Why does SF do this??

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:02 PM
matt.'s avatar

Vater said:
^Yup...in which case, would we even be having this discussion? How many 'normal' park visitors even give a crap that Scream! is built on parking spaces?

Gonch's model for the typical park goer starts with location, location, location. The problem in the case of Scream! is SFMM isn't Six Flags Over Wichita where a parking lot coaster isn't a big deal. It's in L.A. along with Knotts, USH, thousands of other recreation opportunities, and that 500 lb. gorilla in Anaheim. I would still argue it's not a big deal, but like Rob pointed out these little things can add up.

How much money would The Mouse save per year with one less float in every parade?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:10 PM
janfrederick's avatar Probably not as much as building a new park on a shoestring. ;)

In regards to competing against Disney, I'd say they are going after a very different demographic. Knott's is going for a mix of the two (teens and families).

And we all know how much teens love having fun in parking lots with skateboards and whatnot. ;)


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:41 PM

How important is each in the decision of which park to visit?

I think this is the wrong question. It assumes that the decision maker has already determined to go to *a* park.

Rather, I think the average GP thinks only of their "local"---unless they live in one of the few multi-park markets, there is only one. The question is: do I go to the amusement park, or the ballgame, a day horseback riding, or a day canoing down the river?

So, it boils down to the question I always ask: will my family have fun doing this? Did they have fun last time we went?

Now, I'm not sure what the casual visitor thinks about parking lots. But, I do think that parks have to remember they are selling an *experience*, and everything in that experience matters at least a little bit.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:48 PM
Here's another observation: the rides probably matter less to "the experience" than the average enthusiast thinks they do.

In 2007, total ridership at Cedar Point's three flagship coasters, Maverick, Millennium, and Dragster, was about 3.4 million, give or take. Annual attendance was about 3 million in 2006.

Think about what that means for a minute. Some people probably made a point of riding all three of those on their visit. But, for every person that did so, there were almost two people who didn't ride any of the three.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 1:51 PM
Based on the earlier discussion, I'd say location and price determine whether I'd visit a park in the first place. Rides, service, and attractiveness would determine whether I'd come back.

I'd give the GP more credit for being savvy when it comes to parks. There's a whole range of people between the "I've ridden hundreds of coasters" enthusiast (or non-enthusiast in Gonch's case) and people who go one time a year to the park that's within 20 miles of their house.

Nowadays, people don't do anything or go anywhere without researching the hell out of it on the Internet. People are looking for different places to go. They're bored with the SOS (same old---).

Anytime I go to KG or HP, I see plenty of out of state license plates in the lots. Not just the occasional NJ or MD, but Ohio, Mass, and the Carolinas. If they're traveling to Elysburg or Hershey PA to go to a park, I'm sure they've been to many of the parks in between.

Maybe the question should be if the GP doesn't give a crap whether a coaster is built over a parking lot, why bother theming and landscaping at all?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:18 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Brian Noble said:
Here's another observation: the rides probably matter less to "the experience" than the average enthusiast thinks they do.

In 2007, total ridership at Cedar Point's three flagship coasters, Maverick, Millennium, and Dragster, was about 3.4 million, give or take. Annual attendance was about 3 million in 2006.

Think about what that means for a minute. Some people probably made a point of riding all three of those on their visit. But, for every person that did so, there were almost two people who didn't ride any of the three.


All that proves is that not everyone rides the 'big rides'

...and probably a little about math and capacity that I don't care to delve into beyond mentioning that 1200pph x 10 hours per day x 140 operating days means a very rough estimation of yearly capacity would be 1.68 million riders - is it a case of don't ride or can't?

Obviously, the 'grandma' crowd probably isn't riding those rides. Neither is the 'we brought our preschooler' crowd. Nor the "we took a day off of work to get away and let our teens blow off some steam" crowd. And a fringe idea considering the previous rough estimation is the "screw it, the line is 2 hours long" crowd also skipping those rides.

Think of the range of attractions at a given park - big rides, little rides, kiddie rides, shows, restaurants, midway entertainment, and on and on.

I don't think that rides are the top priority, but I do think that things to do is. Because without those things to do, you just have a park...and most people aren't paying $40 a day for a walk in the park.


RatherGoodBear said:
Anytime I go to KG or HP, I see plenty of out of state license plates in the lots. Not just the occasional NJ or MD, but Ohio, Mass, and the Carolinas. If they're traveling to Elysburg or Hershey PA to go to a park, I'm sure they've been to many of the parks in between.

That doesn't surprise me at HP, but does a bit at KG. Then again, are we seeing a smattering of plates because they stand out and the PA plates don't or is a truly measurable percentage of park guests coming from further away than expected.

In the case of HP it doesn't surpise me because I lump it in with the "tourist area" parks (a podcast topic recently) - that would probably tend to get traffic (and in this case the varied traffic we're questioning) based on it's vicinity to other attractions which are also a draw making the park visit more along the line of "part of the package" rather than the main point of visiting.


Maybe the question should be if the GP doesn't give a crap whether a coaster is built over a parking lot, why bother theming and landscaping at all?

Maybe an even more profound question is to ask why if the most trafficked regional parks draw less 1/100th of the country's population, why build parks at all? Because they're certainly not pandering to the majority in the first place. ;)


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:21 PM

Brian Noble said:
In 2007, total ridership at Cedar Point's three flagship coasters, Maverick, Millennium, and Dragster, was about 3.4 million, give or take.

I thought they were Gemini, Corkscrew and Blue Streak? Did they rename them?

Crap - how long have I been sleeping!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:22 PM

RatherGoodBear said:

Nowadays, people don't do anything or go anywhere without researching the hell out of it on the Internet.


Really? Truly? Tell that to the guy who voted in front of me during the last election who had to re-do his ballot cuz he voted for two governors. I don't think he was doing a lotta research.

You may research on the internet. I may research the internet. A number of people may do the same. But it doesn't mean everybody does. Neither you nor me nor every user here combined = everybody.


Anytime I go to KG or HP, I see plenty of out of state license plates in the lots. Not just the occasional NJ or MD, but Ohio, Mass, and the Carolinas. If they're traveling to Elysburg or Hershey PA to go to a park, I'm sure they've been to many of the parks in between.

Here's a theory: Perhaps you're seeing those cars because they're among the small number of fanatics who got up early, drove there by park opening and are therefore pretty close to the admissions gate. It would make them hard to miss, no?


People are looking for different places to go. They're bored with the SOS (same old---).

I'd tend to say people are creatures of habit instead. They get up out the same ol' bed, head to the same ol' job and stop at the same ol' coffee shop with the same ol' waitress behind the counter on their way. How else could McDonalds make bazillions with the same ol' middle-aged Big Mac sammiches? The comfort of familiarity, that's how.

And frankly, who's to say people looking for actual new experiences honestly wanna drive for hours and hours to a park with the same ol' rides? Wouldn't they rather try something else entirely?


Maybe the question should be if the GP doesn't give a crap whether a coaster is built over a parking lot, why bother theming and landscaping at all?

For the record, I think theming makes a difference. A HUGE difference. Hell, I just watched a local park get re-themed. But I don't think the reasons listed above are the reasons why. And I don't think they necessarily make or break a trip.

-'Playa


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 2:56 PM
I could spend the next hour quoting countless posts made since I last posted this morning, but instead I'll just touch upon a few things. Of course, Gonch comes first ;)

Location is a big deal, and referring to what 'Playa said, people are creatures of habit. That generally means good things if you're a theme park in the middle of a large population base, since you're not going to have to work that hard to maintain numbers over the years. Then again, the people running Great Adventure will likely tell you nothing is a sure thing, even if it seems everything is in your favor. Being in between two major cities doesn't seem to have helped the park out in recent years, despite the area's ever-growing population.

In this day and age when theme parks like Great Adventure want to charge more for the experience, I think it becomes increasingly important that all details are considered. There are definitely a lot of people that judge the Great Adventure experience on things like Nitro, Kingda Ka, Superman, Batman and El Toro, but there are others that are going to look at everything. Chances are the people that look at everything are going to be quite disappointed. Lots of people have gone to Florida and seen what a $70 theme park tickets gets them. There's no way in hell they're not going to compare that to the $70 Great Adventure park ticket they just purchased.

I see it being more like this: Over time, people are going to realize that the lack of attention to a lot of little details is ruining the park experience, and they're simply going to stop visiting certain theme parks because of that. This is especially true if a family is making an annual pilgrimage to a theme park destination like Orlando or southern California. Why bother spending the time and money on the lackluster local theme park when they'll be so close to another theme park that's a lot better?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 3:18 PM
Soggy's avatar I don't think anyone is arguing the fact that a parling lot coaster is less aesthetically pleasing than a landscaped or terrain coaster. That's a no brainer. The truth is, SFMM has some fantastic terrain coasters (Tatsu, Revolution, Gold Rusher & Ninja) but all of them were in fact built with the terrain in mind, in a location where terrain existed. Scream was added as a quickie quality coaster, and the parking lot (and queue for that matter) are pretty much afterthoughts. I agree with Gonch that the average non-enthusiast would never mention that the parking lot below Scream or Colossus matters to them, they tend not to notice that.

Also, I think the arguement that "They spend $15 million on a ride, whats another $100k on grass" arguement is bogus. I'm guessing that the landscaping budget is drawn from a different set of funds than new rides are, and narry the two shall meet. I have to think that keeping the interrior of the park prettier with same $100k will go farther than the acre or so beneath Scream. No?


Pass da' sizzrup, bro!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 3:26 PM
matt.'s avatar We're bringing up Cedar Point and I've always wished there was a way to get an answer to this - how many coasters of the 20 gazzilion they have does a guest actually ride, on average? Of course that would then tie into my next question - how many is enough? Does there come a point when there is no practical reason to have 20, 25, 30 coasters at one park? I mean it sounds crazy now but then again I remember a while back it was a big deal when a park had more than 10.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 3:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Lots of people have gone to Florida and seen what a $70 theme park tickets gets them. There's no way in hell they're not going to compare that to the $70 Great Adventure park ticket they just purchased.

But that's just it - that ticket to WDW wasn't $70 for the NJ family...it was much much more. Travel, accomodations, the ticket, the time, the effort.

It's worth it because the Orlando experience is so superb. But the NJ experience is just fine for the comparable 'costs' of the journey. In fact, in some weird way, memories of that Orlando trip might fuel the desire to try to capture a little piece of that again...locally, of course, because of the real 'costs' of getting to Orlando.

---

And an only barely related theory (that seemingly came from nowhere as I typed a response):

It's almost a trickle-down thing.

The destination parks are the biggest and best. You pay in time, money and effort to experience the pinnacle of the park going experience. The 'cost' is high and the opportunity rare.

The second tier would be regionals. These are the biggest of the parks that aren't destinations. These parks draw from a relatively large radius and there may be some time and effort 'cost' but they are much lower than the same 'cost' for the destination. In general the actual money cost is roughly the same as the destination park. (like Rob's $70 ticket comparison between SF and WDW) The cost is still on the high side, but the opportunity becomes less rare...merely uncommon.

The third tier would be local parks - the parks that primarily draw from their immediate area. The time and effort costs of such parks are practically non-existant for local and the monetary costs are low as well. More of a day activity than an getaway. This opportunity is common.

The fourth tier would be the countless FEC's and fun center's that offer barely amusement park-like activities. Maybe some small rides and a kiddie coaster. Go-karts and games. That sort of thing. Those places aren't even day activities. They're time killers. The cost on all ends is low and the opportunity is frequent.

---

I'm not sure where that came from. Somebody start to rip it apart.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:14 PM

Also, I think the arguement that "They spend $15 million on a ride, whats another $100k on grass" arguement is bogus. I'm guessing that the landscaping budget is drawn from a different set of funds than new rides are, and narry the two shall meet. I have to think that keeping the interrior of the park prettier with same $100k will go farther than the acre or so beneath Scream. No?

I would have to disagree on this. I think when a park looks into a new attraction and budgets to have it put in they may draw funds from multiple areas, but it all comes down to monies earmarked for a new ride. Midway reconstruction, paths, signage, landscaping and theming. So, though it all may come from different areas, in the end it is all the "New Ride Budget". What your saying is that the park sees the ROI of the $100k higher when applied to the midway then under the ride.

I don't see why the money is not there to do both. Honestly my statement about the $100k was one more of comparison of cost to evironmental impact as that was the discussion. But the comparison of cost to return would say yeah, put the $100k into another Dippin Dot's stand. Ultimately, though, it will come down to when all the parks have similar rides, food, cost and distance from your house where will you go (not considering rides to only get credit)? I think you will go where you feel comfortable and can enjoy the rides and scenary. I know I will. Oh, and who has La'Rosas pizza, that certainly matters. *** Edited 3/12/2008 9:17:49 PM UTC by ldiesman***

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:42 PM
matt.'s avatar

janfrederick said:
In regards to competing against Disney, I'd say they are going after a very different demographic.

Disney goes after the same exact market that SFMM does, the difference is that Disney casts a wider net. There are plenty of major attractions that appeal to thrill seekers and teens at DLR (and plenty of thrill seekers and teens at DLR in return), but there aren't many attractions that appeal to small children, families, and grandparents at SFMM. If the "head" as far as attendance goes are young adults and teens looking for thrill rides, SFMM may do well there, but DLR gets plenty of that too, and every single inch of the "long tail" - families, grandparents, non-ride people, retirees, etc.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008 9:45 PM
I was going to say that I have been one of those 2 many times before. As an SP holder unless I have a non SP holder with me or its worth my wilde (ie a night ride on MF) Im not going to wait more then 2 hours.

Its stupid, Magnum, Gemini, BS, if its the right time of day Raptor, and loads of flats all have a much shorter wait and are equally as fun, Ill catch the "big three" the next time I go to the park.


2020 Trips: Canceled by Corona

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 12:37 AM
Six Flags is advertising once again on Yahoo. It's NOT the super deal that it was before though. Instead, they say you get 5 free tickets for friends when you buy a season pass. I'm thinking that it is for anyday. That is just stupid. Why not let people get in the park free?

The people with the season pass can charge other people (even their friends), and get all that money from them. 5 tickets is a lot of tickets which is a lot of money, and a season pass is cheap.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:20 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
But that's just it - that ticket to WDW wasn't $70 for the NJ family...it was much much more. Travel, accomodations, the ticket, the time, the effort.

Right. But since that NJ family is spending all that time, money and effort to go to Florida, it gives them all the more reason to pass on the lackluster regional theme park. "Look at all the money we spent going to Disney. No way we're spending more money on Six Flags."


matt. said:
Disney goes after the same exact market that SFMM does, the difference is that Disney casts a wider net... If the "head" as far as attendance goes are young adults and teens looking for thrill rides, SFMM may do well there, but DLR gets plenty of that too, and every single inch of the "long tail" - families, grandparents, non-ride people, retirees, etc.

Excellent way to put it, although I'm thinking the opposite is true. The "head" would be the people that make the decisions and spend the money, and the "tail" would be the thrill-seeking teens. Plus that underscores the way Six Flags was thinking for much of the past decade. They realized they couldn't aim high so they decided to aim low to a target they knew they could hit. At least Six Flags seems to be aiming high nowadays, they just need some better ammo.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:04 AM
matt.'s avatar I was limiting the my concept of the head and the tail purely to attendance to avoid making it more confusing then it needed to be. In that case I still think the start of the graph is those teens and young adults interested in thrill rides. However, Rob, when you look at those who actually push money into the system, you're right, and that's a much more important measure anyway. Either way we're both in agreement, Disney gobbles up the entire spectrum.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:09 AM
rollergator's avatar ^Ammo = great staff.

In the words of Porky Pig, "that's all, folks". Sure, there's theming, landscaping, etc., but excellence in customer service starts and ends with your people. Treating your staff the way you want them to treat your customers...revolutionary!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008 10:30 AM

it gives them all the more reason to pass on the lackluster regional theme park. "Look at all the money we spent going to Disney. No way we're spending more money on Six Flags."

I would not be surprised to find that most families consider the "big vacation" budget/decision separately from the "what will we do this weekend" budget/decisions.

It would be interesting to find real market research that explored how these decisions were made, rather than to just speculate on it, though. Unfortunately, I've actually got to work today... ;)


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