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Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW BGE) Discussion Thread

P. 467: Media Town Hall Report

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Please tell me Entwined in not coming back.

 

It was, by far, the worst theme park show I had ever seen. And I've been working in the industry for 30 years.

 

Yep. Last year they featured a show called "Roll Out the Barrel." It was "meh," at best, too.

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I don't understand why "This is Oktoberfest" got the ax. I mean, it was a good, family-friendly show, plenty entertaining to have a beer to, and fit the area of the park well. I feel like every show that has been there since has been "meh" at best, if not straight out awful.

 

I feel like a lot of my favorite shows at the park (Irish Thunder, Imaginique, Holiday in Roma) have often been replaced with inferior shows, or at best, watered down versions of the same show reeking of budget cuts.

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^"This is Oktoberfest" was axed due to "declining attendance," but there was quite an outcry when this was announced (people always wait until something is gone before they profess to "love" it). They also remodeled the Festhaus to accommodate new shows by removing the elevating band stand. I think if "Entwined" had turned out to be a good show, no one would've cared; unfortunately, it was, well, not good (and rather expensive).

 

They are debuting what promises to be a big nighttime show in the Royal Palace Theatre in France. We'll see how that goes. They've had better luck with their shows for Howl-o-Scream and Christmas Town.

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SeaWorld laid off their creative staff a few years ago, and while there was some gnashing of teeth on the internet about that, the best thing they had managed to come up with in the the past 5-6 years was Turtle Trek. If that isn't a brutal indictment, what is?

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I honestly think the park will be just fine with a 46" height requirement addition. I don't recall what the non-coaster offerings for small children at BGW is like, but I feel like an impressive designated kid's area has a lot more influence than having the height requirement on the latest coaster 4 inches lower. Parents are going to bring their kids if it is a nice park either locally or in/as a tourist destination that offers a good selection of rides and activities for kids, even if none of them are roller coasters.

 

I'm still pumped about this addition because smaller GCIs come with quite a punch (forces, airtime, overall disorientation from directional changes) and it still appeals to the majority of visitors at a low cost so I'm sure management is pumped too.

 

Now we just need that animated POV.

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^ I agree I can't really see this persuading families not to visit the park. There are two kids areas, one with the Grover coaster.

 

Its a well kept, clean family themepark and in a vaction destination area. I'm sure they'll survive a few complaints about height restrictions.

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FWIW laying blame on GCI for the height requirement sounds bogus to me. If BGW wanted to pay extra for insurance, I'm sure they could get it worked down to 42"

I know for a fact the ride manufacturer sets the height restrictions. You are right that a park *could* negotiate with them to create a solution for a lower height restriction, but it's up to the ride manufacturer to decide if that's something they are willing to do or not.

 

And yes, I do blame the park somewhat as well, as they could have gone with another ride to deliver a 42" ride, but they chose not to. More reasons why I feel this ride just makes no sense to me. Even BGT has a much better balance of coasters in their collection with rides for 38", 42", 46", 48", and 54".

 

Ride manufacturers do what the park wants, right? Within bounds, of course....no one is going to GCI to contract building a huge multilaunch steel coaster. But those bars on GCI trains go all the way to the seat, and I'm sure if Busch wanted to argue it out or even pay money for some sort of ridiculously minor change that would please the lawyers GCI pays to try and indemnify them, it could have happened. Shorter height restrictions = younger guests, and restraining younger guests who are tougher to reason with means more expense.

 

But this wouldn't be the first time a park in the chain has oddly unbalanced attractions for their guests. Explain to me why a park like SeaWorld Orlando, aimed almost entirely to families and younger kids, has three giant 54" B&Ms that younger kids can't ride. To a coaster nerd that's a dream, but as a regular visitor to that park, I can't tell you how many times I've seen parents go measure their younger kids there only to find out they are several inches too short.

 

This is more my thought process. Building coasters is a cheap option to move the needle and so they're gonna push that rather than "themed" attractions of some sort or shows. I love that Mako is being built but I also have no idea how it makes sense at a park where there's never been a line for Kraken, even on New Years Eve.

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^ I agree I can't really see this persuading families not to visit the park. There are two kids areas, one with the Grover coaster.

 

Its a well kept, clean family themepark and in a vaction destination area. I'm sure they'll survive a few complaints about height restrictions.

Exactly!

 

I'm not entirely sure why it's such a heated topic anyways. It's a low height restriction as is and families bring small children to the park because it is a major tourist destination with good reviews and a good reputation in a tourism based city and the park has good offerings for small children as well as their parents. I really doubt adding a coaster with a 36" or 42" height allowance would really make a big impact (doubtfully bigger than a relatively low height requirement thrilling coaster like the one that has been announced). Also, for the most part something with a very low height restriction probably won't be as appealing to thrill seekers, who are a target psychographic segment for the park. (I do realize there are some exceptions where a 42" height requirement can be appealing to thrill seekers too, but we shouldn't shun the park for going 4 inches above that).

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SeaWorld laid off their creative staff a few years ago, and while there was some gnashing of teeth on the internet about that, the best thing they had managed to come up with in the the past 5-6 years was Turtle Trek. If that isn't a brutal indictment, what is?

I can tell you that people like Brian Morrow who have been working for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment since 2006 and heads up their creative team is still there. He was responsible for attractions such as Manta on both coasts, Falcon's Fury, Verbolten, Cheetah Hunt, the new Cobra's Curse and Mako and pretty much everything SeaWorld/Busch has done for the past 10 years.

 

So while they might have laid off a couple of lower management people from their creative team (and honestly, I'm not sure who since the same people we work with now have been the same team for years) they didn't lay off any key people.

 

The only person from the creative team I can recall getting the axe during that round of layoffs was Scott Swenson at Busch Gardens, and he headed up "entertainment" and did events like Howl-O-Scream, but wasn't part of the attractions creative team, at least as far as I was aware.

Edited by robbalvey
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^Like Robb, I've not heard of anyone besides Scott Swenson being let go from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment on the creative side. Mark Rose and Brian Morrow are both still very active in the company--Brian was interviewed by TPR at the last Cobra's Curse construction event.

 

The problem SeaWorld Parks are having isn't with creative... It is with their public image (which is already expected to recover).

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^ And just to double check, looks like Scott was on the creative team, but in shows & entertainment:

 

Director of Production (Creative Services) Busch Gardens Tampa

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

November 1993 – December 2014 (21 years 2 months)Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida Area

-Various titles held during tenure at Busch Gardens Tampa from Front Line Performer, to Supervisor, to Director (2009-2014)

-Spearheaded the creative development and installation of shows and events

-Researched, negotiated and contracted performers, directors, designers and producers

-Participated in strategic planning and development

-Coordinated cross-departmental communication and brainstorming sessions

-Taught communication and interview skills classes

-Participated in the development of companywide projects (You Are the Message, Summer Nights Task Force, Howl-O-ScreamTask Force etc.)

-Participated in the creation of Howl-O-Scream and contributed to the creative development and operation for the first 15 years (acting as Creative Director for 8 years, Creative Producer for 2 years and Media Spokesperson for 15 years)

-Highlighted Projects

---Angels of Peace (Ice Show) – Producer/Writer (winner of the 2014 IAAPA Heart Beat Award)

---Iceploration (Ice Show) – Producer (winner of the 2012 IAAPA Heart Beat and Best Sports Show Awards)

---Rhino Rally– Trainer/Writer

---Sights and Sounds: A Rainforest Adventure– Writer/Performer

---For the Birds (Bird Show) – Writer/Trainer

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^Like Robb, I've not heard of anyone besides Scott Swenson being let go from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment on the creative side. Mark Rose and Brian Morrow are both still very active in the company--Brian was interviewed by TPR at the last Cobra's Curse construction event.

 

The problem SeaWorld Parks are having isn't with creative... It is with their public image (which is already expected to recover).

 

I'm wrong then. I thought I had read otherwise and I think it must have been a misunderstanding on my part from the news that Morrow was released or bad info given.

 

That being said: Is Antarctica really their best effort as an attraction? Being honest.

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^ They've certainly had their hits and misses over the years...

 

If you spend money, you should expect return on investment. If the team you're looking to spend money through isn't delivering results, maybe you start looking at the team?

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^^^I don't begin to defend Antarctica but the same creative team is behind Falcon's Fury, Cobra's Curse, Mako and Blue World... While Blue World won't be built, you have to admit that had it been, the concept would likely have been a creative pinnacle for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

 

I truly don't believe SeaWorld Parks' creative is at fault here for the brands' struggles. It isn't like the creative regime had changed in the past decade to recognize a difference in concept quality between the two. Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island was no better than Clyde and Seamore High. Mako will likely be on par with Apollo's Chariot. I don't know that, besides embracing emerging amusement park trends like new ride systems and construction capabilities, the caliber of attractions produced has really changed.

 

^It is hard to gauge true results of the impact of things like Antarctica and TurtleTrek given the time and PR climate the parks were in when they debuted. Manta significantly drove noticeable results as it was one of the first major Orlando investments post-economic downturn leading into the recovery period. Again, factors that wouldn't likely be blamed on the creative and entertainment teams, but on the human factors that prevent a guest from spending/considering to spend money at these parks.

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^^^I don't begin to defend Antarctica but the same creative team is behind Falcon's Fury, Cobra's Curse, Mako and Blue World... While Blue World won't be built, you have to admit that had it been, the concept would likely have been a creative pinnacle for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

 

I truly don't believe SeaWorld Parks' creative is at fault here for the brands' struggles. It isn't like the creative regime had changed in the past decade to recognize a difference in concept quality between the two. Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island was no better than Clyde and Seamore High. Mako will likely be on par with Apollo's Chariot. I don't know that, besides embracing emerging amusement park trends like new ride systems and construction capabilities, the caliber of attractions produced has really changed.

 

^It is hard to gauge true results of the impact of things like Antarctica and TurtleTrek given the time and PR climate the parks were in when they debuted. Manta significantly drove noticeable results as it was one of the first major Orlando investments post-economic downturn leading into the recovery period. Again, factors that wouldn't likely be blamed on the creative and entertainment teams, but on the human factors that prevent a guest from spending/considering to spend money at these parks.

 

I feel bad because I don't want this to be a thread where I call for some people's professional careers to be ended. I don't know what limitations they were given, and that's not a fair thing to do to them given the circumstances. I do call into question a lot of the ride and show choices at those parks, even with the big steel they're building this year in Florida. They've also chosen to go with some ride systems that were "not ready for primetime" and I don't think there's a lot of argument that it has had a damaging effect on their gate when things like Mach Tower or Falcon's Fury turn out to be months late. But my bloodlust should be largely satiated: the top of the company has been turned over, and we'll see how things go from there.

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I don't think the concept for Antarctica was bad nor the creative team, it probably came down to budget and unfortunately they just didn't have the funds to flesh out the concept fully. I think this project at BGW should be fine, SW does a great job at themeing their coaster, I expect this to not an exception.

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If wanted, the new coaster can have Mini-llenium Flyer trains, which are meant for kids and adults, all in a smaller package! I'd think they'd just go for the normal Millennium Flyer trains though.

The trains look pretty cramped, though. And even though this new coaster is a little small, it's not woodstock express-sized. I don't know how the mini trains will run on the track or keep its speed. Has anyone been in the mini-llenium trains, and are they cramped and do they run like normal millennium flyer trains?

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I rode the Mini Millennium Flyers at the media event a few years back at LEGOLAND Florida.

I rode with Robb in the front seat and we could barely fit side by side.

 

They should just stick with the regular trains, unless they are trying to make this a true kids/family ride.

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I rode the Mini Millennium Flyers at the media event a few years back at LEGOLAND Florida.

I rode with Robb in the front seat and we could barely fit side by side.

 

They should just stick with the regular trains, unless they are trying to make this a true kids/family ride.

They must be doing the regular trains then. It seems like they're going for a small but more intense coaster, not a regular kid-sized woodie. And it isn't THAT small, just about slightly below average for a wooden coaster.

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Really the only part of this ride that considerably smaller than other GCI coasters is the length. It tops out at 48 mph but almost every GCI gets like 50-53 mph. I think the shorter trains are actually a good sign because that could mean tighter elements which would make the short length less of an issue (the reason why Outlaw Run seems longer than Goliath).

 

As for the height restriction, I'll wait for final renderings to see what they're actually going for. 42" would've been great but if this ride isn't suitable for 42" people (in terms of intensity) than that's not a terrible height restriction. Looking at BGW's competition, Kings Dominion has two 40" rides (Woodstock Express and Avalanche) which are both more towards younger kids. Then you get to Ricochet at 44" and everything else is 48" or above, so I don't know if the park is really suffering with family coasters but 42" or even 44" would've been nice. Things can always change and it's more than a year out from opening at this point.

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