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  1. So, we're only allowed to discuss the things somebody else finds important? If the management of the park thought the change important enough to bring up at the conference, there's no reason why it shouldn't be able to discuss it here, both pro and con. Anything about the park... especially something that affects their customers, should be fair game. If not? Feel free to ban me and, while your at it, post a list of topics that are acceptable to be discussed. And, I'm sorry I took it so personally. The thing is, though, that one needs to consider where a park like Waldameer fits into things. There's no lack of competition for amusement park dollars in that region of the country. There are a number of larger parks within a couple of hour drive of Erie that one can go to. A park like Waldameer competes for those dollars, beyond being easily accessible to locals, by offering the best value for the dollar. You may well be right. But, that's sort of the point, also. Anybody local to Kennywood can get into the park most days for about $24 if they buy the tickets through Giant Eagle (which are all over the region and easily accessible). For that, you get a much larger park, and much longer lines. Last time I went to Kennywood, I was lucky to get 4 rides in on a Night Rider pass. I've often joked that I could drive from where I work (about 10 miles north of Pittsburgh) to Waldameer and ride the Flyer in about the same time it takes me to drive to Kennywood (no quick way to get there) and ride any one of their more popular rides. Looking at Waldameer's website, they appear to have raised their prices again this year. Combo passes up to $26.50 at the gate. Not sure about admission just to Waldameer as there is no mention of it on the website. So, no way for customers to even know how much that costs to compare. My guess would be at least $22, though. It doesn't take leaving a whole lot on a card before they could have spent the same or less at a bigger park. With gas prices possibly hitting $5 this summer ($4.50 being predicted), there is going to be less and less incentive for anybody but locals to go to Waldameer unless they're either passing through or already vacationing in the area. At what point do they price themselves out of their niche? Other than that? the only other point I was making about the viability of refunds is that they are already doing it with a large portion of their Water World customers. You pay a deposit to use the lockers. At the end of the day, when you return the key, you have the choice to either get your deposit back or to give up the deposit in exchange for a stuffed animal. There's no reason why they can't do that for everything else. Or, at least offer something in exchange for whatever's left. As I said before, I'm curious if they will still be offering refunds for the lockers. Or, if there will simply be an additional fee for service over the cost of the locker rental.
  2. Well, I'm sure from the park's perspective, there's little chance for a downside. Unless people decide to go someplace else, it's not them who would potentially lose money on the deal. So, I'd be surprised if they had anything bad to say about it, regardless of what the guests said. with respect to Cowabunga Bay, given that it's a water park and not an amusement park, what, besides food, would one be using a Wally-Card type system for? There's no mention of it on their website. I find it interesting, though, that everybody seems to think offering a refund would be such a burden for the park. The park has been doing that very thing for the Water World customers for quite some time now. Which begs the question, once the park goes completely cashless, will that practice end as well?
  3. I'm certainly all for anything that can reduce lines (although, the last two times I've been there I've had no wait at all). That said, given how short the ride on the Comet is once it leaves the platform, I really have to wonder if this ride will see maximum benefit from these. By the time the 2nd card reaches the loading zone and gets loaded, the first car will be back. While minutes add up through out the course of a day, I how much faster the line will really cycle through with this. Exactly and thanks for saying it. I for one I would not even think of planing a trip to a park with wondering how I was going to get a buck or two back from a card. If I where that strapped for cash, I would just stay home. Really, a few dollars is going to break a few folks bank? If so, then maybe they need to stay home instead and focus on increasing the home bank. Now back to "myself's" picture update which is great. Well, the assertion that it's "a buck or two" is an assumption on your part. It's likely to be more than that unless somebody is making a lot of trips to the kiosk, only putting a few bucks on the card at a time. Having said that, it's rather pompous on your part to suggest that unless people can afford to throw away money, regardless of the denomination, that they aren't worth having as customers. Would giving up a few dollars break my bank? No. I can afford to go every year. Sometimes more than once. Doesn't mean that I don't know people who need to save up to go every couple of years. Doesn't mean that I don't know people who will drive to Waldameer instead of Kennywood, which is closer, because it's a better value and with the money they save can afford to get away for a weekend rather than a day.
  4. Understood. And, my comments on the cashless system was not based on an impression that they were doing it to cheat somebody or to be malicious in any way. It was simply an objection to the way it was being implemented. I can certainly see the advantage of the current barcoded wrist bands from an employee standpoint. Like I said, I have no real problem with them. Although, the need to have your wrist band scanned every time you go from the Waldameer portion of the park to the Waterworld portion has been known to create a bit of a bottleneck as opposed to having an attendant there who can simply glance to see that you have the correct color band. You could. And, from a customer standpoint it shouldn't be me who is inconvienienced for the sake of an employee issue. That said, loss prevention is always a part of any business and the way they dealt with that particular issue doesn't bother me, so long as the readers are actually working properly. I'd be curious to know if they'e had any issues with attempts to counterfeit the bands. Barcodes are relatively easy to duplicate. That's certainly all I could ask from you, personally. I could certainly make assumptions as to the justification of a no refund policy. And, they are not alone in implementing it. As somebody who has worked in retail, it's typically the policy of retail stores to not refund the excess of gift cards. Though some will once the balance gets below a certain figure. This, however, is why most people don't use gift cards for their day to day purchases unless it's a place they shop at frequently enough to allow them to use whatever's left. And, gift cards don't eliminate the ability to pay for things some other way, which mandates the need to guess at the exact total somebody is going to spend. Nice to know about thoughts on a future beach expansion. Waldameer used that property years ago for a beach club. They had an escalator going up and down the hill if memory serves. There's a lot more land down there than it looks on the map. Could put an awful lot of stuff down there. Wouldn't mind seeing them put in a water coaster.
  5. You could look at it that way. But, that's a pretty shotty way of doing business. The only way that you get regular customers in anything is to treat the non-regulars well enough to make them want to be regulars. As I understand it from Waldameer's blog, other than the arcade and the merry go round ticket booth, it will be a completely cashless system. You can use a credit/debit card for food, aparently. Which is fine. But must use the card for games and cash is accepted nowhere else in the park. Yes, I can certainly ignore the inconvenience and load up the card before going to a particular game. My point there is that amusement parks make a LOT of money on the impulse to keep playing a game that you've been losing, believing that you'll win if you keep playing. At which point, by the time you do win (assuming you win at all), they no longer care. The problem with doing it the way you mentioned is that the only way to keep playing is to leave the line, recharge the card and come back. At which point, the impulse to keep playing is likely gone. Like I said, I'm not opposed to the cards. And, I frankly like that they are finally allowing the use of credit cards to get food. I simply prefer a system that allows me to reclaim any unused funds at the end of the day and a hybrid system that still permits the usage of cash. One size fits all solutions usually don't.
  6. My comment has nothing to do with fear of change. I'm well aware of the usage of the system for rides over the last couple of years. And, other than when the scanners don't work (more often then most would like to admit), it's not an issue. People were already wearing wristbands. It's not a meaningful change. The point of my comment is a simple one. And it's based on far too many years of going to amusement parks with a preset number in my head of what I was going to spend only to go over it year after year. Most people will initially load up the cards with what they think they're going to spend. When that's done, no matter how many kiosks you put in the park, it's far less convenient to leave your spot in line and go fill up the card again than it is to simply reach into your pocket for more money. The card is a good means of supplementing cash because it requires you to carry less of it. The moment somebody tells you that you're going to have to figure out to the exact penny how much to put on the card, else get cheated of the overage at the end of the day, it starts leaving a bit more of a sour taste in one's mouth Will I stop going to Waldameer because of it? No. Will it affect how much I'm likely to spend? Yes. I won't use the card for food, because it's far more convienient for me to use a credit card (which costs them money). IF I choose to play games, I'll use it because I have to. But it will be based on what I initially figure I'll spend, which is always a good bit less than what I normally do. I really have no desire to keep running back and forth recharging the card a couple of bucks at a time, knowing it's the only way to keep my money at the end of the day. Can't speak to Chuck E. Cheese. I haven't been to one in years. I can say this, though. Of the various arcades in the region, the ones that only took tokens went out of business before the ones that took both. Take that for what it's worth. That's fine. Like I said, I'm not opposed to the cards. Just point me to the booth that refunds whatever I have left on the card (even if refunds are only given once the balance drops below a certain figure, like $10) and I'll have no complaints. With all due respect, you're creating a false choice. Wristbands with bar codes in no way stopped operators from giving free rides. I saw too many instances last year where the scanners weren't working properly and people were just ushered through. So, if it can be done when they aren't working right it can be done when they are. The answer to your question is, no, it's not fair to make us pay when others don't. No more than a sytem that requires us to give up our hard earned dollars at the end of the day if we don't use them all before the park closes. Either way, you're being punished. Like I said, it has nothing to do with skepticism or even having a problem with the cards. It comes down to simple facts. If I run out of day before I run out of money on the card, I'm going to lose it. Whether it's $1 or $50.
  7. Oh, I understand the point. I also understand that the system will likely cost them more than they'll make off of it. First will be the expense of initiating it. The cost of the kiosks. The cost of installing card readers at all of the games. Then, there is the recurring cost of the cards. No refund... no incentive to turn it back in at the end of the day. Second, consider where a park with free admission and free parking makes most of it's money. Food and games. While it may seem like a nice convenience for both to simply swipe a card, if they are going to accept debit/credit cards for food they already have that convenience without the card. And, if they use the credit card instead of the wally card, it costs them money on every transaction. Cashless system at games? Not a good idea for a revenue stream. Most of the revenue gained from games isn't in the decision of a customer to play a game. It's in the impulse of the customer to KEEP playing the game when they lose. Load the card up with $10-$20 and, at $2 a game you're going to burn through that quick. When you have a wad of cash in your pocket, it's a heck of a lot easier to reach in on impulse and grab some than it is to go and re-fill the card. The LAST thing you want is the customer walking away from something to refill that card. Once they walk away, the impulse walks away with it. Yes, it's nice for water park customers to not have to worry about their money getting wet. Of course, not worrying about money getting wet also reduces the need to rent a l0 But, beyond the local kids who might use the cards, there is no real advantage to using it for the typical customer. This doesn't even touch on the money they will lose when the card reader goes down at the most popular games, as they no doubt will, simply from over-use.
  8. ^ I've really got to go with you on this one. I love Waldameer and get up there at least once every year. While I can understand the advantage to them to go with a cashless system (I mean, their game operators aren't allowed to touch the money anyway!), the fact is that no matter what denominations you add money to the card by, there is no way that you're not going to have money left over at the end of the day. As long as they make it possible to get a refund on the balance, I'm cool with it. Otherwise? I'm not going to really appreciate having to figure out how to spend whatever's left when I may not want anything else. Or, worse yet, end up leaving it on the card for them to keep as some sort of tip.
  9. I just wanted to add, for those who aren't familiar with Waldameer, Sara's is not connected with them in any way. It's a family owned establishment that includes a campground, diner/ice cream stand and a tourist trap sorta place called Beach Zero that just happens to be located right next to Waldameer. Just wanted to throw that out there so people didn't get put off by the lack-luster review of Sara's campground. The food is great, though. There are quite a few motels along the strip leading up to Waldameer that can be had for reasonable prices. There are more upscale hotels down near the waterfront if that's more your speed, as well as a number of campgrounds a bit further away.
  10. I've loved water parks since I was a kid when the campground my grandmother bought into at Pymatuming built one right along side the campground. There are obviously larger water parks out there but Water World does have decent slides. Plus, the one thing I like about it over Sandcastle (Pittsburgh) is that you can't go down the double slides at Sandcastle without a double tube and another rider. Water World doesn't worry about such things. And, you're right about Sara's Diner. Well, it's actually the Ice Cream stand as the Diner no longer serves food. It's just used for indoor seating on really busy days. The Hot Dogs are good but my favorite is the Italian Cheesesteak. As an aside, the coffee house next door that I mentioned earlier (Presque Isle Gallery) has some awesome paninis that aren't too terribly expensive. Good Chai Tea if you like that sort of thing as well. The nice thing about Waldameer is that there is no admission or parking fee (except on fireworks nights when you have to have a ride pass if you intend to enter after 3pm). The nice thing about that is you can leave and grab something to eat outside the park and return if you don't want to eat there. Tons of places near by to eat no matter what you're craving. Excellent steak at Joe Roots, about 2 blocks from Waldameer on the main road. They used to be down where the coffee house is now. Waldameer continues to be one of my favorite parks. I'm to the point where I hate even going to Kennywood (I haven't been there this year to ride the new coaster at all). Even on busy days the lines at Waldameer are nothing compared to Kennywood. I live 3 miles from Pittsburgh and I've often said that I could drive to Waldameer and ride the Flyer before I could drive to Kennywood and ride the Exterminator. Other than all the construction on I-79, I still stand by that statement. Granted, if you're a coaster fanatic Kennywood has more to offer (although the Flyer beats them all, hands down). But, Waldameer has more than 75% of what Kennywood delivers with half the lines and half the price. The only thing I would change about Waldameer is that I'd keep the amusement park portion open until Halloween, like all the other parks in western PA are. Yes, I know the weather turns south in Erie a lot sooner than the others, but it would be nice to see it stay open longer and there's no reason the non-water rides couldn't operate through October.
  11. Made what is becoming an annual trek to Erie last week. Thought I might submit a few notes about the overall experience from a repeat customer perspective. Part of this review includes my lodging for the week. As has become customary for us, we stayed at Sara's Campground. For those who aren't familiar with the area, Sara's is located just down the hill from Waldameer, nestled right in between the park and Presque Isle State Park. It's the closest campground to Waldameer and it's within walking distance (if you don't mind trekking up the hill). Sara's doesn't take reservations, so we chose a Tuesday afternoon arrival because we knew we could get a tent site without any difficulty. We've loved staying there over the years. Recently, though, the experience has sort of degraded from love to tolerate. The park is clean and the tent rates are the cheapest in the area. Sadly, the availability of sites has diminished year by year. About 85% of the campground is taken up with "seasonal" (read permanent) residents. People who have parked their trailers there, year after year. Gone so far as to build structures off of them. The number of over night sites has decreased annually. Typically, we would pick a site in the small wooded loop just over from the main road into Presque Isle. To our surprise, these sites are no longer available to tents. Since last year, the sites have been paved over and are trailer only. That leaves the sites right next to the road, the beach, and the area over by the bay. The sites by the road are too small. The sites on the beach are far too windy. And insects tend to be an issue by the bay. We chose by the road since it wasn't that crowded. Not sure how many more years we'll be going to Sara's, or how many will even be possible without purchasing a trailer. Ok, enough about Sara's. As mentioned, we arrived Tuesday afternoon. Waldameer is traditionally closed on Mondays but it was odd to not see anything running as we arrived at Sara's (you drive right under the Ravine Flyer to get to Sara's). Nobody had any info at the campground so, after setting up camp we drove up to the park. A sign stating that the park would only be open from Friday to Monday was up. Not great news as we had planned to go Thursday. Pays to check the website for scheduling ahead of time, I guess. At any rate, we weren't leaving until Saturday so that left Friday for Waldameer. Tuesday-Thursday were hot. 90s all three days. We spent Wednesday at the zoo and lounged on Thursday. Incidentally, the coffee house at the entrance of Presque Isle has a cool open mic night on Wednesdays. Matty B tends "bar" and is a pretty cool guy. Word that the weather was going to turn south for Friday wasn't encouraging. It rained a little early Friday morning and the temperature started to dip. It was down into the 70s by late Friday morning. It was cloudy but didn't look awful so off to Waldameer we went. Combo for Waldameer and Water World were $23 without any discounts. Still the best deal out there, IMHO. Started off at Water World since most of Waldameer is closed until after 1pm. While cruising around the lazy river it began to rain. Fairly hard. Cold and windy. Made several trips around the circle then finally chose to hang out at the heated relaxing pool. Rained a little, on and off for an hour or two. Water was warm, though. Finally stopped raining and warmed up a tad so it was time to hit the slides. With the kids going back to school, a good bit of their staff was missing. As a result, there were some things closed due to a lack of man power. The speed slides were closed, as were a few of the other slides. I'm not a huge fan of body slides so it was no big deal for me. There were only a couple of tube slides closed and the other body slides were open for those who like them. No lines! Pretty much just climb the steps and go. Finally ventured over to the Midnight Plunge slide. One doesn't realize how high these things are until there are no lines and you can climb straight to the top, lol. There are two slides on this tower. Two people (with a 2 man tube) were ahead of me at the top. I noticed that one of the slides was chained off, although the water was running. I inquired about the other slide (awesome twosome?) and was told that since they only had one attendant working (that lack of manpower thing) they could only operate one slide at a time but I could use whichever I wish. Ended up taking 2 trips down each slide. I confess that I am not in tip top shape and was pretty much wore out from 4 consecutive climbs up that tower, lol. Had a nice chat with the lifeguard at the bottom. Talked about possible future expansion, including a wave pool still being planned at some point and that was about it for Water World. Next it was off to the main park for a bite to eat. One of the main complaints about Waldameer is the food. No options that one would call great. Pretty much strictly burgers and fries. We opted for the meatball hoagies. $17 for two 6" hoagies and two large drinks. Same could have been picked up at a local Subway for half the price. Pretty tasty, though. Went for a funnel cake for desert. Previously you could buy funnel cakes and waffles topped with fruit. Sadly, it's no longer available. Powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar only. Oh well. $3 something for a decent size funnel cake. Not awful for an amusement park. Took an hour or two to play some games. At around 4:30 or so we started to ride. It was at this point that I really began to smile. Once again... NO LINES! Straight onto every ride in the park. Never had to wait any longer than the next car for any ride I went on. Well, with the exception of the Wacky Shack, which had about a five minute wait the second time I road it. Never had an experience like that. In 2 hours, I road the Comet, Ravine Flyer, Wacky Shack and Thunder River twice along with the Steel Dragon, X-Scream and Pirate's Cove each once. I can honestly say that I got nauseous from riding so much so quickly. I'm not a huge fan of spinning type rides so I chose to pass on the rest of the rides. I have no doubt I could have hit just about everything else in another hour or two. I saw the Ali Baba running with ONE rider on it. Amazing. A note on the X-scream. Not my favorite ride, but the view of Presque Isle from the top is amazing if you're facing the right way. No entertainment that day. The singers had all gone back to school, I guess. No Wally or Wendy, either. But, from a pure riding standpoint, I can't say I've ever had a better day at an amusement park. We left Erie on Saturday afternoon. The weather wasn't any better and it still didn't look like there were going to be big crowds. Not sure how often that happens on the final Friday of the season, but one could very easily get spoiled if it does.
  12. Most of the people that go to Kennywood are locals. It's something we do every year, whether we want to or not. It hasn't been what one would call a destination park in quite a while and, for the most part, the locals like it that way. Kennywood rarely "adds" anything. They normally look for things that people no longer like, remove them, and build something else. Yes, they can move things around and make room for more rides and such in the land they already have. And, I can tell you that 90% of the people who go there will end up hating it. Kennywood has a particular look and feel that most people don't want messed with. It would be very difficult to retain that and put significantly more things in that space. There is certainly enough room down over that hill to put a good bit of stuff. The question is one of accessibility. Older people and those with little kids aren't going to want to climb up and down a set of steps. You'd likely have to invest in an incline to make it accessible to everybody. Beyond that, I'm not certain what the point would be. Most parks enter into that kind of expansion to increase patronage. Kennywood would have a very difficult time handling that sort of increase in customer flow. As I said earlier, people are already complaining about the size of the crowds, let alone have any sort of increase. Those outside the region would be amazed at how many people around here say that they HATE going to Kennywood every year, but they do it anyway because it's simply what we do. It's an odd region. We don't want something changed, even if we don't like it. I quit trying to figure this city out, lol.
  13. The land behind the racer is fairly steep hillside. Not even sure what they could do with it unless they were going to tear down that old factory building. On the other hand, Lake Compounce has some fairly steep hills around it and they used the terrain to build Boulderdash. Could possibly build a pretty nice terrain coaster down there if they were able to secure the land all the way past the highway. You're right about the probability of them expanding without that highway, though. Part of my above comment had to do with the fact that there is no quick way to get to Kennywood. It's all residential leading up to it.
  14. There are both good and bad sides to any change in pricing structure. Somebody earlier in the thread mentioned (sarcastically) about doing away with ride all day passes and going back to tickets. While the ride all day passes have proven successful financially, there are certainly customers that Kennywood lost when they discontinued individual tickets as an option. Many grandparents have stopped coming to the park because they don't want to have to pay full admission price to get into a park that they have no intentions of riding rides in. The season passes are both good and bad for business. They are good for anybody who lives close and wants to visit the park several times a season. They could well be bad for everybody else. Kennywood is an extremely crowded park for it's size. The Night Rider pass is essentially useless. Last time I went MID WEEK I managed to ride 3 rides in 4 hours. Worked out to be $5 per ride. Not exactly cheap. Compare that to Waldameer where I rode the four top rides in less than 2 hours on what turned out to be one of the busiest days of the year. Despite living about 15 miles from Kennywood, it is to the point that I can ALMOST drive to Erie and ride the Ravine Flyer once in the time it takes to drive to Kennywood and ride the Exterminator. The point I'm making is that season passes can only increase those crowds initially. Good for the season pass holders. Bad for the night riders and virtually everybody else who only plans to visit the park once. If those initial increases in crowds prompt people to reconsider coming, it could be a long term detriment.
  15. These types of coasters, truthfully, don't do a whole lot for me. But, Kennywood has been overdue for this type of ride. Given the lack of available space, a launcher is probably the only real option they had. Hope it does well for them, although I find myself heading up to Waldameer more than Kennywood these days. The lines are horrific. Sad to see the Turnpike go, but, it really hasn't been the same since they went to the electric cars anyway. Do away with the awful Garfield's Nightmare and bring back the Old Mill and I'll be happy.
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