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Everything posted by gad198

  1. I'm happy to see that the coaster is moving closer to opening. The thing I worry about with this ride moving forward is its reliability. I can't think of many coasters that were delayed like this that eventually went on to become reliable later.
  2. Things SIX does better than FUN: Season passes. SIX season pass system is way ahead of where FUN is right now. I've never had an issue with any of my SIX season passes as far as getting into the parks. FUN is getting better but they're still nowhere near SIX right now. Their skip-the-line system. THE FLASH PASS is much better than Fast Lane keeping things fairer for both users and non-users. In park entertainment. I agree with the Interpreter on this one. Unfortunately a lot of SIX parks don't have much - if anything - beyond roving Looney Tunes or Justice League characters but it does add a nice touch. More orderly flow of guests at park opening. I agree with all that's already been said on this point. Things FUN does better than SIX: Getting into the parks quickly - both with parking and front gate admission. Early entry at the parks where it is offered. If a FUN park advertises 30 minutes of early ride time, you'll get 30 minutes. It's up in the air at a SIX park. You might get 30 minutes or you might get nothing. It's very random and is very annoying. Ride operations. There are a couple of SIX parks that are exceptions, but FUN parks - particularly the larger ones - are in a different weight class. FUN is also much more apt to run maximum trains on their coasters all year, and have all their coaster trains running at the start of the season. In theater entertainment. FUN runs circles around SIX in this department. Fiesta Texas is the exception for SIX parks but certainly not the rule. No bring-a-friend completely free days. It sounds like a great SIX season pass perk until you realize that those days are some of the busiest days they have all year. The bring-a-friend discount days at FUN parks have MUCH more moderate crowds so they're not automatic "you couldn't pay me to go today" days like the SIX bring-a-friend free days are. More operating days and longer operating hours. There are more light to moderate crowd days at FUN parks because of this.
  3. Your point is taken, but even those ride entrances are still a decent spatial distance apart. I'm sure anyone who has gotten off of Diamondback at 9:55 PM and wants a Beast ride at the end of the night can probably attest to that! Think about this another way. malem has been kind enough to post the ride counts at KI the last few years. Based on the last few years data Firehawk and Flight of Fear - two rides right next door to each other - average about 1.4 million riders total in a season. Diamondback had its worst capacity year last year and still did nearly 1.6 million riders on its own. Could you imagine how busy X-Base would be - which is already popular - if you added Diamondback's ride traffic to that area? That's essentially what you'd be looking at by adding an extremely high-profile ride like a B&M giga with a ride entrance almost directly across from Diamondback. I think a medium-size GCI coaster makes sense for the current Rivertown project location. There are several other areas of the park better suited for a B&M giga-sized project, areas that could really use the foot traffic to help balance things out in the park.
  4. If I was given a choice between a B&M giga or a GCI wooden coaster, as an enthusiast I'd choose the B&M giga every single time. B&M megacoasters are the best ride type in the world IMO, and a B&M giga is going to be an absolute grand slam for Kings Island whenever it gets built. Rob Decker and company have a very good sense of where to place new rides, and a Rivertown location for a B&M giga doesn't make sense on just about any level. Most - if not all - of Cedar Fair's new rides have been placed in areas to help better balance traffic flow. I can't envision having what would be the two most popular rides in the park sitting right next to each other is a good idea for anyone concerned. I really want the B&M giga, but I'd rather it be in a location that's not where this new project is. I'm actually hoping that if the B&M giga isn't coming in the next couple of years that this is a GCI wooden coaster. A coaster like Prowler or Gold Striker would make sense for a lot of reasons, because they: don't take up much room relatively speaking. More compact = fewer trees that need to come down. See the link for the Gold Striker overhead view - http://cdn.c.photoshelter.com/img-get/I00008eyBO3lqhB4/s/600/600/aerial-rollercoaster-Great-America-AHLE0048.jpg are reasonably priced. I don't believe the official price for Gold Striker was made public, but the Cedar Fair GCI installations prior to that - Renegade and Prowler - cost $6.5 million and $8 million respectively are 48" height requirement. This is much bigger deal than people think. The last two coasters installed at KI (and still operating) with a 48" height requirement are Backlot (2005) and The Bat (1993). 48" inch guests - and their families - could actually get excited about this addition are friendly enough for families but interesting enough for all but the most jaded of enthusiasts come with those super comfortable Millennium Flyer trains The only concern with a GCI install might be the capacity, but the recent GCI installs are all capable of 800-900 people per hour with good crews. I would be completely on board if this addition is a GCI.
  5. If given a choice, I'd MUCH rather see a B&M giga at KI versus an RMC for the following reasons: Capacity. The capacity of B&M gigas dwarf those of the RMCs. The best RMC as far as real-world capacity is Outlaw Run, which can put through around 850 people an hour with a really good crew. The worst B&M giga puts through around 1200 pph, and I've personally been on days where both Leviathan and Fury 325 have put through upwards of 1500 pph. More people through each hour equates to shorter wait times. Rider comfort. Interestingly enough, the Gerstlauer trains on both New Texas Giant and Iron Rattler are very comfortable and can fit a wider range of body types. Notice how even larger riders look comfortable. Click the link to see what I'm talking about: http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/files/tgb12.jpg Contrast this to RMC's own trains on their other coasters: http://www.jenaroundtheworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/IMG_1631.jpg Notice that both sets of RMC trains have shin bars. The ones on the Gerstlauer trains aren't incredibly intrusive, but the ones on the RMC trains definitely are. Notice how in the second picture that the shin bar forces your legs into a really awkward angle. The gentleman in the front row has his legs forced IN towards the middle of the train. This becomes really uncomfortable for anyone with longer legs. Finally, take a look at B&M giga trains. http://www.charlottefive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/IMG_1AFURYfade.jpg_3_1_354DQB30_L114806935-e1427625092342.jpg In which of these 3 trains would you prefer to experience airtime? Exactly. Reliability. We've run into reliability issues on each of the RMC coasters we've ridden. RMC coasters just seem to be very finicky for some reason. B&M coasters are just more reliable than RMC coasters, and park maintenance workers like B&M coasters more. I'll leave it at that. I do find it interesting that the Interpreter is the one who bumped this thread and why he did so now. Color me intrigued!
  6. Wooden coasters today work best when they're around 100' tall or under. If you take a look at the list of wooden coasters that are over 100' tall, notice how many of them are either (1) no longer operating in their original condition, (2) had to be substantially modified in some way, or (3) just flat out rough. If Kings Island ever does decide to build another "true" wooden coaster I really hope that they keep it 100' tall or less so that it's manageable to maintain. Wooden coasters are just much more difficult to keep running well, and I can count on one hand the wooden coasters I've ridden that consistently ride well: Phoenix Lightning Racer Prowler American Thunder Rebel Yell The smaller Gravity Group coasters ride well (Wooden Warrior and Roar-O-Saurus), but the others - including Ravine Flyer II - most definitely do not. The GCI coasters on the whole age better than the others, but that really depends on who's maintaining them. Most of the CCIs have ranged anywhere from tolerable to just flat out rough. It's time consuming and costly to maintain wooden coasters with time and that's why you're seeing the ones being built now on the smaller (and less expensive) side. That's fine by me, because a lot of the newer, smaller wooden coasters are really good. Wooden Warrior, Roar-O-Saurus and White Lightning in Florida are all super fun and accessible to all kinds of riders. Each would be a welcome addition to KI's lineup.
  7. I was down at Carowinds this past Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. I got 20 rides on Fury 325 during the course of those 3 days and never once felt as though operations on that ride were anything less than stellar. I would almost argue that they spent too much time on guests having a hard time fitting in the seats, as I witnessed them spending 30 seconds or more on helping guests fit. Otherwise, that crew works like true professionals and are absolutely terrific. Honestly, Fury 325 operations are the model on which every other B&M hyper should follow. I can be very critical of some ride crews - when it's deserved - but I will also make a point to highlight excellent ones. The Fury 325 crew is exemplary. The board showing whether the restraint is locked or not is brilliant. It allows the ride ops to quickly check to see which seats are not locked and not need to wait for the person at the controls to yell out row and seat numbers. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see similar boards at more rides in the future. Fury 325 does have an advantage in that there are no loose article bins in the station. I still firmly believe that if rides like Diamondback, Intimidator and Behemoth got rid of the station bins they would push through a couple hundred more people per hour which would dramatically reduce wait times. B&M hypers have the potential to move more people in an hour at seasonal parks than any other ride type, and with as popular as they all are it only makes sense to find ways to maximize the capacity. There's nothing that says that safety and capacity have to be mutually exclusive.
  8. From the Dollywood website: The season passholder early entry rides have been posted for the two Saturdays in March. Wild Eagle on the 19th and Thunderhead on the 26th. That would lead me to believe that this might spill over into April. I am glad they made an announcement about this in advance.
  9. I don't have "connections" or "sources" saying that. There are enough clues out there that lead to the conclusion I laid out. Just a few things of interest: In the last month, Dollywood has not said anything publicly that the states directly that Lightning Rod will be open at the start of the season Dollywood's Early Entry page still hasn't been updated. I already talked about this but this is VERY unusual for them On Dollywood's own website, all mentions of the coaster opening up in March have been removed. Isn't that a little strange if the coaster was going to open on time? I usually get email from Dollywood about once a week. The last few emails I've received - including the one I received yesterday - have said absolutely nothing about this coaster opening on time I'm in the same boat as many here, trying to figure out when I'm going to visit and if the ride is going to be open. I'm simply trying to be an oddsmaker. I want the ride to be open next week, but as it stands right now there's been no indication that's going to happen. Sometimes the details are in the things that aren't said.
  10. Each Saturday through the end of October season passholders have the opportunity to get in the park an hour early to ride the featured ride that week. In past years they've posted the Early Entry ride schedule at least a month in advance, but Dollywood still does not have it posted. This to me is the most telling sign that not only may the ride not be open come next Friday, but that it may be a few more weeks before it opens. Dollywood has typically used the first few Saturdays to have the early ride time on the new ride. Posting the Early Entry schedule without Lightning Rod on it the first few Saturdays would be a dead giveaway that the ride isn't opening on time. I'm sure that Dollywood is doing all they can to get the ride testing, certified, and ready for operation. Dollywood is in a tough spot right now. They know people are coming to the park the first weekend to ride Lightning Rod, and they also know that there's a good chance that the ride won't be ready by then. When do you make an announcement if the ride opening is 100% certain to be delayed?
  11. The reality is that this is a business decision. Samsung supplies all the gear, pays SIX a lot of cash - who in turn oversees the operation at the affected parks. Pretty simple really. I went to Six Flags St. Louis last year. I arrived at the 3 Point Challenge there and noticed that the game there was decked out with all kinds of MetroPCS logos and signage. The top prize there in 2014 was your choice of a $1,000 gift card to either Wal-Mart or Best Buy; i.e., things you could actually use. The top prize last year was $1,000 package of cellphone stuff - the actual phone worth about $600 and $400 in accessories. About a minute later the parks games manager happened to be strolling by. He recognized me, and after exchanging some pleasantries we got to talking about why the game was set up the way it was. The following conversation ensued (GM is games manager): GM: MetroPCS is paying us a lot of money. They paid for the whole set up - signage, logos, prizes, everything. All I have to do is run the game. It's advertising space to them. ME: What about the prizes you were offering last year, like the Best Buy and Wal-Mart gift cards? GM: MetroPCS is supplying the top prizes this year. They're going to offer things in their line of business. ME: Can't you offer the gift cards as another choice if we don't want or need the phone stuff? GM: We can't this year. One of the stipulations MetroPCS has is that all top prizes are of their own choosing. Offering anything else would automatically void our deal. The SIX/Samsung partnership I'm sure is similarly structured. SIX only sees the upside - the cash. They either don't see and/or don't care about all of the very real issues this is going to cause, many of which have already been posted in this thread. Some of the SIX employee stories and experiences during this limited time engagement are going to be fantastic.
  12. Just a quick couple observations about the Fast Lane for this year: Base price for Fast Lane is $53 per person; Plus is $68 per person It appears as if there are no quantity discounts. The cost per unit is exactly the same no matter how many you buy June and July weekdays are priced at $60 & $75, respectively. All other weekdays are base price. Saturdays & Sundays are priced the same - $68 & $83, respectively, with the exception of July Saturdays, which are priced at $75 & $90, respectively
  13. ^^ The recommended detour route when the same thing happened several years ago was the route you outlined using US 25W. Unfortunately, US 25W through that part of Tennessee is extremely windy and hilly, and larger vehicles/semis were taking FOREVER to traverse that road. Depending on traffic it added 30 minutes to 3 hours to the total drive time. Only I-75 South was affected last time around though so it may be a little more interesting this time around. The recommended detour now is the one that takes you through Jellico proper, the one west of I-75. I've taken this route on several occasions. The reason that is the recommended detour this time around is because the route doesn't have the sharp elevation changes the way that I-75 or US 25W does. You're essentially on the valley floor for most of the trip, and as such it will be much easier for trucks to handle. The US 25 option is still available, but just keep in mind that it may take longer because many GPS units will advise to go that way. The only other viable options are to take US 27 (west of the detour) or US 25E (the recommended truck route, east of the detour). I hope this gets fixed quickly!
  14. I've been to all but two of the SIX parks in the US/Canada and all but one of the FUN parks - all in the last five years. I'd group the parks as follows: Good Operations: SIX parks - Great Adventure, St. Louis, Fiesta Texas FUN parks - Cedar Point, Canada's Wonderland, Kings Island, Carowinds (Nighthawk excluded), Dorney Park Average Operations: SIX parks - Over Texas, Over Georgia (Goliath & Mindbender crews have been good), Magic Mountain, New England FUN parks - Kings Dominion, Worlds of Fun, Valleyfair, Michigan's Adventure, Knotts Below Average Operations: SIX parks - America, La Ronde, Great America FUN parks - none In general - I much prefer ride operations at FUN parks versus those at SIX parks. SIX parks do have some parks with overall good operations - Great Adventure and St. Louis come to mind immediately - but most of the other parks often vary wildly from ride to ride. It's also not helping that SIX isn't adding new attractions that help with capacity in meaningful ways. Interestingly enough, at both SIX and FUN parks the rides with the best capacity are the B&M coasters. FUN has been wise enough to realize that continuing to add B&M coasters to their larger parks is a great way to add much needed capacity. Meanwhile, take a look at SIX additions the last ten years. Once you get past X-Flight at SFGAm, what attractions are they adding that deliver meaningful capacity? The RMCs all average less than 800 people per hour capacity. The Justice League rides are really fun, but they only average around 400 pph. Each Justice League car has two rows but 3 seats. How was that in any way smart? How many amusement park groups have exactly 3 people? Certainly not enough to justify that seating arrangement. The net effect is that they're ALWAYS asking for single riders at the platform, which slows down loading even more. If SIX really cared that much about ride operations, wouldn't they have made some provision to add the fourth seat to each row make it much more palatable?
  15. These are the four statements that struck me the most. The last two statements - about the higher season pass base and the decline in per caps - is telling. The proportion of SIX season pass holders vs. total attendance has nearly doubled in the last six years - from 30% in 2009 to a whopping 56% in 2015. Much of that growth has been driven by the aggressive season pass pricing models SIX has been using. I have both SIX and FUN premium passes. My 2016 SIX pass cost me less than a third of what my FUN platinum pass cost. I think it's fair to say that the relatively low prices of the passes have something to do with the SIX season pass sales growth. The question I would pose is this - why hasn't SIX raised the prices of their season passes if attendance and per caps are on an upward trajectory? Disney, Universal, Holiday World, Dollywood and FUN parks have had no reservations about upping their season pass prices over time. Why hasn't SIX been following suit? SIX per caps are rising for a reason, so if season pass costs aren't rising then it's non-season pass admissions and in-park spending that are rising. Both SIX and FUN have both said publicly that a higher mix of season pass holders puts downward pressure on per caps, and the current pace at which SIX season pass attendance is going up is unsustainable. The flip side to the SIX season pass strategy is that they are insulating a large portion of their revenue streams if the economy goes south again. That's certainly good for business. The downside to that strategy is that an economic downturn isn't an ideal time to enact season pass price hikes unless people see value in your product. SIX then has to worry about losing season pass business because it's the bulk of their attendance. Something just feels off here but I can't put my finger on what it is right now. One thing of interest is that SIX capital expenditures have remained largely unchanged since 2008. FUN capital expenditures have more than doubled during that same time frame. SIX has been buying back a lot of their stock which has been good for existing shareholders. On the other hand, why is SIX buying back stock versus investing more money in their existing parks? Most companies buy back stock when they have a lot of cash on hand and/or believe that their stock is undervalued. I don't see either being the case right now with SIX. Why isn't SIX investing more in their parks right now? I don't agree with everything that the Interpreter says about SIX right now, but I completely agree with what he says about how an economic downturn and/or interest rate hikes will negatively affect both SIX and FUN because of the nature of their debt loads. The last time their debt-to-equity ratios were this high was back in 2007. The economy went south and both stocks (and their dividends) got hammered. This won't end well for either company unless debt paydown becomes a priority.
  16. I keep thinking back to that tweet with the photo of Rob Decker. I think about the major additions that Cedar Fair has installed over the last 10 years - Maverick, the B&M coasters, the GCI coasters, the Triotech rides, etc. - and they all seem to have these things in common: they were installed in areas towards the "edges" of the park, towards the outside perimeter (the only exception to this I can think off-hand is Wonder Mountain Guardian) they were installed in areas of the park with comparatively little foot traffic with the coasters - nearly all of the installations have been set away from the other more recent big coaster additions. Behemoth/Leviathan, Intimidator/Fury325, Maverick/Gatekeeper are all on opposite sides of the park from each other I keep coming back to this list when I think about a possible Rivertown setting for an attraction. A dark ride in Rivertown makes a ton of sense - it gives the park another indoor attraction, it has a lower height requirement so families can ride together, and it is a nice option for non-thrill seekers to ride while other members of their group ride the coasters in that part of the park. Having said that - I don't believe a Rivertown location for a B&M gigacoaster makes any sense. It fails the last two "tests" - there's plenty of foot traffic there now that Diamondback is there, and setting up another large coaster essentially right next door to Diamondback would only congest the area even more. I don't see why the park would want to use that area for that purpose. There's one location I can think of that does currently meet all three "tests" for a gigacoaster - the Coney Mall area in between X-Base and WindSeeker/Vortex. The ride queue entrance could be where the Dinosaurs Alive entrance is currently sits. The ride itself could run back behind Firehawk all the way out to the land out by the SOB rose bowl. I'm pretty sure that there are no significant elevation changes or obstacles that would eliminate that potential routing, and there are some access roads already in place if the satellite imagery is correct. That location would: be out on the perimeter of the park where's there's room to work, passing test 1 definitely bring a lot more foot traffic to a part of the park that doesn't see much now, passing test 2 form a nearly equidistant triangle between Banshee, Diamondback and the new ride, passing test 3 Just writing this post gets me salivating over the potential of having a B&M gigacoaster at Kings Island. Fury 325 and Leviathan are both amazing coasters, but there are no trees surrounding either ride to enhance the sensation of speed. A gigacoaster at Kings Island - particularly some lower to the ground sections - would have plenty of trees to add some atmosphere. Just imagine the possibilities!
  17. I think at this point it's not IF Kings Island will get a B&M gigacoaster but a matter of WHEN. B&M megacoasters are the safest big-ticket coaster investment going right now. No other coaster type can offer the combination of things that B&M megacoasters do. Comfortable ride. Easy to access trains (notice how you don't have step over any part of the train to access the seats). Super high capacity. High reliability and uptime. Low maintenance costs. High repeat ridership. Think about it another way. Intimidator 305 and Skyrush are all the rage with many enthusiasts. Parks have had the opportunity to see the effect those two coasters had on their respective parks, and what was the result? Cedar Fair went to B&M for Leviathan and Fury 325. Intamin has built exactly 5 coasters in the US/Canada since 2008, and none since Skyrush opened in 2012. B&M during that same time has built 5 megacoasters in the US/Canada, with a sixth on the way when Mako opens. I305 and Skyrush were simply more than the parks bargained for. The same speed and non-stop intensity that many enthusiasts love are the same things that keeps the lines for those coasters short most days. For a lot of the general public both are ride-once-and-that's-it coasters because it's too much for them. On top of that you get to deal with the other Intamin-related fun stuff. There are reasons why you haven't seen an Intamin ride built in the US recently. SeaWorld Orlando's choice of Mako was really telling to me. They found themselves in an unenviable position - in between the "rock" of new Disney and Universal attractions grabbing most Orlando attention and the "hard place" of Blackfish and the fallout from that debacle. In the midst of all that, they decided to build a coaster that likely will cost at least $25 million. They had the opportunity to build just about any coaster of their choice - an Intamin or Mack megacoaster, an RMC, etc. and they went with a B&M megacoaster. Let that settle in. Despite what many enthusiasts think, B&M megacoasters are transformative rides at the parks that build them. There's no way that Cedar Fair builds Leviathan and Fury 325 unless Behemoth and Intimidator were incredibly worthwhile investments AND popular with the general public. Diamondback is really popular. B&M gigacoasters have gone over amazingly well at the parks that have installed them. It's just a matter of time as far as I'm concerned.
  18. Just wanted to touch on this. I completely agree with what's written here - particularly in regards to SIX blending lines better. The vast majority of the time the Flash Pass line and the regular line don't run right next to each other. As such, Flash Pass users and those in the standby line often don't see each other until they arrive at the station. This makes for a much better experience for those on both sides as the lack of interaction between the two lines makes things a lot less uncomfortable for everyone. The other thing that SIX does better than FUN in the skip-the-line game is their ability to manage Flash Pass users electronically. This has two major benefits: Flash Pass users don't need to physically stand in a line until they're reservation is ready. Flash Pass users have a lot more freedom to do what they want when they want. SIX can better allocate manage Flash Pass users and better disperse them throughout the park. This is really critical if you have a park that has one or two really popular rides and a bunch of mediocre stuff after that. Six Flags New England is a great example. Bizarro/Superman has by far the largest Flash Pass demand there. If left unchecked you would have crazy amounts of Flash Pass users roll through and the normal line would move at a glacial pace. In reality, SIX simply adjusts the reservation time so that it spaces amount Flash Pass users much more evenly. It's much fairer for all parties. Cedar Fair hasn't gone to virtual queuing for one reason and one reason only - they see 100% of the benefit because they don't have to split the proceeds with anyone. The current Fast Lane system has positives - it's easy to understand for guests, there's no electronic device to worry about losing, and the system is cheap to operate from Cedar Fair's perspective. Fast Lane's only major flaw is its complete inability to manage the wait times for popular coasters, particularly at Cedar Point. I haven't run in to any major issues at other Cedar Fair parks with Fast Lane users, but there are simply too many Fast Lane users at Cedar Point concentrated at the popular coasters there for me to justify spending the money. Cedar Point needs to seriously re-evaluate its Fast Lane pricing structure. They're clearly not maximizing revenue because price increases haven't diminished Fast Lane demand. There has to be a point at which you can pull in maximum revenue and still keep the number of Fast Lane users down to a more manageable number. I'm betting that price is somewhere around $100 on non-peak and around $150 on peak days. Spending additional money to still physically have to wait in a half hour (or longer) line doesn't make any sense to me.
  19. This is precisely the reason that I've never shelled out the money to get Fast Lane at Cedar Point. I've been to Cedar Point on moderate days and seen 45 minute Fast Lane waits for Millennium Force and Maverick. I don't plan on shelling out any money on Fast Lane there until they raise the price enough where it cuts down the Fast Lane wait times on the most popular coasters to more reasonable levels. They're heading in the right direction with this - last year there were many days that Fast Lane Plus was over $100, but even then there are still lengthy Fast Lane lines. Why shell out all that cash and still have to physically wait in long lines?
  20. Hotels: Just a quick note about hotels. If you travel a lot you'll probably want to choose a hotel chain and stick with it because of the rewards. I personally am a Choice Hotels rewards member. Their Choice Privileges rewards program is really nice and they run enough specials throughout the year that I typically can get four or five nights worth of free stays each year. Whatever the case, if you stay at a hotel with a rewards program definitely do it. Those rewards do have real value. Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge: I typically stay in the Quality Inn & River Suites in Sevierville. It's about a 15-minute drive to Dollywood. The rooms are more than adequate and run from $55-$80 depending on the time of year. Carowinds: I've stayed at two places I like here - (1) Quality Inn Carowinds in Rock Hill, SC. Not to be confused with the Comfort Inn Carowinds. The hotel is right across the street from the Carowinds entrance off of US Route 21. Rates run $65 and up. (2) Comfort Suites in Pineville, NC. It's about a 10-minute drive to Carowinds either via the highway or the back roads. Rates here will run $80 and up but the rooms here are very good. All else being equal you'll want to lean towards a stay in South Carolina vs. North Carolina, because the hotel taxes in SC are around 5% less (10% vs. 15%). As far as general Carowinds advice, I just wanted to reinforce what everyone else has said about going to Nighthawk first. Riding this first thing will save you a ton of time. Carowinds hasn't posted them yet, but check the website before you visit to see if there will be Fury 325 ERT. Fury 325 is actually more fun later in the day after it has a chance to warm up, but if you can get a ride or two early you might as well take advantage. As far as Carowinds food, the brisket sandwich in Harmony Hall - with mac & cheese as a side dish - was perhaps the best meal I had at any amusement park last year. The chicken tenders at Snoopy's Snack Shack are also very good. If you're looking for cheap eats before or after your visit there's a Cookout restaurant about five minutes away from the park. They stay open until 11 or 12 depending on the night you're visiting so it's nice if you need a little something after park hours.
  21. It does appear that the Delta is reaping the benefit of their refinery business. This article really does a nice job of laying out why refineries as a whole have done well recently: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-gas-prices-arent-falling-with-oil-prices-2015-8 Delta is still using the futures markets to hedge, albeit to a much smaller degree now. Delta took big losses on their hedging positions for the first 3 quarters of 2015 as the article below points out: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-11-25/airlines-bet-on-long-oil-slump-after-millions-lost-to-hedging The point of all this is that fuel prices coming down doesn't always cause an immediate reduction in airfares. There are a lot of factors that go into pricing, and the airline carriers fuel costs are just one variable in the equation. The airlines that hedged more - even after unwinding most of those hedges and taking the losses - will just take a little more time to pass along savings to their customers. Whether those cost savings are eventually passed along to consumers is another story altogether!
  22. Airlines do their best to try and hedge their fuel costs. The idea behind this is to minimize the volatility in what airlines pay for fuel - particularly when oil and gas prices are on the high side. The airlines are trying to essentially "lock in" their fuel costs within a certain range, and they use futures contracts to do this. The use of these futures contracts is the reason why you don't see lower fares when fuel prices are falling. Futures contracts are essentially bets on what the price of an underlying asset will do in the future. In this case the underlying asset is fuel costs. A futures contract is established with an initial price and length of time that the contract is valid. Each contract has a buyer and seller. The buyer of a futures contract wants the price of the asset to go up. The seller wants the price to go down. Airlines are buying oil futures contracts. You may ask: "I thought you said that the buyer of a futures contract wants the price to go up? Why would the airlines want the price of oil to go up?" It's a good question and I'll explain what's happening below. Let's say that oil is selling right now for $40 per barrel and Random Airways wants to protect themselves if oil prices spike up again. They would go and buy a futures contract on oil, let's say, at a settlement price of $40/barrel with a length of two years. Random Airways would pay the seller a premium to buy the contract, as the seller needs to be compensated for the time risk. We'll assume the premium is $10. So far it looks like this for Random Airways: $40/barrel contract settlement price + $10/barrel time premium = $50/barrel initial price What happens if oil prices go up to $100 per barrel? Let's see what happens below: Random Airways established the contract at a total of $50/barrel. Oil prices are now at $100/barrel. Random Airways would pocket the $50 difference from the seller. Result: +$50 What happens if oil prices go down to $20 per barrel? Random Airways established the contract at a total $50/barrel. Oil prices are now at $20/barrel. Random Airways would pay to the seller of the contract the $30 difference. Result: -$30 Remember that airlines need to buy fuel for current operations. As such, they're still paying current market prices for fuel when they fill up their planes. Keeping in mind the information above, let's see what happens when oil prices are at $100/barrel and at $20 barrel: Random Airways is paying $100/barrel to fill up their planes now. Remember that they pocketed $50/barrel on the futures contract because oil prices went up. $100 current price minus the $50 earned on futures contract = $50/barrel net cost of fuel Random Airways is now paying $20/barrel to fill up their planes now. Remember that they had to pay out $30/barrel on the futures contract because prices went down. $20 current price plus $30 paid out on futures contract = $50/barrel net cost of fuel As you can see Random Airways is paying $50/barrel to fill up their planes no matter what oil prices do when they use futures contracts. This is the reason why fares haven't come down even as oil prices have fallen because the airlines fuel costs are locked in for longer periods of time. We probably won't see a significant dip in fares until new futures contracts are drawn up in the coming months.
  23. Thanks for posting this. There are a couple of interesting things I see on here: It looks like rider counts were down across the board with the exception of Backlot Stunt Coaster. I'm guessing the wet weather we had this Summer a lot to do with this Diamondback's rider count was down again by a small margin. Banshee was down too - and by a more significant number - but Banshee's queue times are always very manageable. Diamondback's rider count drop also coincides with it being back on ERT in 2015. The Diamondback crew was less than stellar most of the season until the last two months. The Diamondback crew after Labor Day was really good, and I really hope that operations remain at that high level next year Vortex rider counts continue to drop in a big way. I do wonder how much the faster and much smoother B&Ms have to do with the declining rider counts there
  24. I can second this. It's on Brook Rd. (US Route 1) and I've stayed at this facility at least once every year since 2010. If you avoid NASCAR race weekends the rates are more than reasonable - around $55-60 per night on average with an additional 10% off if you belong to AAA. Breakfast options away from the hotel include a Waffle House right across from the parking lot and a McDonalds just a short walk away.
  25. I agree entirely. Both parks have been very fortunate that the economy has been kind to their financing strategies for nearly a decade now. Gas prices have come down and interest rates are still at rock bottom. It's not going to be pretty when things revert back to more normal levels on both ends. Then again, I highly doubt we'll be worrying too much about amusement park stocks if the economy does an about face since there will be much bigger things to deal with! Regarding the other 3 points: I am familiar with the $20-$25 parking fees at each park. I'd be curious as to how many of their patrons actually pay that charge compared to patrons at the Cedar Fair parks. I do question how much higher SIX thinks they can raise prices before they run into pushback. It doesn't seem to have been an issue thus far so it'll be interesting to see how this trends. The food. I've only eaten at a few different locations inside any Six Flags park in the last few years. I've intentionally tried to stick to places I know are good, like JB's Smokehouse, as my experiences with other things at SIX parks haven't been good (burgers, pizza, chicken strips, etc.). Having said that, I much prefer the food offerings at Cedar Fair parks by and large. I can name different places at each Cedar Fair park I can eat at and enjoy, whereas outside of the aforementioned JB's Smokehouse I can't think of anything - perhaps outside of the offerings at Great Adventure - that appeal to me. My experience with both chains regarding the speed of service has generally been - let's say - less than good. Both chains have a lot of room for improvement in that area. I think one area we both agree is that dining plans ultimately have a negative impact on the food experience because there's very little incentive to try and improve either the food quality or service. They already have your money, so where's the incentive to improve? SIX has been more proactive about putting things in each park for sure. I also believe that they've been more creative with some of their additions (the RMCs, Justice League rides and the S&S 4D coasters). They also won the Starflyer vs. WindSeeker battle. The flip side is that SIX has decided to go with a lot of low-capacity additions that you have to run to first thing in the morning or be faced with an hour wait. The Six Flags RMCs all have low capacity (New Texas Giant can move people with a good crew and maximum trains but they simply choose not to run 3 trains). Justice League is an hour wait even on slow days at SF St. Louis. Can you think of the last ride that Six Flags installed in the last five years that had even a decent ability to move people through its line? X-Flight maybe? Take a look at the reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor and see how many SIX parks have negative reviews because of either crappy operations or long lines versus those at Cedar Fair parks. I'm not saying I trust every single review but my experience at parks in both chains leans towards the average of all the reviews most of the time. All of this without mentioning some of the other "smaller" items. It consistently takes me longer on average to get into a SIX park than it does a Cedar Fair park, either when I'm parking or at the front gate. Pass benefits, especially regarding gold pass early entry. Each SIX park does something different and it seemingly changes on a day-to-day basis. I've yet to go to a Cedar Fair park and them not do ERT if they claim it's offered as part of the pass. I could go on. Perhaps the way that SIX is conducting business will work out for them long-term, but I wouldn't count on it until they fix their core issues.
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