This is one of those questions I've had for years, but have been too afraid to ask. When it comes to adding a new ride or roller coaster, what body makes that decision when it comes to chain parks? Is that handled on the park level (controlling their own budget) or does the parent organization like Herschend or Cedar Fair make the decision? I imagine it's pretty straight forward when it comes to independently owned parks.
Over the years, that hasn't been consistent even at the same companies. It's all of the above. CF had a couple of years where they did a gap analysis and worked between their planning and design folks and park leadership to figure stuff out. It's my understanding that in the Kinzel days you could pitch a project if you could prove you'd make the money back. Sounds like it's more top-down now, but I don't know.
Six, Seas and CF have been corporate driven and board approved for the last several years, however I'm hearing that Six is sending that back to the parks with the new CEO. I don't how he's going to referee that since he's gutted the corporate team so perhaps he thinks he can sift through the good ideas versus the bad ideas.
I'm not sure there is a right or wrong way, but context matters. The very flat structure at Holiday World would tell you that you don't need a huge committee to make good decisions - you just need smart operators. We'll never see the numbers on how much money was saved by Six purchasing 8 of the same ride but capital efficiency was a driving force for them for quite some time and again that isn't necessarily wrong either. And of course CF loves big steel and the quality of the product they get in working with B&M. That strategy really hasn't changed since Kinzel was around, but the cadence has.
My experience working at a Six Flags park years ago and being around people that were still there for years: the big ticket items like new rides and big entertainment were dictated on the corporate level and the local management got more discretion on the year-to-year seasonal refurbishment projects with the level of discretion varying year to year. From everything I've heard, the way the big ticket items are handled hasn't changed much.
When I was a teen working at Great America in Santa Clara, I regularly submitted ride proposals via the employee suggestion box in the cafeteria. Now if they'd only listened to me! ;)
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