What is going on here?

  • You're right: things have changed.

    Votes: 9 69.2%
  • You're a cynical old man.

    Votes: 4 30.8%

  • Total voters
    13
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Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
When Walt Disney invented the theme park back in the 1950's, he did so with one explicit goal: to build "a different kind of park, where parents and children could have fun together." Broadly, he was attempting to build a model for park operations that contrasted with the amusement park model popular at the time. To that end, he designed Disneyland to achieve two main goals:

1 - To be a place where the attractions were neither too corny or too simple for adults, nor too sophisticated or too crass for children;

2 - To make a place that was clean, charming and nice.

Of course, I appreciate that there are different ways to approach the business, but I personally prefer this simple approach. When I go out to a park, what I really want is to spend a leisurely day in a interesting place that is clean, charming and nice. It's not that I don't enjoy roller coasters and drop towers and log flumes; it's just that my primary interest is the simple experience outlined by Walt nearly 60 years ago.

Now, I told you all that to tell you this: when I started to love Busch Gardens back in 2002, it was because it appeared to me to be just that place Walt was describing. It was a quiet(er) park that was a charming, comfortable place that seemed to be a nice park first, and an amusement enterprise second. I enjoyed the fact that it wasn't loaded with roller coasters and thrill rides...I liked the simple European theming. There's a reason I haven't had a King's Dominion pass since I was 13.

These days however, I wonder if the park is even the same one I started to love. Every year, there seems to be another attraction added (or one taken away) that doesn't fit the simple, leisurely model. Subtle theming seems to be giving way to over-the-top cartoonish styling. Attractions that used to blend into their surroundings now seem to be designed to pop out into the eye of the guests (like a hot pink, plaid monster). The cast members seem to have become crew members, bowling shirts and all.

The point of this post, however, is not to complain...it's actually to do some self-evaluation. The question I am posing to you guys is this:

Am I imagining all this? Did all of these changes really happen, or am I just romanticizing the '02 version of BGW in my memory? Do people who used to visit in the 90's, 80's, 70's think things went downhill long before 2002? Has the park really always been just like it is now (barring technological advances), and I'm just getting nostalgic over something that never really existed the way I imagine it?

As it stands, I still *like* Busch Gardens. I just don't know that I still love it. Is that because I'm too cynical, or because something has actually changed?
 
Jul 28, 2011
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I said that things have changed, but I'm not sure if it's for good or bad... Personally, I like the changes in the past 10-12 years, but one thing I will say is that when Busch was more of a theme park than it is now, i didn't really like it... I don't know why, I just liked wcusa better... Maybe it was because I was a kid then and I couldn't do much outside of LOD, but I wasn't that big of a fan back then
 
Nov 14, 2009
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DoctorMoneyMD said:
Am I imagining all this? Did all of these changes really happen, or am I just romanticizing the '02 version of BGW in my memory? Do people who used to visit in the 90's, 80's, 70's think things went downhill long before 2002?

My kids will be on here in 25 years prattling on about the "glory days" of 2012. :cool:
 
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Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
Shafor said:
My kids will be on here in 25 years prattling on about the "glory days" of 2012. :cool:

The thing is, I'm not really questioning whether some people prefer the park as it is today...I'm asking whether the park's character has actually changed, or if I am just imagining that it was once something different than what it is today.

Certainly, some people will look at the park circa 2012 and say "finally, they fixed all the boring stuff from 2002."
 
Apr 5, 2011
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I disagree.. To be clear, I don't see that there are changes that are potentially bad, I just don't see myself having any less of a good time because of the uniforms and such.
 
Jul 13, 2011
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PzP said:
I disagree. To be clear, I don't see that there are changes that are potentially bad, I just don't see myself having any less of a good time because of the uniforms and such.

As before, PzP, you're taking one detail - in this case, uniforms - and implying we're petty to call the park out on it, when in reality we're being quite clear that it's part of a cumulative list we've presented. Sue us for noticing things - the devil is in the details "and such."

PzP said:
I understand how you think how the hamlets have been changed, but does changing their names really detract from the experience?
 
Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
PzP said:
I disagree.. To be clear, I don't see that there are changes that are potentially bad, I just don't see myself having any less of a good time because of the uniforms and such.

Here's the thing about that: if I go to Hooters, a change in uniforms for the staff is certainly going to effect my enjoyment. Same for airlines and high-end hotels. The reason is because all of those experiences are atmospheric: the fun of the whole thing is the environmental experience. Now, I understand that for some people, it really is just about the wings. Or the price of the airline ticket. Or the proximity of the hotel to the nightlife district. But that's not the same for everyone. Some people care a great deal about the environmental part of those experiences.

There's a reason people say airlines have gone downhill in the last 40 years. I mean, the planes still get you were you're going...they actually do it more efficiently than before. But that's not the *entire* point for everyone. It's the same for rides and Busch Gardens.

The point, for some of us, is the detailed, immersive experience. We fell in love with a certain version of Busch Gardens, when a certain culture was in place. If that has changed in a significant way, it's going to make some people enjoy it less. I don't think there's anything particularly strange of cynical about that.
 
Jul 13, 2011
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DoctorMoneyMD said:
We fell in love with a certain version of Busch Gardens, when a certain culture was in place. If that has changed in a significant way, it's going to make some people enjoy it less. I don't think there's anything particularly strange of cynical about that.

Oh you're just resistant to change...
;)
 
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Apr 5, 2011
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Adding everything up, and I see where you guys are coming from. My disconnect is this feeling I get that you guys aren't able enjoy the park anymore. I fully admit I like rides, but I think the park is still special due to the theming of the rides.

Look at this year. We get Vervbolten, what is probably the most heavily themed ride in the park which is easily on par with a Disney ride. We also have Entwined. Now, before you go "Entwined sucks", let's look at what it is. It's a major production aimed at families. Now, despite it's many, many flaws, it's what the park needs for good theming. Entwined could have been a lot better, but I'm honestly surprised that it's universally hated like it is since I thought it's what non-riders would like. Also, the quality of HoS has gone up by leaps and bounds.

To sum up, the park has change and some of those changes might not be the best. Yes, the park has made some pretty bad mistakes, especially when compared to something like uniforms. Even with all the uniforms, maps, paint color, rides not matching the theming, ect, can you guys tell my you aren't able to go to the park and not have fun?




Also, eat pretzels, they help. :p
 

Zachary

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Sep 23, 2009
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1. I haven't seen anyone say "OMG! THIS PARK SUCKS! I'M NEVER COMING BACK AGAIN BECAUSE THEY'RE REMOVING ALL THE THEMED OUTFITS!"
2. Entwined does suck.
3. Entwined isn't aimed at families, it's aimed at kids below 10 years of age. Not a family show by any means. It shares the same audience as Playhouse Disney.
4. Entwined is what the park "needs for good theming"? I fail to see what this even means.
5. Non-riders =/= People under 10.
6. Last year's HOS was the best in history. Is anyone auguring that?

PzP said:
Even with all the uniforms, maps, paint color, rides not matching the theming, ect...

When you cut off the end of that last line you've painted a pretty grim picture. Quit framing the augment with questions about whether or not we can still have fun at the park. No one has stated otherwise. (A large number of) people are simply stating that it doesn't have the same feel and atmosphere that it once did. I agree with these people.
 
Nov 14, 2009
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Indulge me.

I'm a big baseball fan. Grew up in a die-hard baseball family, lived walking distance to Camden Yards for years, had season tickets to the Atlantic City minor league team for two years when I lived there. In my lifetime baseball has seen many changes. Many of which I hate: the DH, interleague play, rapid expansion, adding divisions, wild cards (ok, I don't hate the wild card), five man rotations, day/night doubleheaders, specialize pitching (setup men, closers, ugh), concrete muti-use stadiums, a steroid scandal, a strike-shortened season, the All-Star game determining home field for the WS, etc. etc. etc . Not to mention how different the game in the early 70's was compared to the 50's or the 20's and so on. The game grows, the game evolves. Many of these changes are simply business decisions, many changes happened due to on the field strategy, many happened because the league felt they were in the "best interests" of the fans. And fan opinion is all over the board on them.

But at the end of the day, the game is still 9 players per side, 9 innings, 3 strikes, 4 balls, 4 bases, 3 outs, and I still love it just as much as I did when I was a kid. I've grown to accept the things that I dislike and either live with them or look past them. In many ways, that game is radically different than it was 40 years ago (see above), yet at it's core it's still that same as it was 140 years ago.

I look at the park a lot like this. Yes there are always changes, made for a wide range of reasons, to the parks decor, costuming, entertainment, attractions, etc. But if you look at old maps of the park, old photos, old home movies, so much of it is the same as it's always been. How much has the basic structure really changed? England, Scotland, Rhinefeld, San Marco, New France, the train, skyride, Rhine River cruise; the basic topography, architecture, landscaping of these areas are all probably virtually unchanged since the day they opened.

Is walking out of the door of the Globe Theater and looking toward Big Ben all that much different than it was in 1975? How about walking up the steps from the Rhine River into Rhinefeld with the skyride station above your head? How is strolling through San Marco today any different than 1980 when it had the same 5 rides in the same 5 places (and that was 32 years ago)? Is shopping in Caribou Pottery any different? Or sitting on the benches next to Loch Ness?

Sure, the concept of much of the entertainment has gone from more narrowly focused, quaint, "country themed" shows to "big production" generic, crowd pleasing fare. The re-imagining of Oktoberfest and Das Festhuas has gone in the same direction. The uniforms, well...

However they have introduced Mach Tower (honestly, I think this is really the only ride *addition* to the park in the past few years, barring FOF) and the pretzel shop, which are both very popular. Verbolton seems destined to be a huge crowd pleaser and a massive effort toward theming. They really seemed to hit the mark with HOS last year. In another thread I also mentioned the additional efforts to enhance the Highland Stables and increase the featured animal presence throughout the park. So I think there have been some more traditional changes to the park recently to balance out many of the more non-traditional changes. Sometimes I think those efforts don't get the credit they deserve.

I can understand being annoyed by many of the surface changes, and that the accumulation of them can cause a negative impact in one's experience, however I would argue that, at it's core, Busch Gardens has still retained the vast majority of it's original concept. It's still the best place in town to spend a lazy day just strolling around (has anyone EVER said that about KD or SF?)
 
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Aug 27, 2010
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Shafor said:
It's still the best place in town to spend a lazy day just strolling around (has anyone EVER said that about KD or SF?)

I'd say that about KD. Different atmosphere, Different style, Still good.
 
Aug 27, 2010
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I've gone there without riding anything for 6 hours or so, Also have gone specifically for the waterpark, and I've gotten sick there before and plopped down by the fish and fed them hot sauce.
 
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Apr 5, 2011
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1) I have seen somebody say that.
2) Not disputing that, I'm saying that Entwined is a step in the right direction, IMO at least.
3) Entwined is family like Disney is family, isn't that what the park is supposed to be like?
4) It's a large scale production, a step up from the shows have been there before. That concept would be good for the overall feel of the park if the show was in an appropriate location.
5) Non-riders = People who put more focus on shows in their park experience. Which is why I say that if well done, a major show like Entwined would be great for them.
6) "So the park has done these not good things and these really awesome things, but let's ignore the awesome things when talking about the quality of the park." Am I getting that right? :p

I think that /is/ the big question though, if you are able to have fun or not with these changes.
 

BBW

Jun 10, 2010
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Excellent question about just walking around, Shafor -- great way to get down to the nitty gritty of the issue.

Honestly, I don't do that nearly as much as I used to (just enjoy walking around the park). For me, so much of those "surface" things have changed that the quiet serenity and beauty are affected too much. So, yes, for me, my park experience has changed. Landscaping has changed too much (much less creative floral displays, e.g.), the color schemes have changed too much (like the garish building facades in the new areas of Oktoberfest; I don't buy that they look like a town getting ready for a festival or special event -- they just look cartoonish and garish to me), and so on as I've said in other threads.

Sure, I can pick some views that look the same, but what about all those that don't? Standing beside the Festhaus looking through the fence at BBW (like my avatar pic) -- oops, gone; enjoying the woods and bridges on the Le Mans track; etc. I don't mean to get into a tit for tat, but I do think there are plenty of core views that have been affected, like the traditional facade of the Festhaus or walking up the hill from England/Banbury around the "back" of the skyride station (now fenced off for FOF) -- such a nice "hidden" route that is now a dead end. Or the quiet garden areas around the Lorikeet Glen.

I am SO GLAD that for many the core experience of the park is still essentially the same, or their ability to have fun at the park is for the most part unchanged. But truly that has greatly changed for me and that is exactly what is so upsetting about the cumulative changes. I really wish I could still care about going to the park to read or stroll around as much as Shafor still so obviously does and so eloquently describes doing. I miss that type of enjoyment of the park. (I will always love the rides. :) )
 
Sep 5, 2010
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RICHMOND
I think the fact that people are saying Verbolten is a step in the right direction just shows that they don't where I'm coming from.

You replaced an iconic, simple roller coster that centered around an ancient german folk legend and blended well with the charming park landscape with a WILD, WACKY thrill ride featuring a souped up Volkswagen, that has absolutely nothing to do with Old World Germany and is designed not to look anything like Old World Germany. It is about a loud, zany, crazy car ride. What about that says old European charm? Big Bad Wolf vs. XTREME Volkswagen. Do you see the difference?

In a lot of ways, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

As far as Entwined, there's nothing wrong at all with having this kind of show. They need more shows. And if they would have build it it's own little playhouse somewhere in Germany, and spent some money on the staging, it would be a winner. Instead, the put it in the Festhaus. They didn't put Pet Shenanigans in the middle of Trapper's Smokehouse. They put it in it's own space. Are you familiar with the history of Enchanted Tiki Room?

I still like the place...but I don't think about going there any more just to "take it all in." And no, I'm not burned out on it...I haven't been able to go more than 2x a year for about 5/6 years now. In the past, the more I went, the more I wanted to go, now, I go once and say "well, I'm good."
 
Nov 14, 2009
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It's hard for me to phrase this without sounding confrontational. I don't mean to be, but ya know, internet and all ;P

DoctorMoneyMD said:
You replaced an iconic, simple roller coster that centered around an ancient german folk legend and blended well with the charming park landscape with a WILD, WACKY thrill ride featuring a souped up Volkswagen, that has absolutely nothing to do with Old World Germany and is designed not to look anything like Old World Germany. It is about a loud, zany, crazy car ride. What about that says old European charm? Big Bad Wolf vs. XTREME Volkswagen. Do you see the difference?

I do not think statements like this help bolster your argument at ALL. Have you seen Verbolton in person? (obviously, actually riding it yet isn't even a question) The facade, the queue area, the contour of the track leading into the building (clearly a representation of a stroll through a German country side)?

I caution people on here all the time about judging changes to the park too harshly until they actually had the chance to experience it first hand. (judging a book by it's cover?)

There's a big difference between concept (on paper) and execution (the complete, in person experience). Go back to the first few pages of the Verbolten thread, if you dare, and you'll see that the majority of opinion agrees EXACTLY with what you said above. But...as time has gone on and people have actually gotten a chance to SEE the ride, opinions have done a total 180. A lot of people despised the pretzel shop too, but now I see them telling people that it is a must do. Do they really still hate it?

There are a lot of things they've done recently where I *get* the concept of what they are trying to do, but do not necessarily like the execution (Illuminights, the beer garden, Entwined, EITA!) but there are others that I think they pulled off really well (pretzel shop, Mach Tower, Verbolten). Sometimes an attraction just "works" even though it may not exactly fit the general theme of area.

What did Le Mans have to do with Medieval France? Or American Jukebox (or more obscurely, going back even further, a Victoria era medicine-man street show) have to do with colonial era Canada? Did the completely modern Deadline have ANY business in an old world themed park? Or what does the Wild Reserve have to do with, well...anything? I would say none of these things were natural fits in their environments, but somehow they just "worked."

It's kind of depressing really. I can almost guarantee that you'll have just about zero chance of enjoying Entwined or Verbolten in any fashion, because you've already told yourself that you hate them and they are contributing to your vision of the decline of the park. Every time you get near them you'll probably shake your head and sigh. (Am I wrong? Honestly, is there ANY way you think your opinion of those attractions could change?)

Buck up, lil' camper. :D You're bumming me out... :rolleyes:
 
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That's where we disagree, Verbolten matches the park's theme. A trip through the woods on a European roadster is not different than a ski lift as far as 2002 theming.

Shafor said it correctly. When people say "X" doesn't match this certain set of requirements, they tend to ignore a lot of other things that the park has had that doesn't match the theme the same way either. I don't think anybody has called out Nessie for having a submarine, how is that pre-colonial Europe?
 
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