Why Geauga Lake Cannot Survive as Part of Cedar Fair

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:04 PM
By the way, regarding the old lazy river, they're filling it with lake water, dying it blue, installing some fountains, and putting fish in there. The first try with "clean" water did not agree with the fish.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:08 PM
^Are you kidding me?

Are they going to circulate the water? Fountains would look nice.

God knows, if they added some soil to it they could make one heck of a bog garden. *** Edited 5/29/2007 8:12:54 PM UTC by FLYINGSCOOTER***

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:58 PM
Add some fishing poles and we can have a small return of Sea World!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:12 PM
Circulate nasty water umm sounds real attractive. :)
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:44 PM
The paint on Texas Twister does look very nice, I agree, until you get on the ride and realize they didn't cover anything when they painted.

A beautiful new paint job ruined by overspray. That'd be like restoring an old car and not covering the wheels or rolling up and covering the windows when you painted it.

So much for attention to detail.

*** Edited 5/29/2007 9:45:47 PM UTC by Super Loopy***

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:03 PM
I noticed the overspray on Saturday but the GP won't even care.

What was sort of funny about Texas Twister on opening day is how the ride was getting a line for it and someone commented on it with surprise in their voice. While the entire gondola wasn't filled at least the front row was getting some good use.

The same thing happened to Thunderhawk when they first repainted it. Granted the ride is one of GL's more popular coasters but based on lines the ride can get before the opening of the water park you would think it was a brand new ride.

The park is looking great with the new paint. As Jeff pointed out there are still a few rough spots but I think overtime we won't even recognize the place.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:05 PM
I went on Saturday and although it was overcast (it apperantly rained in the morning) I felt the park was pretty busy... not nuts crowded mind you... but the rides always had people flocking into the stations. I thought there was a great amout of improvements... little things like new lighting fixtures, opened-up pathways, and the fact that all rides were operational except the Skyscraper. Though it wasen't insanely hot, the waterpark was very healthy.

Funny, Jeff, I had a dream that they put blue water in the old lazy river to give it a more lush, tropical feeling. Hope that pans out. I also noticed that Twister was more busy.

One thing that was bad about the whole Sea World loss was that The area lost a big tourest attraction. Theres no doubt in my mind that part of the draw of Sea World went to GL the following day. There was always a "double park" promotion. Of course, if it weren't for Six Flags, Sea World would have been closed all together and the land sold off as attendance was bad in recent years and Busche wanted out. So this is bittersweet.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:33 PM

Jeff said:
I'll say what I said last year: The product is the right product. The problem is that people don't know what it is, and people have a hard time disassociating the Six Flags years with the current owner. I work in Solon, with people who live there. Half of them think Six Flags still owns it, and don't know about the water park additions. The product is fine, now they need to get the message out. The marketing message simply has to be better. Throwing cap ex projects at the park isn't going to improve anything. You'd think the Six Flags strategy would obviously be a failure.

The funny thing is, the answer seems so obvious; so why isn't Cedar Fair doing anything about it? It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the park has very poor marketing and could benefit from an improved effort. Yet I keep seeing the same thing year after year: poor advertisements with confusing messages and no indication of what the park actually has to offer.


Jeff said:
The original post is so far off the mark I'm not even sure where to begin. Being a part of Cedar Fair has nothing to do with the park's success of failure. That's a completely arbitrary opinion not based on anything.

This silly notion that cost cutting is hurting the park is backward. If no one is going, as you say, then how would they know about the cost cutting? And don't bring up the two coasters they pulled out, because both of those had relatively narrow audiences to begin with, especially X-Flight. Those were not getting butts through the gates.


Like I just said; if Cedar Fair really is the company that can do no wrong why are they letting such a "great product" go to waste when getting the word out about everything the place has to offer might allow them to break the 700k mark.

I already gave two examples of cost cutting: no Lumberjack show and no strolling band show (and no shows to replace them). If it isn't the rides and isn't the entertainment that is getting butts in the gate then I want to know what actually is? My wife and I aren't especially interested in roller coasters anymore and when we bring out daughter we spend time in the kids area and watching the shows with her. You are right that the rides don't appeal to the target audience. But consider that there is not a single roller coaster left at the park that kids can ride with their parents (hold the kiddy coaster). Cedar Fair came in and changed ride height requirements and in that regard the place is actually less family friendly now.


Jeff said:
The park's death has been greatly exaggerated, mostly by a bunch of coaster enthusiasts who think $15 million rides are the answer to everything.

I don't think I consider myself a coaster enthusiast, other than the fact that I like taking my family to amusement parks. I am concerned about the fact that I remember a time when the midways were packed and rides had full trains. It seems that no matter how clean the midways are or how efficiently the rides operate, it isn't getting people to come. And the bottom line is: there is LESS for my family to do at Geauga Lake this year than there was last year, and at a higher price (not even counting the ridiculous new in-park prices). No wonder the park can't market itself...

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 8:35 PM
Just bring back the dolphins, that’s all people want.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 8:52 PM
So tell us, Paul, what is the answer? If the answer is obvious, and the agencies and park don't get it, what is the solution?

Besides, you're changing the argument. (#1) You gave a bunch of reasons why the park won't work as part of CF, now you have the solution?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 9:16 PM
Wow, I just realized that it was the first weekend of the season! A little early to start screaming doom for the park isn't it?
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 9:26 PM
A little late to start a season IMHO. Expecially where you could get mass school events.

Chuck

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 9:41 PM
They did have a Physics Day on May 25th, the day before opening day.

Since WWK is now the star attraction it only makes sense to open the park at the same time the water park does. Back in 2005 they experimented with lowering the admission to $19.95 until WWK opened for the year and, of course, WWK was behind schedule by a few weeks. It must not have worked or else they would have continued it.

*** Edited 5/30/2007 1:48:51 AM UTC by X Factor***

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 10:07 PM
Did you survey the local school districts, Chuck, about doing park outings?
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:29 AM
I realize that people on here generally think that Cedar Fair is heaven-sent, and that SF is the devil (perhaps it is because of those $15+ million rides that Cedar Fair likes installing at it's flagship park), but I wanted to toss in my two cents on this, and then disappear back into the random lurking I tend to do.

Cedar Fair, who I also own stock in and have for years now, knows how to run a certain type of park, and they are GREAT at it -- that type of park is parks like Cedar Point. Big, people-eating rides with great names and big features. Things that coaster enthusiasts love to check out. Things that can capture the general publics eye as something that they "need to do."

The problem comes in when Cedar Fair grabs hold of a park where this is not the case. Knotts has had similar issues -- while they have had a bunch of great "enthusiast" style rides, the removal of some of the theming and destruction of some of the quirky bits and pieces of the park has made this park basically under perform what they expected it to do. The thinking was adding some bigger rides would greatly impact the attendance, but it has done less than they wanted -- they are in a highly competitive market, and one which if you just want big, intense rides, SFMM fits that bill pretty well.

So... What's the problem with Geauga Lake? Simply put as others have already mentioned, Cedar Fair didn't realize just how much of a family park it really was. Six Flags sort of well-hid that fact by building countless big roller coasters while they controlled it, but a large portion of the crowd was coming for the water park and the animal park.

Was the service great while Six Flags was there? No. Was the attendance level maintainable with the level of service Six Flags had installed? No.

Was removing one of the biggest family portions of the park a good idea? No. Cedar Fair thought that the park was influenced more by the rides than anything else, which led to the closure of the water park side of things. Had this decision been looked into differently, I think that closing the rides section and keeping the park as an animal / water park would've been better for the overall direction of it. But, again -- Cedar Fair runs thrill ride parks, and they have some issues to deal with during that time.

Now, was the decision to pick up Geauga bad? It's quite apparent that there is no real scope to how much it takes for a park to break even -- but let's just say that the park needs 400 employees working per day, at an average of 8 hours per employee. That's 3200 man hours a day. Times that by let's say an average wage of $8, and we get $25,600. Now, lets say that attendees to the park pay an average of $25 to enter. Not including anything sold in the park, or parking for that matter, the park needs 1024 guests per day. If they are only paying $20, they need 1280 guests.

Even on low attendance days, these are very obtainable numbers. If you add into that an average per-cap of lets say $10, with $25 ticket costs you are as low as 732 people in park to break even.

We had said that attendance was near 700,000. I don't know if that is right, but lets assume they have only 140 operating days. That gives them an average attendance of 5000 guests per day. That is still an operating profit of nearly $80,000 to $100,000 per day (not including guest spending, and also discounting asset maintenance costs and stuff like that).

The biggest cost to a theme park comes from when it is time for new things to be added. Let's say that they added a 'small' ride at a cost of $10 million. Dividing that by the same $25, and we need 400,000 people through the doors to make up for it. Even if they spend their $10 per person, we need 285,715 to pay it off. That is 1040 people *per operating day* that need to come for it, including their spend in the park, for the park to break even on it.

In a nutshell, there isn't one single product that Gauega Lake could install for that cost that would bring in that many people. What Gauega, and Cedar Fair as a chain needs to do is to step back and decide how they want to run the park.

If they continue the current path, they make money -- about $14,000,000 per year, not including those costs we had done... but the gravy train does get smaller and smaller every year, and eventually it will lose money, and Cedar Fair will sell out.

If they decide on going with even a mid-range spend, they are going to need a serious boost in attendance to offset it, which may or may not happen.

What would I do? I would start by doing exactly what they did this year -- removing the rides that were some of the more intense and less family like. Next year, I would work on adding or expanding children's areas, while dropping the prices on a lot of stuff and marketing the park as a day park. In two years, I would add in a relatively cheap family coaster -- mine train-ish sized -- and in three, I would work on beefing up the water park side of things. Obviously, maintenance has to be done throughout to keep things in a presentable form. Heck, in three years, I might even ditch Dominator *and* Thunderhawk, shipping them elsewhere that could better capitalize on them.

For Gaeuga to be a great success (without competing against Cedar Point, of course), it needs to be made into a rather unique family park. Or, they could keep it as a disappointment from an investment standpoint, but a money-generator in it's current form. I'm very curious to see what happens in the future!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:05 AM
We've been over this countless times... it wasn't Cedar Fair's place to keep animals they didn't own.

Furthermore, not only did they understand the water park was important, but they built an entirely new one! This notion that they only know how to run thrill ride parks is completely incorrect. If you'd look around the chain, you'd see how many dedicated water parks they own, and how the development of water attractions can be credited with the growth of Dorney, Valleyfair, Worlds of Fun and Michigan's Adventure. Saying they don't get family water parks is like saying Holiday World doesn't know Christmas.

As for your arbitrary math and numbers, those are hopelessly meaningless. You have no idea what the expense versus revenue opportunity is of that park, and most of us never will.

It is a family park, today. The parking lot was full of minivans, today. The wave pool and water play structure was full of moms and kids, today.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:34 AM
Cedar Fair will never sell Geauga Lake.

The only reason they bought it in the first place is so no one else would. There were other bidders, and Cedar Fair simply didn't want the competition in their back yard.

Do they want to turn a profit? Of course. Is it more important that people aren't being siphoned from Cedar Point? Absolutely.

As long as Geauga doesn't lose money, they've accomplished what they set out to do. They dodged a bullet with Six Flags' mismanagement. They don't want to chance it with a competent company at the helm.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:49 AM
Sometimes I wonder if they dont do enough to promote the water park. They are in a unique position that they were not in when the bought the park. Dover Lake and Wildwood both closed, WWK is really the only true waterpark in the Cleveland area. On the other hand though, it isnt exactly a water park that brings in the locals. When I think of people I know, I bet you less than 10% of them have even been to Soak City, and I am guessing only a little more have been to WWK. Most of the school groups have moved to going to Cedar Point, with gas so high GL should really try to book more of these, start holding some multi-school after-proms again. The park is in dire need to create a base. The year before GL became SFohio I waited almost 45minutes for Ragging Wolf Bobs, there is a market for GL, the park is better than it was back then, and I think in just a few years the action the new management is taking now will pay off
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 7:17 AM
kpjb hit on one of the primary arguments that lie just outside the financials.

Why do you think you see certain restaurants side by side? To keep the competitors away. Red Lobster and Olive Garden (for example) are owned by the same company. Stick them side by side, throw in a Smokey Bones (same company again) and Darden Restaurants has effectively eliminated the competition for that "block".

By owning a large chunk of the mid-western parks, and all three of Ohio's "majors". Cedar Fair does not have to compete as ferociously. They can spend their capital more judiciously and work on infrastructure etc.

Of course I just over-simplified it, but in a nutshell - keep your competitors at bay, so you can concentrate on what you do best.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 1:07 PM
I agree with Kpjb and Coasterdad,it was to get rid of competition.I do have to give them credit,they could have dismantled it and it would have got rid of the competition for good.If it keeps loosing money,that may be what they will do.
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