Does Amusement Park Food Have to Be Low-Quality?

Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:32 PM

All the anecdotal evidence in the world doesn't cancel this:

"Cedar Fair generated net revenues of $275.6 million in the second quarter of 2010...For the same period last year, the Company reported net revenues of $264.1 million..."

Granted, that says nothing about from who, what or where the money comes, but that's not exactly the kind of thing that indicates you're out of line with the overall pricing of your product.

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EDIT - Let me just point out that I tend to agree to some degree. CF food pricing is not a good value for the most part.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:35 PM
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Friday, August 13, 2010 2:31 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
Because the absolute lowest amount you can spend to visit Disney World ($82 + parking) is double what you pay to visit any given CF park.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Aren't you the same guy that gives the yearly lecture on "nobody visits Disney for just one day?"

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Friday, August 13, 2010 2:44 AM

Yeah, but more days cost a higher total amount. It's a different discussion.

The absolute lowest dollar amount you can spend to set foot in Disney World is $82 + parking.

You can spend less per day or hedge the value in other ways, but you'll be paying more than that ($82+) in total.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 3:00 AM

You also have to remember that each new attraction at Disney cost's a hell of a lot more than that 20 million $$ coaster at cedarpoint. So that voids the "well it cost's more to get into Disney" argument.

Expidition everest, cost Disney 100 million to build. Millennium force cost cedarpoint 25 million to build.

Last edited by crazy horse, Friday, August 13, 2010 3:01 AM
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Friday, August 13, 2010 3:14 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
All the anecdotal evidence in the world doesn't cancel this:

"Cedar Fair generated net revenues of $275.6 million in the second quarter of 2010...For the same period last year, the Company reported net revenues of $264.1 million..."

Granted, that says nothing about from who, what or where the money comes, but that's not exactly the kind of thing that indicates you're out of line with the overall pricing of your product.

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EDIT - Let me just point out that I tend to agree to some degree. CF food pricing is not a good value for the most part.

The increase in revenue was due to an increase in attendance, despite a decrease in per cap, no? I will agree that we don't know exactly where the drop in per cap came from-- less people buying food; more people coming in buses and fewer cars, therefore less parking; more discounted tickets being sold; less spent on souvenirs or games.

But I would hope they'd want to increase the per cap, and perhaps raise it by improving the quality of their food offerings since it's been a persistent and wide-spread complaint for some time now.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:13 AM

crazy horse said:
You also have to remember that each new attraction at Disney cost's a hell of a lot more than that 20 million $$ coaster at cedarpoint. So that voids the "well it cost's more to get into Disney" argument.

Expidition everest, cost Disney 100 million to build. Millennium force cost cedarpoint 25 million to build.

If we weren't oversimplifying it too much already, you just went to a place I'm not comfortable going. Flat out, it's not that simple. I can't even begin to explain why that doesn't work that way.

RatherGoodBear said:

But I would hope they'd want to increase the per cap, and perhaps raise it by improving the quality of their food offerings since it's been a persistent and wide-spread complaint for some time now.

It's been a persistant complaint...on enthusiast forums.

It's a widespread complaint by anyone who's paid way too much for marginal offerings at venues across the country and has been for as long as I've been old enough to notice such things.

In other words, it's business as usual. Stuff is overpriced in situations where you have a corner on the market. Food in amusement parks is often one of those situations. Food in an amusement park at the end of a long causeway on a penninsula jutting into Lake Erie is definitely one of those situations.

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Again, let me point out that I tend to agree that the food is overpriced crap.

But it is nearly everywhere and the idea that the cost/quality ratio of the food is going to do more damage than continue to annoy people is where you lose me.

CF, SF or whoever isn't going under because their food seems to cost a lot for what you get.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 8:54 AM

CF, SF or whoever isn't going under because their food seems to cost a lot for what you get.

Exactly. The problems they both had or have seems to be from taking on too much debt at one time and struggling to manage it.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 2:10 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

crazy horse said:
You also have to remember that each new attraction at Disney cost's a hell of a lot more than that 20 million $$ coaster at cedarpoint. So that voids the "well it cost's more to get into Disney" argument.

Expidition everest, cost Disney 100 million to build. Millennium force cost cedarpoint 25 million to build.

If we weren't oversimplifying it too much already, you just went to a place I'm not comfortable going. Flat out, it's not that simple. I can't even begin to explain why that doesn't work that way.

Well when people are saying that it cost's a lot more to get into disney than it does an amusement park, how can they overlook the fact that Disney drops HUGE coin on new attractions? The money does not grow on trees, so with the lower food cost's inside the park, they would have to be getting the money to be building these attractions from somewhere. My guess is that they are getting it at the gate.

I know they still make lot's of money on the food in the park, but the quality is much better than what you would find at any cedarfair park.

I just think that the "well it cost's more" argument is weak. Not to mention, Disneys overhead is probaly 1000x more than what cedarfairs is.:)

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Friday, August 13, 2010 2:52 PM

crazy horse said:
I just think that the "well it cost's more" argument is weak. Not to mention, Disneys overhead is probaly 1000x more than what cedarfairs is.:)

If you're going to force me to play preschool economics then...

Disney's resorts probably make a million gazillion bajillion times what CF's do. (and that's a big number)

Seriously, stop and look at your examples of good food/pricing and your examples of bad food/pricing. Notice how the parks on one side of that comparison (Disney, Busch) seem to operate one way and the parks on the other side (CF and SF parks) another way? The comparison between Disney World and a Cedar Fair park is about as apple-and-oranges as you can get.

We can go back and forth all day making up numbers about bits and pieces of the overall business model, but it doesn't matter.

Cedar Fair's prices are too high because Disney World's are lower is not a valid argument.

Besides, I seem to remember having at least two meals at WDW the last time we visited that clocked in well north of $100 for 4 people. I'm not sure I could do that at a CF park if I tried. ;)

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Friday, August 13, 2010 3:20 PM

But was your $25 meal better than what you would get at a cedarfair park for $25?:)

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:15 PM

I wonder if people actually go to guest relations of CP and complain about bad food/service? And I really wonder what their responses are? I have seen the guest relations people at work a couple of times and I thought they were basically rude to the people. But, maybe I caught them on a bad day.

Basically, I feel that the poor food quality is what it is and will not change untill enough people don't eat at the parks anymore. But honestly is that gonna happen.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:31 PM

Well, DK is right that "people gotta eat," but to me that means you're basically aiming for people to eat the bare minimum necessary to continue breathing. If the food were better, they could get people like me to eat more snacks or larger meals rather than being so stingy, and we might even shell out for a soft drink instead of getting the free thimble of water. I really like CP's hot-dog-on-a-stick, so I'm willing to pay their price for it, but the same cannot be said of burgers, pizza, and tacos that are no better (and sometimes worse) than what I could get any other day of the week elsewhere.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:35 PM

Hot-dog-on-a-stick, or corndog? The only good corndog I've ever had is sold at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with Knotts a close second.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:36 PM

The whole "people gotta eat" mentality is wrong. People HAVE to eat, but that doesn't mean you HAVE to serve poor quality food. The parks that get by with it get by with it because they're charging a huge convienience tax on the food.

Outside of CoasterStock, I've ate at Carowinds three times this year, had the same thing 2 times and fries the other, and overpaid. Just like most everyone else. But I do believe there is a point where food quality gets bad enough that people will start leaving parks that have places to eat off property. CF nor SF have gotten to that point yet.

Doesn't mean I agree with it, but that's the way it is.

On that note, the junk food that they serve usually isn't bad quality. The Cinnabons aren't bad, and I had a supreme ice cream funnel cake at Carowinds last October and it was great.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Friday, August 13, 2010 4:38 PM
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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:45 PM

Hot-dogs-on-a-stick and corn-dogs are probably two of the only foods I can think of off the top of my head that are nearly impossible to screw up.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:47 PM

birdhombre said:
If the food were better, they could get people like me to eat more snacks or larger meals rather than being so stingy, and we might even shell out for a soft drink instead of getting the free thimble of water.

Your lack of purchasing is potentially made up (and then some) by someone like me who does pay the high prices and not limit my purchase just because of the bumped up costs.

And raising the quality of the food doesn't account for the people, for example, who wouldn't buy a $10 burger no matter how high the quality.

If it were as simple as so many of us try to make it seem, all parks would just use the same magic formula and make a killing while keeping guests happy.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, August 13, 2010 4:48 PM
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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:53 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
The comparison between Disney World and a Cedar Fair park is about as apple-and-oranges as you can get.

This is not any more of a justification for the way things are than, "Well so and so does it this way, so should we." People are always so quick to explain why it's not a fair comparison, but people are doing it anyway, so apparently it's valid to a lot of people.

I tend to believe it's fair and correct to compare the two since they're both places I spend discretionary dollars. I consistently don't feel like I get amusement/theme/resort bang for the buck in Cedar Fair parks, but feel like I do at Disney or Universal. So I spend more in those places and feel that I'm not getting value at The Fair. That's a real, tangible net result of my experience. I do compare them, and I'm sure others do as well, so I don't see how being fair or what other people think has anything to do with it. It's a real concern that they need to pay attention to: "Why are we perceived as a poor value proposition?"

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:55 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Your lack of purchasing is potentially made up (and then some) by someone like me who does pay the high prices and not limit my purchase just because of the bumped up costs.

Except that potential is not met when per caps go down, as we've predicted they would for several years now. If you treat it as a single dimension of the business, and ignore the people you may annoy to come less frequently, or those who do return spend less, you're making poor business decisions.

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Friday, August 13, 2010 4:56 PM

^^You mean there isn't a magic formula for success!? Damn!

Oh yeah, ;)

Last edited by tambo, Friday, August 13, 2010 4:56 PM
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Friday, August 13, 2010 5:02 PM

Part of the whole park experiance for me, includes the food. It's right up there with rides and shows. I expect to pay more for food when I go to a park, so if that $10 burger is delicious, than there is no issue. But when that $10 burger tastes like a hockey puck, than I am gonna be pissed.

When I go to a park, I base my opinion of the park on 4 things...

1. Atmosphere

2.Rides/ attractions/ shows

3.Food

4.Employees/and how clean the park is.

I am sure people rate/ think of parks in a differant way, but I am just showing you how I do it.

That said, if a park has crappy food, it has lost 25% right there.

Last edited by crazy horse, Friday, August 13, 2010 5:05 PM
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