To IP or not to IP in themeparks?

LostKause's avatar

Cedar Fair could benefit from some kind of memorable "steeple" at the entrance of their parks, like golden arches or six flags. I wonder what percentage of passholders get the platinum upgrade?

Funny, Travis, I was just thinking about that very thing today and this is what I finally came up with.

I’m inclined to believe that most CF park goers don’t realize they’re at a “Cedar Fair” park. And I find myself still having to explain to people how Cedar Point and Kings Island are under the same umbrella.
If you make a purchase at a CF park you get a shopping bag that shows a map or something with all the corporate properties indicated, and that’s about all the attempt at national branding I can think of off hand. Maybe they’ve figured out that being a regional presence is just as good as being a national brand and as long as they get the business it really doesn’t matter. And each park has its own name and identity, always has, and that’s how the parks are known. They had the opportunity, especially with acquired parks, to re-name the places with monikers that sound like “Cedar Fair’s Carowinds”, but they didn’t. Like someone mentioned earlier, Paramount’s Kings Island was something nobody ever really said. It’s always been just Kings Island. Maybe they know this and in the end save a lot of cash by not bothering.

Contrast that to a day at Six Flags. No matter what regional park you’re visiting you’re always having a day at “Six Flags”. The good people of Dallas and Atlanta have always just gone to “Six Flags” and it’s all they ever needed to say. Oh, in some areas local people may still cling to the names Great Adventure, Magic Mountain, and Fiesta Texas, but once you enter any of the parks (well, the parking lot, really) the brand is clear. Actually, they like to hit you over the head with it and never let you forget for a second. All day long you’re bombarded with SF signage everywhere and you’re forced to hear commercials for themselves all day. After a minute I get irritated by it and want to say “Enough, already. Guys... I’m already in and I know where I’m at. You have my money. So shaddup about it, please!”

I’m not sure which approach is smarter, but I know the one I prefer.

Last edited by RCMAC,
ApolloAndy's avatar

I don't think the SF branding is too excessive, but even if it is, there has to be some middle ground, right? I mean, the fact that 99.9% of patrons to CGA (my home park) wouldn't even be able to identify it as a Cedar Fair park strikes me as a problem. I mean, if platinum passes didn't exist, it might not matter, but the fact that they have a product whose sole/primary benefit is completely unknown to the potential customers can't be good.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Free parking?
But I would agree. The age old question is who benefits the most from a CF platinum pass? Ohioans and the nearbys, for sure. And recently on a sister site we heard from an enthusiast who decided on a whim to take the kids to Carowinds and KD over spring break, so there’s those folks.
I’m still left wondering what advantage there is for CF to ignore a national brand. And as annoying as I find Six Flags’ efforts once I’m in the gate, everyone knows a smart business move is to establish a brand and continually reinforce it.
I also wonder what other examples like this exist. Restaurant corporations, Darden comes to mind as an example, has many different store brands under them. Grocery stores? Same thing. Federated department stores had a store in every major, but they’ve since all gone to Macy’s.
In the end is it important to know when I go to Olive Garden that I’m sitting in a Darden restaurant?
The best place to find the Cedar Fair corporate brand is on their own website, where they do a good job of promoting every one of the properties under their name. But if no one knows to go there, who goes there? I’d reckon most people when looking for info about a park just google the name of the park.

Oh well.

ApolloAndy's avatar

Well, in our market, there's regular pass, gold pass (free parking), and platinum pass (admission to all CF parks), so there's basically just one benefit to the platinum pass. For things like stores and restaurants, if there isn't a brand wide promotion or product, then it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to have a well known national brand.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Looks like the old Paramount parks (some of them anyways) retain the gold/platinum passes (with parking included with each). Other parks just have season passes (with no parking) and platinum passes (with parking). I had platinum passes and only went to Cedar Point for a few years and the parking was the only benefit I used.

To me (at least in part) difference between Six Flags and Cedar Fair branding relates to the cities in which their parks are located. I expect there are more people travelling to cities in which Six Flags has parks than are travelling to cities in which Cedar Fair has parks. As such, I think it makes more sense to market SF as a national brand and market CF regionally (California parks to California residents, Ohio parks to Ohio residents, Cedar Point and Michigan parks to Michigan residents, etc). And looking quickly that their websites, I appears that is what they do when you look at buying a platinum pass.

ApolloAndy's avatar

How many California patrons do you think know that Knott's and CGA are (can be) on the same pass? My bet is not many. I wonder if they just don't care about moving Platinum passes in general, because they aren't super heavily advertised (all the in park signs are for gold).

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Vater's avatar

ApolloAndy said:

I wonder if they just don't care about moving Platinum passes in general, because they aren't super heavily advertised (all the in park signs are for gold).

Bingo. How large a segment of the population are visiting multiple Cedar Fair parks in a season? Those who are likely already know about the platinum passes.

I think the number of people looking to go to 2 different amusement parks (outside destination parks in CA and FL) in the same season (whether CF, SF or whatever) is a lot smaller than people here think. And the people who are interested are likely to know about season passes (gold, platinum or whatever) and the benefits thereof.

Raven-Phile's avatar

Back in my day, we had to have a gold pass to PKI, and a Cedar Point pass with Joe Cool Club just to visit both Ohio parks!

ApolloAndy's avatar

Enh. I'm not convinced. A few of my friends (sampling bias if there ever was one) had Six Flags passes and at least were mildly interested in other Six Flags parks. They certainly knew where the other closest Six Flags parks were or vaguely where a nearby one was when they traveled far away.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I know that its a very safe thing to say, but it all depends on how it is executed and the context. In many cases it makes sense and is done well, and in many cases it is cheesy and expensive.

Case in point of where it does NOT work out is Six Flags. They must pay tons of money for the DC properties, but they make the parks look ugly, and like they're geared from 8 year olds. But its ironic, as superheroes are all the rage for all age groups at the box office. I think it just comes down to execution, and how they employ the theming and the storylines.

Obviously, the IP's work pretty well at Universal and Disney. Partially, this is because of great execution, but you could also say its because you go to the park expecting it to tie-in with the brand that's slapped on the park name. Plus, they obviously don't have to pay for the licensing.

I've thought about before about how cool it would be cool if a park was heavily themed, but didn't use any IP's at all and made their own original storylines. Then I thought that if GP was looking at this, it might just make the park look like the themes and rides are cheap off brand knock-offs. "Ultra-Man -- Man of Talents" "Squirrel Man -- The Dark Lord" "Zany Tunes" "Michael the Mouse" etc. You could even run into copyright issues and litigation.

So ultimately it all comes back to how good the stories are and how well the theming is done. Marvel Comics was struggling for years to get its Avengers heroes on screen, after seeing the success of Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, etc. on screen. Then they got the right people together, and have been making Rotten Tomatoes and box office magic for 10 years.

I personally would love to see a park who took theming seriously, and maybe was willing to have some 17+ plus parts of the park, have a Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire themed section.

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