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Kings Dominion (KD) Discussion Thread


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Well I gotta admit i was disappointed with the announcement and like everyone else, I was expecting the reveal of a new hurler But I guess this'll do for the kids. But still, I have hope they have something up their sleeves and they're gonna announce something big unexpectedly. Has a cedar park ever did that before?

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Yesterday, after my brief stop at SFA, I fought through the perpetual Northern Virginia I-95 traffic to check out Kings Dominion's Taste of the Season event - a COVID-blamed Winterfest-lite.  And beli

Wait, there is actually going to be a safari-themed ride in Safari Village? Is that allowed? 🤣

My money, in all seriousness, is on Tiki Twirl.  CF already has a logo drawn up and everything.

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I can see some brilliance to letting little kids in for free. All these families from the area take their kids to KD when they're really young and too short to ride much, but the kids see Volcano and I305 from the Eiffel Tower and beg their parents to take them back when they're tall enough to ride. Then everyone pays full price. Meanwhile, kids play games and eat candy and spend money that way. The parents also have to pay for their own admission tickets, even if the kids enter for free.

 

So you entice more families to come by not charging for their two kids, but you don't lose everything through that because the kids will buy candy at the park, and then you get everyone back a few years later at full price.

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I can see some brilliance to letting little kids in for free. All these families from the area take their kids to KD when they're really young and too short to ride much, but the kids see Volcano and I305 from the Eiffel Tower and beg their parents to take them back when they're tall enough to ride. Then everyone pays full price. Meanwhile, kids play games and eat candy and spend money that way. The parents also have to pay for their own admission tickets, even if the kids enter for free.

 

So you entice more families to come by not charging for their two kids, but you don't lose everything through that because the kids will buy candy at the park, and then you get everyone back a few years later at full price.

 

It isn't that I don't understand the rationale of "Make it cheaper and build more rides." If next year, attendance is up 1% and per cap spending is down due to having let in 10,000 (pure spitballing here; likely more than that, but a good number for the example) kids for free that you would have previously scored $45 a person for minimum, how long do you keep up the experiment in the hopes that you build up a new base of regular consumers? Remember that you don't have the same degree of information about your visitors as Disney does given the many modes by which an individual can buy tickets to the park to track their trends directly.

 

The obvious metric they're going to use here are season pass sales for success. If they see a significant increase in those, it might be a big win that is likely attributable to the Pre-K pass. But that also suggests volume as growth driver over individual sales, which is more the Six Flags model than Disney.

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It isn't that I don't understand the rationale of "Make it cheaper and build more rides." If next year, attendance is up 1% and per cap spending is down due to having let in 10,000 (pure spitballing here; likely more than that, but a good number for the example) kids for free that you would have previously scored $45 a person for minimum, how long do you keep up the experiment in the hopes that you build up a new base of regular consumers? Remember that you don't have the same degree of information about your visitors as Disney does given the many modes by which an individual can buy tickets to the park to track their trends directly.

 

I'm not disagreeing with you with either of my posts (except your use of the word desperate), just adding more points to ponder in this rational discussion.

 

Then the park also has to factor in, we just let in 10,000 kids (I know it's a made up number) for free, but how many families that never visited before just paid for two adult tickets. You are right it is not anything that outsiders like us can know for certain. We just have to wait to see how it plays out. Does Kings Dominion continue the strategy next year, does it expand to other Cedar Fair parks. Maybe it is critical in Richmond since their population has increased by 15% over the past 15 years.

 

I'm sure many questioned parks going from pay per ride to Pay One Price. People questioned when Cedar Fair took the high road with repricing their Platinum Passes a few years ago. Many questioned the addition of water parks. Many questioned the inclusion of paid skip the line services. People question all you can eat plans.

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While Kings Dominion's coaster lineup is great,(Though not as good as BGW, imo) their lineup is starting to get stale.

 

To me, Kings Dominion has one world-class coaster (I305), two very good coasters (Volcano and Dominator), one "interesting" coaster (Flight of Fear), and two decent woodies (Rebel Yell and Grizzly). Not a bad line-up at all.

 

 

a great junior woodie in Woodstock Express too.

 

and we enjoyed the bobsleds very much

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I was at a bachelor party all weekend and forgot to check the announcements for 2017 this Saturday... Thanks KD for making my Sunday hangover even worse by this let down! Man, I was praying and wishing for a new coaster or even an RMC Hurler. Guess I'll have to patiently wait for 2018

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I'm just bummed that Hurler will remain SBNO. I just hate seeing a plot of land with a dead coaster on it in such a great park- I don't care what they do to it, but it's dead, it needs to be dealt with. How long can they keep an inoperable coaster standing before we call the park, "janky"? 2 years, 5 years? I don't know, I just hope they don't keep it around long enough to find out.

 

These will definitely be welcomed improvements for young families (my wife and I do not have kids yet, but those who do definitely deserve to have fun too). I love what CF has been doing these past few years to spruce up their parks and make them more family friendly. I think it has paid off well for them, their parks are welcoming and we enjoy every visit. CF is my favorite chain, they've been "killing it" all around, lately.

 

It's just weird to me that they don't care about the DEAD COASTER just sitting there, rotting away

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I'm just bummed that Hurler will remain SBNO. I just hate seeing a plot of land with a dead coaster on it in such a great park- I don't care what they do to it, but it's dead, it needs to be dealt with. How long can they keep an inoperable coaster standing before we call the park, "janky"? 2 years, 5 years? I don't know, I just hope they don't keep it around long enough to find out.

You must have missed the part on their website where they say Hurler will likely reopen next season?

Hurler.thumb.png.5a709054ac68690a977c2d312a62ad0d.png

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I still contend that Flight of Fear is awesome and I never understood why nobody agrees with me. I love that thing, it's probably my favorite indoor coaster in the U.S except maybe Mummy. Backlot is also a great family coaster as is Avalanche and I'm one of the eight people that actually likes Anaconda so it makes for a pretty killer lineup for me.

 

FoF is my #3 at KD. Maybe #2 if you want to factor in Volcano's abysmal wait times. Backlot is #4.

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^^The wording on that page is pretty vague. They state, "We anticipate that it will be open next year". This does not mean "It will reopen in a year, we are going to start the refurb this winter".

 

They said at the event that they don't know if it will reopen next season. They could certainly do the refurb, leaving the thing dead for only one season, which would be great. But as far as I know, as no plans have been made public, the ride will remain SBNO. But that is just my understanding. The park has not stated, for a fact, that the ride will remain SBNO. They have not made a clear statement either way.

 

You can look at it however you want, I don't mind. If they do a ninja-refurb this winter, I will rejoice by your side. But the way I see it, the ride is dead pending further notice.

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Regardless of the announcement (which are great additions despite being overhyped) KD is still in Cedar Fair's top 5. A giga, launched invert, floorless, a launch in the dark, an airtime filled dueling, and a incredible night woodie are things that no other park besides Cedar Point and Kings Island have.

 

I think a coaster is coming soon regardless of ROI, but Saturday's announcement is still nothing to get peeved over. However, with that being said, KD should still take note of the backlash on social media. It's pretty ugly.

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I'm not disagreeing with you with either of my posts (except your use of the word desperate), just adding more points to ponder in this rational discussion.

 

"Desperate" doesn't only have to apply to parks that are closing. If the goal at KD is to make it a more family oriented park rather than thrill oriented and what has been done already (Planet Snoopy, bringing back the singing mushrooms, etc.) hasn't worked, one interpretation of that strategy is that it is doomed to fail because they are inherently now a thrill oriented park. If you refuse to let go of that strategy in spite of all the indicators being that it isn't working and may never work, letting people into a park for free instead of charging $45 for admission might be a desperate move to try and retain position in the corporate ladder for some.

 

Then the park also has to factor in, we just let in 10,000 kids (I know it's a made up number) for free, but how many families that never visited before just paid for two adult tickets. You are right it is not anything that outsiders like us can know for certain. We just have to wait to see how it plays out. Does Kings Dominion continue the strategy next year, does it expand to other Cedar Fair parks. Maybe it is critical in Richmond since their population has increased by 15% over the past 15 years.

 

I specifically used this scenario because it can easily be construed as a "strategy in progress" for as long as one is willing to let the strategy go on. If I was an investor, I would be very concerned about this move for two reasons:

 

-Without a serious outlay of marketing cash (which costs money), market awareness of the plan may prove lacking and thus primarily be used only by people currently visiting the park. In other words: you have to spend money to specifically not lose money.

 

-When you give away the gate, it should always, always be a concern as to what happens if the strategy proves to be non-viable. If the plug is pulled in 2018 or 2019 on this, how do you sell to the family of a 5 year old that's had free entry for their kid the last year or two to spend $50ish bucks for a one day?

 

These are things I'd consider from the standpoint of an investor. If I lived anywhere near KD and had kids, passes for the park would be a no-brainer.

 

(to use another point of comparison here in the industry: in Q2 2016 Disney saw an overall reduction in attendance and occupancy, especially in Orlando. "Household Economics" suggests that Disney then would need to succumb to market forces and start reducing prices in order to keep numbers up. Instead, they still saw an 8% increase in revenue YoY because they simply jacked up prices and cut labor costs via staffing/hour reductions to make up the difference. They will continue to do that if numbers continue to go south until which point that revenue growth flatlines. And even then, they might still increase consumer price & cut costs rather than reduce the expense of their resorts and "devalue them" with the rationale that future expansions will drive visitors to Orlando again and thus resolve that issue organically.)

 

I'm sure many questioned parks going from pay per ride to Pay One Price. People questioned when Cedar Fair took the high road with repricing their Platinum Passes a few years ago. Many questioned the addition of water parks. Many questioned the inclusion of paid skip the line services. People question all you can eat plans.

 

What's the difference between the Platinum Pass hike, inclusion of skip the line services, and all you can eat plans with this?

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des·per·ate

ˈdesp(ə)rət/

 

feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with.

synonyms: despairing, hopeless, anguished, distressed, wretched, desolate, forlorn, distraught, fraught;

 

(of an act or attempt) tried in despair or when everything else has failed; having little hope of success.

synonyms: last-ditch, last-gasp, eleventh-hour, do-or-die, final, frantic, frenzied, wild, futile, hopeless, doomed

 

(of a situation) extremely bad, serious, or dangerous.

synonyms: grave, serious, critical, acute, risky, precarious, dire, awful, terrible, dreadful, urgent, pressing, crucial, vital, drastic,

(of a person) having a great need or desire for something.

 

Not sure of your definition of desperate, but i see it as proactive action, not desperate

 

In today's world serious marketing cash is not necessary to promote news to a narrowly defined targeted audience i.e: families in Richmond

 

Allow pre-Ks in at no charge is giving away the gate to only a small percentage of the current customer base and as I stated it can be made up in the increase of adult ticket sales bringing in new pre-Ks. As for why a family would keep coming back after their child turns 5. There are a few reasons. One child (or more) in the family my still be under 5. Also, there is something called brand loyalty not to mention familiarity with the park. As I already stated if a kid has been viewing a ride up close for years that he can't ride and he finally reaches the anticipated height that will be a strong motivational factor in the family bringing the kid back to the park.

 

Comparing how Disney does business to nay regional park is not a fair comparison. Disney is a completely different animal.

 

As far as "What's the difference between the Platinum Pass hike, inclusion of skip the line services, and all you can eat plans with this?" I don't want to state the obvious differences but I'll state the similarities. They are all marketing strategies that have been used over the years by different parks to drive business. All these strategies were considered by "enthusiast experts" to be risky ventures, yet continued.

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While Kings Dominion's coaster lineup is great,(Though not as good as BGW, imo) their lineup is starting to get stale.

 

To me, Kings Dominion has one world-class coaster (I305), two very good coasters (Volcano and Dominator), one "interesting" coaster (Flight of Fear), and two decent woodies (Rebel Yell and Grizzly). Not a bad line-up at all.

 

I didn't say it was a BAD lineup...it's just that the park seems like it should be due for a new coaster.

 

(I might have a bit of a bias 'cause KD is my home park, but I try not to be like madmax )

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I'm just bummed that Hurler will remain SBNO. I just hate seeing a plot of land with a dead coaster on it in such a great park- I don't care what they do to it, but it's dead, it needs to be dealt with. How long can they keep an inoperable coaster standing before we call the park, "janky"? 2 years, 5 years? I don't know, I just hope they don't keep it around long enough to find out.

 

These will definitely be welcomed improvements for young families (my wife and I do not have kids yet, but those who do definitely deserve to have fun too). I love what CF has been doing these past few years to spruce up their parks and make them more family friendly. I think it has paid off well for them, their parks are welcoming and we enjoy every visit. CF is my favorite chain, they've been "killing it" all around, lately.

 

It's just weird to me that they don't care about the DEAD COASTER just sitting there, rotting away

 

Good question. How long did Son of Beast stand before Banshee was built on that land ?

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des·per·ate

ˈdesp(ə)rət/

 

(of an act or attempt) tried in despair or when everything else has failed; having little hope of success.

synonyms: last-ditch, last-gasp, eleventh-hour, do-or-die, final, frantic, frenzied, wild, futile, hopeless, doomed

 

Not sure of your definition of desperate, but i see it as proactive action, not desperate

 

I highlighted the one I see here. Just because the entire park isn't on the verge of being liquidated doesn't mean that someone in a high up place doesn't feel a tinge of desperation. Cedar Fair was not in danger of going Chapter 7, but you can't tell me Dick Kinzel trying to make a deal with Apollo wasn't something out of desperation. The shareholders had his head and ended up seeing exponential growth in stock price.

 

In today's world serious marketing cash is not necessary to promote news to a narrowly defined targeted audience i.e: families in Richmond

 

Families are a pretty wide segment - a cursory suggests 35-40% of the households in the region have kids. I'm not convinced relying on Facebook impressions is going to get them there, but I'm sure it is part of the strategy. If it is the whole one, again, from a shareholder perspective, I'm concerned.

 

Allow pre-Ks in at no charge is giving away the gate to only a small percentage of the current customer base and as I stated it can be made up in the increase of adult ticket sales bringing in new pre-Ks. As for why a family would keep coming back after their child turns 5. There are a few reasons. One child (or more) in the family my still be under 5. Also, there is something called brand loyalty not to mention familiarity with the park. As I already stated if a kid has been viewing a ride up close for years that he can't ride and he finally reaches the anticipated height that will be a strong motivational factor in the family bringing the kid back to the park.

 

Comparing how Disney does business to nay regional park is not a fair comparison. Disney is a completely different animal.

 

I bring up Disney because they are the clear market leader and from which the lineage of the present CEO of Cedar Fair comes. Looking at their other parks, it seems to be that those parks are clearly moving a direction more closely related to Disney. On the other hand, I'm trying to think of a single time when a park made a change to purposely not charge or greatly reduce charges to part of the customer base and it worked out to show significant customer and revenue growth long term. I can, however, reel off a long long long list of parks where that didn't work. Most recently, James Atchison joined the list of people who tried that to no avail.

 

As far as "What's the difference between the Platinum Pass hike, inclusion of skip the line services, and all you can eat plans with this?" I don't want to state the obvious differences but I'll state the similarities. They are all marketing strategies that have been used over the years by different parks to drive business. All these strategies were considered by "enthusiast experts" to be risky ventures, yet continued.

 

I specifically chose those because they are direct revenue to the park. Upcharge rides and Photo Pass plans and VIP tours all fit into that too: just creating new revenue sources from whence there was only tickets, merch, and games at one point. Kings Dominion is a park with an SBNO coaster sitting in it: it is not Universal Studios building Harry Potter and going pseudodisruptive in such a manner that they could stay upmarket and see mass growth. To me, it seems like the folks in charge are choosing volume over increased per cap spending and that concerns me. Especially since it contrasts greatly with what is happening at Cedar Point, Knotts, Great America, and Carowinds.

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I don't get all the disgruntled posts about the park. I think it is a very well rounded park that appeals to the entire family. From the little tykes to the thrill seeker and everyone in between. Yes Hurler is something that needs to eventually be dealt with, but C'mon, it not running, is that going to totally destroy what KD is? In the words of the GREAT CHARLIE BROWN, "oh good grief!

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On the other hand, I'm trying to think of a single time when a park made a change to purposely not charge or greatly reduce charges to part of the customer base and it worked out to show significant customer and revenue growth long term. I can, however, reel off a long long long list of parks where that didn't work. Most recently, James Atchison joined the list of people who tried that to no avail.

 

This is great analysis, DirkFunk. I really appreciate the amount of thought you've put into your posts.

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Yeah, I think I understand what he's saying now. I've worked for, and been in charge of my fair share of organizations. Usually if everything is going as it should, nothing is usually given away. Its because there is no need too. Only time will tell though.

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Did anyone else realize that in the background of Snoopy at the fence right by Hurler, there was a poster that said Planet Snoopy on it with the rides they were adding I believe (don't quote me if I'm wrong). I think that we could still see an RMC Hurler, just annouced at a later time. I personally think that this Planet Snoopy "disappointment" is being used to draw everyone's attention away from the closure of WWK, so we all need to chill. Even if we didn't get a new coaster, we should be happy. We got a thrilling ride last year, so its the kids turn, we can't get a new coaster every year and I think we should be glad that we already have 2 world class coasters and several strong supporting ones. Please stop complaining everyone as my homepark hasn't gotten a thrilling attraction in 12 years, and you don't see everyone complaining after we went yet another year without one. They hyped it for a reason, lets just trust they know what their doing. Thank you

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Did anyone else realize that in the background of Snoopy at the fence right by Hurler, there was a poster that said Planet Snoopy on it with the rides they were adding I believe (don't quote me if I'm wrong). I think that we could still see an RMC Hurler, just annouced at a later time. I personally think that this Planet Snoopy "disappointment" is being used to draw everyone's attention away from the closure of WWK, so we all need to chill. Even if we didn't get a new coaster, we should be happy. We got a thrilling ride last year, so its the kids turn, we can't get a new coaster every year and I think we should be glad that we already have 2 world class coasters and several strong supporting ones. Please stop complaining everyone as my homepark hasn't gotten a thrilling attraction in 12 years, and you don't see everyone complaining after we went yet another year without one. They hyped it for a reason, lets just trust they know what their doing. Thank you

 

I agree 100%. Kings Dominion is not stupid to hype this much just for three kiddie rides. I think something bigger is coming, whether it's RMC Hurler or Mass Effect.

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Did anyone else realize that in the background of Snoopy at the fence right by Hurler, there was a poster that said Planet Snoopy on it with the rides they were adding I believe (don't quote me if I'm wrong). I think that we could still see an RMC Hurler, just annouced at a later time. I personally think that this Planet Snoopy "disappointment" is being used to draw everyone's attention away from the closure of WWK, so we all need to chill. Even if we didn't get a new coaster, we should be happy. We got a thrilling ride last year, so its the kids turn, we can't get a new coaster every year and I think we should be glad that we already have 2 world class coasters and several strong supporting ones. Please stop complaining everyone as my homepark hasn't gotten a thrilling attraction in 12 years, and you don't see everyone complaining after we went yet another year without one. They hyped it for a reason, lets just trust they know what their doing. Thank you

What picture? I can't find it

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