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Most Improved Theme Park?...


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A lot of parks seem to have grown, and some improved as a result, since the 1990's came and went, a time when among other things, the Swiss coaster machine in the form of B&M and Intamin ended Arrow's monopoly on steelies, and created an exciting new generation of rides, just one example of the new spirit of competition that emerged during the time period.

 

Looking back, which parks have benefitted the most from this rapid growth, and improved vastly?

 

My vote is split between Dollywood, for it's amazing additions in the past years, and Universal Studios Florida, for it's creation of IOA.

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Hersheypark. Before the 90's all they had was the Comet, Sooperdooperlooper and Trailblazer for coasters. Those are all fun rides but they have added a lot in the last 15 years, Sidewinder, Wildcat, Great Bear, Wild Mouse, Lightning Racer, Rollersoaker and Storm Runner. Plus they added the whole Midway America area with some new flats in addition to the coasters like the Whip

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I agree with Hershey too... they've grown very steadily the past few years with no dissapointments whatsoever.

 

But Dollywood and IOA?

Both are great parks, but how can IOA be an improved park when it's only been in existence for less than 8 years? Dollywood has added 2 coasters since 1971 and taken one out... maybe things like service and quality have improved, but for a park to improve as a whole (in my opinion) they have to re-invest in major attractions more frequently than those have.

 

Of course you can't go wrong with Millennium Force as an improvement to any park!

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Yeah, IOA hasn't really improved much at all since it opened, but seeing as most people still have never been there, it's not a major problem.

 

Im going to agree with Hersheypark, it was good to begin with, now it's very very good. Can't wait to get back there someday.

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Not to be a total homer, but I really like what Kennywood has done post 90.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Take the world record with Steel Phantom. No other traditional park will probably ever claim that again.

 

Completely rebuild Noah's Ark from the ground up. At most parks, it would have been history.

 

Addition of Lost Kennywood. Over the past decade, rides like Exterminator, Phantom Flyers, Tristar, Pittsburg Plunge and Pitfall have been added.

 

EDIT: How could I forget about Phantom's Revenge!

 

Renewed maintenance program. In the mid 80's, some of Kennywood's woodies weren't looking nearly as good as they are now.

 

Complete Carousel renovation from the ground up.

 

Addition of Phantom Fright Nights.

 

Brand new entrance and enhanced facilities.

 

I am sure there are a bunch more, but this all I can think of at the moment.

 

// Suprised nobody has mentioned Holiday World yet. Most people didn't even know that place existed in 1990.

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Warner Bros Movie World - for a park that is in a small market like Australia it has added some excellent themed rides, the most recent being the Intamin Rocket Superman Escape, and there is plenty more on the way. Even having Rabid One scaring the customers at the photo shop hasn't held the place back.

 

I think Knott's has added some good rides and I like going to the place, I now put on my flame proof suit.

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Well, I was referring to IOA as a part of USF...back in the 90's there wasn't much of that park to speak of at all...but I guess people regard IOA as a complete seperate entity now...

 

Uhh... We regard it as a seperate entity because it is. Always has been. No one considers the WDW parks a single entity, so why the UO parks?

 

Which park are you referring to when you say there "wasn't much to speak of?" Both parks have pretty much the same amount of attractions now as they did in the 90's.

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If you want to go back to the early 90's, I would say Holiday World. You're talking about a park that had been around for nearly 50 years, and then they built the Raven, and look at how that park has exploded over the last 12 years.

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When James and I were on the off season tour of Lake Compounce, the GM told us how the park was a junk hole in the 90's, and when Kennywood bought the park, they made a lot of great improvements to it. And it is a very nice park with a lot of oppritunities....When they are allowed to move the road away from the park, lol.

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Uhh... We regard it as a seperate entity because it is. Always has been. No one considers the WDW parks a single entity, so why the UO parks?

 

Which park are you referring to when you say there "wasn't much to speak of?" Both parks have pretty much the same amount of attractions now as they did in the 90's

 

You're right...I don't know what I'm talking about here.

 

I drop my nomination for USF then, and nominate Holiday World in it's place. Jonathan's absolutely right about the transformation that's taken place there since the 90's.

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I'd have to go for Thorpe Park, Prior to the Tussauds Group taking over the park in 1999, the park was going no where.

 

The parks signature ride until then was X - No way out !

It just over 5 years the park has gained

 

Collossus, Nemesis Inferno, Stealth, Slammer, Rush, Vortex to name but a few.

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My local park,Tivoli world,in benalmeadena,spain,had added a log flume,and some new kids rides,in the 10-12 years i can remember it going there.New management took over about a year ago,and the park has seen a complete renovation of the main entrance and the area around the log flume,and partial renovation of the wild west themed section,along with a river rapids,a drop tower,and new flat ride,a train that goes round the park,a kids drop tower,and lots of new restaurants and shops,with more promised for the future.

I have to say,thats one heck of an effort,and my vote goes to the new management of this park.

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I'd have to agree with Holiday World, but two more nominations.

 

Geauga Lake:

 

Certainly not the best thing to happen to a small park, Six Flags took over it in the 1990's and added a whole bunch of rides and improvements, flagged it, then bought SWOh. and made it into a mega park. That happened in a span of five years. An influx of new coasters and "themed" areas. Then when Cedar Fair bought the place, eh, its been a bit slow.

 

Wild Adventures:

 

Same as Geauga Lake. A small roadside petting zoo became a credit whore's/Vekoma lover's paradise. This, too, happened in a short time span. The park has 9 coasters (although a majority being family coasters) and its only been open for 10 years.

 

Not to be a total homer

Hey, now whats that supposed to mean Ted?

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Geauga Lake:

 

Certainly not the best thing to happen to a small park, Six Flags took over it in the 1990's and added a whole bunch of rides and improvements, flagged it, then bought SWOh. and made it into a mega park. That happened in a span of five years. An influx of new coasters and "themed" areas. Then when Cedar Fair bought the place, eh, its been a bit slow.

 

Sorry but I totally disagree. Sure Six Flags added alot of rides, but even during the Six Flags year the park was a ghost town. And the park was constantly reported to be one of the worst run parks in the Six Flags chain.

 

Cedar Fair just took over and removed the only part of the park that was done properly.

 

Geuaga Lake/Six Flags Ohio/Six Flags Worlds of Adventure should just not be mentioned in the same phrase as "most improved" in my opinion.

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Well, I'm not sure if its even close it "most improved", but Cliff's has actually gone from a full on kiddie park to a family park

 

they've gone from Uncle Cliff's Kiddieland to Cliff's Amusement park, Adding a CCI Coaster, a set of water slides, and pretty much remaking the entire park into much more of a regular park, all while staying in the same location

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I don't know about the Most Improved, although it has improved and has probably been the most active along with CP and SFMM

SF GAdv.

at the end of the 80's the company really figured out what type of money maker the place could be, but before that it really only had 3 longer term coasters: Mine Train, Lightning Loops, and Rolling Thunder. Other than that they were on the Six Flags ride rotation program, hello Bobleds, Shockwave, Ultra Twister....Goodbye. Then in 1989 they open GASM and they change their way of dealing with the park. THey dissapoint everyone bye getting rid of Lightning Loops. but look what replaced it. Since then (yes I know Shockwave was in the 90;s). They add Batman, B & R Chiller, Medusa, Kingda Ka, Nitro, Skull Mountain, Medusa, hello Viper bye Viper, and now El Toro. It was a park in bad shape in the early nineties that was improved...fell on some hard times clientele and service wise during the Premier Parks run, but has great potential, a great coaster lineup, a great location, and it has the one thing that all other parks wish they had, but don't....Room for expansion.

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I think Knott's has added some good rides and I like going to the place, I now put on my flame proof suit.

 

Flame on! Most improved implies that it's significantly better than it was before. Can't with all honesty say that about KBF.

 

Ridewise, Knott's has improved. Parkwise, so much of what made KBF a world class family theme park experience has been sacrificed that I just can't consider the overall additions/removals made as positive improvments.

 

My vote goes to SFMW. Once basically just a zoo with marine animals, the park existed for 30yrs without a single mechanical ride. Since Premier/SF took over managing in 1997, they've transformed this local animal park into a full fledged major regional theme park with a decent assortment of the latest in thrill rides. Since SF never builds new parks, this is probably (at least ridewise) the closest example of what a new SF park would be like since they had to start from scratch with SFMW.

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Magic Springs. I know I'm being totally biased because it is my home park, but it does have a fairly interesting history.

 

The park started as just a small family fun park in the late 70's with a few rides, some slides, and family shows. It attracted a few people in the Hot Springs area, but it was pretty much unknown (unlike its earlier neighbor Dogpatch USA.) The park began to grow throughout the 80's. It gained the Arkansas Twister from the old Busch park "Boardwalk and Baseball." and the launched Arrow looper Roaring Tornado (now at SFEG) as its major roller coasters. The park had become relatively successful.

 

But then in the 90's the park began losing money, and soon fell into disrepair. The city turned off the water, and closed the park in 1995. The rides weren't looking good, buildings and ride stations were rotting, control panels were horribly outdated, and the place began to get overgrown with weeds.

Then! Ed Hart of Theme Parks LLC arrived. He purchased the park in an auction. His group tore down/sold most of the rides, and repaired others (the carousel, Arkansas Twister, and log flume). They also added Crystal Falls water park, and the park reopened in 2000.

Recently, the park attendance topped 400,000 with the addition of The Gauntlet, and they are getting X-Coaster, a close-to one of a kind ride for 2006, and they own several acres to expand upon. So I'd say they did a good job!

 

Wow, I didn't mean to give the whole history! But I think it is one of the Most Improved parks in the last decade or so.

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Not to be a total homer, but I really like what Kennywood has done post 90. // Suprised nobody has mentioned Holiday World yet. Most people didn't even know that place existed in 1990.

 

Those are the two I immediately thought of - and I have never been to either! Still...

 

Just from past memory of publicity, histories of the parks, etc. etc. What I have read thru the years, and seen on TV and on vids...

 

Either KW or HW would be high up there in the "Much Improved List" for my $$$.

 

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I think my local park-Playland has improved a fair bit in the past few decades.

When Expo '86 ended, they passed on buying more than a couple of benches and other sundry stuff.

Then in 1994, when Boblo Island closed, they bought their looper (see FD3). Since then, they bought Hell's Gate (Huss Top Spin), Hellevator (S&S combo tower), Revelation (rotor), Drop Zone (swing), and Crazy Beach Party (Huss Frisbee)-plus Kettle Creek Mine (Miler kiddie coaster)

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