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How often do established parks really add new rides?

Pokemaniac

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I know the thread title sounds a little like it belongs more in Q&A, but have some context:

It's a fairly common complaint out there that one's home park "so rarely builds any good rides anymore". It feels like your favourite park hasn't got a good new coaster in forever. That the park is stagnating, compared to other parks ...whose own fans will lodge the exact same complaints about.

I feel like whenever this discussion comes up, the base level of what is an appreciable rate of adding new rides is never established. When a park is no longer expanding, and just sustaining its line-up, how often does it really need to add new rides? And I'm not talking should or what we would prefer, but what is the current practice? How often are big coasters really being built?

In other words, if every park is bad at adding new rides, we might be expecting too much as a baseline. Far too often, it feels like people compare their home park's rate of new coasters to the crazy Six Flags years of the early 2000's, or to rapidly expanding parks in China or the Middle East, or the flagship parks of the big chains. But let's step back a little and look at what is realistic. How many parks out there are really as good at adding new rides as you would like your home park to be? How good is that level?

If you can, please try to use real-world examples. It's easy to say, for instance, "one new coaster every three years", but how many parks out there are consistently building new coasters that often?
 

CanobieFan

Active Member
As far as independent parks go, Lagoon is probably one of the few parks actually adding a coaster every few years - https://rcdb.com/4570.htm\

My old home park... went some +20 years without adding a new coaster but in that gap.. added so many other rides it never really bothered me? Between Corkscrew and Untamed at Canobie... they added a splash boat, S&S tower, wet/dry water slides, Frisbee. Skater (Disko), wave swinger, Wipeout, Techno Jump, a water park, and +5 kiddie rides.... So while not coasters, there was still continuous expansion / ride replacement.

Things in Boston were kinda strange in the late 90's and early 00's with Six Flags buying Riverside and it becoming SFNE with massive massive amounts of new rides and coaster...and then Whalom closing forever...Canobie never felt left behind in all of that.
 
Great thread, will be an interesting read. No complaints here though, my home park has consistently added a big new coaster / major investment every 4 or 5 years for as long as I’ve been visiting, with smaller investments in between. I know what to expect, I think it’s a great model that seems to work for them, and they’re consistent with it. Long may it continue.

Edited to add: Alton Towers btw
 

MouseAT

Active Member
Other than the major Merlin parks, most of the UK parks are terrible at adding anything of significance on any sort of predictable cycle these days, so I'm not sure I even have any expectations any more. I certainly don't expect much worthwhile to pop up over here these days. Icon at Blackpool was a nice exception to the rule, but I'm not expecting a follow-up any time soon.

This thread also got me thinking about quality vs. quantity, worthwhile additions vs. filler. Part of me wonders what percentage of regular additions are actually considered to be decent attractions, and how regularly parks add attractions that we consider great. I know I'd rather parks added something genuinely fun and worthwhile every 10-15 years than threw up something generic every 2-3, only to be greeted with a big "meh".
 

Thekingin64

Well-Known Member
I believe Phantasialand aims for every 3 years but unsure on that. Merlin can be quite good on the large investments every so often but never anything of significance between the investments, tend to agree with @MouseAT here.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
I guess one of the big things here is what you mean by an "established" park. For example, Thorpe has been open for 40 years, but when did that become 'established'? Was it in the 90s when they truly became a park? Or was it the late 2000s when they actually had proper big coasters? Equally, Energylandia is only 5 years old, but is that now an established park? If it is, when did it become established? If not, when is it? etc.

Anyways, for reference, here's some big enough European chains and parks and when they added major attractions (so not restricting to just coasters, but not including major infrastructure investments / hotels, I could also be missing some):

Merlin
Thorpe Park
1996 - X
2002 - Colossus
2003 - Nemesis Inferno
2006 - Stealth
2009 - Saw
2012 - Swarm
2016 - Derren Brown's Ghost Train

Alton Towers
1994 - Nemesis
1998 - Oblivion
2002 - Air
2005 - Rita
2010 - Th13teen
2013 - Smiler
2018 - Wicker Man

Chessington
2002 - Vampire redo
2004 - Dragon's Fury / Land of the Dragons
2013 - Zufari

Heide Park
2001 - Colossos
2007 - Desert Race
2011 - Krake
2015 - Flug der Damonen
2017 - Ghostbusters

Gardaland
2005 - Sequoia Adventure
2008 - Mammut
2011 - Raptor
2015 - Oblivion

Compagnie des Alpes
Walibi Holland
2002 - Goliath
2016 - Lost Gravity
2019 - Untamed

Walibi Belgium
1999 - Vampire
2001 - Werewolf & Cobra
2013 - Psyke Underground
2016 - Pulsar
2018 - Tiki Waka (and start of 5yr overhaul plan)
2019 - Popcorn Revenge
2021 - Expected Intamin Mega

Walibi Rhone-Alpes
2016 - Timber
2019 - Mystic

Parc Asterix
2012 - Oz'Iris
2017 - Pegase Express
2021/2 - Expected Intamin

Bellewaerde
2013 - Huracan
2017 - Dawson Duel
2020/21 - Potential coaster (if plans are ever re-submitted)

Parque Reunidos
Movie Park Germany
2001 - MP Xpress
2007 - Nickland
2011 - Van Helsing's Factory
2017 - Star Trek

Mirabilandia
2000 - Katun
2006 - Katapult & Ghostville
2009 - iSpeed
2012 - Divertical

Parque de Atracciones de Madrid
1999 - Tornado
2005 - Tarantula
2006 - Abismo

Belantis
2003 - Open
2010 - Huracan
2015 - Cobra des Amun Ra

Bobbejaanland
2004 - Typhonn & Oki Doki
2011 - Dizz
2015 - The Forbidden Caves
2019 - Fury / Land of Legends

Other Parks
Europa Park
2002 - Silver Star
2005 - Atlantica
2009 - Blue Fire
2012 - Wodan
2014 - Arthur
2017 - Voletarium

Phantasialand
2002 - Winjas & River Quest
2006 - Black Mamba
2011 - Maus au Chocolat
2014 - Chiapas (originally planned for 2013)
2016 - Taron / Klugheim
2020 - Expected Fly / Rookburgh (potentially originally planned for 2019)

Liseberg
2003 - Balder
2014 - Helix
2018 - Valkyria

Port Aventura
2007 - Furius Baco
2012 - Shambhala
2017 - Red Force

Plopsaland
2000 - Park opens as Plopsaland
2004 - Draak
2009 - Anubis
2017 - Heide (originally planned for 2016)
2021 - Potential major investment

Paultons Park
2006 - Cobra
2011 - Peppa Pig World
2016 - Lost Kingdom
2020 - Expected Tornado Springs

Flamingo Land
2005 - Velocity
2006 - Kumali
2009 - Mumbo Jumbo
2013 - Hero
2020 - Expected Intamin Mega

Hansa Park
2009 - Fluch von Novogrod
2015 - Karnan

Tripsdrill
2008 - Mammut
2013 - Karacho
2020 - Expected Vekoma (potentially originally planned for 2019)

Djurs Sommerland
2008 - Piraten
2013 - Juvelen
2017 - DrageKongen

There's probably plenty of parks and attractions there I've missed too / too lazy to go through. Haven't covered Disney or Lego because eurgh. However, in short:

-The average for parks to add new major attractions seems to be every 4-6 years. This depends on the park's size / finances available, it's location and competitors and age of other attractions.
--Smaller parks are an exception to this, and likely add when they can / when their parent company isn't focusing on bigger parks they own.
---Larger parks are also sometimes an exception to this, as they also focus on major non-attraction investments (hotels or second gate experiences for example)

-When a park wants to accelerate its development, or redevelop the park, they seem to add a new major attraction every 2-3 years.

So for this subset of mid-to-big European park, established parks should really be adding major investments at most every 6 years to be remaining competitive; ideally less. If not, the chances are they'll end up bulking together major investments eventually to get back the people they've slowly lost anyways.
 

cookie

Member
Djurs Sommerland
2008 - Piraten
2013 - Juvelen
2017 - DrageKongen
The Mack water coaster they added in 2011 I'd argue was significant enough, plus they've been good with inbetweener investments like major flats and family rides.

On the topic at hand, it's easier to feel stagnation I think if it's a park you visit a lot, no matter how good it is, since sameness will bore people out eventually. It's hard to change that if you don't keep adding major stuff all the time, which, as we saw with Six Flags's shopping spree at the turn of the millennium, isn't sustainable — plus I have huge doubts on the long term of many of the parks popping up in China and elsewhere.

I do think enthusiasts crave more than what parks are able to give sometimes. Major investments are fun and all, but they take time, money and risk, and the price tags aren't getting lower.
 
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Nice post Josh. I’m no expert, can only really comment on AT. But don’t forget, aside from infrastructure they’ve also added things like Energiser, Ripsaw, Hex, Duel, Submission, Nemesis Sub Terra, CBeebies Land, and other ‘family attractions.’ Now I know some of these cannot be classed as ‘major’ investments, but some can, Hex, Sub Terra, Cbeebies for example, and the other were all significant.

In fact, it’s these significant in between attractions that Towers seem to be slacking on in the last few years.
 

cookie

Member
Nice post Josh. I’m no expert, can only really comment on AT. But don’t forget, aside from infrastructure they’ve also added things like Energiser, Ripsaw, Hex, Duel, Submission, Nemesis Sub Terra, CBeebies Land, and other ‘family attractions.’ Now I know some of these cannot be classed as ‘major’ investments, but some can, Hex, Sub Terra, Cbeebies for example, and the other were all significant.

In fact, it’s these significant in between attractions that Towers seem to be slacking on in the last few years.
I think that's the key. If we get a lot of inbetween investments, the delay between the big guns don't sting as much.

Merlin's been slacking on those investments while closing a lot of their inbetween rides at the same time, creating wider and wider gaps in their lineups.
 

JoshC.

Active Member
For clarity, I've ignored smaller/filler investments. They're too hard to keep track of (especially retrospectively). And in any case, I think by and large, people only truly care about the big investments - what will grab people's attention more: two monster coasters spread over 4 years with the odd thing in-between, or 5 years of decent-enough flat/water/dark rides? For the most part, it'll be the coasters.
 

InsomniaMelon

New Member
I think the word “established” can mean different things as well. A park might be established yet still want to do a series of investments to attract different audiences to create an all round park. Paultons Park is a great example of this: despite being established in the young family market, they are building a new themed area every 2 years as they gradually move into the thrill market. They’ll also soon need to look at other needs such as becoming a resort as they are beginning to become a large enough park for this.

Should we count resort work as investments? After all it’s parks with hotels that will attract people to stay longer and from further afield. I think some people get too focused on roller coasters and some of the best theme parks don’t rely on this and still keep people coming back.

It’s the overall experience that truly makes a park. Yes a roller coaster will give the park visitors and publicity but on its own it cannot make visitors return. That’s why maintenance programmes like Towers Loving Care are so important to making the park feel inviting and worth a returning visit.

So, in essence, whilst the big investments are important for an established park, the upkeep and smaller investments are what keep the park feel alive and worth visiting which makes gaps between large investments acceptable for the public


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Pokemaniac

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I put "established" in the title and OP to exclude parks that are still rapidly expanding. I would say a proper established park is one where expansion has plateaued, maybe they've used all the land they've got or reached a number of operating rides they don't want to exceed.

I also agree with the observations that smaller investments are really important. For a start, one can't base an entire park only on big rides. Smaller attractions provide guests with more stuff to do, which in turn reduces the queue times of the big attractions. Besides, if a park adds only one big ride every five years, they better expect that guests will only go to the park every five years as well. Novelty is king, and a new attraction - even if it's a kiddie flat ride - always looks good in promotional material.

I too share the impression that many parks seem to have forgotten the smaller investments in recent years. It seems to be a trend to make a spectacle with a big ride every once in a blue moon, and trying to drum up excitement with events and celebrations in in-between years, but as long as the park's looks and lineup don't change, the place will feel stagnant. I consider Thorpe Park an interesting case study here, as I noticed upon my recent visit that they really only had added two rides in the decade since I last went there.
 
Interesting Topic

Alton DID have a four year rule with it's secret weapons starting with Nemesis in 94, And I feel that is a about right for Major coaster investments in general.

However things such as the economy can put a wobble on it, other issues and trends I've noticed is:-

-Resort building, The 00's were when theme parks had to start thinking about becoming more than themselves, and try and attract multi-day visits through hotels and other entertainment facilities like waterparks. So the development of these might push ride development aside for a while, however this is still expansion and development and would be a good sign the park isn't 'stagnating'.

You have trends now where attractions open mid or even late season - or even a season or two late, ....we'e
re looking at you F.L.Y - although it all started in 2018 - it won't open until 2020 (4 years after Taron) but its given the illusion of it all happening quickly - whether intentional or not!

You have rides opening 'bare' one season, with external theming added next season and internal theming added the season after - we're looking at you Karnan! another 'illusion' of constant development, throw in a flat or a kiddy every year or two and it feels like the park is going places and moving forward!

Also how often are rides being removed? and are they being replaced of a ride of equal or better quality?, case in point here is Slammer at Thorpe - just standing there in plane side SBNO for years, that sort of thing screams 'stagnation', and signals to the visitor the value they're not getting!

Which leads to another good point is if the park is offering quality and a product of consistent high maintenance, with regular quality season events, people will actually not pay attention to 'its future' or 'what are they adding next', look at Europa park who've not added a coaster for a few years, - however they are developing in other ways - and always offer a product of consistent quality that people - even coaster enthusiasts don't particularly moan that its not added a coaster for a while!
 
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Ethan

Well-Known Member
You have trends now where attractions open mid or even late season - or even a season or two late, ....we'e
re looking at you F.L.Y - although it all started in 2018 - it won't open until 2020 (4 years after Taron) but its given the illusion of it all happening quickly - whether intentional or not!
Was announced in 2017, I believe! I think Phantasialand is a bit of an anomaly. Whilst four years between major investments (Klugheim and Rookburgh) isn't that long, it's still almost half a decade. But I'd say with Phantasialand, because it's such a popular park with us enthusiasts, we hear about the park almost everyday. Perhaps because of this, it doesn't feel like a long time since Klugheim opened because people are still talking about it and discussing it as if it were new. Compare that to less popular parks, one may add a coaster, we discuss it, and then three years pass and they add another, but this feels like longer because nobody was talking about the park between investments?

Not even sure if this post makes sense tbh I am very tired haha.
 

spicy

Active Member
UK enthusiasts were definitely spoiled in the 10 year period from 2002 - 2012. Was an incredibly exciting time with a new major coaster in either AT or TP opening every couple of years.

TP are well overdue a coaster, AT have had 2 since Swarm opened but nothing even seems close on the horizon. DBGT should have been a GCI or anything else for that matter.

But I would say the norm for an established park should be a major new coaster every 5 - 6 years?
 
UK enthusiasts were definitely spoiled in the 10 year period from 2002 - 2012. Was an incredibly exciting time with a new major coaster in either AT or TP opening every couple of years.

TP are well overdue a coaster, AT have had 2 since Swarm opened but nothing even seems close on the horizon. DBGT should have been a GCI or anything else for that matter.

But I would say the norm for an established park should be a major new coaster every 5 - 6 years?
To be fair, Thorpe needed a good dark ride, at least they tried something different, and aimed more at their original target market than say a trackless... Can’t knock them for trying... It is crap though.
 

MouseAT

Active Member
To be fair, Thorpe needed a good dark ride, at least they tried something different, and aimed more at their original target market than say a trackless... Can’t knock them for trying...
As far as I'm concerned, "they tried something different" is no excuse, and just summarises exactly what's wrong at Merlin. The company's entire modus operandi is doing things that are different, gimmicky and (supposedly) easily marketable to the masses, instead of focusing on doing something really good with established technology.

Whilst I'm not necessarily going to slam a park for a single poor investment, I'm certainly not going to give them credit where none is due, either. I don't look at Thorpe and think "at least they invested a load of money into a dark ride". In fact, I often forget that DBGT is even at the park. I just think of Thorpe as a park that hasn't had a worthwhile investment since 2012, yet has closed a load of attractions since and is a worse park for it.
 
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