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Dollywood announces ten year plan


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12 minutes ago, JimParker85 said:

Herschend is, in comparison to Cedar Fair, on another planet at this point. Robust (and regularly expanding) operating calendars, massive investment planned.

Gold passes are like $200.

They give out BAF tickets to their top tiers, but don’t have “bring a friend basically free” for large swaths of the season. 

The chains are clearly going in polar opposite directions. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, BoddaH1994 said:

Gold passes are like $200.

They give out BAF tickets to their top tiers, but don’t have “bring a friend basically free” for large swaths of the season. 

The chains are clearly going in polar opposite directions. 

A good point BoddaH. Since Herschend now operates Kentucky Kingdom, we'll see if they can do both.

While I obviously love and enjoy KI, I acknowledge that Dollywood offers a premium experience over KI in nearly all aspects except number of thrill rides-- and Dollywood continues to grow on that front.

For the additional $80-95 dollars, Dollywood has better passholder discounts, more live entertainment, and more special events. I've always found the landscaping, staff friendliness, and cleanliness phenomenal. KI has some very talented staff as well, but as a group, they just don't seem to have reached the Dollywood level. They can only do with the resources and leadership they are given and I believe Dollywood allocates more funds to staffing and landscaping or they may just budget it better.

If CF were ever to be bought out, or KI sold off, I would want it to go to Herschend. I think they could put KI in a slot between KK and Dollywood in terms of pricing and experience.

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And they do not have season pass add-ons like meal and drink plans...many more will go to the parking lot or back to hotel to eat than the current CF model...and those doing so means less in lines for food and rides at any given time and Dollywood is acceptable to that as CF parks once were as it means a better overall guest experience due to shorter lines.

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19 minutes ago, disco2000 said:

And they do not have season pass add-ons like meal and drink plans...many more will go to the parking lot or back to hotel to eat than the current CF model...and those doing so means less in lines for food and rides at any given time and Dollywood is acceptable to that as CF parks once were as it means a better overall guest experience due to shorter lines.

They have meal plans. 

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I was going to say know but I can find a way to mock up a transaction where you add the food to the dry park pass, so you could be right.  We opted out of it when we purchased because I thought we had the option. Maybe we didn’t after all. 

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54 minutes ago, KI Guy said:

Also, there are no Fast Lane passes at Dollywood so on busy days you will not be "second banana" to fast-laners. This also increases the value of their single tickets and gold pass relative to KI's. If CF were ever to be bought out, or KI sold off, I would want it to go to Herschend. I think they could put KI in a slot between KK and Dollywood in terms of pricing and experience.

This isn’t true; I bought and used their version of Fast Lane when I went this past March. It worked in the exact same way as the Cedar Fair version. 

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With the second resort announced and them even planning #3, #4, and #5 I wonder how far out we are from them exploring another gate.   I have no doubt they can continue to grow the current park and water park but I'm not sure it needs to grow all too much more.   Feels like it'll soon get to a point to where if they want to keep the charm and with the already difficult to traverse terrain,  some investing might be better suited to a new project. 

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45 minutes ago, SonofBaconator said:

Just out of curiosity do they have a set competitor? I'm just asking this because half a BILLION over the next decade is no small feat, especially with the investments they got during the 2010s.

Their competitors are Xbox One, trampoline parks, movie theaters, etc. Anything that can command disposable income. Going to one park vs another is a debate that very few have to have. 

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3 hours ago, BoddaH1994 said:

Gold passes are like $200.

They give out BAF tickets to their top tiers, but don’t have “bring a friend basically free” for large swaths of the season. 

The chains are clearly going in polar opposite directions.

I wouldn’t say the chains are going in completely opposite directions. You cannot really compare Dollywood and Kings Island. Dollywood is a full fledged resort while Kings Island is a regional park. Dollywood and Silver Dollar City just pull from different audiences compared to Kings Island and most Cedar Fair parks.

Parks like Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Point are more like resorts compared to the rest of the Cedar Fair parks. Unfortunately, Cedar Point is experiencing operational problems compared to most other parks, but Cedar Fair cannot really control that with Cedar Point’s location. I am concerned about future investment in the chain, but Cedar Fair has probably been affected way more by the pandemic than Herschend has.

I also don’t agree that the Hershend chain as a whole is going in an opposite direction from Cedar Fair. Kentucky Kingdom is way cheaper than most Cedar Fair parks, and the park really does give away the gate. It’s really just Dollywood and Silver Dollar City that are more premium than most Cedar Fair parks, and that is due to them being resorts. Also, Cedar Fair has made some commendable efforts into making their parks higher quality. At Kings Island, landscaping has improved greatly recently, International Street has been renovated, and areas of the park have been spruced up.

 

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I think the Smokies is a little unique because they are very much a regional destination and as Dollywood has grown and expanded they have become a destination as well.  Dollywood competes with all of the various go karts, hiking, shopping malls, restaurants, dinner shows, and theaters in the area.  We have been passholders now for the last 7 seasons.  I can tell you just from observing that the demographics that come to the park have definitely expanded over that time. 

It used to be that it was mostly senior citizens going and enjoying the shows but with the additions of more thrill rides like Lightning Rod and Wild Eagle they have certainly gotten more of a younger family oriented group coming.  The park still also has a ton of senior citizens as well so the park has gotten more and more crowded.  Times of the year like the fall festival used to ghost towns at night but now with Luminights they are packed most nights.

The park really does need to figure out how to improve capacity in the park though.  Wildwood Grove was a great addition but none of those rides are capacity eaters.  They need to figure out a way of expanding the park footprint to open up some development areas so they can increase their capacity.  I would love to see the 2023 addition be something like Time Traveler but I think a high capacity hyper or giga is probably what is going to happen.

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7 hours ago, JimParker85 said:

Herschend is, in comparison to Cedar Fair, on another planet at this point. Robust (and regularly expanding) operating calendars, massive investment planned.

To be fair it’s a lot easier for a private company to make these massive investments compared to Cedar Fair. For starters since Cedar Fair is a publicly traded Company and because of that short term growth is prioritized often times over long term growth. Additionally FUN has to spend a substantial amount of their net profits on dividends, due to the structure of the company. Finally Herschend parks in general seem to have a lot higher revenue per park compared to a lot of the fun parks. If Cedar Fair spent 500 million at just one park the chain wouldn’t be able to invest in Capex for the other parks.

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A half a billion over 10 years is roughly 50 million per year.  How much will the new resort cost?  100 million?  There is 2 years.  Other resorts 3,4,5--how much will they take out of the pot?  Construction costs are 30% over what they were pre pandemic--so if they were to build the loege today, they would have to budget 130 million instead of 100 million.

The Dollywood Company and Hershchend have done really well and spent a ton of money, but a half a billion sounds much more impressive than  50 million a year.

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On 6/3/2021 at 5:51 PM, SonofBaconator said:

How much of a competitor is Dollywood to us?

Definitely competitor. At least to me they are. I may pay a little more for Dollywood but I get clean safe paved parking, trams, decent discount of food and souvenirs( which are also cheaper than ki on same brand clothing items/ I've compared exact same items just with different logos ki is 10$ higher) Dollywood uses the same company for the drink cups as Kings Island both cost 30$ a season dw gives you a nice thick double walled sturdy cup where ki gives you a thin see through single layer might crack if you drop it cup. Does Kings Island have more coasters maybe. But dw offers more in entertainment and atmosphere especially shows. 

Ki is Cedar Fair which is a little bigger than Herschend but I think the latter handles their money wiser and not always out for the biggest  every year, more a quality over quantity thing. 
 

 

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