And the pay-to-ride schemes just keep on coming...

I just received an email from Busch Gardens Europe saying that you can ride Griffon all you want, get a breakfast at Bistro 205 (a full-service restaurant in New France), and get a souvenir photo all for the low, low price of just $29.95! All you need to do is also pay for parking and park entry. They don't specify what kind of breakfast is being served however, and I'm assuming you'd have to tip if it's full-service?

Now this means that you can ride Griffon as many times as you want before the park opens, provided you can get to the Big Ben Tower by 9 a.m. (toll plazas open at 8:45 a.m.). If anyone were considering such a thing, I would highly recommend you print out your tickets--both parking and park entry at home, since you're already paying for the early entry online. I would not count on waiting in line to get a ticket, or you just may have handed over $29.95 to the park.

Hopefully, it'll be actually running (and that could be sketchy), as I didn't see any wording about refunds if it's not.

matt.'s avatar
Doesn't sound like a bad deal to me, frankly.
Sound like a good deal for those who want it. If it is true that you can ride Griffon all you want before the park opens, I love it. I wish more parks would treat higher valued services this way; not devaluing the regular customer's experience. Adding the breakfast and the photo really ties this one together quite nice.

...But only an hour? The short time limit is the only thing I do not like about it.

matt.'s avatar
Depending on the crowd you can do a lot of riding in an hour.
Good point. Depending on the crowd, I'll agree. The price is high enough to prevent most people from wanting to participate.
No, I agree that it's not a bad deal overall. But, figure the photo runs you approximately $10 to $15, that's leaving between $20-$15 for the breakfast. And I hope at that price it's not just a continental breakfast. If the photo came in a nice solid frame--and not just the usual cardboard backing--that would also merit consideration for those who have the money.

But figure you're dropping $80 (with weekday coupon) to $90 dollars a person at the start of your day, and you've still got another meal or two to go, and that's going to be one expensive day.

I could see this offer being directed towards three groups of people a) The Great Wolf family who thinks nothing of dropping hundreds of dollars on a hotel room with an indoor waterpark and b) The Fun Card or Gold season pass holder whose already payed their money or c) any member of who considers the rest of the park-goers heathens:)

^LOL. That's funny...

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.
I could see this as good if you have a Busch Gardens Season pass thing like my family gets every year, but if not just a way to make some extra money after spending however much on building the thing. I also think it will work for all of the people who dont know that it has opened yet. *** Edited 6/2/2007 2:44:29 PM UTC by Audioslaved***

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

Lord Gonchar's avatar

dexter said:
I wish more parks would treat higher valued services this way; not devaluing the regular customer's experience.

Ok, I'm really playing devil's advocate here, and I'm going to tie two of the 'complaint' themes together to get where I'm going with this, so stick with me.

What have been two of the hottest debate topics of late?

Upcharge priviledges and parks cutting hours.

BGE happens to be a park that's running shorter hours recently. For example this season their peak hours (mid-June through mid-August) is to close at 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. Just 5 years ago (the 2002 season) their hours were 10pm across the board.

According to some they're reducing the value of a day at the park by taking an hour away from you compared to the past.

So now they offer the ability to buy that hour back in the morning for those willing to pay.

In a weird sort of way, they have given priviledges at your expense. They potentially cut the hour from your day and are now offering it back to anyone willing to pay an additional $30.

I mean if you think pay-for-FOL-access is unfair because it forces you to wait a little longer while the 'priviledged' get to step ahead of you, then how can you not be mad at theoretically being forced out of the park altogether so that the 'priviledged' can ride?

(just presenting another way of seeing things :) )

rollergator's avatar
See, I think that claiming this is "pay-to-ride" is enthusiast thinking. For most people, this is probably early entrance to the park, a nice sit-down breakfast, and a ride on Griffon with a souvenir photo reminding them of their day at BGE. Maybe two rides.

For enthusiasts, it's an hour of ERT with food and a picture.

The difference in perspective is *amazing*. And at 30 bucks, in Williamsburg, I wouldn't be TOO surprised to find them raising the price after realizing they can get more money out of this. Williamsburg is a playground for all those "rich" families from the Northeast...LOL! ;)

Gonch, That's not how I see it. The cut hours pertain to everyone. Plus no one cuts in front of me when I go to the park.

I know you are just trying to get me to shoot off like I have been known to do, but I am simply tired of the topic. Most enthusiasts here know where I stand. Why should I have to repeat myself over and over? I feel; you think.

(Although creating a controversy would be great for a website such as CB, because it would increase traffic. Remember, it *is* all about money.)

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Fair enough.


They took an hour from the back end of everyone's day - 1/12th of the available time - and then are offering it on the front end to those who will pay for it.

Really no different than making you wait 1/12th longer for any given ride.

Then again, it is probably that pesky perception thing again - and if the general opinion is that paying upfront at the gate for free drinks is some spectacular value, then I can easily see how this doesn't feel like your time being sold to others either.

matt.'s avatar

dexter said:
I know you are just trying to get me to shoot off like I have been known to do

That would be trolling, and Gonch is presenting some things that are completely valid.

Essentially we're allowing people to pay more for more time in the park, which isn't a big deal unless your park is open less hours at the end of the day, which is the case here.

Seems pretty calculated to me!

I pretty much agree, Gonch. Maybe it is the perception thing. But I think ride capacity during regular hours would improve a lot if a pay-to-cut system was replaced with an hour of extra exclusive ride time at any park.

Maybe it is the fact that there has been a rule against line jumping at amusement parks for as long as there has been amusement parks. When a park sells the privlege of being able to break that rule, the perception is that the regular paying guests recieve less value (as I see it).

But if you just sell an hour of exclusive riding during a time in which regular park guests are not expecting to be allowed to ride, than the perception of receiving less value is lessened.

I really don't mind so much when extra ride time is sold without allowing people to stand in two lines at once. As I have said before, when a park allows people to stand in two or more lines at the same time, it lowers capacity drastically for those who are not sold the "service". Selling an hour of extra ride time before the park is scheduled to open is a great way to insure that ride capacity is not lowered during the parks regularly scheduled hours, and it allows the "amusement park elite" a service that makes them feel that they ARE above everyone else without actually shoving it in anyones faces.

Even Cedar Point understands this by allowing early access to some rides for hotel guests. I wish KI would figure this out.

rollergator's avatar
For ME....sell the time at the front end of the day until you're blue in the face (BMG?)....just don't take my night-time hours away!

I guess I'm starting to see where the *majority* of guests feel like the night-time hours aren't as important to them. But I'm certainly the vocal minority. And I *will* pay extra for night rides (the only good reason for me to pay for ERT sessions is night rides...YMMV).

Lord Gonchar's avatar
So it is all about the perception thing.

As long as things are done with a healthy dose of smoke and mirrors people buy into it, but the second it's put out in the open for all to see, it's bad.

I do understand why you're ok with this, Dexter. But this is where I'd rather be a thinker than a feeler.

Look at it this way - why are you so against pay-to-cut systems? Because they allow you to do less in a day at the expense of people who can pay more, right? Those people waiting in two lines increase wait times and with longer waits, less rides can be had in the same amount of time. They're selling your time in line to other guests. Those guests can now do more in a day than you can (and you can do less) because they paid for the priviledge to shift the balance of time into their favor.

Isn't that exactly what happened here? (and mind you, this is only valid because BG cut night hours - otherwise it'd be exactly like you describe)

By cutting one hour off of the end of their 12 hour day, you now have less time to available to stand in lines. In turn, they're then selling that hour to people who'd like to enter early. Those who pay can now do more in a day (and you less) because they paid for the priviledge to shift the balance of time into their favor.

BGE just thought of a way to sell your time without you feeling angry about it. ;)

matt.'s avatar
^And maybe it doesn't bother us to much because one of the key parts of being an enthusiast is we often pay more to stay at parks later with ERT anyway.

In other words, sometimes we're not really ok with people getting to pay more for better parking, or cutting in line, or whatever...until it gets us ERT from 10 to midnight, especially egregious if it's at a park that's already cut hours...

Meh, just an idea.

Did BGE reduce hours THIS year? If not, then this isn't like the pay to cut systems. They haven't reduced hours for the weekends, so there is no comparison there.

They reduced the weekday hours 5 years ago (according to Gonch, I haven't looked). Only Gonch can draw a clear line from BGE taking away an hour 5 years ago to adding it back for a price this year. Unless you have proof that it was BGE's intention all along, I can't follow that logic. I also don't think many patrons will draw that conclusion either. On the flip side, many do draw the same conclusion as dexter when it comes to Flashpass. If they didn't, we'd never hear any incidents occuring at merge points for Flashpass.

Finally, they haven't offered my late night priveleges to anyone with this deal. You can't get on AC, Alpie, LNM, BBW or anything other than Griffon with this deal. When they cut the hours, Griffon wasn't even in the wet dreams of BGE fanboys. ;)

To ME, this is a huge difference. I'd much rather have the option to pay extra to get on any and all rides in the evening than pay extra to get in early for one ride.

If BGE had reduced hours THIS year and then instituted this new option THIS year, I would agree with you Gonch. But that's not what happened.

Yeah is Good!
Lord Gonchar's avatar
I'm not actually sure when the hours were cut. It was just that 2002 was the best I could find.

Let me look a minute...

No, it wasn't just this season. Same hours in 2006 as this year.

Can't find 2005 hours. The best I can do is 2002. The point is somewhere during the 2003-2005 seasons the hours changed.

Still not sure what the time frame matters beyond intention. Regardless of time frame/intentions, the end result is the same.

I also don't think many patrons will draw that conclusion either. On the flip side, many do draw the same conclusion as dexter when it comes to Flashpass. If they didn't, we'd never hear any incidents occuring at merge points for Flashpass.

Oh, I agree totally. People are easily misled. Something happens directly in front of me - me mad. Something happens as a series of steps that I have to string together to form a conclusion - me happy.

It's key to things like being forced to pay a certain price for drinks at the gate and then being told they're free once you enter. Or paying parking at the gate rather than as you enter the lot.

It's easy to fool people.

But I'm getting off the topic at hand. Admittedly, (and I said this from the start) I was just looking for an angle on this one.

Still seems to me like a simple case of some paying more and getting more while the people who don't get less.

So BG sliced hours a couple of years ago. Then they realized there was still a selection of guests who would be interested in an additional hour at the park. They didn't add that hour back to the schedule - they made it an upcharge. Everyone loses at the expense of those willing to let this kind of thing happen. (and I'm as guilty as anyone :) )

For me, it's an easy distinction to make.

Pay-to-cut: I'm getting less BECAUSE those people, the ones right over there, do you see them? The one with the "virtual qeueing shirt", that's the guy. Because he payed more, I get less.

BGE: I'm getting less? Really? I'm getting the same thing I had last year, and the year before that, how exactly is my value being diminished. Wait? People can pay extra to get in early for Griffon and breakfast? Ok. How again does it affect my day at the park if I choose not to partake? It doesn't unless I decide to link this decision with the decision to close earlier a couple of years ago? Ok, I think I'll pass on the early entry option.

"Still not sure what the time frame matters beyond intention. Regardless of time frame/intentions, the end result is the same."

Time also matters for perception. Perception changes over time and as you stated people react strongly to something they can see right in front of them as opposed to them not even noticing these other business moves.

Back to your statement though, intention matters a whole heck of a lot to me. Why shouldn't it? All businesses have the intention to make money, but will I be valued as a customer or am I just another schmuck whose only value to them is how much money do I give them today? Is their intention to build a lasting relationship or could they care less about tomorrow as long as they get my money today? To me, and others, this distinction definately matters.

*** Edited 6/2/2007 11:18:38 PM UTC by Incidentalist***

Yeah is Good!

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