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Jonesta6

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And, as previously noted, they also have immense land holdings available for either expansion (park, retail, or otherwise) - not just KD but chain-wide
 

Zachary

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This analysis can't exclude BGW either. KD can not compete with BGW on the attraction additions front. It's literally not possible. It makes no sense for Cedar Fair to invest a ton of money into a coaster they know will be overshadowed at minimum a year later when BGW announces yet another major attraction.

In that world, smaller, experience-focuses investment is what makes sense.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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This analysis can't exclude BGW either. KD can not compete with BGW on the attraction additions front. It's literally not possible. It makes no sense for Cedar Fair to invest a ton of money into a coaster they know will be overshadowed at minimum a year later when BGW announces yet another major attraction.

In that world, smaller, experience-focuses investment is what makes sense.
I am not implying the "tit-for-tat" attraction competition between BGW and KD has no validity. But, rather putting too much emphasis on just that dynamic warps the analysis between the two parks. Again, it is what corporate wants to make that park profitable for them.

SEAS and CF focuses on the markets they serve best. And is not always just a socio-economic factor. Because there is cross-over between both company's markets. There is room for both.
 
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EdK

Feb 26, 2021
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This analysis can't exclude BGW either. KD can not compete with BGW on the attraction additions front. It's literally not possible. It makes no sense for Cedar Fair to invest a ton of money into a coaster they know will be overshadowed at minimum a year later when BGW announces yet another major attraction.

In that world, smaller, experience-focuses investment is what makes sense.
When both parks started in the 70's they were equally matched. KD built Rebel Yell and BGW then installed Loch Ness. I would argue back then that Rebel Yell was the better coaster and both parks were matched for entertainment and rides. In the 90's things went downhill for KD with some of the issues regarding crime and Paramount management but even then both parks, as far as coasters go, were about equal given that drachen fire was a miss. From an entertainment and general park experience BGW took the lead in the 90's. What finally put BGW way out in front were the addition of the three B&Ms. I guess what I'm trying to say is at one point these parks did compete closely and they still could today if they fixed the problems with KD. Imagine if KD installed a giga B&M instead of I305. I would have started going back to the park much earlier than I did. B&Ms are huge crowd pleasers and that's why I drive the extra hour to BGW instead of just going to KD (And BGW used to have good entertainment, food and beer). And if KD could bring in the Washington crowd, they could easily surpass BGW in attendance. I'd be curious how many people from the Baltimore DC area skip KD and go to Colonial Williamsburg and BGW. I did that for almost two decades before even thinking about stopping at KD.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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Viacom's ownership of the former Taft/KECO park chain nearly destroyed them.

Paramount Studios only had direct control of the park chain for the first 3-4 years. When they realized they really could not make regional theme parks into major movie theme park destinations, Paramount Studios wanted out. This began the park chain being passed around the rest of the corporate entities under Viacom like a red-headed step-child no one wanted; Dragging them down further. I stopped getting a season pass for the last 2-3 years under the Paramount name, it was so bad.

Cedar Fair management, at that time, really wanted the Paramount park chain badly. From what I could research, many felt CF overpaid for the chain by 400-500 million dollars over what most investors felt the parks were worth at that time. I sometimes wonder if that is still lingering debt on their financial books even now.

I think CF underestimated the condition of the park chain when the sale went through. When they went to check on the status of the parks and the dismal condition they were in, they were probably shell-shocked. CF saw they had their work cut out for them. It wasn't going to be a renovation project of a couple years; but, taking 10+ years to do so. By 2016-2017, Cedar Fair could finally start to focus some of their Cap Ex more on new rides and attractions instead of constantly patching up park infrastructure.

Getting the park chain infrastructure upgraded/restored was Cedar Fair's first priority. Yes, major attractions were being added; but I am not so sure CF was getting the returns they expected. Within the last 6-7 years, CF has realized the whole well balanced park experience, for the park patron, is going to stabilize and grow the base. Not any one major attraction at a park.

If you build a major coaster in a swamp, you might generate new interest for a year or two. But, interest is going to wane pretty quickly. Who wants to keep going to a swamp to ride a coaster? On the other hand, draining the swamp; providing a variety of new amenities and attractions; making the area a pleasent place to visit, has a higher chance of drawing more people on a more consistant basis than adding a 2nd coaster in the same swamp.
 
Apr 4, 2017
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You forget that I305 was supposed to boost attendance by a lot and didn't as much, which may have been an indication to management at the time that they needed to rethink the strategy for increasing attendance away from expensive thrill rides.

At the same time, CF was left with removing the duds installed by Paramount. KD was the only park with the Hypersonic XLC and Volcano ride models in the chain, and only one of two for Shockwave's model. I'd imagine they didn't necessarily want to take any of those rides out if they didn't have to, but low ridership and high maintenance costs forced their hand - none of the respective manufacturers made those models anymore (and in the case of Shockwave the manufacturer no longer had a US sales team).

This is especially true in the case of Volcano - remember they were attempting to renovate the mountain structure and perhaps ride components and had already sunk some money into it before they abruptly reversed course and sent the ride to the scrappers. All of these things cost money that could have otherwise gone to new rides or experiences. Yet they still managed to keep adding things even if they weren't the large show-stoppers some may be expecting.


“The theory that the failure of KD intimidator to bring large crowds seems to hold true.”

I made that statement but called it KD intimidator.

I do agree the failure of I305 lead to the lack of investment. The coaster is too extreme and appeals to few. I love Fury. Hate i305.
 
Mar 18, 2017
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I think the CF parks that got more additions needed every one of them. Carowinds and Canada's Wonderland were playing catch-up and KI is supposed to be a top tier park and needed what they got to stay there. KD needed what they got, even if not as many.

The problem occurs 3-4 years later when park attendance stagnates or, worse, drops. All that expense for a major attraction and attendance is less than it was before all that Cap Ex was spent? That tells me major attractions are not the right fix, for now.
Seems to me it takes 3-4 years for the effects of a new coaster to really kick in and start producing results. Maybe that's been more a factor of the particular coasters KD has received. Also, a lack of a big increase doesn't mean it's not a lot better than if they got nothing. As I've already stated a hundred times, June 2009 was a ghost town and the main reason 2010 wasn't a much bigger year is that crowds started pouring in Aug 2009 as supports started getting put in and the new coaster was announced.


The latest TPR coaster poll is out and I expected KD to fall from its unusually high position, but its big 2 went up instead, now both top 10 steel coasters, putting the park just a hair behind CP and well above everyone else. Not bad for a mid-tier "failing" park, "neglected" by CF, that some speculated SEAS would close if they bought. Other highlights: TT now ranks above Steel Vengeance! I305 is also just behind Fury for steel and BGW's best is Apollo at #66, and KD is also still 2nd on the top 25 overall list too.
 

Mushroom

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From listening to CF’s earnings calls, it sounds like CF’s current strategy heavily revolves around trying to better serve the specific needs of each park’s unique market. Every market has different demographics and demands, which will warrant different focuses from the parks. CF has apparently concluded that parks like Carowinds, for example, need more investments into big rides to better serve the large Charlotte market, while parks like Valleyfair can sustain their position in the market without much investment at all.

KD seems unique though in that they seem to have definitively concluded the park will see more long-term success by focusing on creating an immersive, higher end entertainment experience. When you think about the markets KD serves, it makes sense. KD serves the wealthy DC and Northern Virginia markets as well as the increasingly well-off Richmond market. CF has probably realized that these markets are best attracted by a beautiful, clean, well-themed immersive family experience — essentially a “mini Disney” within driving distance. Think about Grain & Grill — its fancier dishes clearly target a different crowd than the fast food typically associated with a coaster park, with prices to match. KD is banking that they’ll attract more families who are willing to pay more for that better product.

Like @Zachary said in another thread, it seems that CF doesn’t want KD to be Carowinds or Kings Island — they want it to be Knott’s. If they want to make the park a “mini Disney” or a Knott’s and attract the demographics that would follow, they can’t go blowing all their budget on the biggest rides all the time. That’s why we’re seeing huge projects every year invested into improving the park, its experience, and its theming.

We’ve seen new themed areas introduced into the park (Jungle X, Candy Apple Grove, and easily the most beautiful Planet Snoopy of any CF park), huge swaths of asphalt removed (Old VA, I Street, CAG, Planet Snoopy), tons of new landscaping, huge immersive events like Carnivale and Winterfest, new restaurants (Grain & Grill, Mac Bowl, Country Kitchen redo, Outer Hanks replacement), new shows and show venues (the CAG stage and apparent new stage coming to Jungle X, plus a massive increase in live shows and huge increase in quality of talent), and so much more. Heck, the park literally has a Creative Services department now whose sole job is to develop new thematic work for the park (Grizzly Gulch General Store, Country Kitchen renovation, Jungle X stuff, I Street building details, etc).

And — by the way — all of this is still on top of the fact that in the past 5 seasons, we’ve gotten a giant frisbee, an incredible RMC, and a waterpark renovation, not to mention the incoming free spin. It’s not like KD has been totally neglected on the rides front while the rest of the improvements are ongoing.

Jungle X in particular perfectly represents CF’s strategy with KD. Enormous investments into storytelling and theming, improved food and beverage options and retail, updating old attractions, beautifying the area, with a modest ride to go with it.

I can’t think of any CF park that has poured as much effort or money into changing the park experience itself as much as KD. The problem with all these enthusiasts across the country proclaiming KD’s “neglect” and sensational “Kings Dominion is dying!” YouTube videos is that unless you visit the park, you don’t realize half of these investments are happening. A lot of these changes aren’t the things that are easily conveyed online or appear in enthusiast YouTube videos or reviews. But they’re what CF has clearly decided is the best path to KD’s future success. They’re not aimed at pleasing enthusiasts. That’s not the future CF sees for KD — and in my opinion, KD is a better park for it.
 
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Jonesta6

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Now I want someone to make a comprehensive rebuttal to all of those dozens of "Kings Dominion is Dying" YouTube videos echoing @Mushroom's points exactly.

Do it!

As someone who watches a lot of enthusiast video content for whatever reason, I actually found a video from ElToroRyan from the other year ago that was the park putting on some kind of enthusiast event (maybe ACE?). Even though the focus was the rides, the park was commended for both aesthetics and, more obviously, the great selection and quality of coasters. So even from that side of the discussion not all thoosie 'tubers are trashing KD either.
 
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EdK

Feb 26, 2021
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I totally agree with Mushroom and I'm really glad that CF is increasing the overall guest experience with better food/beverage/entertainment/theming/etc. The problem with the coaster lineup is that I can ride i305 maybe two or three times but browning out isn't something I generally enjoy. TT is fantastic but the other coasters are also one and done type rides. The B&M coasters at BGW like Apollo and Griffon you can easily ride 10 times in a row and it's great every time. I just wish that KD had an Apollo's or Griffon that was thrilling and you can easily ride it multiple times (TT fits the bill but it's missing that 200ft+ drop). I was looking at an older post about CF earnings when Fury 325 came out and how it drove up park attendance. I think this speaks more to the quality of B&M coasters and what a huge draw they are for these parks. I think what's also interesting is that I'm seeing the reverse of what happened in the 90's with BGW going down in quality and KD on a major upswing. I think their strategy is sound and I'm glad that their focus is on the overall customer experience and not necessarily building another big coaster but I would love to see an Apollo or Fury 325 someday at KD.
 
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Jonesta6

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It's possible we may eventually see a purpose-built B&M at KD (even though they already have one from Dominator, but that was built as a Batman ride for GL then relocated when that park ceased operations).

But, I highly doubt they'd be interested in making a comparable hyper to AC, they already have a giga in I305, and I don't see either the park or B&M all that interested in a strata.

Therefore, if another one comes it may be in the form of a shorter height ride of some sort - no indication at this point if that were to happen what model it'd be.

But it's also arguable that many of the coasters at the park are marathonable to some degree or other (for example: R75, FoF, BLSC, Anaconda if you brace yourself correctly), so not sure that's what's holding the park back... Not to mention most regular guests don't tend to marathon rides with exception to those instances where they return to the station and nobody is waiting/ride ops are allowed to let you stay on or move to an unoccupied row.
 
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EdK

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It's possible we may eventually see a purpose-built B&M at KD (even though they already have one from Dominator, but that was built as a Batman ride for GL then relocated when that park ceased operations).

But, I highly doubt they'd be interested in making a comparable hyper to AC, they already have a giga in I305, and I don't see either the park or B&M all that interested in a strata.

Therefore, if another one comes it may be in the form of a shorter height ride of some sort - no indication at this point if that were to happen what model it'd be.

But it's also arguable that many of the coasters at the park are marathonable to some degree or other (for example: R75, FoF, BLSC, Anaconda if you brace yourself correctly), so not sure that's what's holding the park back... Not to mention most regular guests don't tend to marathon rides with exception to those instances where they return to the station and nobody is waiting/ride ops are allowed to let you stay on or move to an unoccupied row.
Just wishful thinking but something like Candymonium would be nice but a little longer (like AC but with newer design features). That style of coaster happens to be one of my favorites and is fairly popular with guests. Doesn't have to be much over 200ft and both Hershey and Carowinds have a mix of hyper and giga coasters. That's just my personal preference.

You make a valid point about some of the coasters being re-ridable. I remember when FoF first opened it was brutal. With the new restraints it's much nicer.

I mostly visit BGW on off days when the crowds are small. Usually in the morning I can get multiple rides on Griffon or AC with only having to wait for a few minutes between rides.
 
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Alf33

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Now that the takeover bid was rejected anyone think that SEAS will up it's offer to something more appealing to FUN especially since their original offer was an unsolicited one? Maybe instead of an all cash offer they could go with cash and stock and formally enter into buyout talks vice another unsolicited offer. The question will be how much they will increase it. Then there's the question as to whether other entities will decide to make CF and offer. Who knows if a competitor will team up with a private equity firm to see if FUN will agree to their offer. Only time will tell.
 

horsesboy

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Now that the takeover bid was rejected anyone think that SEAS will up it's offer to something more appealing to FUN especially since their original offer was an unsolicited one? Maybe instead of an all cash offer they could go with cash and stock and formally enter into buyout talks vice another unsolicited offer. The question will be how much they will increase it. Then there's the question as to whether other entities will decide to make CF and offer. Who knows if a competitor will team up with a private equity firm to see if FUN will agree to their offer. Only time will tell.
CF's quarterly report revealed that SEA had upped the offer to $63 a share. Given that they did that already and it was still turned down I think that barring anything unexpected occurring it is very unlikely that SEAS comes back to the table with a new offer especially given that their official statement said that they saw no path forward.
 
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Alf33

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@horsesboy, you're correct that SEAS did increase their offer and it was rejected but the increase really wasn't that much of an increase. It was almost just token gesture. If they have any serious intentions about a takeover then their offer better at least go up to $70 if not more like $75. As of COB today SEAS closed at $68.45 while FUN closed at $56.32 but down to $55.96 in after hours trading (while typing this).
 
Nov 1, 2012
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Most of the KD's dying video's I've seen are from coasters fanatics who are "butt-hurt" because KD is not getting coasters every 4-5 years and/or it is not a 20 million dollar plus attraction. As soon as I hear "the park will only get better when they get a coaster that I want" I hit pause and move on. I don't have time for that sort of drivel.
 

mtorange

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Jul 26, 2014
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From listening to CF’s earnings calls, it sounds like CF’s current strategy heavily revolves around trying to better serve the specific needs of each park’s unique market. Every market has different demographics and demands, which will warrant different focuses from the parks. CF has apparently concluded that parks like Carowinds, for example, need more investments into big rides to better serve the large Charlotte market, while parks like Valleyfair can sustain their position in the market without much investment at all.

KD seems unique though in that they seem to have definitively concluded the park will see more long-term success by focusing on creating an immersive, higher end entertainment experience. When you think about the markets KD serves, it makes sense. KD serves the wealthy DC and Northern Virginia markets as well as the increasingly well-off Richmond market. CF has probably realized that these markets are best attracted by a beautiful, clean, well-themed immersive family experience — essentially a “mini Disney” within driving distance. Think about Grain & Grill — its fancier dishes clearly target a different crowd than the fast food typically associated with a coaster park, with prices to match. KD is banking that they’ll attract more families who are willing to pay more for that better product.

Like @Zachary said in another thread, it seems that CF doesn’t want KD to be Carowinds or Kings Island — they want it to be Knott’s. If they want to make the park a “mini Disney” or a Knott’s and attract the demographics that would follow, they can’t go blowing all their budget on the biggest rides all the time. That’s why we’re seeing huge projects every year invested into improving the park, its experience, and its theming.

We’ve seen new themed areas introduced into the park (Jungle X, Candy Apple Grove, and easily the most beautiful Planet Snoopy of any CF park), huge swaths of asphalt removed (Old VA, I Street, CAG, Planet Snoopy), tons of new landscaping, huge immersive events like Carnivale and Winterfest, new restaurants (Grain & Grill, Mac Bowl, Country Kitchen redo, Outer Hanks replacement), new shows and show venues (the CAG stage and apparent new stage coming to Jungle X, plus a massive increase in live shows and huge increase in quality of talent), and so much more. Heck, the park literally has a Creative Services department now whose sole job is to develop new thematic work for the park (Grizzly Gulch General Store, Country Kitchen renovation, Jungle X stuff, I Street building details, etc).

And — by the way — all of this is still on top of the fact that in the past 5 seasons, we’ve gotten a giant frisbee, an incredible RMC, and a waterpark renovation, not to mention the incoming free spin. It’s not like KD has been totally neglected on the rides front while the rest of the improvements are ongoing.

Jungle X in particular perfectly represents CF’s strategy with KD. Enormous investments into storytelling and theming, improved food and beverage options and retail, updating old attractions, beautifying the area, with a modest ride to go with it.

I can’t think of any CF park that has poured as much effort or money into changing the park experience itself as much as KD. The problem with all these enthusiasts across the country proclaiming KD’s “neglect” and sensational “Kings Dominion is dying!” YouTube videos is that unless you visit the park, you don’t realize half of these investments are happening. A lot of these changes aren’t the things that are easily conveyed online or appear in enthusiast YouTube videos or reviews. But they’re what CF has clearly decided is the best path to KD’s future success. They’re not aimed at pleasing enthusiasts. That’s not the future CF sees for KD — and in my opinion, KD is a better park for it.
I can’t overstate how exactly in line and on point this whole post is with my own thoughts about Kings Dominion and the Cedar Fair chain. The fact that KD is getting all of the huge entertainment and immersive experiences tells me that they’re not getting overlooked at all. In fact, quite the opposite is happening. It’s just that many people don’t understand that not every park needs a giant new ride every year. KD is in a really good place at the moment and I’m immensely grateful that the SeaWorld deal did not go through because all of this attention would have stopped for sure. I hope this momentum continues into the 50th anniversary coming up in a few years. Jungle X-Pedition in particular is going to be a massive turning point for the park in terms of theming and storytelling, and I’m x-tremely x-cited to see how that area is going to unfold. It might be enough to get me to the park for opening day for the first time in quite a long time.

Speaking of Knott’s, can Kings Dominion PLEASE get the Peanuts Celebration soon? This would be a fantastic event to put on during the colder months to compete with BGW’s January and February events. Also… Marcie and Spike would be wonderful additions to the Peanuts character lineup, and they’re already at Knott’s!
 
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One of the things that that CF has zeroed in on for 2022 is food & beverage across the whole park chain. Management has brought that up for the last 2-3 quarterly calls.

I know that several parks have gotten new restaurants and/or enhanced menu items over the last 3-4 years. But, CF wants to take F&B up a couple more notches in 2022. If KD can can get the new concept restaurant, in the former Outer Hank's location, on par with Grain & Grill, we are talking some serious food offerings this year.

Plus, there was many menu enhancements/changes in several of the other major food locations in 2021. I have a feeling that will continue this year. My bet is on Victoria's pizza in CAG. I would love to see 2-3 pasta dishes offered in addition to just pizza, breadsticks, and salads. That location has the biggest kitchen area and one of the largest indoor dining areas in the park. That location has the most flexibility to try new ideas.
 
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