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Apr 9, 2013
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Last week, it was made (sort of) clear something a lot of us could have predicted after 2011: This is Oktoberfest is getting the axe. And like clockwork, the forums went into a deathspin of vitriol and hate. I even contributed to the dissent because, despite my loathing of most shows, I actually like(d) TIO quite a bit. Maybe not so much in it's latest iteration - but at many points in the past I've made sure to be at the FestHaus around show time, beer(s) in hand. So this had me thinking, why is TIO off the table for some people when the park wants to implement a change in any given direction? And then I started to wonder why anything is off or on the table at all.

I reflected on Disneyland's changes over the years. I've been to Disneyland no less than 30 times from ages 5 on, so it's easier for me to quantify their progression in my memory. It's also the birth of modern themeparks, whether anyone cares to admit it or not. During it's history they've removed and replaced many, many rides and attractions, including 2 I remember vividly from my youth: the PeopleMovers and America Sings. In the years since these rides were dumped the effect is barely measurable; no one seems to even care. And don't get me wrong, these were beloved attractions in their day. My knee jerk reaction thinking on it now is to say, their replacements were improvements so people care less. Which may be true at any park with any given ride. Indeed, if Entwined was an amazing show (if such a thing exists) I'm sure people would be far less angered at TIO's demise. However, when I go back to House of Mouse, it's fairly safe to predict Dumbo The Flying Elephant will never be considered for demolition. Why?  

And then it kind of hit me: BGW has no IP.

Elmo aside, BGW is a construct of historical Europe and Canada, with various levels of accuracy. There are no small or big screen characters who come to life once inside the park. No movie tie ins. No immediate thoughts of consumables... Except for maybe beer during the AB days. If it was sort of old and sort of European, it's fair game at BGW.

I applaud this concept. I think it's a big reason why BGW is a hit with the general public - the hand that feeds themepark endeavors. The fact I'm not subjected to Disney or Universal hoobajoo every where I look is a nice departure from most other big-budget themeparks. BGW has charm, however hard that is to quantify. And the park can add to the user experience with little to no explanation. If a new attraction recalls something old and something European, the boxes are checked and it's a go.

The lack of IP, though, has left enthusiasts (many of whom inhabit this forum) to make their own IP where none exists. Hence, an uproar when just about anything is removed or replaced. Unfortunately, I feel like this is to the detriment of the fan in most cases, if for no other reason than for some of you to keep your sanity. Also, and this is just me personally, it gets tiresome when "Change X" happens and there's page-after-page on the forum of constant beating of the war drum - but that's a different discussion. Just know this: there's nothing off the table. Nothing. And really, I think it was consciously designed that way.

I don't know why I'm really writing this except to say, I see a point to why the park does what it does. I'm not an apologist by any stretch. I think the last few years have been bad decision after bad decision. However, I can also see their method to the madness. And why, to some degree, it's probably in the forum's interest to not shit linoleum every time they move a trash can. We're not tethered to a rodent or annoying, mini-sorcerer - and that's a good thing. I embrace the lack of IP, but I also understand, with no IP means the park has a right to be dynamic.
 

Nicole

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Jul 22, 2013
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I would argue that in place of traditional IP, SEAS parks have (had?) a conservation focus and an emphasis on animal attractions. As I have said before, what set those parks apart from the other major chains for me was the integration of animal and thrill rides.

So, while they don't have an IP, would say they used to have a unique approach.

Before everyone gets upset with your post, BTW, I would say that I tend to agree with you.
 
Sep 24, 2013
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While SEAS parks have a conservation focus, I feel like Busch Gardens Europe/Williamsburg only really caught up to it about 10 years or so ago. While you can argue that they have always had animals in the park, I feel like the animal exhibits had a very different feel to them in the 90s (and earlier) versus the current environment.
 
Oct 7, 2011
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Interesting thread idea. As a kid I felt that the Kings Dominion themes that worked best were home-grown: Haunted River and (in the case of Grizzly) the forest itself. Gluing licensed IP to a ride struck me as perhaps a reliable way to snag guests but a poor way to create memories. If, like me, a kid didn't care about Hanna-Barbera in the least, then the entire tie-in effort felt cheap and forced. Maybe it would have felt cheap and forced anyway. How did that wooden kiddie ride have anything at all to do with Scooby Doo? The contrasts in that park between what worked for me and what didn't were pretty stark.

Busch Gardens at that time was effectively its own IP, and highly polished by comparison. Loch Ness Monster had a compelling story, to a kid anyway; likewise Big Bad Wolf, Questor, and others. The setting alone was a massive draw -- the "Rhine River" ravine, the forested walks, the comparative isolation between themed areas, the continuity of immersion in most of the park, the animals on display. A-B corporate notes were easily found but to a kid they felt minor and occasional. The park felt like an integrated whole, and to some degree (controlling for adult POV vs. kid POV) still does. Much of my high-school-age disappointment with Drachen Fire had nothing to do with the ride itself, which was okay if not spectacular. My disappointment stemmed from parking the ride in a lightly graded, meticulously gardened open field and then naming it after a dragon. Not a lot of opportunity there to find oneself alone in the wilderness with a beast afoot, as one did on LNM or BBW. (Verbolten got back to that, one of my favorite aspects of that ride.)

Anyway, against that backdrop of what seems to work, I wonder whether changes to the park's entertainment offerings over the past few years are really an attempt to satisfy some strong SEAS mandate that the park create its own discrete live IP to bring people back. ...In which case, the continued funding of and tolerance for the personalities and results in this area would make a lot of sense. As would the fact that, during the regular operating season anyway, the chosen course for entertainment has essentially been a flop. They have the performing talent and the venues, but not the production concepts or execution.

In my opinion the IP-show concept is a non-starter in all but the most skillful of hands. I think a Landmark or Disney would see BGW's recent path as a completely failed repurposing of assets that are unsuitable for their new roles (lookin' at you Festhaus). To my eye, big investments in highly localized and discrete single-venue IP are great way to pay way too much for amateurish, gaudy, and/or unrelatable let-downs. ...Unless you bring in the big guns at the development stage. Otherwise, disappointment is the only likely destination, and there are plenty of ways to disappoint people cheaply.

But I would feel just a little bit badly about my low opinion of the park's new show offerings, if it turned out that corporate busybodies were allowing the curtain to go up on nothing else.
 

Zimmy

Nessie is lonely.
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Sep 28, 2013
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I would agree that the park certainly has no truly marketable IP. Certainly nothing that would sell outside the park.

That having been said what it has and had were certain icons that could be associated with the park particularly in the AB days. Most notably would be Nessie and to a lesser extent conservation, BBW and even TIO. What we have watched over the past few years is an erosion of these images. At the risk of sounding like I have an aluminum foil hat on, I truly believe this is intentional. The current park management wants to kill off anything associated with AB. I think it is stupid, but it is a legitimate marketing approach. It could be argued if you do not completely reinvent yourself as a new park you will be forever stuck in a rut. (I do not necessarily agree)

As you all know, I love Nessie, she is, in my opinion the beating heart of what is BGW. I could go on about her bonafides but I believe I would just be preaching to the choir. I do not think she is long for this world because of this model.
 
Apr 9, 2013
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^ Hm. I don't see themed areas or planned experiences as IP. That's more branding, I think. Similar, but not the same. The board can (and does) argue all day over if BGW is serving it's brand correctly. However, I'd argue Intellectual Property is a creation of some sort of art (characters, music, mascots, inventions) that can be easily identified and used for profit or part of a business vehicle (like an anthropomorphic rodent). My argument is, BGW isn't bound to outside or self-created IP which is something fairly unique. The downside is, don't be surprised if your favorite attraction is overhauled or scrapped because nothing is off the table.

It's probably because when IPs are successful (like at Disney), they carry a larger fan base outside of an enthusiast community and are therefore less likely to be screwed with.

Edited to add: this was in response to Halfabee.
 
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Applesauce

未来の月
May 22, 2010
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At one point the park did have mascot characters. Which I made a thread about years ago. But they didn't last. Ignoring The Land of the Dragons characters and the rumored characters of like Sherlock Holmes. (Which I vaguely remember hearing about being a thing at the park) They had others, including two frogs in France, which I do have a picture of somewhere in my house.

I have no idea if those characters, like the frogs, were ever marketed as actual mascots. But, if they were I'd prolly argue that, they at one point tried in the past to have some sort of IP. But, naturally it didn't work out. Probably due to the fact that there was nothing surrounding them as characters to be marketed outside of the park.
 
Sep 8, 2010
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Those mascots died under AB ownership.

We've been discussing this topic a bit today in the chat. I think another point people forget is that a lot of the GP can't even name the coasters. No, I don't have numbers, don't ask. But we've all heard it atleast more than once on every visit. The GP (you know, the ones who account for the most money brought in) don't care. They simply don't. To them it's the yellow coaster, not LNM. Does it hold some sentimental value? Sure. But right when they get off they'll say "That was rough, my head hurts. Let's go ride Tempesto!"

Food for thought.
 

Applesauce

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May 22, 2010
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They did die under AB, however it was possible that they could have become something similar to Mickey or Harry Potter. It was an extremely small chance, as Mickey and HP are both well established characters from before theme parks. But, a possibility none-the-less.
 
Sep 8, 2010
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Applesauce said:
They did die under AB, however it was possible that they could have become something similar to Mickey or Harry Potter. It was an extremely small chance, as Mickey and HP are both well established characters from before theme parks. But, a possibility none-the-less.

No doubt. That's possible with anything. I just don't understand why everyone is quick to shit on SEAS, BlackStone, Scott, Carl, anyone but AB. They removed just as then as they are now. Hell, everyone apparently hates Griffon because it removed the god send LeMans.

It's called moving with the times.
 

Applesauce

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May 22, 2010
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1, Nostalgia goggles can blind people to the bad things. Not to mention the past being what it was, photographic evidence or video evidence of the bad were rarely taken. Why waste money developing film or wasting tape space on a camcorder on things that are unpleasant?

2, People on here were generally uninformed of things that went on in the past. Now you have to find sources of things going on in the past to prove that Person A was a terrible person. Versus, the now and we know what we're seeing. It's subjective to each person's own opinions as to whether or not it's a good or bad thing. Information is so much easily available of current events, then it is of the past.

3, I love Griffon. However, it's much like Drachen Fire in the sense that it's a parking lot coaster. It also replaced a family ride. I'm not one for the mind set of "Think of the children". But, they took out a family ride, and replaced it with a ride for older kids, teens and adults. Le Mans was something that could be sort of relaxing, as it was slow paced and doesn't spin. Which is something that's sort of needed at the park imo. If I could have kept Le Mans and got Griffon as well, I would have.

I'm neither here nor there on new information. I know what I personally like and that's what matters to me. Hearing descriptions for roles in a new show, when the park just axed two shows for one reason and got rid of a bunch of animals because of budget cuts, just doesn't sit all that well with me.
 
Sep 8, 2010
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Nicole said:
"Everyone?"

And I have said AB wasn't perfect either, as have others.

That wasn't directed towards anyone specifically, nor any comment in this thread. I was speaking broadly as to what you can see when browsing the forums.
 
Jul 16, 2013
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Nicole said:
I would argue that in place of traditional IP, SEAS parks have (had?) a conservation focus and an emphasis on animal attractions.  As I have said before, what set those parks apart from the other major chains for me was the integration of animal and thrill rides.

But with the large zoology cuts coming our way, what remains? Sure the Clydesdales and star animals will most likely stay but with the demise of the animals (Which I also believe is part of BGW's IP) what is left?

I think we have all been harsh on the parks recent choices (myself included) but lets face it, times are tough. People in the GP don't have the money in their pockets they used to, which creates a lack of currency to flow around for leisure activities like visiting an amusement park. Now by no means am I an economist, but this is common knowledge.

I think it would've been smart for the park to invest in the parks IP. like previously stated, BGW has Elmo and such. That appeals to the little kids. If the park invested in maintaining and keeping its IP (the animals) opposed to investing in other areas (new shows, coasters, ect.) it would draw the GP into the park more. I know the cuts were passed down from corporate but come on, the park had its hands in on the decision what to cut back on. It seems flashy, tacky and mediocre shows with low attendance ratings is on the forefront right now. SeaWorld Entertainment is know for their animal displays and attractions, so I HIGHLY doubt they chose to cut back on the zoology department.

By creating (in this case maintaining) an overall image that appeals to everyone (nothing corny or commercialized) it could potentially draw more of the GP into the park opposed to people who want to visit once to "Try out the big new ride."

Invest in the overall image/IP of the park, not the thrills.

Just my two cents.
 
Sep 8, 2010
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John said:
I think we have all been harsh on the parks recent choices (myself included) but lets face it, times are tough. People in the GP don't have the money in their pockets they used to, which creates a lack of currency to flow around for leisure activities like visiting an amusement park. Now by no means am I an economist, but this is common knowledge.

There's a point here. But there's also another side to it. I studied a few semesters of economics, so I know some things, but by no means the final word on the subject like others around here think they are.

During a recession, people obviously spend less. BUT they still seek entertainment. They do this to remove themselves from the shit world around them, even if it's just for a few hours. So while people may be spending less to go on week long vacations out of state, there is a large argument made that people will spend what they normally would by staying in state. So people will seek entertainment close by, whether it is the movie theaters, broadway shows, or local theme parks. Frankly, BGW can/could/does? benefit from this side effect. Think of all the military families in the area, and how instead of going to disney, they'll spend the money for a few days at BGW instead.

You can also look at "entertainment companies" stock as another example. While ALL stocks drop during depressions/recessions, these companies drop less and SOMETIMES thrive. Look at the last recession we had, and look at the stock of entertainment companies compared to others during the same time period.

Again, this isn't the case across the ENTIRE population, just a known change of habits during rough times.

One example
Another
 
Apr 12, 2010
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I have to agree with halfabee and John here (shocking, right? lol).  Quoting a small portion of what each person said:

halfabee said:
"I think a Landmark or Disney would see BGW's recent path as a completely failed repurposing of assets that are unsuitable for their new roles (lookin' at you Festhaus). To my eye, big investments in highly localized and discrete single-venue IP are great way to pay way too much for amateurish, gaudy, and/or unrelatable let-downs. ...Unless you bring in the big guns at the development stage. Otherwise, disappointment is the only likely destination, and there are plenty of ways to disappoint people cheaply."

John said:
"It seems flashy, tacky and mediocre shows with low attendance ratings is on the forefront right now."

YES.  It's one thing to 'change' something into something else.  It's a completely different thing to make it attractive to the GP at the same time.  Doing something like that can many times require an INCREDIBLE amount of skill.  And BGW (imho, and not surprisingly) has seriously failed at those attempts.  Granted, C-Town is a hit (and rightfully so...I was harping on them for years to open the park for the Christmas season), but their 'regular-season' entertainment excursions have been nothing short of painful to anyone who halfway gives a rip about whether something comes across well or not.  Killarney Kommotion comes to mind (even the thought of that show makes me ill).  Professional or amateurish.  Gawdy or brilliant.  Showstopping or gut-wrenching.  You can't start shooting glitter in the air during a painful attempt at entertainment and expect everyone to 'oooh' and 'aaah'.  

On a side note:  my background.  performing in bands, orchestras, plays, musicals, etc.  I play piano, trumpet, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and even a bit of electric bass.  I've been in marching bands and heavy-metal bands.  My musical styles I enjoy listening to traverse the range from classical to thrash (I do hate rap, and am very picky about what country music I like...although I like most folk music).  Just wanted to get that out there.

The other thing is that even though BGW doesn't have an IP so-to-speak, it does have ICONS.  They 'identify' each 'country' in the park.  Certain things in certain areas that are MAIN ATTRACTIONS within the park.    They've always been there, and have remained VERY successful.  My question is:  if it works, and it's a beloved and cherished part of the BGW experience for longtime visitors and locals alike...then what purpose is served by ripping the soul out of it, and turning it into something cheesy, corny or even changing it at all??!!  Old saying review:  "if it ain't broke, don't fix it'".  Change for the sake of change can be VERY far from a wise decision.  You can spruce a long-standing item (attraction, place or show) up alot.  You can beautify it more (after all, the park has won awards for its beauty).  You can even change songs, routines, sequences, etc.  MUCH can be done without totally throwing out a working and stable concept and trying to start something from scratch that goes in a COMPLETELY different direction...and sometimes doesn't even belong in that location at all!  

Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about the park.  I've been going there since the late '80s on-and-off.  Although I haven't been able to make it there since around 2007.  Seen alot over the years at BGW.  I've also been to WDW several times over the years.  Very impressive...although I still can't fathom why they took out the skyride in the Magic Kingdom...but that's a topic for another time and thread.  However (and I've said this ad nauseam here), BGW is starting to lose what little identity (or IP, if you will) it had...and it's identity consists on the countries, their accuracy in reproducing those countries, the places/shows in those countries as well as the 'buffer zone' between each country...separating one from another.  Sadly, BGW is now gaining the distinction of being pretty much like every other theme park.  What attracted most people to BGW in the past?  It WASN'T like every other theme park!  Hence, the reason so many people used to visit, with some traveling pretty far to get there.  BGW was different from every other them park back in the day (except maybe Epcot with its countries, but that's about it), and it was worth driving 8 hours or more for alot of people.  Those days are quickly coming to an end.  I have a Six Flags within an hour or so from me.  Several other parks even closer, although not as 'big'.  The incentive for me to drive all those hours for a UNIQUE and UNPARALLELED experience for myself and my family has been radically diminished over the past few years.  Sure the locals will go there no matter what.  But don't discount the importance of out-of-state visitors to the park.  Also, never forget the word 'unique'.  What works for one park does not necessarily work at another!!!!  And going that route smacks of laziness by trying to pilfer/copy someone else's idea.  

On another note:  you just don't mess with park 'icons' or maybe a better term:  'anchors'.  Big Ben in England.  Globe Theatre.  Festhaus.  Smokehouse (yes, I remember the original, but they included what was SPECIAL about the original Smokehouse into the newer one).  Naked-lady fountain, and exterior clock display behind it.  Rhine River boats.  BBW (RIP).  LNM (including the tunnel effects!).  The list goes on.  I'll say it again:  there's SO many other areas where all of this wasted 'refurbish/re-purpose' money could have been used to great benefit of everyone, rather than trying for a 'BGW reboot'!  Instead, it's been seemingly mostly wasted on the ambitions of a person/persons who (imho) need a good spanking!  lol  

Last note:  do I have 'nostalgia goggles' on sometimes?  Absolutely.  Some of my best times happened at this park over the years.  BUT, I also know something good/great when I see it.  If you're going to take away something great (which is incredibly foolish, but for this post please indulge me), you #*)$-well better be sure that you REPLACE it with something even better!!!  I also have NO respect for someone who intentionally makes a fabulous and popular show into a mediocre one...with the sole reason:  to get rid of it!  That person/persons have gained my ire, and has shown just what level of expertise they have in creating truly great attractions/performances.

So does a park which has no real 'IP' have more 'options' and 'opportunities for change' than a park like one of the Disney parks, where they have a very definable set of characters/IPs?  I think that has two answers:  yes and no.  Depending on the park, if it's a lame park and needs a major facelift, by all means...hack away.  Things can only get better with change.  I don't feel like BGW falls into that category, though.  I've seen enough lame parks to know a lame park that needs serious help.  A park doesn't necessarily need a uber-IP to be great.  It CAN stand on its own.  BGW has proven that over the years.  And I don't really count it's affiliation with A-B to be that much of an IP.  Younger kids could care less about that affiliation.  It's not like they have A-B dolls at home, or model kits of A-B or anything like that.  However, the affiliation did have a heavy presence in the park...one that did make it stand out as something different from other theme parks.  And it was all about MUCH more than just 'beer'.

I'll stop there.  The above are my opinions.  I know there are probably many that disagree with me, and I might've been better off not even voicing my opinion in this thread to begin with.  But there it is.

ETA: dang was that a long post! sorry for the length everyone. Anyone who knows me also knows I rarely do short posts ;) lol
 
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