We all hear all of this gloom and doom about small amusement parks that are disappearing or are in denger of disappearing. What about the ones that are doing really well or are turning the corner?
Some of the parks that come to mind are Waldameer, Seabreeze, and DelGrosso's. There are others like Camden and Beech Bend that once were in trouble but have turned the corner. Surely there could be other ones that you might want to mention as well.
Adventureland in Long Island is a very profitable property. They don't have a lot of land, and they don't have great views...but the place is a magnet for day camps, elementary school music festivals & families throughout the summer.
You can do the whole place in about 2 hours, and the food isn't good, but it's a nice day without a long drive for the Long Islanders.
Silverwood is doing very well. They had a huge attendence boost when they added their waterpark and have continued to expand it each year -- including another big expansion next year. The rides section received a drop tower this year. Hopefully a new coaster or some new flats will come in a year or two.
I think Castle Park, Indiana Beach, Coney Island (Cincinnati), Martin's Fantasy Island, Family Kingdom, and the Moreys' Piers are all doing fairly well, also. Kiddieland in Chicago does a large business, but, it's unfortunate that the family that owns and runs the park can't get along.
I mentioned Delgrossos for a number of good reasons. This could well be a model for how a park in a small market can do well even in the face of local and regional competition.
Delgrossos combines elements of a traditional park, a waterpark, and an FEC. Add good food and affordable prices and attract picnic groups and there is the reason why they are successful even with Lakemont, Idlewild and Kennywood providing competition.
I also give them credit for picking up a bargain in Tennessee which will soon meke them the home to Western PAs only looping coaster.
I do plan to get to DelGrossos this coming season.
As for Silverwood, this shows that you can have a decent sized park in an area away from large population areas. Much of their attendance comes from the Spokane area and other parts of Washington State. This is another park like Knoebels and Holiday World that defies the conventional wisdom that a park needs to be near a major city, next to an interstate, or in a prime resort area.
One more factor helping this park is that there are so few amusement parks in this region for obvious regions. Often people in this region depend upon the carnivals and fairs for many of thier thrills but where do you go if you want to ride a big coaster? Silverwood certainly did the right thing when they decided to put much of their focus on wooden coasters.
Arthur Bahl said: ...why they are successful even with Lakemont, Idlewild and Kennywood providing competition.
Lakemont is really on it's last legs. I went on a beautiful summer day, and the park was empty. There were a few picnics going on, but it's clear to me that it's hanging by a thread.
DelGrossos, on the other hand, was booming both times I was there this summer, and I think that park has really found it's niche. It's kind of a shame, because there's a park with some good wood down the road that's a little neglected. But business is business, so what are you going to do?
I think my friends and I went to Lakemont on a Saturday and it was absolutely dead. We paid $5 to get into the park, even though it wasn't after 4pm or whatever it is. Everything was open other than their Toboggan (thank god). I don't see how they are making a profit if they're charging people $5 and there were probably 20 people there on a Saturday.
Enchanted Forest in Turner, OR does ok. This year they added an interactive dark ride, for instance. Though the park is aimed squarely at families with young kids, there is still enough to ride and do for adults.
Word is the kiddie-ride area is getting revamped soon, perhaps even now, with the next big attraction already in the planning stage.
I'm not sure it'd be considered a small park per se, but it sounds like things are going well for Lagoon, I've never been there, but I plan to remedy that next year when their tower launch coaster opens.
Morey's Piers, I think they were in the top 20 attendance last year.
Gillian's Wonderland Pier and Playland's Castaway Cove in Ocean City, NJ. Go to those parks on any summer night, especially on a weekend and you can barely walk through the park there are so many people.
Dutch Wonderland, even on weekdays the main part of the lot can get full and they use the overflow lot area and sometimes even park cars on the grass near the Sky Princess.
Storybook Land in NJ (near Atlantic City). Their overflow lot is constanstly being used every time I drive by in the summer. They probably get less than 1,000 visitors a day but for a park that small, that is a lot. *** Edited 11/12/2006 7:20:42 PM UTC by YoshiFan***
Canobie Lake, this park survived the birth of SFNE and is still adding rides, thank goodness. This fantastic park was my first real amusment park, and home to my first coaster ride, the Yankee Cannonball (one of the best pure airtime machines out there.) Someday soon Im going to return there. *** Edited 11/12/2006 8:36:46 PM UTC by Touchdown***
Lake Compounce. This was a park that had gone through several ill-fated reincarnations until Kennywood acquired it and made major investments. Now the park's future appears assured.
One thing that is nice about this park is its nice variety of rides including a top-notch wooden coaster, an interactive dark ride and several transport rides including the skyride up a mountain. There is a major waterpark as well that keeps on growing. The crowning touch to this park, of course, is its beautiful setting next to the mountain.
This was also the second park, Holiday World being the first, to offer free soft drinks.
Yeah, I have a hard time calling Morey's Piers a "small park." While the three piers would easily fit inside another small park, there are more than 70 rides and attendance always exceeds 3 million/year so I consider them a major park.