Cedar Fair testing RFID wristbands for payment

Posted Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:50 AM | Contributed by Jason Hammond

In the near future, you may not need to take your wallet to Cedar Point, Soak City, or other Cedar Fair LP parks. This summer the Sandusky-based company, which owns 11 amusement parks and six water parks, is testing a new system it calls FastPay at its Dorney Park amusement park in Allentown, Pa.

Read more from The Toledo Blade.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:13 AM

....and Dorney patrons complain about never getting anything new.... ;~P

Schlitterbahn has had Splash-cash for YEARS and years...just last night I noticed quite a variety of pre-paid options for in-park purchases at their various parks. Even refundable for whatever leftover money you might have at the end of the day. An idea whose time has come....

Look back thru the archives, and we've discussed how Vegas and AC use chips to convert money so you don't think of it as cash so much - this WILL increase in-park speding at Dorney, and CP will roll it out chain-wide within 3-5 years tops.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:50 AM

I've been wondering for a while if you could realistically incorporate wristbands like this into a truly dynamic fast pass model. Standby wait is currently X minutes, fast pass line has Y people thus swipe your wristband and pay Z dollars to get into fast pass line. Or...just get in standby for no additional cost.

Edit: removed possibly irrelevant anecdote.

Last edited by Uncle Coaster, Tuesday, August 13, 2013 11:54 AM
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:48 PM

The locker rentals at Hersheypark uses RFID bracelets, and I thought that it was pretty cool, but a little expensive. Being able to use the bracelet to pay, especially while at a water park where your money could get wet, is a great idea. Sometimes I bring a pocketful of gold dollars with me when I am at a water park so I don't have to get into my locker for cash, or just use my debt card, which I still try to seal up in my waterproof wallet. This is yet another great solution to that problem.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 12:58 PM

Finding ways to make it easier and more convenient to spend money at your business is likely a win for your business. At least if the costs are relatively low. And if you can make your customers pay the costs, so much the better.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:21 PM

Maybe they can have a system where the wrist band is connected to a credit card, and based on amount of projecting wait time, you choose how long you want to wait per ride by paying more money for less wait. The rides with longer waits would cost more.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:24 PM

A "Buy Your Wait" kiosk at major attractions tied to a RFID wirstband which is in turn tied to credit card info is a pretty intriguing idea.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:25 PM

GoBucks89 said:

Finding ways to make it easier and more convenient to spend money at your business is likely a win for your business. At least if the costs are relatively low. And if you can make your customers pay the costs, so much the better.

I agree, and despite the temptation to spend more, I think this could be a win for guests, too, in the potential reduced wait times in food/merchandise lines. It's presumably faster to swipe a bracelet than to exchange money or to run/process cards.

And the only thing considered better to our culture than the ability to spend more is be able to spend more faster! :-)

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 1:33 PM

Could the bracelets also be tied to our Platinum Passes, so the register will automatically give us the food discount, instead of having to convince the cashier that the discount does indeed exist? :)

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 2:45 PM

I'm surprised Tyler hasn't started predicting the end of days because of this.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013 6:36 PM

birdhombre said:

Could the bracelets also be tied to our Platinum Passes, so the register will automatically give us the food discount, instead of having to convince the cashier that the discount does indeed exist? :)

Or season pass holders could just be given a 10% bonus when they put money onto their wristband.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:32 AM

Tyler Boes said:

Maybe they can have a system where the wrist band is connected to a credit card, and based on amount of projecting wait time, you choose how long you want to wait per ride by paying more money for less wait. The rides with longer waits would cost more.

NOoooooo!!! Of course, I hate this idea, and Gonch loves it. lol

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:36 AM

The only thing I don't like about this system is that they no longer give you money back when you return a locker key. It used to be that you got $4 back and since late June or early July you now get a $5 FastPay gift card back instead forcing you to spend the giftcard in the park (and they raised the price of the locker rental too).

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:46 AM

Raven-Phile said:

I'm surprised Tyler hasn't started predicting the end of days because of this.

You know, I have been weary of RFID tags for some time now. The technology is awesome, but I fear it if it were to be used for evil. You know that companies could tag every single individual item that they sell and tie the number of the item to the purchaser?

Why is that bad news?

As long as the technology is not used in a widespread program to be imbedded under people's skin, I will appreciate it for all the good and convenience it can deliver. Even if it has nothing to do with the mark of the beast, I will never allow it to become a permanent part of my body.

On a positive note, I love the ways this technology has been used so far. It's really a hidden breakthrough, as far as making things work. So many good uses have come from RFID. I am not as scared of it now as I used to be.

...But maybe that is the point.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:42 AM

"Information" isn't bad - in fact it's awesome. People can use your information in great ways that make your life better....then again, they can also use that same information to do you great harm. Understanding subtle shades of meaning on a forum such as this has proven extremely tricky over the years - knowing someone's motivation as they go about collecting your personal data is even moreso.

A degree of caution is certainly warranted - delusional paranoia probably not.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 12:38 PM

Of all the people who should be excited for more "pay-to-cut" options you'd think enthusiasts would be the top of the list. I've never understood the "I booked a plane ticket and rented a car and got a hotel to be here for half a day, but $50 is too much to spend to double or triple my number of rides."

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Wednesday, August 14, 2013 12:40 PM
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 8:28 PM

Good! I hate carrying my wallet around the park and would love a one wristband does everything type thing. Hopefully you will be able to attach your credit card or load it with money from home and just pick up your wristband on the day of your visit, that way you would not have to bring the payment meathod with you to the park anyway (that would be somewhat counterintuitive since part of its purpose is to let you carry less.)

Last edited by Will G, Wednesday, August 14, 2013 8:29 PM
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:12 PM

I am assuming that this will work just like a pre-paid gift card? Where you decide how much money you want to spend, and put that amount into the system? If so, will you be able to get cash value of amounts you don't use?

As a cashier for Meijer, we sold tons of these preloaded gift cards. We started out with set amounts, and they later came out with add your own amount cards. And, I can tell you that they keep track of every penny used, and not used on those cards. In one year, the store had over 1.5 million dollars in profit, off from unused balances on gift cards.

I was kind of confused at first, since they are prepaid. But, the way they explained it, if someone buys a product with a card, they have stock leaving the store, which they have to pay for. But, 1.5 million dollars is just free money, with no stock leaving the store on that cash. So it costs them nothing. They are banking on you NOT using the full amount on your card, or end up using it all, and have to spend more cash. Either way it is a win for the company. And, will also get you to spend more than you normally would.

The key to having a card is to know your balance. With taxes and other charges, you may sell yourself short. Having these cards is just about as bad as having a credit card, because you can't count it like money, and you won't know if you have gone over your limit until the company that owns the card tells you that you have. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "I could have sworn I had $5.00 left." Or gee I only have "$1.50 left what am I going to buy with that, might as well throw the card in the trash." 100,000 of those $1.50's turns into $150,000.00 for the company.

So, it's only a good idea if you know how to use it wisely.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:20 PM

As many good uses as there are for RFID, it may be one of the most insecure technologies widely used today. You can build a reader rig for $50 or less and just scan tags in a 3-4 foot radius, doesn't seem like much but just wait in a ride queue or a food line and get dozens of numbers. Even with encryption, with this many ID's coming in, it would not take too long to break the encryption. Time to get your aluminum foil wallets out, or just don't use the RFID.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:29 PM

LostKause said:

Tyler Boes said:

Maybe they can have a system where the wrist band is connected to a credit card, and based on amount of projecting wait time, you choose how long you want to wait per ride by paying more money for less wait. The rides with longer waits would cost more.

NOoooooo!!! Of course, I hate this idea, and Gonch loves it. lol

I never said this was a good idea. It would make Cedar Fair a lot of money leading to better coasters. Would I like the system? Personal, I wouldn't.

Another easy way to use the system is the Tyler Boes season pass system.

Level 1: $100

Unlimited access to Cedar Points. No perks, free parking, or discounts.

Level 2: $120

Level 1 except Soak City access and free parking.

Level 3: $140

Level 2 except one hour early entry, 10% less wait time, and 10% discount on any food or merchandise.

Level 4: $160

Access to any Cedar Fair park or water park with no free parking or perks.

Level 5: $180

Level 4 with free parking, one hour early entry, and 5% discount on food and merchandise.

Level 6: $200

Level 5 with instead a 10% food and merchandise discount, a 10% less wait time, and a free on ride photo.

Level 7: $225

Level 6 with exclusive, season pass ride nights and a free ride on one paid attraction. (Go karts, rip cord, etc.)

Level 8: $250

Level 7 with instead 30% discounts on food and merchandise and 30% less wait times.

Level 9: $275

Level 8 with 50% instead of 30%.

Level 10: $300

Level 9 with free access to any enthusiast event at a Cedar Fair parks and a 15% hotel discount at any Cedar Fair hotel.

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