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

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 5:54 PM

But aren't we using the enthusiasts expected value rather than that of the general public? Paying for FL that provides a 45 minute wait isn't value to those folks who frequent special events with little to no lines, know when to visit parks to avoid crowds, etc. Is that true of the GP? There were apparently enough of the GP willing to fork over the $$ for FL and wait 45 minutes so as to create the 45 minute wait. Maybe they were ticked off and wouldn't have paid had they known what the actual wait would be. And maybe they complained to guest services on their way out of the park. Or maybe they thought the FL price was worth avoiding a standby line that was twice+ as long as what they waited? Increase the FL price and you lose some people who were buying today. Might increase your overall profits but it may not. Same is true of gate price. And we are talking about July and August which is the time period when I have seen numerous people on this site say over the years they would never go to Cedar Point because of the crowds.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:08 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Well, that's a good point too. We're using worst case scenario for our basis here.

I was at CP in June and didn't wait more than 20 or 25 minutes for anything...and those waits would have been MF and Maverick. No one was using Fast Lane. Based on my day instead of siloindude's, I'd say no one would pay $100 to get in.

Dynamic pricing to the rescue?


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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:31 PM

Sorry to break into this great discussion for a sec, but I need to clarify something, and either I'm wrong or something's changed.

One day last year I did FastLane and it was a big help. On MF the FL line didn't merge at the bottom of the ramp as mentioned several times above. We had our own entrance down the trail some and the line ended at the platform next to the operators booth. It was great, and I thought it was the best application of FL in the park as no one else was really aware we were cutting. It was a busy day at the park, but the FL line was short or non existent, so when it was time to admit riders from the queue we always went first. It was ideal for seat selection, too. Anyway, there was no 15 to 20 minute wait from the ramp as mentioned and I wonder what's up?

Also, sirloindude, I thought the old stamp system was terrible. I remember confusion when a roll cart showed up early morning and people tried to figure out how to get in line. I also remember showing up myself a little late thinking it was all good only to find a 30 minute line for the stamp! Then our time was so far out in the day we wondered if we would even still be at the park then. Or if it might be raining. Some of those folks were pretty angry too after they waited in line all that time to find out the stamp times were used up and the line was cut off.
I much prefer FL the way it is.

Sorry for the intrusion here, I've been busy watching that other thread, and things seem to be moving very quickly here. Thank you. Resume.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:35 PM

They chaged the MF Fast Lane line this year. Last year it did come up under the station toward the front part of the train. This year you come up the ramp.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:39 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Oh yeah. Charging $100 on a day when the place is likely to be dead is pretty silly. Dynamic pricing is the way to go in my opinion.

Odd, though, because you're still paying more to do less. Pay fifty dollars to power-ride or one hundred for moderate forty-five minute waits.


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

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:46 PM

GoBucks89 said:
They chaged the MF Fast Lane line this year. Last year it did come up under the station toward the front part of the train. This year you come up the ramp.

Dammit.
Ok. Thank you.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:51 PM

This is exactly why I spend most of my theme park visits at King's Island instead of Cedar Point. I live directly in between the two parks, and while I know Cedar Point has better rides, I always seem to have a better time at King's Island.

Jeph hit it right on the head, if you are looking for low waits the Sunday after Labor day weekend (usually the day of the triathlon) is the time to go. Usually good weather and walk on's for most rides - the only time I've seen Maverick without a line.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:51 PM

There are always creative solutions. I'll let you call in the bomb scare next week.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 7:40 PM

But....but...


The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist

http://support.gktw.org/site/TR/CoastingForKids/General?px=1248054&...fr_id=1372

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 8:04 PM

ApolloAndy said:

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

While waiting in the station, I clocked out how long it took from when a train dispatched until the light on the co-dispacth station started blinking for the next train. I found that to be 100 seconds. At most, 36 dispatches per hour, with 36 people so about 1300 people (1296 to be exact). Magnum has an interval of about 80 seconds, again with 36 people, so it can take 1620 people per hour.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 9:08 PM
sirloindude's avatar

1300 people per hour is actually pretty darn good, in my opinion. Not Magnum-esque, but still pretty darn good.


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

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 10:34 PM

I fully support a dynamic pricing for the Fastlane. First, no more than 20% of a ride's capacity should be given to Fastlane. At that point, a 1 hour wait would become 1:15, which I bet most people wouldn't even notice. With the current implementation, the 1 hour wait becomes 2 hours. I think they have shown that Fastlane is drastically underpriced, on the busy days anyway. At that point, the Fastlane people are upset because they paid extra for a long wait, and the normal people are upset because of a 2 hour wait.

I'm not yet convinced that a significant raise in price with dynamic pricing at the gate is the best way to proceed. If your not careful, you could end up with an underpants gnomes business model. :-)

Phase 1: Implement dynamic pricing

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: PROFIT!

First, I doubt many of the "normal" people would complain about an hour wait for the big rides (Millennium, Maverick, Dragster). But would complain about a 2+ hour wait. If Fastlane were implemented better, except on the most busy days, I bet they won't get over an hour and a half.

The other thing that concerns me, is that many people see the ads for Cedar Point all summer, and figure they wanna go at some point. Then, when you get to August, and there are only a few weeks left, people figure this is the last chance to get there, pack up and go. Most people probably don't pay much attention to the price before they get there. I would hate to see a price model where people drive 4 hours to get there, only to find that the price is double what it was the year before, and can't afford to get in. Fastlane, on the other hand, is an add on perk, that you don't really need to enjoy a nice day at the park. I think it is possible to cater to everyone. You just need to make sure the Fastlane is only available to a much smaller portion of the park guests.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:20 PM
Timber-Rider's avatar

Yeah, but Timber-Rider, if the Cedar Point prices increase, the executives don't eat the tourists.

I knew someone would say that eventually. The executives may not be eating the tourists, but they sure are spending a lot of time devouring the money in their wallets. So, they are doing some very painful munching! LOL!!


I didn't do it! I swear!!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013 11:59 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I think there's some over focusing on the ratio. If you cut out the amount of demand for fastlane rides, the ratio becomes moot. (See VIP, QBot). Clearly, whatever day this, both the gate and FastLane were underpriced.

Does it make sense that one day would be $100 and packed to the gills and another day would be $50 and all walk ons? Absolutely. The cost of getting to the park isn't just the amount of money you have to fork over. Otherwise crowds would be evenly distributed across all days. Taking off work, pulling the kids out of school, making a long weekend out of it all factor into the cost of a "trip to Cedar Point" and if the park is full, the total cost ($ at the gate plus all the intangibles) isn't high enough. If the park is empty, the cost is too high. Cedar Point only has control over one of the variables in the cost equation, though, and it's the $ at the gate.


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."

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 12:41 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

0g said:

I fully support a dynamic pricing for the Fastlane. First, no more than 20% of a ride's capacity should be given to Fastlane. At that point, a 1 hour wait would become 1:15, which I bet most people wouldn't even notice. With the current implementation, the 1 hour wait becomes 2 hours. I think they have shown that Fastlane is drastically underpriced, on the busy days anyway. At that point, the Fastlane people are upset because they paid extra for a long wait, and the normal people are upset because of a 2 hour wait.

Nothing about this math is correct.


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Thursday, August 8, 2013 1:21 AM
rollergator's avatar

Gonch is 116.3762% correct.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 3:51 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

If the waits are longer - at some point shouldn't that in itself be a deterrent for more people getting in line? (on paper, at least) I mean seriously, who are these people paying $60 to wait 45 minutes in line?

On paper, absolutely. But I think you're overestimating the intellect of the average park guest. Not many of them see a long line and think "that will take exactly 1 hour, 23 minutes, and 47 seconds," particularly if they've paid for a system that's supposed to "speed" them through the lines. They're (both fast lane users and "standby" users) much more likely to just wait all day, and then complain about it afterwards. Or worse yet, just not return or not purchase FL again.

I think the problem with a 50/50 split is at that point you're likely pissing off people in both lines. If FL lines are long enough to justify that, then they're probably longer than an upcharge system should be. You're also making your standby lines move that much slower. While it's only anecdotal evidence, I've heard many "average" guests complaining this year about the lines moving much more slowly than they can ever remember. They may not necessarily realize it's due to FL, but they do realize they're able to ride less than they used to.

FL pricing should absolutely be dynamic, and it should be much higher than it currently is for peak season. The solution of making some rides an add on at $x per ride sounds good, except that if FL users are waiting 30-60 minutes for a ride, they probably aren't riding more than once anyway.


And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

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Thursday, August 8, 2013 4:28 AM
LostKause's avatar

50% standby to 50% Fastlane? That is the perfect example of how the solution to the problem is making the problem worse, which creates higher demand for the solution. It's a vicious circle, and a scam, in my opinion.

Cedar Point should charge a lot more for Fastlane, and/or just allow less to be sold, so that it is practically unnoticeable to the people who don't buy it. Allowing the stand-by wait to be twice as long makes visiting the park an absolutely terrible value.

These descriptions of how pay-to-cut is implemented at Cedar Point is exactly what I have been ranting about over the years. I simply do not want to visit a park that forces me to wait twice as long if I do not buy the expensive add-on. The park loses my business. Once other people catch on to how poorly Cedar Point's Fastlane is being implemented, perhaps that backlash that we admittedly haven't seen yet will someday occur.

Of course, poor value can be avoided by knowing when to go and how to traverse through the park. Work smarter and not harder. Also, this dynamic pricing idea would be a great way to thwart the terrible crowds as well.


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Thursday, August 8, 2013 11:55 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

LostKause said:

I simply do not want to visit a park that forces me to wait twice as long if I do not buy the expensive add-on.

It's not really working that way.

The stand-by line isn't doubling. And this is only an issue on a couple of rides - not park-wide.

Where this seems to be failing miserably is that on those rides where the problem occurs both people who did and didn't purchase the expensive add-on are waiting unusually long times. I'd actually argue that by not buying into the expensive add-on, you're getting less screwed than the people who did.


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Thursday, August 8, 2013 12:13 PM

I haven't worked out the entire scenario to confirm, but I was starting to think the same thing about Monday. We got in 14 rides and a show. Using the $45 and $60 figures you tossed out earlier, we spent $3 per attraction.

To get the same cost per attraction ratio, we'd have had to fit 35 attraction/rides into that same 12 hour window of operation that day. On a couple of things we clearly could have benefited from Fastlane, but to that degree? I don't know.

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