Here I sit, reflecting on the last 2 years of something we weren't even sure was going to work or that we really wanted to do. The last year has come with it a lot of challenges, a lot of changes, but, most importantly, as always ... a LOT of fun.
Below some thoughts from us on the last year of Park Journey and a few things about where we're heading. Looking back on our first year update some things here came true, some didn't and I'm sure if/when we make it to 3 years there will be some things below that will not have happened.
Written by Gregg Condon
First and foremost, thank you to you the fans. Some of you have been with us since day 1, most of you came within the last year, and that's amazing to us that we continue to grow by just doing what we do.
Secondly, to the contributors of Park Journey. This absolutely wouldn't be worth doing or nearly as fun if it wasn't for the fact that you can do it with people you love, respect and love working with.
To Chris, RD and Matt ... you've been here since the beginning, this place wouldn't exist without you guys. Even though a lot of time people don't see the input you guys have on a daily basis it's invaluable and I hope everybody appreciates you guys as much as I do. There have definitely been some up's and down's along the way and we don't always agree, but just like a family we fight but at the end of the day have the best intentions for all of us in mind.
This year, the gold star for amazing updates goes to Renée. So many amazing updates from Florida and even a few from California. Having you as a contributor and most importantly as a friend is amazing. Thank you for the time an energy you've put into posting great stuff. It's greatly appreciated.
Over the past month or two we've also recruited some other friends who will hopefully be doing some updates very soon. So look for updates from JoAnna, Steve, Jennifer and other Chris as well as continuing updates from Stephen in the very near future from parks in the Midwest, Florida, Northern California and more.
And lastly, and most certainly not least, to my family for supporting this crazy hobby and the extra time it takes to do all of this. It's definitely turned into a second job and it's something we could have never done a few years ago. Special shout out to Amanda for taking on the social media burden and our amazing time at Star Wars Celebration. I was so happy to pass on my passion for Star Wars onto you. =)
It's fun to do something like this during your "free time", it's even more fun to do it with people you love and with the support of all of them.
By The Numbers
When we calculated updates from our first year everything was kind of combined from our actual park updates and press releases. This year we tried to organize the site a bit more and separate the press releases out a bit and I think it's worked out for the best. While last year we showed a total of 206 updates, this year it's at 160, and that's just the actual updates whether they be construction updates, editorials or reports. That's not even mentioning the 120 press releases we've put in our Industry News section.
I don't think we'll ever have as many updates as we had the last 2 years, we really don't need them every day and we're looking at ways to do things a little different as to not overwhelm you or us with feeling we have to update things every day. This means making things more interactive, more things on YouTube and even being guests on a few Podcasts in the very near future. So stay tuned for that.
Social Media (as of Oct 30)
As you all may have noticed, we don't pay to "Promote" posts on our social media. I think maybe twice all year when we were trying to sell tickets for our event at Magic Mountain. Which means everything that happens on Park Journey happens organically and that's the way we intend to keep it. Which also means that all of our social media has pretty much grown at the same rate.
Sure we could have paid to get likes and hit some magic number parks look for before they'll even look in your direction (true story). Here at Park Journey we prefer to get people looking at our site who truly want to enjoy what we do. And that means we're perfectly happy with what we have. More than happy if we're being completely honest.
Facebook: 1150 "likes" - This is an increase of approximately 700 in the last year and we have you all to thank for sharing and commenting on our updates.
Twitter: 1130 "followers" - This is about the same amount of increase as our Facebook page this year. Thank you for all of the Re-Tweets!!
Instagram: 1485 "followers: - This is where it get's kind of funny and awesome. Our first post on Instagram was in August of 2014. Our second post on Instagram was in October of 2014. We have 1125 posts and 1485 followers. We aren't sure how that happened but we are to understand it's the hashtags. #ParkJourney ;)
YouTube: 301 "subscribers" - YouTube has been the one area where we've tried to gain traction this year and it's been moderately successful as we were under 100 subscribers a year ago. The Park Journey channel was actually just converted from my personal channel (in hindsight not the brightest idea) but we have added HD equipment this year and have tried to make sure we post fun stuff. Look for more here in the next year.
Google+: It's honestly not even worth going out and seeing how many people follow us on there. ;) (but the answer is 2 ... so there's 2 of you left)
I don't think it's any surprise that the Six Flags section has the most amount of updates. It will probably always be this way simply due to distance. While these were once again dominated by Six Flags Magic Mountain and Twisted Colossus we were very happy to bring updates from other parks this year such as Great Adventure, Discovery Kingdom, Fiesta Texas and Great America. We're hoping to expand this for next year so stay tuned.
Matt's Favorite Update - May 21, 2015 - Twisted Colossus opens at Six Flags Magic Mountain
Four videos, lots of pictures and a great day of fun at media day for Twisted Colossus at Magic Mountain.
For the most part this was dominated by Knott's Berry Farm and Knott's Scary Farm. Again, this is mostly due to distance. But we did have some updates from Fury325 at Carowinds and from California's Great America. Next year we're hoping for updates from Cedar Point and Kings Island to go with our normal updates.
Favorite Update - March 25, 2015 - Carowinds
All the great pictures and moments from Media Day for Fury 325. Take a look at B&M's newest creation as well as the parks new entrance.
Wow. This was a huge and busy year at Universal Studios, on both coasts. Most of this was understandably dominated by Wizarding World Hollywood but we were really glad to bring updates for Reign of Kong and the deconstruction of Hulk at Islands of Adventure. One of these days we hope to get on the Universal Orlando Resort media list (it's not for a lack of trying) which means even more updates.
Favorite Update - May 14, 2015 - Springfield opens at Universal Studios Hollywood
After a month of soft openings, Springfield is now "officially" open. Check out all the pics from opening night.
This is the one section of the site that actually had more updates from parks outside of California and that is 100% a tribute to Renée and her amazing updates. No Disneyland passes by anybody on the Park Journey staff so those updates are few and far between. Plus, I mean, there's no lack of Disneyland updates on the internet. But this year most of the action was in Florida from Avatar and Disney Springs. And now with Star Wars Land on both coasts coming look for more from the Disney parks next year. If you are a Disneyland AP holder and would like to contribute Disneyland updates on a regular basis please let us know. We unfortunately can't offer anything but our sincere thanks but we always give full credit and will plug anything you need us to. =)
Favorite Update - September 22, 2015 - Jocks hangar bar opens at Disney Springs
Those who love obscure characters from the best movie ever rejoice!! Jock's Bar at Downtown Disney Walt Disney World is now open.
We didn't kick off this section of the site until August, so understandably this is slow going for now. But we're excited to bring you lots of updates from these parks over the next year and hopefully a few surprises as well.
Favorite Update - August 26, 2015 - Penguin Up Close Tour at Sea World San Diego
What can you say about crossing something off your bucket list? When that thing is even more amazing than you could have ever imagined? The only word that comes to mind is Wow.
This was kind of a slow year for "Other Parks" for us, mostly Legoland California, Santa Cruz, The Orlando Eye and a few other local parks. We hope to bring more from these parks next year as a lot of non-chain parks are adding some very cool attractions for 2016.
Favorite Update - August 14, 2015 - Galaxyland and Calaway Park
Nick takes us on a journey to the Great White North with a visit to Galaxyland, Calaway Park and Banff National Park.
It seems like we should have more here just from our Halloween updates. But we had a blast this year going outside of theme parks and bringing you not only updates from all of the amazing Halloween events but for museums and even a few editorials from the editor. Look for more in the next year as there have been a few drafts for articles going on 8 months or more.
Favorite Update - May 6, 2015 - From the Mind of the Editor - Don't Limit Yourself
Do you spend all your time and $$ at one theme park chain? If so, you are seriously limiting yourself when it comes to fun.
We love RD's writing and you do too. And this is why he's the only person who's got his own section of the site. Who knows what RD is going to tackle next but this year his articles ranged from huge days in his life at Disney World, to talking about fanboys to maybe even getting some emails from a few parks. And that's the way we like it!!!
RD's Favorite Update - December 15, 2014 - Cedar Pointless
"In all, Cedar Pointless was my favorite column to date, partly as it allowed me to point out two things: 1.) CP isn't immune to criticism or controversy, and 2.) It was my very first death threat over a column I wrote. To me this is a thing of great pride & joy, that I wrote something that angered a person to actually say I should die for my opinions."
If you haven't checked out our Industry News section lately, why not? Anything you need to know for special park events, discount tickets and opening rides is found here. So be sure to check it out when you get a chance.
You can always check out our "Past Updates" pages to see any of these updates in their entirety.
Now that Halloween is over we get a few weeks to gather our thoughts and maybe relax a bit, but not for too long because all of the holiday updates are coming. We are looking forward to bringing you lots of updates from Holiday In The Park, Merry Farm, Sea World's Christmas Celebration, Grinchmas, Zoo Lights, Chill at the Queen Mary and maybe even Disney somewhere in there.
And then next year we've got Wizarding World opening in Hollywood, The New Revolution, Reign of Kong in FL, DIsney Springs, Avatar updates (anybody know when it's actually opening?), new rides at Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks and more.
And maybe, just maybe another event coming up at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Plans are in the works right now and we should be announcing a date before the end of the year with tickets being on sale just after the New Year. This will give you all plenty of time to make arrangements to be there. The event WILL be on a Saturday or Sunday. Be on the lookout for Mountain Madness 2.0!!!
Thank you all again for your continued support, it's greatly appreciated and we are absolutely thrilled with the growth we've seen this past year.
We're looking forward to at least another year of fun. =)
- Gregg, Chris, Matt and RD
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