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Everything posted by DBJ

  1. Yeah, I remember that on Tatsu, back in the day, always getting put into the last row. I would have preferred at the time to be able to choose the front. They did fix that issue. So I'm wondering why they don't learn chain wide, a few things. 1.) When building coaster stations, plan enough room in the station so people waiting for the front row don't bottleneck the main line. 2.) Now that flashpass is a reality, or Q-bots, why isn't there a dedicated line to them? Usually, they send guests up through the exits. It would be much easier for them to coordinate FP users. Mummy at Universal (Hollywood) I think is the best solution I've seen. People bypassing the main line have their own place to stand at the loading platform, and then get placed into the "q" line by the ride ops, wait one train, and they are on. It requires a slightly larger station, but it gives the ops the ability to place guests much faster on the coaster. Certainly beats blocking off rows or just having FP people having to push their way into the bitter herd. What's really bad is that on some of the coaster not designed for FP - SFMM's Batman - is that the exit is so narrow, that it almost isn't pratical for them to have FP's entrance be the exit. 3.) If there's enough people in line, why don't they just put all FP people on one train - and not open the gates for the normals, not just the front row? Basically rotate trains for SFFT Goliath. It would certainly move the FP line much, much faster. There should be some effort into providing a pleasnat experience for all guests.
  2. I prefer variety of the experience over the actual coaster count. Both parks currently do fall short in a couple of key areas. Also, coaster counts mean very little when parks include coasters for little kids.
  3. Go green! They make solar panel roof tiles now, and you get tax breaks from the state to install them. That way, with solar power, the park saves money on elect costs, and could bring more a/c to the "q" lines. Excess power can even be sold back to the utility. Paper recycling of course. Zeroscaping for arid climates. In general, theme restaraunts. The Landry's T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe restaraunts are perfect for theme parks. My home park is SFMM - although Universal is closer (it's hard to get excited about seeing the same movie mutliple times!). I think SFMM is on the path btw. General suggestion is to pick up a Lowes credit card and buy some outdoor seating. There are eating areas where there is very limited places to sit and enjoy your food, namely outside of the bakery and ice cream place at main entrance, and Gotham city. To theme out the park, I would start small and hit up local businesses. Maybe even get free or discount prices for art, sculpture, & fountains to display in the park. If anyone is near Burbank, check out the Elegante store in the Media Center mall. The decor is insane for a house, but perfect for a theme park.
  4. So I am to assume this is a similar deal like Tokyo Disneyland, where the name is licensed out? It will be interesting to see when the park is finished what the management believes is the ultimate image of the SF "brand" and how that is expressed through the attraction selection. My general opinion of Dubai that it certainly is incredible about what they are scheduled to build there, but I wonder about how they are going to handle the cultural issues that are going to pop up with the increase in tourists? http://www.gadling.com/2008/02/21/smuggle-poppy-seeds-face-jail/
  5. When SFMM sits in the long shadow of DL,DCA,Uni,&Knotts - they can always need new coasters. That is their one point of uniqueness in the local market, which the other parks cannot or do not really pursue. And, SFMM is missing a few styles of coasters that would help fill in the park. Their goal of family audience and coaster loving ways do not have to be mutually exclusive.
  6. And it has a slightly porno sounding name! I would hope they change it to a different name, some kids won't be able to resist making some off color jokes about it. 10 is slightly high, they should stick with go-kart pricing. 5 bucks, do high volume instead of charging to the max per person.
  7. Here's my 2 cent observation about what could be done with the Stinger. Pain the globe to look like a planet, install in T-Land. Use white exterior for projections at night. Interior could be a star field. I am looking forward to what eventually happens to DCA. It sounds like the are on the right track with Little Mermaid and Carsland.
  8. Nice interview, much better than when he first appeared at SFMM, stood in front of the new Tatsu and proclaimed SFMM was now going in the family friendly direction! Ah, irony. I remember back then thinking this guy must be out of his mind to downplay the coasters of SFMM on Tatsu's media day. It's good to read that he is far more positive about SFMM this time around. I would just hope that he also learned a lesson about socal's media. The ran with the SFMM is closing story, and never did an update about it, to remind people that it isn't in danger of closing. And the media recently did it again with headlines about the SFMM possibly being up for sale (along with other parks). SF has to be very careful about how they deal with the press or else this impression of SFMM being in constant danger of being sold off at any moment is going to stick.
  9. My question would be if they have any plans to expand into the hotel business? I thought at one time SFGADV was in the planning stages of adding a hotel. Is that still an area SF is looking into investing in either solo or with a corporate partner? And, with the recent expansion of the theme park business worldwide, is SF looking into other countries again? Dubai in particular seems to be landing quite a few big media companies for theme park development. Warner, Dreamworks, Universal, Paramount, all interested in the theme park business, but not interested in the US apparently. Does Shapiro think there would be a time where they would be more involved with one of the major media companies? Or is the interest of the media companies for overseas park development mean that the domestic market is in decline?
  10. To me, SFMM has taken on incredible risks over the years with regards to their coaster installs. On one hand, I love the fact that they did do it and took on the challenge of X, Deja, Superman, Psyclone (going a bit back) in their recent history. I think the park would be turned out to be extremely dull if they had stayed with established designs. The practical side wonders though if the risk did outweigh the rewards? I respect them for what they attempted to do, but at the same time, was dissapointed with how the park declined over those same years. As it is, the new management looks like they are doing the best possible job with the cards they have been dealt and are well on their way to reversing the decline. I just hope that the locals here can appreciate the more subtle improvements.
  11. As CEO.. 1.) Keep advertising costs in check. They spent 30 million more on advertising in 2007 than 2006, got nowhere. 30 million spent on new attractions, waterslides, etc., flats - will drive attendance over the years vs. 1 summer long ad campaign. Re: capital expansion, doesn't mean 20 million coasters, chain wide, every season. They need an intelligent master plan, and each park faces unique competitors, and a cookie cutter plan doesn't cut it chain wide. 2.) Relevant retail - treat SF as a "mall" - lease out storefronts. This would have to be regional retailers, but making the shopping part of the theme park experience can only help. For example, they want to be family friendly, and there really isn't family friendly shopping there. Just generic park merchandise. They should recruit stores that mean something to kids - Build A Bear, Club Libby Lu, etc. 3.) Bringing in known low cost food brands is a problem. Everyone knows how much McDonalds, Johnny Rockets, and Panda Express costs. When they see a gouge on price, it leaves a very negative impression. I would kill any expansion of established fast food brands into the park, and only target those chains that are known to be higher priced. Outback, Rainforest Cafe, Olive Garden, and so on. I would also focus on bringing in themed cafes - as just one example, Planet Hollywood for the "Movie District" or any variation of the studio theme. Of course, food quality needs to be overhauled for the SF run food vendors. 4.) Parking - match, but don't exceed local competition. Have parking go on "sale" - to drive attendance on slow days. $5 buck Teusdays for example. 5.) Season Passes - raise price by $25, but enable a rewards program on every card. Earn gift certificates, 10% off on in-park purchases. Drive spending in the park by giving an incentive to shop/eat there. And that's just off the top of my head. Basically, it isn't rocket science on how to turn the chain around. The most succesful business model for the park business exists in the US. Also, I think the upper management needs to attend the park and roleplay as a family on a budget, and not as the millionaires they are to really understand their customer base.
  12. It's interesting to see WDW take on this challenge of adapting AI into an attraction. Certainly fits within the theme of the park. Even though it's coming out this year, the discussions probably go back a few years for this attraction. Imo, it's not really promoting a competitors product - just being reflective of current pop culture. If Disney theme parks were really concerned about promoting other studio's properties, they would have pulled Indy which is handled by Paramount/Viacom, and Star Tours because Star Wars which is handled by Fox. It's not like they can do attractions on Lost, Housewives, Extreme Home Makeover, Greys Anatomy, etc. very easily. They can't even get Hannah Montana in 3D into the parks after it's theatrical run and that seems like the most obvious move for a cheapo, attraction. So Disney..here's a thought. Put the movie into the Muppets theater at DCA for the summer.
  13. Nice to see the park turning around. Very glad to read that they took notice of the bathrooms! I'm not a toilet enthusiast, but man, all the facilities need remodeling. I know how they are a big fan of sponsorships, so they should pursue Kohler or similar companie to do showcase restrooms. To turn the park into the "destination", they should contact the Great Wolf Lodge and surrender part of their land or stake a claim in the neighboring development. The one thing socal doesn't have is an indoor waterpark and this would be unique in our area. Imo, they still need to look at what the local competition offers, and target those experiences. They completely lack a 3D film attraction (T2/Tough to Be a Bug, etc.), any kind of motion sim attraction (Simpsons, Star Tours), and no dark rides. There are companies that offer these kinds of attractions without busting the budget. Thomas Town is a great start in that direction, and X2's canopys could be useful on other rides. Imagine Batman enclosed Dark Knight- fastest "indoor" coaster in the west, Goliath's helix enclosed (maybe like you are passing through ruins of a temple) etc. All in all, it's really good to see the park in hands of management that sees the potential.
  14. Knott's... 1.) Theme Pony Express, place roof over western stage under Silver Bullet, new OTSR's for Perilous Plunge, dark ride shooter for KOD bldg. 2.) SFMM - steel beam Colosuss, work on food quality/price/variety, invest in more a/c or fans in "q's", begin removal of Metro if it cannot be repurposed into a different attraction, develop plan to bring in alternative attractions to park (example, sim rides that are idle at other parks could rotate to SFMM), buy DCA's Maliboomer, install in Freefall's place. 3.) Universal - close Backdraft in current form, look at how to make static attractions like T2 into evolving attractions, tear down walk through snooze maze (House of Horrors) turn into dark ride, use vacant western stunt show stage for original attraction.
  15. If Deja Vu left, that would reduce the number of "world class" coasters. Seeing Goliath Jr or Canyon Blaster (the ones I always forget are there) are on the list of coasters, it makes that distinction up for debate. That's probably why they mention 14 now that I think about it, clearly they are excluding one of the two.
  16. I try to do the trifecta, Knott's, Universal, SFMM - and that's the order of quality imo. While I can't compare this year yet, I felt that the Terror Tram missed amazing oppoortunities last year. So much of that backlot tour is basically horror themed - flash flood, Jaws, King Kong, falling bridge (back in the day), Fast And The Furious (for different reasons), old exterior Frankestein village, earthquake & bugs in tunnel. I wish they would eventually incoporate the entire tram tour into the event. How could would it be to see Frankenstein in his village, zombies attacking the tram on the city sets, Kong with victim, dead bodies in the quake, and so on. They can still drop people off at the Psycho house and then pick them up after WOW sets. I think that might help thin the herd in terms of capacity. I'm still checking it out this year, to see the improvements. Unicersal did do one of my favorite mazes of all time, a Rob Zombie one back before the put the whole thing on ice until last year.
  17. 2004 Hurricane Harbor added Toronado. 2005 Batman Begins stunt show. 2006 Tatsu. 2007 - nothing, removal of Psyclone. 2008 - nothing? I wasn't expecting a coaster for 2008, but going for 2 years without a single new attraction (show, flat, coaster, kid's rides, or something for HH), hasn't been done before. Wikipedia has a great timeline on SFMM, and they been pretty consistent for over a decade about adding something new every year. This is the first time they will go two years in a row without something new to promote the park. That's kind of risk in what will be a competitive year here in so cal.
  18. Isn't it bizarre that they didn't confirm anything about SFMM? The rumored Granny Gran Prix location left untouched. Warner Brother Studios is here, but no movie-tie in. Tony Hawk started in so cal, but no skating tie-in. Tatsu opend in 2006, are they really not going to have a new attraction to promote - of any kind- until 2009?
  19. In terms of being run as a business, it's pretty much a no brainer that Cedar Fair was run exceptionally well. SF teetered on the brink of self-destruction for so long, and prior management made amazing mistakes. But now that Cedar Fair potentially overexpanded with the Paramount Parks, is gutting GL but being coy about it's future, I'm not entirel convinced they are moving in a positive direction. My primary experience is with Knott's, so here's my comment. Imo, I thought Silver Bullet was redudant in the so cal marketplace (as opposed to a Dive Machine or flyer - this was Pre-Tatsu), and it's presence destroyed the theme of it's area. The colors are way off for the old west, the station is typical B&M shed. At least a better attempt was made with SS, but not by much. I'm really stunned that have removed an old west attraction for an Panda Express! I think their management needs to refocus on the look of the park before it all turns into a cement slab like the "boardwalk area". I kind of see similarities in how both chains are being run, and I'm not sure either one is making the right moves everytime out.
  20. Wow! That was an impressive write up. Makes me want to skip work and hit up SFMM during the week! I noticed that you skipped all of the water rides. Good thing you missed the heat wave over labor day weekend!
  21. Pirates of the Carribean. 3 hours, got on ride, and it breaks down next to banjo player at top of ride (it was years ago), another 40 minutes! Disneyland pre-fast pass was all about 2 hr. lines when I went there for the first time. Longest recent line, X for 3 hours opening weekend.
  22. That's kind of surprising that they are gutting out GL. I wonder if their intent is to raze the bobsleds as well, and really do a massive Wildwater Kingdom expansion. They could do an onsite indoor waterpark/hotel combo like they have at Cedar Point, and do a boardwalk type feel between the two. It'll be interesting to see what they do with the remainder of the property. Although clearly they need to find a way to make it stand out a bit more in the marketplace.
  23. That was a good trip report. It sounds like you did pretty well with the lines actually. I think part of the purpose of the 1 train op is to create lines when crowds are light. The last thing a park wants to do is to have people whip through the park without spending money. Imo, as enthusiasts some are incredibly impatient and want to basically walk onto rides. Waits of up to a 1/2 hour for one of the major rides are perfectly reasonable, even 45 for X is doing well considering it's history. During Fright Fest, I would suspect that everything will be back up to at least 2 train ops. It might not help the wait in line situation however, as it tends to be pretty crowded most nights. I wouldn't be too surprised if you actually did more during this trip that what will be possible during FF. My advice is to definately invest into the Flash Passess, knock out the coasters during the daylight, and do the mazes/shows at night.
  24. At SFMM... Convert Collosuss into steel tracks, restore double dip, keep wood frame, wood coasters just don't hold up very well at MM. Rip out the start of Scream, replace with the "Hulk" launch passing under cobra roll, have it reconnect back to original track before first loop, enclose interlocking corkscrews. Goliath - enclose helix in a ruined temple to complete the "ruins" theme that's there now ever so lightly. Enclose Batman: hello, dark knight 2008 movie tie in. At Knott's... Theme out Sidewinder completely, it's small footprint, wouldn't be too expensive. Build Mayan Temple around Jaguar, with temple housing either sit down eatery or other low rise attraction. Knott's does have to really clever things with space planning from now on, so making use of all available vertical space is important. Ghostride just needs TLC. Silver Bullet should be shielded from the wagon theater (forgot name), so they should have some kind of roof structure over that theater to block noise. Those are my random pie in the sky thoughts.
  25. I looked at their schedule, and the last week of daily operation is Sept. 3-7, open weekends rest of year, so visiting 8th or 9th is good.. Here's their operating schedule. http://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain/info/parkInfo.aspx Have a good time.
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