people visiting both SW and GL once each summer, now they're only visiting once, and that's one of the main problems SF cited.

Now, I'm certainly not trying to argue that SFWoA is without problems. There's more than plenty to be fixed with the park. But by combining the parks, they effectively chopped their attendance in half with people just visiting once/summer now instead of twice. SF has tried all of the "quick and easy" solutions and they haven't worked. Now the park needs to really focus on doing things the hard way and making the park a pleasure to visit.

Comparing CP and SFWoA seems obvious because they draw from similar markets, but it's important to note one major difference. CP is really a resort destination. A large portion of that park's visitors stay for more than one day, and another large portion come from much further away than Cleveland for a summer vacation. SFWoA doesn't have the same resort draw that CP has; most people visit for just one day, and I don't think SFWoA draws many people from outside the Cleveland area.

-Nate

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Monday, December 22, 2003 5:01 PM
You also have to look at the fact that if CP didn't add 3 coasters since '00 their attendence probably wouldn't be as well as it has been. If SFWOA added a MF and TTD you can bet attedence would be up, look at how MF and TTD brought people from all over the county if not the world. If SFWOA scrapped the wildlife and used the land for good coasters and other great rides you can bet theyd be up in the same numbers as CP. I can't tell you how many times I've been at CP talking to people in the queues that are all out of towners staying for a few days. Right now SFWOA is being compared to a park that is not in the same leauge right now. Most the people I run into at SFWOA are on local bus trips, day camp, company picnics and so on, they need to utilize CP as a tool to draw more of CP's traveling customers to their park on the same trip. SFWOA isn't a bad park at all, and I hate to bash it. It would be great to have two world class parks right by my house, but right now that isn't the case. Plus Big Dipper is one of the most underrated wood coasters out there.
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Monday, December 22, 2003 5:28 PM
Taking out the animals for coasters is a horrible idea and will never happen. The last thing that place needs is more rides. That's why I feel it to be an inferior park - it's partially the customer service, but there's just an air about the park that makes it feel like you're just at an overgrown carnival rather than a big time amusement park. I haven't been to the Wildlife side in two years, but the Wild rides side just seems poorly planned and laid out.

The X-Flight-S:UE-Mind Eraser-Big Dipper area is completely sectioned off from the B:KF-Villain-ST area by that one choke point near the entrance gate (at least I've never found another way around), so that makes it hard to get around on the few days that there's enough of a crowd to make it difficult. And the rides themselves all seem like they were plopped down with great fanfare and pizzaz ... then left to rot. There's no sight of any employees of the park (I could care less if they're smiling or not - I'm there to have fun, not them) until you get into the ride stations, which makes it seem ... odd. Cedar Point, KW, Hershey, even other SF parks I've visited have a good number of sweeps, employees going on break, managers going from ride to ride, and at SFWoA there doesn't ever seem to be any of this motion.

I just think that there's an underlying feel to the place, be it public perception, or something real, that makes it feel inferior from the time you walk through the gate. It's just lacking in ... humanity. It's not an almost living attraction like CP, IoA or Disney ... it just kinda sits there and waits to be used and if its not used, there's not really any wasted "effort" on anyone's behalf if you get my drift ... no one - rides or theme or employees - are sadly playing to an empty house if no one's there ... if the house is empty or full, the show still sorta sits there and does what it does.

I hope that made sense to someone ...

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Monday, December 22, 2003 5:33 PM
I agree that SFWoA has turned around a lot, but I think a lot more could be fixed. Just looking at the ride ops they aren't half as professional as CP's. They are just whatever the park can scrap together to keep the park running. Most are undertrained and even at the end of the season half were casual labor. When you get on a ride and see your operator is too busy to help you into your seat because they are reading a book or studying for an exam, you know something is wrong. So many little things are looked over at SFWoA that it brings down the whole thing. But at the same time, I guess staff isn't that small at all. If SFWoA can get the staff to a higher level, keep the park as nice as it was last year, retrack, repair and repaint, I think SFWoA will be doing a lot better next year.
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Monday, December 22, 2003 6:01 PM
You can't blame SFWoA's problems on Cedar Point. You can't blame their problems on the weather. Six Flags is making poor decisions all on their own, all over the chain.
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Monday, December 22, 2003 6:04 PM
I've talked to many people who have said that one of Kennywood's low points is their employee morale and some of the actions they take plus management doing nothing about it. It seems that a lot of people still let themselves look past that and call Kennywood one of the bests.

Now, why isn't SFWOA allowed to have this same excuse? I don't think they should just get away with it and if you put them in strict comparison with CP, their operations aren't nearly as good, but I still prefer SFWOA now. I can get more rerides on coasters I really like, see shows I'm actually interested in, walk down uncrowded midways, take time to enjoy sections of the park without a huge amount of people around, being able to talk to the person next to me without yelling,... It's a world-class park wearing the wrong shoes and I want more than anything for them to succeed. The best thing about SFWOA is that they can do things CP and PKI can't or don't do with the wildlife section and waterpark right within the rides park. If they can work out management issues, I don't know how people will be able to come to Ohio and only choose one amusement park. At least I can dream it will come to that point someday...

-Danny

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Monday, December 22, 2003 6:33 PM
You must talk to the wrong people, because I don't think that about Kennywood at all. I go every year

It's great that you can do all of those things, and like you, no one wants the park to fail, but that doesn't fix the problems there. I haven't bought a Six Flags pass in a couple of years, and I see little incentive to get one next year.

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Monday, December 22, 2003 7:24 PM
Maybe some of them catch it at bad times and you have been there better times or didn't notice. I really don't notice some of the negative things people mention about certain parks sometimes since I'm there to just have a good time. I think some of the problems with employees they mentioned had to do with how they're allowed to wear their clothes. Shirts not tucked in, wearing pants way below waste, and "clothes looked like they had been slept in". Someone (a writer of a popular amusement park book) even described them as "Rude, detached, unpleasant, suspicious, and BAD at their jobs." I've heard other stories from various people on how they don't seem to care about their jobs and act as if they'd rather guests weren't even there. My only Kennywood experience was overshadowed by PR and TB being closed, so I don't really remember much else other than the other coasters were great fun, the weather was quite cold, and food was above average.

Did you go to SFWOA at all this year Jeff and if so, did you notice any improvements? I think many more attractions were open this year and the ride ops were being faster and more efficient (some groups were being very unprofessional though), but I would say it's a lot better than 2001 when around 11 rides were closed compared to 3 this time (Silver Bullet, Texas Tornado, SUE). The atmosphere works for me and I enjoy it just slightly above CP (in a list, they would be right next to each other). CP does everything right they can do right, so no complaints as far as that goes. I agree that the fact I can accept some things at SFWOA doesn't fix anything and I don't want it to. Until most people are having a good time, I'm disappointed in the park as well and will push for even better things. Being on par or better than competition is when to stop.

-Danny

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Monday, December 22, 2003 7:51 PM
Why would I go back? They already lost me. I have no intention of going back until they build something new. It has nothing to do with Cedar Point, Kennywood or PKI. For years I went to every park every year. Now I don't.
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Monday, December 22, 2003 8:14 PM

Snap43 said:
If SFWOA added a MF and TTD you can bet attedence would be up, look at how MF and TTD brought people from all over the county if not the world.

I would have to disagree. A park can build the largest and best coasters in the world but if they don't have the right people to run the park and rides, then those rides don't mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people IMO.

Yea, I know. Some of you won't agree with that comment but I stand by it. It's no secret that Six Flags has been on this huge "build, build BUILD" funk in recent years. Now, don't get me wrong, I love progress. I love new rides. However, I also think customer satisfaction brings me back to a park just as much as a new ride does.

In the last two years I have visited SFWoA twice. To be honest, during those two times, I actually has a great time. Why wouldn't I go back all the time then?

The time I spent at the park three years ago was a much different story. I didn't want to visit the park again. There was no excuse for the way I was treated on more than one visit. Because of that, I decided to limit my visits to the park until I knew there were improvements being made.

Now, I am willing to give it more chances because I know it can and has improved in certain areas. Most of the general public however probably don't think the same way. If they get burnt, that will stick with them and they will remember it. Customer satisfaction does go a long way.

I am sure I will have a great time at the park this year. I would love to see the park take a couple of years off from building new rides just to work on their infrastructure.

-Sean

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