The Typical American Theme/Amusement Park.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 6:45 PM

Ilovthevu' said:
If the ride stinks, it stinks. You can't "hide" it with theming.

Really? How in the world do you explain the continued popularity, no make that love, rides that like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain have. If they had "Six Flags theming" (ie cardboard cutouts and a "futuristic looking" station) do you honestly think they wouldnt be considered a "lame ride?"

Edit-Grammer
*** Edited 2/14/2007 11:52:51 PM UTC by Touchdown***


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 6:46 PM
matt.'s avatar Exactly, Touchdown. And what about traditional dark rides? Many remain popular but the ride isn't more exciting than my average drive to work.

I'm not saying theming can fix everything but really good, well designed though-out theming can do wonders for a not-so-hot ride. *** Edited 2/14/2007 11:54:41 PM UTC by matt.***

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:00 PM
Well, what you've hit upon is the essential difference between Europe and the States. I could blindfold you, put you on a plane, and drop you in the middle of nearly any mid-sized city in the US, and you would be hard pressed to know where you were. WalMart here, McDonalds there, a GAP on the corner, etc. etc. etc.

The European countries, on the other hand, (despite or maybe even because of the EU), still make some effort to keep to their local heritage. You can immediately tell the difference between a
French, German, or Italian town. Some places are more challenging---Switzerland for example---but in part because the Swiss culture is something of an amalgam of France and Germany, and in part because the Swiss are more "new world" than many of their old world counterparts.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:01 PM
Outside of Disney/Universal I would love to see a regional park here in the US comparable to Port Aventura or Terra Mitica in the vein of themeing and atmosphere. We have Busch Gardens Europe, Silver Dollar City, and Dollywood, but that's pretty much it.

All of the regional parks built in the 70s have abandoned their themes. Carowinds, Kings Island, Kings Dominion, and the original Six Flags parks have all changed drastically from their original incarnations.


Intamin Fan said:
I totally disagree with the comment about theming at Six Flags parks. Take a look at pictures of The Golden Kingdom at Great Adventure (or better yet, walk through it) for example, and then tell me that Six Flags can't theme. It feels like you've totally left the park.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is amazing. The area where the cobra-roll comes up in the distance of S:KC and you're standing on a street with working lights still rules as one of the most interesting experiences I've had. And how many parks have natural rock-cliffs in the background?


Six Flags is capable of doing great themeing...its just not considered necessary most of the time.

For example, Goliath at SFOG. No themeing other than the "50s abstract" thing they did with the station - apparently an attempt to make the coaster fit in with the USA section. Kind of odd considering the great job Six Flags did with Kingda Ka a year earlier.

Fiesta Texas is nice because Opryland built it that way. That said, Six Flags has done a great job keeping the original theme up there compared to what has happened at some of their other parks. As mentioned, Great America has done well too. (Minus the invasion of Superhero and Looney Tunes stuff that strays away from the original concept, though that is to be expected)

*** Edited 2/15/2007 1:05:43 AM UTC by Dukeis#1***

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:15 PM
Dukeis, the problem with your premise is that the parks you mentioned are in Europe's Sun Belt, ie they can run year round as does Universal and Disney. Could the US support another Universal/Disney type venture in the Texas area (ie the middle of the vast expanse from Orlando to LA?) Probably, but the start up costs (look at how sparse some of Disney's new parks have opened with) coupled with the uncertainty of the first few years (remember when IOA was heraled as a collasal failure when it first opened) you are going to need a large company to underwrite the cost.

The most likely choices are the entertainment companies but they either own huge parks (Disney, Universal/GE) have their rights owned by a huge theme park enterprise (Paramount, WB) or are Japenese companies unlikely to build in the US when their country supports huge parks (Nintendo, Sony.) Which is why you wont see a brand new destination gold standard theme park for quite some times.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:22 PM
I think Brian Noble hits upons something that's become an American way of life––that we know we can go just about anywhere and find things that make us feel like we're at home.

In some ways, it's not a bad thing. For instance on day one of a six-day themepark excursion, the battery in my film camera decides to die and the lens won't retract while at SFGAM. They didn't have the battery in the gift shop, so what to do?

On the way back to the motel, I spot a WalGreens, which I know from home is a huge drugstore and probably has a lot of different battery types. Sure enough, they had a multitude of batteries and I was able to continue taking pictures.

In front of our motel was a Murray's Auto Parts store. Thank goodness it was there, because I had killed about 10,000 bugs in Indiana and Illinois, and they were all over the windshield, other windows, and lights. About $6 later, I had a sponge, and bug remover so we could continue on safely in our trip, and so I could continue my killing spree:)

I don't think the animated movie Cars got it wrong--there is some value in uniqueness of services offered, and I have tried out different things in my travels--but familiarity isn't a bad thing either when you're out of your element.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:26 PM
I am hoping that the new management can do tis at great adventure. I dont care what you think of the six flags chain but nobody can deny that Great Adventure has tons of potential .

IF The new management realises that the park needs one or two years of no new rides or sections and just retheming and customer service inprovements then great adventure can be that park people are looking for.

The park has it a little with the Golden Kingdom and a little with the forntier adventures section. *** Edited 2/15/2007 1:26:51 AM UTC by majortom1981***

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:47 PM
First define what a "typical" park is and then we can give you a more definite answer. ;)
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 8:52 PM
crazy horse's avatar There is a differance between a theme park and a amusement park.

what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 10:41 PM
matt.'s avatar

Dukeis#1 said:
Outside of Disney/Universal I would love to see a regional park here in the US comparable to Port Aventura or Terra Mitica in the vein of themeing and atmosphere. We have Busch Gardens Europe, Silver Dollar City, and Dollywood, but that's pretty much it.

But if we're looking at Europe as a whole compared to the U.S. as a whole (which like I said before is stupid but whatever, it's the off season) you have to take into consideration more than just the top tier parks.

Because frankly Europe has some pretty dumpy parks. They should bring the average down.

Next up in round 2:

South Africa vs. Australia!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 11:10 PM
^ Also, why are we comparing an entire continent to one country? Like the example Brian Noble gave about knowing the difference between an Italian city and French city if you were plopped down in one... well would you be able to tell the difference between different cities within just one of those countries? Comparing an Italian town to a French town is more akin to comparing a US town to a Mexican town, and we could clearly tell the difference there.
As far as parks, sure there is some homogeniety in the US, but there's also all of the great unique parks that people have been pointing out (I'll add Lake Compounce to the list).
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Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:48 AM
They are not totally incomparable. The EU has about 1/2 the area of the US. Ignore Alaska, though, and the areas are much closer. On the other hand, the US population is about 60% of the EU's. The notion of "countries" vs. "states" is really just an arbitrary political device.

Where the EU and US differ, though, is that the EU grew up from a lot of little islands of population that slowly melded together over time. The US grew up largely through colonization primarily from only 3 of those "islands" of culture---France, Spain, and Britain. It then spread from the coasts inward---and one culture (the UK) and coast (Eastern) dominated, at that.

This projects into the way the two places operate. The US always seems to be looking for the "mass market". In the EU, markets seem to be much more focused. Perhaps that's because, with such cultural diversity, there *is* no mass market. On the other hand, the last thing most of my European friends would like to see is the homogenization of the EU.

To be fair, my friends are all getting to be middle-aged. Younger folks seem much more in tune with cultural imperialism. The college kids at Uppsala just north of Stockholm seemed to spend a lot of time in the local McDonalds in preference to the local pub. That's just crazy, from my perspective.

As I see it, the US is much more centralized in its identity. In other words, federalism rules. The EU, while it is trying to adopt certain centralized benefits (common currency, work rules, etc.) is also working hard to preserve the individual identities of the member states. Even in 100 years, I believe that someone from Michigan will be an "American", not a "Michigander." But, someone from Spain will be a Spaniard, not a European.


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Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:52 AM
matt.'s avatar It's well illustrated by the lexicon before and after the American Civil War.

Before the war, people would say "The United States are...."

Now we say "The United States is...."

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Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:30 AM
Brian, there is a *completly* different mindset between an Italian and a Frenchman opposed with a Californian and a Virginian. We are talking about centuries where the French and Italians had different cultural traits, different Languages, hell, they even had conflict with each other. It is only *very* recently that they have come to *start* to think of themselves as a group. Please, they havent even been using the same money for ten years yet!

OTOH, what major differences do Californians and Virginians have? They ascribed to the same government, speak the same language, and for the most part have had no conflict with each other (save the issue of wine sales...but I digress :)). There is absoltely *no* reason to expect the culture of France and Italy to be the same. However, one would, and IMO, *should* expect that Richmond is substantially similar to Sacramento (The Govenator not withstanding).

Thank you for playing "Really Bad Analogies".

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Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:43 AM
rollergator's avatar See, I think the reason the US and EU are *incomparable* is because I look at the relative situations from a historical perspective...their UNION may be young, but their cultures are old.

Also explains why I *cannot* figure out why the heck the US government insists on being the world's policeman 50 years AFTER the deal is done.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007 10:58 AM

Brian, there is a *completly* different mindset

I'm glad you're paying attention, because that's exactly my point. That's the reason that US parks are "losing that special one of a kind something", and that European parks "are all different and unique in their own way", to quote PizzaMan's original post.

I claim that the US parks never had it in the first place, because the US is much more homogeneous.
*** Edited 2/15/2007 3:59:08 PM UTC by Brian Noble***


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Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:50 AM
^^I wasnt addressing your insight on the theme parks, but rather your comparison between cities. I would wholehartedly agree that American theme parks, in general, are homogenous *by design*. I dont think for a moment that can be disputed as virtually all of them start off with the "Main Street America" theme, drift over into the "Wild West", and follow it up with some sort of "Fantasy" concept. (i.e. reading directly out of Disneyland's playbook)

My problem was with you contrasting the similarily of American cities with the differences of cities of different countries in the EU. If you had contrasted New York and Miami with say Paris and Nice, that would be fair. But New York/Miami v. Paris/Rome is just not valid as the EU is not 'culturally' akin to the USA.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007 11:53 AM
I wasn't aiming for "fair". I was aiming for "illustrative." The unfairness of the comparison was sort of the point.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:30 PM

Touchdown said:

Ilovthevu' said:
If the ride stinks, it stinks. You can't "hide" it with theming.

Really? How in the world do you explain the continued popularity, no make that love, rides that like Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain have. If they had "Six Flags theming" (ie cardboard cutouts and a "futuristic looking" station) do you honestly think they wouldnt be considered a "lame ride?"

Edit-Grammer
*** Edited 2/14/2007 11:52:51 PM UTC by Touchdown***


I still like the River King Mine Trains without "theming". It doesn't matter. The ride at both Disney's is just better. That doesn't have anything to do with that big mountain, the bath tube person, rocks falling, and so on. It's just a longer ride. A ride in the dark with nonsense theming like Disaster

Transport will still good no matter what. I think that ride has the worst theming of any ride, and it doesn't really matter. If the ride stinks, it still thinks. Does it matter that Dueling Dragons queue is so elaboratively themed. It doesn't make me want to stand in line any longer. You can only look at skeletons, doors making noises, and knights for so long. Ice makes me want to go on that ride, and nothing really else.

Yes, dark rides do need characters. Otherwise, there would be no point. These include Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, Men In Black, Buzz LIghtyear, and more. They are all based upon some character.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007 4:30 PM
True theme parks need to put a strong focus on their themes. The Disney, Universal, and Busch parks do this. So do some of the Herschend parks such as SDC and DW. SFFT is a special case among Six Flags parks but some of the other parks have some (more limited) theming. Among the non-Paramount Cedar Fair parks, KBF has the strongest theming, the others are not that well themed. The former Paramount parks lost most of their theming in the coaster and waterslide building mania. Some other parks with significant theming include Holiday World and Idlewild along with some smaller Christmas or western parks. Even some zoos are starting to evolve into a type of theme park.

One of the parks that was unique in some ways and would have been at home in Europe was the now gone old Elitchs Gardens in Denver. KW is a great example of an existing park which would be at home on either side of the Atlantic. Just throw together a bit of thrill parks like Blackpool with elements of landscaped parks like Tivoli and Alton Towers. Mix traditional and newer attractions together and that is what KW is.


Arthur Bahl

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