Editorial: Paid line skipping a lesson opportunity for kids

Posted Friday, June 27, 2014 9:35 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the piece:

Theme parks, smelling money, now make it easy for parents to pay more to avoid the sweaty lines that can bring out the worst in children. But what lessons do kids learn when some of them march past the others to board the rides without waiting?

Read more from The New York Times.

Friday, June 27, 2014 2:34 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

So, would the old way of riding amusement park rides -- buying ride tickets which would be given to the ticket taker at each ride ridden -- also be unfair to those who couldn't afford a large number of tickets? Did Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom unfairly stigmatize lower income guests by making the most popular attractions "E tickets", limiting the number of times some people could enjoy them?

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, June 27, 2014 2:51 PM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, June 27, 2014 2:52 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RC Madness said:

Quote me as much as you like if that helps Gonch.

Oh, I will.

Not sure what your complaint about the 'complainers' is all about. I'm actually doing your job for you. Line cutting enthusiasts need to convince the masses not to buy in, right? Think about it...

The market regulates itself. The nature of the product ensures everyone won't buy in.

Unfortunately, it doesn't ensure people won't be out of touch and unreasonable about it in online forums.

Honestly, I'd rather see this crowd-thinning happen at the gate. Raise the gate, lower the crowds, everyone wins - except those that can't afford it, I suppose - then again, that's sort of how it already works. People buy things they can afford.

If you can't afford to go to the park you don't ride. If you can't afford FOL access you wait in a line. If you can't afford an upcharge, you don't ride it. If you can't afford ride tickets, someone else may buy more and get more rides than you. It's really not a mystery. This is how the economy works. Money is exchanged for good and services. You tend to receive more (in either quantity or quality) for giving more.

I guess I don't understand what the complaint is at this point. That you can't justify buying a higher tier of experience? That others can? That tiers exist? That you perceive it as line cutting? That it forces both the haves and the have-nots to each acknowledge the existence of the other? That the world isn't fair?

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, June 27, 2014 5:20 PM
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Friday, June 27, 2014 3:03 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

What Gonchar said, especially the second-to-last paragraph.

The argument against paying for front of line access makes about as much sense to me as complaining it's unfair that some people get to eat at Cedar Point's Bay Harbor, while others 'have' to pack a lunch in the car.

You get what you want to pay for.

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, June 27, 2014 3:07 PM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, June 27, 2014 4:28 PM
Pete's avatar

LostKause said:

I suspect that if you are making $100K a year, or whatever, it's nothing to pay to cut in front of everyone else. When you make 15 or $20K a year, it's harder to come up with the extra money, and so you see the issue differently.

When you only make $15K per year, policies at theme parks is probably the least of your worries.

This whole argument is pointless because with most things in life, those with more money are able to buy the nicer things. Doesn't really matter if it is a bigger boat, luxury car, five star restaurant or premium theme park admission. The whole theme park argument stems from the time period when Fast Lane (or whatever) was unavailable. Everyone was forced to wait in the same line even if you had the desire to pay more to wait less. This is just a natural progression of things where parks found a way to take in more money while at the same time pleasing people who WANT to spend more money.

I am at Cedar Point a lot and normally don't buy Fast Lane because I can usually ride as much as I want during the slower days. I'm going to Toronto in a few weeks and I'll have 6 or 7 hours to visit Canada's Wonderland. You bet that I will buy a Fast Pass Plus to make the most of my visit. I'm glad it is available, the park is giving me the opportunity to pay more to have a much better experience at a park I've never been to. I think it is progress.

Last edited by Pete, Friday, June 27, 2014 4:29 PM

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

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Friday, June 27, 2014 5:31 PM
kpjb's avatar


Hi

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Friday, June 27, 2014 6:02 PM
rollergator's avatar

^WHY can't I have more than one vote? Seriously, awesomeness!

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Friday, June 27, 2014 6:57 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

I agree that this thread has been done before, and I too have softened to and accepted the inevitable.

But there is one major point that is being overlooked by everyone here regarding "tiered experiences." Almost all of the examples being used to justify tiered experiences are apples to oranges when compared to Fastlane.

First class airline passengers do not bump coach passengers back to a later flight. Everyones' plane still departs and lands at the same time.

Front row spectators at sports/concerts do not cause nosebleed seats to hear fewer songs, or miss an inning, merely see the same action from further away. The show still starts and ends at the same time.

5 star restaurant patrons do not make the wait longer at McDonalds.

Whether you drive a brand new Rolls Royce or an '87 Corolla, the space you take up on the road and your effect on the flow of traffic is the same. Only your mustard is different.

By contrast, with Fastlane, by joining the line near the front, you absolutely cause delay to the people waiting in the normal line. If you ride more rides using the FL system than you could have without it, then yes, you do. (If you ride the same, just spend the extra time elsewhere, then I guess not, but you're still standing in front of more people in shops, bathrooms, etc.

I stand by my stance that I do not like the system. I stand by my opinion that it is not fair. ("life's not fair..." Yes...duly noted.) But I suppose I have accepted it. And I will take advantage of it when necessary. I don't particularly *want* to visit Kings Dominion in mid July, but I promised my son I'd take him on Volcano, a ride he's obsessed with. Fastlane will help make what I only imagine would be a hellish, hot day with long lines go by much easier. Not to mention KD has a bad problem with line jumpers (the illegal kind) to begin with. If it were my home park, I'd wait until a fall weekend, but since that's not really doable during the schoolyear, we gotta do what we gotta do.

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Friday, June 27, 2014 7:12 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

As mentioned a million times before, you're right. There is no more "pay gate and get 20 minute wait times." There are now two choices "pay gate and get more than 20 minute wait times" or "pay gate plus a premium and get less than 20 minutes wait times." The absence of 20 minute wait times is not unfair (unless there was intentional misleading, which I think 10 years later cannot reasonably be argued). It's equivalent to them upping the price , staffing poorly, running less trains etc. Some of these may be terrible business ideas, but they're certainly not unfair.


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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Friday, June 27, 2014 7:12 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Tommytheduck said:

Almost all of the examples being used to justify tiered experiences are apples to oranges when compared to Fastlane.

I think you're looking at it wrong. In every one of your examples, the person paying less is getting a lesser experience - it's just not a time-based experience. You're arguing time waited vs quality of experience.

Using your examples, I'd argue that the ride is exactly the same regardless of how long you wait for it. We all get the same quality of ride regardless of how much we pay or how long we wait.

EDIT - I had a bit about the wait that was similar to Andy's, but he said it better than I've ever seen it said.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, June 27, 2014 7:15 PM
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Friday, June 27, 2014 7:31 PM
kpjb's avatar

If I had a choice of paying less for a concert ticket and either having to sit in nosebleed seats but see the show at the same time, or being up front and having to wait an extra 20 minutes for the exact same show to start, I'd pick the later time with equal experience.


Hi

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Friday, June 27, 2014 8:18 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

And people with season passes get into the park faster than people queued up buying tickets. Why should I have to wait longer to ride Banshee because season pass holders got in faster than I did and are delaying my chance to ride? :-)

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, June 27, 2014 8:31 PM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Friday, June 27, 2014 9:17 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

You raise great points Gonch and Andy, but I stand by my statement that these examples are apples and oranges. Everyone rides the same ride. But...

An amusement park is a "time based" experience as well. Everyone in my above examples will get the same quantity of product, at a lower quality, but in the same amount of time. (9 innings, 25 songs, a full meal, or a flight/drive from pt A to pt B.)

But an amusement park is different. In the FL vs poor schlub example, you get the same quality ride, but in a different quantity in a different amount of time. Lets say you can ride 10 rides in 10 hours without FL, or 10 rides in 5 hours with FL, that is much different. Paying more for a FL allows you the exact same hypothetical 10 ride experience in a much shorter time. Good for you.

But if FL didn't exist, perhaps those same 10 rides could be had by everyone in the park in 8 hours. So I say it again... Unlike the other examples, the premium FL experience is achieved at the expense of others. And that's why I don't like it. But...

I'm warming to it. As I said, I've used it once, and plan on using it again. I hate it when I'm waiting in a line and see FL jump in front of me. But at my home park of CP, I know better than to go on those days. And from here on out, when we take a trip to a far away park, where the option of waiting for a light day is gone, we will probably pay. Yes, we can afford it, but it's also in how we prioritize. Being coastertools, it's a higher priority for us and therefore worth the money. I'll pay for the good experience because I don't want to lose the appeal of the hobby. But I'm afraid that by doing so, I'm harming those whose experience I'm making worse while making my own better.

You guys will never change my mind on the fact that I'm hurting others to improve my own, but you guys have already changed my mind to help me justify it. So thanks! (not sarcasm) I guess I'm just another rich @$$#013 now. (sarcasm)

P.S.

Slithernoggin... Sprint faster. (hah!)

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Friday, June 27, 2014 9:20 PM
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Friday, June 27, 2014 11:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Tommytheduck said:

An amusement park is a "time based" experience as well. Everyone in my above examples will get the same quantity of product, at a lower quality, but in the same amount of time. (9 innings, 25 songs, a full meal, or a flight/drive from pt A to pt B.)

But an amusement park is different. In the FL vs poor schlub example, you get the same quality ride, but in a different quantity in a different amount of time.

Really interesting. Especially as I touched on the same thing already in a post 10 above yours:

Gonch said:

Money is exchanged for good and services. You tend to receive more (in either quantity or quality) for giving more.

So essentially we agree. When you pay more you get more - either in quality (as is the case with your tickets or airplane or automobile scenario) or in quantity (as is the case at the parks or with jellybeans).

You can't complain if you've chosen the less expensive option. You can't pay coach prices to fly first class, you can't pay peanut gallery prices for front row seats, you can't pay Ford prices for a Rolls Royce, you can't pay the basic gate price and expect shortened waits. No one is saying you can't buy the better option in any of those cases. You decide what you can afford and what has value to you. No one is a victim here in any of those cases...everyone has made a choice.

Lets say you can ride 10 rides in 10 hours without FL, or 10 rides in 5 hours with FL, that is much different. Paying more for a FL allows you the exact same hypothetical 10 ride experience in a much shorter time. Good for you.

But if FL didn't exist, perhaps those same 10 rides could be had by everyone in the park in 8 hours. So I say it again...

There's a lot of assumption there. You assume everyone gets the same amount of rides in a day. You assume the effect of the system on the number of rides each group can get. You assume number of rides is all that matters.

None of which are true.

Unlike the other examples, the premium FL experience is achieved at the expense of others. And that's why I don't like it.

You need to read Andy's post again.

I hate it when I'm waiting in a line and see FL jump in front of me.

Doesn't bother me one bit.

And for the record, I can count the amount of times I've paid for FOL access on one hand and one finger. Yep - about 6 times in the past 15 years.

I think people make assumptions based on my support. I tend to visit parks on light days or during events. On occassion we've had the stars align and we're in a place that we won't be back at for a while with long lines and we shell out. And even then, I'm not a power rider. I use it to avoid lines. If my choices are to stand in a slow, hot line or don't stand in a slow hot line - well, that's a no brainer. Honestly, for our park visiting style (rides aren't all that important) line skipping systems usually aren't worth it.


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Saturday, June 28, 2014 12:06 AM

When going to thrill parks I used to plan well. Got there when the park opened, hit the big rides before the crowds got too thick. Got out during the crush at around 2 or 3 in the afternoon then back till the park closes. If you are smart, you can avoid the big lines. But now you can be as stupid and oblivious about crowd flow as you want to be. Show up at 2 with your Flashpass, double peoples' waits in hot lines while being completely unaware of the issue.

It also encourages laziness for poor park management who see a profit in long lines. Which is why some quality parks don't need it. The badly managed parks tend to rely on it, just makes them worse. I don't see such systems ever leading to better amusement parks.

I really have no problem with most parks doubling their gate prices to thin overcrowding. I think what Disney has done with it's Fastpass is great as well. (If they are still doing it.) Everyone has the same opportunity for passes, but few do the planning to take full advantage. I have no problem cutting in front of those people. And few parks work harder to keep lines as short as possible.

I totally remember those Disney Park ticket packets. Could never figure out how to use all of them before leaving. But again the comparison suggests some of you don't get the issue cause everyone had the same access to tickets. Tommytheduck understands. It's like going out to dinner preparing to eat your steak when the table next to you pays extra to have it taken from your plate. It's not surprising that someone wants to take your steak. The shocker is the establishment that encourages the practice to turn a profit. For me part of the fun of going to parks is everyone gets to enjoy, not at the expense of others. Vacations are to take a break from the rat race, not to have it flaunted in front of you.

Stay in your fancy hotel, rent your hummer limo, I couldn't care less. But pay to have my family wait twice as long in line so your family doesn't have to be bothered with waits at all? Thats some bull*&^%!

Last edited by RC Madness, Saturday, June 28, 2014 12:28 AM
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Saturday, June 28, 2014 12:30 AM
Jeff's avatar

Tommytheduck said:

You raise great points Gonch and Andy, but I stand by my statement that these examples are apples and oranges.

This seems like the go-to position any time someone disagrees with some arbitrary comparison. However, if you can be a little more abstract, you're talking about some product being "better" because you paid more money for it. That's true whether you're talking about purchasing a luxury car (materials and quality), a first class plane ticket (more convenience and service) or a queue-cutting upsell (less waiting). They're all variations on better product for more money.

That's how I like dem apples.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Saturday, June 28, 2014 1:01 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

RC Madness said:

It also encourages laziness for poor park management who see a profit in long lines. Which is why some quality parks don't need it. The badly managed parks tend to rely on it, just makes them worse. I don't see such systems ever leading to better amusement parks.

Yeah, because offering poor service is exactly how you get people to keep coming back.

I think what Disney has done with it's Fastpass is great as well. (If they are still doing it.) Everyone has the same opportunity for passes, but few do the planning to take full advantage. I have no problem cutting in front of those people.

But again the comparison suggests some of you don't get the issue cause everyone had the same access to tickets.

Everyone has the same access to the FOL systems. There's usually mutliple booths that anyone can walk up to and purchase a pass. Just like they used to walk up and purchase tickets.

Not sure why money suddenly creates a lack of access, but time or planning doesn't.

The gate price, under that logic, creates a lack of access...but no one seems to complain about that.

I really have no problem with most parks doubling their gate prices to thin overcrowding.

But you have a problem with certain people paying double once inside the park to get preferred access?

So discrimination at the gate is good. But inside the gate it becomes bad.

And free systems are good because they discriminate on time or planning or luck as opposed to money?

You sure have a lot of arbitrary rules.

It's like going out to dinner preparing to eat your steak when the table next to you pays extra to have it taken from your plate.

It's nothing like that.

Stay in your fancy hotel, rent your hummer limo, I couldn't care less. But pay to have my family wait twice as long in line so your family doesn't have to be bothered with waits at all? Thats some bull*&^%!

1. Your wait isn't doubling. Not even close.

2. I'm not paying to make your wait longer (although I'll admit if I could that, in your case, I probably would). I'm paying to make mine shorter. You chose to pay the lower admission price and accept the longer waits. That doesn't make you a victim.

3. My hummer limo would get to park in those big spots that are usually close to the gate. Which means I'd probably get into the park quicker and get on rides faster than you who were forced to park in the standard sized spots several rows back. Even when I'm not affecting you, I really am...because if those parking spots didn't exist for my limo, your spot would have been closer.

And on a more serious note, #3 touches on a very real issue - the fact that your experience is affected indirectly ALL THE TIME by people with better access or more money or whatever. It's just that it's rarely as out in the open as it is with multiple lines for an attraction. Which, like I suggested before, is what I suspect some of the real issue is - that this sort of forces both the haves and the have-nots to acknowledge one another's existence and quit pretending. No one likes to be reminded that life isn't fair.


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Saturday, June 28, 2014 1:33 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

RC Madness said:

I totally remember those Disney Park ticket packets. Could never figure out how to use all of them before leaving. But again the comparison suggests some of you don't get the issue cause everyone had the same access to tickets.

And everyone has the same access to FOL systems.

Some people chose to spend the extra money to buy additional E tickets, allowing them to ride the major rides again and again, while 'forcing' those who did not buy additional E tickets to wait.

And some people choose to spend the extra money to buy FOL access, 'forcing' those who did not to wait.

You get what you're willing to pay for.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Saturday, June 28, 2014 1:55 AM

No, dead wrong, everyone can't buy in to FOL system. The only way pay to cut works is that there is always someone to cut in front of. They'll make a gold pass, an emerald pass, what ever they need to do to give someone else an advantage regardless of demand.

And Gonch, you're wrong. I've been in plenty of lines where the wait has doubled the waits times. Insane wait for Kingda Ka made way worse and Superman Bizarro as well. One hour waits easily turn into two because you pay to cut, you pay to have other's wait. That's the issue. Take your nice parking spot in front with your hummer limo. Parking in back is not an issue, they have trams for that even at Six Flags!

But you're right, the two lines highlights the issue that no one likes to be reminded that life isn't fair, especially at amusement parks. I'm there for the rides, not some richer dudes life lesson. I don't ride Alice in Wonderland so I can have the Mad Hatter remind me, "You know your boss is never going to give you that promotion."

Sure, this is a dead horse, a lame debate on cutting in line with those doing the cutting. The cutters like it cause it celebrates the discrepancy and the rest don't for that same reason. Go figure. I just prefer the parks that doesn't need such systems in place.

Last edited by RC Madness, Saturday, June 28, 2014 2:14 AM
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Saturday, June 28, 2014 1:59 AM
Rickrollercoaster's avatar

You either buy it or you don't. It's as simple as that. For the folks who did spend a little extra cash to make things more enjoyable, sure that's fine. I have my season passes to my favorite parks, some of them have line skipping opportunities and some don't. This is just one of those glass is half full; or half empty kind of things. Disney has probably the best integrated line skipping systems around. Its available for any guest that enters the park. Does that mean those who don't know about it, should throw a tantrum because they didn't "invest" in the system before hand? No, you learn from your experiences and move on from them. Maybe next time John Doe, or Jane Doe, whatever, will maybe spend a few extra dollars to avoid lines. Maybe they don't have problem with waiting (There's people out there. I'll occasionally do stand by sometimes to get some good looks at the detailed queues or get a break from constant walking.) These paid line skipping opportunities aren't a class war. They're a tool for those who want to experience the greatest trip they can possible. I still won't buy a Universal Express pass, does that mean I don't think others won't benefit from it? No! It's all on the guests preferences and it's unique to each trip. Complaining about these systems is pointless. They're making companies money, and they're actually a great marketing strategy.


"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." - Walt Disney
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Saturday, June 28, 2014 2:11 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

RC Madness said:

No, dead wrong, everyone can't buy in to FOL system.

First off, that should be everyone won't buy in to an FOL system. We're talking amusement parks here. No one needs to have a day at an amusement park in order to survive.

And everyone won't buy a season pass, and everyone won't buy season pass parking, and....

Having chosen to spend some of your discretionary income on admission to an amusement park, a purchase many people cannot afford, it just seems odd to me that you would turn around and complain that some people choose to spend some of their discretionary income on FOL access, a purchase some people choose not to make.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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