Tony Johnson Named New VP and General Manager

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May 9, 2019
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Wasn't sure where to put this, but ACE did a great Q&A with Tony Johnson which I highly recommend checking out. Tony talks about some about his history and experiences with the park, about the 2019 season and what to expect for 2020, Haunt and Winterfest, behind-the-scenes info, and plans for the park's future. It's a really good watch.

Definitely a good watch. I am curious to how truthful the "we have not made a decision on a product for the replacement of Volcano" statement really is; actually I am more concerned of a timeline issue versus the actual replacement choice.

Tony seems like a straight shooter and I hope I get to run into him some day soon at the park.
 
Apr 22, 2019
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One thing I noticed during his talk was that a) he loves Intimidator 305 best, but b) he seemed to wax a little poetic about the reliability and throughput of Dominator. New B&M in KD's future? This would not be my choice, though.
 
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Joe

#RIPVolcano
Feb 12, 2011
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I am curious to how truthful the "we have not made a decision on a product for the replacement of Volcano" statement really is; actually I am more concerned of a timeline issue versus the actual replacement choice.
I just watched an interview with him from that same event where he specifically says they’ve already determined the “product” for that site. Obviously, only one of those statements can be true, but who knows which.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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I just watched an interview with him from that same event where he specifically says they’ve already determined the “product” for that site. Obviously, only one of those statements can be true, but who knows which.
There was a dialog with a ACE member and with Tony about looking into a flat ride package in the same vein as Carowinds "Country Fair" section. I thought Tony mentioned Old VA as a possible location if that were to come to fruition.

I could not make out what Tony said concerning the volcano site as far as the Old Queue House was concerned. He said something about "Huts being knocked down". I kept thinking "what huts?". I'm trying to get some context about if KD is just keeping the buildings for temporary asthetic reasons or if they are looking to re-purpose the queue house for something else.
 

Joe

#RIPVolcano
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Here's the interview I was talking about. It's honestly a horrible interview because the guy won't stop asking Tony about Volcano despite Tony's hands clearly being tied, but whatever.

The specific quote from Tony is, "We are currently in the planning stage looking at '21 and '22... we've got some product identified, so we're excited."

Interesting he said "'21 and '22." Not to read too far into things, but could this mean construction during the 2021-2022 off-season for a 2022 opening date? It would certainly align with the rumors that Volcano's replacement is actually Project 2022.
 
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Jun 13, 2011
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Is Kings Dominion even going to be around in 2022 after BGW gets two Intamins back to back?

I kid. Kind of. Oh how things change 😥
 
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Nov 1, 2012
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Is Kings Dominion even going to be around in 2022 after BGW gets two Intamins back to back?

I kid. Kind of. Oh how things change 😥
I've kept quiet for the last few months, especially with the attraction explosion at BGW over the last 2-3 seasons and what is coming up in 2020 and 2021. But, I keep getting this weird thought that BGW could turn into the KD of the east if the management does not carefully find the right balance for park operations. So many folks knock KD as being "an asphalt coaster park". Well, BGW is blessed without the asphalt. My concern is that will they keep up the theming, atmosphere, and the high-level park experience that park patrons expect. Visitor Demographics can change on a dime.

The funny thing is that KD seems to be getting away from being a coaster count park into a more rounded family experience.
 

Joe

#RIPVolcano
Feb 12, 2011
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I've kept quiet for the last few months, especially with the attraction explosion at BGW over the last 2-3 seasons and what is coming up in 2020 and 2021. But, I keep getting this weird thought that BGW could turn into the KD of the east if the management does not carefully find the right balance for park operations. So many folks knock KD as being "an asphalt coaster park". Well, BGW is blessed without the asphalt. My concern is that will they keep up the theming, atmosphere, and the high-level park experience that park patrons expect. Visitor Demographics can change on a dime.

The funny thing is that KD seems to be getting away from being a coaster count park into a more rounded family experience.
That's what I've been observing about BGW too. Lately they've been moving towards essentially beating KD at their own game, by moving away from immersive, themed experiences and focusing more on thrill rides - while the industry seems to be trending in the opposite direction.

Not that I think either Virginia park is doomed to fail with their newfound strategies, but it is interesting to seem the two parks basically swap roles. BGW is focusing on thrills, while KD is focusing on the overall park experience. Strange timeline we're living in.
 
Feb 14, 2019
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I'm guessing that CF has tightened the budget for large rides in the last few years which is why they're spending much less than a new ride on family experiences hoping to bring new and/or repeat visitors to increase attendance. There's a reason Grand Carnivale and Monster Jam was/is shared across parks in the chain instead of each park getting their own version at the same time.

By the same token, SEAS already has a long history of being family friendly so instead of experiences, which has been some of their largest marketing pushes over the years, they're going after the other end of the market by spending more up front on new rides across the chain where typically they wouldn't normally do so.

In that light, I believe Tony has his work cut out for him to take the budget and corporate decisions and do something great with it.
 
May 9, 2019
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I just watched an interview with him from that same event where he specifically says they’ve already determined the “product” for that site. Obviously, only one of those statements can be true, but who knows which.
I am leaning towards them (KD management) knowing more than they are leading on, because you could see Tony catching him self from trying not to be definitive about any future plans for the Volcano site or any plans at all for KD beyond 2020. I get keeping your hand close to the vest, but sometimes it is a disservice to the public when such a big name attraction is pulled on seemingly short notice.

Yes, I am still bitter about the Volcano announcement being buried in the middle of an off-season blog entry. :-(
 

Joe

#RIPVolcano
Feb 12, 2011
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I get keeping your hand close to the vest, but sometimes it is a disservice to the public when such a big name attraction is pulled on seemingly short notice.
I assume his hands are tied by corporate for what he can and can't say. It's funny because Tony comes from an operations background so he's more of a "park guy" than a "business guy" (at least compared to the park's previous GMs) and it's obvious he puts less of that business spin on the way he talks. In the ACE video, as well as almost every other other video of him online, he always ends up making a joke that he has Maggie (KD's PR manager) at the helm to make sure he isn't saying anything he's not supposed to. :p

I think when Tony kept saying phrases like "I hear you" about the park food and about Grizzly, he's trying the best he can to say he understands people's dissatisfaction with food quality, Grizzly's roughness, etc., without straight up saying "our food sucks" and stuff like that. I'm glad he notices the same things we notice and it's nice knowing he wants to fix those problems too.
 
Aug 9, 2017
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Not that I think either Virginia park is doomed to fail with their newfound strategies, but it is interesting to seem the two parks basically swap roles. BGW is focusing on thrills, while KD is focusing on the overall park experience. Strange timeline we're living in.
I really hope this is a side effect of CF's tighter wallet and SWP&E's looser wallet, and not a fundamental change in direction.
 
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