Spend Money To Make Money: CapEx of Cedar Fair and Six Flags

You Have To Spend Money To Make Money

The saying “You have to spend money to make money” has been shown to be true over and over again in the amusement park industry. A common question that is posed by both analysts, fans, financial advisors and shareholders is what new ride is coming next to the parks. Fans are excited to experience brand new rides and attractions while analysts, financial advisors and shareholders are worried about how much companies are spending on capital expenditures (capex) every year. Unlike companies in some industries, it’s impossible for an amusement park or theme park to be able to thrive without continued reinvestment. Some companies in other industries, for example In-N-Out, can continue to grow for years without changing their offerings, but that strategy simply doesn’t work in the amusement industry where guests need new motivations to turn off Netflix and head to the park. Let’s take a look at how much the two leading regional amusement park chains, Cedar Fair and Six Flags, have been spending annually.

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How I Became The Owner Of Abraham Lincoln’s Left Hand From “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln”

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

For years now, I have had this strange looking animatronic hand from Disneyland’s “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln” attraction sitting on my desk at home. Read on for the story of how I came into possession of the unique item and how you could have the opportunity to own the one of a kind piece.

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Two Years At Knott’s: A Look Back

Knott’s Berry Farm Memories

This summer will be my second anniversary of working at Knott’s Berry Farm. I wanted to take a quick look back and catalog some of my favorite moments. My life has been filled with great Knott’s Berry Farm memories. Some of my favorite memories growing up were at the Farm visiting with my family. To this day, I distinctly remember my first ride on the Timber Mountain Log Ride and being held up by the bandits on the Calico Railroad. During the past two years, I have had such an incredible time interacting with the supportive fan community and hearing what the park means to them. I feel truly fortunate to have been on the team that helped propel the legendary theme park to its highest attendance in its 90+ year history in 2014 and then again in 2015. I can’t wait to experience the all new GhostRider and Ghost Town Alive! this summer.

Knott's GhostRider

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The History of the Fun Bun At Knott’s Berry Farm

The Fun Bun

The Fun Bun almost never happened.

The new pastry creation was amazing. Warm. Sweet. Gooey. Delicious. One-of-A-Kind. It honored and continued Knott’s Berry Farm’s nearly century long culinary legacy, started by the boysenberry and Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The creation of the delicious combination of a cinnamon roll, boysenberry, funnel cake and a little magic was led by Chef Reuben, and supported by the culinary team. The culinary team called it a “Deep Fried Cinnamon Bun”, which was true, but didn’t provide the proper reverence to this fantastic new treat debuting at the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival in 2015.

Enter Knott’s Publicist Leidy Arévalo. She was the brainchild of the name Fun Bun. Fun Bun is one of those great names that seems obvious in retrospect. A shortened combination of the words “funnel” and “cinnamon bun.” There was a lot of resistance from the culinary team and park management to the new name. Like most businesses, the park had never used anything but straightforward names to describe all of our food offerings. The debate centered around concerns about whether the name set the right expectations for guests. Would guests know what the new dessert was and would they be curious enough to try it? Leidy persuaded the team to give the name a chance.

Fun Bun Knott's Berry Farm

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Knott’s Berry Farm 1980s Video Tour

Are you ready to take a trip back to the late 80s to relive classic Knott’s Berry Farm attractions? Let’s use Professor Well’s time machine to go back about 30 years in time to visit some Knott’s Berry Farm attractions that have been lost to time like Wacky Soap Box Racers, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, the Corkscrew roller coaster, Parachute Sky Jump and countless more.

Knott's Berry Farm Kingdom of the Dinosaurs Photo

All of these videos are taken from a VHS that I discovered during a visit to the Knott’s Berry Farm Company Store. Back in the day, the park sold video tours to guests on VHS tapes. The Merchandise team discovered a case of video tour tapes from the late 1980s last year and sold them in the store for just $1. My $1 purchase included over 40 minutes of nostalgic filled footage. Below are a few of my favorite clips from the video. The entire video is available at the end of the post.

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Voyage to the Iron Reef – Behind the Scenes of Marketing A 4-D Ride

Voyage to the Iron Reef, the new interactive 4-D ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, opened to great fanfare on May 15, 2015. The entire Knott’s team breathed a big sigh of relief that day. Hundreds of people had collectively spent thousands of hours designing, constructing, marketing, opening and operating one of the biggest attractions in park history.

Iron Reef porthole logo - no Knott's Small

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Disneyland Training Manual: University of Disneyland Cast Member Guide 1967

My Disneyland Training Manuel from 1967 is one of my favorite possessions that originally belonged to my Grandfather. The “Walt Disney Traditions At Disneyland” Disneyland training guide is a time capsule that captures Walt Disney’s genius. Cast Members were originally provided the training book after they sat through the University of Disneyland orientation program. During a recent move, I stumbled across the guide again and decided to scan every page to create this PDF:

Download “The Walt Disney Traditions At Disneyland 1967 Training Manual” PDF

My Grandpa worked in the Camera Department at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California for a number of years during the 1950s and 1960s. During his later years working at Disney, he worked on attractions for Disneyland whenever the Imagineers required an extra hand. Most notably, he helped complete the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and The Submarine Voyage attractions.


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Advice from Cedar Fair CEO and Former Disneyland President: Matt Ouimet

One of the best parts about working at Knott’s Berry Farm is the availability and openness of the leadership team. This extends from my boss, to Knott’s General Manager, Raffi Kaprelyan, and even all the way up to the CEO of Cedar Fair and former Disneyland President, Matt Ouimet. I am always impressed by how I consistently see him walking through the park and backstage. The depth and breadth of his knowledge about the company is staggering. He once spent thirty minutes in my office discussing our social media strategy. Continue reading

Universal Creative Takes Muggles Behind The Scenes Of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Creative took muggles behind the scenes of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the 2015 Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Summit. The presentation was by the Universal Creative team responsible for creating Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. The panel included Thierry Coup – Senior Vice President of Creative Studio, Dale Mason – Vice President & Executive Art Director, Chris Oliver – Senior Director, Engineering and Safety, Katy Pacitti – Producer, Mark Rhodes – Director Creative and Justin Schwartz – Senior Manager, Ride & Show Engineering. Continue reading