Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando stop just short of $80 admission

Posted Saturday, November 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Contributed by Jeff

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment raised prices Friday at its Florida theme parks, though it stopped just short of matching recent increases at rival parks Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. The adult price of a basic single-day admission to SeaWorld Orlando inches up $1 to $79.99, before tax. That is about $2 less than base-ticket prices at Disney World and Universal, which each raised prices in August.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel and The St. Petersburg Times.

Monday, November 22, 2010 3:03 AM

Acoustic Viscosity said:
It's all relative for each person and what they like to spend their money on.

For the purpose of the business setting the price, no, actually it's not. They exist to make as much money as possible, and so it makes sense that they charge as much as possible while not turning off so many people that they actually make less. That was kinda my point earlier, when I said that this discussion happens every time someone hikes prices, enthusiasts predict it's no longer worth it, and yet the parks don't hurt anyway.

And you can so tell that Pete married into having kids. :)

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Monday, November 22, 2010 7:09 AM

$80 is too much to charge a day at any park. Someone mentioned that if someone making $100,000 wouldn't be hit that hard compared to someone making $20 to $30,000, that maybe true but considering the economical situation we are in. IT would be wise to save as much and not go the high priced parks when there are other lower priced parks out there. You also have to factor in the transportation costs it takes to get down there and as well as the over-priced food and drinks.

Jeff, they are pricing themselves out of the reach of the everyday person especially in this recession. They will price themselves out of existence except for the very rich who can afford it or the overseas tourist who come to the USA to get real good bargains due to the US dollar falling in value to an unpresented level against the euro and the pound.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 9:11 AM

I expect that they take all of that into consideration when setting their prices. Any price increase is likely to cause some folks not to visit, reduce numbers of visits, change what they buy, etc. But businesses set prices to maximize profits so presumably whatever prices they set are viewed by management as doing that. Whatever folks you lose will be offset by increased revenue from folks who will still attend/buy at the higher prices. And I think the discounting and advertising that you see the Orlando parks doing right now evidences efforts to adjust to the current economic environment. If $80 is too much for a single day ticket, is $70 ok? $50? How do we determine what is "too much" other than letting market forces make that determination?

Seems to me that the folks who are most likely impacted by the one day admission price are the folks who would otherwise go for just one day. They have to pay the higher price or buy a multi day pass (maybe get a hotel room as well). For folks who are not in that camp (pretty much anyone coming from any distance away which I suspect are a large percentage of their guests, the one day price doesn't mean much as they are either getting package deal that includes tickets or at least multi day tickets.

And I think what we are seeing now is that a lot of folks have found that much of what they were spending money on was not really well spent for them. They have cut back on spending and found that their lives are just fine without all of that stuff. There is a lot of decreased demand which is sustainable. Which is one of the reasons why I think we have a slow recovery ahead of us.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 9:36 AM

We determine "too much" through price optimization

For random example (just to show process; not actual values), let's say an even one million people attended last year at $79; thus, $79 000 000 in admission sales. Let's also say that for every $1 increase, they lose 1% of their clients; in this case 10,000 people. Well, the remaining people still going is 990 000 people; times $80 is $79 200 000, for a net gain to the company of $200 000

In contrast, if they lowered price by a dollar in order to gain an extra 1% of people to attend the park, they would only make $78 780 000, for a net loss of $220 000

One could argue in-park spending, and season passes blah blah, but I'm sure they already take that into account already

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Monday, November 22, 2010 9:39 AM

Hey, entertainment isn't cheap. At least it shouldn't be. At some point it stops being entertainment/entertaining if you're able to do it all the time.

I just paid $75 for a concert ticket, plus gas and hotel, drove with 3 friends who did the same, to see our favorite band this weekend. It was my 3rd time seeing them this year, and my buddies' 2nd, and 4th.

I love the band, and if it was cheaper, I'd probably have considered travelling even more but that would start to jade me to the experience. I never want to lose sight of the thrill and enjoyment I get out of that, like I did with roller coasters.

I'm an experience-driven person, and I love the memories that I get out of vacations and things. Sometimes reliving the memories in your head and with friends is just as good as the actual experience. I just think that things with bigger price tags has forced me to slow down and realize what I really like to do/want to do, not just for the sake of going to do it. I wouldn't spend $80 to get my "credits" somewhere, but I'd spend $80 to relax, enjoy myself, and create memories.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 10:58 AM

No one has said the magic phrase. "Sweet Spot", yet. That's what we are talking about here. The parks are looking for the largest increase without losing money. I think that it was the plan long ago to gradually raise the prices once or twice a year by a dollar or two. When it starts to show a loss in revenue, they'll back off.

It's too much for me. A Disney trip is now back to being a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience for me now. That is sad for me, but great news for the parks that I love, because the people who run them can now afford more private jets, classic sports cars to put in their enormous garages, and extra mansions with waterfall swimming pools.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 11:19 AM

If you bought shares in the companies that run these parks, you too can share in those profits. That way, you can the The Man instead of The People.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 11:23 AM

Good idea. Now I need to go replant that money tree so I can afford some shares. Stupid storm came in and killed my last tree. :P

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Monday, November 22, 2010 11:46 AM

CoasterDiscern said:
Here is what I find interesting. If I was to say that I make a hundred thousand dollars a year and was very financially stable, I don't think $80 for a pass would affect my pocket book a whole lot, furthermore, if I was to say that make around twenty to thirty thousand dollars a year and being a person who is directly affected by the recession then I could see why people would complain.

Majorcut said:
$80 is too much to charge a day at any park. Someone mentioned that if someone making $100,000 wouldn't be hit that hard compared to someone making $20 to $30,000, that maybe true but considering the economical situation we are in.

Just wanted to point out that I don't agree with this premise at all. How much you make is only one of many factors determining how much you can afford. Under defferent scenarios, it's entirely conceivable that someone making $30k would be more able to afford something than the person making $100k.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, November 22, 2010 11:46 AM
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Monday, November 22, 2010 12:35 PM

It is only one factor of many that determines who and whom decides to enter the park, but this factor is primarily the biggest reason for the reactions in this post. When you make a substantial amount of money, it makes the decision to buy in that much more easier to make, thus not having to make one at all really. On the other hand I can see the effects is has on person's who's pocket books it will hurt. This is not to say I'm objecting to the statements made earlier in regards to the park itself winning or loosing in this case, when quite frankly they are going to continue to win, rather more or less it comes down to a decision. Is the park that costs 80 dollars that has a lot to offer the best deal, or the park that costs 40 dollars with not so much to offer the way to go. Furthermore, how much money can I afford to do it?

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Monday, November 22, 2010 12:52 PM

CoasterDiscern said:
It is only one factor of many that determines who and whom decides to enter the park, but this factor is primarily the biggest reason for the reactions in this post.

Because everybody who balks at $80 in this thread makes $20 or $30K (or an income on that end of the scale) a year and everyone who is ok with it makes $100k (or an income closer to that end of the scale)?

Can't speak for everyone, but in my case, you're WAY off. :)

When you make a substantial amount of money, it makes the decision to buy in that much more easier to make, thus not having to make one at all really.

Still disagree with this on so many levels.

1. A 'substantial' amount of money is a subjective term.

2. People who make a 'substantial' amount of money still have to consider purchases and make buying decisions based on their own wants, needs and situations.

3. There is no #3.

Furthermore, how much money can I afford to do it?

And the equation that determines that is so complex and varied that making a blanket statement like "income determines the reaction to this" seems humorously naive.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 1:18 PM

Some ways that a person in a lower income bracket can afford a more expensive theme park:
- Stay at a cheaper hotel/motel/hostel or possibly even coach-surf if you don't have a family [unless you have a badass kid or something ;)]
- If you do stay at a hotel/motel/hostel/coach consider talking friends into going as well to split on cost of travel (gas) and lodging. They don't even need to go to the park as well, they can sightsee/swim/vegetate
- Avoid in-park spending including food
- Avoid out-of-park spending when on trips, including food. Buy food at a grocery store and bring a cooler
- Buy tickets/travel well in advance and enjoy discounts when applicable

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Monday, November 22, 2010 1:27 PM

jonnytips said:
Some ways that a person in a lower income bracket can afford a more expensive theme park:

Yeah, still totally not where I'm at. Those tips apply to everyone going to the park.

Here's some of my thinking:

Person with $100K income has expensive home, cars, various higher debts and costs, puts away more in savings and investments, etc. Ends up with a relatively low amount of disposable income - for the sake of making a clear picture, let's say 5% (or $5000)

Person with $30K income has low rent, owns older car, saves little-to-nothing, has no credit cards, etc. Ends up with a relatively high amount of disposable income. Again, for clarity of argument lets say 15% (or $4500).

Both those hypothetical people are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to play money.

As much as some of you want to make it such, it's barely about income bracket.

EDIT - and yes, the opposite examples could be true as well (frugal with higher income and careless with lower income). But that's the point. Income alone doesn't decide this.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, November 22, 2010 1:45 PM
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Monday, November 22, 2010 1:39 PM

LostKause said:
That is sad for me, but great news for the parks that I love, because the people who run them can now afford more private jets, classic sports cars to put in their enormous garages, and extra mansions with waterfall swimming pools.

You can spin it as the rich people reaping mass benefits at the expense of the poor, but I see it as a $1 gate hike for a new $20 million coaster.

I guess my glass is half full of expensive Diet Pepsi, while you don't even have a glass at all because it costs too much. ;)

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Monday, November 22, 2010 1:42 PM

I know a lot of "poor" rich people right now. Living paycheck to paycheck isn't a great way to go whether you make $30,000 or $100,000 a year. In both cases you are just a car accident or job loss away form bankruptcy.

My guess is that, by and large, the number of people buying a one day ticket to any of the Orlando parks is a pretty low percentage.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 1:44 PM

...because the people who run them can now afford more private jets, classic sports cars to put in their enormous garages, and extra mansions with waterfall swimming pools.

And besides what kpjb said, why is this frowned upon? It is one thing when you have Walmart making $14 billion profit a year, not paying a living wage, and making healtcare too expensive, yet the CEO things that they're not making enough to edge the pay to the hourly employees up, and quite another to raise prices for people choosing to go to a park.

I sure to heck wouldn't want to be a CEO of any company unless I got expensive perks. And seeing as how these companies offer entertainment, I'm not sure why I should be mad that they're raising prices so that they can afford more perks.

If it gets to the point where it's literally too expensive, I won't go, and neither will other people. Still, making money is not a sin (Yes, even for the people that make a lot of it).

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Monday, November 22, 2010 2:25 PM

Majorcut said:
Jeff, they are pricing themselves out of the reach of the everyday person especially in this recession.

Assuming that's true (and I don't think it is), so what? What obligation do they have to serve the "everyday person?" If you can make $1,000 from 10 people, or $1,000 from 100 people, which would you choose? In the hospitality business especially, I'd go for the fewer people.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 3:40 PM

But I disagree fully. A substantial amount of money is an objective statement I will agree with that, however I still believe it is about how much money you make a year or even pay check to pay check, that will determine if you complain or not about the the amount of money it is for admission.

See the conversation has turned into speculation surrounding specific spending that individuals or families do. For me it does come down to the amount of money you have in your back account. If its not about the amount for admission, $80 for a one day visit, then what is it? Why does this new price got people a little apprehensive?

Last edited by CoasterDiscern, Monday, November 22, 2010 3:43 PM
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Monday, November 22, 2010 3:54 PM

Again, there are two different issues. One is whether or not the parks are making as much money as they, the other is whether or not "you" (meaning any individual) can afford it. The second part may be a point of frustration, sure, but it has nothing to do with whether or not the business can sustain itself.

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Monday, November 22, 2010 3:55 PM

But it only has some people. Heck, I'm not making 6 figures, but that doesn't mean I won't go out and spend the money if I were down in Orlando.

Just because someone makes substantially more than me doesn't mean they can afford to do what I do. Why? I don't have house/rent payments because the house I live in is paid for, I don't have a car note because the Xterra is paid for. I have well water. I'm one person and my expenses to live aren't that much (and will be even less in 2 weeks when I'm not driving over an hour to work).

I know people that make signifigantly more than I do that don't travel or that can't afford the leisure stuff that I do. And I'm sure there are people that make less than I do that can afford to do more than I can.

It really is less about how much money you make than it is how much expendable cash you have to spend, which is based on tons of factors. it also is about what you value.

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