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What to do with parks that can't grow anymore?

Discussion in 'General Discussions & Opinions' started by Pokemaniac, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. Pokemaniac

    Pokemaniac Mountain monkey Staff Member Administrator Moderator Social Media Team

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    A thought that popped into my head the other day, while reading about speculation of a Giga coaster for Kings Island. Among the arguments for the plausibility of a Giga, one was "They basically have everything else already". And I realized then that this is true for a whole lot of parks out there. When discussing the next possible purchase of some large park, we can almost go through a checklist: Multi-looper (launched/non-launched), Invert, Flyer, Hyper, Wing Coaster, Kiddie/Family, Wooden, Spinner, something with a vertical/beyond vertical drop, and possibly indoor coasters. And Gigas, if build ceilings allow it. It's strangely common out there for large parks to only miss a few of those. "The park has everything but X, therefore they should build X". It feels like the park is one or two coasters away from having built everything it can build, or it has one of everything already (Cedar Point being a go-to example) - or at least one of everything they can afford, both with regards to money and with room.

    Meanwhile, many parks have long since filled their available land, or at least all land where coasters can practically be built because of noise regulations. Parks like Liseberg and Europa Park have to cram their largest coasters into a corner, because neighbouring residential areas prevent the construction of noisy attractions elsewhere. Blackpool Pleasure Beach has to weave its latest coaster in between its classic woodies. California's Disneyland was famously locked in by other developments within a decade of its opening. Even mighty Cedar Point is filled almost to the brim with coasters. Space is at a premium, and for many, the land available for coasters has already been filled. Possibly even with rides that have plenty of years left in their service life, ensuring that no replacement is really needed in the foreseeable future.

    And finally, even if a park has plenty of land to expand and doesn't mind repeating itself with rides, there's a limit to growth. A guest can only ride so many coasters in a day, or there are only so many guests that will visit the park in the first place, and adding another coaster won't always increase revenue to the point of profitability. For instance, Geauga Lake learned the hard way how a park can grow too big in a competitive market. There is a practical upper limit to how big a park can be, and while that exact value probably is a business secret, I suspect there are plenty of parks out there feeling comfortable with not growing any more.


    This thread is about discussing these limitations, and others. Are there parks out there that are, for all intents and purposes, "complete"? Parks that have grown to their practical size limit, with a lineup of rides they won't need to replace for many years? Will all parks eventually reach such a state? And what happens to development when you have "one of everything"? Guests will happily ride coasters that are decades old, if they are maintained well. Do parks have to replace rides with many years left in them, just for the sake of building something new, or can they get away (that is, make profits in the long run) with maintaining an old lineup for years and just float on a stable visitor base? In short: is stagnation inevitable, and is it inherently bad?

    How do you feel about parks that don't grow anymore?
     
  2. Pokemaniac

    Pokemaniac Mountain monkey Staff Member Administrator Moderator Social Media Team

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    Okay, this thread was a failure so far. I'll try to revive it through rebranding. A question-based title ought to draw more attention.

    Also to make the usual example in an attempt to spark discussion, I'll mention Parques Reunidos. They seem to specialize in parks that have grown to a comfortable size, and seem content to keep them that way. Most of their parks haven't got more than a single new big ride since they were bought by the chain, and visitor numbers are overall stable if not declining for those parks, but judging by their financial results it seems to be a strategy that makes money. Real life isn't RCT, you don't have to improve your park or add rides to them willy-nilly. Growth is not a purpose in itself, it has to be done in accordance with a financial strategy. And for Parques Reunidos, the strategy is "We're making money now, why invest?". It seems to have worked in the short and medium term, but it'll be exciting to see whether it holds up as the decades pass. For how long will Parques Reunidos manage to turn a profit without significant investments in their parks?

    We also saw another example at Blackpool Pleasure Beach just the other day. The park is filled with old rides, many of them listed, and most of them still quite popular. BPB has been able to trot on without building a new coaster in more than a decade, or two decades if you account for the fact that Infusion wasn't new when it arrived at the park. Part of the reason why the park develops so slowly is that it ran out of usable space years ago. The latest development, Icon, had to be weaved in-between the existing rides like a thread in a tapestry. Still, the business is sustained, since the old rides prove popular enough to draw guests for decades upon decades. But some new development will have to happen, the available land is limited, and old rides can only clunk on for so long: Something old has to come down eventually. But could every park manage to keep on like BPB, coasting on their existing lineup as the rides get several decades old?
     
  3. Matt N

    Matt N Active Member

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    The Walibi parks survived for a good decade without a new coaster.
     
  4. Jim in Canada

    Jim in Canada New Member

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    Parks like Blackpool can survive for ages without a new signature attraction because they've been around long enough to become a tradition. Blackpool (the city) is already a tourist destination like Vegas or New Orleans and BPB is just one of those things that you're expected to do when you vacation there.
    Also, they've been around long enough that many of the rides breed nostalgia. People take their kids on the rides there because their parents took them when they were kids.
    None of the above is going to help out a place like Kings Island or Cedar Point. Those places don't get visits from people who go there as a sidenote to their vacation in the area - they go there specifically to go to the park. Those parks need to offer something exciting enough to get people to come back. Locals are great, but there aren't enough people in Sandusky to support CP on their own.

    As for "we have every kind of coaster, now what?" there are four possibilities that pop into my head:
    1. Build a family-sized version of an existing coaster. Got a huge inverted? Build one that's good as a "work your way up to it" coaster.
    2. Woodies. You can never have too many wood coasters and the ride experience between a twister, out/back, terrain, whatever, can be substantial. Even two twisters can feel very, very different.
    3. Change up a coaster (even if just temporarily). Turn your cars around backward for a season. Make your stand-up coaster a floorless. Re-theme that indoor coaster. Get new trains that swap out the OTSRs for lap bars. Hell, even that last thing can make your old Vekoma Boomerang into a must-ride attraction.
    4. Got money but no room? Build a companion coaster on top of/around/thru an existing one to create a pair of dueling coasters.
     
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  5. Matt N

    Matt N Active Member

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    There is always the alternative of creating a new ride type if you've got everything. Besides, with the way that theme park technology has advanced since 2010, many manufacturers are constantly making new ride types.
     
  6. Lofty

    Lofty Social Media Team Staff Member Social Media Team

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    Events, seasonal layovers and ride amendments/adjustments.

    Basically, park's need to keep their guests visiting and repeat visitors play a huge margin in the attendance per year. To keep them interested, parks have been more and more reliant on events, these tend to run for months and are primarily led by seasons and holidays.

    It all depends on what their CAPEX is, too, though. If they want to reinvest a lot, they''d need to take a look at what they have and search for the missing gap. Not to mention that they'd obviously be researching into current and future trends to tap into (looking at you, VR).
     
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