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ESRLoop

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Everything posted by ESRLoop

  1. I rode it once for the passholder preview, then maybe freefall once, then Batman 50 laps without getting off. LOL Passholder previews were always great for riding whatever they opened in addition to the preview! A billion hour line for the preview ride but then practically unlimited rides on some other rides...
  2. Well I still remember Fright Fest when we worked there... Unplugging extension cords and resetting a breaker in Baja Ridge for their "scare zone"... All... Night... Long...
  3. Batman & Robin: The Chiller says hi. Though technically it did open for a few days/one week in '97 before being reintroduced as the "New for '98" ride next year. Superman was supposed to be open in 1996 and didn't open until 1997. Now now... It was made available to passholders in late 1996...
  4. I don't know how to over emphasize this point for people. The biggest "problem" with attendance at DLR right now is the PR spin, not revenue. Attendance, while important, is NOT DLR's primary driver of revenue, assuming a healthy minimum base of attendance exists (which I promise does). It's everything else (F&B, Merch, Hotels) that really drives revenue. And THAT revenue is directly influenced by in-park experience and Guest mix (Intl Tourist/Domestic Tourist/Local/AP/Non-Revenue). The satisfaction of Guests directly drives their spending at the Resort and it's further amplified by the Guest mix (For example, Intl Tourists when happy spend WAY more than non-revenue Guests). While this metric can over simplify things, DLR's key metric in this area has been "rides per cap (RPC)," or number of rides each Guest experienced. RPC tends to directly align with in-park spending and is closely watched, predicated, and used to drive park operations. When the RPC hits a certain number, you see spending per cap start to spike and whatever revenue did or didn't come through the gate no longer matters as long as your baseline attendance is decent. We always made WAY more money on summer days when everyone was blocked out but the attendance was ~35k and we surpassed our RPC goal than we did on days when no one was blocked out and attendance was 60k+ but we couldn't come close to our RPC goal due to crowding and lack of hours in the day. As a bonus, the park infrastructure was taxed way less on those ~35k days too, which wasn't something we objectively quantified back then but understood to be a factor. You can, literally, spend semesters of college courses studying this but TL:DR: Attendance is not DLR's primary revenue driver.
  5. I know, at least ~5 years ago, there was fear at WDW that Fastpass+ as a free offering is so well known and expected now that adding an upcharge beyond the FP+ program (or just making it an outright upcharge program) would be a hard pill for Guests to swallow and a difficult PR story to spin. This always made WDW cautious with any modification to FP+ that would require an upcharge. Keep in mind too FP+ came out of the "NextGen" push at WDW, which was based on the premise that in park spending would soar as you rolled out NextGen across WDW. Once it became clear the costs of NextGen were not being offset by increased per cap spending, NextGen was never rolled out at DLR, despite some infrastructure work, which gave DLR the opportunity to leverage the infrastructure in a more revenue friendly way.
  6. I'm kind of the opposite on this... having grown up in SoCal, earthquakes don't faze me and are generally not worthy of the obligatory Instagram/Twitter/Myspace/AIM status update about OMG we just had an earthquake. But I go back east and there's a tornado warning, WDW is shutting down attractions for lightning, etc. and I definitely have a huge "Oh crap..." moment. I guess for me it's just familiarity - I've lived through Earthquakes, I only experienced tornadoes on business trips or vacation. Earthquake: during it I just wish it would stop, mostly because my dogs bark at it more than anything else which is annoying and I don't want to clean up whatever falls off my shelves (yes that includes my experience in Northridge, living less than 5 miles from the epicenter), then after I make sure loved ones are OK, assess damage (if any) I go about my day. When I was a manager at DLR earthquakes were annoying because the most insignificant, minor earthquake was treated like a major disaster that required a massive shut down, inspection, etc. Tourists were scared and wanted refunds, locals were pissed at the overreaction and wanted refunds, CMs were celebrating the extended downtimes and insisting that crack that was placed there by Walt himself indicates Space Mtn is going to collapse, maintenance was cursing the skeleton crews we ran during park hours from the early 2000's on... fun times...
  7. With the amount of rain coming down in So Cal it's not surprising. They have a lot of rides that don't run in the rain and going back to when I worked there almost 20 years ago if there was heavy rain prior to park open that forecast to continue throughout the day they wouldn't open. As others have mentioned KBF has done the same for decades as well.
  8. I'm not sure how the parks are budgeting now, but under Premier all of the revenue went to corporate and the park's overall operating budget was set by corporate. Parks which were turning a profit (which in the early 2000's was not very many of them) actually received reduced budgets with the theory that struggling parks required additional help. This doesn't mean a park like Kentucky Kingdom or Frontier City received a higher budget that SFMM or SFGadv, but those parks were more likely to received increased operating budgets while the "flagship" parks saw theirs reduced. Their theory could make sense for capital expenditures I suppose but in terms of operating budget it was horrible for parks like SFMM that operated year round, generated profit, and received capital expenditures yearly that added to the park's operating cost. This is why new rides usually meant something else would close and expensive repairs (Superman B-side, Sky Tower, Metro, Jammer pump) were put off or never even completed. By the end of the fiscal year we couldn't even order pens or paper anymore (and strangely a bunch of rides would suddenly close for "scheduled close" due to maintenance work that never occurred but concluded at the start of the new fiscal year).
  9. I'm always so divided on the SFMM quality argument. Yes, it is a cheap entertainment option and yes you get what you pay for, so expecting DLR or USH quality is silly. But where I do have issues are things like the parking lot trash cans (not to beat that into the ground). Even when there were some nasty budget and attendance issues for that park the trash cans weren't neglected for budget reasons, no one paid attention to them because there wasn't really any ownership and no one cared. KBF, which is at almost the same price point (in fact SFMM's one-day admission is actually higher but yes I know SFMM heavily discounts), just has that overall feeling that there is ownership of the park. Are they perfect? Of course not and any given day you can knit pick there (or anywhere) something that is dirty or broken. But KBF just has an overall feeling like upper management cares about details where it can. I think the park is doing much better in a lot core areas the park should have always focused on (coaster capacity and reliability being the huge improvements). And dated parts of the park have received some TLC. But to the detractors' points SFMM still has the problem of being unable or unwilling to maintain details, something the park has struggled with since the end of the Time Warner days (anyone remember the station effects on Batman? Riddler?). Do these kill your experience? Usually no. But some more attention to these details could do more for the park in the long run without really costing a lot more.... especially just freaking hosing down the trash cans in the lot!!!
  10. I mean as of today it wouldn't happen, but I'd have given the same answer about Tower of Terror in 2004. 15 years is so far out anything is possible. Tomorrowland as a whole at DL has had several "make-over" projects get started then abruptly shelved for various reasons. Sadly, a TL refurbishment just has a very hard time getting any traction, particularly when there is still a feeling that capital is better spent elsewhere.
  11. Ahh, yes, of course! It's one of things things where, while the vertical transfer track isn't super common, it's common enough where I don't think I've never made note of rides that have them because I didn't think anyone would ever be looking for a list! Exactly! The only reason I even remember Flashback had one was that it was the very first coaster I was ever trained on. Otherwise it would have slipped my mind completely.
  12. Which is why it’s a running joke in the industry SFMM is the training ground for USH and Disney. I used SFMM as a training ground to go elsewhere myself, so... Does SFMM make more use of journeyman/licensed professionals now? That was another kind of weak bargaining point I remember... even the full-time "ride electricians" often weren't journeymen themselves, just lampers with a lot of hours and experience.
  13. At DL, as of right now, no affect. No changes planned. DHS has some pie in the sky ideas about connecting Star Tours to Star Wars land but I don't see it happening.
  14. It's nice to see some unity between the full timers and seasonals, quite different than when IAM first came in. I don't think I ever worked less than 40 hours when I was a seasonal maintenance worker there, off season or not. I was 18 and trying to build hours toward being an electrician so I didn't really care back then but looking back on it... it was quite a scam.
  15. Ride Electricians and Mechanics would be striking too, not just the helper positions. Are they actually going to walk? That was the huge point of contention on the workers' side that led to the 15 year battle over bringing the part-timers into the same bargaining agreement in the first place. Obviously a lot has changed since I left but when I worked there the majority of those workers wouldn't have honored/supported a strike for part-timer benefits. IAM also has very bad timing with their agreement. With most of SF's parks either closed or in limited operation they have a fairly large pool of workers to pull (a tactic SF has used before).
  16. I don't mean to be rude or anything but having previously worked at SFMM in a Part-time/Seasonal role represented by IAM I can tell you virtually every position classified as such is non-skilled and easy to replace. Think lamper, oiler, helper, luber, etc. Positions that don't require a license, have to be supervised by a journeyman, and have virtually no requirement other than physical ability to perform the job (so not Ride Electrician or HVAC Tech or anything like that). I suspect SFMM would survive a strike by such employees without too much trouble to their operations.
  17. You cannot pre-book FASTPASS but MaxPass will allow you to book from the app as soon as FASTPASS is available day-of. This is regular park open (NOT Magic Morning/Early Entry/Extra Magic Hours). If you go expecting crowds and understanding it will be absolutely packed you will have a better time. DL's inpark attendance generally peaks at the first parade, dips a little, goes up for the pyro show, then dips considerably after that. As counter-intuitive as it is compared to the rest of the year the second parade was often the less busy one. If you are OK with the long days you should go as early as possible and stay from after pyro to park close (a break during the peak point of the day, around the 1st parade time, would be wise). Even on days DL reaches capacity many attractions will have a short standby wait close to park closing (often, but not always, standby wait times get a little over reported at the end of the night because FASTPASS returns drop off). And as long as you are in the queue before park closing they will cycle the attraction until all guests have ridden. If you have a ticket that allows Magic Morning (or whatever it's called), which used to be a 3+ day ticket, then use it. Most guests could do more during that one hour than they could do for 4 hour blocks later in the day. If Magic Morning is still on the eastside of DL (Fantasyland and Tomorrowland), hit the major attractions your family wants to do over there and be ready to head straight to the westside at park opening. And don't forget to book FASTPASSes as soon as MaxPass allows you to. Have fun!
  18. If the resort is smart about it, yes. Often times in these conversations concerns over immediate revenue loss trump operational needs to secure longer term revenue growth... but not always.
  19. Both SoCal and SoCal Select present a lot of unique crowd challenges and limiting either one will help with overall crowd logistics for the Resort. Believe it or not, retention rates for a lot of the passes are not as great as you might expect, although the last time DLR did this pass retention rates did improve a little. Still, *any* tightening of So Cal will have an impact on overall Resort crowds and logistics, even if minor to the casual guest.
  20. I've run into the opposite issue. Growing up in So Cal, I learned when you have right of way as a ped, you have right of way. I was taught exceptions exist in downtown LA, but overall if it was a crosswalk I should cross if I had the true right of way. In fact, LA county sheriff affirmed that when I almost got run over. When I went to Vancouver and then Shanghai, I learned the opposite... maybe the hard way...
  21. That's interesting, I don't remember a rubber cushion on X's trains (but could just be failed memory). Was that added to the X2 trains?
  22. The wings don't have a central axle running through them, do they? They're just sort of slapped onto the side of the train (well, bolted and whatnot). I wonder if a continual axle might have lessened the jerky rotations? Or if the jerkiness is the fault of a guide rail system in need of reprofiling? For X they did not have a central axle running through them. I have no idea for X2. I'd guess relying on a coaster rail to control the rotations causes a lot of the jerkiness since Arrow tends to build jerky coasters anyway, but that's more of an educated guess than actual knowledge. From what I can recall X was jerky from day one and just got worse as time went on but my memory is a little hazy.
  23. Come on now, I though it was going to be something else. I know about software! I have 2 families still working there and on occasion one work's X2. She is a Engineer major and knows all the in's & out's of X2. She did a paper on it and mechanics of this beast and is very knowledgeable. I don't even bring it up because she will talk me down! I don't know the operation/mechanical side of X2 at all. From all accounts it addressed the major issues with X and the trains are very well designed. X's front end/HMI was Windows based. The back end was a dual Allen Bradley SLC PLC setup. I don't think a light weight messaging/logging system being run by a windows application is uncommon in industrial controls (Disney has been using a Windows-based messaging system for years successfully, Riddler used one in the electrical equip room when I worked there). What was unusual was the amount of control the operators and maintenance were expected to do through X's front end system. When it crashed (and that's when, not if) you were sort of flying blind and couldn't do much. When it finally came back up and sync'd it wouldn't always accurately reflect the true ride status, especially in terms of occupied blocks. We knew we were in trouble when we started having to manually force bits on/off in the PLC (mostly to reset blocks the ride control system refused to acknowledge were not occupied and would not reset through the HMI). Forcing bits in a PLC is something you expect to do early in testing on a coaster but is generally a major no-no for an operating coaster. Even without the HMI issues the ride control system had just very obviously not been through enough test and adjust. On the mechanical side, the trains were a whole other bag of problems... to give an idea of one of the challenges with the original trains, SFMM installed on their own a proximity sensor on each side of the train at the brake run at the end of the ride along the cat walks. The purpose of these sensors two-fold - verify each fork (support arm holding the seats) was present and that it was in the correct position (not bent). So why SFMM add them? Let's just say they weren't added as an abundance of caution or as a "what-if/just in case" sort of thing.
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