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Waldameer Discussion Thread

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This is good news, but with the slowing economy I'm hoping they aren't stretching themselves too thin with expansion. Maintaining a profit for 2009 will be tough enough without having too much debt over their heads...


-James Dillaman


EDIT: Never mind, the flying carousel isn't until 2010... That's better...

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Rock...I am somewhat surprised by this announcement as I really thought that there might have been some love-giving to Water-World.


I think that these are great additions for the park tho...they needed a couple semi-thrilling flat rides. A Disk-O and Wave Swinger would be poyfect..and they don't have to break the bank to put 'em in!

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Cool! That will make it two Zamperla Flying Carousels in PA..


With rising gas prices and the economy, people are choosing to do things close to home. I remember reading an article a while back here in Rochester saying that Seabreeze saw an increase in attendance since people are traveling less, and are not traveling far to the bigger parks.

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^^ I wouldn't say "rising gas prices"... overall the gas prices around the nation have dropped considerably. Hell, in my town we are almost back into the $2-zone. We are at $3.19 a gallon, down from $4.15 in August.


Gas prices are dropping, but so is the economy. It is a horse-a-piece.

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Great additions to an already wonderful small park! We were very impressed when we visited for the first time in August. And it's funny, as we walked around, we thought the one flat ride they were missing was some kind of wave swinger. Come 2010, they'll get one!


Those Disko's are tons of fun too. I love Cosmic Chaos, the one they added at Kennywood in 2007.


Definitely looks like RFII did exactly what the owners of Waldameer were hoping, and that's generate some revenue. We know we will certainly be back to visit again.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We've been going to Erie once or twice a year for the last several summers.


Waldameer is fast becoming my favorite park. Even more so than Kennywood, which is closer but terribly crowded.


I really don't think that Waldameer is going to have a big problem making money next year.


First, they are in a fantastic location. You can't go to Presque Isle without going right past it. So, it gets all sorts of great pass by traffic beyond people actually looking for it.


Plus, Waldameer remains a great value. <$20 for the amusement park. And, you can almost always pick up coupons at the local McDonalds for the combination pass.


Plus, lodging can be had closeby for a good price, even for a recreational area.


Like some others, I wouldn't mind seeing some updates to the water park.


Originally, they were slated to use part of the adjoining parking lot and expand the water park to include a wave pool and a kiddie area.


They opted to put that on hold in favor of the new ride after the great success of the RFII.


I suspect this was brought on by concerns that there weren't enough 'adult" rides in the park to satisfy many people coming from around the country to ride the RFII.


Personally, I'm not sure I agree, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that was the thinking.


I've never been real big on wave pools, so the delay on that doesn't really bother me.


I don't know how much a ride like the DiskX costs. I do worry that they may be expanding a little too quickly.


One, I like the small park feel, not to mention the smaller crowds. But, I'd hate to see them get into a situation where people expect expansion out of them on an annual basis, which they may not be able to deliver upon, either in funds or space.


Not sure how much more they can add without taking something out. Although, I've always been fond of water rides like Kennywood's Raging Rapids.


Being located on a lake, seems like a natural fit for water rides.

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  • 1 year later...
Cashless system coming to Waldameer

Visitors to Waldameer Park & Water World are used to seeing a new attraction year after year: the X Scream in 2007, the Ravine Flyer II in 2008 and the Mega Vortex in 2009.


The big change at Waldameer this year? How the park will handle money.



Waldameer is spending $500,000 on a cashless payment system. Patrons will have bar codes on their wristbands and use swipe cards to pay for single rides, play games and buy food and souvenirs.



Go to Sunday's Erie Times-News and GoErie.com for a look at the cashless system, which is Waldameer's most extensive non-ride addition to date. You'll also read about the park's plans for another new ride -- in 2011.


-- Ed Palattella




Sounds like a great move on Waldameers part, got to wonder if other parks may soon be switching to this system for the convenience and information gathering.




Waldameer Park & Water World's recent custom of adding new rides has not ended. It is just taking a break.


Starting after Labor Day this year, Waldameer will start installing its next new ride -- a flying carousel that will open in 2011. The ride, which is 40 feet tall and resembles a giant circular swing, will hold 64 people and is designed for children and adults, Waldameer owner Paul Nelson said. He said the ride will cost about $800,000, with the total cost, including landscape improvements to the site, at about $1.5 million.


The flying carousel, to be built by an Italian firm, will be located behind the Sea Dragon and east of the Ravine Flyer II, near the northern edge of the park, Nelson said. He said that section of the park will be gardens, park benches and other improvements. Waldameer, following its custom, will hold a public contest to name the ride, Nelson said. "It is a real family ride," he said. "The last three rides have been thrill rides."


Waldameer added the Steel Dragon spinning roller coaster in 2007, the Ravine Flyer II roller coaster in 2008 and the Mega Vortex spinning disk in 2009.


Thrill seekers, however, have nothing to fear. Nelson said a new thrill ride is on its way to Waldameer in three years. He declined to discuss details because the plans are still under development. But Nelson offered a hint. It will be "an extreme teenage ride," he said.


Edited by kidcoaster 2
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I wonder if the POP wristbands will also have bar codes now. If they want, this could allow them to limit the number of times you ride a given attraction. The wristbands at Bakken were limited to 10 cycles per attraction.


No big deal, just something to think about.

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Don't places with go kart tracks, mini golf courses, and batting cages use this same system? It's been awhile since I've been to one, but I think I remember at Fun For All in Cranberry, Pa having something similar. I thought it was annoying because you would put $20 on a card and the go karts would be like $12, batting cages were $8, and you used the card to pay for everything varying from the food, vending machines, arcade games, etc. I have mixed feelings about it. I mean what's wrong with doing it the old fashion way? Are they worried about employees skimming...

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^Employees steal, guests try to cheat employees, mistakes happen, and the most important thing...when you're not dealing with 'actual' money people spend more!!!


Why do you think casino's use those pretty chips!?!??!


Out of sight, out of mind.


I like this, I hope to see more parks implement systems like this.

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I wonder if the POP wristbands will also have bar codes now. If they want, this could allow them to limit the number of times you ride a given attraction. The wristbands at Bakken were limited to 10 cycles per attraction.



I doubt Waldameer would limit the number of cycles for POP users considering they want people to stay all day.


When I was at Rye Playland they had this system set up for rides and I think food and it was nice not having to stand behind people trying to count their tickets. Just it becomes a slight inconvenience when you wait 30min for a ride only to find out it won't scan.

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Can you get back the money left on the card/wristband at the end of the day? That's the only big negative I see with these systems. They force you to pay a lot to put a bunch in your account, then everything is priced just right so that you end up with a lot that you don't even spend. Just another way to nickle and dime.

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I'm kind of torn about using these systems. When I went to Ocean City, Maryland the Jolly Roger parks used a similar system but with cards. I think it actually kept me from riding more rides because I typically put on the exact amount of money needed for one ride on the coasters and left it at that.

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Here is the follow up artical which explains how the system will work using "Wally points". Also Waldameer will be selling 5000 Season Passes this year!


Cashless system coming to Waldameer

Waldameer Park moving to new cashless system



After three straight years of big additions, no new rides are coming to Waldameer Park & Water World this season.



The next new attraction, a giant flying carousel, will arrive in 2011.



But the amusement park is still undergoing a big change.



Waldameer is introducing its own currency: "Wally Points."



As a result, how you pay to ride the Ravine Flyer II, Thunder River, X Scream and other attractions will be different this year.



So will how you buy food and souvenirs and pay for games.



In what its owner said is its most expensive nonride investment to date, Waldameer is installing a $500,000 cashless payment system at the family-owned park that overlooks Lake Erie in Millcreek Township.



The new coin of Waldameer's realm will be Wally Points, redeemed with plastic swipe cards -- Wally Cards, named after the park's mascot, Wally Bear. One Wally Point costs $1.



General admission and parking still will be free at Waldameer, and patrons who buy all-day passes for the rides still will wear wristbands.



But those wristbands will have bar codes to scan at the turnstiles.



And patrons who buy single tickets, which cost $1.50, will no longer present them to ride operators.



Patrons instead will pay for Wally Points and get Wally Cards to swipe at each ride, food booth, gift shop or midway game.



"The main thing is to give a better service to people, and this gives us a tighter control over cash," Waldameer owner Paul Nelson said.



Nelson said the savings from the cashless system will enable Waldameer to keep its free parking and open admission -- hallmarks that allow visitors to stroll the grounds and pay to ride as many attractions as they would like.



"I want to keep the park the way it is so people who don't have a lot of money can still enjoy the park," Nelson said.



He said Waldameer, which employs 18 full-time and 400 part-time workers in the summer, will hire four fewer people with the cashless system.



He said the system will save more money by, among other things, cutting back on the number of patrons who ride for free and reducing the number of employees who handle cash, making the park less susceptible to misplaced or stolen money.



"The fewer people who touch the money, the less chance it has walking out the door," said Nelson, 75, who has been full owner of the park since 1978.





More improvements



Nelson said Waldameer, which he said drew more than 400,000 paying customers in 2009, is coming off its second most successful season in its 114-year history. Even still, he said, business was down 12 percent compared to 2008 -- the park's most successful year.



Nelson said the poor economy and the wet weather hurt Waldameer's attendance in 2009. He said 2008 was a record-breaking year because Waldameer opened the Ravine Flyer II roller coaster, which gained national attention and helped boost the park's business by 30 percent compared to 2007.



Waldameer continued to expand in 2009. It introduced the Mega Vortex spinning disk, which followed the Ravine Flyer II, the X Scream drop tower in 2007 and the Steel Dragon spinning roller coaster in 2004.



Since 1984, Waldameer has added six mechanical rides, to bring its total to 29, and three roller coasters, to bring the total to four. Water World, which now features 11 water slides, opened in 1986. Waldameer has spent $30 million in improvements over the past 30 years.



Nelson sees the cashless system as another example of his family's commitment. Waldameer has thrived as other area amusement parks have struggled, including the reopened Conneaut Lake Park, which has had problems with unpaid bills, and Geauga Lake Amusement Park, in Ohio, which is now solely a water park.



The cashless system "is simply an upgrade for our employees and customers," Nelson said.





Cashless benefits



The cashless system should lead to increased revenue and efficiency for Waldameer, said Mary Beth Pinto, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at Penn State Behrend.



She said cashless systems have become the norm in the marketplace, particularly in retail businesses. Studies have consistently shown customers spend more money when they use swipe cards "and don't have to reach for the cash," Pinto said.



"This is an area where they want to get more bang for their buck," she said of Waldameer. "It is a great move."



The system is by Core Cashless Inc., near Kansas City, Kan., which specializes in amusement parks and other entertainment venues. Waldameer's system will allow customers to buy Wally Cards from an employee in a booth or at kiosks.



The cashless system will not eliminate ride operators. To get on a ride starting this season, Nelson said, patrons must scan a wristband or swipe a card at the turnstile and then wait for an operator to let them on.



The cashless system will also allow Waldameer to better track its inventory, Nelson said. He said the park can easily log each purchase made with Wally Cards.



And he said Waldameer will use swipe cards in other areas of the park, such as maintenance. He said workers will swipe security cards each time they inspect a ride so that Waldameer can better ensure scheduled maintenance is occurring.



Either way, Wally Cards and Wally Points will flood Waldameer this summer, drawing to close an era when cash was king at the park. Nelson, who started working at Waldameer in 1945, when he was 11, said he could never have imagined a cashless system.



"It blew my mind," he said.





ED PALATTELLA can be reached at 870-1813 or by e-mail.


Other changes

The cashless system is the most significant development this year at Waldameer Park & Water World.

Patrons will notice other changes as well.

Owner Paul Nelson said Waldameer is raising prices slightly to cover the cost of living -- 25 cents or 50 cents for all-day passes, depending on the type of pass. Single tickets at Waldameer cost $1.50.

The combination all-day pass for Waldameer Park & Water World will cost $16.95 for patrons shorter than 48 inches and $23.45 for patrons taller than 48 inches.

Waldameer is introducing season passes: $44.95 for patrons shorter than 48 inches and $59.95 for patrons taller than 48 inches. The park will limit the number of season passes to no more 5,000, Nelson said.

Waldameer is selling gift cards this year.

Waldameer is open on weekends starting the weekend of May 8-9. The park's daily schedule starts Memorial Day weekend.

For more information, go to www.waldameer.com.



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