Secrecy has become a non-priority in the amusement park industry. In today’s world of the internet, iPod, and iPhones it’s much harder to keep secrets than it was in years past. The internet culture has changed the game. The industry is small to begin with and it’s become harder and harder to keep secrets. More people know or have a good idea of what the big new attraction for next year is going to be. This change in culture is evidenced by the new roller coasters going into Kings Dominion and Carowinds for next season, as it has long been known the type and manufacturers of each park’s new coaster. The construction process beginning so early has also changed the dynamics. It used to be that new coasters went up in the off season and the public didn’t see it but now they start construction before the parks close for the season. Many clues can be witnessed such as delivered parts, land being cleared, etc.
What is the benefit of keeping a new attraction secret anyhow? It’s not like if the news leaks that you’re building a record breaking coaster that your competition can suddenly order a twenty million dollar coaster and have it ready for the next season. The biggest advantage for keeping new attractions secret is probably to execute a planned marketing campaign. Other than that, keeping the lid on things doesn’t really create a lot of benefit except possibly the sooner people know about a ride/attraction, the less interested they may become over time. There is also the possibility that a guest won’t visit this year because they know the park is getting a huge new ride NEXT year.
Fading secrecy over a new ride may be a good thing, but what about fading secrecy over ride removals? On one hand, guests not planning on visiting the park that year might make a special trip to get one last ride in. On the other hand, it has to be annoying for the park with enthusiasts calling and asking about the ride being removed and petitioning the park to keep it open even after the decision has been made. Specifically I had in mind the Big Bad Wolf roller coaster at Busch Gardens Europe. It appears the decision has already been made to remove the attraction but there are still enthusiasts going ahead with “Save the Ride” campaigns and could potentially cause the park a huge PR headache, all because of fading secrecy.
One day in the near future I think we will see amusement parks completely open up the process of deciding on a new ride to the public. We’ve seen some of this before with parks asking guests to complete surveys about future attractions that eventually show up at the park. I think soon we’ll see parks start the hype machine with full disclosure of what they are thinking about adding. This is a huge change from the policies of the past when the saying used to be “those who know don’t tell, and those who tell don’t know.”