Another data point in the "parks are too expensive" rant

Monday, January 17, 2011 10:20 PM

We just got back from our annual MLK weekend ski trip "up north".

Now, for those of you who have been to a real live ski resort, nothing in Northern Michigan would make you think---"there's a good place to go skiing." N. MI skiing is to "real skiing" as, say, Blue Streak is to S:ROS. In other words, MIchigan skiing is like your average regional amusement park, rather than a place you would consider traveling to. Fine if you happen to live within driving distance, but you'd *never* drive past most other places to get there.

We bought our lift tickets ahead of time---non-refundable, no changes---and got a 33% discount on them. Add in rentals, and we paid $70 per person per day. We also spent an hour at the snow tubing park ($12 per person for one hour) and took a short horse-drawn sleigh ride (another $12 per person.) So, in total, $82/person/day. That's pretty cheap for Northern Michigan over a holiday weekend. My wife didn't ski, but she did go to the spa, making the lift tickets look cheap in comparison. And, there were plenty of people there---the lifts had decent lines most of the weekend.

Compare that to your average "local" park, which charges $30-$45 for a full day's worth of entertainment. In comparison, it starts to look like a pretty darn good deal. Even a day at one of the Florida Disney parks is only $5 more than we spent this past weekend. But, Disney is the pinnacle of the theme park universe, vs. a rinky-dink hill in Northern Michigan that no one farther than, say, Chicago has ever heard of.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 10:45 AM

And when you look at the hours of operation and available attractions, you start to see that the theme parks really are a steal.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 10:57 AM

And parks are usually open longer than ski resorts. I've always wondered why skiing issn't cheaper. I think they require fewer employees.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 11:22 AM

"The rent is too damn high!" ;)

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 12:21 PM

I think a better comparison is to a local amusement park with virtual queuing. I've never been skiing (hoping to go soon) but I imagine the only real waiting around you do is riding the ski lift back up to the top of the mountain. That, in itself, is kind of a ride. At an amusement park, though, 90% or more of your time can be spent just waiting in a line. That is a bigger drawback than price, to me. So if you add the cost of virtual queuing, the price of a day at the amusement park can surpass the $82/day mark.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 12:40 PM

I don't follow the math. $70 lift ticket + rentals, $12 sledding hour and $12 sleigh ride = $94, not $82.

The one-day lift ticket where I ski every day is $99.00. $70 with rentals sounds nice and cheap.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 1:08 PM

My new data point for this year has been the NFL.

My revised statement to amusement park price complainers after having started to enjoy attending NFL games is "Shut the hell up."

Ticket prices, in-stadium pricing, parking prices - it all puts into perspective just what a value this little amusement park hobby really is. The real expense incurred for us seems to be travel, not the park costs.

Was looking at trying to score a couple of tickets for the Steelers game this weekend until I found out the wife has to work on Sunday. :(

I can honestly say I've taken the family on week-long park trips that were comparable in price to two decent seats for this Sunday's game in Pittsburgh.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:07 PM

^But amusement parks don't have playoffs. "Playoffs?" (Insert Jim Mora rant here, LOL).

Honestly, I just wanted to post a +1 to this tidbit...which couldn't be any more true if it were written in stone: "The real expense incurred for us seems to be travel, not the park costs."

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:26 PM

rollergator said:
^But amusement parks don't have playoffs.

They'd be better if they did.

And just to really drive the point home, I'll say it thrice:

"The real expense incurred for us seems to be travel, not the park costs."

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:29 PM

Yeah, my biggest expense is travel. I think a lot of geeks, especially the ones that complain about cost, don't realize that theme parks and other hobbies of that type that involve travel, tickets, paying to eat, etc. are 'not the norm', in that most of those businesses are built around a model where a family, or a couple people do it once or twice a year. Most people don't do it all of the time like many of us.

Most people who have hobbies do things like painting/art, sewing/knitting, reading, etc., and while all of that can get expensive, it doesn't often involve the travel and expense. Heck, I can knit and sit at home and eat my own food.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:35 PM

Gonch and Gator, to those whose teams actually win and it actually takes to buy tickets it definately costs alot. Here in Cleveland most people just dump tickets off to other people. So we only have to pay ten bucks to park and maybe get some food which should only cost you around 20-25 bucks at the most. The main thing is that is if your not paying an average of 7 bucks per beer, but in Cleveland that is almost a must to watch sports.

Anyhow, when going to parks, that is definately a reason to spread out trips with the cost of gas and such. That is why i only take at the very most three major ones a year. Heck living out of a suitcase rarely happens for me, although i think this year was an all time high with three days on a trip being spent at hotels, and heck my Carowinds trip could have been an all nighter rolling in at 4 in the morning to be up at 830.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 2:41 PM

Tekwardo said:
I think a lot of geeks, especially the ones that complain about cost, don't realize that theme parks and other hobbies of that type that involve travel, tickets, paying to eat, etc. are 'not the norm', in that most of those businesses are built around a model where a family, or a couple people do it once or twice a year. Most people don't do it all of the time like many of us.

Without a doubt. This is totally true.

The costs are only excessive because you partake excessively.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 3:10 PM

Exactly. My parents always told me I had expensive taste, and I definitely think that Theme parks as a hobby, Pro Sports games (attending) as a hobby, Concerts as a hobby, etc. are a luxury hobby.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 4:44 PM

I will give one exception. A lot of non-enthusiast people have season passes.

And the only concerts that are expensive, as a hobby, are big bands. It costs next to nothing to see local bands play, but some people may say that's for a good reason. There should be a few really good local bands in most areas.

Same goes for local sports, like Baseball in Altoona, PA, for example.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 5:42 PM

And since I usually have to go out-of-state to see the big name bands, it makes it almost as expensive as going out-of-state to amusement parks, especially if there is lodging involved.

I think there's a little more going on closer to your neck of the woods than Charleston. Huntington is a college town and is closer to Columbus/Cinci/Ashland. Even the local scene has a lot more going on than what Charleston has. At least that's what I hear on the radio all the time. :)

Hobbies ARE expensive, or can be depending on what you do with them or what you can afford at the time. I wish I could see a lot more bands and travel to a lot more places, but I just do what I can and be thankful for it. :)

-Tina

Last edited by coasterqueenTRN, Tuesday, January 18, 2011 5:50 PM
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 5:52 PM

Not true about Cleveland! I was to an AFC championship game there once. Granted I,m a Denver Broncos fan, and we got the better end of you a couple times. And, unfortunately I was there for the fumble game, not the famous drive game.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 7:55 PM

Tina, my last big concert was in Huntington a few years ago. As I lay Dieing! I love that band! Tickets were only $25, and they had several other awesome bands playing with them.

My location prevents me from seeing a lot of the bands that I want to. I wanted to go see NIN, but I would have had to drive 4 or 5 hours to Charlotte, NC. Mastodon was playing in Cincinnatti, but that's freekin' 4 hours away too.

I can't wait to move back to Central PA. I'll be about 2 hours from Pittsburgh and about 2 hours from Hershey. Then I'll go see bands again.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 8:08 PM

LostKause said:
I will give one exception. A lot of non-enthusiast people have season passes.

And the only concerts that are expensive, as a hobby, are big bands. It costs next to nothing to see local bands play, but some people may say that's for a good reason. There should be a few really good local bands in most areas.

Same goes for local sports, like Baseball in Altoona, PA, for example.

Doesn't your time at these events have a cost? Mine certainly does, and it takes a balance for me to forgo a monthly bonus to ride a coaster... I suppose we all have different opinions on it.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011 9:10 PM

When people look at me all crazy because I take my money and vacation time to pursue amusement parks, I usually ask them what they do for fun. Oh, golf you say? You probably enjoy playing the same course every day, season after season. No? How many golf trips do you and your buddies take? Same goes for racing, skiing, boating, fishing, hunting, ballroom dancing, gambling, or following your Big Ten team to every away game. The best opportunities to explore your passion aren't always presented at home.

Now we can take said hobbies and dissect the various components cost-wise. His golf club membership costs more than my CF season pass. But my gas, food, and parking are more than his greens fees. He spends a fortune gassing his boat, but my room at Walt Disney World is a lot more than what he and 8 other guys spend on a fishing cabin. We all fly there sometimes. We all try to drive if we can. My time costs very little- I'm fortunate to have a job that pays me to go on vacation and I never lose a dime by taking time off. She, on the other hand, loses production and money when she's gone from her business.

So if those of us that are blessed with the time and means to go sat down and compared, (outlandish examples aside), I'd bet we'd all come out pretty even in the end.

Last edited by RCMAC, Tuesday, January 18, 2011 9:22 PM
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011 5:16 AM

I suspect that if I were to go skiing, the biggest expense of all would be the hospital bill. :)

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