A new roller coaster is coming to Cedar Fair
's (NYSE: FUN
) flagship Cedar Point amusement park next spring. The company finally leaked the news to its passholders yesterday, but it wasn't much of a secret.
I had seen the coaster track with my own eyes on a trip with the family out there in early June, and the construction area had been tagged with hints that gave little doubt as to the nature of the addition.
Maverick will be the park's 17th coaster. It's much smaller than its more recent additions, but still packs some adrenaline-pumping specs, including a 95-degree drop. Yes, steeper than straight down. There will also be a pair of launch-tunnel elements that promise to be popular.
The park can use a new coaster after resorting to smaller flat ride additions over the last two years. Without a new marquee ride to market, attendance has run essentially flat the past two seasons, despite the park lowering its turnstile admission prices in 2006.
The coaster looks like a winner on paper, but what I really like about the regional amusement park operator's marketing approach here is that the ride's web page is also offering up templates for MySpace.com users.
The social networking site, which was acquired by News Corp. (NYSE: NWS ) last year, has led to the popularity of third-party templates -- many of them hideously gaudy -- to help add a little personality to individual profile pages.
The Maverick page offers the garden-variety icons, virtual postcards, and PC wallpaper, too, but offering up a simple MySpace template shows that the company understands the power of viral marketing. The more coaster enthusiasts who take to the Cedar Point template, the wider the awareness of the park's new thrill ride will spread.
Park operators have been taking advantage of the Internet, no doubt because it's where their target audiences are spending greater chunks of their time. Last year, Holiday World opened the floodgates by launching Holiblog, a journal providing morsels of insight into the park's daily operations. Cedar Point followed suit with its own blog, and even Six Flags (NYSE: SIX ) published a construction diary to keep fans of its Great Adventure park in New Jersey abreast of the progress of its new El Toro coaster.
Sure, a company with a larger budget like Disney (NYSE: DIS ) has the flexibility to do greater things. Disney launched online games for recent additions like Expedition Everest in Florida and Tower of Terror in Disneyland. General Electric's (NYSE: GE ) Universal Orlando has produced intricate stand-alone sites for its popular Halloween Horror Nights haunted house fest. However, it's nice to see the seasonal parks get in on the fun, too.
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Longtime Fool contributorRick Munarrizenjoys taking his family on coaster treks over the summer. He did his part by staying over at Cedar Point for a few days back in June. He owns units in Cedar Fair and shares in Disney. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.The Fool has a disclosure policy.