Sunday, June 26, 2022

Dorney Park 6.26.22 Park Update


© NewsPlusNotes
Time for a small update as Dorney Park's summer season kicks into full gear.  The park recently extended their hours starting July 1st running through August 7th, during this time the amusement park will be open from 10 am until 10 pm, which are now what I consider pre-pandemic "old school" hours that we haven't seen in quite a while.  Anecdotally, the park seems pretty darn busy this year so I'm guessing the daily attendance levels are working to make extended hours fiscally smart.  Either way, this means true night rides are back if you are interested - plus a nighttime parade during Grand Carnivale!


Up top I noticed the park is proudly flying a pride flag out front, nice move on their part!


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes
The park is starting preparations for Grand Carnivale, which will run July 23rd through August 7th this year.  Aside from many signs throughout the park advertising the awesome event, the park has also started to put up the main performance stage for Grand Carnivale - located on the back side of the Carousel on the Main Midway.  Dorney has the Grand Carnivale website updated for 2022, so if you want to start to plan your visit click on over.


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

Some early Halloween Haunt news - the facade / building that was created for CornStalkers has been torn down.  While perhaps it's being rebuilt, the dumpster collecting its remains looks to make it clear that it is gone, at least for now.  CornStalkers is still one of the most popular Haunts at the park, so I have to wonder if they are refreshing it for 2022 and in order to do so the house structure had to come down.  If the entire Haunt was going away, I would think they'd at least remove the CornStalkers sign out front!


© NewsPlusNotes

Dorney Park has done some great things in recent years to honor their history, and I pray that continues at the park with its new leadership.  One of the great surprises for 2022 was the recreation of the Alfundo House, which has been placed in back of the Zephyr train station.  


© NewsPlusNotes

The new Alfundo House is colorful and fun, just like Alfundo is.  It servers as a place for guests to meet and have a photo taken with Alfundo himself, but also Morgan, the character from the Steel Force logo.  There are also games and activities that guests can take part in.  It also obviously (and literally) gives Alfundo a residence within the park, which is great for guests to get to know him since he hasn't been around in quite a while.


The park used the original Alfundo House as their inspiration for the new location at the park.  The above is from one of the park's old brochures - explaining that the Alfundo house was an information center, ticket office and souvenir stand.  Hey Dorney, time to get a pos out there next to the new Alfundo House to sell some of that awesome merchandise you've had created!


© NewsPlusNotes
I know it's not a new ride or anything too thrilling, but it is great to see Dorney Park spend time and money on something that doesn't immediately turn a profit - instead honors the park's past and connects new generations with Alfundo.  Well.  Done.


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

I've noticed some new merchandise being added to the park's stores as items probably get off delayed shipping containers - lol.  These magnets are definitely new and definitely cool.  I've seen other Cedar Fair parks do similar designs with their rides for decoration and also souvenirs, and I love these Dorney versions.  The Steel Force and especially the Possessed ones are fantastic.  And the inclusion of Demon Drop is always nice as well!


© NewsPlusNotes

I admit I had a little flutter of excitment when I saw 'stuff' back behind Stinger Field... however I do believe these are items that will go out for Grand Carnivale.  I don't remember those fancy benches before, but they certainly fit with the theme.  Plus, there's a ton of other chairs and tables being brought out of storage for the event in this area as well.  Aww, shucks.


© NewsPlusNotes

 Otherwise, Stinger Field is just as green and vacant as ever!  Till next time!


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Canada's Wonderland Releases Info on Lazy Bear Lodge Restaurant


© Canada's Wonderland
Canada's Wonderland announced last year that they would be constructing a massive new restaurant within the theme park, but we have been waiting a long time to hear all the details of the project.  Wait no more, as the park has produced a new blog entry about Lazy Bear Lodge: Wood Fired Grille that includes concept art, construction photos and even a video tour.


The project is of interest to me since Cedar Fair is making it well known that they intend to keep spending capital dollars on food and beverage projects at the parks.  Lazy Bear Lodge is one of the largest ones we've seen the company do, and it just may set a precedent for the future of projects at the other larger parks in the chain.


© Canada's Wonderland
Lazy Bear Lodge will feature two levels and a large outdoor seating area as well (seen above), allowing for 500 people at a time.  The rustic lodge themed structure is built into a hill overlooking the Frontier Canada themed area, and that hill is how it easily has two levels of seating for guests.  There will also be a deck area overlooking rides including Yukon Striker.  There will be a gas firepit outside, and two fireplaces located inside the building and many black bear statues located around the seating areas.  All together, this is quite a lot of theming, a huge size, and numerous amenities for a regional theme park dining facility - impressive.


Two different meat smokers will be uitilized to create dishes such as "Lazy Bear Spice-Rubbed Wellington County Smoked Beef Brisket and Bradford Bay Smoked BBQ Chicken."  Other treats include "Loaded Ontario Potatoes, the Catch of the Day, and – at the restaurant’s indoor/outdoor bar - a new lineup of Canadian drinks including the classic Caesar."

 

Be sure to stop by Canada's Wonderland's blog entry for more photos and details on the Lazy Bear Lodge - it will open at the park later this summer.


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tops Off Wonder Woman Flight of Courage


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain has topped off their brand new coaster, the park's 20th, Wonder Woman Flight of Courage.  A near clone of the single-rail Rocky Mountain Construction coaster the Jersey Devil at Six Flags Great Adventure, Wonder Woman is a highly anticipated attraction at the Southern California theme park.


Featuring golden yellow single rail track and bright red supports, the coaster is fully decked out in honor of its Wonder Woman theme.  Crews had been making quick process on installing the ride at first, then things slowed down for a while, but now all the track and supports are in place.  The ride's highest point, seen above, was just installed and completes the layout.


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Wonder Woman Flight of Courage stands 131 feet tall and features 3,300 feet of track.  The first drop is taken at a 87 degree angle, pushing trains to a top speed of 58 miles per hour.  The layout includes three inversions, a Raven Dive, Zero G Roll and a 180 degree Stall.


No official word just yet on when Wonder Woman Flight of Courage will open, aside from a general "summer 2022" note from Six Flags Magic Mountain.


Saturday, June 4, 2022

SeaWorld Orlando Confirms New First-Of-A-Kind Roller Coaster for 2023


© SeaWorld Orlando
I mean we all knew this was coming, but it's certainly nice to see SeaWorld Orlando make it official!  The theme park has confirmed the addition of their 7th roller coaster, coming in 2023.  They say it's a first of a kind, and from what we know it is... mostly?


From the track and supports that have arrived on site, the park is definitely adding another B&M roller coaster to their thrill arsenal.  The ride is a rumored "surf coaster" which goes back to patent filings done way back when.  From the latest construction photos it looks like the ride's site is totally clear and footer drilling may have commenced.


© SeaWorld Orlando
Probably most interesting is that the video clip that SeaWorld Orlando released, embedded below, does have some brief shots of the ride's trains.  They are two across, not 4 like a usual B&M, and the riders are... standing.


Now the B&M stand-up coasters stopped being built for a reason - my opinion - but I'm going to have faith that the manufacturer figured things out and maybe this new generation will be great?  Either way, the ride will be launched and will be easily visible from the theme park's main entrance.


Here's the video the park has released, with more details coming this summer, of course.



Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom Names New VP & GM


© Dorney Park
Dorney Park has announced the transitioning of the Vice President and General Manager role from Michael Fehnel to Jessica Naderman, who will be the first female in the park's 128 year history to hold this role.  Congratulations to Jessica!


Michael Fehnel is moving into a position with the corporate side of Cedar Fair, now serving as the company's Director of Business Intelligence.  He started at Dorney Park in 1992 and worked his way up to the highest position at the park, becoming VP & GM in 2013.  He also led Carowinds as their VP & GM for two years before returning to lead Dorney Park in 2016.


Jessica Naderman © Dorney Park
Jessica has had an equally impressive history with Cedar Fair, and the amusement industry in general.  She most previously was the Assistant General Manager of Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, but also held jobs at Kings Island, California's Great America, Valleyfair and outside of Cedar Fair for Herschend Entertainment and Palace Entertainment.


“I am thrilled to take on this new role and lead the talented team at Dorney Park,” Naderman said. “My passion for the industry will contribute to our mission of inspiring lasting connections and lifelong memories for all by delivering amazing experiences. I am honored to be Dorney Park’s first female general manager.”

 

While Jessica moves to the front lines of Dorney Park's operations, Mike Fehnel will move to a behind the scenes role.  He will "focus on evaluating and implementing strategic initiatives aimed at maximizing the operational performance of the company’s premium products such as Fast Lane."

 

“I am enthusiastic for this new opportunity to draw upon my past experience at Dorney Park and Carowinds to impact another area of our company,” said Fehnel. “Business Intelligence has become an important part of Cedar Fair, and I couldn’t be more excited to join that talented team.”


Sunday, May 29, 2022

Heard On... Six Flags Entertainment's Q1 2022 Earnings Call


© Six Flags
Six Flags Entertainment Company also had some generally good news to share when they recently announced their Q1 2022 earnings.  The company is moving ahead with their new CEO at the helm, and the bulk of their priorities have shifted to a focus on guest comfort visit experience.  To that end, let's take a look at some notes from the call.


•  In the first quarter, revenues were $138 million, up from $82 million in 2021.  That translated to a EBITDA loss of $16 million, improved from a loss of $46 million in 2021.  Attendance was 1.7 million guests, up from 1.3 million guests in 2021.  Total guest spending per capita was $75.46, an impressive increase from $56.16 in 2021.

 

•  Comparing 2022 to 2019 we see that revenue increased by $10 million, based off a $15 admission per capital increase and a $12 in park per capital increase.  2022 saw a 22% reduction in attendance when compared to 2019, and EBITDA in 2022 improved by $16 million over 2019.


•  Active pass base at the end of the quarter was 3.6 million, down 12% from last year.  They've stopped selling memberships, so that is to be expected.  The 3.6 million is split evenly between 1.8 million members and 1.8 million season pass holders.  The company expects their active pass base to decrease over time as they raise prices and legacy memberships end.

 

© Six Flags
•  However, the Six Flags leaders do recognize that someone people like to pay on a monthly basis for budget reasons, so they'll probably bring back a payment plan option for season passes this summer.  But it won't be a membership... it sounds more like how Cedar Fair lets you pay over a certain number of months.

 

•  The new CEO seems to really hate the all season dining plans that he eliminated.  He went on for a good while about how people would pay $80 for an all season plan and it was very unprofitable for the company, and made food lines super long and terrible.  And alienated day visitors who just wanted to get their family dinner.  By increasing admission prices, eliminating season dining and getting rid of free tickets they are pleased with the guest quality, noting that security incidents this year are down 80% compared to last year.


•  Interestingly, Six Flags has almost 3 million non-paid visits last year, a result of various program benefits.  They've eliminated that for this year, and are trending about 20% less attendance year to date than 2019.  However, guest scores and spending are up.  They believe that running at 30 million visitors a year is far too many guests for the parks to hold, and having all season dining attracts a certain kind of visitors that clogs the parks up.  They think that an overall decrease needed in attendance is probably between 10% and 15%.


© Six Flags
•  Progress is being made on six initiatives listed three months ago; priorities set out by the new CEO.  Ride throughput has been helped by adding single rider lines at many parks on busy days.  Second, staffing levels have been improved and more training is creating friendlier employees.  Third is the appearance of the parks, which is being worked on through brand new entrances at a couple parks, improved landscaping, renovated restrooms and improved dining facilities.  Fourth is offering better food, which a new executive chef has debuted items like rotisserie chicken, salads, and better versions of park staples like hamburgers and pizza.  They also debuted their own brand of coffee shop - Roller Coasters Coffee.  Fifth is guest amenities, and more benches, sun covers, more dining areas, seat cushions and improved wifi.  Sixth is upgrading park apps for guests to use, allowing them to reserve a parking spot, plan which lines to pay to skip, order food on their mobile, and in the park actually posting digital sign with ride wait times listed.


•  The park has been able to bring up the daily ticket price, part of their strategy of not giving away the gate, and that resulted in an $5 or so average increase per visitor in admission revenue.  They note that their competitors, Cedar Fair and SeaWorld, have 25-30% higher ticket prices across all types.  But, they expect to close that gap this summer or by the start of 2023.


•  2022 full year capital expenditures should be a bit higher when compared to 2021, as they have a balanced approach of "several exciting roller coasters and a focus on guest facing technology and amenities" that they are spending on.  I could not find any updates on what they plan to spend next year and moving forward.


•  The company has opted to no longer just try to grow attendance, now they're focusing on their premiumization strategy and improving guest experience to build a base to grow from.  That means reducing attendance for more comfortable visits that in turn create higher guest pending on premium products - everything from reserving lounge chairs to being able to sit and buy fancy coffee drinks and pastries.  The new CEO does a lot of defending of how that is a good plan, which makes sense, since it is his plan.  There was even a lot of justifying how parks will be busy since people want to get out of the house post-pandemic... things we already well know.  But he says that his plan is working, referencing how they plussed up the France area of Six Flags Over Texas and added a shop to buy coffee and pastries and the guests are loving it and spending money.