Cedar Point considering lower admission rates

Posted Monday, September 26, 2005 10:20 PM | Contributed by Jeff

This summer's disappointing attendance figures at Cedar Point have forced its parent company to consider something others have been saying for some time: Many families simply can't afford to go there.

Reflecting on the second straight year of declining attendance at its flagship park, Cedar Fair is mulling the idea of lowering ticket prices, Chief Executive Dick Kinzel said.

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Monday, September 26, 2005 10:31 PM
kpjb's avatar Great, now it'll cost $4.50 for a Mountain Dew.

It looks great for the GP with an ad campaign of lowered ticket prices, but my guess is they'll make it up somewhere else.

Monday, September 26, 2005 10:33 PM
john peck's avatar I think its not a matter of lowering their ticket costs, they need to re-market their two-day passes to keep people there another night.
Of couse, with Detroit as one of their large markets, and all the job-cuts with the Car manufacturers, it's more than a temporary thing. With AAA rates, and Pepsi coupons, there are plenty of ways people can get discounts, however, its the additional costs IN the Park that customers just don't like. 9 bucks for parking? Nuts!

Same with GL.... 24.95 to get in, $9 to park... come on!

Also... they seemed to slow their marketing this year, too.

Monday, September 26, 2005 10:40 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Same with GL.... 24.95 to get in, $9 to park... come on!

They should just go to 28.95 (same as Kennywood) and call it free parking (same as Kennywood) - suddenly that family of four is paying a total $7 more to get into the park, but they're happy about being offered 'free' parking.

More on topic, this just feels like a knee jerk reaction to me. Isn't this kind of what SF did to get bodies through the gate (this being on a smaller level, granted, but still...) and we know how well that's worked out for them.

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 9/27/2005 5:00:16 PM ***

Monday, September 26, 2005 10:48 PM
I would of went to CP alot more if gas was not $3.00 a gallon. Im sure that bites them big time.
Monday, September 26, 2005 10:55 PM
... don't even start Gonch =) It's ALL perception!!!

I think it's a good move, overall. I think a price cut now will generate even more good will and even more brand loyalty that will allow them to jack the prices up somewhere to make up for it. They may have to wait until their region recovers somewhat economically, but they'll come back.

Cedar Fair will truly seem like "the Company that Cares" if they lower gate prices at TWO parks in consecutive years.

If you wanted to be a REAL conspiracy theorist ... where could they get more revenue to help cover the increase costs of lowering gate at their main park? Perhaps another profitable park?

... oo, lookie! Flames! *begins to fan*

Monday, September 26, 2005 11:06 PM
While it leads to increased in park revenue, I think the high prices for everything really does hurt them. I can imagine a lot of families paying hundreds to get in, and then feeling ripped off having to pay $3 a piece for pop. They'll still pay for the food and drinks while there, but it doesn't leave a good impression. Short term, it probably won't help much, but long term, I think lowering prices in-park (and parking) will help more a lot more than lowering the ticket price.
Monday, September 26, 2005 11:10 PM
I'm sure whatever it is, we will all be pleased to have lower prices, which will hopefully do the park better. NOw if we could only work on the gas thing ;).
Monday, September 26, 2005 11:21 PM
I have relatives in northern Ohio. A few years ago, I was visiting and wanted to go to CP, but I couldn't get anyone to go with me. They all said the same thing, the prices were outrageous. To them, the high admission was to justify the construction of bigger, faster coasters that they and their families weren't interested in riding. They believe the family aspect has been left behind in both the plans for the park and the prices.
Monday, September 26, 2005 11:35 PM
crazy horse's avatar I think is has something to do with the fact that there is no new major attraction for the last two years, plus the fact that the last coaster they built has had more down time than up time.

The price of admission does have something to do with it as well.

Monday, September 26, 2005 11:46 PM
/\ I'd consider maXair a major new attraction. And Cedar Point did as well.

Funny isn't it? Six Flags Magic Mountain attendance declining for the past two years! It's 'cause they have a lack of flatrides, supposedly "poor customer service" and supposedly "rude employees"! Cedar Point attendance declining for the past two years! It's 'cause some families can't afford it! ;)

Sorry, I didn't mean to bring it up, but how could I not help myself? It's so obvious how the majority of the people here are biast. ;)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:29 AM
Money has a whole lot to do with why I didn't visit CP as much as I usually do. I know that has to be the same for many others. If CP can pull off a lower admission rate it would be great.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 5:52 AM
Copied from the forum thread on the same subject (boy I sure whish the news discussions and forum were integrated):

Am I the only person that thinks lowering admission price may be a bad idea? I could see keeping it the same, and maybe getting more agressive with targeted promotions/discounts. But lowering it?

I read the article, and I followed the bit about the surveys indicating faster income growth in the attending guests than the general populace. But, aren't those precisely the sort of guests you want? The ones with extra income to spend on that $7.99 cheeseburger basket and the $5 guess-your-weight stand?

At some level, this is precisely the role that Geauga Lake and Michigan's Adventure fill---a lower price point "competitor".


I guess the other thought that occurs to me is this: rather than lower the price in response to declining attendance, figure out why guests aren't coming as much, and fix that instead.

Imagine the reception this idea would get on CBuzz if it were Burke talking about SFMM rather than Kinzel talking about CP.

Even the enthusiast fanboys have been grumbling about CP in recent years; take a spin through some of the PointBuzz threads pre-blue-tarp to see what I mean.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:20 AM
As a shareholder I hope they don't spend a lot of money on research to find out why attendance amongst families is dropping. I will give then some free consulting work:

The last "family" attraction you added was an ice skating show back in 2002. Not a bad addition/retrofit but...just how big is ice skating amongst today's youth? Soccer, baseball, footbal....um, where exactly does ice skating sit in popularity?

Prior to that, the most recent addition was Knott's Camp Snoopy back in 1999 and that included a nice selection of rides plus the popular Woodstock's Express. That was six years ago and it doesn't appear there will be a family attraction added for 2006. During those six years I'd like to see how much prices have gone up, not only for tickets bur for parking, food, etc.

I own a minimal amount of shares and I no longer work for the company. That begs the question: If by looking at the increases in the per cap while seeing the decreases in attendance I could see these problems coming...why couldn't the experts?

Who was paying for those increases in the per cap? It was most likely the families. They are the folks spending the most money in the parks, resorts, etc.

The answers is simple. By placating the folks in the coaster community (and teens/young adults) and trying to one up the next guy they have simply ignored a large percentage of their demographics (who has the discretionary income by the way) and it is biting them in the butt now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:31 AM
CF should be asking themselves "who pays full price for admission?" Often, it's the people without means who pay the most, and I think the executives are just realizing that fact. These people do not have internet access and certainly cannot afford CP Resorts, so they don't have the same access to the most significant CP discounts.

Anyone with the forsight to request a brochure on-line can get discounts of $9-12 per person depending on how far you travel. Since CF thinks that they can afford to mail out $9 discounts to fans like us, they can probably drop all prices by $10 per day and stop the mail-outs.

IMO, GP guests saving $10 at the gate will feel more loyalty, and hopefully spend more than $10 more inside the park.

As good as CP is, it is still a regional theme park to the vast majority of its guests. That requires a different pricing strategy than destination resorts like Disney World.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 9:43 AM
It didn't send GL's attendance through the roof...I don't think it will do the trick for CP either.

The real name of the game is perceived value. How do they pull that off?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005 10:32 AM
beast7369's avatar I think that to truly add "percieved" value Cedar Fair needs to drop the "extra" charge to the season pass that one could buy for Cedar Point and get into the Geauga Lake or vice versa. Removing that barrier would likely make people see some value in the season pass. Possibly go to both parks. Possibly stay at the hotel/campgrounds at both parks. Possibly buy souveniers at both parks. When you tack on the extra $30 a person for the "extra" charge, it costs a family of four an extra $120 that probably would be spent on more visits to both parks, which means more money spent in park per capita. Likely they would spend more than the $120 they would be saving without even thinking about it and still think they are getting a great value. The rest of the parks in the chain do not have pay "extra" upgrade charge...why should they?
Tuesday, September 27, 2005 11:59 AM
because they're within a day's drive of each other, the other parks in the company most definitely are not.

Consider this scenario:

A person lives next door to Cedar Point. Why pay over $100 for a season pass (I can't find exact prices on their website.. they only have the 2006 discounted price) when you can do a day trip to Geauga Lake, pay $79.95 for the season pass AND experience the park while I'm there? If they didn't have that extra charge for the other park, they would drastically undermine their Cedar Point season pass market. The only option would be to charge the same for a season pass, company wide - but that wouldn't be fair since the all day admission prices (not to mention the ride and attraction offerings) vary between each park in the company.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 12:47 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

By placating the folks in the coaster community (and teens/young adults) and trying to one up the next guy they have simply ignored a large percentage of their demographics (who has the discretionary income by the way) and it is biting them in the butt now.

Good point. Especially when you look at the park in the south part of the state that seems to be hellbent on capturing that demographic - and subsequently their attendance seems to be on the rise.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 3:38 PM
Perceived value? Is there any way in the world Cedar Fair would be considering merging Cedar Point and Soak City into one park? Or, not one park, but one price kinda thing? I mean, look at GL. What's the main draw? The water park. I know, I know, Soak City isn't really a destination or a main draw if that, but I think the GP would see more value in a "two parks in one" kinda thing. I know I would.

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