What's going on with Cedar Fair?

Thursday, August 11, 2005 4:54 PM
Kennywoods attendance is up and even Six Flags attendance were up this quarter. What's Cedar Fair doing wrong? You can't blame the weather! *** Edited 8/12/2005 2:11:44 AM UTC by Cedar "Counter" Point***
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:01 PM
One contributing factor is the labor boycott. When Geauga Lake used mostly non-union workers to build Wild Water Kingdom, Local unions decided to boycott cedar fair companies. However, some todelo unions are only boycotting Geauga Lake.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:05 PM
Well, in regards to Knott's I think that it's legitimate with the ridiculous rainfall they had earlier this year, but definitely not for the rest of the chain.

Cedar Point's attendance has been decreasing each year for the past few years. It just doesn't look too bad on paper because they keep increasing per capita spending. Unfortunately they do this by increasing the prices on food and tickets every year.

I think that blaming the Detroit for low numbers is pretty lame. Obviously this isn't the first year they have had less than desired attendance, so it's not just that area's fault. They may have reached the point where people stop coming back because they just don't feel the need to go to the same park every year. I mean, with the Intamin seat belt policy pissing people off and their operations slipping this year maybe people think that can have just as much fun at a Six Flags or local waterpark.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:34 PM
1) The domestic auto market's been sucking wind that long if not longer. Why else would they resort to 'employee pricing' discounts if not a prolonged slump?

2) Plenty of people still fit in MF's seats.

3) This is a company turning a smaller profit, not losing money.

-CO

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 5:48 PM
As to point 3, the problem with that is that Wall Street expects every company to make more money this year than it did last year. As soon as a company's profits level off or decline, even if it STILL makes plenty of money, investors get cranky.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:00 PM
There has been a more significant undertone of complaint among the faithful on pointbuzz of late. I'm not sure if those things are translating to the general public yet, but they certainly could be.

I don't have a good answer: we've taken three different families with us to CP so far this season---two had never been, and one hadn't been in many years---and everyone has enjoyed themselves enough to want to go back next year.

And, for the record, MF seats didn't matter to any of them, because between the 14 of us, I'm the only one who rides it.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:37 PM
What type of stuff are people saying on Point Buzz? Has customer service faltered?

Last year (and this) will be the ONLY years I've not visited. I've made efforts to get to HW, IB, and PKI a greater priority. In fairness, I prefer wood. For whatever reason, I just do not have a desire to get back to CP...AND I still have not done TTD! Maybe I'm still upset that my last 5-8 trips were greeted with TTD breakdowns...? Or maybe I've just done the place too many times...

But they get my money through Knotts vists anyway! I love that place...

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 6:56 PM
There is a number of reasons why attendence is down, and im sure alot of it is contributed to Cedar Point. Detroit has lost a number of jobs lately and in my opinion it is a valid reason. Also being a Canadian I don't enjoy going through customs all that much these days. Not to mention exchange rates, and insurence if your employer does not provide it. Attendence is sure to decrease next year as well as you are going to need a passport to visit the United States, and I'm sure that people that only go once or twice a year are'ent going to rush out and get one. Especially when they can drive to Toronto to Wonderland hassle free and actually make a trip out of it, as Toronto has quite a bit more to offer, in my opinion.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 8:26 PM
JRS: Mostly operational complaints, but a few others too. Minor stuff, really, but add 'em all together and the mood seems a bit more cloudy than in past years. Just my impression though, not a rigorous survey.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 8:42 PM
The "boycott" is insignificant in the bigger picture.

Yes, there is generally a certain degree of dissatisfaction on PointBuzz. I don't think it's the kind of lame Disney Rat type of complaining either, I think a lot of it is fairly legitimate. Aside from the Millennium Force seat belt issue, there are a lot of little things that I think overall add up to degrade the experience. I don't think that I'd go as far as saying that it has affected attendance though.

I think the Detroit thing is a valid issue, but I also think that it's time to rethink their marketing as a whole, including the choices made on new attractions. Look at PKI... they stopped with the "-est" race and diversified. It's working for them year after year.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 10:27 PM
What can Cedar Point really do now to continually get their attendance at highest possible every year? Can new coasters every 2 or 3 years get them what they want? Are coasters or even major flat/thrill rides enough? I agree with Jeff that it would be great if they diversified and although he might disagree with me on this part, I think they should expand the waterpark *and* include it in admission. I know I'd make bigger plans if it were included, which should raise attendance and spending, right? Add to the kiddie line-up and make it more appealing and grand one year. Add an interactive dark ride. Add a water coaster. As like as their marketing is good, they could get anyone into the park for anything (see: PKI).

I'm not sure what KBF should do as the thrill ride lines (basically walk-on for Xcelerator and Silver Bullet) were really short when I went, so I'm not sure if people coming to the park don't have a high interest in the thrillers or if the marketing was poor for SB or what's going on. IIRC, their attendance has been down this year, so I guess I'd be looking for something to steal some Disney audience as well again as their log flume was *really* popular. I'll go ahead and say all the CF parks should look at interactive dark rides (Peanuts theming??). =p

Dorney seems to be doing well with its new coaster and I think they did a good thing with that addition and competition with Hershey, Knoebels, and SFGAdv. Anything they do with their waterpark seems to be a nice hold for them.

I don't know anything about ValleyFair! except they need a wavepool and their coasters are sort of lackluster. =p

Does Michigan's Adventure have a waterpark? I'd change that if not. Even a small waterpark can do big things. PGA put one on the plot of Stealth and their attendance went up nicely.

Never been to Worlds of Fun and I don't know their attendance history either. They do their thing in a moderately competitive area with being about 4 hrs. from SFStL and SDC. Their coaster collection by next year seems to be at least on par if not better than StL's.

Geauga Lake.. I just don't know. It's so hard to set yourself apart sharing a market with PKI and CP on one end and Kennywood on the other. That's why I thought the animals and wildlife was essential to this park and area to draw people. I don't think CF needs to take the park and reinvent it again and try to get someone to be able to take care of the animals, but something needs to happen. Even I didn't expect stripping Six Flags off the name (and DC comics and Looney Tunes) and taking the animals would be that bad on their attendance. Not sure what they need to do now.

I really don't know anything about running parks, just trying to make suggestions according to trends I've seen elsewhere. Not sure how I turned it into "what I think CF should do", but I did. =p

I don't think I've ever seen a decline at a park where a kiddie/family section was expanded, a waterpark was expanded, or a new woodie was added, at least recently. Sounds like a plan for most parks if they haven't done it recently.

+Danny

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 10:32 PM
theres more to do now than go to Cedar Point, a large portion of CP attendence has always been teenagers, who are now prolly more unlikely to go due to gas prices being 2.50. i think we will see michigan attendence continue to fall as long as the state continues to far. perhaps attendence from north of the border will take a hit in a few months when ull need a passport to cross it who knows?
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 10:49 PM
Out of curiosity...do they still run all the trains...disperse them fast...etc! They used to be the best at that in my opinion.
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Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:03 PM
Credit needs to be given also to other parks who are stepping up lately. For years it seemed IMO that there were so many parks that just looked at CP and thought, "They rule the amusement park world...don't try to compete with them...they'll run you out of business!"

CP has done a lot, for a long time that put them on top, but to be honest, we aren't going to CP this year, and the reason is we simply wanted to go to other parks.

Memorial Day weekend - Holiday World

Also went to PKD & BGW in July

Labor Day Weekend - Going to Geauga Lake

October - HW again...plus SFKK

...We haven't missed CP this year! With all these trips, we've also been to PKI 7-8 times this year already, our kids have so much fun at PKI & HW. They have fun at CP, but you can tell a difference in their demeanor.

My focus here is on PKI though. They've found and know their niche: Children & parents like thrills too, and PKI has been stepping up. We all know their not done building adult coasters!! They just did what they needed to do...add MORE variety for more people. There's tons more fun stuff to do at PKI now than there was ten years ago...and that's not just the father in me speaking. I'm going tomorrow and I can't wait to get there!

Not trying to dog CP too much. But what was the reasoning for MAXAIR? I'll stay at PKI and ride IJ:ST 10-20 times, then ride Delirium, (if it's up again!), before I'll travel to Sandusky to ride their frisbee.

Next year'll be a different story depending on what may be happening over the off-season at CP. And it doesn't have to be a coaster to grab my attention. What ever they may do, they better do it big though because a bulk of the focus is already on HW, Beech Bend, and anything that may be happening at PKI.

C'mon CP show us the kind of creativity that made you one of the world's premiere parks. You can do better than you did this year...this season was a downer for me.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:07 PM
MiA's has a good-sized waterpark, just got a Tornado and they're up 15% this year.

VF is down 4% from last year, but last year's drop (year after SV, installed a Rockin' Tug and a Foam Ball Factory) was a smaller drop than the year after PT.

WoF's attendance has been under a million for a few years now, which I believe has a lot to do with SFStl's complimentary waterpark. They're still down a bit this year, but OoF's numbers have jumped too.

-'Playa

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Thursday, August 11, 2005 11:50 PM
Detroit is having problems.

The oil market has lost its collective mind, and consumers are getting stuck with the bill.

Cedar Point's new addition this season is a great ride, just the kind of new attraction they've needed to add for several years now...but while it is a great ride, it isn't the kind of new attraction that someone is going to build a trip around.

Cedar Point has saturated its market. If they do nothing, their attendance will fall. They are to the point now where they have to add new attractions in order to maintain attendance, not to increase it. That's why they are working so hard on the resort side and on increasing length of stay...because that's all they can do to increase attendance. maXair didn't do it for them this year, although in my opinion it was a good addition because it helps to round out the midway (well, it IS a circular ride...). But it isn't enough to give them an attendance boost such as they get when they put in a new coaster that doesn't get any bad press.

As for the stuff that certain people (myself included) have been grumbling about on PointBuzz, that's stuff that won't have any affect on them this year. Aggravating your customers doesn't cause your attendance to tank this season, because when they come through the gates you haven't pissed them off yet. But it will cause problems in the future. After all, that's a big part of why they have problems at Geauga Lake: because Six Flags burned the lot for them.

And Geauga? Cedar Fair needs to be patient. That park will come around. Functionally they are on the right track, but it won't really straighten out for a year or two. I think they know that, but just because they know it doesn't mean they have to be happy about it.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, August 12, 2005 12:20 AM
How long will it take before Cedar Fair can turn a profit on the $171+ million (acquisition plus Wildwater Kingdom) they've spent on Geauga Lake so far in three seasons with such disappointing attendance, low admission prices, etc.? Operations are around $35 million a year for Geauga Lake according to the 2004 CF results. I know CF as a whole will be fine and will be turning profits, but what about this park alone, which is only pulling in 700,000 guests and maybe less this season? Each guest would have to be spending at least $50 to break even with operations. I'm sure I'm missing something, but it sounds like a long, tough road.

+Danny

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Friday, August 12, 2005 12:46 AM
When it's all said and done, attendance at GL won't be lower this year. Anyone that has spent time there in the last month knows this to be true. If they can pull of a strong haunt this year, maybe it'll make up for the weak early June.
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Friday, August 12, 2005 1:06 AM
I know that Jeff suggested that CP should abandon the "-est" race but I have to believe that mainstream media was giving parks like Busch Gardens Tampa and SFGA some media publicity because of SheikRa and Kingda Ka.

I'm not saying that it's a game worth playing, but if you go by the TLC, Discovery and general print magazines they usually seem to be drawn to the new and unusual. A flat ride isn't going to do it (and I'm surprised that Silver Bullet hasn't done more for Knott's).

Cedar Fair will be fine. The resorts keep getting bigger so the company is making more off each guest (not just from higher prices at the park). However, it's also something that Six Flags and Paramount are learning to do (it can't be just a coincidence that indoor waterpark hotels will be opening on Six Flags and Paramount property over the next year after CF rolled out Castaway Bay).

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Friday, August 12, 2005 5:26 AM
In reply to someone above saying how Knott's Silver Bullet was poorly recieved or the market was not ripe for its introduction is not so much that the ride itself is not doing anything for guests, but that Knott's PR department has gone to sh*t after GhostRider and Supreme Scream's installations. I don't know if the entire staff was replaced, but the park is just not as aggressive as it used to be in the years preceding 1999 when it comes to marketing and advertisements. Knott's used to push catchy, attention grabbing, and visually stimulating TV ads out as well as radio ads with the same effect. The ads you see nowadays are lackluster (pretty much just simple garbage of ads) and really do nothing to get people motivated to visit. Also, for a major, worldwide known park with emphasis on itself as a destination resort, their web-site is one of the most poorly run in the industry. This is ironic because sister park Cedar Point runs one of the industry's BEST park sites and they know and understand the marketing value and power of the internet and that a lot of consumers are now using the internet to plan trips, look up park information and other related things. And when a web-site (Knott's website) is constantly outdated, without fresh up-to-date information, user engaging material - you really have to wonder why a perfectly good marketing tool is put out to rot away.
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