Another pay-to-ride scheme, and this might be the worst of all...

Thursday, June 7, 2007 3:13 PM
rollergator's avatar ^High-school economics vs. graduate-school ecoonomics. Inelasticity of demand, meet luxury goods and services.

Honestly, BECUASE we're dealing with something that is FAR from a necessity, I'd say spending INSIDE the park depends less on the gate price and more on the *experience* inside the park.

Wow, I think Gonch has finally taken over my brain....get OUT, you witch! ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2007 3:49 PM
Sorry for missing out on a whole page of this discussion... seems that my job actually requires me to do a little work every now and then, which completely eats into my internet time. Just to comment on a few things that were said since my last post...

I can't speak for Disney but I assume the motivation behind their FastPass system is more about a providing a perk that they can advertise to their guests. Considering that a day at Disney will consist of a mixture of fast-moving FastPass lines and much-slower-moving-than-before standby lines, I don't think any guest will get on more rides than they did before FastPass made it into the parks, but I think the average guest will assume that they did. Who doesn't feel good when they wait 5 minutes for Space Mountain when the wait usually stretches on for at least 45 minutes? And by keeping FastPass free and available to all guests, Disney can claim they give every guest something that no other park does.

As far as increasing prices, I'd rather see that than guests forced to decide between a number of different pricing tiers. I'd gladly pay $100 for a day at a major theme park if it meant crowds were small enough to guarantee that I could get almost as much done had I bought a Q-bot at another park. Of course, there is the problem with suddenly increasing prices, which is why it makes sense to increase prices incrementally and get people used to a better overall experience. People are more likely to accept price increases if they know they're getting something that's better than it was before.

Thursday, June 7, 2007 3:56 PM
rollergator's avatar Now that Rob posted that, and Disney has come up *several* times, I want to reiterate that regardless of FastPass or otherwise, Disney builds rides, and runs them in such a fashion, as to EAT the thousands. If you have an hour-long standby line for most Disney attractions, it's because the park is FULL...

No one, to my knowledge, has EVER claimed that Disney runs attractions at less-than-optimal capacity...and there sure isn't a conspiracy to sell more FastPasses... ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2007 5:50 PM
How many folks here who are dead-set against Q-bots, VIP, Platinum rerides, etc have stopped attending those parks because of their policies? Anyone?

I’m not dead-set against any “pay to cut” system…but I have stopped attending the regional themers (sans a Ghostrider sneak here and there…and only then with free tickets) ;) ! I know I’m not the average guest at all…so your point still still stands.

I’ve just tired of the stale atmosphere, poor theming, and general lack of good wood that the regional themers provide for me. I guess you could say I just got bored with what they offer. Besides they’ve got enough of my money this life-time…that if I never spend another dollar at Six Flags or Cedar Fair…I’m still one of their biggest customers. :)

Back to policies and “pay to cut.” From my perspective…this is not about “pay to cut” at all. I see “pay to cut” as symptomatic of a larger problem that is specific to the regional themers. That problem is that there is not a good perceived value for most of the regionals.

I’ve argued/speculated that the reason the regional themers are classified as “old growth” is that they typically have not made the smartest decisions when it comes to satisfying paid customers. Gonch’s Disney/KW/HW/etc example above demonstrates that the ENTIRE amusement park business is not really “old growth.” Disney and the well-run independents are doing great. They keep raising and raising prices and their attendance levels keep rising. Many of these parks don't add attractions...but every 3-4 years...OR MORE.

I look for a common denominator between Disney and the well-run independents to surmise what allows them to raise their gate at a much faster pace than the regionals…and I determine that it is plain old customer satisfaction (Jeff calls this percieved value). While these parks offer experiences as different as night and day…you hear very little complaints. These parks go out of their way to ensure that your day goes smoothly…and they are starting to charge more and more for it.

The regionals are half-stepping the process. “Pay to cut” is a great short-term profit booster…but what does this do for the overall experience for the masses? We know you (playa/Gonch) like it...but so many do not.

I cannot be convinced that pissing off ANYBODY inside your gates is smart practice. Let alone pissing off A LOT of people. I think it is fair to say many people are pissed off about this "pay to cut" stuff. It may not be enough to stop them from going...but it certainly affects the customer satisfaction. And this what separates the regionals from those parks who are raising rates faster.

For some reason…the regionals have not been able to raise their pricing at the rates of Disney and the independents. Within the sector of amusement parks…it is the regionals that seem to be growing the least…if growing at all.

I guess you could argue that being "old growth" is a good thing for the regionals. Maybe this is all they aspire to be. If that is the case...then by all means keep making short-term decisions to meet and beat quarterly expectations. Constantly change policies to drum up media coverage. Hire Tweety...25 cent cotton candy...5$ cotton candy..."pay to cut"...yada yada.

In my mind...if I was running the regionals...I would want to be "new growth" and "fast growth." Right now that description fits Disney and some independents.

I guess we can keep making excuses by calling it “old growth” and “to be expected” with every yawner of a quarterly report (moment to acknowledge Six Flags is trending better while maintaing quarterly losses). But if you are clearly convinced that this is true…what reason could you give to explain that Disney and the independents are doing it better? Those parks certainly don’t act like “old growth.” These park act like "the place to be."

*** Edited 6/7/2007 9:53:50 PM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***

Friday, June 8, 2007 3:15 PM
The park that already subscribes to that philosophy mentioned above -- charge a bit more at the gate and then be easier on the guests once they are inside the park -- is Holiday World. That idea works well for them and enhances the overall experience because food at the park doesn't cost much and drinks, sunscreen, and intertube use costs nothing extra at all.

If CP, SFOT, SFGAdv, KD or other megaparks did this you would be talking about possibly $75 admission or more as opposed to around $38 at HW.

As for making the rides free at a park, that sounds preposterous but Lakemont comes very close to that with their Wednesday bargain deal. Isn't it ride all day for around $2 or $3? One ride on the Skyliner is worth that.

*** Edited 6/8/2007 7:18:54 PM UTC by Arthur Bahl***

Arthur Bahl

Friday, June 8, 2007 3:27 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I guess we can keep making excuses by calling it “old growth” and “to be expected” with every yawner of a quarterly report (moment to acknowledge Six Flags is trending better while maintaing quarterly losses). But if you are clearly convinced that this is true…what reason could you give to explain that Disney and the independents are doing it better? Those parks certainly don’t act like “old growth.” These park act like "the place to be."

Because Disney and the Indies are not the same as the mature regionals (CF, SF style parks)

Disney is a world-wide destination. They're barely comparable to the rest of the industry in terms of what business practices work and what ones don't. The Disney resort in Orlando is just that - a complete resort. There's a lot more to the big picture than the four theme parks there.

Those independent parks are all (surprise!) smaller parks that are growing and have lots of room to grow on all fronts. If they continue to grow, in the future they will most likely face the same issues the big regionals do now.

The large parks are dinosaurs. Rapid growth on any level is not going to happen. This is where I really like Shapiro's 'change the game' approach.

I see it as almost three different business scenarios that require three different approaches.

Friday, June 8, 2007 9:26 PM
That is a reasonable explanation Gonch...or it could be that the customer service is better! ;)

...either way...Shapiro TALKS like he wants Six Flags to head in the direction of Disney and the independents. He must see something he likes there. "Pay to cut"...specifically the way they are doing NOT a step in that direction. It is a page out of the dinosaur regional playbook.

Friday, June 8, 2007 9:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Well, yeah...that too. :)
Friday, June 8, 2007 11:09 PM
Heres something that I dont think has been brought up..

My wife cant ride anymore(health reasons)but still enjoys visiting parks.If we go to Kennywood,she has to pay admission,so to US,places with a free gate are a better value.Which park is a better value could different from how people view it.

Racing whippet 76-77
Saturday, June 9, 2007 6:53 AM
Fortunately, PA still has several free gate parks with Knoebels being the star of the group. I remember when some of the other PA parks had free gates including Kennywood and Hershey.

Arthur Bahl

Saturday, June 9, 2007 2:48 PM
rollergator's avatar I like the idea of having a free gate or even a "non-rider reduced admission". There's alot of places even outside of PA, like Lake Winnie or Lakeside - or even that place in Wildwood ;), where a non-rider can go and enjoy the place for little or no charge.

Then again, I can see where a place that pulls in a couple million people a year might not want to have to deal with riders constantly having to show wristbands, etc.

Saturday, June 9, 2007 5:59 PM
IB only charges around $3 if you don't want to ride. Lakeside is $2.50 and that includes $.50 towards a ride. Some of the larger free gate parks in addition to Knoebels are Moreys Piers, Rye Playland, and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Arthur Bahl

Saturday, June 9, 2007 6:13 PM
I hate that Kennywood did away with general admission because of my wife but I understand why they did.I think the biggest reasons were not having to deal with tickets/wristbands and to keep the locals out(cheap babysitter).
Racing whippet 76-77
Saturday, June 9, 2007 6:17 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Arthur - ever thought of doing ;)

I still don't think pricing has nearly the effect or the importance that some of you do. I still say that for the most part ( vistors excluded ;) ) money needed doesn't dictate travel plans, but rather travel plans dictate money needed - especially for amusement parks.

Saturday, June 9, 2007 7:27 PM

rollergator said:

some non-coaster friends decided to pick up PPs and go with me. So, now we have a group of FIVE (!) people getting re-rides, and instead of "filling in", they want us to stay seated on the train and show our passes to the op on the exit side. By the time they recognize
you, and tell the op on the other side, the airgates have already opened and the next group is waiting to board. But they can't board, the people who just rode are riding...AGAIN?!??

Maybe you should simply not use the benefit if you're so against it. or, do what I do. TELL THE OP when you're loading that you intend to use the platinum pass benefit, and ask that they inform the people waiting that you're getting a 2nd ride, so it's not a surprise. OR tell the people yourself.

Saturday, June 9, 2007 11:04 PM
rollergator's avatar ^ Good ideas all....except you're failing to account for multiple trains, which means the people behind me could give a rat's arse if I ride again...and the ops, well... ;)

We were told to tell the op at the exit side, when the train came back. And I already said *I* won't re-ride during the busy season.

Monday, June 11, 2007 5:11 PM
^^^ Money's a funny thing and it makes people do funny things.

Personally, I couldn't care less about the cost of something, as long as I enjoy it. I could buy a cheap TV and get to watch everything I enjoy watching but I like my TV and am more than willing to spend a lot of money on an expensive unit. A bargain-model Hyundai will surely get me to where I want (and need) to go but I opt for something a little more expensive and enjoyable. When it comes to my hobbies, I spare no expense, provided I'm not carrying a miniscule $11.34 balance in my savings account and drowning in credit card debt.

My best friend, on the other hand, saves every penny he earns and rarely spends on anything frivilous. He's the kind of person that will determine a $2.00 increase in admission to be the reason why he avoids an amusement park that he frequented in the past... if he ever determined that to be a worthy expense. Some people open their wallets when doing the things they enjoy, while others keep them closed and let them dictate the things that they enjoy.


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