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Everything posted by DBJ

  1. Imo, I think they shouldn't build a park per se, but the city of Rome should absolutely take some cues from Disney on how to be more tourist friendly. For example, the Colosseum, the Forum, and Palpatine Hill could be fenced in - and it could be a POP experience. There is enough room between those locations that would allow attractions. Not typical coasters, but Imax 3D, Soarin, transportation rides,etc., could easily be placed in different sections of the general area. They need far better signs/customer service at the actual Colosseum. I was there on a non-crowded day a year ago, and it was still chaos to get in. Ticketing in general for those set of attractions and nearby museums should be streamlined. There are almost no toilets at all in the area. Almost no places to sit. And, near zero a/c, anywhere (true most places though - along with no ice in drinks)- not even a mister set-up, or temp shade for lines. The landscaping on Palpatine Hill is a missed opportunity. There are no obvious places to eat near/at the Colosseum. If there is any location in Rome that would benefit from an elaborate themed eatery, it's there. There are no characters walking around. They are some people that come dressed up and then charge to get a pic taken, but there is no "official" staff. There is very little written information on signs - in any language - which is odd for a historical site. The only options are to hire a tour guide, or buy an audio tour - but outside of that, you're left on your own. The only ambience created are colored lights at night. So I think in general they could take learn a bit from Disney on how to bring some "show" to the tourist areas of Rome, and not have to delve into the theme park business.
  2. This was not a very well done show. They actually skipped over Maverick and El Toro - for rides they have shown previously on other shows! I mean, what's the point in that. It's not like they didn't have quite a few options in the 2007/08 season they could have tracked down. The special seemed like filler material. Does Disney co-produce their shows for the travel channel? Of the park shows that I've seen, they usually are the most complete and well done. In particular, the Samantha Brown ones are very good, as I usually see an part of WDW I was not familiar with previously.
  3. Here's my two cents. Do 20 million coasters pay off? Short term, no. Essentially, the new ride would have to keep the prior's year attendance, and then add an additional 3% or more. With variations in weather and economy, there's no guarantee that a 20 million ride will be worth it over the course of a park's 3-4 month 1st summer season. However, that is incredibly short term thinking typical of a quarterly driven corporate structure. Long term, yes. Considering a well built coaster can stand for decades, the cost becomes more reasonable. A park adding a mega 20 million coaster every 5 years is essentially investing 4 million per year. If the coaster's operating costs are average and popularity remains decent, the payoff of the intial investment does happen. It takes patience to look beyond a quarterly result. The other issue with some SF parks is that they actually don't need another "Goliath." Some of the parks are nearly built out on some types of coasters. For example, SFMM. There isn't much else they can build in the 20 million steel coaster category without becoming repetitive. The challenge then becomes what do they add that brings a new experience. Dive Machines may be kind of a new thing, but is the experience radically different than what is currently offered? Imo, no. If for example they (SFMM) eventually go through with a El Toro like clone, then at that point, they pretty much no longer need to build anymore giant wood coasters. SFGADV is in a similar situation. So I don't see the push into smaller coasters as a negative for some of the SF parks. The challenge becomes more about how these smaller/lower cost coasters can address the needs for capacity, length of the ride experience, and overall impact on park attendance.
  4. I would hope that most locals that hit up Disneyland are aware of the discounts to the park, like Ralph's and Costco. I think the price increase would hit people who hit up the park on a spur of the moment type thing.
  5. Even though I live closest to USH, the lack of things to do there makes this the place I only take out of town relatives. They need to overhaul that bottom lot asap. Tear down Backdraft and the Special EFX show, and clone IOA's MIB and Spiderman. Mummy is too short, even my 65 year old mother thought it was dull and short. Upper lot: time to get rid of "the house of horrors" - which would make a better queque line for a better attraction, like a spinning coaster. I get that they can't make anything too tall on the upper or lower lots because of filming sight lines. They also have a dead zone next to the outdated T2 attraction (although, they should refresh the ride with the new cast - Bale, etc.) That area is good enough for at least 1, if not two, low rise flat rides. If their 2009 plans really are just the falling bridge and a musical, I think the park remains on the skip list. Given USH resources, they really haven't used the available space to it's fullest potential. HHN's is pretty much the only time I've seen the park really fully alive.
  6. Yup, Tatsu is on the fast pass list. I do a similar thing, use the FP that come with the extreme pass only for Tatsu.
  7. Re: the advertising. I had read a few years back that SFMM in fact is not in charge of the advertising of the park, but the decision is made by SF's main execs back east. The decision to advertise X2 is because they are 4 major family attractions that opened in competition; Simpsons at Universal, Toy Story Mania at DCA, Sesame Bay of Play at Seaworld, and Legoland's LKA. By comparison, advertising a circular train ride with unfinished and spartan theming isn't going to cut it against that. None of those other parks can match X2 however. I hope they do continue in the family direction but realize that family doesn't mean suitable for toddlers, and that's it. I think part of SFMM's problem is that the kids area frequently makes the adults spectators and not participants in the experience with the kids. As they move forward with their family initiative, I hope they bring in more kinds of attractions where kids & adults can be on the ride at the same time. Things like Legoland's LKA, and a 4D movie experience, or a coaster like Evil K., where kids & adults can enjoy the ride. Heck, there is a whole range of coaster experiences they can build (not Dark Knight), in-between Percy and X2. Hopefully not ultra short track length versions however.
  8. A thought on how the coaster would fit the Terminator theme. Who's to say the wood structure wouldn't be painted? A lot of people are assuming it will be a natural wood color, but what if the entire thing was painted silver or grey? Scooby Doo Ghoster Coaster is painted blue after all.
  9. That's some pretty good news! Of the coaster selection they currently have, a great wood coaster is definately needed. I'm really glad that they decided that a "family" coaster for SFMM didn't limit them to a small install. The theme choice is odd, but then again, depending on what happens in the next set of films, it may fit. Example, will there be a scene set in a present day amusement park? If they go for the post apocalyptic look, the Psyclone graveyard is already partially themed. And, considering that the next set of Terminator films is set to be a trilogy, it's a theme that will remain in the public's eye for the next 6 years as the movies roll out.
  10. Thanks for the update on Thomas Town, it's a charming part of the park. A couple of observations. 1.) I hope they leave some room for seasonal decor - Christmas trees, pumpkins, etc., as the plants grow in. Of all the attractions there, Thomas Town has the most potential for cost effective themes to be added. 2.) They might want to take a look at the petting zoo next door and determine if they really need it, or if it's time to send that packing. The barn is good looking enough to pass as a "q", and the area where the animal(s) roam is more than enough space for a family style flat. 3.) They could put in a small playground for the wee ones, like the kind you find in any mall, under shade. For slightly bigger kids, a something along the lines of what they did at SFGADV. All in all, it's good to see them taking on a family style attraction with more flair than what was done in the past. X2 - well, I'm never amazed at people's willingness to stand in huge lines. Clearly, that was money well spent.
  11. A concept for SFMM. 1.) Move Rock Wall into spin-outs old spot. Retheme entire Psyclone Bay area into "CA sports park." They do have a skycoaster, go-karts, Thrillshot (and if that isn't going to work, dump it for sky venture install), Jetstream (easy to tie that into water sports), shooting range, day spa. Add a Flo Rider install - San Diego's Wavehouse (upcharge with sponsored surf shop attached), and they have pretty much covered a CA outdoor adventure lifestyle in a self contained spot! Keeps all the upcharge attractions in one area as well.
  12. Wow, that looks really cool. This looks like a good reason to pick up a season pass this year. I think they have a good opportunity here to alter the attraction into the "Treehouse of Horror" for HHN as well. Certainly would help with those crazy HHN lines.
  13. So that's where that FD3 coaster is! Even though it was an absurd coaster accident in the movie, cool to see the real thing. That mouse though, wow, pretty intimidating. Thanks for the pics, always wondered what the park looked like in real life. Looks like it could be a cool retro kind of park to visit.
  14. 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.
  15. Wow, the park is looking nice. It's real good to see all the new painting that is continuing. Good tip about the all day lockers vs. the 1 time use lockers at the coasters. The park might even want to think about advertising that difference to the GP. I'm not overly concerned about the lack of tunnels or missing theme elements on X2. Given where the tunnels were supposed to be, the riders might be too disoriented at the time to appreciate it. The faux tunnel lights and music concept might work better in enclosing the 2nd 1/2 of Scream starting with the helix through to the brakes. Scream could use a little extra visual boost to increase it's popularity. And to think all these improvements even before the CSI show starts in June!
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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/
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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?
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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