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Carowinds adding Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena in 2016

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This would be amazing at KI, but didn't they basically gut the interior of Action Theatre?


The good news is that the theater would have needed to be gutted to build this anyways.  Based on the description they are splitting one theater in half and each half is a separate team which works against each other.  From the art work I do not see anything in the interior staying the same.  It appears everything from the motion seats to the screens are new.


It does say exclusive but I could see something like this coming to more locations in future years.  Looks like a great concept which I would like to see repeated.  I suspect Cedar Fair wants to see how this does before you see it in more locations.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Are you kidding me? That's awesome! (the Top Scan, I mean...). I hope to be down there next summer for my 100th coaster (NIghthawk) and Cirque Imagine, so I'll probably be checking out the zomb zombs. Seriously, though, I do think it is an interesting and cool idea.

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Does the action fx theatre at Carowinds still have the motion simulator infrastructure in existence, or did theirs get pulled out like ours?   I think that might make all the difference between us possibly getting an attraction like this in the future.  


If their equipment is still in there, then it might just be a matter of replacing the cars versus completely reinstalling the entire system.  

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Apparently Cedar Fair thinks they can get Carowinds attendance on the level of KI/CW.

I think they are overpromising to the shareholders.


I think that Carowinds has the potential to get to this level with the moves Cedar Fair has made and will make in the near future.  Carowinds has some rather large advantages working in their favor:

  • a large metropolitan area from which to draw - and more importantly - a growing population
  • no real competition anywhere within a 3 hour radius.  Dollywood, Six Flags Over Georgia and Kings Dominion are all more than 3 hours drive from the park.
  • 3 top-shelf B&M coasters (more on this in a minute)
  • a really large waterpark coming next year

Investors in amusement operator stocks use attendance numbers and trends in those numbers as a leading indicator of how the company is doing.  Waterparks now are key attendance drivers, and I'd imagine that would be even more true in Southern climates where the heat and humidity is more persistent through the Summer months.  Universal Florida, SFOG, Dollywood, KI, Canada's Wonderland, Kings Dominion, and now Carowinds have put or are putting large amounts of capital into waterparks.  There's no way that Holiday World would have ever been able to build Thunderbird had it not been for their waterpark attendance. 


Waterpark investments are - dollar for dollar - more effective ways to get people through the gates than the vast majority of dry-side rides simply because they appeal to much larger audiences.  Not everyone wants to hop on Fury 325, but most everyone can find something to do in a waterpark.  Good waterpark additions these days are really no-brainer decisions.  If you're living in or near Charlotte right now and want to go to a waterpark your options seem to be a Great Wolf Lodge, Ray's Splash Planet or driving 3 hours to Charleston or Myrtle Beach.  Waterpark attendance will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, and Carowinds has decided to - rightly so - invest in their waterpark to help continue to drive growth there.  Expanding the size of the waterpark now also allows them to avoid what Holiday World went through with their waterpark;  i.e., seeing attendance grow faster than their infrastructure could support.  Carowinds wants to make sure that their waterpark can support the attendance growth they're projecting which is really smart. 


Carowinds is doing a lot to improve the guest experience.  The new tollboth, parking lot, front entrance and gate are all much better equipped to handle large crowds than before.  The new food hall is large, air-conditioned and has really good food.  The live entertainment is trending back up.  The new waterpark will be able to handle crowds better and give people more to do.  Carowinds has three really good B&Ms that are not only fun rides - but more importantly - can move a lot of people through lines quickly.  Large regional parks are best served by having their most popular rides have high capacity.  I'd argue that that's even more important now that Fast Lane (and the like) are in effect now.  All parks want to make their guests feel like they got their money's worth out of the day and Cedar Fair is making sure that Carowinds leaves people feeling like they did.  Is there work to do?  Sure - but compare the Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews from two or three years ago to the ones today.  There's a noticeable trend towards more favorable reviews.  I really enjoyed my visits to Carowinds this year.


Carowinds is in good shape.  More importantly, they're being backed by Cedar Fair who will give them the opportunity to continue to make the park better.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Carowinds catch up on attendance in the very near future if they continue on their current trajectory. 

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