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Transforming GADV Into a Resort


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#1 Nitro1118

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 12:19 AM

Hey guys, I'm new here. Old timers may remember me from the early to late '00's on other park-related forums. It's great to be here! I remember GAcoaster from back years ago from other sites, and you guys have created a great thing here.



Anyway, I've been thinking about this all night, so I figured I'd make a post to get 'em out here.

I really feel GADV is about 5 years of additions to become the chain's first CP-style resort. Here are a quick rundown of why this is sensible...

-Location. It is THE park in the NYC/Philly/NJ area, which is one of the most densely populated, wealthy and tourist raided (NYC, Jersey shore, AC, etc) areas in the entire country.

-Space. It is the world's largest amusement park in the world in terms of physical size. It's plot of land is enormous, with an already big dry park with a huge chunk of undeveloped land.

-Variety. It already has one of the best coaster collections in the world, just added some major flats in Skyscreamer and Zumanjaro, a nice sized waterpark, and most importantly a completely unique safari attraction. 

-They have the world's tallest coaster, world's tallest drop ride, and the #1 coaster in the world that's acknowledged as such by the biggest polls. In other words, they have, like CP, rides that even the GP will travel quite far for and stay at multiple days.

To me, it's a park they will see massive returns on if they invest the necessary cash into it. SFMM has been the park the company has put those kinds of investments into, but competing with Disney and Universal makes a resort experience quite a bit more difficult. So, thinking about it, here's the best plan I came up with to get the park to that proper level.

2015- Refurbish main street, add 1-2 family flats on the Ka/Toro side of the park, and detail throughout the park (some paint here, landscaping there, etc). The key to me is transforming from the entrance to tge boardwalk. I am talking new concrete paths, getting rid of those nasty ice cream-style buildings near Houdini and replacing them with more charming exteriors like those at SFNE, lanscaping, etc.. To me, main street is very important as it can create an immersive and quality first impression, and right now it looks dated and forgettable. Besides that, the park is imbalnlanced flat-wise, and a simple flat or two on the west side would help that. I'd expect all this to push $8-10M. 

2016- A new coaster to replace Chiller. I feel a multi-launch LSM coaster that stretches to the front entrance (partly because of my previously stated importance of 1st impressions) would be perfect. In terms of manufacturer, it'd be Intamin or Mack, with the ride experience being between Cheetah Hunt and Helix (I feel it should be somewhat geared to riders not looking for Maverick intensity).. However, these types of coasters push $18-25M, so keeping SF's insistence on cheaper capital investments in mind, that might be pushing it. Two other alternatives with one being a shorter, but well-themed coaster with pre-ride section like Superman Escape (around $15M US I believe). And the other being either a family wooden by GCI, or a medium-sized, ground-hugging, fast-paced RMC creation ($12M or less). Also, open back up the Movietown loop.

2017- Total Movietown overhaul. First order of business is retheming it to Gotham City (DC doesn't make sense due to S:UF, GL and Bizarro scattered elsewhere.). This would include new shops, theming, walkways, refurbishing and reopening the Batman arena, repaint Nitro, and add a few flat or two. I'd suspect a cost of $10M or so.

2018- Begin groundwork on an on-site hotel a little past the old Safari entrance. I feel this would be great location as its isolated from the park while still being close tram to the entrance, and it could overlook the safari which would be stellar. I'd include a jungle theme with an on-site Rainforest Cafe, hige children's play area, tiki bar outside at the pool area. I'd stretch the process over 2-3 years as the cost will be very high ( $20-35M I'd presume). Assuming they could break up the payment to allow some cash for park improvements, I'd add a slife at HH, and putting some work to give the waterpark some more character.

2019- Updating FA with some new shops and maybe an interactive dark ride themed to a Western shootout.

2020- Open hotel!

While these plans may need to be stretched an extra year or 2 due to cost (although I feel this isn't totally impossible), that is only 6-8 years of development to make GADV a quality resort destination. The park has so many things already going for it and could be the chain's centerpiece, it just needs a few flats, a coaster and touching up what's already there.

Edited by Nitro1118, 20 July 2014 - 12:20 AM.


#2 RC98

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 03:54 PM

Wasn't turning our park into a resort what old management was going to do in the mid 2000s when Ka and Toro were built? Either way I like your plan. Out of the coaster types I'd choose the multi-launcher for our park- if Mack and Intamin are too expensive I'd take a longer new style Premier one with Maverick's dual train loading. The only thing I disagree with is your opinion of the "ice cream buildings" near Houdini.

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#3 jsblumen

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 06:04 PM

It would be great to see a hotel, even though the park may get busier, I think the extra income and investment will lead to a better park.  Right now, I think SFGA gives a horrible first impression.  I was at the park yesterday and here are my thoughts:  The lines to pay for parking were crazy.  I could easily see people waiting 10 - 20 minutes to get in the park and pay for parking.  Next, the parking lot looks like there was a meteor shower.  Then walking to the park, many people can't find the entrance.  I remember there used to be a giant sign (I think).  Then you walk up to security and wait 30 minutes just to get through security.  That's longer than I waited at the airport a few weeks ago.  Then you finally purchase your tickets and enter the park.  Now people can see what Great Adventure is all about, but I can't see people happy before they enter the park, especially if they come without any knowledge of the park.  People won't turn around and leave because they paid the $25 for parking.


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#4 29yrswithaGApass

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 08:08 PM

Welcome to the site Nitro1118!  Your plan sounds like good one with a sensible financial approach.

 

About the only thing I would do differently would be to keep Movie Town as Movie Town (with more film themeing and attractions) and not do a DC or Gotham overlay.  I think I am just burnt out from so many years of super heroes.  I think others may also feel the same way - the costumed DC characters haven't been in the park this year and I don't really hear too many people complaining.



#5 The Master

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 08:48 PM

The park would need to improve the level of their clientele in order to become a resort. As of now the park is too poorly managed, poorly maintained, and the guests are too low class and obnoxious. 


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#6 29yrswithaGApass

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 08:59 PM

I have been to plenty of "resorts" and I could say the same for their clientele including Disney, Universal, and Cedar Point (note:  at times, just like G.A.).  The only way to get around that is to jack up the admission fee a la Discovery Cove where it is out of reach of an entire demographic, but even then you are possibly dealing with a whole other set of issues like jerks and snobs.  Where don't you encounter troublesome people today?  It is pretty widespread and not just a theme park or Great Adventure issue.



#7 Nitro1118

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 09:08 PM

Welcome to the site Nitro1118!  Your plan sounds like good one with a sensible financial approach.
 
About the only thing I would do differently would be to keep Movie Town as Movie Town (with more film themeing and attractions) and not do a DC or Gotham overlay.  I think I am just burnt out from so many years of super heroes.  I think others may also feel the same way - the costumed DC characters haven't been in the park this year and I don't really hear too many people complaining.


The reason I mentioned ditching the Movietown theme is because WB no longer owns SF, so attaining these copyrights can be tricky. I believe both Terminator at SFMM and Tony Hawk had to be rethemed because SF lost the rights.

Besides that, the area houses 2 Batman-themed coasters already, and IMO a Gotham City area has higher potential for solid theming and coherence.

#8 29yrswithaGApass

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 09:12 PM

It makes sense... like I mentioned I think I am just burnt out on the themes to the point that when I hear a super hero tie-in I get far from excited.



#9 The Master

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 01:10 AM

I have been to plenty of "resorts" and I could say the same for their clientele including Disney, Universal, and Cedar Point (note:  at times, just like G.A.).  The only way to get around that is to jack up the admission fee a la Discovery Cove where it is out of reach of an entire demographic, but even then you are possibly dealing with a whole other set of issues like jerks and snobs.  Where don't you encounter troublesome people today?  It is pretty widespread and not just a theme park or Great Adventure issue.

 

I agree every park is always going to get some troublemakers, even at Disney and I have seen enough A-holes there. However for some reason GADV and SFA just have this culture and atmosphere  where many guests just revel in acting like A-holes. Like they go there and expect to cause trouble as part of their day at GADV. This is probably from the cities of Philly and NYC where people often enjoy being rude and obnoxious. Those two cities are pools of very rough people. Other parks seem to pretty much prevent a atmosphere of guests going to them and being jerks for the sake of being jerks but GADV and SFA seem to fail at preventing this atmosphere from developing. Early in the season it is not bad, but as the season progresses things do get worse with FF being the roughest time of year now at GADV.  

 

Part of the problem may be that SF keeps reverting back to pushing extreme thrill rides to bring in mostly the yahoo types.  Another problem are the poor management choices that have helped to promote a hostile atmosphere in the park. They there are all the discounts that draw in less savory people. I don't say this to be mean, GADV deserves better management than it has now. It could be really great if they could be competent. But it seems that the market niche SF has targeted is a lower level that the resort niche that Hershey and Ceder Point have targeted. Every company has to decide if it wants to be high end, mid level, or low discount level, and SF including GADV have targeted the lower price/high thrill market instead of a upper mid level resort market such as Morey's, Hershey, and Ceder Point. I just don't see management changing gears and moving to target a different market then have for decades which is what would be required to turn GADV into even just a mid level resort. 


Edited by The Master, 21 July 2014 - 02:04 AM.

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#10 DANofNJ

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 05:45 AM

just look at what a SF season pass costs compared to Cedar Fair parks.   I got my gold SF pass for about $75.00.  My cedar fair platinum pass cost me $180.   SF is the walmart of amusment parks. 



#11 GAcoaster

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 06:32 AM

But even Disney at more than $100 a ticket just for the day gets BAD crowds. Lots of people where you look at them and think "how can they afford this" but they still show up. There is no real way to keep the riff raff out except to have a zero tolerance policy for any nonsense which both gets rid of the undesirable guests as well as asking it so if they do show up they have to behave and they decide they don't want to come back because they weren't comfortable being there. 



#12 truepolak90

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 12:38 AM

I love these discussions and ideas about the future of Great Adventure.  If we were to add a resort hotel, I think our park would benefit from it extremely. We could also see a bigger budget for shows as well as a Golden Kingdom and Plaza Del Carnival type re themes with boosted attendance. . If they wanted to test the waters, they could (and should) add a campground and cabin type resort to  see how an overnight accommodation will benefit the park. 



#13 The Master

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 02:48 AM

But even Disney at more than $100 a ticket just for the day gets BAD crowds. Lots of people where you look at them and think "how can they afford this" but they still show up. There is no real way to keep the riff raff out except to have a zero tolerance policy for any nonsense which both gets rid of the undesirable guests as well as asking it so if they do show up they have to behave and they decide they don't want to come back because they weren't comfortable being there. 

 

With Disney World many people save up money over time in order to visit, but by being such a large investment and being the only time or one of the few times they may get to Disney gives them quite an incentive to behave as not to risk ruining their big lifetime vacation. However Disneyland is much more of a local hangout than WDW is, mainly to the greater local population of SoCal vs Orlando. Hershey park wasn't always the big family resort park like it is now. Back in the late 60s it had degraded into a rough hangout for riff raffs and skuzz balls. My mother who saw this first hand while growing up said that after awhile her whole family stopped going there until the major revamp of Hershey park in the 70s. At that time Hershey sucessfully turned themselves around into a family friendly resort with the major overhaul of the park and keeping the riff raff out. For GADV to become a resort they need to do what Hershey did and overhaul not just GADV, but the corporate chain itself.

 

Many people look at GADV as a riff raff park, as well as SFA and SFMM and the whole SF chain. Even Disneyland performers often poke fun at how skuzzy SFMM is. I heard of horror stories about SFA, but that park didn't seem so bad until I lived through a couple myself. While I have had many good trips to GADV, I also had many bad trips and often don't enjoy it as much as other parks due to poor operations and a hostile environment that prevels there. GADV isn't bad all the time more often it is than is not. They don't handle the crowds well at all, and they allow guests to misbehave. Most of us agree about how awlful operations are at HH anymore. SF corporate has created a bad image around themselves through poor choices over the decades, and for any of their parks to become a true resort will require huge improvements to management, operations, and overall quality and customer service while cleaning the riff raff that pragues their parks. Sadly SF management seems to have zero interest in improving their company and their image like Hershey Park did in the 70s. SF keeps falling back on the same bad habits even after so many owner turnovers.   


Edited by The Master, 22 July 2014 - 09:06 AM.

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#14 FlumeOp1974

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 07:28 AM

The plans for great adventure was to be a resort from day one. WOuld a hotel work sure would. Will it weed out the problems some what. The biggest thing that could and should be done is end deep discounting.  Or do as Universl does offer them only to season pass holders guests. Or large groups. Create a camp ground, etc. Just go back to the orginal plans and work off them. But give people a reason to want to say multi days.  



#15 The Master

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 09:22 AM

You have a pretty good plan there FlumeOp. I think what also should be added are a larger and better trained staff to improve crowd capacity, better security, better upkeep (GADV is infamous for frequent breakdowns), and focus less on adding so many big low capacity thrill rides and  focus more on family friendly flats and unique rides. Their marketing seems to keep falling back on trying to mainly attract teenagers and young adults.   

 

One of GADV 's big problem is that they can't handle the level of crowds they get now. Just plopping down a hotel without improving their ability to handle even greater crowds would be a mess. 


Edited by The Master, 22 July 2014 - 09:33 AM.

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#16 BigMak

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 11:54 AM

I am not sure how well a hotel would work.  I don't see GA as a park that many people would travel to for an extended period of time.  Being where it is located, you have NY, NJ and PA customers who can visit the park and drive back home.  Is there much to do or see for more than one day?  If somebody was coming from the midwest, I would think they stay closer to NYC or in Philadelphia and mage GA a day trip.  A coaster enthusiast may want to visit on multiple days.  But this would be a small percentage and not one you can base off of.



#17 DANofNJ

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 12:43 PM

SFgadv right now is not a multi day park.  You can get most of all the major coasters done in a few hrs if you get to the park at opening.   And right now they have a crappy collection of flat rides and barely any shows. 



#18 RC98

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 08:13 PM

^ I don't exactly agree on the comment about the collection of flat rides.  IMO they have most of the classic flats now (including Deja Vu which actually has unique theming), 3 thrill flats in twister, skyscreamer, and zumanjaro, and two completely unique attractions in the safari and Houdini. 

 

However I can agree that you can do everything in one day easily if you go from opening to closing.  However the only regional parks this isn't possible for are CP and SFMM IMO.


Edited by RC98, 22 July 2014 - 08:13 PM.

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#19 Nitro1118

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 08:40 PM

As I said in the OP, the park certainly needs flats, but considering the coasters + safari + flats the park does have, I feel the overall package isn't any worse than resort-ish regional parks like Hershey, all the Busch parks, etc... (all those parks I can easily finish in a day). When it comes to rides that draw interest across the world, the park is probably only behind CP and maybe SFMM.

It's my opinion that the park's weaknesses lay in its beauty and shows moreso than flats. It lacks the prestine nature of parks like CP or Hershey, which is the primary difference I see between a resort park and regional park.

As for GADV not being a multi-day park, I disagree if you include HH. Also, years back when the hotel idea was thrown around, I imagined the park partnering with different Jersey shore destinations and offering shuttles to and from there and the hotel. That could easily turn a 1-2 day stay into a 4-6 day vacation very easily.

#20 FlumeOp1974

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 03:48 AM

All valid points. in the 70s a great deal of a guests time was going to the Aqua, Arena, Bandstand, And Music Hall, Taking all these shows could easly take up 3 hours of your visit to the park. Even the stunt show needs to be included in that total. I belive a strong campain to restore some of the landscaping is in order as well. Which is something Ive been after for a long time on this site.Concrete is not natural beauty. So a guest back in the 70s and early 80s had a lot to do at the park. I also remember when people would sit on the patios of the restarunts and people watch. With a snack and coffee. And chat plan their next adventure. And we were very aware of crowed control, guest conduct, and what was proper guest dress code. just take a look at old pictures and you get the idea, Do we need flats yes, but finish the theming. Work to restore the diffrent sections of the park. restore the 3 major resturants back to their own menus, Build the hotel, with transportation to the main gate. With suttle service to the shopping outlets.

casnios, Open the park for a Winter Event with the shops on Main Street and Dream Street open to shopping, Run Big Wheel and the Carousel, and a few small flats, Open Yum Yum and Gingerbread and off up a sit down style meal.  can it be done sure thing, if it can been done in Germany why not NJ ?.


Edited by FlumeOp1974, 23 July 2014 - 03:54 AM.





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