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Gavin

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Curious that a they went with someone from corporate again instead of someone local.

I wish Tony well in his retirement, I know he’s earned it.
 
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horsesboy

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Curious that a they went with someone from corporate again instead of someone local.

I wish Tony well in his retirement, I know he’s earned it.
It's possible that they feel that given the significant challenges that 2021 is likely to bring that there just don't have a seasoned enough hand available locally to handle it. Or this could also be a way of trimming some corporate fat without having to let someone go by shifting some one from a no longer needed positions to this open one.
 

Mushroom

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I had the privilege of having several close, extensive meetings with Tony. His commitment to the park, its guests, and its associates was so evident and so strong in every word that he spoke. He was an incredibly open-minded and humble leader and not only listened to ideas from anybody, but took them seriously and followed through on them. I'll miss Tony's warmth and kindness and seeing him out on the pathways with his broom and dustpan, or helping seasonal associates empty the trash, and the passion the man had for the park and the people that have made it what it is.

It's a shame Tony didn't get to have one last season before retiring - but after working at the park for 45 years, I think he's had plenty of time to leave his mark.

Hopefully I can someday say more about my personal experiences with Tony and what a wonderful man he is. Godspeed Tony, and congratulations.
 

Mushroom

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The park just posted a great interview with the new GM, Bridgette Bywater, to their blog. She sounds like a great leader with a serious appreciation for the park and the industry. Link to blog post.

The best part of the interview, for me at least, comes at the very end:
"Kings Dominion is such a beautiful park in a great area,” she said. “I think the history of the park resonates with me very well. I’m excited to find our roots and sort of redeveloping into more of a theme park."

As far as I know, this is the first time I've seen the park, or its leader, explicitly state that they want to make the park into a theme park rather than an amusement park. To me, that's a big deal, and I'm really excited that Bridgette seems to care about emphasizing and rebuilding KD's theme park identity.
 

Lord Robert

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Bridgette sounds like she's just as passionate with the park as Tony was. Though I appreciate her ambition for Kings Dominion to "redevelop into more of a theme park", that's going to be tough considering that Kings Dominion from day one was always an amusement park with some theming in it and that was part of the reason why people appreciated it and kept visiting after all these years despite the changes it went through.

Kings Dominion separated itself from Busch Gardens Williamsburg in that regard that it didn't have to always live up to the high lofty standards that BGW has.
 

Jonesta6

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I have relatively low expectations for KD in that regard - is there some semblance of theming cohesiveness? Not always, but that doesn't really matter to me since the park (and CF as a whole) has intentionally not gone that direction and instead focused on rides and attractions.

Now if this were BGW or any other SEAS parks, I'd expect there to be cohesion if not the full Disney magic moment experiences.
 
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Mushroom

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AttractionPros shared a great interview with Bridgette. They go in-depth about Bridgette's experiences and philosophy with leading the park. I haven't watched the whole video yet, but it's a surprisingly in-depth analysis of leadership and effective management in the industry. Bridgette also strikes me as an extremely well-spoken leader with a very competent grasp of how to manage and inspire an operation as large as Kings Dominion.

 
May 9, 2019
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AttractionPros shared a great interview with Bridgette. They go in-depth about Bridgette's experiences and philosophy with leading the park. I haven't watched the whole video yet, but it's a surprisingly in-depth analysis of leadership and effective management in the industry. Bridgette also strikes me as an extremely well-spoken leader with a very competent grasp of how to manage and inspire an operation as large as Kings Dominion.



I hate to be a pessimist, but how much power does a leader at KD actually have with the Cedar Fair brass? I hope I am wrong, but I get the feeling she is going to be the captain of the Titanic.
 
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Jonesta6

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Given the upcoming Tumbili and Safari Village refresh, the work Tony had put in to improve overall aesthetics (within budgetary and staffing constraints, of course - it's no Disney, but it's not that kind of park anyways), hiring a chef and improving food offerings, the launch of a new kids water play area in an underutilized space, new iterations and/or expansions of existing events such as the Grand Carnivale, Haunt, and WinterFest, plus the possibility of a Volcano replacement eventually coming (may still be awhile out given CF's capex budgeting cycles for their 2nd tier parks), I'd say the ship isn't sinking anytime soon. It may not be the fastest or prettiest vessel out there, but she's strong, reliable, and will get you there.
 
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May 9, 2019
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Given the upcoming Tumbili and Safari Village refresh, the work Tony had put in to improve overall aesthetics (within budgetary and staffing constraints, of course - it's no Disney, but it's not that kind of park anyways), hiring a chef and improving food offerings, the launch of a new kids water play area in an underutilized space, new iterations and/or expansions of existing events such as the Grand Carnivale, Haunt, and WinterFest, plus the possibility of a Volcano replacement eventually coming (may still be awhile out given CF's capex budgeting cycles for their 2nd tier parks), I'd say the ship isn't sinking anytime soon. It may not be the fastest or prettiest vessel out there, but she's strong, reliable, and will get you there.

I did say I was being pessimistic and I hope I am wrong.

In some ways, these past two seasons have allowed me to take a break from KD (season pass holder from 2004 through 2019) and I am hope when I return that it will be refreshing.
 
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Mushroom

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I hate to be a pessimist, but how much power does a leader at KD actually have with the Cedar Fair brass? I hope I am wrong, but I get the feeling she is going to be the captain of the Titanic.

Someone in Bridgette's position probably isn't the first in line to call the shots on huge long-term capital projects like new rides (although I imagine she is still part of that planning). That said, park-level leadership plays an enormous role in the day-to-day park experience, from how employees are motivated to how the park's operations and cleanliness are directed. In my opinion, that stuff is just as important, and arguably more important, than capital planning.
 

Mushroom

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Interesting interview with Bridgette regarding Kings Dominion’s business side and its role in the Richmond business community.

 
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horsesboy

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Met her briefly this afternoon. She was walking around Jungle Exhibition and talking to every guest she encounter and surveying their experience. I was highly impressed with how much she seemed to really care that everyone was having the best experience possible under the weather conditions.
 

Jonesta6

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The CP/CF walk-the-park mentality - reading H John Hildebrandt's memoir, Always Cedar Point, he mentioned that it was ingrained in the culture so that management has a direct pulse on how to best serve the guests.
 

horsesboy

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The CP/CF walk-the-park mentality - reading H John Hildebrandt's memoir, Always Cedar Point, he mentioned that it was ingrained in the culture so that management has a direct pulse on how to best serve the guests.
Could be but the interaction that I had and witnessed others having was very similar to what I saw when Pat was there and not an experience that I have had with any other KD president.
 

Mushroom

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I often saw Tony Johnson out and about in the park, including sweeping the pathways. I even once saw him helping seasonal employees empty trash cans and push dumpsters during Haunt after midnight. Especially considering that Tony was at retirement age, I thought this showed incredible dedication to his team.

I’ve heard similar things about Bridgette too. Supposedly she has even gone as far as working the backstage trash compactor when she noticed a backup of dumpsters spilling out into an employee walkway. Definitely tough work and certainly not in the GM job description. If that story is true, that’s the mark of a true leader in my opinion.
 
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Mushroom

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