Flashpass prices at Great Adventure have gone through the roof

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 4:52 PM
rollergator's avatar

Jeff said:...I'd love to know more about the demographics of people buying premium access.

You and everyone selling "premium access." Sometimes us IT folks have the exact information people want, but then our bosses have an amazing inability to properly "market" the data.


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008 5:33 PM

The system will never die as long as they know that there are idiots out there willing to keep paying these prices.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008 6:56 PM
LostKause's avatar

Gonch, you keep saying that the system ""works". It may work by a business standpoint (maybe), but the way it is operated does NOT work. How many times before I quit visiting SF parks did I see and hear people in the "standby" line complaining and showing how fed up they were with flashpass with evil stares and middle fingers? The only time I bough flashpass I recieved a lot of negative remarks and vulgerity from those in the other line.

It does NOT work. Trains of flashpassers go out every toher time in some instances? That makes the regular line move very slow.

I know that people see it. I know that I feel that if I want to visit a SF park that I need flashpass in order to have what used to be a decent experience. They should have fixed the parks problems before ruining the experience for some of their gusets. Flashpass is not as good as you make it sound. The system makes the problem worse by pretending to fix it.

I'm one of those customers that the chain has lost.

Let me ask you, do you own stock in Lo-Q? We deserve to know givin your viewpoint on the subject.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008 7:45 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

LostKause said:
How many times before I quit visiting SF parks did I see and hear people in the "standby" line complaining and showing how fed up they were with flashpass with evil stares and middle fingers? The only time I bough flashpass I recieved a lot of negative remarks and vulgerity from those in the other line.

It's clear you haven't been to a SF park recently. That's the sort of thing that has changed. That's exactly what I was addressing when I said:

"I've been visiting the SF parks regularly since 2001 and the trend is acceptance and understanding towards the system and the idea - just the opposite of what the enthusiast crowd seems to predict."

It does NOT work. Trains of flashpassers go out every toher time in some instances? That makes the regular line move very slow.

Again, untrue as far as I can tell - certainly the exception at worst. The system does work - it just works in a way you don't like so you see it as a failure.

I know that people see it. I know that I feel that if I want to visit a SF park that I need flashpass in order to have what used to be a decent experience.

Again, you clearly haven't been to a SF park in years. Five years ago, I would have agreed 100%. Today, not even close.

Flashpass is not as good as you make it sound.

You got it exactly backwards again, it's not as bad as you make it sound. My last visit I paid $110 for my family to never wait more than 9 minutes to ride all day. At a park that I only get to once every few years, that's a steal - an absolute steal.

The system makes the problem worse by pretending to fix it.

You keep saying this, but it makes no sense. What is Q-bot 'fixing'? It's not fixing anything, nor do I think it was ever sold as a solution for something. It's simply a device that let's you not wait in line. For additional fees you can cut your wait by 75% as well as not wait in line. I'm not sure where you keep thinking it's meant to do anything else.

I'm one of those customers that the chain has lost.

And I'm one they've won over the years. Neither of us matter in the big scheme.

Let me ask you, do you own stock in Lo-Q? We deserve to know givin your viewpoint on the subject.

Nope. Just a satisfied customer.

Let me ask you, do you own stock in some competing technology? We deserve to know given your viewpoint on the subject. ;)

Seriously, I come off so strongly because I'm amazed at how many otherwise bright people seem to entirely miss the big picture on this one. The system is popular, profitable and a boon to guests and the parks alike. It doesn't matter if you like it or I like it or whatever weird scenario we manufacture. The reality is that it's a system that gets used, that people have become accustomed to seeing at the parks and that isn't going anywhere. I can't believe these discussions even take place anymore.


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Tuesday, October 28, 2008 9:35 PM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

Quoth LK: I'm one of those customers that the chain has lost.

And I'm one they've won over the years. Neither of us matter in the big scheme.

But in the "small scheme", SF has won. They got one happier patron who pays more (well, four actually) and lost one that wasn't as happy. Have to say, that sure sounds like a win for the company.

Lord Gonchar said:Quoth LK again: Let me ask you, do you own stock in Lo-Q? We deserve to know givin your viewpoint on the subject.

Nope. Just a satisfied customer.Let me ask you, do you own stock in some competing technology? We deserve to know given your viewpoint on the subject. ;)

I'd have responded with Bill Ayers, or Reverend Hagy, or Ted Stevens, given the proximity to electionday....hehe. Lord help me if the html embedded herein fails me, LOL.

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, October 28, 2008 9:36 PM

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:37 AM
LostKause's avatar

No Sir, I do not own stock in competing tech. I was just very curious on why you are always bunnies and lollipops when it comes to Lo-Q. :)

And I really do get what you are saying, I just disagree with some of it.

But come on, man; do I really have to explain again how "the system makes the problem worse while pretending to fix it"?

Quite simply, when people are waiting in more than one line at a time (regular flashpass), or not waiting at all (gold flashpass), the lines become longer. Flashpass is sold as a way to make lines shorter.

...And so I repeat, " The problem is made worse by the solution."

Even non-gold-botted-flashpass-users have to wait longer for their ride time to come.

And I don't know what CoasterBuzz you've been visiting lately, but I seem to hear all of the time about how poorly flashpass is run. This thread has some examples, but also take a look at the current "SFA buddy" thread. It sound to me like it is still broken.

Just to clarify, I don't see it as a failure, nor do I have some dismal prophecy of it's imminent demise. I do think that it ruins the park experience, I do see it as blackmail, and I do see it as a lousy way to treat your customers, but it's not a failure. If there was a way for customers to see how much shorter the line would be without it, I am confidant that it would start to fail.

Bill, valid points, but if you look at it the same way a retail store looks at this kind of thing, it doesn't seem so profitable. An unhappy ex-customer will spread his negative experiences with the business to a much greater extent than a happy customer. Marketing and bringing customers into the business is very costly. Winning them back is very costly too. (I know that you already know this.)

We don't really have the info to determine how many upset low paying customers they are losing and how many happy high paying customers they are keeping, but a clue be found from the flashpass price increase. It's the sweet spot we have been talking about.

Maybe the high demand for flashpass is because of it's need, and it's need because of the situation it has created. I think it'll be great if the price increase lowers how many people use it, but I'm not so sure that will happen.

As for profit (and success), I still say that people will just spend the money on flashpass than they were planning to spend on food, games, and t-shirts. This is not good for the park because Lo-Q gets half of the money intended to go into SF pockets.

Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:38 AM
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:45 AM

I think a lot of people buy it because they think they need it when they really don't by either getting tricked into it with those wait time signs or just don't like the thought of standing in any line even when lines are minimal.

With the wait time signs, the actual waits are almost always 1/3 - 1/2 of what the sign says. At Nitro for example generally the 30 minute sign meant a 10 minute wait, 60 minute sign meant a 20 minute wait and so on. People see the line backed up the 60 minute sign, think it is an hour wait and buy the flashpass as the signs advertise it on them. I have seen people turn around and get out of line due to those signs. I usually speak up and tell them how the line isn't that long and the park is only trying to sell more flashpasses. Most of the time they thank me and stay in line.

I saw a VIP group of 4 people in the park on Sunday September 7th. They were going up the exit of the rides and getting right on without a wait. The problem? The lines they were skipping didn't exist. They spent $1200 to cut to the front of the line on a day when I had a walk on for Kingda Ka in the middle of the afternoon. I also saw a lot of flashpass users that day as well. I like to laugh to myself when I see people buying it and using the flashpass entrance when the station is empty and I am staying on a coaster for a re-ride.

Last edited by YoshiFan, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 1:19 AM
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 1:13 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Dude, I love ya and all, but it's just not clicking.

LostKause said:
But come on, man; do I really have to explain again how "the system makes the problem worse while pretending to fix it"?

Quite simply, when people are waiting in more than one line at a time (regular flashpass), or not waiting at all (gold flashpass), the lines become longer. Flashpass is sold as a way to make lines shorter.

...And so I repeat, " The problem is made worse by the solution."

Even non-gold-botted-flashpass-users have to wait longer for their ride time to come.

I understand. You don't.

I don't believe Flash Pass was ever billed as a solution to park-wide long lines for people not using it. Quite the opposite. It's billed as a solution for waiting in lines for people using it. (take a gander for yourself)

And it works wonderfully. If you buy a Q-bot, you won't be waiting in line. Buy a gold-bot and you'll not only be not waiting in line, but you'll reduce the wait by 75%.

Where's the failure for the user? It's not there. If you use Q-bot, you'll spend less time standing in line. Flat out.

And I don't know what CoasterBuzz you've been visiting lately, but I seem to hear all of the time about how poorly flashpass is run.

Again, missing my point entirely. The handful of complainers are not indicitive of the attitude in the park. Visit CoasterBuzz all you like, but until you visit a SF park, you have no idea of what's really happening.

I'm out there. I've been out there. I saw people boo and hiss years ago when Flash Pass users boarded. I saw the inefficient queue policies. I saw that stuff...5 or 6 years ago.

Quite simply, it's not like that now. I've had people strike up conversation about the Q-bot. Asking if I felt it was worth it and commenting that they might try it sometime. Queues are built for merging with seperate entry points for different riders. It's not the same as it was the last time you made your way to a SF park.

This thread has some examples, but also take a look at the current "SFA buddy" thread. It sound to me like it is still broken.

If you knew what you were talking about, you'd note that SFA uses the 'ticket' system, not the electronic Q-bot. (again, take a gander)

Totally different. Each $15 ticket is good for 5 FOL opportunities. No queue management, no nothing - just good old fashioned line-cutting priviledges. It's an entirely different beast and far inferior to the electronic Q-bot system.

Just to clarify, I don't see it as a failure, nor do I have some dismal prophecy of it's imminent demise. I do think that it ruins the park experience, I do see it as blackmail, and I do see it as a lousy way to treat your customers, but it's not a failure.

And that's fine. That's opinion. You don't like the system.

If there was a way for customers to see how much shorter the line would be without it, I am confidant that it would start to fail.

The lines aren't exactly long to begin with. No longer than similar rides at other parks and/or chains. That's another thing of the SF of old. I've only had to buy a Q-bot once in the past three years at a SF park - and even then it was a close call with most lines staying under 40 or 45 minutes at worst. Otherwise the wait times we've run into at SF parks have been very managable. No worse than anywhere else.

An unhappy ex-customer will spread his negative experiences with the business to a much greater extent than a happy customer.

Based on what? Are you just making stuff up?

Maybe the high demand for flashpass is because of it's need, and it's need because of the situation it has created.

And maybe it's because people see a value in the service?

I still say that people will just spend the money on flashpass than they were planning to spend on food, games, and t-shirts. This is not good for the park because Lo-Q gets half of the money intended to go into SF pockets.

Then the per caps would be dropping (significantly even) and as of the latest financial reports that's not happening. Another case of ignoring reality based on personal opinion.

Your arguements are weak sauce, man - based on opinions formed by park visits in the first half of the decade and projecting your own feelings onto the situation to reach conclusions. Old info and hard feelings don't make things so.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 2:18 AM
Vater's avatar

^Agreed. At one time I thought SFA's Flash Pass was the only type of VQ system that existed. I refused to use it and pretty much hated the concept. I'd probably be backing up Lost Kause now if I hadn't visited SFGAdv a few years later and realized that not only was their system better, but totally worth buying (something I never thought I'd do). The queue management was well-implemented, I never received any dirty looks, and I had a pretty damn good day with minimal waiting.

I still maintain that the problem of long lines has existed far before VQ ever existed, and they are no longer now than they were back then. When I was a kid, my parents used to make sure we hit parks during the week to avoid the crowds. What's changed? Well, now you can spend a little extra and get more rides in on a weekend.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:51 AM

And so I repeat, " The problem is made worse by the solution."

I'm reminded of the age-old question: "If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?"

And, the answer is "Who cares?"

Whether or not pay-to-cut systems are objectively a problem is immaterial. The question is: does the average park-goer perceive that they are a problem? We each have our opinions as to whether they should or not. But, that's not the question either. The question is: Do they?

All the objective evidence out there indicates that they do not. One operator that used to have a mix of free virtual queuing and pay-to-cut now only offers the pay-to-cut versions (Universal). Operators that experimented with paid versions have expanded it (Six Flags). Other operators have adopted paid versions (Dollywood, Busch).

Now, it's possible that all of these people are wrong, and adopting pay-to-cut costs them more business/goodwill than it generates. But these are people whose livelihoods depend on being right about these sorts of decisions. These people also have access to data that we do not--raw turnstile counts, visits-per-guest, per-admission revenue, customer attitude surveys, etc. etc. And, this is not just one operator making this move---many different operators are.

So, they have more information than we do, they have more to lose if they are wrong, and there is increasing consensus among them that pay-to-cut is a good idea for their businesses.

From where I sit, the case is closed.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:29 AM

Trying not to add too much noise to this, but as someone who has visited nearly every year since the mid-80's, I despised having to get a Q-Bot until about 4 years ago when lines during the summer were so bad that we ended up getting on two rides the entire day after 11am and sitting under Superman:Ultimate Flight for 2.5 hours. I wasn't happy with having to spend so much, and at the beginning, I fully admit the merges were not very well done (some were exit lines and others had shoehorned-in merge areas), but it's actually pretty good to use now.

I still don't like paying so much, but especially during Fright Fest, there really isn't a good way to enjoy a lot of rides in a single day without it. It seems the general public doesn't have a problem with it as despite the early jeering, I hear more and more people saying "We should have gotten one" or "If we had been here a little earlier, we could have gotten one before they sold out".

As for the jump in price, I agree it's a purely business choice and to their advantage. If it consistently sells out, the price is lower than the "best profit" price will be, and from a business standpoint, needs to move closer to that point. I don't think it's reasonable from a regular visitor point of view, but if you only visit once in a while, it isn't really that much for an enjoyable visit.

A good question that's tangentially related is would the need for the Q-Bot be this bad if certain rides were better run to be closer to capacity (ie S:UF) or if the flats that were removed were available to spread out the crowds ?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:04 AM
LostKause's avatar

Gonch, haven't you ever worked directly with the public before? I worked for 3 different retail chains and 2 different amusement parks. Keeping your customers (or "guests" at some places) happy *and why* (because of the dificulty of getting them back and that they will tell 10 or more people about their bad experience) was extensively taught during training at each one. Everywhere I have ever worked, with a few non-retail exceptions, have included this philosophy in their training, and I really thought that practically everyone has worked, at one time or another, in a place that taught it. That's where I'm coming from.

Some see a value in the flashpass service because they see that the alternative ("standby") is devalued because of it.

I see that about myself. Yes I hold a grudge against SF. I don't get to go to 40 parks a year like some people around here do. I can only go to 4 or 5 per year. SFGAdv recieved a visit from me every 2 or 3 years when I lived in PA. Every time I would go the lines were hours and hours long. I am basing my opinions on the 4 times I have been there. My last visit was the first year that Ka was built. That day I did not have an acceptable level of fun for the price and I left with a very negative opinion of the place. (Never got to ride Ka, btw. It was closed, even though the website said thet it was open.)

If the park is being run a lot better, that I am happy for SF. Maybe when this grudge goes away, I'll return. My behavior is just about in tune with what I learned from working in retail. It is very difficult to get me back as a customer, and I tell a lot of people how poor my experience was, possibly talking people out of visiting themselves.

That's not the question I choose to answer, Brian. I chose to answer the question "Do I percieve flashpass to be a problem?" Sorry. I didn't know the question.

But to answer your question, we can't know for sure. It is probably here to stay. It has been forced into being accepted. I would have never imagined that letting people cut in front of everyone else would become so acceptable. You can wait twice as long or not wait at all. Anyone who can afford flashpass is going to use it for the simple fact that if they don't they will have to wait longer than if it didn't exist in the first place. Quite simply, it is blackmail. Does the average park-goer resent being blackmailed or even perseive it as blackmail in the same way I do?

I am not the only one who feels this way. Even if the "against flashpass" opinion is in the minority, it's still an opinion of many. Not everyone is as passionate as I am about it, and so they won't speak out against it every chance that they get like I do. I just hope that my view can rub off onto some of those who are starting to form thier opinion of the system.

You "pro-flashpass" guys have a very good argument, and if I was answering the same questions you were answering, I may agree with you more than I do.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:12 AM
LostKause's avatar

Is anyone else still having problems with the quote feature?

anyways...That's a very good question, and it proves that their are a lot of people out there who still sees flashpass as a negative thing.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:13 AM
LostKause's avatar

I can't see the quotes that I had in my posts. :( What am I doing wrong? It's not easy to understand what I am responding to.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:13 AM

That's not the question I choose to answer, Brian. I chose to answer the question "Do I percieve flashpass to be a problem?"

See, that's the problem. In the grand scheme of things, the question you are answering doesn't really matter to anyone but you. It certainly doesn't matter to the parks---the parks care about the question I posed, and I think we know the answer to it.

Also, let's be clear: I'm not in favor of pay-to-cut systems in the same way that I'm in favor of, say, equitable access to health care or rigorous educational standards. I prefer to avoid waiting in line by being smarter than the average park guest---I typically avoid midsummer, I get to the park before it opens, and I visit attractions in a considered order to avoid the lines. If for some reason I am there in peak summer, and am not able to make the park at opening, I visit the "lesser" attractions that don't build lines as much. I don't need pay-to-cut (or even free virtual queuing) to avoid waits in line and still have a good time in any park that I visit. I have never paid for such a service, but I have made significant use of the free variants at Disney and (before they dropped it) Cedar Point.


That said, I accept the existence of pay-to-cut much as I accept the existence of nasty Michigan winters and students who refuse to read the instructions I give them. The evidence is overwhelming that both conditions are here to stay, much as the evidence suggests that pay-to-cut is not only here to stay, but will be spreading like a bad cold.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:15 AM
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 11:29 AM

Having just visited BGE their last day of operation last Sunday, I have to chime in. From reading a good portion of these posts, it seems to boil down to "misery enjoys company."

BGE was packed last Sunday, and as we arrived at 3 PM, signs were posted everywhere that there would be no readmissions due to the park was reaching it's capacity. I live in Boston, and this was first visit to BGE in years!

I had never purchased a VQ pass before, but I can say last Sunday it was WELL worth the extra cost making a potentially horendous day into one kick ass experience. VQ saved the day (for us).

Sure, let's eliminate the VQ systems and deprive parks of the extra revenue they so desperately need to keep expanding and building the types of coasters we all dream about. Then we can all stand in line for countless hours together not spending money or getting on the rides we all want to experience. I just don't get the critisism. Yes, I am sure there were countless season pass holders that had to wait an extra few cycles to get on the ride they've been on countless times before. But for those of us going to a park for a one-time visit, I think VQ saved the day for me and countless other customers around the country, ensuring good customer service for those of us willing to pay the added fee.

Or is this a fued between the "haves and have nots?" Maybe we should line-price automobiles so the KIA is the same price as the Escalade?


Tom

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 2:16 PM
rollergator's avatar

Sorry about that missing post Jeff, I was trying to respond to LostKause regarding the quote feature...pretty sure I'm not the best one to "help", but anyhow.....you're not lining up your tags properly -as Jeff can attest from the post I *just now* added and deleted. Make sure the [ quote ] tag and [ / quote ] tags are outside the quoted sections, and there aren't extraneous tags, and you should be fine. :)


You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:01 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar

Yeah, that's not so hard, but I ran into trouble when I was trying to do multiple quotes. I was using the quote feature from the message tool bar and then copy/pasting from the source message. Whatever I copied and pasted did not appear when I hit submit.

I think it may be an IE thing. If that's the case, you will always know when I am trying to quote from work! ;)


"If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins." --- Benjamin Franklin

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:11 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Thom25 said:
Or is this a fued between the "haves and have nots?"

Some people try to turn it into that. I think that in general we all dance around the potential touchiness of it pretty well when it heads that way.

It shouldn't go there though. I mean, why draw the line inside the park and in front of the Flash Pass booth? Why not draw it outside the main gate? Or these days in the parking lot. ;)


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:31 PM
matt.'s avatar

I think there's a big difference in having the money for Flashpass and having the will to pay for Flashpass. I don't really think having and not having applies very well in this case.

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