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Why is there a nationwide lack of flat rides in the US?


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Too bad Six Flags can't be like Busch Gardens Africa with like 4 flat rides (Carousel, Phoenix, Gwazi Gliders, Bumper Cars)

 

I know the thread is about flats, but on Busch's behalf they have entertaining shows and animals, so it's not if is their parks are just coasters.

Edited by larrygator
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SFNE gets so boring after a few hours because they lost all of their flats. Buzzsaw and kontiki are OK but everything else sucks. The park lacks another "good" coaster. Bizarro is really the only stand out coaster. Mind Eraser, Batman and Goliath are all pretty fun but nothing special. Thunderbolt is OK as is pandemonium. If six flags invested more into filling in the holes that they made, the park would be awesome! But we lost: Time Warp, Double Trouble, Spider, Chaos, Rodeo, Nightwing, Colossus and catapult all in the corse of a few years! Flats really complete the park, the lost attractions of SFNE always remind me of that.

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ROI = Return on Investment. Typically, a park that spends 6 million on a flat is not going to see an increase in revenue of more than 6 million that season.

 

No park in their right mind expects to make all their money back in the first year.

 

...which is exactly my point. If you wanna argue that flat rides dont generate an ROI, you have to argue that almost everything aside from major coasters wont as well.

 

Very few people go to an amusement park to ride flats and that's the biggest reason. When Cedar Point built MaxAir, Skyhawk and Windseeker those rides by themselves did not bring me (or others) to the park. Soon we rode them but we traveled for the coasters.

 

I dont remember saying people go to amusement parks specifically for their flat rides..? Of course what will draw people to a park in the first place is its coaster collection. You use Cedar Point as an example...I first went to ride Millenium Force. That same year, I went to Magic Mountain to ride Goliath. Which park to I go back to year after year?

 

Granted, MM has its problems aside from just a lack of flats, and back in 2000 it was a bit more well-rounded, but the point still remains--even on years when Cedar Point isnt adding a new major coaster, I go to visit because theres so much more to do than that. Did people come out in droves to ride Maxair? No, nobody is saying they did. But people will go back to the park after it adds its major coaster addition because of how well-rounded it is aside from said addition; theyll come for Maverick, but come back for Maverick, and Maxair, and Power Tower, etc. Whereas if a park is all coasters, well once the novelty of the big new addition has worn off, the park loses its appeal...and customers. And obviously a park wants to attract repeat visitors rather than constantly bringing in new ones enticed solely by the new big coaster.

 

My point is there is an ROI on flat rides, its just in the long-term. Its a way to round out your park and make fans that will keep coming back. Having repeat visitors independent of major investments is the basis of all successful business models.

 

So why are we having this conversation then? I would say its because theres a lack of reliable flat ride manufacturers...not because parks are ignorant to the value of flat rides in their lineups.

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Very few people go to an amusement park to ride flats and that's the biggest reason. When Cedar Point built MaxAir, Skyhawk and Windseeker those rides by themselves did not bring me (or others) to the park. Soon we rode them but we traveled for the coasters.

 

I dont remember saying people go to amusement parks specifically for their flat rides..? Of course what will draw people to a park in the first place is its coaster collection. You use Cedar Point as an example...I first went to ride Millenium Force. That same year, I went to Magic Mountain to ride Goliath. Which park to I go back to year after year?

 

I don't remember saying you did, only the first line of my post is a response to you. The other paragraphs in my post are furthering the discussion of the topic.

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SFNE gets so boring after a few hours because they lost all of their flats. Buzzsaw and kontiki are OK but everything else sucks. The park lacks another "good" coaster. Bizarro is really the only stand out coaster. Mind Eraser, Batman and Goliath are all pretty fun but nothing special. Thunderbolt is OK as is pandemonium. If six flags invested more into filling in the holes that they made, the park would be awesome! But we lost: Time Warp, Double Trouble, Spider, Chaos, Rodeo, Nightwing, Colossus and catapult all in the corse of a few years! Flats really complete the park, the lost attractions of SFNE always remind me of that.

 

You're right about them losing too many flats but in their defense Houdini, Tomohawk and New England Sky Screamer are all great flats. That said removing Colossus is unforgivable.

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Magnum xl 200 had a lot to do with this, IMO. Before, it was about all the rides. After that, most parks tried to build bigger, better coasters and focused less on flats.

 

I agree. I'll take this domino effect all the way back to Revolution. After the first loop, parks needed 2, then 3, then so on. People as riders wanted more extreme rides (The majority at least), and parks can receive more profit and visitors with bigger things.

 

Let's say that there are two big parks a half an hour away. Park A installs a new ferris wheel this year. Park B installs a new roller coaster. People will visit park B more often because of the big attraction. This of course is considering that the parks are pretty equal and its not like Cedar Point vs SF Great Escape.

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I think the coasters draw guests to the park, but a well-rounded flat lineup keeps people coming back and makes the park more appealing for families.

 

Really though? Do you go back to parks to ride the tilt-a-whirls? There aren't many flats that really build up the "draw" of a park. Large spectaculars like giant frisbees and Screamin Swings are a plus, but few parks have more than two of those. I kind of felt like this question is aimed at the large body of smaller flats that have slowly disappeared from larger parks.

 

Coasters are the main attraction at any amusement park. Flats, as they are presented at most parks, are just something else to do to take pressure off the big rides. Even though coasters are tremendously more expensive than flats, when you factor in staffing, insurance, maintenance, and whatever else, it's not hard to see why bigger parks would start culling their smaller rides (not including rides specifically targeting young age groups).

 

I feel like most parks could make a bigger deal out of their flats, but the public easily notices when the same ride can be found at a different park, and in any case they just don't have the unique lasting appeal that coasters do. I think DirkFunk's comments (refer page 2) are the most spot-on that I've seen so far. The U.S. just doesn't seem to be able to do flats well and treats them as a background supporting cast rather than individual stars.

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I think the coasters draw guests to the park, but a well-rounded flat lineup keeps people coming back and makes the park more appealing for families.

 

Really though? Do you go back to parks to ride the tilt-a-whirls?

 

I don't personally, but if I have a family and my kids like tilt-a-whirls, I'm more likely to take them back to that park over a park with nothing but coasters they don't do. The small flats aren't there for the enthusiasts…the enthusiasts don't make parks the real money. They're there to balance out the ride lineup to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible.

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^I do see a point in what you said. Many times, parks that try to cater most to families often have more flats than they do coasters. Holiday World is a fairly good example, since those not 48 inches tall yet to ride the coasters can hop on plenty of flats and still have a pretty good time. Cedar point had a bit of a problem in this field as many in their ride lineup used to required riders to be at least 52" or taller (of course with the recent flats installed, I'm sure they've taken notice of this issue). Of course this is only speaking about a park's well-roundedness, and not about why we don't see as many major flats in parks.

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So why are we having this conversation then? I would say its because theres a lack of reliable flat ride manufacturers...not because parks are ignorant to the value of flat rides in their lineups.

 

I would disagree with that statement. I'd say there are just as many major flat ride manufacturers as roller coaster design/manufacturers. Only HUSS has struggled financially. Mondial, Zamperla, Zierer, Fabbri, Technical Park, Mack, S&S, and Chance all offer park specific models of their rides. Then there are smaller companies like ARM, Wisdom, and Funtime. That's not even counting manufacturers that focus only on trailer mounted rides like KMG and Moser that boardwalks/smaller parks will buy from. Even Gerstlauer offers some flat rides.

 

A better argument would be that major flat rides cost nearly as much (if not more) than many coaster types now (Euro-fighters, spinning mice, smaller wooden coasters to come mind), so it is harder to justify the cost when a coaster is a comparable option.

 

As an aside, Cedar Point isn't really the best park to make the argument about flat rides, as Cedar Point could arguably qualify as a resort. So there are many more factors that can contribute to a return visit.

 

So back to the point at hand...yes, flat rides do have value...for smaller market parks, they have a much greater value, as they can pass as major additions. But when it comes to the major parks, you generally don't see flat rides unless it is an "off" year where they are still riding the high of a major addition from the previous year or two. Major parks aren't making major investments in flat rides because they don't generate the return needed to be considered a major investment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's also SBF Visa Group from Italy who have been quietly installing quite a few flats in the US, including a few spin and swing type rides but theirs goes completely upside down. The one I've been hearing about lately was from Quassy who recently announced that they would soon be installing a super-tiny version of the ride (and linked this video on their Facebook page).

This 104 foot model, SpinCycle, was apparently installed at Silverwood last year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ_M6dapgfQ

 

(I may have already said this before) I think there are plenty of interesting flat rides that are still being installed here and there every year but just not enough "recognition" of them, or that we're not paying as much attention to them.

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I wish some manufacturer would make an even taller one that goes upside down. Imagine if the Zamperla Giant Discovery could go upside down, it would be 90m tall

Even though Zamperla Discovery revolutions get quite tall already.

 

These can be either suspended ones or like most frisbee rides (seating position)

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several mentions of the Gemini Midway, but no one brought up Knott's and what they did with the Perilous Plunge area?

 

yeah, they DID add a coaster, but a family Mouse, and then installed two flats to finish out the "boardwalk" themeing. From what I've seen, it appears to be a big hit.

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I'm surprised that HUSS never tried to make a Frisbee go upside down since they basically pioneered the ride way back when.

 

I'd like to try one of these someday though the closest I've ridden was Mind Warp at MFI, which is one fo the craziest flats I've ever experienced.

 

One thing is for certain regarding flat rides - they do have the coolest lighting packages and really make midways vibrant at night. A lot of parks could use a bit of color for night time illumination.

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To use SFMM as an example, I think the decreasing number of flats is justified based on the coaster count. As mentioned earlier, the park started out with 2 coasters, one of which being a kiddie. The flats needed to be there to keep people at the park for the whole day. These days? I can spend the whole day riding coasters and don't really need flat rides to compliment the coaster line-up. At ALL!

 

If I want to ride flats, I can go to a local fair, the county fair, another local county fair, or a smaller park. I guess I should also mention that many FEC's in the area have flats as well....something that didn't really exist back when I was younger.

 

The times have changed, and I agree with SFMM's plan to add more coasters and not really worry about flats. There are hardly lines for the existing ones anyway (sans the bumper cars), so they really have no motivation to build them. If a family works their way out to SFMM to ride roller coasters, I don't see them wasting any time on the Scrambler. Especially when I can ride a Scrambler at any number of less expensive or closer venues.

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