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  1. #16

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    This really is amazing news. We couldn't be more fond of Matt and his tremendous management abilities. While it is sad that Disney couldn't lure him back, this is a fabulous opportunity for Cedar Fair and Knott's Berry Farm in particular.

    Cedar Fair never really understood Knott's. Most of the Cedar Fair parks are thrill parks and old school amusement parks. But Knott's Berry Farm was a real Theme Park (the first of its kind).

    While the local team running Knott's is absolutely fantastic and understands the importance of their park, the company simply didn't support them with the resources and funding they need to keep the classic parts of the park fresh.

    I have little doubt that Matt will help restore Knott's Berry Farm's luster and make it more of a competitor in the booming Southern California theme park industry.

    Our very best wishes and congratulations to Matt Ouimet. Your new team at Knott's is likely doing back-flips of excitement right now.

    I'd like to hear from our readers on what you think Matt's immediate priorities should be.

    As for my hopes

    At Knott's:
    1) Remove the sky coaster upcharge ride from Ghost Town and install a permanent haunted house which honors the legacy of the old Haunted Shack and the importance of Haunt to Knott's.
    2) Give the entire park a Western, Ghost Town, Spanish, Indian theme of the same period and remove the lackluster Boardwalk and Roaring 20's theme.
    3) Install more family friendly rides and bring back a dark ride or two to the park.
    4) Hold festivals throughout the year (Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Octoberfest, Craft Festival, Dickens Festival, Summer Fair, etc.)
    5) Market the park as a family friendly alternative to Disneyland (Let Six Flags take the Roller Coaster focused 'Amusement Park' title in the LA/OC market).
    6) Bring Ghost Town back to life and protect it from further encroachment by unthemed roller coasters and steel flat ride (Ghost Town is a gold mine which the park needs to embrace and the true heart and soul of Knott's Berry Farm).

    At Worlds of Fun:
    Return the theme elements which were stripped from the park when it was taken over by Cedar Fair. World of Fun was once an ambitious family park with an Around the World in Eighty Days theme. Cedar Fair ruined it nearly over night and like many other Cedar Fair properties, ran off the higher spending family crowds.

    In short, Cedar Fair needs to realize that each of their parks are unique and have different audiences and potential. Don't run them all like they are Cedar Point. Let each be run by Presidents who fully understand their park and push for rides and attractions which accent that park.

    You stepped into Cedar Fair just in time Mr. Quimet. Let's hope there are enough resources left at the company for you to save it. We are firmly behind you!!!

    -Dusty
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  2. #17

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    Matt was never let go from the Walt Disney Company, he left to work with Starwood. If you read the whole article instead of the title you would realize that.


    Bringing the Love since January 10, 2011
    We were sent over there with the message that only we would defend Disney quality.. We learnt quickly that the Japanese culture speaks to a level of quality that is hard to comprehend. They were all unbelievably skilled and willing to do the right thing.
    Craig Russell -Walt Disney Imagineering

  3. #18

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    I'll mention the three California parks and what I'd like to see:

    Knott's:
    - I agree with Dusty about the Old West/Fiesta theme extending throughout the park. Although I'd like to see the Boardwalk replaced with the old "Roaring 20's" theme.
    - New Dark Ride where Kingdom of the Dinosaurs/Beary Tales used to be. It could be something as simple as a shoot-em-up Sally Dark Ride, but the park needs SOMETHING. Even look at what Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk recently did with their haunted mansion.
    - Replace Boomerang with another coaster. Maybe even move Pony Express there.
    - The easiest thing ... Improve operations!!!! Ride crews need more training or something. Even Magic Mountain has improved their operations (on most coasters). There is no reason for rides such as Silver Bullet to be dispatching trains every 4-5 minutes when similar coasters at other parks are dispatching on average in 2-3 minutes.
    - GHOSTRIDER!!!! This was a top 10 coaster when it opened, and was many of our #1 coasters when it first opened. Take some tips from other parks who do GREAT in maintaining wooden coasters in harsh weather (Knoebels comes to mind) and use their expertise. If it's a re-tracking, do it. If you need to bring in an outside company to re-do the ride (look at the changes done on TX Giant) do it. You don't need to go as crazy as they did with TX Giant, keep the same layout, but make it rideable again.

    California's Great America
    - First and foremost, they need to make a decision on whether this park is staying or going. The park has been in flux for so many years, and rumors about it's demise are a yearly occurrence (just like Wild Rivers).
    - IF the park is staying (and I hope it does) ... the park needs a NEW COASTER. The park has a great selection of flat rides, to be honest, probably one of the best collection of flat rides/family rides/water rides of any park I've been to. Seriously. But they have not received a new coaster in 10 years, and that was a Mouse Coaster. Something like an Intamin Mega Lite would really put this park on the map. Obviously height is an issue, but as Cedar Point and Busch Gardens have shown with rides like Maverick and Cheetah Hunt, you can do a lot with a coaster without a lot of height.
    - The park could also use a good family dark ride, again a sally dark ride comes to mind.

    Gilroy Gardens
    - This park is truly a hidden gem, and the parks theme and purpose should not change AT ALL
    - That being said, invest some $$ into the park. Some new family themed rides (again, dark ride!!!) and a new coaster or two (again, themed to the park and it's purpose as a "family" park). Maybe a smaller wooden coaster like wooden warrior at Quassy (video below). This could be a GREAT addition to the park. Make it small like that one, but through the trees and gardens of Gilroy Gardens would be amazing. There is plenty of room for something like this near the Rock Maze at the back of the park.


  4. #19

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    Quote Originally Posted by TravisMT81 View Post
    Matt was never let go from the Walt Disney Company, he left to work with Starwood. If you read the whole article instead of the title you would realize that.
    Notwithstanding what the article says, there's let go, and there's Let Go, and there's Let GO!

    Disney gave (or, as it turned out, gifted) Matt with a bit of all three.

    Of course, officially, he "left."
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
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  5. #20

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Wiggins View Post
    Notwithstanding what the article says, there's let go, and there's Let Go, and there's Let GO!

    Disney gave (or, as it turned out, gifted) Matt with a bit of all three.

    Of course, officially, he "left."
    Well we will never know, but he worked in many different parts of the company. I just think he was not getting higher up in the company and when starwood dangled the opportunity in front of him he left lol.


    Bringing the Love since January 10, 2011
    We were sent over there with the message that only we would defend Disney quality.. We learnt quickly that the Japanese culture speaks to a level of quality that is hard to comprehend. They were all unbelievably skilled and willing to do the right thing.
    Craig Russell -Walt Disney Imagineering

  6. #21

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    i think this is really going to be interesting and i'm reaffirming my hopes of a Peanuts dark ride in the old Bear'y Tales building

    make it so!
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  7. #22

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    Thanks god. It's about time we had a local in charge of Cedar Fair.


  8. #23

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    I'm not trying to be a debbie downer, I'm just trying to prevent disappointment from unmet expectations, but don't think the parks will suddenly turn around in another direction all of a sudden and attempt to compete with Disney. Expect Matt, for example with Knotts, to preserve its history more, thinking twice before adding a steel coaster that will dominate the park. Quality will go up for sure, but it won't deviate too much from what we've seen in years past. Expect huge changes in employee and park operations. Line skipping devices, just all around smarter business decisions that will improve the direction the park is traveling, not try to change it.

  9. #24

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    Quote Originally Posted by MactheMan View Post
    I'm not trying to be a debbie downer, I'm just trying to prevent disappointment from unmet expectations, but don't think the parks will suddenly turn around in another direction all of a sudden and attempt to compete with Disney. Expect Matt, for example with Knotts, to preserve its history more, thinking twice before adding a steel coaster that will dominate the park. Quality will go up for sure, but it won't deviate too much from what we've seen in years past. Expect huge changes in employee and park operations. Line skipping devices, just all around smarter business decisions that will improve the direction the park is traveling, not try to change it.
    Frankly, all of that would be great. And I agree that the park isn't going to be able to make HUGE changes mostly because Cedar Fair is a company on the verge of financial ruin.

    But I do think that will change rather quickly. I'm sure that Matt will shut down or sell any parks which he doesn't think can be reformed within Cedar Fair's means and get some additional financing and investor capital as well to enhance the parks they choose to focus on.

    Suddenly, Cedar fair seems like an interesting investment opportunity with a real potential for growth. I'm looking forward to following this story as it progresses!
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  10. #25

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    Matt was never let go from the Walt Disney Company, he left to work with Starwood.

    Well of course noone is "let go" from WDC but we all know what really happened. Jay and Matt never got along from the second Matt entered TDA. Matt's star rose in the east like the sun, thanks to brigning DL back from the brink of destruction AND increasing revenue at the same time. People within thought Matt was being groomed for Jay's job (hell, Matt has already run DCL). So , of course, Jay was having none of this and Jay pretty much forced him out.

  11. #26

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair (Knott's, Cedar Point)

    I, Jcruise86, added some comments to Dusty's quotes. My words are in "[ ]" in navy blue letters.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    This really is amazing news. We couldn't be more fond of Matt and his tremendous management abilities. . . I have little doubt that Matt will help restore Knott's Berry Farm's luster and make it more of a competitor in the booming Southern California theme park industry.

    Our very best wishes and congratulations to Matt Ouimet. Your new team at Knott's is likely doing back-flips of excitement right now.

    I'd like to hear from our readers on what you think Matt's immediate priorities should be.

    As for my hopes

    At Knott's:
    1) Remove the sky coaster upcharge ride from Ghost Town and install a permanent haunted house which honors the legacy of the old Haunted Shack and the importance of Haunt to Knott's. [Please hold off on this till Jcruise86 can talk his daughter into going on the Skycoaster! It's cheaper when the park opens, btw.]

    2) Give the entire park a Western, Ghost Town, Spanish, Indian theme of the same period and remove the lackluster Boardwalk and Roaring 20's theme. [Maybe a farm theme and a Virginia City in 1890 theme. And get rid of all rip-off games.]

    3) Install more family friendly rides and bring back a dark ride or two to the park.

    4) Hold festivals throughout the year (Food and Wine, Flower and Garden, Octoberfest, Craft Festival, Dickens Festival, Summer Fair, etc.) [Dickens, Dusty? I'm an English teacher, and even I wouldn't expect that to pack 'em in--maybe at Christmas. Knott's does have some special events like Gospel Music day. ]

    5) Market the park as a family friendly alternative to Disneyland (Let Six Flags take the Roller Coaster focused 'Amusement Park' title in the LA/OC market).

    6) Bring Ghost Town back to life and protect it from further encroachment by unthemed roller coasters and steel flat ride (Ghost Town is a gold mine which the park needs to embrace and the true heart and soul of Knott's Berry Farm). [I agree!]

    . . . Cedar Fair needs to realize that each of their parks are unique and have different audiences and potential. Don't run them all like they are Cedar Point. Let each be run by Presidents who fully understand their park and push for rides and attractions which accent that park.

    You stepped into Cedar Fair just in time Mr. Quimet. Let's hope there are enough resources left at the company for you to save it. We are firmly behind you!!!

    -Dusty
    Great post, Dusty! Now I feel stupid suggesting that Knott's charge less than Disneyland for soda. (Knott's actually charges even more more for beverages.)

    I expect everything to improve. When Matt had the Tiki room pre-show restored to its impressive former self, he showed an attention to detail that honored Disney's past and made it wonderful in the present. Knott's is even older than Disneyland--my Mom grew up in Anaheim in the 40s and has great memories of it before the other Walter built his Orange County park five miles to the east. The Scary Farm is all about love via fear, and--yes--I realize how ridiculous that sounds to you who haven't been there with Micechat, but there is a great esprit de corps among Knott's workers! I think that Matt will fit right in, improve it, and welcome the chance to outdo Disney in some ways with a limited budget. Many who don't like Disney's admission prices may come to root for the underdog in this fight.

    Regarding this sentence in your post #24: "Suddenly, Cedar fair seems like an interesting investment opportunity with a real potential for growth." I was so impressed with Cedar Point in a visit about ten years ago that I purchased Cedar Point stock for my Roth IRA.

    Here are some more specific ideas for Knott's besides lowering soft drink prices:
    1. (I'll start with my most controversial.). . . get rid of the Perilous Plunge. It's tallest and steepest water ride in the world, and I've had fun on it, but just looking at it makes me uncomfortable because it looks like each boat might be the first one to flip over as it starts coming down. Maybe make it less steep? I guess striking terror is part of the fun.

    2. Have a permanent ride-through haunted house that is even more elaborate than the Knott's Scary Farm mazes. At the Scary Farm, live actors can be added and the ride could take a turn into another area of the house during the Scary Farm that it would normally not enter during the rest of the year. Maybe three live actors in the Haunted House all year round would differentiate it from Disney's excellent Haunted Mansion. Make this high capacity!

    3. I love the current saloon, but it's too small, so build another larger one slightly smaller than the Golden Horseshoe but make it more rustic and rugged--(i.e. inexpensive). Then have the summer can-can dancers as part of the saloon show in the new theater all year long. Use the saloon they use now for individual piano, guitar, banjo and fiddle players. Steal Farley the fiddler from Disneyland. I don't know what he earns there, but with his talent, I'm certain he's underpaid.

    4. Theme the Fiesta Village so it looks older like the ghost town.

    5. Fix the Ghost Rider. It was smooth (for a wooden coaster) and wonderful when it opened. Some people like seriously shaky coasters--I hate 'em.

    6. I have a seasonal pass that cost $59 for over 8 months. Show some pride. Sell APs for a full year for $69 for kids and $99 for adults. Unless you are short of parking spaces, charge only $10 for parking. This will get across the great value of the Knott's. We have been to Knott's about six times since we got our season passes, we have not paid for parking yet. We've kept our visits to under three hours and parked next to TGIF. if it were ten we'd stay all day or not driven to Fuddruckers or another restaurant and then returned to save $14 (or $15) on parking. Maybe only let the parking be "free" with a restaurant or store's validation and receipt for at least $10.

    7. Improve what's in Independence Hall. Maybe have a founding father appear there every day of the year at 1, 2, 3, and 4. I loved the Ben Franklin I saw. Maybe during one of these hours on Saturdays and Sundays, invite different history professors and high school history teachers to give 15 to 25 minute lectures in exchange for admission for park admissions and a chicken dinner for up to four people. Teachers enjoy showing off and some might even have students show up and visit the park or the downtown (?) area.

    8. Appear yourself at a couple of the opening nights at Knott's Scary Farm this year at either the opening ceremony they have each night or at a large show they call The Hanging, and during a speech about how excited and honored you are, get killed by a monster, preferably spitting out blood as you cheerfully finish your speech and die with a smile on your face. That would be a really cool entrance--far more charming than being a victorious Jedi as Tom Staggs was at WDW.

    9. Maybe have a TV commercial or print ad with 10 reasons to visit Knott's--with all of them things not found at Disneyland. The Stage Coach ride, bandits on the train, can-can dancers, Snoopy, the Supreme Scream, the Windseeker, Boysenberry pie, the Haunted House so many of us want, etc.

    10. Don't get so obsessed with theme that you can't have cool X-games athletes risking their bones for our amusement.

    11. Have each Pony Express rider go around the very short track twice unless one chickens out after the first time. I went on it on a crowded scary farm night and everyone was astonished at how short it is. I also recently went on it right after the park opened and since no one was in line after us, they let us go on it three times in a row. That was awesome!

    12. Steal Moonie and Broon (hilarious jugglers) from the Renaissance Faires and make them wear cowboy hats. They could perform on the main outdoor stage.

    13. Make Knott's Merry Farm even merrier.

    14. Have a dozen exceptionally nice elderly volunteers (free lunch) spend five or six hours a day in costume just going around answering questions and chatting with folks.
    Last edited by jcruise86; 06-20-2011 at 10:55 PM. Reason: New ideas.

  12. #27

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    Let's all raise a cup of boysenberry punch, and wish Matt a successful future with Knott's and Cedar Fair!

  13. #28

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    P.S. I added 14 specific ideas and added some comments to Dusty's post, which I quoted from in my post above Aladdin's.

    Here's #15. When people enter Knott's there is not much to see so it gets off to an unimpressive start while Disneyland and Walt Disney World have castles at the end of main street. I don't know what Knott's can do with limited space, but now there is just an unimpressive ad for Windseeker and people accustomed to better entrances seem to pose with this sign out of habit. Maybe a Victorian mansion with (if there's room) a comedian greeter who welcomes everyone, keeps the crowd moving, and tells everyone about the amazing attractions inside. The person could appear about an hour after the park opens and (with breaks) stay there as the majority of people enter over the next three or four hours.

    P.P.S. I forgot to add the still excellent Mystery Lodge to my list of unique Knott's attractions that should be included in an ad, and magicians to the list of individual performers for the saloon.
    Last edited by jcruise86; 06-25-2011 at 07:19 PM. Reason: clarity

  14. #29

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    ^ Good ideas! My overall suggestion for Knotts would be to play up the dual nature of its wild thrills and its old-fashioned, nostalgic tradition of ghost town, chicken restaurant and home-made jam. "A park that brings everyone together -- where chicken-dinner-loving great-grandmas meet thrillseekers; where the Old West meets High G's." The unhurried, unpressured, uncrowded relaxation of a Sunday at the park, the fun of Old West shoot-'em-ups, and the thrills of coasters all in one place. A place for the whole family -- old and young and everyone in between -- to feel at home in a Southern California tradition.

    It could be particularly effective the more that Disney distances itself from its traditional family roots, segments its offerings for specific kid and teen demographics, and tries to be hip.
    Last edited by Mr Wiggins; 06-21-2011 at 07:33 AM.
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  15. #30

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    Re: Matt Ouimet named President of Cedar Fair

    He should probably start with generating more revenue by making all customers pay a fair market price for entrance.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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