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Six Flags Darien Lake (SFDL) Discussion Thread


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Now, if Darien Lake built a $25 million coaster, then I guarantee you, attendance would go up, way up! Modifying Predator is not enough and some people think these modified wooden coasters are not safe. So, you fans of Darien Lake in the U.S., try getting these two owners to sit down and build a big coaster at Darien Lake.

 

I guess as long CNL owns Darien Lake, we'll never see a $25 million coaster? Then the only that Darien Lake would get attendance up would to have something that you can't get at any other theme park in world like, a special one of kind attraction that would blow Darien Lake's competitors away or maybe a new one of kind water slide complex (to replace 'Cuda Falls?). Also some ride repaints and two train operations!

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For around $25 million each, these coasters look huge! You can see them from miles away and it makes the park look like a real Theme park. Now, if Darien Lake built a $25 million coaster, then I guarantee you, attendance would go up, way up!

 

Seriously, have you any idea how many more people that need to come to Darien Lake before a $25 million coaster would earn itself back??

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^For real... Canadas Wonderland had over 3 million people attend in 2007, the year before Behemoth was built: http://www.coastergrotto.com/theme-park-attendance.jsp

 

Darien Lake does not announce their attendance numbers, but in 2008 it was estimated to be just above 1 million:

"CNL Income Properties does not release annual attendance figures, but industry sources pegged Darien Lake's average annual attendance at slightly more than 1 million people."

http://www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/2008/04/14/newscolumn1.html?page=all

 

The attendance numbers are probably down from that number, if anything, so let's just call it an even 1 million.

 

It's a lot easier to come up with the capital to build a $25 million dollar coaster when you have over 3 million people coming through your gates... There is just not enough attendance to justify such a huge addition to the park, the two situations are vastly different.

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Okay, so ummm . . . 2 different owners, 2 different visions, 2 different pocketbooks, I guess that is why we haven't seen anything BIG happen at Darien Lake for a few years. Here is my suggestion. Canada's Wonderland's improvements slowed a lot when Paramount owned it, now Cedar Fair owns it and they have invested over $100 million since 2006. If they want to attract more customers to Darien Lake, then they must build. Build, build, build! Coasters like Behemoth and Leviathan at Wonderland are pretty cheap for the impact they have had on Wonderland. Behemoth - 230ft Leviathan -306ft. For around $25 million each, these coasters look huge! You can see them from miles away and it makes the park look like a real Theme park. Now, if Darien Lake built a $25 million coaster, then I guarantee you, attendance would go up, way up! Modifying Predator is not enough and some people think these modified wooden coasters are not safe. So, you fans of Darien Lake in the U.S., try getting these two owners to sit down and build a big coaster at Darien Lake.

 

First, no.

-CNL income owns Darien Lake. They are the sole owner. Herschend leases the park and operates it. No one here actually knows how the park handles capital improvements. One thought, CNL pays for capital expenditures, which in turn causes Herschend's lease payments to go up. Again, speculation there.

 

HFE (Herschend family entertainment) signed a 3 year lease contract for the 2011, 12, and 13 seasons. So they could've left the park this of season if they didn't have the intention of buying it. (They did this with Elitch Gardens)

 

Second, they will build. But itheyre clearly doing it methodically. One of the biggest things currently going for them is the campground, and short lines. Canadians are largely driving the park right now because of these two. (Source: Darien lake marketing department)

 

Third, I'm sorry but that's an ignorant comment. The public thinks every ride is unsafe.

 

Fourth, enthusiast really can't do anything to influence their descision. They clearly know significantly more about how to operate a park, and the economics associated with the park. Telling them to build the crazy 30 million dollar roller coaster is pretty much the same as yelling at the quarterback on tv to throw the ball to the receiver that you think is open.

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Please don't get me wrong, I am certainly not bashing DL or the owner/operators. I am just saying, a lot of Canadians are waiting to see Darien Lake build something, like a new coaster or something that Canada's Wonderland does not have. It doesn't have to cost $25 million, but one thing that DL has that Wonderland does not is a huge campground. Wonderland has no accommodation facilities which I think they are losing a big potential revenue. I'm just saying, if DL keeps saying, we have low attendance so we shouldn't build something big, then they will never get big attendance. In order to get big attendance . . . you must build something big first.

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Canada's Wonderland has the highest attendance of any regional park in all of North America. The only "regional" park to have more attendance as of last year is Knotts, and they have the luxury of being operational year round, a nice climate, and being 10 minutes from the second most popular resort in the country.

 

As proven with Six Flags, bigger new rides doesn't necessarily equal higher attendance. Sure there will most definitely be an attendance spike opening year, but afterwards the money and attendance will level off to normal. I can't speak for Superman after that opened, but the park didn't seem to have too many major investments after that not to mention it wasn't profitable enough to stay a SF park for long.

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As proven with Six Flags, bigger new rides doesn't necessarily equal higher attendance. Sure there will most definitely be an attendance spike opening year, but afterwards the money and attendance will level off to normal. I can't speak for Superman after that opened, but the park didn't seem to have too many major investments after that not to mention it wasn't profitable enough to stay a SF park for long.

 

Even after Six Flags sold Darien Lake the only major investments were made were the water park addition (Swirl City and Flotation Station) in 2010 and a new kiddie land (Rowdy's Ridge) in 2012. The least that Darien Lake can do now is some park improvement before opening day.

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That's right, Wonderland has very high attendance but, did Wonderland have that attendance before it was bought by Cedar Fair or before Behemoth or Leviathan? . . . no . . . something like modifying Predator SAFELY or even a new mid-size coaster or a new area with some new flat rides would help attendance for sure, but the owners have to be brave with their pocketbooks and take a small risk and be rewarded with higher attendance numbers.

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That's right, Wonderland has very high attendance but, did Wonderland have that attendance before it was bought by Cedar Fair or before Behemoth or Leviathan? . . . no . . . something like modifying Predator SAFELY or even a new mid-size coaster or a new area with some new flat rides would help attendance for sure, but the owners have to be brave with their pocketbooks and take a small risk and be rewarded with higher attendance numbers.

 

Uhhh, no. CW has always been an enormous park. Their attendance in 2006 was 3.2 million people, and in 2012, 3.6 million. You really can't compare the parks.

 

And again, you do not run an amusement park. Nor have any idea of the economics of the park.

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Actually CW's maintained the "highest attended park in North America" crown LONG before CF bought out the park and made those investments. It was definitely a flagship park under Paramount despite most of its coasters being common clones.

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Well, the same can go for Darien Lake when it comes to coasters. Darien Lake has a Mind Eraser (Vekoma SLC), a Boomerang coaster, and the first of two Superman: Ride of Steel clones. The Superman branding has been removed from Darien Lake's Ride of Steel since 2007 and I think Motocoaster has a few clones as well!

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We'll not the highest. The various disney parks still dominate the top 10 in North America. I think people seem to overlook that the Toronto area, and the golden horseshoe are one of the largest metros in the world. In fact the 5th largest in North America, outside of NYC, Mexico City, LA, and Chicago.

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Of course CW isn't gonna touch Disney and Uni in attendance, but it beats out practically every other regional park in the country. I think CP managed to nudge it out of the top spot last year because of Gatekeeper and Knotts operates year round in the middle of a major city near a resort area so attendance is naturally gonna be higher over there.

 

Well, the same can go for Darien Lake when it comes to coasters. Darien Lake has a Mind Eraser (Vekoma SLC), a Boomerang coaster, and the first of two Superman: Ride of Steel clones. The Superman branding has been removed from Darien Lake's Ride of Steel since 2007 and I think Motocoaster has a few clones as well!

 

Darien Lake still doesn't have CW's attendance though. Even with the campground, concert hall and lake.

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On the lines of cw vs dl it not a fair comparison. Cw is twice the size of dl in overall footprint. There was a point in the mid to early 90's when the parks were relatively close in offerings. Cw started to add a few coasters pretty quickly and also added all the newer style flats and all of a sudden they jumped up very quickly.

 

At this point cf has invested heavily in cw and it is paying off for them nicely. I do totally expect them to put in a new big b&m coaster again soon once they remove sky rider and also would expect flight deck to get moved in favor of a better invert.

 

Darien lake is in a totally different market with totally different clientele. HFE is the best thing that happened to dl in Avery long time. I expect them to make dl a very good regional park in the very near future. Their recent additions show that they now exactly what the park needs on order to grow properly. It will never be cw but could eventually rival the themeing and overall park experience. HFE could add some very good and well themed coasters like they have at the dollywood and sdc and it would make dl unique, which is exactly what they are not right now

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Since when has it been announced that Darien Lake has an attendance problem? Is there solid information out there that says Darien Lake is suffering due to attendance problems?

 

The attendance comparisons to Canada's Wonderland need to stop. To say those parks are directly competing is absolutely outrageous. True, a bunch of people come to Darien Lake from Canada, but that doesn't necessarily mean there is a harsh competition with Canada's Wonderland. For example, the majority of out-of-town Waldameer guests come from Ohio. Actually, the majority of guests total in the park may be from Ohio (I do not have access to the records). However, that does not mean we are competing with Cedar Point directly by any means, even if Cedar Point is closer to many of those Ohio guests. Heck, Cedar Point never comes up in any serious business discussion. With a quick Google map session, you will notice that the driving distance between Darien Lake and Canada's Wonderland is within 8 minutes of the distance between Waldameer and Cedar Point. Okay, yes I'm using my puny tiny place of work as a comparison with Darien Lake, but stick with me. The difference between any of these compared park distances is what the park on each end is offering. Darien Lake is a more family-focused park that is intended to be a more affordable, relaxed place that is great for younger families. In addition, Darien Lake feeds off their concert series and campground which are very unique draws to their park. Canada's Wonderland is your typical, massive thrill park that is great for families with children who are older. People living in the middle of two parks are probably going to pick the place that fits their "amusement park needs" and the place that fits their budget accordingly.

 

Going beyond the unique draw of each park, an even bigger factor of Canada's Wonderland's huge numbers is their 8 million people regional market Cedar Fair specifies in their annual report. Darien Lake, having roughly a 1 million annual attendance, is very much more focused on the Buffalo-Rochester and surrounding regions which aren't even close to 8 million people. Darien Lake's market may extend into Canada, but I would be surprised if Darien Lake is reaching all the way out into the Toronto area where Canada's Wonderland would dominate on location alone. Therefore, 1 million guests is not necessarily a bad thing if the park is financially stable.

 

So when you consider the size of each park's target market region and you compare each park's unique attributes, Darien Lake and Canada's Wonderland are really not competing very much in terms of drawing people in either direction. For all we know, Darien Lake is still turning in profits relative to their size. Attendance doesn't always mean one park is more successful than the other. It's about being financially successful based on your size and scale.

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^the market does reach Toronto, for two reasons. First, they can make a weekend camping trip to Darien Lake, which CW doesn't have. And second, they like how much less crowded DL is than CW.

 

So the parks do share a common pool of people, but they don't compete, they more or less co-exist. I guess you could say its similar to how CP and GL exist before they tried to compete with CP, albeit a much smaller market.

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I would think that the comparison should be made with Darien Lake vs. Martin's Fanstasy Island, which are only a half hour apart. Given that Martin's may not have the same amount of attractions that Darien offers or may not even get the same amount of attendance it seems MFI has no problem with adding new attractions to its lineup, which seems like more frequently in the same time frame as when Darien was first flagged in 1999 to present.

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Canada's Wonderland and Darien Lake compete alright. Darien Lake advertises with commercials around the Toronto area all the time every summer. So to say Canadians don't come to Darien Lake is just not true, in fact, Canadians LOVE Darien Lake. Darien Lake has something very important that Wonderland is just now starting to get, thanks to Cedar Fair . . . ATMOSPHERE. . . it is very difficult to create atmosphere in a theme park. Disney has it, parts of Cedar Point has it, Darien Lake has it throughout the entire park, the flowers and tree-lined paths are great! But, Wonderland is just now getting flower beds replanted that have been empty for years. It takes many years to create atmosphere and Darien Lake has always had amazing atmosphere.

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First, when Six Flags went on a spending spree in the late 90s and early 2000s, they DID increase attendance dramatically at some parks. Go on Google archives or USENET and you can see discussions of the massive attendance gains Six Flags Ohio, Six Flags America, Six Flags New England, etc. had. I dragged back on the net and found pre-Premier Riverside doing under a million visitors while Six Flags New England today pulls over 2 million guests. Six Flags Ohio's first year flagged saw an attendance increase of 42%. The issue was sustainability. They built rides with no regard for infrastructure, lousy training, and zero interest in providing adequate operations or maintenance budgets to keep the rides going. Some parks and markets sustained the high levels - Riverside was a pit before Premier, so what was there after flagging was still great in comparison at its worst. Some, like Six Flags Ohio and Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom tanked terrifically.

 

I'm mentioning this with regards to Darien Lake's attendance specifically because Six Flags did heavily invest in 1999 with the expectation of those dramatic returns and never got it. My recollection is the rise that year was a mere 10%. That would have been a good number with a traditional amusement park model, but Six Flags depended on much larger margins and those people coming back year after year. Since they didn't get it, the money went elsewhere in the chain while they suffered the same problems that every Six Flags park had with short budgets and neglect until ultimately it was sold.

 

Now, could a big coaster result in some positive gains? Sure, it probably would at least in the short term. But would those gains make a profit for the park over 2-3-4 years? I don't know that it could there. Everyone wants big new exciting coasters at parks and I'd love to see one at Darien Lake. But let them work on their existing infrastructure first. Predator is the obvious choice there, but there's other things too.

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First, when Six Flags went on a spending spree in the late 90s and early 2000s, they DID increase attendance dramatically at some parks. Go on Google archives or USENET and you can see discussions of the massive attendance gains Six Flags Ohio, Six Flags America, Six Flags New England, etc. had. I dragged back on the net and found pre-Premier Riverside doing under a million visitors while Six Flags New England today pulls over 2 million guests. Six Flags Ohio's first year flagged saw an attendance increase of 42%. The issue was sustainability. They built rides with no regard for infrastructure, lousy training, and zero interest in providing adequate operations or maintenance budgets to keep the rides going. Some parks and markets sustained the high levels - Riverside was a pit before Premier, so what was there after flagging was still great in comparison at its worst. Some, like Six Flags Ohio and Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom tanked terrifically.

 

I'm mentioning this with regards to Darien Lake's attendance specifically because Six Flags did heavily invest in 1999 with the expectation of those dramatic returns and never got it. My recollection is the rise that year was a mere 10%. That would have been a good number with a traditional amusement park model, but Six Flags depended on much larger margins and those people coming back year after year. Since they didn't get it, the money went elsewhere in the chain while they suffered the same problems that every Six Flags park had with short budgets and neglect until ultimately it was sold.

 

Now, could a big coaster result in some positive gains? Sure, it probably would at least in the short term. But would those gains make a profit for the park over 2-3-4 years? I don't know that it could there. Everyone wants big new exciting coasters at parks and I'd love to see one at Darien Lake. But let them work on their existing infrastructure first. Predator is the obvious choice there, but there's other things too.

 

Of course Darien Lake is one of those parks that could use more improvement in their infrastructure besides the Predator. Like repainting Ride of Steel and Mind Eraser, two train operation on Viper, Motocoaster, Ride of Steel, and Mind Eraser, putting lights back on the Giant Wheel, cleaning the bathrooms more often and so on!

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There should never be any excuse for dirty washrooms, however I must say, when my family and I were at Darien Lake just this past summer, we never had any issues with any of the washrooms, they were spotless, so maybe the issues you are talking about have already been resolved.

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There should never be any excuse for dirty washrooms, however I must say, when my family and I were at Darien Lake just this past summer, we never had any issues with any of the washrooms, they were spotless, so maybe the issues you are talking about have already been resolved.

 

O.K. maybe they already have cleaned the bathrooms, but there's was no excuse for them not to clean them! The park still has some issues that need to be addressed.

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