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Cedar Fair Purchases Paramount Parks!


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Good suggestion, Terp. This was a very interesting thread to read. I remember hearing about the KD FOF rumor (it actually closed at one point) and I also remember hearing about the removal of Frenzoid (Carowinds' inverting ship, now called Southern Star). However, back then I didn't quite grasp the fact these were part of an overall ride rotation strategy.

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I'll give you my two cents... There was a "turn" in the 80's when it seemed like KI became a bit more of a "teen" park rather than family focused.  Because of that, I think some may look on that

Soon be ten years. So much of the speculation here was right--so much very wrong. Nick U and Geauga Lake Park long gone, X-Flight moved to KI, the true Flights of Fear story, the Stealth saga....s

Carl Lindner never owned KECO, as the video claims. He owned Kings Island and retained Kings Entertainment Company on a management contract for just that park.

Soon be ten years.

So much of the speculation here was right--so much very wrong.

Nick U and Geauga Lake Park long gone, X-Flight moved to KI, the true Flights of Fear story, the Stealth saga....so much info in one thread.

Yep. Worth reading.

We need that Shaggy guy to post in the Kentucky Kingdom thread...

 

I cant believe its almost ten years since Cedar Fair has owned Kings Island, even though I grew up with the Paramount era, Cedar Fair has done a great job with maintaining the park. Though a lot of predictions were wrong, great thread bump though!  

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  • 3 years later...

Four years later...and three great years for Kings Island. So many nostalgic positive changes, Grand Carivale, the removal of Firehawk and soon to be Vortex. To put this in perspective, from the time KI opened until Vortex debuted, is about the same amount of time that Cedar Fair has owned the former Paramount Parks.

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Kings Island has been very well controlled in its time since Cedar Fair. Recently events such as Grand Carnivale, updated haunt, and the return of winter fest have been really nice additions. The 5 roller coasters they have added have all been really awesome additions that will last a long time and have monster capacity. (Obviously not Firehawk). Operations are great and areas like the front entrance and Action Zone look nicer. I also think Cedar Fair’s theming is getting better, hopefully we will see that with Orion. The two things I wish Cedar Fair would work on would be,

1 dark rides: yes we have Flight of Fear and boo blasters but I think more family additions added in non Planet Snoopy areas of the park would be beneficial. It’s nice to have a kids area but as a park wouldn’t you want more things the whole family can do and spend time together walking around the park.  The second reason is that I think it’s always good to have more air conditioning or rides that shelter from the whether. This makes it so more people come to the park when the Forecast isn’t that good and people stay longer when it’s too hot or rains. 
 

2 water park: Cedar Fair has done a nice job adding another wave pool and recently added a slide complex but honestly the water park is still way too small for how busy it gets. They need to add more high capacity slides and possibly another lazy river. Only two of the slides at the water park can families ride at the same time. Amousement parks and water parks should be about having fun with your family/friends so I think a lot of these single person tube slides should be replaced with multiple person round rafts or other options 

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  • 2 months later...

Nice video on the history of Paramount Parks on how they came into being and became part of Cedar Fair.  Makes me wonder what KI would be like today if some other chain would have beat out CF in acquiring the Paramount parks.

 

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1 hour ago, rlentless said:

Nice video on the history of Paramount Parks on how they came into being and became part of Cedar Fair.  Makes me wonder what KI would be like today if some other chain would have beat out CF in acquiring the Paramount parks.

 

Carl Lindner never owned KECO, as the video claims. He owned Kings Island and retained Kings Entertainment Company on a management contract for just that park.

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Here is an article that may shed some more light on the subject:  https://www.upi.com/Archives/1992/07/31/Kings-Island-to-be-sold-to-Paramount/4515712555200/

Keep in mind that American Financial Corp, was owned by Carl Lindner.  In 1987, he not only purchased KECO, but purchased Taft Broadcasting as well.  The way I understand it, KECO managed KI, but its direct ownership was not with KECO after KECO was purchased, if that makes any sense.

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Very interesting article...and I just have to share a bit of interesting trivia about it.  I noticed the date of the article, and it rang familiar.  It references that on the previous Saturday, an attendance record was set.  I wasn't at Kings Island on that day, but just the day prior!  (on a Friday).  You can click on my trip report of that day below!

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9 minutes ago, CoastersRZ said:

Here is an article that may shed some more light on the subject:  https://www.upi.com/Archives/1992/07/31/Kings-Island-to-be-sold-to-Paramount/4515712555200/

Keep in mind that American Financial Corp, was owned by Carl Lindner.  In 1987, he not only purchased KECO, but purchased Taft Broadcasting as well.  The way I understand it, KECO managed KI, but its direct ownership was not with KECO after KECO was purchased, if that makes any sense.

Carl Lindner purchased Taft, which had a 1/3 stake in KECO. Lindner wanted to buy/be a corporate partner in Kings Entertainment Company. Lindner and Nelson Schwab got into quite an argument, one that was settled by selling Kings Island to Lindner with the stipulation KECO would retain a management contract on the park.

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19 minutes ago, CoastersRZ said:

And it should be noted that the Lindner ownership years were generally not good years.

American Financial Corporation was very hands-off when it came to Kings Island. They pretty much let management at the park "do their thing." Everyone I've talked to who was in management at Kings Island at the time had very good things to say about working under AFC and Lindner's ownership.

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On 1/27/2020 at 1:24 PM, CoastersRZ said:

And it should be noted that the Lindner ownership years were generally not good years.

 

On 1/27/2020 at 1:46 PM, KIghostguy said:

American Financial Corporation was very hands-off when it came to Kings Island. They pretty much let management at the park "do their thing." Everyone I've talked to who was in management at Kings Island at the time had very good things to say about working under AFC and Lindner's ownership.

So let's explore this corporate world case study...

Studies show that one of the top complaints employees have is that management micromanages and are too hands on and employees want to be left alone to do their thing and get their job done the best they know how.

Many employees reported during the Kinzel era he was too hands on and micromanaged.  People may not like him, but he did grow the company and helped usher in the new wave of record breaking attractions..

It is being reported that Lindner's ownership was very hands off and these were not good years.  So can one infer from this that KI had the wrong people in the wrong positions at that time if this era is considered "generally not good years?  If KI management was left to run the park as they saw fit, this statement implies they didn't know what they were doing.  If Lindner micromanaged would this have changed anything?

Is the takeaway that corporate needs a micromanager CEO to get things done?  Or is it that CEO's need to have the right people in the right positions and give them complete autonomy to run it as they see fit?  Or is it somewhere in between?

I also recognize this is an over simplification of the issues, but it would make for an interesting case study when looking at all the details and parameters and metrics associated with these era's, but these are high level take aways from these statements...

 

 

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On January 27, 2020 at 1:24 PM, CoastersRZ said:

And it should be noted that the Lindner ownership years were generally not good years.

I don't remember those years very well, was it the overall atmosphere of the park (cleanliness, maintenance, etc.) that was bad or attendance/profit? 

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14 minutes ago, Joshua said:

I don't remember those years very well, was it the overall atmosphere of the park (cleanliness, maintenance, etc.) that was bad or attendance/profit? 

I think some people don’t like that era due to all the classic rides there were removed. I’m also a bit curious as to why that era gets such a bad name.

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13 minutes ago, Ben43065 said:

I think some people don’t like that era due to all the classic rides there were removed. I’m also a bit curious as to why that era gets such a bad name.

Isn't that the Paramount years? I'm trying to think of major rides (apart from Screamin' Demon) that were removed between 1987 and 1992 (AFC's ownership). 

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12 minutes ago, Ben43065 said:

I know a lot of the rides in Oktoberfest were removed during his time.

IIRC, the Cauldron ride and dolphin show were removed during this time. Maybe another HB-themed ride or two, as well? 

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  • 1 month later...

The parks started becoming run down during the Lindner years as well.
 

 I remember going to Carowinds in 80 and it was gorgeous.  By 88, the cable skyway, Hillbilly Jalopies, Flying Dutchman and Black Widow has been removed. They were actually running the hillbilly cars on the modern speedway track out of theme  

88 was the last year for White Lightnin’ as well.

Several things were repainted in a drab green color including the Scooby Doo coaster.    I remember thinking they must have gotten a discount in that color paint. 

 

But compared to the damage Paramount inflicted on the parks, the Lindner years looked good.  
 

Cedar Fair, especially after Ouimet became involved, saved the Taft parks.    They feel much more like the Taft days now.   The Six Flags merger was scary because they are way over indebted, and have dirty, poorly operated, weed filled, mis themed parks. 

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1 hour ago, super7 said:

The parks started becoming run down during the Lindner years as well.
 

 I remember going to Carowinds in 80 and it was gorgeous.  By 88, the cable skyway, Hillbilly Jalopies, Flying Dutchman and Black Widow has been removed. They were actually running the hillbilly cars on the modern speedway track out of theme  

88 was the last year for White Lightnin’ as well.

Several things were repainted in a drab green color including the Scooby Doo coaster.    I remember thinking they must have gotten a discount in that color paint. 

 

But compared to the damage Paramount inflicted on the parks, the Lindner years looked good.  
 

Cedar Fair, especially after Ouimet became involved, saved the Taft parks.    They feel much more like the Taft days now.   The Six Flags merger was scary because they are way over indebted, and have dirty, poorly operated, weed filled, mis themed parks. 

Carowinds would have been owned by Kings Entertainment Company in 1988. The only park American Financial Corporation ever owned was Kings Island.

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On 1/30/2020 at 7:08 PM, Benjamin22 said:

I think some people don’t like that era due to all the classic rides there were removed. I’m also a bit curious as to why that era gets such a bad name.

I'll give you my two cents...

There was a "turn" in the 80's when it seemed like KI became a bit more of a "teen" park rather than family focused.  Because of that, I think some may look on that time as the period in which Kings Island was more interested in thrills rather than being an all-day entertaining, quality family experience.

I attended KI many times during the "Linder Years"...  I recall that it was still a good guest experience - clean, well managed etc.  I do, however, distinctly recall that as I returned each season it seemed more and more rides went missing.  Many (including myself in the past) have laid blame on the owners at the time - American Financial - for the fact that "original" rides disappeared during the tenure.

Truth is, at least a few of those rides had just naturally worn out and there probably wasn't a lot they could do to salvage them.  TMK American Financial didn't come in with a sweeping arm of change insisting rides be scrapped.  (That was more Paramount's style) In reality, the park was still being managed by the same people (KECO) as had operated it in years prior... it was just owned by someone else.   By this point, the park was nearing it's 20th anniversary, and many of the rides had probably "reached the end of their service life."  (Sound familiar?)  I vividly recall that during my visits to the park during the time period I noticed the wear and tear of certain aging attractions.  For example, by the time it closed, Smurfs Enchanted Voyage was a dusty, rust-stained and overall unkempt ride.

I certainly wish at least a few of the original/classic rides were still there.  There's validity to the argument that rides of the same ilk at other parks have fared better.  (Need an example?  Just look at Kennywood's Turtle.)  But from the start it was always Kings Island's moniker to not allow the park to stagnate.  When KI was built, it was a nod to Coney Island and Cincinnati's past, but the new owners were adamant that it was to be it's very own unique park.  (This actually caused a bit of an uproar among Cincinnati Coney Island purists that initially refused to go to KI when it opened out of protest.)

Much to their credit, some major rides/attractions were added during the "Linder years."  Vortex, Amazon Falls, Adventure Express, Waterworks, Phantom Theater even Top Gun (originally contracted by AF before the Paramount Agreement was signed) are all to be credited to this era.  That says quite a bit about their focus on investment.  Consequently, these attractions have evolved into staples of the park now deeply etched into the hearts of those that grew up riding them.  (Need proof? Phantom Theater is one of the most missed and most reminisced rides from the park's past - and it was a replacement!)

In hindsight Paramount did far more damage to Kings Island's original vision than the "Linder Years" did.  The entire focus during this time was to commercialize the park - and that ultimately caused the park to lose it's soul - not to mention any type of coherent theming.  At the time I personally championed it.. I mean, the rides were so grand.. but when IJST opened I remember walking away from media day devastated by what they had done to massacre the most beautiful part of the park (and in the midst removing not one, but two of the most classic attractions.)  I stopped attending KI for the next two seasons because I was so upset by what I saw.

In the future, I'm sure some may argue the same thing about CF.  Heck with the loss of Firehawk and Vortex some already are crying that the current owners are "destroying its history."  But fact is, there's probably more to be said about investment in new attractions than there is to be said of keeping aged ones.  The reason KI is still around, and still a HUGE force in the Theme Park industry, is because it has evolved and changed with the times.

I'll finish my soapbox by saying that we haven't seen the last of ride removals.  We, no doubt, will see other aging and less popular rides removed in the near future.... the VERY near future.  Its a necessary evil that will continue to allow the park to flourish.  Finally... as someone that has attended KI for 40 years, I can say its current state rings of the same vibe as those "glory years."  It has a bit more to go... *cough* show quality *cough*... but the Kings Island of today is really grand.  I'm personally very happy with what Cedar Fair is doing with the park.

That having been said, I predict that the next few years will see a renewed focus on general infrastructure and family experience.  They're giving the thrill-seekers their big gift this year, they'll likely concentrate on smaller thrills next... I just hope they add a few more trees in the mix as well ;-).

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1 hour ago, Shaggy said:

I'll give you my two cents...

There was a "turn" in the 80's when it seemed like KI became a bit more of a "teen" park rather than family focused.  Because of that, I think some may look on that time as the period in which Kings Island was more interested in thrills rather than being an all-day entertaining, quality family experience.

I attended KI many times during the "Linder Years"...  I recall that it was still a good guest experience - clean, well managed etc.  I do, however, distinctly recall that as I returned each season it seemed more and more rides went missing.  Many (including myself in the past) have laid blame on the owners at the time - American Financial - for the fact that "original" rides disappeared during the tenure.

Truth is, at least a few of those rides had just naturally worn out and there probably wasn't a lot they could do to salvage them.  TMK American Financial didn't come in with a sweeping arm of change insisting rides be scrapped.  (That was more Paramount's style) In reality, the park was still being managed by the same people (KECO) as had operated it in years prior... it was just owned by someone else.   By this point, the park was nearing it's 20th anniversary, and many of the rides had probably "reached the end of their service life."  (Sound familiar?)  I vividly recall that during my visits to the park during the time period I noticed the wear and tear of certain aging attractions.  For example, by the time it closed, Smurfs Enchanted Voyage was a dusty, rust-stained and overall unkempt ride.

I certainly wish at least a few of the original/classic rides were still there.  There's validity to the argument that rides of the same ilk at other parks have fared better.  (Need an example?  Just look at Kennywood's Turtle.)  But from the start it was always King's Island's moniker to not allow the park to stagnate.  When KI was built, it was a nod to Coney Island and Cincinnati's past, but the new owners were adamant that it was to be it's very own unique park.  (This actually caused a bit of an uproar among Cincinnati Coney Island purists that initially refused to go to KI when it opened out of protest.)

Much to their credit, some major rides/attractions were added during the "Linder years."  Vortex, Amazon Falls, Adventure Express, Waterworks, Phantom Theater even Top Gun (originally contracted by AF before the Paramount Agreement was signed) are all to be credited to this era.  That says quite a bit about their focus on investment.  Consequently, these attractions have evolved into staples of the park now deeply etched into the hearts of those that grew up riding them.  (Need proof? Phantom Theater is one of the most missed and most reminisced rides from the park's past - and it was a replacement!)

In hindsight Paramount did far more damage to Kings Island's original vision than the "Linder Years" did.  The entire focus during this time was to commercialize the park - and that ultimately caused the park to lose it's soul - not to mention any type of coherent theming.

I’m so glad you wrote this. As you stated, KECO were the ones managing the park day-to-day. Carl Lindner and American Financial’s business model was to reward success, and Kings Island was hitting attendance records nearly every year. AFC financed the park very, very well and let Kings Entertainment Company “do their thing” at the park level.

A small correction, Vortex, Amazon Falls and WaterWorks were all KECO-ownership additions, although Amazon Falls and WaterWorks opened under AFC’s ownership. Vortex is notable as the only coaster to be designed, built and opened totally under KECO’s ownership.

Maybe now people on here will listen when I say the Lindner years were good ones. Everyone I talked to who was in management at the time had glowing things to say about being owned by Lindner.

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1 hour ago, Shaggy said:

I'll finish my soapbox by saying that we haven't seen the last of ride removals.  We, no doubt, will see other aging and less popular rides removed in the near future.... the VERY near future.  Its a necessary evil that will continue to allow the park to flourish. 

Care to elaborate on which rides?

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12 minutes ago, SonofBaconator said:

Care to elaborate on which rides?

"There’s a couple other rides in the park that someday will be taken out. Is it in the next two, three, four, five years? I don’t know the answer to that. There’s no plan. But some rides, they don’t make the parts anymore, they become hard to maintain, they become not unsafe, but unreliable. That’s the hard part about this business."---Mike Koontz

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1 minute ago, KIghostguy said:

"There’s a couple other rides in the park that someday will be taken out. Is it in the next two, three, four, five years? I don’t know the answer to that. There’s no plan. But some rides, they don’t make the parts anymore, they become hard to maintain, they become not unsafe, but unreliable. That’s the hard part about this business."---Mike Koontz

Yeah, I don't think Kings Island is keeping a list of rides that they can just dismantle. I'm sure in some cases they know which year will be the final one for a ride, but I'm also assuming the case with Vortex -- where it seems to be a decision made earlier than they'd plan -- isn't actually rare. It's just that at this point, it hit one of the most iconic coasters in the park. 

The nature of The Beast (no pun intended) is that rides don't last forever; to evolve with the times and to make sure riders are safe, rides will occasionally be retired. It's just business. We have a nostalgic love for things (I was heartbroken when Smurfs Enchanted Voyage was removed because it was the first ride in the park that I loved), and it's easy to forget they are machines that will break down and, eventually, won't be able to be maintained. 

That said, I often feel that aesthetic removals sometimes hurt more than ride removals. Sure, I'll miss the thrills on Vortex. But the one that really gets me? The tunnel that used to connect Rivertown and Hanna Barbara Land, which was overgrown with vines and lights. I have many great memories of sitting with my grandparents in there as a child, waiting for my mom to get off a roller coaster. Or the Snoopy light show they used to do at the Eiffel Tower for a year or two; a small memory, and maybe one that isn't missed. But I came back to Kings Island after several years away, that time with my new fiance (now wife), and it was so meaningful to sit by the tower and watch the show with her, understanding that my entire experience with Kings Island had a new dimension to it. 

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On 3/6/2020 at 3:38 PM, cdubbs727 said:

That said, I often feel that aesthetic removals sometimes hurt more than ride removals. Sure, I'll miss the thrills on Vortex. But the one that really gets me? The tunnel that used to connect Rivertown and Hanna Barbara Land, which was overgrown with vines and lights. I have many great memories of sitting with my grandparents in there as a child, waiting for my mom to get off a roller coaster. Or the Snoopy light show they used to do at the Eiffel Tower for a year or two; a small memory, and maybe one that isn't missed. But I came back to Kings Island after several years away, that time with my new fiance (now wife), and it was so meaningful to sit by the tower and watch the show with her, understanding that my entire experience with Kings Island had a new dimension to it. 

Kings Dominion and Carowinds have retained their original, big arbor tunnels (although the structures have been replaced).   It is a shame the Kings Island was removed. Now it’s just a bunch of umbrella tables and a wood wall

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