Wild West World opens this weekend

Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2007 10:57 AM | Contributed by Jeff

More than two years after he announced his intention to build a destination theme park in Kansas, Thomas Etheredge is making good on his promise. When Wild West World opens Saturday, Etheredge is betting millions of dollars that his family-friendly theme park based on Kansas’ cowboy history will entice people to drive to Park City.

Read more from AP via LJWorld.com.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:43 AM
It's always nice to see a dream become reality. Congrats to Mr. Etheredge for getting the park opened, and I look forward to visiting soon.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 11:48 AM
I thought this quote was interesting in light of the tons of recent discussion on the subject:

"The big mega-theme parks are turning customers away, essentially, because their ticket prices are getting close to $60,” Slade said. “For a family of four, that’s one expensive day that’s out of reach.”
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 2:42 PM
I think that's partially true, especially in parts of the country like Kansas where the average family that likely has a lot of kids doesn't have tons of money to spend on big theme parks... not to mention getting to big theme parks.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 2:52 PM
Rob beat me to it.

I think in this case it's a matter of perspective and that quote would probably represent the perspective of the Wichita park goer - for exactly the reasons Rob mentioned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 4:32 PM
If the "big parks" were over-charging, they would be out of business. Disney is clearly not hurting for attendance.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 5:24 PM
From a Kings Island trip report:

"The soda prices are very much a kick in the nuts. $3.35 for a 20 oz. fountain soda is ridiculous. It's almost offensive to me. I guess part of the problem is that I'm willing to pay it. Something has to give though, because it's way too much"

I wonder who said that? ;)

*** This post was edited by millrace 5/1/2007 5:24:38 PM ***

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 5:28 PM
I think that the term "destination park" is interesting. It may become a destination for people from say Hays, or Goodland, where the nearest park is in Denver or KC. Wichita is a good in-between point. With Joyland apparently not opening up this year, it'll fill a need. Interestingly enough, a water park wasn't part of the plans, and I don't remember seeing anything major in Wichita. That would have a draw.

I don't see WWW being a destination park. Sure, you'll get regional travelers, but I really don't think you'll see people leaving LA to get to Wichita. My wife and I will go, but that's mainly because her family lives 7 miles away. Other than that, I don't think we'd go out of our way... And I suspect that the average park-goer (not enthusiast) won't ever hear about WWW...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 6:24 PM
Yeah, I said I'm willing to pay it. And? Like I said, the big parks are clearly not hurting.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 9:12 AM
I think what Joe is saying is that big parks can over-charge and not necessarily drive business away. They can over-charge just for the sake of robbing the customer blind, which seems to be the case when a simple bottle of soda goes for more than $3.00.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 10:12 AM
^I don't know. I think large parks have a huge overhead and they need to make it up somehow. Charging a lower admission price gets them in the door. The merch inside the park makes up the rest.

In regards to Jeff's comment above, I think Disneyland IS turning away customers. Otherwise, places like Castle Park wouldn't be in business. Now whether Disneyland actually needs or wants those people, that's another story.

Hold on a second. That's not true. I'm sure they would be able to double attendance at California's Adventure by snatching those Castle Park cheapskates. ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 11:53 AM
There's a classic business decision to make, about the balance between volume and quality customers that spend a lot. Wal-Mart does the volume, Target seems to concentrate more on the quality customer. (Insert "I love me some Target" here.)
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 12:25 PM
I'm curious how many people (percentage of the attendance) spend much of any money on souvenirs after paying the "quality control" gate price. Perhaps a combination of expensive admission and cheap in-park shopping would be a better model. Sure it would cost the non-buying visitors more if the gate price was raised (See all of the free soft drink threads), but I doubt it would shy these people away if it's a small increase. Then park goers might actually buy more t-shirts and on-ride photos, etc...sort of a combination of the Walmart quantity and Target quality business models.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 3:09 PM
^See, I am ALL about the cheap in-park merchandise. Then again, I think word-of-mouth works...

See, if I paid 10 bucks for a Wicked Twister t-shirt, it's no big deal to come back next year and buy a TTD shirt...and then again for a Maverick shirt. Suddenly CP is getting multiple sales, getting their park name out in the public eye.

Of course, Kent Buescher isn't buying the idea at all. WA and CG have some of the highest-priced merchandise going...can't help but thinking that "small but growing parks" need that word-of-mouth advertising WAY worse than someone like CP, or Disney, where any additional advertising is more like "piling on".

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 3:16 PM
I just can't buy into the idea that someone wearing a roller coaster T-Shirt does anything to drive business.

Do people really make vacation choices based on a stranger's T-Shirt?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 3:29 PM
Maybe. Why are corporate logos splashed over everything? At least roller coasters are interesting. Why somebody would pay for a shirt with a giant Nike logo on it is beyond me.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 4:09 PM
Heh, that's a good point. I think that Home Depot spending millions of bucks to splash their name all over NASCAR is going to be as effective for driving up Home Depot's sales as turning a park customer into a walking banner for one of their coasters. That is to say, it's not going to do a damn thing.

I see people at amusement parks wearing Cedar Point shirts all the time. They're definitely not doing anything to convince me to go to Cedar Point. If anything, they're showing me how the person wearing the shirt paid money to become one of Cedar Fair's tools ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 5:00 PM
Do people really make vacation choices based on a stranger's T-Shirt?

Short answer is obviously no. But life doesn't follow the "short-answer model". Life is complex. And in your neighborhood (or community), no one is really a complete stranger either.

I got asked by one of my Tampa users the other day "hey, how is SheiKra now with the new (floorless) trains?" She had seen the 6 o'clock news, and knew I was down at the park for the media announcement. She was confused in thinking the floorless trains were already on track. But my point remains (thought I'd never get there, did ya?)....people know I'm interested, they ask my opinion on this and that. Brenda's family was coming down for a visit, she was thinking about taking them to BGA. Now she knows two things: 1) 'Kra is still running the regular trains, and 2) the ride will be closed when her family is down.

Probably, they'll go to the park anyway....although they MIGHT end up going to Orlando, since Brenda has heard me rave about RotM.

The SHIRT, or the bumper sticker, or even the Beast thong, isn't in itself the advertising. The *advertising* part comes after the "conversation starter" has gotten its talons into the helpless victim (continuing with bird-of-prey analogy). In this instance, it wasn't even ME that started it, it was Tampa's 6 o'clock news. But the park got the benefit, and the cost was LESS than that of a shirt...it was FREE.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007 5:42 PM
I suppose. But here's my theoretical real world example:

I wear a coaster or park shirt around everywhere I go. No one comments on it and I rarely catch someone even give it a second look. The park didn't didn't directly benefit in any discernable way.

I understand what you're saying, Gator, and always have. I just don't think it happens on any meaningful level.

My guess is that the $20 profit on the current prices of shirts helps the park much more than $7 profit on lower prices and more people wearing the shirt.

Thursday, May 3, 2007 7:45 AM
But nobody comments on a Nike shirt either but it *may* ingrain that image into their head. See enough coaster shirts and you just might get a hankerin' to go to an amusement park.

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