Former Carowinds VP Gary Chadwick Replacing Pat Jones

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Joe

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Pat Jones, Vice President and General Manager of Kings Dominion, is leaving. According to In the Loop's Clint Novak, Pat is being promoted to oversee Kings Dominion's sister park, Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Clint Novak said:
Over the past few weeks we have heard some rumbling at the park that Pat Jones, Kings Dominion's General Manager may be leaving the park for a promotion at Carowinds. It looks like that rumor is coming true. For anyone who knows Pat, she is an amazing woman who has done some amazing things at the park all well visiting daily with Fans, Friends, and park guests. We want to wish Pat the best of luck at her new park and we will miss you!

Link
Pat Jones has been Kings Dominion's Vice President and General Manager since 2006. She started working at the park in 1979, as a game attendant.

I will certainly miss seeing Pat out and about on the midways at the park. She was definitely one of the most approachable and friendly associates of any park that I've seen, and the warm and welcoming vibe she brought to the park will be missed.
 

MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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RE: Pat Jones Leaving Kings Dominion

It's bad enough that Carowinds is stealing all of the budget. Now they are stealing our good people. Well, I've been visiting Carowinds the last couple years and I'll just say this.... They could really use somebody like Pat there. I wish her the best of luck.
 
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RE: Pat Jones Leaving Kings Dominion

It must of been a really high pay raise. From the sounds of it she really did love Kingsdominion. She was there the earliest of Kingsdominions days and, did many things to improve the park. I will miss the great attitude and respect she gave everybody everyday.

She was always glad to shake your hand and talk to you as you leave the park. You don't find employees like her often, but I sure do hope whoever takes her place can atleast compare to the type of person she is. We will all miss you Pat! Best wishes
 

mtorange

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RE: Pat Jones Leaving Kings Dominion

Looks like Pat Jones and Gary Chadwick are switching places. http://www.richmond.com/business/local/article_f66dcda3-b0d4-5dda-a2ff-cba6d45fc85c.html
 

Joe

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For those wondering, here's what Gary Chadwick looks like. I hope to stop and chat with him at the park in the near future.



In addition, here's a bit of a biography on Chadwick:
Richmond Times-Dispatch said:
Gary Chadwick figured he would spend one summer in 1999 while in college to travel from his native United Kingdom to take a job at Kings Dominion.

Instead, he spent a total of three summers working at Kings Dominion. A year or so after graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University, he was offered a full-time position there and then worked his way into other positions at another theme park.

Chadwick, 37, is back running the theme park in Hanover County. He was named Tuesday as Kings Dominion’s new vice president and general manager.
He is the sixth general manager in the park’s 41 years.

“It is very exciting,” Chadwick said. “I love the park. I found what I wanted to do with my life. To have the opportunity to come back and be among the team and be among the same people that were there so many years ago is a wonderful opportunity.”

Chadwick, who spent the past nine years at the Carowinds theme park near Charlotte, N.C., replaces Pat Jones, who served as Kings Dominion’s vice president and general manager since 2007.

Jones is relocating to Charlotte to oversee operations as vice president and general manager of Carowinds, which like Kings Dominion, is owned by Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.

She started working at Kings Dominion during the summer of 1979. She stuck with her job, rising through the ranks of the park and in other corporate positions, including at Carowinds, before being named to Kings Dominion’s top post in 2007.

Chadwick also began his career working a summer job at Kings Dominion — in 1999 as a cashier at one of its retail operations. He was part of the inaugural program that continues now for international students to work at the park for a summer season.

By the end of that first summer, he had taken a job in the merchandise department. He returned two more summers.

After graduating, he decided to take a year off and travel the world. His travels were cut a little short when he got a phone call from Jones, who interviewed him over the phone and later offered him a full-time job as the merchandise operations manager. He started in January 2003.

“I had never expected it to be my career path,” Chadwick said about working in the theme park industry. “It was originally something to go to the U.S. for a summer. But I came back each year and loved doing it. So when the opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance.”

He worked at Kings Dominion for four years before taking the job as director of retail operations at Carowinds in 2007. He was promoted as the park’s vice president of food and retail operations in 2009.

“Seize the opportunity,” Chadwick said is his advice for young people working summer jobs or internships.

“You may not like that summer job, but the responsibility and experience you get there is not like anywhere else,” Chadwick said. “You can not replicate it or exchange it for anything else. You have to learn from it and seize the opportunity.”
Source
 
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It seems that Carowinds has been in the "Goldilocks and the three bears" mode since the accelerated park expansion started 2 years ago. Original Carowinds GM & VP, then Dorney GM & VP swaps with Carowinds GM for a year. Then back to the original CW GM. Now that guy is out and Pat is there mid-season. Seems Cedar Fair is trying to find a GM & VP who is "just right" to lay in Carowinds leadership bed.

Please note that this is NOT a personal attack on Pat and her leadership at KD; but, for the last couple seasons, I had felt KD needed a change at the top leadership post. I hope I am able to explain my thoughts clearly enough to make sense.

I have felt that KD can improve more than what has happened in the last couple seasons. It seems, to me, that the park plateau'ed in overall operations. Not that park improvements have not continued each season; but, they have occurred in small increments. Like the overall park management feels KD's operations are "good enough" and not enough motivation/incentive to push harder for improvement. Sometimes, when under the same leadership for too long, lower management becomes complacent and just does enough to get by.

With Gary coming to the Kings Dominion GM helm, there is a strong probability that the "status quo" is not going to cut it with the new GM. Plus, there can be fresh ideas and new incentives to "shake things up for the better; both for the employees and guests.

Don't get me wrong, Pat was a warm, personal leader and she worked hard to get KD out of the Paramount "dumpster" and make it a fairly decent amusement destination it is today. I wish her the best at Carowinds. I look forward to see what direction Gary takes the park in future years.
 

Zachary

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I couldn't possibly agree more mwhinva.

Pat oversaw a correction of Kings Dominion's direction but somewhere over the last handful of years, the park has felt like it stalled out halfway up the hill. I am really hoping that Gary Chadwick can jump-start the park once again and continue the climb that started under Pat Jones.
 

Joe

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I have to agree. I loved, loved, loved Pat, but I didn't agree with everything that happened under her leadership.

Pat did a lot of great things. I've heard time and time again that she was almost single-handedly responsible for most of the KD40 improvements. She was behind the return of two themed areas, classic entertainment and landscaping features, and much more. Plus, Pat was a big player in the 2013 Planet Snoopy expansion, which remains one of the most impressive transformations of a themed area I've seen at any theme park.

However, I'm not sure if Pat totally let the park reach its full potential. Under her control, I saw investments being made on seemingly unimportant additions like mega-speakers for each game booth or excessively fancy upgrades to employee buildings. I don't know the full story, but my initial thought after seeing additions like these was that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

I've heard from many authorities that Pat had a heavy hand in the gross "Howl-o-Scream-ification" of Halloween Haunt, destroying the once sinister and dark event to accommodate bars and flashy shows. This is merely a rumor, but from personally hearing Pat's own take on the "improved" family aspect of Haunt, I don't think she objected to the event's changes.

I don't want to make Pat Jones seem like a bad leader at all. When people try to convince me what a "bad" park Kings Dominion is, aside from rolling my eyes, I remind them to look at the state KD was in after Paramount's sale of the park to Cedar Fair. It was a mess. Say what you want, but Pat was there when Kings Dominion said goodbye to its greasy and ugly past and marched forward to its current identity of what I consider to be a beautiful theme park.

Okay, maybe some of you disagree with my considering KD a beautiful theme park. There's definitely plenty of room for improvement. In that case, maybe Gary Chadwick is just the guy we need. Maybe Gary will be the guy to finally rid the park's midway of pop music, or rip up the icky asphalt paths in favor of bricks, just to name a few things. Who knows.

Here's to hoping Gary Chadwick continues all the great work Pat Jones put into Kings Dominion, while also improving on her occasional faults.
 
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Joe said:
I've heard from many authorities that Pat had a heavy hand in the gross "Howl-o-Scream-ification" of Halloween Haunt, destroying the once sinister and dark event to accommodate bars and flashy shows. This is merely a rumor, but from personally hearing Pat's own take on the "improved" family aspect of Haunt, I don't think she objected to the event's changes.
This is interesting to me. I think we can all mostly agree that Haunt has gone a bit far into the pro-family end of the spectrum the last few years. Those horrendous no-boo necklaces and the little party area or whatever it was by Club Blood last year are great examples. Still a fun time, but not what it was a few years ago. With her position, I'd agree that Mrs. Jones at the very least didn't have much of an objection to the changes in Haunt.

Does anyone have any input on Carowinds' Haunt event while Chadwick has been there? I'm interested in whether we'll see Haunt get back to the darker feel or if it will stay more family friendly.
 
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Sep 29, 2009
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With what mrwhinva said; I have been hoping for a while that a new executive would come to the park and (metaphorically) have a hissy fit, and give everybody a good "wake-up". I want him to experience every inconvenience that an average guest may experience, and fix them.

I was never too familiar with Pat Jones, but I could tell that she felt very much at-home while at Kings Dominion. Maybe the new guy will recognize the remaining clutter, and clean it up (no AC,asphalt remains,employees are often un-informed). Those are problems that remain from Paramount, but it is not nearly as bad today. People who grew up with Busch Gardens parks can now go there without a complete culture shock.

There aren't really too many things left to "clean up" as long as the park continues to grow, which I believe it will.

Also: I don't mean for the whole "wake-up" thing to sound too harsh. August Busch would quite literally throw a fit every time he visited BGW and BGT. It's necessary sometimes.
 

Zimmy

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I have often wanted to blame Pat for the lack of ride growth during her tenure, and While it is telling that there has not been a new coaster at KD in a very very long time, close to the longest stretch I think ever.  (Joe check my math) I suspect this has less to do with her and more to do with corporate.  Now I do not know how their structure works, it may be that she needed to sell concepts to CF and just did not want to sell anything that was not family friendly.  Or it may be that her hands were tied and that was the direction corporate wants to take the park.  But considering everything that has happened in the last 8 years or so, I think that is what we can expect to see.  more clean up, more kid ride expansions, more family friendly rides, and more family friendly Haunt.

Maybe I am wrong.  I hope I am.
 
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MAZ

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I'm ok with everything you mentioned Zimmy. Except for family friendly Haunt. For the love of all things creepy, leave Haunt the way it is. The no boo crap is bad enough. Let's hope it doesn't get worse.
 
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Zimmy

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MAZ, I'm not at all okay with anything I said. That is just how I view the world from where I sit. I suspect she is seen by corporate as a person who can clean up parks that have, what they consider good line ups. If that is the case it makes perfect sense to send her to Caro. They have a good set of coasters but everything else is shit. Maybe it is all about perceived image. I know Dorney is a clean family friendly place with well maintained but not necessarily high octain rides. Maybe they are trying to set the Ohio parks apart from the rest?
 

MAZ

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Zimmy said:
 more clean up, more kid ride expansions, more family friendly rides, and more family friendly Haunt.
I should have been more specific. I am 'ok' with this part. (Except the Haunt dumbdown)
 

Zimmy

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Sep 28, 2013
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ahhh
Personally I would like to see a break in that evolution for a high end coaster. But I suspect those days are gone, at least until the next corporate re-focus.

One thing we can be sure of, corporations will always re-focus to move the rev num.
 
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Shane

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I am not sure that Gary is the man if you want asphalt ripped up and better ops. Caro's ride ops are rough at best and the park is almost exclusively asphalt except for around post Parmount additions like Intimadator, Fury, and Windseeker; the rest of the park is asphalt for the most part.
 
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