Alcohol sales boost margins at theme parks

Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:25 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Forty-five percent of 165 U.S. tourist attractions surveyed between 2000 and 2005 either started serving alcohol during that period or expanded venues in which it was sold, says theme park consultant Dennis Spiegel, whose Cincinnati-based International Theme Park Services conducted the study. Spiegel says the trend is not surprising given a widening acceptance of alcohol in American society and the huge profits resulting from alcohol sales. Parks say guests are asking for these products.

Read more from The Herald-Tribune.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 8:45 PM
Many theme parks that have alcohol restrict it to certain areas, usually near the place of purchase. You can't take your beer anywhere in the park. Such restrictions help preserve a family atmosphere in parks where beer is sold and in some cases this is required by state or local law.\

On another point, I remember the contrast between the two major Pittsburgh parks back in the 1970s. Kennywood neither sold beer nor permitted it in the park. West View both sold beer and permitted outside beer to be brought into the picnic areas. I believe that West View's policy was implimented in large part to attract company and union picnics where the groups involved wanted to have beer and who otherwise would have gone to another park. They also wanted the additional revenue that beer sales provided There were a number of bars within walking distance of the park and this allowed the park to capture some of this business. I remember only one major incident where beer caused problems at West View. It involved the Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police. Several younger members of this police union got into a scuffle over racial matters.

. *** This post was edited by Arthur Bahl 7/12/2006 9:08:55 PM ***

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 9:08 PM
I am not a drinker. Ever. I hate to sound like a Public Service Announcement, but as long as you don't drink and drive, or ruin everyone else's good time, have fun.

I have seen several incidents at ball games (Shea and Yankee Stadium) and on public fishing boats, where drunk people destroyed everyone's good day. One of those was on a recent school trip in an alcohol-free seating area at a day game.

One question - if someone drinks at a park, and gets into an accident causing the death of another driver (or damages) - can the park (as host) be liable? (Or does this vary by state?)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:43 PM
CoastersNSich's avatar My home park, Kings Island, used to serve beer practically everywhere until 1992. Of course, in 1991, was Black Sunday, when four people died, including one guest who passed out drunk on Flight Commander, then falling out. Some guests I know and former employees remember when fights would break out all the time.

When Paramount took over for the 1993 season, the only place alcohol was served was at the International Restaurant. I'm sure they wanted to improve their image as a family-friendly environment. Security presence, apparently, was increased.
Around 1994 or '95, beer began to appear at other venues, such as Festhaus, Oktoberfest Gardens (now Bubba Gump's/Lt. Dan's), and Rivertown LaRosa's - and, International Restaurant was soon closed as a restaurant after 1995.

To my knowledge, beer is sold in select stands and restaurants at Cedar Point, such as Red Garter and Last Chance Saloons, Game Day Grille, and possibly a few others within park gates. Of course, there's the outside restaurants such as Famous Dave's and Friday's that have an expanded selection.

Back to KI, next year, I'd like to see alcohol service limited to controlled-access places, like Festhaus, what's now Bubba Gump, and the current Wings Diner.

My opinion: limited service, higher prices. I know people don't go to parks to drink, unlike at baseball games, but alcohol, when consumed responsibly, is a good way to keep adults relieved - just like benches, shade, good service, and clean restrooms.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:51 PM
Jeff's avatar Yes, comparing to sporting events isn't a fair comparison at all. Theme parks generally are engaging you directly and having you do something, whereas sporting events are still relatively passive (and doing the wave doesn't count ;)).
Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:55 AM
Hey honey, let's go for a couple drinks while the kid's go on some rides, and then drive home drunk.
Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:23 AM
Jeff's avatar Because that happens every day. :rolls eyes:
Friday, July 14, 2006 1:32 PM
The only places I've ever seen it become a problem are "boardwalk" type places that are open to anyone strolling up and down and just coming out of bars or whatever. In more "closed" parks, I don't see it being as much of a problem.

On a recent trip to CP, after a day and a half of hardcore Camp Snoopy action, our exhausted kids went back to the hotel with grandma to take a nap and my wife and I went and had a beer at the Red Garter in the evening after riding a few "big-people" rides. It was nice.

I really think, more often than not, that's the kind of consumption that generally happens at parks. I'm sure there are exceptions (which is why limiting to areas that can be monitored is a good idea), but at the prices most parks charge (usually for not-great beer), I don't see too many people going to parks with the intention of getting wasted and causing trouble.

Friday, July 14, 2006 3:22 PM
rollergator's avatar It really is a 1-in-a-thousand type situation where it becomes a problem. For most parks, I think the opportunity to make some relatively easy cash (6-8 beers = park admission) rules the decision-making process.

But for other parks, it's considered a detriment to the kind of atmosphere they're trying to achieve. I applaud them for remaining true to their beliefs... :)

On the *other* other hand, the only INCIDENT I've heard of related to alcohol this year was at a park that doesn't SELL any, so....

Bottom line: It's THEIR park, they'll do what they want...

Saturday, July 15, 2006 3:14 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar ^I have seen that at a few parks that didn't sell alcoholic drinks.

I rarely bought beer in a park. Granted there were a few times but I usually waited until later that night at a motel. Riding while intoxicated is not fun, especially when you get older and your body can't handle it as well as when you were underage. ;) Plus alcohol dehydrates you, especially on a hot day.

Personally I could care less whether a park sells it or not. If you can drink responsibly the more power to ya.

I do admit the Busch tour was fun, at least the one in Williamsburg. I still have my "beer school" diploma somewhere. Not only did we get our two free complimentary samples but we got to participate in tastes tests, etc. We also got free T-shirts, key chains, etc. This was about 8 years ago. I assume they still give the tours?


Monday, July 17, 2006 7:22 AM
No, there are no more tours in VA. They *do* still have the beer school/tastings though (I have a diploma from both BGE & BGA).
Monday, July 17, 2006 11:15 AM
rollergator's avatar ^ But what about BG:TOC, BG:TDC, BGT, and BGW?

You could theoretically have SIX "diploma credits", hehehe... :)


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