Small Parks that are Doing Well.

Idlewild is amazing! Rollo Coaster is a sweet little ride, the way it hugs the side of that hill and dips under the trees. I took my daughter on it when she was three, and she loved it!

Arthur Bahl said:
This was also the second park, Holiday World being the first, to offer free soft drinks.

Actually Lake Compounce was #3 ... Kiddieland in Chicago was #2.


Paula Werne
Holiday World

rollergator's avatar
^ But Kiddieland had *long lines* for the soft drinks....LOL! :)
How about wonderland in Amirillo and joyland in Lubbock. Those parks seem to pull in a steady attendance each year, they both have a great selection of classic flats as well as some pretty decent wild mouse coasters, also Joyland will be adding the old Schwarzkoph shuttle loop from SFAW next season.

Also Mgic Springs seems is a nice little amusment park in Arkansas, the Arkansas twister is AMAZING, combine that with a nice water park and a decsent variety of other coasters and flats and you have a very nice place to be for a family

Memphis Kiddie Park. Yeah, it's about as small as they get, but I don't think they've ever had a bad financial season.

Great Lakes Brewery Patron...


I'm surprised nobody mention Knoebels. It's rare to find anybody--enthusiast or regular public dude who doesn't fall in love with the place after a visit or two. And they add something new all the time.

I wouldn't consider Lakemont on its "last legs". I'm not sure how that place makes it with the $7.95 admission but there seem to be some special cicumstances around it's operation.

So how are we defining "small"?

Years ago, I'd asked Tim O'Brien (then at Amusement Business) and he said he always went with attendance figures:

Under 1 million = small park

1 million+ = large park

...or is it more family-owned/independent vs. corporate ownership?


Paula Werne
Holiday World

rollergator's avatar
^ Despite SFI's best efforts to make the distinction via ownership.... ;)

It really DOES make more sense to define it using attendance....but with an eye towards LOCATION moreso than ownership...

Or so goes *my* theory... :)

I wouldn't call Knoebels a "small" park even though it has much of the atmosphere of a small park. This park is about the same size as Kennywood with similar attendance (approx 1.3 million).

As for Idlewild, this is indeed a very nice park well suited to families. It appears to combine many of the qualities of Knoebels and Holiday World. I believe that this park could use a midsized wooden coaster and a darkride of some kind. Maybe they should look into relocating Zingo if Bells goes under.

I would also like to see Idlewild add a Christmas theme area some day. They already do a Christmas in July event each year and currently the closest Santa Claus park to it is about 500 miles away. What a park that would be! Misterrogers, Fairy tale characters, and Santa all in one park.

Arthur Bahl

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Raven Maven said:
So how are we defining "small"?

Ha! I ask this very question at the end of this week's podcast. (to be posted later today)

Personally, I don't think you're at a 'small' park, Paula.

It seems most enthusiasts make the distinction based on the whole corporate/independent thing.

I think size, attractions, pricing, attendance all add up to give an answer.

My take?

HW is a decently sized park with some major attractions and listed admission pricing that is on par with much bigger corporate parks..and now does an attendance of >1,000,000.

Nothing there says small park to me...except the attitudes of the people in charge. (and I mean that in a good way :) )

Lakemont seems to operate very comfortably in its small niche. I wouldn't say it's struggling- it has survived when many parks that were supposedly more solid were busy closing down.
I would agree that Knoebel's has the small park feel, but with as many people and cars I saw on my one visit there, I would have thought I was pulling up to Cedar Point! I loved the atmosphere of the place though.

25 Parks..............
123 Coasters........
....and still going!

Imagine the Crystal Beach Cyclone with a Gerstlauer train

I would put Knoebels just over the line into big park territory. But it still has the heart and feel of a small park.
funtown usa in saco, maine
SCBB is probably the top attended "small" park in the country. Small seaside park that still retains it's small tradional park feel, yet still pulls in 3-4 million every year.
I can't believe no one has mentioned Michigan's Adventure. They've been setting record attendance levels for the past 3 seasons. I'm not sure about this past season though. I don't think those numbers have been officially released yet.
Isn't there some kind of relationship between Lakemont and Blair County-- as far as ownership or operations? I guess their intent is to provide an entertainment complex with the baseball stadium, ice rink, and park all together.

If that is the case, they can get by with smaller crowds-- no shareholders to keep happy, no execs with their benefit packages. (Just taxpayer money, yay). And I think having the Dips there gives them some impetus to keep the place going, at least a little.

Lakemont has shareholderd, the Ambrano Brothers Construction Co., as sole owners. The park is on county leased property, which was extended 50 years this spring.

Leap the Dips generates $0 dollars for the park, except publicity. LP inspects the ride every morning, and makes repairs, plus they staff the ride.

LTD Co. keeps the revenue from the ride, plus the gift shop, which also operates rent free. LTD could not function as a sole entity. LP does not generate the needed foot traffic.

And for the record, Morey's Piers is considered by IAAPA standards, a Class A facilty, with 3.4 million in attendance.

IAAPA goes the following:
2,000,000 and up

A lot of parks think they are 'big' parks, and a lot of 'big' parks try to stay small.

Fortunately, most parks operate in the 'medium', and it works.

What about Mt. Olympus? They sure have grown in the past few years. Although some more flats would be welcomed by all.

Yeah is Good!
Knoebels is a big park that feels like a small park. I'm guessing it actually falls into the 1-2 mil category?

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