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What makes a park grow?


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^Dave said it best: there is no one thing that will ensure a parks success and allow it to continue to grow. It all depends on the market and managements ability to understand that market.

To add to this, the stuff that makes a park grow in Pennsylvania will be different from the stuff that makes a park grow in Missouri.

 

I also agree with Dave. Stuff for enthusiasts should merely be the cherry on top of a massive milkshake. Besides, if you're as much of an enthusiast as you say you are, you'd be able to have fun at any park in the world regardless of whether or not they are "nice to the enthusiasts".

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Service and infrastructure go hand and hand in making a successful park grow before any major coaster or signature ride. Another thing I would add is knowing your market, but the perfect case study example of Geauga Lake has been hashed and rehashed so many times that I will not talk about it.

 

Looking through guest reviews of any park, and you will find that complaints are generally based around rude employees, dirty facilities, limited food and drink options, accessibility, and poor crowd control among other things. Usually a poor review doesn't complain solely about the rides and attractions themselves in terms of thrills or excitement, but that kind of complaint is usually coupled with a criticism of service or infrastructure. Also, many of the ride-based complaints are about maintenance and the lack of variety in a park's collections that fit a guest's demographic which are both infrastructure problems.

 

That signature attraction addition will usually bring in a huge season for any park, but the long term success of that park depends on how the park can continue to provide excellent guest service and continue to upgrade it's infrastructure to support large crowds brought in by new rides. In other words, the saying, "If you build it, they will come" is one of the most annoying things anyone can say to me in this industry, because that quote is usually made on the basis of a large coaster or something on similar scale is the sole key to any long term growth for a park. Go ahead and build those towering coasters, but make sure your park is ready or you will pay the consequences.

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Honestly, I think one of the biggest things is customer service. If you are constantly encountering rude and inefficient staff that don't seem to give a crap about the property, the guests generally feel the same way. New rides are one thing, but the thing that keeps me coming back and recommending a place all falls down to how I feel I was treated throughout my day.

 

There are lots of key factors as well, such as rides to suit the market that the park is in and capital expenditure (Although you don't NEED to build new attractions every year, but at least every 3 - 4 years to keep the park in the spotlight). I feel as though Holiday World has this pattern downpat even though I have never been to a park in the USA in my life just by reading about what people have to say. And from what i've read most people comment about how CLEAN and FRIENDLY the staff are at the property. Without that excellent customer service you pretty much have the "Walmart of Theme Parks." A.K.A Six Flags America, but even from what i've been reading on here that park is improving quite a bit over the last few years and upgrading to the "Target of Theme Parks"

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That signature attraction addition will usually bring in a huge season for any park, but the long term success of that park depends on how the park can continue to provide excellent guest service and continue to upgrade it's infrastructure to support large crowds brought in by new rides. In other words, the saying, "If you build it, they will come" is one of the most annoying things anyone can say to me in this industry, because that quote is usually made on the basis of a large coaster or something on similar scale is the sole key to any long term growth for a park. Go ahead and build those towering coasters, but make sure your park is ready or you will pay the consequences.

Six Flags Ohio and Six Flags America both come to mind here. They spent a crazy amount of cash in the late 90s and early 2000s putting in several coasters at a time, and then - drought. The buzz died off and, well, the rest is history.

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This is my shortlist for what I believe makes a park successful in no particular order.

 

1) A Viable Market - One cannot force a market, or force one's way into a market. Hard Rock/Freestyle Music Park is a prime example of this. The market couldn't adopt a park of that size that quickly and it went under.

 

2) Know One's Market - Who is coming to your park? Thrill seekers? Tourists? Families? What do they want? Maybe that YOLO Coaster isn't the best idea when little Timmy is too short to ride anyway and rode all the kids rides three hours ago.

 

3) Organic Growth - By this I mean a park should grow with its audience. This isn't to say a park cannot invest in capital to try to proactively grow their audience, but it should stay within a reasonable measure of their current market.

 

4) Value vs Price - This is simple and applies to parks of all sizes, from Knoebels to Disney World. Does the value of entertainment/food/merchandise inside the park have a value equal to the purchase price or admission? This doesn't mean that parks should be cheap, many times it means quite the opposite.

 

5) Management, Maintenance and Consistency - Keeping rides up and running, keeping midways clean, having trained and friendly staff, and ensuring outstanding customer service are all part of maintaining a consistent positive customer experience. Ensuring that guests have a great time every time will make them want to come back, and perhaps bring their friends with them.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not an economist, so really I have no idea what I'm talking about

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^^I was just getting ready to say similar points, especially starting with Doug's #1 and #2. I totally agree that if you follow those steps, you have a better chance of having a vibrant growing park.

 

As far a a previous comment on catering to enthusiasts, we are such a minority when it comes to park attendance and we tend to travel to so many parks in a season that we try to minimize our costs enabling us to visit more parks. The target GP for a park are the ones that bring in the bulk of the revenue so they are certainly the focus. Fortunately for us enthusiasts, many of the GP also likes thrill rides so it's a win.

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  • 1 month later...

Here's what I think would make a park grow!

 

. Rides that cater from families with kids to thrill seekers

. Good marketing

. Efficient ride operations with less than a 30 minute wait time

. A water park that's included with "dry" park admission

. little or no use of licensed properties (IE DC Comics, Looney Tunes, etc.) with the exception of Disney and Universal parks

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It really depends. If it's a family park, then family rides are good. If it's a park known for good coasters, then it needs some good ones! Ultimately there is no set pattern to what makes a park grow, I think.

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