Why Geauga Lake Cannot Survive as Part of Cedar Fair

Friday, June 1, 2007 12:50 PM

Families, at least, seem to be the draw to Kennywood, Geauga Lake & Holiday World.

I guess I forgot about the single teenagers and 20somethings that might not know about the deals, but then I am not part of that demographic. (fyi...going to be 39 near the end of summer)


You know, that's another piece of 'conventional wisdom' that I don't necessarily get - that families are looking for the better value.

All I know is that I'm in a much better place financially now that I'm in my 30's and have kids than I ever was as a teen or 20-something.

Back then I would've loved to have the internet be so prolific with all the info, options and deals around to save me a few (much needed) dollars. These days I'll still take the deal if it's available (obviously), but it's actually less of a burden to take the family to a park now than it was to go back in the days before kids.

That's not to say I think people don't want to save money, but I'd be of the mindset that an established family would be more able to handle the park costs than highschoolers, college kids and recently-legal types.

Then again, I usually see things totally different from the consensus.

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Friday, June 1, 2007 12:51 PM
Well, I guess you have to define successful. If Anheuser Busch was happy with the business it stands to reason that they would still be there. If Six Flags was happy it stands to reason they wouldn't have sold.

As for Marineland...they may be getting by but I don't think I would put it in a list of the top 50 most successful theme parks in North America.

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Friday, June 1, 2007 1:05 PM
Busch was so desperate to get people in the park the last few years that every ticket sold was essentially a season pass. If you're going to nearly eliminate the integrity of your gate, I think it's a pretty safe bet that they weren't able to generate the kind of revenue that made it a sustainable business venture.
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Friday, June 1, 2007 1:07 PM
Gonch,

My youngest sister's in-laws don't consider any discounts for their annual Cedar Point/Soak City visit, but that's the only park they goto all year, except for the Conneaut Lake Park trips (to be cont.!?!), that they have a history with.

I take multiple trips to different amusement parks all year long, including the indoor waterparks in the colder months.

I budget myself with a certain amount to take to each place, and that pretty much stays the same to each location. What ends up happening is we don't buy any souvineers at places are like GL/WWK because tickets and food are higher than the norm, but everyone gets a few souvineers, or more expensive ones, at places like Waldameer/Waterworld.

Gonch, I also love all the traditional parks in PA, and I don't need the mega-coaster to have a great time. I'm not a coaster-enthusiast, but I am an amusement park enthusiast. I have taken the kids to the parks and just spent time in the waterpark section, and they rode most of the rides and attractions together later in the day, sometimes because we are a group of 3.

My favorite kind of coaster is the hybrid 'Exterminator' at Kennywood, and I'm still able to challenge my continuous spinning record on Tilt-a-Whirl spinners :)

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Friday, June 1, 2007 10:20 PM

Jeff said:
What is this notion about that the park has no draw? By that logic, no one would ever go to Knoebels. I mean, they don't add something every year, so clearly it's doomed, right?


Based on the common logic that "Six Flags killed the park's credibility" then no, Knoebels is not doomed. Knoebels is a park that I can bring my family to and tell them about what the park was like when I was growing up. I can ride the same rides with my Dad that we rode when I was a kid. Even if Knoebels didn't add something new all the time the tradition and atmosphere of the park is the draw; something Geauga Lake does not have.

Look, I think there needs to be a clear distinction between what is a good business decision and what is good for Geauga Lake itself. If Cedar Fair removes more attractions from Geauga Lake, continues cutting costs, and attendance drops to 500,000 or 600,000 but the park becomes profitable, then yes, a good business decision was made. However, low attendance really hurts the atmosphere at Geauga Lake. Honestly, it can get really boring when you are the only person on a ride and it can be sad to look at empty deserted midways. When I go to Geauga Lake with my family, we rarely stay longer than 3 or 4 hours. Frankly, there isn't enough to do to justify staying any longer, and we have to eat at some point (and refuse to pay park prices for frozen and reheated junk).

As for making comparisons between season pass pricing at these parks. Even if a Holiday World pass is $50 more expensive; when you factor in the cost of parking at Geauga Lake (what is it now, $9, $10?) that gap gets filled in pretty quickly.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 12:06 AM
I have a question about Firehawk. Does anyone think that it might not of needed to be tested because it stayed in state and just reassembled. I dont know but its just a thought.
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Saturday, June 2, 2007 12:18 AM

Jeff said:

thecoasterguy said:
The growth of Dorney, Valleyfair, Worlds of Fun and Michigan's Adventure? They have been successful parks, yes, but they have never seen near the level of success in a single season as Six Flags Ohio / Worlds of Adventure once did.
A boost in attendance for a year or two followed by years of rapid decline is not success. All of the parks I mentioned enjoyed double digit growth at one time or another and sustained it. Michigan's Adventure even did it several years in a row. That supports my original point, that suggesting Cedar Fair doesn't understand the importance of water parks and family attractions is wrong. The further suggestion that Six Flags was on the right track is a little silly too, because if they were, they wouldn't have sold the park for less than the cash they spent on "improving" it.

You may argue it this way, however when the success of your parks is commonly decided to be the stock price and how a single season of one park can affect it, Six Flags had success with WoA.

And like I also said before, I am not saying that Cedar Fair doesn't understand the importance of family rides / water parks is wrong in the smaller parks, but the additions and changes that they have made to date in their larger parks speak volumes to me about how they view the importance of a family ride at one of them.

That's how I see it, and I'm sticking with it ;)

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 12:50 AM

CoasterDad64 said:
^While not the sole reason, buying the competition is a Business 101 way to make money.

I'm a business student and I've never learned such a thing. Perhaps because it really does not make much sense.

What if the competition is not doing well? What if, in fact, they are losing money? What if you are doing significantly better (in products and finances) than the competition?

In my opinion, (in general) you should not really worry about the competition; you should worry about serving your employees and other stakeholders so they can serve the customers. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to examine what the competition is and is not doing, but purchasing the competition does not necessarily equal increased revenues. Every industry is different, but I think this is the way to go.

*** Edited 6/2/2007 4:52:17 AM UTC by Infamy***

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 8:35 AM
^Good point. You don't see Walmart buying Target or even Kmart locations to wipe them out.
The grocery store business, on the other hand, it totally differant. When Tops shut down, Giant Eagle and Daves purchased many of the locations. I have no doubt Daves will use them but i highly doubt Giant Eagle will as they had stores near the old Tops which were a lot newer.
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Saturday, June 2, 2007 8:35 AM
"Look, I think there needs to be a clear distinction between what is a good business decision and what is good for Geauga Lake itself."

You're backtracking. First GL could not "survive" as part of Cedar Fair which I took as...like...not stay open.

Now you're saying it may be a good business decision to operate on a smaller, more profitable business scale, but you just wouldn't care for it because smaller crowds are boring.

I mean, we've done this an awful lot on Cbuzz in the past year or so. I agree we shouldn't confuse business decisions with more subjective decisions but it seems like in this thread you're the guiltiest party....maybe i'm wrong. *** Edited 6/2/2007 1:44:24 PM UTC by matt.***

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 10:23 AM

Audioslaved said:
I have a question about Firehawk. Does anyone think that it might not of needed to be tested because it stayed in state and just reassembled. I dont know but its just a thought.

Completely wrong thread for KI operational questions, but that aside, I assure you a park as big and well-run as KI tests their rides before opening them to the public, regardless of state or local laws.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 11:36 AM
Infamy, sorry you didn't/haven't learned that buying the competition is one of many ways to increase a firm's bottom line. If you're an upper classman, you may want to consider changing schools to get some case studies under your belt. The automotive, food, healthcare, and consumer packaged goods industries all have shining examples of this tact. Furthermore Walmart and Home Depot are examples of providing such a strong business model, that they drive local competition out of business, which is similar imo.

CF got GL at a bargain basement price imo. They can now redefine GL and to some extent KI to compliment CP.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 11:49 AM
Thom:

Eh, I posed several questions that you completely fail to answer in my post.

If you read my post again, I stated that every industry is different and that it does not apply to all of them. Yes, there are some, perhaps many, situations where it may be a good idea to purchase your "competition," but I think in general that it's not a good idea. For one thing, competition is important!

And you state some industries where it has occurred. Just because it has happened does not necessarily mean that it is the best thing to do. Consider Daimler-Chrysler -- that really worked out well (now Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep is being purchased by an investment group. It wouldn't be worth anything without Jeep). Consider Yahoo's 5 billion dollar acquisition of Broadcast.com -- that worked out really well (check it out; they paid 5 billion for a domain name and don't seem to be utilizing the technological backend). I'm sure Yahoo's 5 billion dollar investment really "increased its bottom line." :)

Nice try at trying to attack my school!

"CF got GL at a bargain basement price imo. They can now redefine GL and to some extent KI to compliment CP."

Why would they want to do that? They're not exactly competition. KI does not really compete with Cedar Point or GL, and vice-versa, and GL and Cedar Point don't compete much either. *** Edited 6/2/2007 3:52:23 PM UTC by Infamy***

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 12:11 PM
Maybe I've been mistaken for many years but I was under the impression CP and KI have been in competition for the large and still growing Columbus market for a long long time. And CP and GL with Cleavland.

CF pretty much has monopolized Ohio at this point, which has been one of the most active and most important areas of the amusement park industry since there was such a thing.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 12:22 PM
It's my understanding that the competition is not significant between any of the parks, but I could be wrong. KI and CP probably do compete some for Columbus.

I'd say KI is more interested in the Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Southeast portion of Indiana, while CP is more interested in Northern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan market. I'm not sure about the GL market, but I'd say that GL and CP attract different demographics.

I don't know the breakdown of Ohio visitors to King's Island, but I'm pretty sure they receive more visitors than Cedar Point does. Again, I think they have different demographics from CP. KI is more family oriented than CP.

*** Edited 6/2/2007 4:25:58 PM UTC by Infamy***

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 1:14 PM

thecoasterguy said:
You may argue it this way, however when the success of your parks is commonly decided to be the stock price and how a single season of one park can affect it, Six Flags had success with WoA.

Are you kidding me?


Paul Blackstone said:
However, low attendance really hurts the atmosphere at Geauga Lake.
Yeah, I see the long lines at guest services filled with people who think the park isn't crowded enough.

Seriously, as someone else already called you out, you keep changing your argument. They're doing the best I think any company could, and there's little doubt in my mind that when they find the right niche in terms of marketing, they're going to get where they need to be.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to the park and have a good time. Maybe if you spent some quality time there you'd see other people are doing the same.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 1:51 PM
Maybe we, as enthusiasts need to change our perception of GL a bit and be more like Browns and Indians fans.
I've got friends that are diehard Browns and Indians fans. Even when the Browns pulled out of Cleveland, they were still Browns fans even before the new Browns were announced. Loyalty is an amazing thing.

Maybe GL is merely in a slump, like pro-teams, last a few years before a major upswing.

Do I think the park has some problems, sure. Will they get better? I hope so. We'll see.

I'll probably take the kids there at least once this year.

I think it'd be funny if someone went to guest Relations and said: Man, I had a walk-on for Dominator. Where's the long, sweat-stinky lines of people i remember? Bring 'em back.
:)

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 4:03 PM

Infamy said:

I'm a business student and I've never learned such a thing. Perhaps because it really does not make much sense.


You have never learned such a thing? Odd, I have an MBA and I learned this a long time ago.

I don't buy the Wal-Mart/Target example as neither of them could buy the other. However, K-Mart bought Sears very recently. Brewery's buy each other all the time. Federated Department Stores started small and bought a large number of their competitors. Macy's and Bloomingdales are owned by the same people - Federated.

Old Navy, Banana Republic, the Gap - all the same.

Don't think that just because Wal-Mart doesn't buy Target that the idea of buying a competitor is unusual or even basic.

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Saturday, June 2, 2007 4:49 PM
Abercrombie owns Hollister. On another note Cedar Fair bought GL because it was dirt cheap, not because they wanted to get rid of the competion.
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Saturday, June 2, 2007 4:55 PM
^Although I believe Kinsel said as much that he strongly regretted not buy GL when they had the chance the first time. The ownership went like

CF->Six Flags->Premier Parks->?->Independent ownership

Am I missing one in there? This is kinda before my time.

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