Coaster101’s Thoughts on Cedar Fair’s 2020 Announcements
As with past years, the Cedar Fair park chain (including parks like Carowinds, Knott’s Berry Farm, King’s Island, and Cedar Point) used the weekend of National Roller Coaster day to make the majority of their “new for 2020” announcements. Every park in the chain made at least some announcement, and while there may be a few more things still to come, we’re confident at least most of the news is done. So, what did we think of the Cedar Fair park announcements?
Eric: Cedar Fair has made their “new for 2020” announcements (or at least most of them). So with all that out there, what are our overall feelings on next years new rides?
Andrew: When every park in a chain gets something, from as big as a giga-coaster like Orion, to even the addition of a festival like Knott’s Berry Farm or Valleyfair, it’s a good year for the chain. I’m really excited for Orion, and while water slides aren’t necessarily my thing, I’m really glad that both of my “home” (loose definition) Cedar Fair parks of Carowinds and Kings Dominion are making improvements to their water parks. (And I couldn’t be more pumped about Grand Carnivale at Carowinds!)
Nick: Yeah, every park is getting something new, even though it may not necessarily be a new ride. But really, we shouldn’t be surprised there is only one big new coaster being added across the chain. Cedar Fair management has indicated big investments will be fewer and farther between, after opening four major coasters in 2018 did little to move the dial and the feeling that many of their parks already have great coaster lineups.
Eric: It feels like the year of the water park for Cedar Fair, right? Which I guess in a way is good, they can sort of check this box for all their parks all at once (and I imagine can get deals from slide manufacturers for multiple orders). Obviously more big coasters would be fun, but Gigas are rare enough I don’t think we can complain about that too much. The expansion of Grand Carnivale is interesting to me, implies it was successful. I wonder whether there’ll be another round of Grand Carnivales coming in 2021 as well, similar to how Winterfest spread.
Larry: Cedar Fair has certainly slowed down the big investments coming off of a large 2018 season with little returns, but as we can see, there are still a few gaps to fill in across the chain. Orion at Kings Island and Camp Snoopy at Michigan’s Adventure are good examples of large investments coming to some parks that need it. Also being a waterpark year for a lot is a great way to update some of the aging slides across the chain.
Eric: As always, we knew about some of these things before the announcement season. King’s Island’s Giga was no secret, and I’ve been seeing water park pieces at California’s Great America all summer, but were any of the announcements a big surprise? Or was there anything we were thinking might happen that we didn’t hear about?
Andrew: In this day and age of social media (and loose lipped local governments) it’s truly hard to be surprised by a lot of announcements. I think I was most surprised about California’s Great America’s complete re-branding of their water park to South Bay Shores. Having experienced an overhaul of Boomerang Bay to Carolina Harbor at Carowinds, I think Great America has a great chance at being the second best overall announcement in the chain this year.
Another surprise was Mountain Bay Cliffs at Canada’s Wonderland. Not that it was announced, but rather that in today’s society, a “Cliff Jumping” attraction got green-lit at a corporate-owned chain park. Society today is fairly litigious, and I can’t see this ever making its way “south of the border.”
Nick: I’m intrigued how the cliff-diving was approved and second how it’s actually going to work.
Eric: I assume Canadians are less lawsuit happy than Americans, right? But agree with you Andrew, can’t imagine that comes to any US parks, unless the way it actually works is different than we can tell from the images.
I think my surprise was just how much water park expansion is happening through the chain. Like, the majority of the parks are just doing that. I think the only other surprise was that there wasn’t more from Cedar Point for their 150, but I’m guessing both it and Knott’s will have more announcements coming (in Knott’s case they’ve had a track record the last few years of making another announcement in the Fall).
Larry: The cliff diving attraction at Canada’s Wonderland certainly was a left-field addition. A giant cement mountain with diving platforms on which I’m sure will be a fairly large pool, the lifeguards there will have their work cut out for them.
Eric: So who’s the winning park in the chain? What was the most exciting thing announced?
Andrew: I’m betting a lot of answers to this question will be Orion (deservedly), so I’m going out of the box and saying Camp Snoopy at Michigan’s Adventure. Since I’ve been writing for Coaster101 (six years this October), I can’t think of a single major addition that has come to the park. While many people may not consider a new kids’ area to be an “exciting” addition to a park, for a smaller park that caters primarily to families, it’s great to see Cedar Fair sending some money to Michigan’s Adventure.
Nick: Since I know the next question will be most disappointing, I’m answering Orion for both. First, why the Orion announcement is exciting. It’s not everyday a park invests $30 million dollars on a single ride. In the last twenty years we’ve had on average one giga coaster built in North America every five years. And something to consider: this could be the last giga coaster Cedar Fair ever builds, at least for a long, long time. Out of the top six Cedar Fair parks in terms of attendance, five of them will now have giga coasters, and the only one that doesn’t, Knott’s Berry Farm, is space constrained and may never get one (do they really even want to add one either?).
What are the chances another giga coaster gets built in the US in the next ten years? The only two companies who have experiencing building them in North America are B&M and Intamin. Six Flags hasn’t built a new B&M since X-Flight in 2012 and they haven’t built a new Intamin since Green Lantern in 2011 (and it’s being removed this year). HersheyPark could’ve went giga for 2020 but they didn’t. Who is left? Either Busch Gardens park is a possibility. Outside of that I don’t see many parks being able to spend $30 million on a new coaster (and the price of steel keeps going up). But the point remains. Giga coasters are rare, and should be valued because we don’t know if we’ll get another one ever.
Eric: I think I agree with everything you said Nick. The rarity of gigas and the good chance we won’t get another anytime soon I think makes it obvious that should be the most exciting (I think the only way it would happen at a CF park would be as a concerted major investment to boost attendance of one of the park’s that has a high “potential”). It’s also the only real coaster being built in the whole chain this year. As a roller coaster blog, can we actually say that the one roller coaster being built isn’t the most exciting.
Larry: Orion is for sure the big investment for the chain for 2020, but also the fact the largest investment at Michigan’s Adventure since the relocation of Thunderhawk being the 2nd biggest investment of 2020 kind of shows how much Cedar Fair is slowing down the investments. We’re still not sure what Cedar Point has all planned for 2020 for their big 1-5-0 but the hint that a updated version of Paddlewheel Excursions will be making its way back to the park is a great thing too.
Eric: On the flip side, anything disappointing? Maybe something we were expecting or hoping for that didn’t get announced?
Andrew: While every park got something, which I maintain is fantastic, I was disappointed that Dorney Park’s announcement didn’t include a major “dry-side” attraction. With the removal of Stinger in April 2018, and extinction of Dinosaurs Alive later that year, Dorney Park is a relocated Flying Scooters and picnic area away from having a very sizable chunk of continuous land, prime for a large capital expansion.
Maybe in 2020, we’ll find out if 2021 is the year that Dorney Park will be getting their first “new” (non-hand-me-down) coaster in the park since 2005’s Hydra: The Revenge.
Nick: There’s a vocal portion of the fan base disappointed by the Orion announcement and I can understand why they’re disappointed and feeling letdown. They were hoping Orion would be to steel coasters what The Beast is to wooden roller coasters. Kings Island has so much land, terrain, and forest to work with, they could have come up with something truly unique. Instead, they bulldozed the trees and plopped down an uninspiring layout on a piece of flat land. Out of the five giga coasters in North America, Orion will have the fewest number of elements at seven (not counting hills leading up into brake runs). Diamondback across the park has nine elements. And Orion is not even a true giga coaster, topping out at only 287 feet. However, I think come March or April next year the negativity will be gone and everyone will genuinely excited to try out the world’s seventh giga coaster.
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Eric: King’s Island fans who are disappointed should hush. There are zero giga coasters on the West Coast, and they’re the only park that got a coaster this year. They don’t get to bitch about any of it. Ok ok, that was harsh, I’m sorry (sort of), but seriously, try living in a roller coaster desert, then complain.
As a local to California’s Great America, I’m a little disappointed. I do think it will be a great improvement to the water park, and appreciate your optimism on that Andrew, but this means it will have been two straight years without a new ride in the dry park side, and multiple rides were removed before last year to make room for this. It’s also a big chunk of space in a space constrained park going to a section of park that is only open for a small portion of the operating year. I think if 2021 doesn’t bring some exciting announcement, the enthusiasm that was generated when the county gave approval for the park to expand a few years ago will have fully waned. But this is probably because I’m also not really a water park fan. Hopefully it drives lots of attendance and encourages CF to invest more in the park, maybe then we’ll get our dreamed of hyper coaster, hah.
I think the only other disappointment is that there wasn’t more announced about Cedar Point’s 150th or Knott’s 100th, partly because I feel like I remember tweets from CP hyping up big news for the 150th. But, I’m kind of expecting some more announcements from both parks over the rest of the year, so holding out hope.
Larry: I was disappointed on how no thrilling flat rides are being added this year to any of the parks. Got a handful of kiddie rides, a good sized giga, and a bunch of new water slides, but nothing like what Six Flags have been throwing into their parks. Guess we’ll wait and see what else Knott’s and Cedar Point have planned for their big anniversary events, but so far, it’s been a year of a high peak attraction with little stuff dotted across the chain.
Eric: Finally, in our annual tradition in these posts, what wild predictions do we have for 2021? Maybe something not announced this time we thought might be coming, or something out of the blue?
Andrew: The elephant in the room is what’s going on behind the fence where there was once an erupting Volcano at Kings Dominion. The unexpected closure of “The Blast Coaster” earlier this year had to shake up some capital plans across the chain for the near future. Expeditions are on the horizon, and I’m ready. I’d also like to see Cedar Point, Dorney Park, and Worlds of Fun all get new coasters. It’s financially ambitious, but doable, in my opinion!
Nick: Next year, I see at most only two major coasters being built across the chain, if that. I do think we’ll see the trend of resorts continue: more development in Sandusky outside of the peninsula, more hotels near other parks, etc.
Eric: Andrew, you’ve now convinced me that Dorney is going to get something exciting. They are one of the parks in the chain that I think fits in that “high potential” category. They get solid attendance and are located near multiple massive metro areas. They’ve made space, and a major new ride could potentially drive a lot of attendance.
Also like I mentioned above, I think California’s Great America is also going get a major ride in 2021 In my ideal world it’s a coaster (duh), but it at least needs to be something big. The chain is putting money into the park, like with the land acquisition and infrastructure improvements, but none of that drives attendance. 2021 would make sense for an attraction to take advantage of the other investments. Finally, I wouldn’t be shocked to see another set of festivals or events similar to Grand Carnivale, especially with the success of it.
Larry: Dorney and Worlds of Fun, being sort of low-end of the totem pole in terms of getting major attractions the last few years, especially coasters, so they should be next on the list of what’s getting big additions in 2021. As Andrew said, unexpected losing one of the most popular attractions at Kings Dominion this year, I expect something will have to be coming to replace it sooner than later.
I’m sure the new Schlitterbahn parks will be receiving some of the Cedar Fair upgrades as well starting in 2021 once they’ve had a full operating year under them. And all of the resort changes coming around Sandusky, I’d imagine Cedar Fair is trying to make Sandusky become a tourist attraction all year round instead of just during the summer and fall months.
What are your thoughts on the Cedar Fair announcements? What are you most excited about, and what 2021 predictions do you have? Let us know in the comments below, and keep an eye out for even more new for 2020 announcements as the summer rolls along!