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May 11, 2011
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I still haven't felt compelled to visit since I last went in 2019. I know I'll be disappointed in some regards, but I miss the park terribly. All the issues that @Zachary mentioned make me wonder if I should dip my toes back in with KD first, and come back in the fall or '23. I don't want to drive 173 miles with things the way they are economically for a lackluster experience that is hopefully in a healing state.
 
Mar 21, 2016
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We celebrated our wedding anniversary with our kids at Hersheypark this past weekend and ended up upgrading to season passes primarily because the weather affected our original preview night/one day plans but also because it had some really nice perks that make it easily worth the 2 hour drive vs 3 hrs to BGW. Primarily I like the early start for members and the self-serve free drink refills all over the park. Their alcohol selection is severely lacking compared to BGW and the discount on merchandise was only 15%. Still, a bucket of fries for $10 compared to Les Frites...
 
Nov 24, 2009
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Those are both reasons I’m not going like I had been for the past 20 some years……I would gladly fill the tank to go just as much as I used to if the experience was good.
 
Mar 8, 2022
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Martinsburg, WV
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I still haven't felt compelled to visit since I last went in 2019. I know I'll be disappointed in some regards, but I miss the park terribly. All the issues that @Zachary mentioned make me wonder if I should dip my toes back in with KD first, and come back in the fall or '23. I don't want to drive 173 miles with things the way they are economically for a lackluster experience that is hopefully in a healing state.
The fact that they are trying to entice people to visit the park with gimmicks such as Busch Bucks makes me feel that they really don't get it at all and it concerns me that things are just going to get worse. Part of me wants to agree with you staying away for now but then there's another part of me that wants to tell you to go now and experience some things before they get worse. Right now Palace is the chain that seems to understand the importance of things that you can't market and I think they're being rewarded for that -- SEAS is going in the complete opposite direction of focusing only on what you can market and they are being punished. KD actually has the unique twist of realizing what Palace has but finding a way to do it that's marketable (admittedly they can't long term market it but it's a critical point for the situation they are in).
We celebrated our wedding anniversary with our kids at Hersheypark this past weekend and ended up upgrading to season passes primarily because the weather affected our original preview night/one day plans but also because it had some really nice perks that make it easily worth the 2 hour drive vs 3 hrs to BGW. Primarily I like the early start for members and the self-serve free drink refills all over the park.
It's funny how much I've changed on Hershey. Don't get me wrong, I've always loved Hershey but it was hard for me to justify a pass when it's just a single park. Granted, moving to Martinsburg from NoVA has made Hershey my home park and put it closer to me than KD but logistically that isn't that big of a change. For me, what changed is seeing how much passion Hershey actually has for their park and for their experience. Admittedly they don't get it right 100% of the time because they are struggling just like all other parks are right now but they actually do care when they don't get it right and work to make it better.
Their alcohol selection is severely lacking compared to BGW and the discount on merchandise was only 15%. Still, a bucket of fries for $10 compared to Les Frites...
I can't speak to alcohol but I will tell you that you shouldn't get caught up in that percentage. The discount at Hershey goes A LOT further than the discount at BGW and if you do an apples to apples comparison you're usually going to pay the same price at Hershey as you do at BGW with your discounts. For example, I think that I remember nano coasters being $50 at BGW and they are $30 at Hershey. With the 40% discount at BGW that brings them down to the same price they are at Hershey but you still have your 15%.... So 40% off at BGW is $30 and 15% off at Hershey is $25.50.
 
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Mar 21, 2016
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I can't speak to alcohol but I will tell you that you shouldn't get caught up in that percentage. The discount at Hershey goes A LOT further than the discount at BGW and if you do an apples to apples comparison you're usually going to pay the same price at Hershey as you do at BGW with your discounts. For example, I think that I remember nano coasters being $50 at BGW and they are $30 at Hershey. With the 40% discount at BGW that brings them down to the same price they are at Hershey but you still have your 15%.... So 40% off at BGW is $30 and 15% off at Hershey is $25.50.
Yeah, my kids wanted a medium Twizzlers Squishmallow and a small Hershey Bar pillow...I'm used to that grandfathered 50% discount at BGW and was a little shocked when it was almost $50.
 
Mar 8, 2022
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Martinsburg, WV
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Yeah, my kids wanted a medium Twizzlers Squishmallow and a small Hershey Bar pillow...I'm used to that grandfathered 50% discount at BGW and was a little shocked when it was almost $50.
I'm not sure you followed me. Similar items at BGW now would have likely been well over $50 even with your larger discount. In my nanocoaster example you would have paid pretty much the exact same price for a nanocoaster at BGW with your 50% discount as you would at Hershey with your 15% discount.
 
Mar 21, 2016
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I'm not sure you followed me. Similar items at BGW now would have likely been well over $50 even with your larger discount. In my nanocoaster example you would have paid pretty much the exact same price for a nanocoaster at BGW with your 50% discount as you would at Hershey with your 15% discount.
No I understood, but 2 squishmallows at BGW would be $30 max after discount. The tiny pillow was also $30. I will check apparel next time but I know some things are similarly priced while others are marked up at BGW
 
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Apr 11, 2017
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Maybe I can only speak for myself. Before last year I hadn't visited Bush Gardens Williamsburg since 2008. The experience after such a long time away was amazing. But maybe that's because KD was slacking last year. Now, it's hard for me to go back to KD. But this is for a number of reasons. The park seems different without Volcano. Another thing that draws me to Bush Gardens more is the immersive theme. If it's not the themed areas, the food and the rides themselves. Each theme section feels rewarding once you get there. After you ride that ride, you might visit a restaurant there and then ride again, before moving on. The park has definitely done a good job keeping visitors entertained in each area. Tones of food, music and shows for everyone. The speculation of prices and discounts, does not mean that the park might not be doing as well as it should. Consider the fact that we just came out of a rough economy and Bush Gardens Williamsburg came into the 2021 season swinging. They had enough staff to keep late operation hours, while parks that KD struggled to do this in 2021. Let's be thankful for that.

I visited the park on July 2nd, 2022. The crowd wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Got there a little after 1:00pm and still had a good day. It was my friend's first time being there and he loved it. He's a KD fan, but I told him he would like Bush Gardens Williamsburg a lot more. Wasn't even going to ride Pantheon more than once and ended up becoming addicted to it. Pantheon night rides are amazing and now give me a reason to stay in that section of the park closer to closing hours.
 

horsesboy

DarKoaster stalker
Advisory Panel
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Jun 16, 2013
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I have heard shockingly low attendance numbers for the 4th of July weekend with the park below 50% capacity on the 4th it's self. I understand that SEA may be closely looking at possible diminishing returns from recent price hike and that small reversals may be coming by the end of summer.
 

Coasternerd

What’s better than one coaster? 2 coasters!
Dec 7, 2021
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I have heard shockingly low attendance numbers for the 4th of July weekend with the park below 50% capacity on the 4th it's self. I understand that SEA may be closely looking at possible diminishing returns from recent price hike and that small reversals may be coming by the end of summer.
If this is true then maybe the realized they fucked up and shouldn’t have skyrocketed prices.
 

Mushroom

Getting aHEAD of myself
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Feb 12, 2011
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In SEAS’ defense (sort of): attendance isn’t the correct measure of business success. Profit is. If the higher prices are really to blame for lower attendance, it may be the case that the park is making more money by charging higher prices with fewer people entering the park. We just don’t have the data to know.
 
Mar 18, 2017
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Actually, I think their bad reputation has finally caught up to them. As a lot of us have been saying, if you keep screwing over people with a half open park experience it is going to have an impact eventually. I can't begin to tell you how many friends neighbors and people we talk to coming back with the comment, "You're still going there?" I even had annual maintenance on my HVAC and the technician without any prompting from me began talking about how bad his families experience was at Busch Gardens. He emphatically said they would not be going back. I'm overhearing the same thing in checkout lines in stores, people have finally had enough.
 
Oct 23, 2019
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Actually, I think their bad reputation has finally caught up to them. As a lot of us have been saying, if you keep screwing over people with a half open park experience it is going to have an impact eventually. I can't begin to tell you how many friends neighbors and people we talk to coming back with the comment, "You're still going there?" I even had annual maintenance on my HVAC and the technician without any prompting from me began talking about how bad his families experience was at Busch Gardens. He emphatically said they would not be going back. I'm overhearing the same thing in checkout lines in stores, people have finally had enough.
It's a shame, but so much is their own doing. I've heard a lot of the same and I've even told friends to lower their expectations when going. 2021 I tempered my expectations.

I had a semi enjoyable day at water country on the 5th even though I felt lines were far too long and quick queue is insanely priced. I think slides like vanish point may have only been operating 1 side with the other dedicated to quick queue. This is unacceptable imo when there was no one in the quick queue line. It's unacceptable that they can't get attractions ready on time (splash pad), if it's a supplier/contractor issue, I can be more forgiving, but they need to stop advertising things. When it's ready, then market it.

I've had encounters at both parks with employees that absolutely suck at their job. Training seems to be lacking with many, especially those that should be having conversations with guests.

And there is a Dippin Dot shortage!
 

EdK

Feb 26, 2021
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It's funny that they played games with the opening of Pantheon and it ended up not boosting attendance after all. Or maybe they thought Pantheon would bring in huge crowds and they'd make a small fortune with the jacked up prices. I haven't been back to BGW since March and I have no short term plans to go in the future. KD is hitting the spot for now.
 
Jul 14, 2019
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It's funny that they played games with the opening of Pantheon and it ended up not boosting attendance after all. Or maybe they thought Pantheon would bring in huge crowds and they'd make a small fortune with the jacked up prices. I haven't been back to BGW since March and I have no short term plans to go in the future. KD is hitting the spot for now.
They fucked around.............and then they found out.
 
I definitely feel a lot more "at ease" on my KD visits right now. BGW I feel like the park is furious if I don't have a credit card out and READY to swipe. I can usually get in and have a reasonable visit and get on all of the coasters I would like nowadays. It seems like any sort of issue that involves interacting with employees to solve a problem is a massive pain in the a**. I will say I DO appreciate the addition of the small baskets on the coasters for phones and wallets those are such a boost to somebody like me who carries very little into a park with me.
 
Apr 11, 2017
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I can't say I have experienced any of this. During my visit, the employees seemed very friendly to me and my buddy. Maybe it's my smile. The only thing I wish they would fix is the hard copy machine for the physical season passes. It's been broke sense last season and corporate still has not given the permission for the park to fix it. Other than that, I have no complaints against BGW. I have another visit coming up. For BGW, it's the atmosphere that does it for me. For seven to eight hours, I am in another world. BGW is living proof that an amusement park can still have captivating theme. For BGW, this goes all the way back to their old parent company, but it all comes down to what the company wants to spend it's dollars on. With BGW being in Williamsburg, it falls into the category of a tourist destination, but I feel in ways that it's grown into that category. By classification, it is a regional theme park.

Furthermore, I feel BGW will win the battle against KD if it continues to do what it's doing. Give or take KD responds back to BGW with a great addition. BGW seems to be doing a good job with the unique attractions. Working with what they currently have seems to be their focus. DarKoaster will use the dormant castle and most likely have an appealing theme that visitors love. Good way to bring more money back to Germany. For me, that seems to be the side of the park that I enjoy the most in the late evening hours.
 

Ice

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Jan 5, 2018
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DC Area
I think the issue isn't with their newer customers, rather they have deteriorated the product so much from what it once was they have alienated the majority of their vast local audience.

This park always thrived on locals as the main attendance, since the area brings so many people in through the gates. These people are also extremely loyal to the park when it was a good experience, now they have put so much of an emphasis on attracting new sign ups and new people through the gate they have lost sight of how important customer retention is. That is why profits are such a bad marker of success, they only show the instantaneous success. Customer satisfaction markers like return visitors per hundred or survey results or renewing memberships are way more important for the long term success of a park. Gate baiting has never proven successful in the long term, as typically the two different markers require two different business decisions to achieve them. Typically the decisions that are made to attract loads of new customers negatively impact the ability to retain large amounts of existing customers, which is why spending on new rides and attractions needed to be balanced with food & show quality as well as employee training and preparation. Over the next couple seasons they will see the impacts of these decisions on their financials, yet I worry their solution will be to double down and think they need to enlarge their revenue more rather than reduce the revenue decay.
 

Nibbins

Resident Rat - They/Them
Sep 3, 2019
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[...] Furthermore, I feel BGW will win the battle against KD if it continues to do what it's doing. Give or take KD responds back to BGW with a great addition. BGW seems to be doing a good job with the unique attractions. [...]
I don't think adding 1 or 2 unique coasters comes even close to make up for the crummy park experience right now.

I can't convince my kids to go to BGW anymore unless they get their $10 Busch Bucks or some other incentive.
 
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