Free Parking

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:00 AM
Free parking? Even Atlantic City- the inspiration for Monopoly- doesn't have free parking. The city made sure of that.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:42 AM
I was surprised that Marineland Canada had free parking. Of course when the gate fee is over $40, I would assume it's included in that. But at least I didn't feel like I was being gouged before I even got inside the grounds. More of that "perceived value" thing I guess. ;)

Ray P.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 11:58 AM
If a park incurs any cost by having a parking lot, then you're paying for it somewhere along the line. If it means and extra buck or two at the gate or an extra dime or quarter attached to the price of everything in the park. The money HAS to come from somewhere. No one is taking a loss on their parking lot.

Me? I'd rather just pay up front and get the formalities out of the way - especially as with a family of four, it most likely costs me less to pay a single upfront fee than to pay all of the 'tie-in' fees for four.

(and can 'free' parking really be a perceived value to you if you know you're still paying elsewhere?)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:10 PM
Yes, free parking is a value because you don't have to wait in a long line to get in the park in the morning. And yes, I know that all costs are covered in the revenue the park makes, but if you think there is no savings in free parking then you don't know how pricing, sales, and business in general works. They don't take all their cost and then add in a modest but fair profit. They charge what the market will bear. Ticket prices are priced against other ticket prices. Most people are not going to say, "Well such and such park charges too much for their tickets compared to other parks but it is okay because they have free parking." It just so happens that parks can pay for their parking lots out of what the market will bear in ticket prices, but the market will also bear a parking lot charge so there is more revenue for the park. Take a look at the parks that recently added a parking fee and see how many of them dropped their ticket price since they are getting their parking revenue up front.

As for parks that don't have that charge, the small parks at Wisconsin Dells come to mind, Timber Falls and Mt Olympus. Of course The Park at MOA also does not charge up here for obvious reasons. *** Edited 3/13/2007 4:14:47 PM UTC by RavenTTD***

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:12 PM
Gonch, I guess with the usual high prices associated with souvenirs, food, and other items at theme parks, I have never stopped to think that the parking-related costs are bundled in there. I'm still learning when it comes to the whole business side of things (as evidenced by my previous angry rants! ;)).

The perceived value concept has different meanings to different people. Some people I work with are amazed that there's an amusement park which offers free parking, free drinks and free sunscreen. When I tell them that it's not really free, they said they wouldn't mind paying a little extra up front to get "all of that" in return. I do realize that it's not really a value... but for some reason, after years of watching the parking fees at my local CF parks climb each year (sometimes mid-season), going to a park that doesn't charge is a welcome change, even if I am making up for it elsewhere.

As far as parking goes, I still wish more parks operated like Idlewild. Just pay the entire amount at the parking booth and you're good to go!

Ray P.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:14 PM
When you have a car-full of peeps willing the pitch in a few bucks each, that $15 doesn't seem so harsh. ;)

Gonch, you need to have your little boy offer himself to credit-ho'ing adults who need a kid to get that credit. I am sure a lot of people would pay a few bucks to ride with a kid. ;)

That way he will at least make some of your money back. :)

-Tina

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:18 PM
There isn't a damn thing in SFOG"s parking lot worth $15.

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth when a park gives off that "We're going straight for your wallet!" vibe.

I know all parks are really after every penny you brought with you but the ones that give the feeling that you got more for those pennies are most appreciated.

I think a reasonable parking fee is $5. Especially if you have to walk to the main gate after paying because the park discontinued their tram service.

Are you listening Carowinds?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:41 PM
^ Same with Great Adventures parking lot, although theirs is continually shrinking with the addition of each new roller coaster. In a couple of years they'll start parking us over by Hurricane Harbor, and charging an additional $15 for the tram service.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:48 PM

It leaves a sour taste in my mouth when a park gives off that "We're going straight for your wallet!" vibe.

That's where I'm most different from the general opinions around here.

I'm more annoyed at the 'trickery' of parks trying to tell me something is free when I know damn well it isn't.

I'd rather have SF telling me, "Look, we want your money - a lot of it. $15 here gets you a map and a parking spot for the day. It helps us maintain our lot and puts a little in our pocket as well. (you really don't have an alternative choice, you know)"

And I hestitated to use 'trickery' above, but face it, that's what the whole 'perceived value' thing is. Making you believe (or perceive) that there is added value involved when there isn't.

Must stem from the fact that I'm more of a thinker than a feeler. :)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:48 PM
Why stop at parking? Where is the electricity charge, the employee salary surcharge, insurance fee, or any of the other 10,000 expenses a park or any business or any one has to pay for?

Of course the cost of a parking lot is included in park admission but so are all the other costs.

Why is parking singled out as a seperate fee?

Parks with free parking are almost always a better overall value than parks with pay parking.

People are just trained (brainwashed?) to fork over a fee for parking in certain situations. Strange how a fee for parking in other places would cause an uproar. Imagine a parking toll booth at McDonalds?

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:53 PM
^I wonder if preferred parking at McDonalds would be considered supersizing.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:53 PM

Why is parking singled out as a seperate fee?

Because it's an easy, justifiable revenue stream.


People are just trained (brainwashed?) to fork over a fee for parking in certain situations. Strange how a fee for parking in other places would cause an uproar. Imagine a parking toll booth at McDonalds?

Hate that example. To me, the closest apples-to-apples comparison you can make are other 'special event' entertainment venues. Arenas, stadiums, zoos, things like that. Pretty much all of them charge to park and pretty much all charge ridiculous amounts.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:04 PM
The only way I never felt like I was being given the Six Flags treatment before entering one of their parks(or any chain park for that matter), was by having a season pass/parking pass combo.

I never want to experience the full force of the Six Flags treatment, and feel sorry for that family of 4 that gets raked over the coals just because they though it would be fun to go for a day.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:04 PM
Pay parking expected:

Downtown lots and garages

Areas around major colleges

Stadiums and sports arenas

Airports

Downtown Hotels

Large amusement parks

Free parking expected:

Shopping malls (unless downtown)

Strip shopping centers

Suburban stores, office buildings etc.

Suburban hotels and motels

Small amusement parks

Parking Policy Varies:

Zoos and Museums

Hospitals

State and municipal parks

Tourist attractions

Mid-sized Amusement parks

*** Edited 3/13/2007 5:06:19 PM UTC by Arthur Bahl***

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:06 PM
That's a pretty fair assessment.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:31 PM
I still think Geauga Lake ought to change over to "free" parking if only just to be a good neighbor. Do what Kennywood does and go with two different options. On the Geauga Lake side, with the half-gravel, falling apart, tramless, minimally-illuminated long-time Geauga Lake lot, make that "free" parking. Make people happy to not pay for parking, and make the shopping center happy that they don't have to worry about park customers parking in their lot. Then take the nice smooth fully-illuminated asphalt lot on the Wildwater Kingdom side and make that a "preferred" parking lot and charge about $5 for it.

I think if Geauga were to try that, they would be surprised at (a) the positive impact it would have elsewhere in the business, and (b) how many people would still pay the $5 for the preferred lot.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:49 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Hate that example. To me, the closest apples-to-apples comparison you can make are other 'special event' entertainment venues. Arenas, stadiums, zoos, things like that. Pretty much all of them charge to park and pretty much all charge ridiculous amounts.

I was more of an observation than a comparison. Do you consider "free" parking at McDonalds a trick? Would you prefer they just singled out the cost instead of wrapping it all into the total food price?

How about if parks with "free" parking called it "parking at no extra charge." Would that make you FEEL better? ;)

*** Edited 3/13/2007 5:50:13 PM UTC by millrace***

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:54 PM
GL should consider becoming more like LC with the possibility of adding things like "Free" drinks. This might be the thing that could boost the attendance and differentiate the park from both CP and KW.

The same goes for the attractions. Make the park more family friendly and add transport rides to move visitors around the park.

Other parks that might consider going the free drink route are other small to mid sized parks that live in the shadow of a big park. Maybe this is what could get a park like Alabama Adventure (nee Visionland) headed in the right direction. Give people in Alabama a good reason to go there instead of heading to SFOG.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 1:58 PM

How about if parks with "free" parking called it "parking at no extra charge." Would that make you FEEL better? ;)

Not one bit.

"Parking Included" is the most correct term. "no extra charge" still implies "free" (there's that language stickler thing in me again :) )

I look at it this way:

We've all parked at a parking garage of some kind. You know the deal. You pull in, take a ticket and the gate goes up. When you leave you hand the ticket to a guy in a booth and pay an amount based on the time you were parked there.

Could they logically call it 'free' parking because you didn't pay to park when you pulled in with your car? Of course not, you pay elsewhere and at another time. (when you leave)

No different than 'free' parking at any park. Regardless of how much and where you pay, the cost of maintaining the parking lot is passed to the customer in other ways.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007 2:14 PM
Ok, but whatever your average Six Flags charges ($40? $50? $60? $70?) should be enough to cover the cost of the parking lot. Tacking on an extra $15 is unreasonable in my opinion.

I'd rather pay an all-inclusive fee for $30. And there are plenty of parks that offer that, or close to it.

Or have other transportation options. Most areas that charge for parking also have public transit available. I'd love to have the choice of a $2 bus fee over a $15 parking fee. But Six Flags knows they have a captive audience and they sure aren't shy about taking advantage of it.

I suppose you aren't thrilled with pay one price plans either. That implies that the rides are free after you pay $40 admission.

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