Admission prices will keep going up as long as the market follows

Posted Monday, February 10, 2014 11:13 AM | Contributed by Jeff

There may come a day when theme park companies see a backlash among vacationers, who refuse to pay ever-high admissions prices. But that day hasn’t come yet.

Read more from Time.

Monday, February 10, 2014 12:26 PM
birdhombre's avatar

This article reads like a Gonch bedtime story. Read it again in a "Mother Goose" type voice.

Once upon a time, three magical theme park companies raised admission prices. The first park to raise prices was Universal Studios, then Disney soon followed. SeaWorld even raised prices to attract fewer people!

But then came along the big bad Theme Park Insider: 'Just because they can charge whatever they want doesn't mean they have to!' he grumbled with a loud snort.

There may come a day when theme park companies see a backlash among vacationers, but that day hasn't come yet. And the parks will live happily ever after.

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Monday, February 10, 2014 1:10 PM
Jeff's avatar

[insert ramble about class warfare here]


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Monday, February 10, 2014 1:19 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

My pen name is "Brad Tuttle"

In all seriousness though, this:

SeaWorld may have even raised prices last year specifically with the intention of lowering the number of visitors to its theme parks. Over the summer, by which time it was clear price hikes were hurting attendance, SeaWorld Chief Executive James Atchison said it was all part of the plan. “We feel good about the strategy and what it’s doing for us,” Atchison told investors. “Having a couple fewer bodies in the park is also good for our ratings and the experience as well, and we save operating cost.”

...is pretty much exactly what I was saying around here as far back 8 years ago. It's Gonch's Business Model™ and it seems to be working for SeaWorld.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, February 10, 2014 1:24 PM
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Monday, February 10, 2014 4:44 PM

I love your photo at the bottom of the article, "Brad". :)

Last edited by tambo, Monday, February 10, 2014 4:45 PM
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Monday, February 10, 2014 4:48 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Shhhh.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:21 PM

I think raising theme park admission IS a smart idea. To me, less people does indeed equal a better experience. And if you think about it, if you're looking for a better experience, you usually pay more along the way; Flashpasses on crowded days, more expensive hotel rooms for exclusive park perks, etc. Am I going to care about the Disney pass being 100 bucks when it includes parking at all the parks and includes a hopper feature? Charge 200 bucks a ticket and I'm still thrilled to be paying for admission to four parks for that price. Universal being almost 100 bucks for two parks of that caliber? Yeah, I'm not fazed. I don't even make a lot of money, but the value quotient is still very much in favor of the park patron at these prices. I just don't think people really think about what they're getting in comparison to what they might spend at other parks. The admission price kinda breaks even when you look at what you're getting.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:46 PM
janfrederick's avatar

If Disneyland Resort wanted to lower the number of guests, they had one fewer family this year and last year.

But they just might have my number with this deal: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/offers-discounts/ticket-offers-for...40frs14036


"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 6:09 PM

I've said this before---probably every time the "price question" comes up---but:

Theme parks are cheap for what they deliver.

Yes, even the expensive ones; the ones that top out at $100 a day or even more. They are still ridiculously great bargains for a full day's worth of entertainment. There are any number of comparisons you can point to for this, but the most recent one for me is an exhibition match between the Tottenham Hotspurs and Chicago Fire in Chicago this summer. This match will run a little under two hours, will probably not even feature half of the Spurs starting 11, and is running me $135 per seat plus $15 for parking. Granted, I got really good seats, and could have spent less by sitting in lesser ones, but still.

(I know---what idiot pays this much for an exhibition soccer match played in the US? Turns out that my son is a Spurs fan, and this is a lot less expensive than airfare for two to the UK.)


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:05 PM
Vater's avatar

Hell, I just checked ticket prices for a Capitals/Flyers NHL game on March 2nd, and nosebleed seats run ~$80-130. That's one of 82 regular season games that run about 2.5 hours each.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:29 PM

I spent $100 each for two club seats to an Indians game over the summer. 2 1/2 hours (and a loss) and I still didn't feel bad about it. $100 for a day at Disney, not even a blip on the radar.

Plus the fact that if you are really spending $100 for Disney, you are STILL doing it wrong.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 7:53 PM
LostKause's avatar

I got a great deal when I paid about $50 to see my favorite metal band Korn and the interestingly sucky Rob Zombie in Huntington last November. There was an opening act too, and the show lasted over three hours. Three hours of entertainment for $50 boils down to about $17 an hour, which I gladly paid.

I once said, many years ago, that once the parks in Orlando reach over $50 for admission, people will stop going. That was just MY threshold at the time. I thought it represented many other people, but I was wrong.


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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 8:47 PM
OhioStater's avatar

The concert or sporting event comparison always works to put things in perspective.

My Platinum Pass renewal at CP will always be less (for the forseeable future) than one ticket to one Aerosmith concert that I would happily pay to take my wife out for a night on the town. Not to mention, the beer/drinks at said concert will be even pricier than what would be charged in the park.

I'll never understand the bitching & moaning about theme park prices. There are always, always deals to be found, one just has to be a smart shopper when it comes to the choices one makes. It's pretty simple; it's either worth it to you or not. There's always a cheaper park.

In the midst of finalizing details for our first Disney trip (family of four), and I have yet to gasp at the price point.

And I'm pretty "frugal".

Last edited by OhioStater, Tuesday, February 11, 2014 9:39 PM
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 12:55 PM

LostKause said:
I got a great deal when I paid about $50 to see my favorite metal band Korn and the interestingly sucky Rob Zombie in Huntington last November. There was an opening act too, and the show lasted over three hours. Three hours of entertainment for $50 boils down to about $17 an hour, which I gladly paid.

I once said, many years ago, that once the parks in Orlando reach over $50 for admission, people will stop going. That was just MY threshold at the time. I thought it represented many other people, but I was wrong.

While I don't entirely disagree with these analogies, I think there is a bit of a difference. For example, you go to a baseball game that is 3 hours long and you have 3 hours of entertainment. Same for a concert. However, if you think about an amusement park, how much of the time is entertainment and how much of the time is spent waiting for entertainment. Obviously that depends on the day. Last spring we had a great day at Disney (thunderstorms were predicted and it did rain for about an hour or so.) 4 trips on Space Mountain, 4 trips on Big Thunder Mountain, lots of other things (train, small world several times, Under the Sea, Pirates, etc.) That day I do feel like I got my admissions worth out of the visit. But, if I go to Great America in the summer on a Saturday, I may be lucky to get on 5 or 6 rides, giving me 15 or 20 minutes of entertainment overall. There is a difference.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:02 PM

I find the entire experience entertaining, not just the time-on-rides. The point of a theme park to me is to spend time with my family having fun---just walking around and enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells is part of that, as is the overpriced cheese-on-a-stick and fresh cut fries.

But, if you want to quibble, it is also fair to say that a baseball game is really about 10 minutes of "entertainment" with a bunch of waiting around in between each pitch.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:02 PM
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:19 PM
Jeff's avatar

I really identify with that. We were walking around Epcot in the fall, on a cool evening, and my wife pointed out how just being there and taking it in, together, was pretty great. She's so right.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:31 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Outside of extremely busy days, which I try to avoid with so far good luck in doing so, I'm entertained the entire time I'm there. Especially if I'm with friends.

I spent $150 to see Beyonce last summer. It was the best seat I could pay for without paying the $250 for GA Floor admission. It was worth it. Before going, I wouldn't have paid the $250, but having seen her live, I (Personally) would fork that over for another 2 hours. That's $125 an hour, and it would have been worth it because the show was non stop and so energetic. That doesn't count the pizza and drink(s) I spent money on.

People will pay for what they want. It's as simple as that. If the price is more than what I want to pay, I won't. Prices will only stop going up when enough people get to the point of it not being worth it.


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 3:07 PM
rollergator's avatar

Brian Noble said:

But, if you want to quibble, it is also fair to say that a baseball game is really about 10 minutes of "entertainment" with a bunch of waiting around in between each pitch.

Jill has said for YEARS that they should have a pitch-clock in baseball like the shot-clock in basketball. Wouldn't ya know it, went to a Gators baseball game last year, and now there IS one...only applies when the bases are empty, but it's a good start.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 3:10 PM
rollergator's avatar

Tekwardo said:

People will pay for what they want. It's as simple as that. If the price is more than what I want to pay, I won't. Prices will only stop going up when enough people get to the point of it not being worth it.

Also important to note that I don't need "everyone" to be able to afford the entertainment I'm selling - only enough people to pack the auditorium, stadium, what-have-you. The fact that *most* people can't pay the $1,000/show admission I charge....isn't really a factor.


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Thursday, February 13, 2014 1:19 PM

I'm with the group that laughs when people complain about prices at most amusement parks. Why, because I see it as a very good value. 2013 has some great examples.

1. Holiday World - 2 days - family of 4 w/cabana (1 day) $775.00

2. Colts / Chiefs Playoff Game - 2 adults - >4 hrs - $725.00

3. Justin Beiber Concert - 3 people - Afraid to keep track.

Holiday World was by far the best value and the most fulfilling, considering that my whole family was involved and everyone loved it. (This holds true for most amusement/theme parks.)

The Justin Beiber Concert was a good value only because it made my daughter extremely happy, even though it was painful for me and my wallet. You just can't put a price on your kids happiness.

The Football game wasn't a very good value, even though the Colts won the game. Still, it was worth it.

I think that many parks admission prices are to cheap, King's Island & Cedar Point being good examples, especially during Halloween events, despite the nickel and dimes. I avoid both of those parks and SF Great America from late June through early August due to the heavy crowds. Even with Fast Passes. Thick crowds annoy me. It kills the value proposition. I would like it if they raised the ticket prices. I'll gladly spend more for a better experience and I think that many would agree. I still haven't had a day at Holiday World when the crowds were very bad. We usually go for a couple of days in July every year. I guess we've been lucky.

I guess the bottom line is that there is an ever evolving sweet spot for most forms of entertainment when it comes to pricing. It depends on the experience. How well a sports team is doing, the popularity of a band and the overall experience at amusement/theme parks. One thing is almost guaranteed, the prices aren't going down.


I fail. That is why I succeed.

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