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KI Guy

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KI Guy last won the day on September 8 2023

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  1. Agreed, and this is the thing I always mention to folks who claim that "Park X is running out of room", most commonly with regard to Cedar Point. That park has more than enough room given the other constraints - operations, maintenance, etc. Yes, but historically with the possible exception of the CBS years (2005-06??) they've both added additions on time and maintained what they had well. It's concerning because they have always done both assumably to compete but now it's become an "either/or"? I assume they did both in the past because that was best for the business; why is it now decided that only one is necessary? You know that this is not how they have to add things. Diamondback opened in 2009. Construction started with tree clearing in 2007 and some footers were poured by opening day 2008. The timeline for Mystic Timbers was similar. To be clear, I don't fault the operators/management of KI. It's not their fault if people in Charlotte are slow to make decisions or decide that opening new attractions after the park's opening day is now acceptable.
  2. Indyguy, if these were the only choices I would go with opening late. They are not the only choices though. Even if I were to accept the premise that the changes are purely market driven, I still can't let them off the hook. To me Kings Island has had a standard for excellence and it should continue to meet that standard. Make no mistake, the powers that be have decided to chip away at that standard in hopes of it paying off for them in the short term. They just as easily could have held themselves to that standard by way of increasing prices. What they're doing a mistake. That is how you become Six Flags.
  3. Very good point, Don. I had not seen that yet myself. That's unfortunate for long-time parkgoers who remember better operations, but also more importantly for the park, the newer guests whose opinions of the park are not formed yet. It's shortsighted to think that things like not racing The Racer or cutting hours here and there don't matter.
  4. @DJSkyFoxx Yes, the three parks having different owners made it special because they were really in competition. And I know that inter-park competition is usually overestimated by enthusiasts, there was significant competition for Columbus and Northeast Ohio back then. Cedar Fair has done a good job with KI overall, but at this point I think it would probably be better for the patrons of both parks if they were separate again. There is just too much temptation to coast when you have a stranglehold on the market and there's going to be a loss of uniqueness when the same people are making the big decisions for both parks.
  5. ^ You have to consider why KI did not receive a B&M invert or B&M hyper until after some of the big parks got them. It was not because of being behind the times or an initial dislike of those models. B&M Invert: When Cedar Point built Raptor there was an exclusivity clause as part of the contract which disallowed Paramount's Kings Island or any parks within so large of a radius (think Paramount's Canada's Wonderland, Kennywood, Geauga Lake) from buying a B&M invert. Face/Off (Invertigo)- a Vekoma invert, was the decided alternative for KI. This exclusivity clause obviously was no longer enforced once Kings Island was purchased by Cedar Fair. Carowinds which was outside of the radius got a B&M invert in Top Gun (Afterburn). B&M Hyper: KI likely did not receive a B&M hyper in the Paramount era because the park had a wooden hyper coaster in Son of Beast. When Cedar Fair took over in 2006 the accident happened within the first month or two. Cedar Fair likely knew that even if successfully salvaged, SOB would never be as popular as hoped for, and there was a chance it would have to be removed. Cedar Fair then bought B&M Hypers for 3 parks; I assume they got a nice package deal. Those coasters were three successful rides for the newly acquired Paramount parks. The leaning on B&M became that much stronger when their former go-to/best buddy Intamin started fumbling repeatedly on reliability and safety. Pre-Cedar Fair KI always tried to be different than CP and market what CP did not offer.
  6. The man who yelled out was out of line for sure. He could have waited until the end and talked with someone privately about how the alternative FL pass was of no value to him personally. However, I fully understand his frustration. That being said, call me old fashioned but my expectations for behavior from front facing employees especially in communications roles are much higher than that of a regular customer. Mr. Clark was in a tough situation, but he could have handled this so much better. He started the interaction almost looking for an argument. "So you want me to answer a negative question...? He demeaned the person who asked the question by making fun of their saying "pilot" rather than captain. He did this twice. The crowd cheered in support of the question meaning that the questioner's sentiment was held by many people there. Instead of taking a cue from the crowd's reaction and adjusting his approach, Mr. Clark questioned the crowd saying "what are you cheering for exactly?" His answer to the question was blunt and curt. It had the tone of "this is how it's going to be and that's that." There was no significant empathizing with the crowd. Without his snarky attitude and condescending jokes, the person may not have lashed out. If he would have kindly explained the circumstances of the cancellation with an apologetic tone, things could have been different. I would say at the very least this conduct would result in a reprimand at most every job if not a dismissal. Thankfully, I've never seen a lack of professionalism like that from a high-level KI employee.
  7. In the context of what KI has done in the past they have been just trying to get by since 2018. One major that is, expensive ride installation in 7 seasons is very much an anomaly for Kings Island. Perhaps it is mostly due to COVID and 2 or 3 of those seasons they were in survival mode, but it not their usual pattern of investment. You are not arguing in good faith. You attempt to tear other people down by accusing them of using straw men. When someone clarifies and elaborates his points you continue to feign misunderstanding of his arguments when they don't align with your own point of view. This is my last reply to you on this topic.
  8. Kings Island has faired better than any CF park over the last 9 seasons. I'll give you that. Regardless, even ignoring that Soapbox Racers is a budget friendly off-the-shelf-model that would never be considered world-class, that is a net add of 1 coaster over 9 seasons. That is probably not even replacement rate over time given that all their steel coasters are 9 years older than they were when they put in Mystic Timbers in 2017. It's not a straw man. I gave you two other examples of KI going above and beyond in the past and I could give you more. I'm explaining a mindset that seems to be waning. Kings Island always had world class, unique attractions and now it seems they are just trying to get by. It goes far beyond ride additions as we've discussed. Not necessarily even size, but at least more exciting or different. More investment, more effort, some pushing of the envelope... It all matters. It was done for a reason in the past, and it was not that the park was not "mature" yet. It was because it's necessary to keep your good reputation and quality which drives people to the park year after year.
  9. I don't mean spending $20-40M every year which would probably be what a modern-day Coaster War would cost per year. I mean adding something nice almost every year with marquee attractions every few years. For their premier parks specifically, by not adding every year and not continuously wowing guests with new attractions they are taking a calculated risk. They are saying that their existing attractions can draw people in as they did the previous year. They might, but what about the long term? Steel coasters don't last forever and historically have not had the staying power of wood coasters. When you don't invest and replace your park ages and gets stale. Kings Island is feeling that right now. Congo Falls, Invertigo, Boo Blasters, The Bat, Flight of Fear, most of the waterpark, (The Vortex and Firehawk already) all are quite advanced in age and will need to be replaced in the short to medium term. There is a level of investment they have to do just to maintain their quality level/image. My argument is that they are not doing that right now. Cedar Point's supposedly frivolous time of the coaster wars is still paying off for them. It cemented a reputation on everyone who lived through that time. It made them who they are, and their marquee attractions are still mostly from that period. Cedar Point without Millenium Force, Magnum, Maverick, and yes Top Thrill (otherwise why revamp it) is not the same level of park. Had The Beast been built to 5000 ft with no second lift hill and double helix finale no one would have batted an eye at the time, but would that coaster still be as beloved as it is today? If Banshee were 1000 ft shorter would people still like it the same? If The Racer were only one track (obviously with a different name) would people have complained at the time? I think you get my point.
  10. And that has absolutely nothing to do with the rides. If it did, you'd expect a different list of attractions installed under his watch than mostly B&Ms (GateKeeper, Valravn, Banshee, etc.), with a couple others thrown in (RMC, GCI, etc.). The most notable failure of his tenure was also the greatest departure from that formula - a dark ride at CW. Ouimet realized that the rides have far less to do with the "best day" experience than, well, pretty much everything else. Yes, you need to keep the ride lineup fresh, but most guests don't know nor care that, for example, Orion and Diamondback are similar. All that matters is that they're fun. It's a mindset. The mindset that says "Let's cut hours and open the new ride late (again) this year to save money" is the same mindset that says that this tried-and-true ride will be "good enough." Amusement parks that don't invest and innovate have to go down market. Also, GateKeeper was definitely innovative when it came out; the Wing Coaster model was fresh at the time. Although there were still a lot of B&M's there were RMC's, Copperhead Strike, Hangtime, higher quality flat ride packages, nostalgic elements added, gate revamps, etc. Yes, because that park is, compared to most CF parks, very immature in terms of ride lineup. Dollywood doesn't have an invert, a hyper, a giga. So obviously they'll install more things over the next ~decade than pretty much any CF park, and that is not due to mismanagement by CF. It's because the majority of CF parks are very mature in terms of ride offerings. I don't buy that argument because 52-year-old Kings Island is not that much more mature/developed than 40-year-old Kings Island. They used to add something nearly every year coasters, non-coasters, water rides, family rides and pretty much always on time for opening day. Cedar Point did the same and you'd be hard pressed to say they were not a mature park. Uhhh... That ride is a direct replacement (combo dark ride & roller coaster) of the original Fire in the Hole, which debuted 52 years ago. What exactly is innovative about replacing a half-century old ride with the same thing? When the original Fire in the Hole opened in I972 dark rides were still very in vogue at amusement parks. That's only 2 years removed from Disney World opening and nearly every park wanted something at least somewhat like what could be seen at Disney. For a seasonal, regional amusement park to double down on a dark ride in 2023 to the tune of 30 million dollars.... yes, that that is definitely against the grain. Few seasonal parks would take that chance and Cedar Fair would almost certainly not given everything they do has to be safe/formulaic to get the approval of their shareholders. If a $30 million Phantom Theatre is built, I'll retract my statement.
  11. Doing the tried and true and never innovating is how mature industries/major players in those industries go from a small growth or a plateau to a decline. If you are not innovating someone else will. That might not be a rival park, but someone will do something for the same pool of disposable income. Thinking only in terms of stock price quarter to quarter is a recipe for disaster. Matt Ouimet understood that making memories is the key to the long-term health of the business. The strategy was "the best day ever" not "adequate given labor costs." If done correctly the kids of today are the parents of tomorrow who will bring their own kids. You can't cut corners and expect to maintain the same level of goodwill that's been built up over 50 years. I am seeing a lot more innovation out of Herschend than Cedar Fair or Six Flags. Spending $30M on a dark ride in Fire in the Hole at Silver Dollar City is not doing the tried and true. That is cutting against the grain. They don't need to re-invent the wheel every investment, but they need to use a little more imagination and have some variety. Right now, the strategy seems to be [insert next in line B&M coaster model every 5 years] with very little in-between.
  12. I would say almost anyone who has been visiting regularly with passes. Most might not know manufacturers, but after riding they'll think that the feeling is similar to Orion which itself is similar to Diamondback. Orion is already near vertical, so the drop won't be that different. The 3 or 4 inversions would be the only major difference and they can get those over at Banshee if they want. They seem to have worn into a groove of doing only the safest of the safe with their investment dollars. I have never seen a more conservative environment industry wide than the one over these last 3-4 years. We'll see if that's a good and sustainable strategy because historically, you're either innovating or you're declining.
  13. Don't operate on the assumption that the Cedar Fair parks will utilize the DC Comics or Looney Tunes theming. Six Flags' licensing deal is written so that Six Flags pays for the licenses on a per park basis. Remember that the rights are not to the DC characters as presented in the DC universe movies today, but as presented in the comics which is undoubtedly less relevant in the short-term. I just don't see much of a value proposition there. Even if the additional cost for the license for additional parks is super low, the cost for effective theming would be high. There might be some additional merchandise sales, but DC gets a good chunk of that revenue. Licensing deals for theming make sense to me in three cases, none of which apply well to the Cedar Fair parks: 1) Kids' areas: Kids love theming to their favorite characters, and they always have. With a few exceptions such as Dollywood this is almost a requirement for a good kids' area these days. I don't see Looney Tunes or Marvel being more relevant enough to retheme all their Planet/Camp Snoopy areas. 2) The park is owned by the same company who owns the characters/media franchise: When Time Warner owned the Six parks they also owned Looney Tunes and DC. It was in their best interest to promote their characters because the benefits of doing so made them money even outside the parks and strengthened their brand. Promoting Batman or Bugs Bunny would not benefit the combined Six Flags & Cedar Fair in this way. 3) The theming is very immersive, and guests visit infrequently: Although some improvements have been made on this front from the old days of Cedar Fair, theming at their parks is more about a story and using your imagination than full-fledged immersion in another world. This is not a knock; it's just business. There is a limited market for the level of theming that Disney and Universal offer. Although the parks are always packed, they sit at the extreme high end of pricing and draw from a worldwide customer base. Visits are infrequent or special occasions. Infrequent visits mean that people tire of theming and the stories involved slower. Seasonal parks are the opposite- they cater to a broad base of customers at a price point. They focus on people from within their region and value repeat visits. Theming elements age more quickly since frequent guests learn everything about the theming and anticipate it. This means theming needs to be revamped often to remain interesting.
  14. ^Aren't those 44 removed operating days from Q1 just the days from Carowinds' and Kings Dominion's reveting back to non-year-round operation?
  15. That certainly could affect long term plans. There is definitely a case to not utilize that license which I could get into some other time.
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