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    • 29yrswithaGApass

      RECENT SITE UPDATES   11/03/2017

                                                   
Xander

My Thoughts on the Park

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WOW!!! THANK YOU for saying (in a far softer way) what I have been trying to get across to many in this group about the sad reality that is GA today. Your simple use of park attendance/market population ratios clearly displays just how far off the mark management is when it comes to the simple marketing of this park and its operations.

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That sort of summed my feeling's also about how the general public (and myself to en extent, but i don't like it) has pretty much "accepted" the fact that the park is an inner-city theme park, and it reflect's the times we live in. But yes the whole concept of a Theme Park is to walk in the gates, and forget about the real world, this park is more a "reflection" of the real world. But VERY good pointing out the fact about how all the smaller Park's, in smaller market's have Resort's/Hotel's on site and we do not, and you nailed it on the reason's why. My biggest hope is that we eventually get a hotel on site attached to the park in my lifetime (when i still can enjoy it) but at this point they would have to, over year's, start to shift the level's of themeing and quality up, and the pricepoint's along with it to attract a little different market.

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Interesting take on an argument many people here side with. A few comments...

 

1) When talking about SF as a whole, plopping resorts down at their parks simply doesn't make much financial sense. It cost CP $60M simply to rennovate Breakers. I am sure DreamMore and the Universal hotels cost the kind of money most SF parks would never see a return on. Literally the only SF park I could see it work at is GAdv, and that would be contingent on a very, very expensive and extensive makeover of the entire park. Parks like Universal and even Dollywood are in year-round tourist destinations that can turn profit in the offseason. CP is an exception, but they have a rock-solid reputation built over the last 20-30 years. Our park would need more than a cleanup, some show and a hotel to become the world class destination CP is.

 

2) Speaking of CP, I've always felt that park is the prototype that GAdv should aspire to be. CF in general is a more cleaned up version of SF...little to no theming, relatively high use of advertisements, and mostly thrill-oriented (with something for every age group).

 

IMO, GAdv will never be a heavy-hitter in the family-oriented THEME park business. There is too much established competition around. Hershey and BGW get heavy flow of visitors from this area, with the Orlando parks getting the wealthier class. I don't see GAdv doing what any of those parks do better than them without some unprecedented transformation. However, they can do one thing better than all parks on the east coast...thrill. Taking the same market CP dominates is the only sensible course of action. Obviously it would still take major work, but it is a lot more feasible than the Disney/Universal/Busch route.

 

3) Unfortunately, our park was decimated over such a long period of time that it will take far more capital to get it where it should be than SF is capable of spending. Literally every section of the park needs an extensive makeover to get to an elite level. Aside from the issues you mentioned...the entrance is very outdated, main street could use livening up, Movietown/Old Country is a complete mess, the Boardwalk is outdated with the simulator building vacant, GK has largely been reduced to thick shrubbery and little else, the area where RT was has left PDC looking bare, and who knows what will happen with the lakefront.

 

That alone would take a ton of capital. Throw in repainting existing rides and buildings, repaving the lot, adding shows, adding flats while staying on the cutting edge of the coaster business.. GAdv being a resort is a pipedream in the foreseeable future.

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I enjoyed reading your thoughts Xander! I have a few comments as well:

 

1. I definitely agree with you about the advertisements in the park. I hate the train wrappings, the ads on Twister are even worse. And that's not even including "Plymouth Rock Assurance Arena" and all the random Jersey Boys stuff throughout the park. Ideally, there would be no ads in the park at all, but in reality even Disney has them. IMO the park should just make them more subtle, for example at the entrance to Twister have a small sign saying "Twister is sponsored by Twix" rather having the ugly wrapping on the ride.

 

Sort of like this:

Space1.jpg

 

Instead of this:

2015_06_25_IMG_1712%20copy.jpg

2. It's interesting that a lot of the things you refer to, such as the trash floating in the fountain, dumpster screens being left open, and trucks and ladders being left around coasters are actually really easy to fix and would pretty much cost the park no money whatsoever. It can't be that hard to send a sweeper over to get trash out of the fountain, to have the trucks driven away when they're done being used, or to shut a screen at a dumpster.

 

3. As bad as it is the metal detectors may just be necessary. At least SF isn't Universal who puts metal detectors at every coaster for loose articles.

 

4. As for the park being a resort with a hotel I don't see it for the reasons that Nitro1118 said above. IMO the park was messed up by the two previous managements. The management from 1999-2006 gave the park a blank check, adding a ton of rides left and right with no real plan for them, and as a result many of the flat rides either were victims of short staffing or never worked at all in the first place. When they finally started to "get it" with Golden Kingdom (in its original state) and Plaza del Carnaval (in its original state) they left. In the later 2000s management stopped over expanding the park, but they instead did the opposite, removing rides left and right and closing paths to cut spending. What's left is pretty much what we have now. Current management has been slowly trying (Adventure Alley, Zumanjaro and El Diablo flat rides and the Safari as a unique family attraction) but there are still some big obvious holes to fill.

 

That being said I'd love for the park to fill the rest of these holes, clean themselves up, and cater to a wider audience while maintaining their status as a premier coaster park!

Edited by RC98

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Great read, and I agree with what you're saying. Unfortunately as of right now, it doesn't appear change is coming at all, and unless there is a huge management change it will remain this way. Sad thing, as the park would look 100x better without the ads, for example

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Couldn't agree more! 2005/2006 saw a major transformation which completely changed the atmosphere but unfortunately led them to bankruptcy. The current management is trying to watch their spending but they really need to find more room in their budget for upkeep and maintenance.

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I agree with your post Xander. GADV and SF as a whole just has a very poor business plan. Just nickel and dime people as much as they can and unconcerned with providing a present park experience for guests. I don't even bother going to HH much anymore because of the awful operations. It is sad to see how great the park be if they just try.

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Im late to this conversation but wanted to chime in too. I agree with all this. Perhaps a few well written letters to corporate office can help force many of these actions. Executives do listen to there customers.

Its my opinion that the most pressing change needed for overall experience is in the under staffing issues and work protocol . So many things operate incredibly slow. Maybe its our young generations work ethic in this area of the country but supervisors ought to be doing a better job moving things along within the workforce and management ought to be much more demanding of the supervisors lists of work details. At the same time though, i guess you cant expect a high energy staff making a few bucks an hour.

As far as the price points, certain non ride upgrades, or even a resort hotel to attract better demographics, a relevant example would point to Wildwood NJ. They spent a ton of money trying to improve there city and reputation on the boardwalk but im still not going back given all the other options available. Our park has a certain reputation too. I think GA would suffer the same results.

Would loved to be proved wrong on all of that.

 

All in all though, i love our park. Most of the additions we have gotten are awesome. I would guess that the costs attract enough crowds to make some money for the investors and some days the park does seem to operate somewhat smooth. Sure there are many areas for improvement but its very rare that i leave disappointed.

We might be surprised to get what we want if our voices are heard.

#greatadventurelivesmatter

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I think one thing worth mentioning that often gets overlooked or misunderstood is that "caring" does cost money.


On an individual basis, of course it doesn't; if a park services employee is already being paid and has his dustpan, he can grab that piece of trash, or not -- same price. But how does he know which are the most important nooks to look in? Or what will motivate him to walk ten steps out of his way if he knows he won't be rewarded for doing a good job, or punished for doing a bad one? How can he get something out of the fountain if the only equipment he has is a broom and a broken dustpan? The analogy holds for friendly ride operators, efficient restaurant cashiers, and just about everyone else who wears a Six Flags name tag. The reality is that when you're talking about a workforce of thousands (mostly in jobs that are temporary and low-wage by design) you need investments in people, training, infrastructure, and equipment to help those employees get on the same page and motivated to do their jobs well.


This was something Red Zone invested in, and you saw it play out in the park, with a more cohesive, motivated employee base than we'd seen in the preceding decade. It's something Cedar Fair invests in heavily, and you also see it on the midways of Cedar Point, Knotts, and their other properties. Obviously parks like Dollywood, Busch Gardens, and WDW "care" a lot, but it is important to realize that that "caring" really comes down to investing in effective training programs, paying to retain the right people to motivate their peers, funding meaningful performance management programs, and investing in infrastructure and equipment that sets employees up for success and reinforces their roles and larger mission.


Obviously, the current Six Flags management has chosen not to do this, but to go for a bare-bones approach. I don't think they're stupid or even that they don't "care" per se; they just think -- like Premier did, and like plenty of other businesses outside of the industry do -- that they will be more profitable spending the bare minimum on employees and infrastructure, that the financial gain they would see from investing in all of these things wouldn't be able to justify the cost.


Anyone who's read my posts here knows I echo everyone's wishes for a cleaner, friendlier, more efficient park, but I also acknowledge that if the current management team can avoid some of Premier's mistakes, their "bargain basement" business model may well be the best approach -- financially speaking -- given their their parks' history, size, and reputation. I don't think anyone can say now that this is the right or wrong approach (and it's key to remember that SF has been doing remarkably well financially in recent years -- although perhaps at the expense of long-term success). We'll see how it plays out over the next 5-10 years.

Edited by pashacar

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