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Do parks like us?


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This might sound offensive, but here me out. Do you think parks have an "oh crap" moment when it comes to us enthusiasts? I know that we joke about some rides that are bad, but when a new ride is anounced, do parks get annoyed when we complain about how the ride wasn't the thing we wanted? I know some people can be picky about what coasters they like, but I just wonder if parks get annoyed by that. Parks have enthusiast events, but we make up a small percentage of amusement park attendance. I wonder if parks actually care about what we have to say or if they could care less.

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Your question is pretty loaded and can be answered in many different ways. Typically, parks build rides that they believe will fit their target audience. Sometimes this target audience desires things that aren't in line with the popular enthusiast opinion. Quite frankly, parks couldn't care less if enthusiasts are underwhelmed as long as their target audience is happy about an addition or announcement. We can whine and complain that GateKeeper is not exactly the popular opinion of enthusiasts, but Cedar Point doesn't care because GK is one of the most popular rides in the park.

Edited by ajfelice
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^

Pretty much agree with everything he said. I guess parks do occasionally consider enthusiasts' input sometimes, but for the most part, they build what will satisfy their biggest audience (the general public), and as long as they do that, they don't really care what we think.

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I'm sure that they know "enthusiasts" have a different set of wants than the GP and probably find it a little amusing are because we can be a hard to satisfy group. After all, critics who are more educated and more experienced in their subject matter are harder to impress. It's a funny concept that loving roller coasters means you may enjoy them less, but when you've ridden 100 coasters, a Vekoma Boomerang doesn't cut it.

 

I don't know if parks try to cater to enthusiasts as a group by themselves, but clearly numerous coasters are built around the country with the intent of making its park a destination for coaster lovers regionally, nationally, or even internationally.

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I'm not sure they really notice one way or the other (speaking as someone who's worked in a park and got to know upper management a bit). Mostly I think they don't pay much mind one way or the other. The few times that I heard mention of anything, it was negative, but also very specific instances. One time the issue was an enthusiast who was entering employee-only areas to take pictures, which is an obvious nono that got that individual banned. There's also the issues of fansites that leak information (which obviously they don't tolerate). A manager also once told me to keep an eye on a certain individual who was a repeat offender of sneaking cameras on rides where it wasn't allowed. It's that sort of thing that gets you noticed.

 

As far as their take on enthusiast feedback? Probably mostly ignored. I know that park officials for more than one park look through forums just like this, so they probably are seeing the opinions of enthusiast. However, I believe they are mostly paying attention to legal issues like leaks and pictures taken from areas that shouldn't have been allowed, not necessarily as a "looking for feedback" option.

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This requires a much longer answer than I have time for. But, do they "hate" enthusiasts? Kind of. Do they "tolerate" enthusists? Yes. And for different reasons at different parks. Enthusiasts can sometimes be the loudest most obnoxious, self-entitled "why don't you cater your entire business to MY preferences???" attituded people.

 

That being said, enthusiasts can also be very proactive on social media and be spokespeople for their favorite rides and attractions without the parks even asking for it.

 

Parks love/hate/tolerate enthusiasts on different levels for different reasons. There really isn't any straight answer.

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Actually I would love my home park to like us enough, that it would actually Stay Open LATE during a few summer weekends, before and/or after the annual fair happens. The night lights are cool during the PNE, but crowded beyond belief. During it's regular season, and not The Haunt, that's already happening.

 

That would make me love Playland even more. And if there's a financial reason why not, hey that's cool.

Edited by Nrthwnd
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Enthusiasts can sometimes be the loudest most obnoxious, self-entitled "why don't you cater your entire business to MY preferences???" attituded people.

 

There is a broad spectrum of enthusiasts from the most grateful and appreciative people you will ever meet to some of the most entitled guests who believe they could operate a park better than 95% of GMs and Managers. In the end, "tolerate" is the best way to describe it as many do a great job of regular spokespeople on social media and even for special events like new ride openings, but along the way with the best comes some of the most difficult people to accommodate.

 

My park has annual enthusiast events from a couple regional groups. Many of the enthusiasts go out of their way to thank each and every park worker for taking extra time to come in early or stay after work late to put on special events. They will politely ask during tours and walkbacks if they can stand in a certain spot or go to a certain place for photos and video. If they are declined of their request, they simply smile with a "no worries" kind of response. These people make me look forward to hosting enthusiast events.

 

Others can wreak havoc on what should be a normal day for the park workers at Guest Services or at Rides. For example, we can count on a yelling match from the same enthusiast from an annual event concerning the manufacturer requirement of No Single Riders on our Ferris Wheel. He will walk up to the ride, berate the ride operator (happened to be me one year), and then go berate a manager. All because somehow our Ferris Wheel is the only one that has ever denied him attempting to ride alone. In regards to roller coasters, I have been screamed at on multiple occasions because it was decided to reduce to one train operation which increased a walk-on to a half empty train to a three train wait. I have been told the three train wait "doesn't give them a chance to ride." (still trying to do the math on that one) I'm still waiting to be fired by our Park Owner because one enthusiast told me about single train operation, "I know the owner well, he would never stand for this, and you will lose your job for it."

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^ It's a shame that sometimes the obnoxious ones, which are usually a smaller group of people, can have much louder voices than the opposite group. And those unfortunately will give the entire community a bad name.

 

If these people could learn to control this kind of behavior, things could be greatly improved.

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As a former park manager and employee for Cedar Fair and Premier parks. Enthusiasts are best for generating interest in their parks and Rides. As an employee their excitement can be energizing and really make your day. Yet large groups can disrupt the flow and expect VIP treatment, more than you can provide. That is the main reason why they like to have coaster events; keep the enthusiasts contained, controlled and content. As a manager the park has a vision and they may get some feedback from you but ideally when selecting a new attraction it is a very complex process. Permits, bids, deadlines, surveys, statistics: all investment in the parks future. What they are planning now you will not see for maybe five years. A park needs on going public excitement if it is going to survive.

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It seems to me some parks like to tease and mess with enthusiast with tweets that get enthusiasts all fired up thinking some $25 mil ride is getting installed when really they were just deciding to use wood or steel for their new benches in the park. Just a hypothetical situation. I don't know if they are putting new benches in the park. We are an easy group to get all fired up.

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I think it matters on the parks, and what we are doing at them. I know when I went with the TPR group to Coney Island, the staff there (especially on the Cyclone and Thunderbolt in the ERT morning) were getting huge kick out of us. Other times, I have been at SFGAdv and they kind of rolled their eyes at how the little things get us excited (doing the visual scan with them while sitting in the trains)

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I guess it really depends on the park. I know some parks that really like their fans. Of course they sometimes get annoyed, because some jerk does something stupid, but they know this is not the norm. About parks taking enthusiats into account when planning something new: I don't think they would do that. Not because they don't like us, but because it would financially just don't make any sense.

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I think the better question would be, "Does our presence help the park to succeed as a business, help spread the word about how awesome parks are and what a great time we have at them, etc ...or does it just make more work for the park, detract from the other guests' experience by being generally obnoxious/entitled, and overall not who a park would go out of their way to invite or look forward to being there?"

 

We should collectively strive to be the former, despite how some bad apples out there seem determined to be the latter.

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It also depends on the group, too. For example, my mom and I have been to CoasterMania several times, and we've agreed that the enthusiast crowd at the event has become too rude and stupid to be worth going to any more (I seriously believe this is from the Great Ohio Coaster Club). When I took her to Banshee Bash this year, she was amazed at how much better TPR enthusiasts are.

 

I also remember hearing somewhere that Disney hates ACE. I don't know if it's true or not.

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As many have said enthusiasts are great for the parks on social media, as customers and with word-of-mouth marketing. The problem is that enthusiasts aren't AS great for the parks as they seem to think they are as many (not all) enthusiasts have an unbelievable sense of entitlement or feel that they can run the parks better than the people actually running them because they've played rollercoaster tycoon and beat a few scenarios. Enthusiasts who feel like the park owes them anything are unbearable and they give everyone a bad name.

 

I would think that the answer to this question is different depending on what park we're talking about it. Cedar Point comes to mind as a park that does a really good job of messing with the enthusiasts and interacting with them while at the same time brushing off their stupid feedback in an amusing way that's fun for everyone.

 

Take this twitter exchange... Tony Clark saw an idiotic red drawing made in paint of the "proposed new layout" for the coaster replacing Mantis and held a contest...

 

New game: take satellite image; draw red lines for potential ride layout; I'll retweet. #justforfun

...and it has to be done poorly. Go!

 

And then he made fun of all the drawings that came in. (If you're interested go to his twitter and scroll back to about September 1st, it's really funny)

 

Despite mocking them which is not only fun for us but probably necessary to keep them from going insane they do go above and beyond to please enthusiasts which is impossible) with things like the campout, winter chill out and even little things like bringing back the still webcams after the unbelievable amount of whining about it. I'm just using them as one example but many parks (like Holiday World for example) also interact with and mess with enthusiasts in a really fun way.

 

Unfortunately parks that take 99.9% of enthusiast feedback as anything other than totally ridiculous and waste their time trying to make these people happy will probably end up hating enthusiasts because usually the more vocal members of the community are idiots and have that sense of entitlement I mentioned before. I'm sure dealing with a community that can be this annoying (at times) can be tough, and I applaud the parks that do it well. If I worked for a park I probably wouldn't be able to stand the community as a whole (though of course it's never fair to lump everyone together and i do feel that this community is better than most). If you try to have fun with it it probably makes the relationship much more tolerable.

 

I just wish enthusiasts would stop acting as if the parks owe them anything or like they know how to run the parks better than the professionals who work there do. If this ever happened this thread wouldn't even exist because everyone would know that there was a great relationship between the parks and the community.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can agree with pretty much everything that has been posted.

 

Some parks know how to "work" with us better. Take Paula from Holiday World. She just LOVES to mess with enthusiasts and knows kind of what to do to get us talking. We like her and I feel that she generally likes us.

 

I've found that on my travels with TPR, the parks seemed generally pleased that we were there and went out of the way to make our visit enjoyable. I know a lot of that was behind the scenes work from Robb and Elissa, but I did feel like the parks "liked" us.

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I know at knotts every year for wcb they make sure to go out of their way to tpr to make is feel welcome and they do seem to actually like having us there. Don't know if that is true for every group or just us but knotts seems to be pretty enthusiast friendly.

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