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 4:13 PM

But, different people making the same amount of money can't afford the same thing necessarily

A teenager living at home, working minimum wage could save up for a trip to Florida
A single parent with joint custody of a child, working minimum wage, might not be able to as easily
A teenager living at home, working minimum wage, but smokes a pack a day, might not be able to either

Might Not /= Cannot

Monday, November 22, 2010 4:17 PM

CoasterDiscern said:
For me it does come down to the amount of money you have in your back account.

Sure. But that isn't the amount you make. You have no idea what people do with their money. That's my sticking point.

Income is not the bottom line. It's just the opposite, it's the top line...and the money to visit the park comes from the bottom line. There's many, many things on the list between "I make this much" and "What I'm comfortable spending for a trip to the park" - you're making the jump directly from one to the other and that's inaccurate.

A blanket statement like "people who make X can't afford this and people who make Y can afford it" isn't accurate.

Income is just one small part of the equation.

Why does this new price got people a little apprehensive?

Another blanket statement.

You know who's not apprehensive?

The 6 million people who will visit those parks in the next year. And as long as they continue to show up (and they will), the gate price is fine.

Tekwardo said:
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.


Monday, November 22, 2010 4:20 PM

Majorcut said:
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...

I've been reading this forum for nearly 10 years and this argument is made every. single. time. that a story comes down the line about Orlando parks raising admission. I wonder when this prediction will finally come true.

Monday, November 22, 2010 4:22 PM

My guess is that most, if not all, of the folks complaining about the $80 ticket spend more than $80 on at least one other form of entertainment. And folks who are not complaining about the $80 ticket refuse to spend less than $80 on other forms of entertainment. Where folks find value, they will spend. Where they don't, they won't. Gross income may be a factor (though often times not) but one of many in the value determination.

Monday, November 22, 2010 4:36 PM

I'm not sure where I was disputing the fact that attendance would drop, or that people do not do other things or have more important things to do with their money, but I do, and still believe there is a direct correlation between higher admission prices and attendance to to income. Also lets say that those 6 million people do show next year, and like you said Gonch, "they will", who's to say that if the gate price was $59.99 they wouldn't get 8 million people. So thats a savings of twenty dollars a person, times four people in a family, times four meals, times oh I don't know twelve drinks on a hot day. I think somewhere along the lines there pocket book is gonna matter. I also believe that when it comes the difference in one visit, to maybe two in a year, there is also a big difference. I understand that this is only a difference of one dollar in the admission price from previous years, but I can assume for a lot of families out there, admission prices are directly related to financial budgets. All I'm saying, and for me admission prices matter when it comes to my pocket book, greatly!

Last edited by CoasterDiscern, Monday, November 22, 2010 4:38 PM
Monday, November 22, 2010 5:12 PM

CoasterDiscern said:
...Also lets say that those 6 million people do show next year, and like you said Gonch, "they will", who's to say that if the gate price was $59.99 they wouldn't get 8 million people.

I just want to throw out here that I don't consider this a bad thing. The parks are crowded enough as it is. Last thing I need is 30% more friggin' poor people in front of me. ;)

...and don't we already have that data? What was Busch Gardens' attendance back when their price was $60? How about Sea World? I bet it's about the same or lower than what it is now at $79.9999999999.

Edit: see below. Too many people snuck in.

Last edited by kpjb, Monday, November 22, 2010 5:59 PM
Monday, November 22, 2010 5:26 PM

Go, I don't spend $80 or more on any form of entertainment. I have to look at the bottom line and also the value it has behind it. I don't go to concerts since I rather have the dvd of that concert. There are lots of people like me who rather spend the $80 plus food costs on something else that can bring more value for the buck.

Monday, November 22, 2010 5:46 PM

CoasterDiscern said:
Also lets say that those 6 million people do show next year, and like you said Gonch, "they will", who's to say that if the gate price was $59.99 they wouldn't get 8 million people.

1. Who's to say numbers wouldn't stay flat? Or go down?

2. So what if lower prices bring more people? Doesn't matter unless it brings more profit.

And those who have access to the data think they make the most at $80. It's their money to lose, I suspect they know what the market will bear.


Beyond that you lost me. Best I can tell, you continue to equate the money one makes with the money one has to spend on things like amusement parks - and that's just not correct.

Majorcut said:
There are lots of people like me who rather spend the $80 plus food costs on something else that can bring more value for the buck.

Absolutely. But there's still enough who will pay for the park that they make more than if they priced lower. It's not about maximizing volume, it's about maximizing profits.

Go, I don't spend $80 or more on any form of entertainment. I have to look at the bottom line and also the value it has behind it. I don't go to concerts since I rather have the dvd of that concert.

We all do. But we all find different things valuable. I'm the exact opposite of you. I'd rather do one live concert for $80 than buy 4 concert DVDs at $20 each. Each choice represents a different value-to-cost ratio for each of us. Some people will agree with you. Some would agree with me. That's the point here, it's not either/or.

People still go to concerts and people still buy DVDs. There's enough who find value in each option that they continue to be options.

Just like enough people will agree that Busch at $80 is a value that the company will continue to maximize their profits and be successful.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, November 22, 2010 5:52 PM
Monday, November 22, 2010 5:53 PM

I was unemployed (not collecting unemployment, however) and living on $8000 from my previous job in my bank account (my housing is thankfully accounted for). Its all a matter of priorities and what you feel is acceptable and worth to you, as others had said. I decided to splurge on a jetblue "all you can jet pass", which consisted of unlimited flights for 30 days for $500 which I had saved from my previous summer. I visited Vegas, Seattle, San Diego, Austin, San Francisco, Williamsburg, Orlando, and Denver -- I ate like a king at some really nice restaurants, drank 4 frozen butterbeers [:)], partook in things I wouldn't normally as I am a pretty budget-conscious person, and had the time of my life visiting places I have never been, both in and out of amusement parks. I went to sea world, discovery cove, magic kingdom, Universal and Islands, Halloween Horror Nights, Busch Williamsburg, schlitterbahn, san diego zoo, saw two cirque shows in Vegas, among other touristy and sight-seeing things, and managed to find hotel rooms or hostels at each location. With all of my expenses factored in, for my 30 day adventure including flights, I spent a total of right around $2,000. The only penny-pinching was for some of the places I stayed (I stayed at 2 downtown hostels, and the hotels I went to were lower-end), but other than that, I was in "vacation spending mode". Had I not spent so much on show and park tickets, I would have saved a lot of money, but just because I didn't have a serious income didn't stop me from enjoying what I could with what I had. I could have splurged on fancy hotels or spend $90+/ night on hotels, but I didn't.

The point is, this trip meant a lot to me, and I spent (1/4) of what I had saved up from my previous job in total. For the 30 days I had, it was an unbelievable experience, that I would have regretted not taking. Others may feel the same way when it comes to a single trip to Disney, or Sea World, or whatnot. The whole thing was an experience I will never forget, and I got to travel across the entire country and do what I love, for what I feel was extremely "cheap".

There are always ways to save money, if you take the time. It can be difficult in Florida, but I got lucky and took the time to research and get the best deals at each spot. I probably ate $80 worth of food and drink [included] at Discovery cove, and that was the total price of my ticket, including admission to Sea World. I took the time to find a discount to give me more than $50 off. In summary: just because you don't have a huge income doesn't mean people don't go to parks. I may be the exception, but everyone has their priorities. As others have said, I would never in a million years pay for a concert (especially upwards of $100), it's just not my thing. But everyone is different.

Last edited by mfivsdarienlake, Monday, November 22, 2010 5:55 PM
Monday, November 22, 2010 6:00 PM

Did some research:

2003 BGT: 4.3 million people * $50 = $215 million

2009 BGT: 4.1 million people * $75 = $308 million

So their attendance went down by about 4.7%, but revenue from admissions went up by over 40%.

2003 SWO: 5.2 million people * $50 = $260 million

2009 SWO: 5.8 million people * $75 = $435 million

Sea World's attendance went up by about 11%, and revenue from admissions went up by 65%.

I stand mildly corrected in that attendance did fall slightly at BGT, but since SWO was up, that leads me to believe that the attendance differences are not related to admission price, since the prices went up equally, but attendance didn't follow.

Monday, November 22, 2010 7:28 PM

Quick question--

Are the Sea World parks the only ones in Central Florida that post their ticket prices "(plus tax)"? I honestly didn't do that much research while I was down there, as my Universal ticket was a usually-unobtainable half-day deal and my Disney ticket was days I paid for about four years ago. But I remember being really annoyed when I went to Sea World for the first time in about 30 years and finding that not only did they find a way to disallow the $68.99 ticket deal I thought I had found, but my ticket did not cost me the posted $78.99, but rather $84.08.

This was five days before the recent increase, and to me, they've been over $80 for at least a year now, probably longer. It runs in my mind that the Disney and Universal ticket prices are posted "tax included". Anybody know for certain?

(And don't get me started on the parking rip-off...)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, November 22, 2010 7:39 PM

Majorcut said:
Go, I don't spend $80 or more on any form of entertainment. I have to look at the bottom line and also the value it has behind it. I don't go to concerts since I rather have the dvd of that concert. There are lots of people like me who rather spend the $80 plus food costs on something else that can bring more value for the buck.

Everyone I know makes a determination of value versus cost in deciding how they spend their discretionary income (at least on some subconscious level). Personally I would forgo the concert tickets and the dvds of the concert. But thats why there are different options available. So you may have to take 2 or 3 entertainment items to get to $80. Point is that everyone makes choices when it comes to spending their money. Make different choices and you can now afford something that you otherwise couldn't. But those are the decisions that everyone needs to make.

Monday, November 22, 2010 7:52 PM

And thats all I was trying to get at from the get go. Almost every single time a person spends money on entertainment, there is some sort of conscious decision on the amount of money thats needed, available and there to spend. I was simply making an example at the beginning, to make it a point that people who make a very large income, or have lots of "spending money", would not find the price increase a big deal. Someone who doesn't make a lot of money could find it disappointing.

The last thing Im trying to do is make a completely absurd comment that speaks generally for everyone or has a blanketing affect. When I consider how much money "I make a year", and for the price it costs to enter into that park for the day, which is over eighty dollars after taxes, I find it pretty high for roller coasters and animal attractions or what have you.

I also cant take those statistics into consideration kpjb. Reason why! Even though there is truth to those numbers, they could be a result/reflection of way too many other variables, some including marketing, advertisements and new ride attractions. Those numbers cannot be directly the result of this discussion.

Last edited by CoasterDiscern, Monday, November 22, 2010 7:58 PM
Monday, November 22, 2010 8:38 PM

But what people are trying to explain is that just because you have a large income doesn't mean you have more money to spend, and just because you have a lower income doesn't mean you can't afford $80 at a theme park. Its no simpler than that.

Monday, November 22, 2010 8:43 PM

*banging head on keyboard*

Monday, November 22, 2010 8:45 PM

I'm sure there's some sexual innuendo in there that moosh would appreciate about that post, Gonch, but sadly he's still MIA.

Monday, November 22, 2010 8:48 PM

I'm with Gonch, I'll stay pay the $80 dollars a day for the experience of those parks. I figure it will cost a $100 by 2015. Can't wait to see how many legs this topic has then.

Monday, November 22, 2010 8:49 PM

And even so, I'd still probably pay much less than what a one day pass is when I go.

Monday, November 22, 2010 8:54 PM

True, there are always discounts somewhere.

I spend a $100 plus just for a one day ski lift pass out in Colorado. It all depends on what we are willing to spend for entertainment. 80 dollars a day doesn't hurt the parks bottom line so the tickets will increase untill it does........that is the end of the story. This can be debated back and forth but those facts don't and won't change.

Monday, November 22, 2010 9:17 PM

I still don't know where I said I disagree with that statement. I do however feel the need to defend my first reply since it was ridiculed for its core contraindication.


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