Cedar Point Day 1 08/05/13: Not Even Fastlane Will Save You

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:37 PM

Sorry for the disappointing trip, Justin, but from my experience, this has historically been a pretty awful time to go to Cedar Point (yes, even on weekdays). The weather has been abnormally perfect lately, and I'm sure it's only making the situation worse.

These situations are why many of us are encouraging a more dynamic pricing model. Everyone is picking the same time to go to Cedar Point. I've been frustrated over the years when hearing people complain about how miserably packed CP & KI always are. They always aren't.

Try the park in May-Early June or the weekend after Labor Day (obviously avoiding Saturday's & opening weekend). I've even had quite a few no-or-low-wait Halloweekend Sunday's. Everyone goes on the Columbus Day Hallowekeend Sunday though, or if the weather is unseasonably warm.

+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:50 PM
rollergator's avatar

0g said:

Why on earth would you want to raise the price just to reduce the number of people who visit?

No, the reasoning with regards to price is "just to increase revenue." If the % decrease in attendance is lower than the % increase in ticket prices, you're making more money (per caps, etc., obviously come into play). Like you said, the trick is to hit the sweet spot....

I still remember the season passes at Miracle Strip - they got you discounted (half-price, IIRC) admissions, not free entry. That was pure genius...considering *their* situation.

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, August 6, 2013 6:51 PM
+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 7:44 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

0g said:

Why on earth would you want to raise the price just to reduce the number of people who visit?

rollergator said:

Like you said, the trick is to hit the sweet spot....

Yep. The balance is the key.

With that said, I'd rather show 10 people paying $100 a really great time than show 100 people paying $10 a really mediocre time.

That's sort of what you end up dealing with here. Crowds so big that it starts to affect the enjoyment (and desire to return) of your customers.

Maybe it's 50 people at $20 or 40 people at $25 or 30 people at $33 - the point is, it's not an unreasonable approach to raise prices to find the point where you can serve less people, make them happier and do equal (or better) business in the process...and the less necessary and more luxury the item in question, the better this process works.


+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 7:52 PM
Timber-Rider's avatar

Hey Sirloindude.

I just wanted to comment about early entry, and your comment about guests with regular admission tickets being allowed into the park, along with those with season passes. As I'm pretty sure that was also the case when I went on Thursday, back in July. As the wait for Millennium force was already at and hour and 45 minute wait before 10 a.m.

You would think, that there would be a huge line of regular ticket holders at the entrance gates, waiting to get into the park at the 10 a.m. open time. But, there was no line, almost everyone who arrived was going into the park when I arrived at 9. There was no waiting at all, and they were also already selling fast lane tickets, when I entered the park.

I was watching the huge crowds of people making a bee-line for Gate keeper at 9, and I was thinking, all of these people can't be season pass holders, with ERT. It was as if everyone and their brother was already in the park. As, when I arrived at the Gate Keeper line, the suggested wait time was already at 20 mintutes. With 3 trains running.

There was also no "running of the bulls" rope line. So, that would suggest to me, that they were not holding anyone back. Which would explain the early long lines. Though the park crowds grew 100 fold after 10 am. It was just packed. And, the lines for fast lane were exactly like you said.

45 minutes Fast Lane for Top Thrill Dragster Vs. 1 and half hours

30 minutes Fast Lane For Millennium force Vs. 1 hour 45 minutes

2o minutes Fast Lane Gate Keeper vs 1 and half hours.

20 minutes Fast lane for Magnum vs 40 mins to 1 hour and 45 minutes.

45 minutes Fast Lane for Maverick vs. 2 hours and 15 minutes.

20 minutes Fast Lane for Raptor vs. 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Again, this calls into question what Cedar Points limit is for selling fast lane tickets. If you ask me there is no limit, and they will sell them to whomever wants to buy them. You can't have these huge Fast Lane lines, without selling a few thousand of those wristbands, every day. I would like to know if there is a cut off point.

I'm guessing there is, but, it's probably a huge number, and most likely changes with demand. If they sell out one day, the next time they re-estimate, and raise their limit 500 over the previous sellout, banking on selling those extra tickets. On days that the park is less crowded, they probably close the fast lane booths, as less people would be buying them.

I have a better idea. Instead of having a fast lane wristband. Do what other parks do, and sell individual ride tickets, for pay to cut in line. You pay as you go, with the number of times you can cut in line is limited to how many tickets you buy. Maybe make the tickets $5.00 a pop. That allows the customer to buy as many cut in line tickets as they want, but will also have them picking their rides more carefully, and they will be less likely to marathon the rides all day, as they do with Fast Lane.

It might make the more popular rides see longer lines. But, I think it would be more fair to everyone, to have more restriction. Maybe even have certain times of the day where you can't use the fast lane tickets. Like during ERT, and a cut off point of 2 to 3 hours before the park closes.

Raising the price of Admission is not a good idea. Though I do agree that Fast Lane should cost more. People forget about those with the mighty credit card. A raise in the price of admission, will only tell the credit whores that they will have to deal with more Debt. Make it a cash only business, and watch the crowds disappear.


I didn't do it! I swear!!

+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 8:33 PM

Or they could simply charge more a la carte for more popular rides. Maybe charge ten bucks for a line cut on MF, GK or TTD, seven bucks for Raptor, say four bucks for Maxair or Skyhawk, and only a buck for bumper cars or Rub-a-Dub Tub.

As this might be confusing for guests, you could even organize these passes in different tiers. Maybe call the most minor rides the 'A' tier, while...

Anyway, you get the general idea.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

+1Loading
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:13 PM
Timber-Rider's avatar

They are already started to do exactly what you are saying, Ensign Smith, by having Premium Fast Lane, which includes all the rides, along with Gate Keeper, and Top Thrill Dragster, which are excluded from regular Fast lane. Which would probably explain why Gate Keeper had a 20 minute Fast Lane line vs the 45 minute Fast Lane line at Millennium Force, and the line at Maverick. I would bet, that they will find another way to get more money out of people, by coming up with passes, based on various rides popularity.

Maybe, regular Fast Lane, Gold Fast Lane, and Platinum Fast Lane. Though with so many people using these wristbands, it has to be hell for the ride operators, to keep track of who can get in line for what. I think a ticket system would be better, and just remove rides from the ticket passes, where the tickets might not be needed. And, give guests that buy the tickets a ride list, of what is included, so they can plan what they want to ride and when.

Michigan's Adventure also has fast lane, but there are only certain rides in the park where it can be used. Some of the rides with the longest wait times in the park are not included in fast lane. Those being the Funnel of Fear, and other rides in the water park. The Funnel of Fear typically has the longest wait time of any ride in the park, at times over 2 hours. The next longest being for Grand Rapids, and the Wildcat.

When I was on ST on Sunday, I overheard the ride op, and the queue operator discussing the count of fast lane riders at only 17. Fast Lane folks at MA get an awesome deal, because they don't wait for anything, which is really needed for mad mouse, loggers run, and the Wildcat, which easily had 40 minutes for Mad Mouse and Loggers Run, and maybe close to 2 hours for the Wildcat with people waiting outside the Queue when I was there on Sunday. One reason, why I didn't ride any of them.


I didn't do it! I swear!!

+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:36 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

Yep. The balance is the key.

That's sort of what you end up dealing with here. Crowds so big that it starts to affect the enjoyment (and desire to return) of your customers.

it's not an unreasonable approach to raise prices to find the point where you can serve less people, make them happier and do equal (or better) business in the process.

Yeah, I can agree with that. I think I just misinterpreted what had been said. When Rollergator wanted to increase the admission price to $100, I figured he wanted to make most days like Sundays in October. This doesn't seem reasonable to me. However, I hadn't put much consideration to the thought that the crowds may be getting to the point that it's affecting the level of satisfaction. If that is the case, then maybe they need to reduce the crowds some.

With regards to what Ensign said, perhaps a pay per ride option would be the best approach, especially for the bigger rides. Right now, with the Fastlane implementation, I'll bet they don't sell any to Starlight admissions. If they went to a pay-per-ride approach, they would expand their potential customer base some.

Last edited by 0g, Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:39 PM
+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 9:45 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Mathematically speaking, if people are staying home because the park is too crowded, the price is too low. If people aren't buying fast lane because its lines are still too long, the price is too low.

You can increase both of these prices and still have the same number of people buy or increase further and break even but decrease crowds, making for happier customers.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 11:06 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Honestly, I don't see why they just don't go Disney style with both the enormity of the admission price as well as the line-skipping option. It lowers crowds and it also prevents you from having a line-skipping system where everybody uses the benefits on the same three rides over and over.

That is the beauty of Fastpass. Each ride only has x number of available uses which can be determined based on demand and capacity. Cedar Point's old hand-stamp system was also great in this regard. You had to decide which lines you wanted to skip and you could only skip each of the two one time apiece. It was also great in that everybody got a chance to use it, but even discounting that, you couldn't have everybody get Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster. If you got those two, you were lucky, but odds are you'd get one and then one of B&Ms as your second pick.

I think that's my main issue with Fastlane and Flashpass. Everybody could use it over and over again on the same ride, eternally bogging it down. What's more, you can use the living daylights out of those systems (Flashpass with the higher tiers and Fastlane on the rides where it actually eliminates waiting altogether) and it creates an almost artificial increase in demand because you're not only eliminating waits (or respectable chunks of them), you're also adding a whole lot of extra riding. That makes the whole problem compound upon itself.

Then there's the whole tier system, which I think makes the entire program look stupid. What if I was in a family of four that scrounged up just enough to afford regular Fastlane only to find out that Top Thrill Dragster and GateKeeper cost even more on top of it. Nearly four hours of my day will be wasted because I can't drop the extra $$$ to add those two rides. Given that Maverick is packing in a half-an-hour Fastlane wait and Millennium Force a staggering forty-five minutes, I could effectively eat up half (or more) of my day just getting one lap on each unless I rob somebody for the extra money to go to Fastlane Plus.

I could always up the cost and reduce the number of users of the system, but at that point, including it and the admission to get into the park, I suddenly find myself on the doorstep of the VIP program.

I'm not opposed to pay-to-skip programs, but I think that limiting it to the VIP experiences and implementing a Fastpass-style system in conjunction with an increased (or dynamic based on demand) gate price is the best approach to take for overall guest satisfaction. As silly as it sounds, I just don't think the system works effectively at Cedar Point. I think Disney got it right, and they didn't even have the benefit of really learning from anyone else since they pretty much pioneered it.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

+1Loading
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 11:14 PM

I've said the same thing about Disney before, and done of you guys disagreed with me. SirloinDude is 164% correct :)

+0
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 11:24 PM

Not to beat a dead horse, but I wonder when parking fees will finally equal these cheap admission rates? In some cases it's already close...

+0
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 12:48 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

sirloindude said:

I'm not opposed to pay-to-skip programs, but I think that limiting it to the VIP experiences and implementing a Fastpass-style system in conjunction with an increased (or dynamic based on demand) gate price is the best approach to take for overall guest satisfaction. As silly as it sounds, I just don't think the system works effectively at Cedar Point. I think Disney got it right, and they didn't even have the benefit of really learning from anyone else since they pretty much pioneered it.

I'm not sure anyone really thinks about how insanely monitored, controlled, researched and implemented FastPass is.

Quite frankly, no one outside of Disney probably has the resources available to do it as well - which is why at Cedar Fair you get a cute little wristband and a pat on the ass while they say, "Have at it, Junior. Ride as much as you'd like." Seriously, think about it. It's the kind of set-up the average 12 year old would come up with if given the assignment. It's the friggin' stone age compared to what Disney does with queue management.


+0
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 7:18 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

And because of that I'm sure it will evolve. You know there have to be FastLane buyers that are complaining about 30 to 45 minute waits, so I would expect CF to look at that and see what they can do to fix it or improve the system. I don't know what the solution is, whether it's increasing the price, limiting the number of rides, or some combination of both, but I doubt they're done tweaking it.

+0
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 8:36 AM
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

I found a way to tweak Fastlane.

Now where's my check?

~Rob

+2Loading
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 8:36 AM

I really don't think that having fastlane included with admission option is the way to go, at least from a business perspective. They have shown that there is a significant portion of their customer base willing to pay more for a better experience. It just doesn't make sense from a business perspective to just eliminate that.

Now, that said, it seems to me that people are paying for the fastlane primarily for Millennium and Maverick, as those are the only ones I have seen with a significant line. Those also happen to be some of the lowest capacity coasters in the park, at least when compared to Raptor and Magnum. If Raptor and Magnum had the same fastlane demand that Millennium and Maverick have, this wouldn't be as big of a deal because they have the capacity to take fastlane without slowing regular too much.

Last edited by 0g, Wednesday, August 7, 2013 8:36 AM
+1Loading
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:17 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Millennium has low capacity? I haven't been in about 8 years, but how is this remotely possible?

That said, the more I think I about it, the more I wonder if the long standby lines are simply a result of the FastLane implementation. Like, perhaps the standby line would be reasonable except 25% of the seats are going to FastLane people who have probably ridden the ride 3 times already.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

+2Loading
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:23 AM
sirloindude's avatar

Well, I'd be curious to see what would happen if TTD and GateKeeper were placed under the regular program and Millennium Force and Maverick became the new rides on the plus program. I doubt GateKeeper's demand would sky-rocket, but I'd have to wonder if TTD would get a massive Fastlane line (it didn't seem too bad while I was there).

Gonch, I completely understand that Disney has massive amounts of research driving their system, but that's why I brought up the old hand-stamp system, which I thought worked beautifully.

0g, what I'm saying is that if you have too much demand, I feel that you're underselling the gate price. I believe there's a happy medium where you can pick up a lot of the money, if not more than you're getting now, from Fastlane by jacking up the gate price to a more reasonable level instead.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

+0
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:37 AM
Bakeman31092's avatar

I don't know what specific interval the MF crew targets, but the lift takes about 22 seconds and the ride lasts roughly one minute. When they are on top of it they are sending a train out the door just as another is hitting the brakes, so call the interval 1:30. That's 40 trains per hour, and if you average 34 riders per train, that's 1360 riders/hour.

One issue with MF's FastLane is that the merge point is at the bottom of the ramp, so the wait will always be at least 10 to 15 minutes.

+0
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:35 AM

ApolloAndy said:

That said, the more I think I about it, the more I wonder if the long standby lines are simply a result of the FastLane implementation. Like, perhaps the standby line would be reasonable except 25% of the seats are going to FastLane people who have probably ridden the ride 3 times already.

I was at Cedar Point this past Thursday. I got in line around 9:45 and told my brother "I really hope we make it past the Fast Lane merge point before 10". We didn't, and the line slowed to a crawl until we got to the Fast Lane merge point. We made it to the merge point around 10:20 and had the following exchange with the attendant:

Me: How many Fast Lane folks do you let through at a time?

Attendant: It's about 50% (Fast Lane)/50% (standby). It depends on how long the Fast Lane line is. If the (Fast Lane) line is really short we'll let everyone in the Fast Lane line through first to keep their wait times down.

Me: Is that split the same for all Fast Lane rides?

Attendant: Depends on the ride. For Top Thrill, Maverick and Gatekeeper it'll run about 50/50.

A 50% Fast Lane/50% standby percentage allocation is WAY too high. That's also the primary reason the standby queues at the Point this year on the more popular rides are longer than they have been in the past. The issue that Cedar Point has is that if they skew the percentages back towards standby riders the Fast Lane queues will get much longer and the value perception drops.

The only solution IMO is for them to raise the price of Fast Lane. Remember the early days of Fast Lane when you could get it as low as $30 per person? They've just about doubled the price across the board, added a Plus version and the long Fast Lane wait problem still exists at the more popular rides, particularly at Maverick and Millennium Force. It seems as though Cedar Point is reluctant to break the $100 barrier for psychological reasons, but they're clearly not having problems selling passes at the moment so why not up the price?

As far as going to Lo-Q...forget it anytime soon. Cedar Fair is keeping every cent of the Fast Lane profits right now, and I'd be hard-pressed to believe they're going to want to split those profits with anyone, particularly given their debt situation.

My solution...(1) Cut the supply of the Fast Lane bands down to a more manageable number, say around 5% of the forecasted attendance that day (remember, Cedar Fair allots up to 20% of the forecasted attendance for Fast Lane usage right now). (2) Raise the price up to $100 per person with no per person discounts. The other option I kicked around was having a daily Fast Lane ride limit on Millennium Force and Maverick like they did last year with Volcano at KD (2 rides per person).

Long Fast Lane queues suck for everyone. I would be willing to shell out cash for Fast Lane once a year, but I would absolutely not do it now given what I saw on my visits this year and based on reports of Fast Lane lines so far this week. The value isn't there right now and they have to address that before things improve on either side of the ledger.

+1Loading
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 12:06 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Gary Dowdell said:

A 50% Fast Lane/50% standby percentage allocation is WAY too high.

Is it? Why?

I don't necessarily disagree, but I can't give one good reason I might feel that way.

Doesn't Disney give larger percentages of capacity to FastPass on certain rides and attractions?


+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2021, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...