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DirkFunk last won the day on March 19

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  1. You know, I started replying to try and explain to you what is different about zoos in terms of what their function is and the relevance of the transition for the developed world to service based economies on why we have all raced into the present day metamedia driven environment, but you're right. What's the point?
  2. If you really want to get into the nuts and bolts of this, there are three reasons for amusement facilities to exist in the modern world: 1) They are constructed as community projects by a local government. Most of these in the US are in the form of aquatics facilities or fairgrounds, but some will even possess and operate amusement parks like Bay Beach. This is by far the minority as it relates to us. 2) They are constructed as legitimate businesses intended to generate a profit primarily by selling things to people who paid to get in (which, I will note, is also actually the business model of movie theaters). This is pretty much everything you have ever heard of and attended. 3) They are constructed as money laundering exercises. When I interviewed Tom Mehrmann (the first President & GM for Universal Beijing) about 6-7 years ago, he basically stated that most Chinese theme/amusement parks were never intended to be legitimate businesses. Wonderland Eurasia is also generally accepted as being an example of this. "Sports" are many things beyond simply major league American professional sports franchises. It is also something which has appreciably seen research time and energy committed to it across the spectrum ranging from sports business, sociological concerns (particularly related to fandom, especially in Europe), advancing statistical models for analyzing the sports, et al, and it is accepted that all those directions of inquiry are worthwhile. Also the venues tend to be publicly owned and house many sorts of events at many price points. I'm going to cut you short here because many of these things (libraries???) are nothing like theme parks or are far too broad to be possibly compared to theme parks, which is a subset of a subset of a category of entertainment facility. There are public spaces which are controlled in the way theme parks are (this is actually part of the crux of the book I cited in my first reply), but whether or not that is inherently good is very much debatable. Let me save you some time and make it explicit where I most disagree with you: -"Serious" analysis of theme parks as art is an the unpretentious way to enjoy the hobby, unlike counting -Story telling through themed design is inherently good -Younger people don't seem to be occupying physical spaces constructed for them I find bullet point 1 the most self-indulgent for obvious reasons; "collecting is pretention" is wild. Bullet point 2 is a sort of Frank Lloyd Wright "a good roof leaks" thing. It's possible to have a fully fleshed out story that appeals to the hardcore brand fans, but has zero appeal outside that. Given that the point of the exercise of building rides/attractions is to generate increases in revenue, it is absolutely possible to say that some things are failures when they aren't able to outcompete other actors in the market or wind up closed/bulldozed. The last bullet point for me is because these spaces are really built first and foremost for the people who built them and their peers. People in my age category never gave up theme parks to be a hangout for teenagers and in fact - in fact! - look at this forum and every other theme park forum and see what people have to say about teenagers in attendance at parks. I'm not joking either: feel free to use Six Flags over Georgia as a recent example of how people react to the notion of theme parks being somewhere younger people can congregate together. Amusingly, I would identify as a capitalist, which is one of the reasons I'm sure any criticisms I lob at Disney Fan Studies would be completely ignored or lead to me personally attacked. The irony that I would be concerned of being slandered as some sort of pseudofascist by people who promote a multinational media corporation and generate apologia for its contributions on everything from human rights infringements to fossil fuels propaganda is not lost on me, but not something I want to waste my time with either. I do think the tech industry has benefited tremendously from destroying institutions like journalism whilst also collecting ad money from the worst actors imaginable and pushing the dumbest, most retrograde stuff it can to people who are basically media illiterate. I referenced QAnon earlier: it is obviously something that social media companies like Twitter and Facebook have helped to construct through the magic of algorithmically delivered content. I've abandoned almost all of it at this point from active use (clue to that should have been what I said about online communities). I did, and I have. Thanks.
  3. I don't have any strong opinions about Nickelodeon Universe in NJ: I have never been, I have no desire to go. That said, I am extremely familiar with how it came to be and the entire history of the Xanadu project for the same reason my fingers still instinctively type out the TPR URL from time to time. It seems bound to fail like the entire structure that surrounds it, the reasons for which are legion. I don't want to dwell on that much, because it is almost incidental to my reply to you, which at various points does all of the things you wondered the post was intended to do. There are two books named Theme Park Design: the Younger book you referenced, and another by Steve Alcorn. I reference this because what I tend to see in theme park discussion is that which the former really is about. Rather than being an engineering tome intended to describe how the magic is made as Alcorn's book was, is about theme parks as art and the way in which the engineering affects the individual in a very limited way. If you have seen Dis-Net, then you have seen how this perspective has been carried very far academically in recent times, riding the crest of post-modernism and new materialism. I don't want to dwell on it much, but I do want to make you aware of it if you are already not, as it seems to be something that you would like. I personally find much of this...not to my taste. I have many feelings about this, but recognize that voicing them would make me a target of the entire ecosystem. Why then bring up the two books? One is more mechanistic and quantitative, and the other much more qualitative. The former process has become derided in lieu of approaches to Disney criticism founded on the likes of New Materialism in much the way you describe the "counters"; it strips the art of it's meaning. But what then of the meaning? If one asserts that the meaning is reassurance, that is fine. It is a thing said by the Imagineers themselves. But if once someone asserts that the meaning is reassurance for the purpose of consumption, trumpets sound, the heavens open up, and down comes the pestilence. Theme parks, as we know them, exist entirely to sell people goods at highly inflated costs. This raison d'etre as been extended ever outward, enveloping art outside the parks into them for the same goal (in the guise of "canon" for "immersion"), commodifying every emotion and human idea in its wake. This is not a cynical thought. This is objectively the reality. Consumption as collective, community building activity in fact is even the historical origin of Disney fandom. It is an offshoot of Disneyana collecting and grew up parallel to, but not directly interacting with, the ride-centered fan groups which emerged at exactly the same time in the 1970s. I know this, because I went out and interviewed the living examples of those who were there at the beginning. I hoped to do something with that work, but then I realized it was pointless and gave up. The truth couldn't defeat the lie, because the lie of this being some deep artistic statement was so much more romantic than the truth of Younger's book being about how to make people feel so safe that they are willing to spend anything to keep feeling that way or to take home some souvenir that can make them relive it. Nothing - nothing I can say at all - is more cynical than the notion that we need entities who can provide us safety and reassurance. It is the most anti-utopian and openly fascistic idea one can posit.
  4. A short .02: What has come after post-modernism is hyperrealism: it is what animates VR and AR. WWOHP is real but it isn't: this is a difference that has been described and talked about plenty, but the effect of having such places with such immense escapism that also tries to lure in people to never stop being in them is not discussed. This is not the fault of young people. Where are young people? Frankly, many of them are indeed home, existing in insular self-administered realities that were constructed by GenX and Millennials with the specific intent of trying to establish a virtual world they don't feel the need to leave (leaving means a loss of engagement, which means a loss of ad revenue). This hyper real world doesn't require people to be themselves or even real, and it has also ensnared plenty of older people. QAnon is a hyperreal, immersive, multimedia experience (also completely unhinged) that many have opted to take on as reality. QAnon is preferable to them compared to dealing with a world that lacks meaning as all things are reduced to merely the manner in which it is personally true to everyone at an individual level. Also to be frank, the young people don't exist. They weren't born. We are in the midst of a generational decline in population in the west that has been academically understood to be happening for multiple decades. Those who have been born are often put on trajectories by their parents which may lead them to avoiding certain activities unless it is meaningful to their parents. Keep that in mind long term about what it is these theme parks contain for content. Who are the Muppets there for at Disney? Finally, in regards to the notion of "counters" being those who have reduced the hobby in some way to a digestible format: LOL. I would posit that this is what happens when people have decided to spend all their time navel gazing about themed entertainment rather than interact with the reality of what excites people. Video gameification of theme parks has been an absolute disaster by and large, culminating in the complete failure of the Galactic Starcruiser. The opposite of Theme Park Design is Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space, a book written by Parsons School professor and architect Miodrag Mitrašinović. It appears in virtually zero format anywhere on any theme park forum or college program's reading lists, in part because it is a criticism of theme parks as an all encompassing ("totalizing", as that author states) experience linking notions of recreation and imagination to capitalism and the privatization of space, consumption, et al. "Counters", in my experience, are people who want to engage with many different ideas and concepts around what outdoor amusements can be. I don't believe "theme park fans" (it's just the Disney fandom, no such classification exists) have any interest in different ideas. They have their idea and find it beyond criticism as an idea. In any case, and if you should care (I don't expect this), I rode >1000 roller coasters, visited hundreds of theme parks all over the planet, wrote and podcasted about theme parks, blah blah blah. I arrived to my 40s realizing that without a child in tow that this wasn't for me anymore. I haven't been to a theme park for nearly 2 years. I find art and nature having filled this gap for me but have no desire to be evangelical about this. I also no longer care about being part of any internet communities after multiple iterations have all dissolved and proven far inferior to real-life interaction. I expect many things I enjoyed to get much worse but hope to continue to be open to new experiences and ideas that can replace them. I don't believe this is true about theme park fans. I believe they want new experiences, but only in the context of it existing in a gated theme park where they can feel "safe." I feel that is infantilizing and has depoliticized potentially millions of people who now cannot actively be involved in the sorts of collective action that we need at this moment. I don't have any desire to typically say this on theme park forums because that is kinda mean, but in situations like this, I feel as though it is justified. edit: As a side note, last year I went looking for a place where I could donate my library of amusement ephemera and literature. Ultimately, I wound up emailing Penn State, who I knew even before I started that process were home to the Charles Jacques collection, the only Amusement industry/theme park collection held by an academic institution in America. They informed me that they were not seeking additional donations to join it as no one was currently using the materials in that collection. For all the journals and academic works produced in the last 5-6 years on this topic, none involved use of the one collection of this material specific to the fandom of theme parks and amusements. That, along with my correspondence with some of the academics working in this field, informed me that none of that information and history matters. The only thing people want to do is validate their fandom of Disney's theme parks or at minimum the concept of "immersion" as projected through the prism of Disney's theme parks. I was deeply disappointed but have accepted it and moved on. I only say this now because it seems like I should provide context.
  5. The comparison isn't Kentucky Kingdom, it's Sears/Seritage. And the investors wanting an REIT don't care if theme parks operate or not, they want maximum return on their investment. In any case, my wife sobered me up some last night and basically made the argument that it didn't matter anymore for us and she's right. I'm not on YouTube generating revenue when people click on my theme park content. I do financial analysis and administration for Sub-saharan African economic development projects. There's not one of these parks in my community where it would have a significant impact on us if it closed down. If they want to bulldoze half of Kings Dominion to build an eSports center that will fail miserably, why should I feel bad?
  6. It's not a stupid idea if you're solely interested in making money. REITs can be very profitable as spinoffs. The thing is that REITs don't have the same interests as the business sitting in the space.
  7. There's also going to be parks which are outside the bounds of what the target audiences are of the company or whom have other issues potentially kneecapping them. Coaster enthusiasts are frankly not that smart and not very into the business side of stuff, which is why I've seen literally no one say "Hey, when do those contracts for operation of SFOT and SFOG come up again?" They're gonna be laden with debt and both companies have been hurting hard the last few years in every imaginable way, passing all their issues onto the customers (which is part of why they are doing so badly). They've cut a lot of their leadership, especially in stuff like group sales and advertising, turning into regional teams rather than having employees at the park level. The announcement and discussion basically reinforces to me that they intend to operate with what one half would have used in that skeleton crew sort of system and let go of the "duplicative labor". Parks are going to go away. Lots of parks. CGA is already going away. It will be joined by others which will not be sold to operators because then they'd be selling themselves competition.
  8. Ask yourself this question: are either Six Flags or Cedar Fair better today in 2023 than they were in 2018 from a perspective of operations and guest satisfaction? I know, I know the world is different and changed versus 5 years ago. But I'm also talking about 5 years ago. Not ancient history. 5 years ago. How do they perform against a standard they themselves set? I have my opinions. I'm sure you all collectively have yours. I don't see how this merger does anything to change my expectations of the joined brand.
  9. I saw this thread in the trending and thought "Oh, I wonder if anyone found that article about how the global economic downturn appears to have started at LEGOLand Korea?" https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/11/10/legoland-south-korea-bond-market-crisis/ But no, it turns out that someone about to talk about it got disappeared. Well, anyhoo....
  10. I rode all the coasters I could ever want and then some. I'm good right now. I might be good forever. You don't need to take a victory lap. Just be happy I'm not occupying space in the line.
  11. I'm not gonna linger long because honestly, my desire to be involved in this hobby is gone and probably never coming back. The Mindbender is something I rode and I'll readily admit that it was a source of enormous "anticippointment" - I hated the accordion restraints and realized people had just made up stories about them being better/different than other attractions like Taz's Texas Tornado. But there were the bones of something very good there. In honestly, the real reason to even interject myself here is just to say somewhere online that Mindbender going away is just part and parcel of what feels like a kind of "end" for that generation of attractions. A lot of stuff that was a big deal domestically and abroad when I got into the hobby - The Ultimate, Montana Rusa from Mexico, Mindbender, countless giant wood coasters, Big Bad Wolf, Eagle's Fortress - all that stuff is gone. What's taken its place is honestly "better" in terms of dynamics, pacing, forces, and such, but I find it to feel much more generic and interchangeable. There's less weird when every coaster is built by one of every 6-7 firms and there's 20 examples of everything. And what is "weird" now often has no positive, good properties. Screaming Squirrels are weird but they suck. But then again, if I think everything sucks, maybe the Screaming Squirrel is actually fun. And that's why it is time for me to move on.
  12. I assume there is no future for this park at large, honestly. They've been in trouble for years and I doubt they'll get out of it now either in this form.
  13. Intamin doesn't build the track for it. That may actually be part of the problem. Who knows what kind of lead time they were required to have by Cordes Holzbau for getting new track pieces built?
  14. The current CEO isn't spending on infrastructure though, so it isn't going to rehabilitate itself from a perspective of flower beds or structures.
  15. To be completely honest with you, I do see Kings Island, even plus'ed up with projection mapping and better fireworks, as a "cheap park" compared to Universal or Disney. You can get a pass to go every single operating day for less money than it costs to go to Universal Studios Orlando for one of the two parks for one day. I don't think there's a dramatic difference between operations at most Cedar Fair parks and most Six Flags parks. Cedar Point has had lousy operations now for about a decade for most of it's season: Six Flags Great America usually has been in better shape. Cedar Fair has built some decent stuff, sure, but there's plenty of parallel examples of Six Flags doing the same (Justice League, the SFGAdv Safari) from a "themed entertainment" lens. I also don't think the CEO anticipated the losses being what they were or that he was going to be firing a bunch more of his senior leadership right before the last earnings call. Nor do I think he was necessarily chasing to have his company downgraded by institutional investors. edit: also, just for clarity - the reason why I asked about the demographic mix at Kings Island was because of what I was arguing earlier: they might have managed to increase per capita spending, but it hasn't fundamentally changed who goes to the park. If you don't do that, the people who won't go now because "its unsafe" will never go. Not to mention that when CF did their earnings report, they no longer try to separate out the performance of the parks they have now vs. what they had pre-COVID. Remember, they made the deal to buy Schlitterbahn in mid 2019. They should be showing an increase in attendance and revenue vs. that year or prior years because they have more facilities. Oddly enough, no one seemed to notice this when the reports came out except me.
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