This week we’re sticking to I-5 for a few stories including girl injured by flying cellphone, Oogie Boogie Bash has sold out, Universal Studios Hollywood adds ‘Nope’ Jupiter’s Claim set to Studio Tour, and United has expanded their pilot program. We...
This week we’re sticking to I-5 for a few stories including girl injured by flying cellphone, Oogie Boogie Bash has sold out, Universal Studios Hollywood adds ‘Nope’ Jupiter’s Claim set to Studio Tour, and United has expanded their pilot program. We finish with two stories and a word of caution from China. Subscribe to all our offerings: https://linktr.ee/hauntedattractionnetwork
Stories Covered In Today's Show:
Philip: From our studios in Los Angeles and Tampa, this is Green Tagged Theme Park in 30. I'm Philip, he's Scott, and Scott, an 8-year-old girl in Riverside was injured on the Six Flags Magic Mountain ride by a flying cellphone.
Scott: Really, Philip, do tell. You made that so conversational I figured I'd make it sound like we were just having a chat.
Philip: Well, apparently the young girl "was taken to a hospital with an injured forehead after being hit by a flying cellphone from another guest while riding the "Twisted Colossus" roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California." It's like 10 minutes away from me. "The girl underwent a CT scan and received 10 stitches to treat the wound." So, it was not like it was minor, it definitely was larger...
Scott: Yeah, this is a serious issue.
Philip: This is a serious issue, and I think what's more interesting about this is the park's response and the family's response. So, what the father said is, "I think it is similar to a hit-and-run with a vehicle. If you injure someone and leave the scene, it's the same thing to me." He went to the park later in the day the dad asked for the incident report that his wife filled out and was told that they were not allowed to give that to him because it was for internal use only. He also said the park security refused to turn over information about the man who was responsible. It wasn't actually a man, it was like another child, and apparently the kid also came up to the girl who was hit afterwards and was kind of like, "it's not a big deal, you're overreacting," then walked away. So, there was like an encounter guest on guest, like the guest did see the person and that kind of stuff. In response to Eyewitness News inquiry about the statement, of course, the spokesperson for Six Flags Magic Mountain released this statement, which they gave to ABC7, which I will read.
"Our ride safety policy strictly prohibits all loose articles on rides. Safety is a partnership between our guests and the park, and guests must follow all written and verbal instructions for safe riding. Our park safety team has already responded to this guest's request for information."
Philip: Which, apparently, the response was no. So, I don't know, what you do think Scott?
Scott: Well, I will say that any sort of investigation or any sort of report that is on an incident report should indeed be kept under lock and key and is an internal document. That is very true, that is because they're the ones who gathered that data, so therefore they should have that data. It's not the same as a police report, let me just put it that way. A police report, if a police report was ever filed, is public knowledge. That is public data that anyone has access to, this is not. So, it is not at all unusual for them to say this is an incident report that was gathered by the people in the park and is not available for public consumption in any format whatsoever. That protects both the park and the individuals who contributed to that report, so that makes total sense to me. That's nothing snide or sneaky or underhanded on the part of the park.
I do find it interesting, the statement that rings a little bit unusual to me is, "Safety is a partnership between our guests and the park, and guests must follow all written..." OK, but what are the ramifications if they don't follow, or what things do you have in place to make certain that they are following? Yes, I agree with the sentiment of that statement, however, that seems in a very subtle way of the park, saying, "well, we do what we can, and we hope the guests will do their part as well." I'm not sure that's a really good position to put yourself in, just personally. Having worked on both sides of this, having been a representative of parks and having been a representative who works with parks, that's not a terribly strong statement. That's kind of like trying to, in my opinion, or the way it reads to me is, it's sort of like trying to put the blame back on the guest, and I never think that's a good idea. So, if there is a problem in enforcing those rules, then it's up to the park to figure out a way to make them more enforceable. Does that make sense?
Philip: Yep, that was exactly what I was thinking. I think that the parents are understandably upset, and I heard I heard also in a different report that they kind of tried to file a police report and they tried to like kind of do all that, but I'm not sure if that went anywhere, I guess we'll find out if that did or not. But I do think that the park is correct, you cannot tell the guests like, "we found the guest whose cell phone hits you, and here's their information." You cannot do that. I think what they did in terms of technical response, that is correct, but it's more like the PR response that is really wildly out of whack here. I would even say to your point, what are the consequences? I'm sure there is a written policy that says they're going to be banned from the park or whatever. Somewhere there should be like an umbrella, there always is, if you do this and then you get your pass revoked or whatever.
Scott: There should be. There should be, but there isn't necessarily. In most park situations, the roughest wording or the sturdiest wording you will ever see is, "further action may be taken by the park," which is a big elastic clause that allows them to do whatever they feel is necessary. If it's a kid who snuck their cell phone on and it's all out of pocket, you know, I'm sorry for the little girl and 10 stitches is nothing to be snickered at, I totally get that, and that's unfortunate. But you know, at the same time, you don't want the 14-year-old who snuck their cell phone... I'm making that age up I have no idea who the actual person was because, again, I don't have access to those documents either, nor should I. So, the 14-year-old who snuck their phone on, they shouldn't be locked up in prison either, so we got to kind of take this as an unfortunate situation. Yes, if I were the park, I would do a whole review on how we screen people for whether they're taking phones onto the rides or not.
Philip: Yeah, and you would say that. That's the thing.
Scott: "We will continue to make certain that guests do their part in following our rules." That part was not added, and I felt that was a mistake.
Philip: Yeah, I agree with that, like 100%. Basically, they kind of made it seem like it was the guest's fault, they should not have done that. I feel like that's kind of what, if I were the parents, especially, that's what I would want to hear, "this is what we're going to do to make sure this doesn't happen in the future." To me, reading this, it seems like this is just one of those staffing things that we have been talking about forever. That, you know, new staff, young staff, whatever, are not properly trained, they didn't realize to check the kid's pockets when they're on or like whatever. There are ways to sneak a cellphone on that you know you kind of have to learn on the job to look for that they probably didn't check for whatever. It needs to be phrased differently, it needs to be phrased like, "this is what we're doing to address it. We've done this. We've done that. We've added extra training. We're making attempts to contact the individual to make sure that they're aware of the park policies and face proper ramifications," or something. Like a month suspension from the park or something. I don't know.
Scott: What's missing is what happens now. Or what happens next?
Philip: Yeah, and instead it was just like, "yeah, we do this and then also we respond to their requests." That's one of those things I'm like, this is like this is not just a bad response, this is a terrible PR response. But anyway.
Scott: Well, in fairness, who knows, maybe it was edited. I don't know. The truth of the matter is when anytime a parent's child is injured, they are going to be overly and overtly concerned, and I get that, I get.
Philip: Justifiably, too.
Scott: Oh yeah, and they don't want to hear anything other than you're going to take care of my baby and I get that, I get that totally. Again, and this is, I mean we've said it over and over again, the park responded well except for their PR statement and that was just sorely lacking, in my opinion, based on this information. Crowds are not sorely lacking, are they?
Philip: No, crowds are not so lacking. Going just down the five to Disneyland, as we talked about a few weeks ago Disneyland had their Oggie Boogie Bash tickets. Well first they announced the event right and then tickets went on sale and, as Disney does normally, they did this phased ticket selling thing where the annual pass holders and D23 people got to purchase their passes early. In a move that was actually a little bit surprising for me, but I guess I should be over at this point, but the tickets for the entire season, the entire run of the event sold out in less than a week. So, that means that, basically, within just a few days after it was opened to the general public, then the tickets sold out. So, I guess it's a good thing that the general public even was allowed to buy them. But it definitely sold out very fast, and there are still a lot of people that were interested in the event that didn't get tickets. I know several of them were texting me. I will tell you that I am not ashamed to admit that I had a timer set on my phone and I was at the gym when it went off, and I was like I have to take a whole break over here to the side to log into my account and get the early tickets. I'm not ashamed to admit that. But I will say that the prices though went from like $129 on just the weekdays up to $170, $180 plus taxes. So, it is more than a day ticket for the event in certain circumstances, like on the weekend, so it kind of did add a whole separate second gate to that. So, demand is there, it's strong.
Scott: Obviously, yes. Well, and it kind of goes in line with what we started to say several months ago, that the way we were seeing people returning to theme parks was the beginning and it was going to continue to crest. I think this is just a perfect example of that. the one thing I would ask, and I don't know what the rules are or what the laws are in California, but is there a secondary market for these tickets? I don't want to say scalper because that sounds unscrupulous, but is there a ticket resale market? Because I know that is something that certainly happens with concerts and happens with events pretty much everywhere else, but California has some weird rules, so I don't know. Is that something that exists? And if so, are there still ways to get your Oggie Boogie tickets if you didn't set your timer and had to leave the gym?
Philip: I kind of want to be like no comment on that. I mean, I think technically it's sort of written to the ticket policy that is not allowed because even when you buy the tickets, you have to put the name on them. Like when you buy them, at the point of purchase when they're in your shopping cart, they have to be named. But, of course, there is a way to transfer tickets, and of course, you know real emergencies come up right where you got sick and then you are going to let your friend go instead or whatever. So, there are ways to transfer tickets, and I know there are ticket markets out there. I'm not sure how reliable any of that is. I'm not sure how, et cetera et cetera, but yeah, there is a market for them.
Scott: Well, and what's interesting is, the reason I say that is because back in the Dark ages you couldn't resell concert tickets, but now there are legitimate businesses that are online businesses that rebook, redistribute shall we say, concert tickets. In fact, even Ticketmaster will allow you to resell a purchased ticket at a higher price. You know back in the day it used to be illegal to sell a ticket for higher than its list price for a concert, but that is clearly not at all the case anymore. It's considered, I don't know, I think the way they got around it was it's a convenience fee of like 250%. So, I don't know, because I often wonder when they sell out like that, it makes me suspicious.
Philip: Yeah, I can tell you right now, while we're talking, I did look it up, there are tickets available on eBay right now. They are roughly twice the price that you would have paid if you bought the tickets normally. Because you can buy one ticket for $365 for like the October 29th one, and that was the one that was like $180, $175. So, basically, roughly double the price, or more. There are other tickets that are a little bit more expensive in the $500 range for one ticket. This listing is $365 and has already sold four.
Scott: So, what that suggests to me is that somebody on eBay decided, "you know I want to pay my rent this month, I'm going to set my timer." Not that it was you, Philip. "I'm going to set my timer and I'm going to get my ticket limit and then just resell them at twice the price."
Philip: Yep, so let's hope Disney doesn't get any ideas because we don't need them doubling the price.
Scott: But the thing is, I think Disney has responded to that. Doing the pricing based on day, pricing based on ticket sales, they've done that with hotels for years. In Florida the hotel discounts or hotel pricing was all based on how sold the hotel was, you know the more sold the hotel was, the higher the room rate went.
Philip: Yeah, dynamic pricing.
Scott: So, dynamic pricing has been part of their model forever. It's just interesting to me that the people who are just as dedicated as you are but not as organized are out there spending twice as much for the tickets because they have to go. I hate to say it, Philip, but it's almost like an addiction and it's interesting to me. I mean, we all have them. I mean, you know, I've done the same thing for limited edition art pieces where I will literally set a timer because I know that the 80 pieces that this artist is putting out are going to get sold within the 1st 30 minutes. I know that, and if I want it without paying the premium of the resale market, then I've got to do it and I've got to get it. So, I understand that, I'm not being judgmental, but I'm saying there is an addiction situation here that's certainly true with Disney, and to a certain extent with other parks as well.
Philip: Yeah, I guess we'll just see how long this demand will stay like this, you know? Again, we're just presenting these data points, we've been talking about this for quite a while about how long the demand is going to say this strong and etc. etc. Even as some would say the experience deteriorates, but clearly it doesn't matter. So, anyway, going up the five a little bit, Universal Studios Hollywood is adding a new set.
Scott: We're just driving around Philip's neighborhood.
Philip: I know that was a theme for today's show, places Philip goes on the weekend.
Scott: It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor...
Philip: Actually, I don't go to Universal, but that's OK, but maybe I will go to Universal again now that they're adding a new set to their studio tour. So, starting July 22nd, Universal Studios Hollywood will add the Jupiter's Claim set from Jordan Peele's new horror movie. "Nope" during the park's world-famous studio tour. It's going to be a permanent addition to the tour. It will debut in tandem with the theatrical release of the film, making it the first time a studio tour attraction has opened with a movie release. So, this is just a quick note here in that I want to see more of this. I think this is a good... This is finally a good reason for mentioning Universal Studios Hollywood, which I've been waiting for it for a while. This is good. Again, we talked last week about the differentiation and Cedar Fair selling the park etc. etc., and like how parks are going to differentiate, and the studio tour has always been the differentiator for Hollywood, it's like the only reason to go to the park. I mean, maybe it's not really for other people, for me it's really only reason I go anymore. It's the best part of their Horror Nights event, I'm sure this is going to be part of the Horror Nights event, and I think this is a good idea to partner with the IP. You already have it there to put it in the asset, it's not too much of a stretch in terms of extra costs and logistics, and I think it's a big benefit for the amount of cost involved. But what do you think Scott?
Scott: Well, so, I question adding it as a permanent element on its release date. That to me says it is far more about the IP agreement than it is about the guest experience, and that makes me nervous. That makes me very nervous. You can't say that this is a classic horror film, because it hasn't been released yet. To me, and I haven't done the studio tour in Hollywood, in many, many, many, many, many, years, and the thing I liked about it was, looking at the back lots where so many different things were shot, that was the joy of it. Taking and adding a very specific set, to me, isn't saying we're going to do this because this is going to be a movie that generation after generation after generation are going to remember. It looks like they're doing it as a promotional tool for the new film. I don't know.
Philip: I don't think there's anything wrong with that though. I mean they say permanent, but like permanent could be a year, you know? Then they'll be like, "oh, we're going to change it now." I think what they meant by permanent was more like, we're not going to take it down after a week.
Scott: Yeah, I mean it's an installation, it's clearly an installation, it's not a pop-up
Philip: Yeah, correct.
Scott: I get that, I get that. But again, as even the press release says, this is the first time this has been done before, this is the first time it's ever been done.
Philip: Which is good, I mean they need to experiment with something different.
Scott: Yeah, I'm not opposed to the experimentation, my concern is that it's not based on guest experience, it's based on the finances of the film and trying to make it so... You know this may be a crossover step or a test step to actually do a whole area, or a whole land in Universal Orlando. Who knows?
Philip: Yeah, I guess we'll find out. Well, let's see, our next story here. I was going to say we're going to fly over to a different park.
Scott: You were going do a bad flying pun weren't you?
Philip: I was going to do a bad flying pun, but I didn't quite get there.
Scott: But we should be united in our approach as we move forward to the next story. I set you up, Philip.
Philip: Yes, and that's pretty good, I was hoping to fly to China with that, but anyway. So, anyway, as I think we had mentioned on the show before, that United Airlines has previously opened a flight school to help attract pilots. There are a little bit of updates to the story, they're investing in it to expand the program right now, but they're also paying for the private pilot certification for 100% of the students. That is about $17,000 that they're adding. In addition, they're helping make loans available to cover the rest of the $70,000 cost of flight school and training by guaranteeing student pilots a job once they complete. Like a conditional offer of employment, basically. I think these, when taken together, this is a pretty big deal, and it's exactly what we have been talking about on and off about the concept of if you want your employees to do your jobs really well, you might need to just put them through the school on your own and train them on your own. Here's United really putting $100 million into that investment, that was the number they recently added, $100 million, in the budget for that. Basically, they're making it even better, because they're saying we're going to waive this $17,000 fee that you would have to pay if you went to a different school, or do it on your own, and then also they're guaranteeing a job, so it helps for loans. I mean, imagine the same thing with any other school you'd go to. Also, what makes this different is, in the expansion of the program, they're going to be adding some elements that are outside of what is in the other program. So, basically, they're making their pilot program, because they have money, better than the other schools because they have more money to invest in it. So, they're making their program better, and more tailored to the planes they're actually going to be flying. So, they're making it a better program, which to me is what really makes it different. It's like, Oh well, you could go to a private school, or you could go to their school, which is now better than the private school, and it costs less.
Scott: Well, and it's funny because this seems like such a grand new idea, and I think it's a great way to go. What I think is funny is, if you look back through history as I am want to do.
Philip: Yeah, like the Disney College Program?
Scott: Well, it's the College program at Disney or you go back even further, it's the apprenticeship program for any craftsman or any trade. You know you'd go through an apprentice program to be a fine artist. You'd get taken under the wing of a great artist and they'd have their own schools. So, they would do the grunt work for these great artists, while learning and training to become great artists themselves. The same was true on a much smaller scale with like a blacksmith. You know the blacksmith would bring on apprentices and they would learn the trade and then take over the blacksmith's position. You know it's not exactly the same because it's not taking over somebody else's position. However, it is filling a need in the future, and it's creating a single line of ascension from not knowing anything to being a well-respected and revered employee of a company. So, kudos to them. I think it makes total sense, and quite honestly, I think that it's going to benefit them more in the world of social media to take some money out of their marketing budget and put it into their training budget so that the guest experience is significantly better. Let's be honest, I don't pay attention to airline TV ads or anything like that, but I certainly will look at a Yelp review. So, if they're reallocating to take money away from their paid marketing and focus it on improving the guest experience, I think that's really smart, especially long term.
Philip: Yeah, I also think it's something that we should be brainstorming more about, and we don't need $100 million to do an apprenticeship program. We've talked about other examples of smaller programs, but you don't need that amount of investment to do something. I think the key here is, can you offer something that is better than the education they're getting elsewhere, or more unique, or somehow tailored in a different way that just makes the experience better for the student?
Scott: I think, you know to your point, not needing a $100 gazillion dollars, if you are a smaller park and you happen to be in a, let's say a college town or near a college town, or you've got colleges in your area or high schools in your area, depending on what level of training offer those schools workshops, offer those schools specific training that will benefit you if people learn how to do it. Offer those kinds of programs, because, in this time where staffing is tough, you got to be smart. If you can be smart by showing people how to do the job and go, "look how much fun this is," or "look, you're already trained, and they're not so therefore you've got a leg up when you come in to apply." Or, what I've even done in the past is, I will do from a theater standpoint, I'll go to the local college theater departments to do an audition workshop to train them how to do a live audition, and, of course, I've also auditioned for things like film, video, and commercials and that sort of thing, but I will do a workshop and then the last thing of the class or of the seminar is an audition for a project that I'm working on. So, they actually get a chance to audition for a paid job. So, this is just that on a grand scale, a really big scale. So, don't just say, "I can't afford to create my own school to solve my staffing problem." Take the concept, not the magnitude, and apply it in the right level for you and for your budget, and for your situation for your neighborhood, and your environment.
Philip: Moving on here, probably our last story for the show, this just has to do with kind of stuff going on in China, kind of the reopening. We didn't talk about this on last week's show, but Shanghai Disneyland is reopening with phased guidelines. Going back to the same type of guidelines that we had here when we were doing our phase reopenings. Also, Fantawild has also unveiled a new theme park brand.
"Fantawild held a news conference in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, China on June 20, 2022 to announce its new theme park brand: FT･Wild Land. Animated IPs such as Boonie Bears and Miraculous Ladybug – popular Chinese brands – are featured throughout the park with a Science Fiction twist, creating a world filled with imagination and advanced technology in its 8 distinctly themed zones."
Philip: So, here's the thing, there's always like what we read and then like what's the reality of what's happening, so you kind of have to go somewhere in the middle right with China. I think the overall news is that yes, reopenings are happening, but it's still uncertain. I can tell you from what we deal with day-to-day, our factory being there, they are reopened, but they're also kind of hearing every day that different zones or different buildings might be shut down, or this or that. So, everyone is still kind of on edge in terms of, you're kind of paying close attention to where's locking down and what's happening, kind of listening to your neighbors say what they heard and this and that. That's still the vibe. So, even though I think some of the news are trying to put out is that tourism is reopening, it's still uncertain. Which is important for us, because that means that your supply chains, still, could potentially be disrupted if you are waiting on stuff to be there. I wouldn't say it's 100%, guaranteed, full steam ahead, that would be my thing. Even though we're seeing these stories come out of these openings, I would say it's still cautiously, optimistic.
Scott: Well, and again I think that is a wise approach across the board, even though, obviously, people in the United States have pretty much said, "yeah, we're done, we're not going to have anymore." But that can turn around and smack in the behind very, very quickly. So, yeah, I think we just have to recognize that this happened out of nowhere and could come back out of nowhere. It's clear that China is significantly more cautious about it than they are in the States. So, yes, as you know, based on the culture, they're not full-go there yet. But at the same time, it's not a bad lesson for the rest of us, either because this could come back at us at any time. As we've said before, the only way to be prepared for the next pandemic or the next catastrophe, is to constantly stay prepared, and continue to explore those multiple supply lines and those multiple deliveries. So, keep that all in mind.
Well, as we've started in Philip's neighborhood and ended up in China, we've kind of taken a travel log around the world in today's show. But our 30 minutes are up. So, on behalf of Philip Hernandez and myself Scott Swenson, thank you so much for listening. Again, please share the show with anybody you think would be interested, and we will see you next week for Green Tagged Theme park in 30.
For over 30 years, Scott Swenson has been a storyteller, bringing stories to life as a writer, director, producer and performer. His work in theme park, consumer events, live theatre and television has given him a broad spectrum of experiences. In 2014, after 21 years with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Scott formed Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC. Since then he has been providing impactful experiences for clients around the world. Whether he is installing shows on cruise ships or creating seasonal festivals for theme parks, writing educational presentations for zoos and museums or directing successful fund raisers, Scott is always finding new ways to tell stories that engage and entertain.