General Question And Thoughts About Season Passes - Value Vs. Routine

Greetings Everyone!

Every year - towards the end of the season, there are various incentives to get "next year's" seaons pass. (IE, as of last week Splish Splash will give you the rest of 2008 if you get a 2009 pass).

This may sound a little long-wonded, but:

Do you feel that if you get a season pass to a park, you want to use it as much as possible for maximum value at the expense of only visiting that one park?

And if you do that, while you might enjoy it, do you ever feel you are "missing out" by not going toothers?

Assume that traveling around the country (Like hitting all Cedar Fair or Six Flags Parks) isn't an option.

I am aware that those of you who are only close to one park will have limited choices as to where to go.

Any thoughts and comments would be appreciated.

Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!

Carrie M.'s avatar
I have only come into having season passes since last year when I moved close enough to a park to make it worth while. I enjoy having a season pass to the park that is only a few minutes away, because then I can come and go as often as I like for any reason. I can spend evenings there or just go for a coaster or a show.

Having that season pass does not hamper my visits to any other park. But yes, I do try to make sure I get my money's worth when I buy a pass. That generally means the three visit rule for me.

For any other season pass I may consider, I would make the decision a part of my park plans for next summer. I purchased the CF Platinum Pass this year, because I knew I would visit CP, KI, and Dorney this summer. By already having that plan, it didn't impact my decisions for attending other parks.

That's my two cents.

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

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I only get a season pass because I can travel. My main motivation for getting a season pass is to travel. But if travel wasn't an option:

Right now we're about 45 or 50 miles from Kings Island and I'm not sure I feel that the pass would be worth it if that were my only choice. We have passes and so far we've been to the park twice. Not because of anything other than proximity. The hour drive isn't convenient enough for quick stops.

With that said, a few years back we lived about 5 miles from Dorney and with a season pass, we found ourselves dropping in all the time. Maybe when we passed on the way to the grocery store. Maybe on a slow summer evening just for a lap or two on Talon. No big deal to swing by when the park was so close. We'd literally visit the park 30 times in a season - even if a "visit" consisted of one ride for something to do and then leaving. I think we actually stopped once just because somebody was craving a funnel cake. The pass was totally worth it in that case.

I figure a pass is "worth it" if it costs less than the individual park visit would. The pressure to maximize isn't there for me.

I might be one of the insane people here. I say this because I currently have 4 season passes. I live in South Jersey outside Philadelphia. I have the following passes:
  • Six Flags (not bought at Great Adventure but that is where it gets used most)
  • Cedar Fair Platinum (bought at Dorney)
  • Hersheypark
  • Busch Gardens (bought this year with plans for Florida next year since it's a 2 year pass that can be renewed monthly after that)

I get enough trips to parks to make sure I get my value out of each.

I buy the passes before the season starts if possible and get the discounted rates to save a little cash. Then I check the prices for each park and calculate how many visits I need to make to make it worth it.

Watch the tram car please....
In most cases a Season Pass pays for itself in about 2 visits. In the case of CW, the 2009 pass renewal is up for $59.99 right now, and regular gate is still $49.95 - that's an insane deal!

I would venture to say it's not that hard to get value out of most season passes.

I generally don't feel like I have to maximize, and having a pass doesn't stop me from doing other things. I get them for my local park where I expect it to pay off (Cedar Point). We've been so busy this year that it hasn't quite paid off yet. Halloweekends will put me over the top.

The other reason I get them is for pure flexibility. We tend to go on week-long trips to "somewhere". I'll usually get a season pass to a park in the area, and call that our "home base". We can go to that park anytime, without constraint. It's nice to know that, if you have an afternoon free, you can just pop in somewhere.

For example, on our Dells trip, we got season passes to Noah's Ark. My son and I visited one day just to play the mini-golf course there while the girls had gone horseback riding. We still went to Mt. Olympus for a couple of days, rode the ducks, went to Timber Falls---so we did a bunch of other stuff too.

The year before, we got passes to Dollywood and Splash Country in Pigeon Forge. It didn't save us any money---the three day ticket would have been a little bit cheaper, even with parking, etc.---but it was nice to be able to just pop in for the last hour one day, just because we could.

*** Edited 8/28/2008 1:43:58 PM UTC by Brian Noble***

I have an SP for Hersheypark. Between the visits and using the passholder percs, I'm "to the good" for this year. I haven't consciously thought about having to maximize the value. But indirectly, when I've thought about going to other parks, I remind myself that I'd have to pay for parking and admission that I don't have to pay heading to Hershey.

The wild card there is Knoebels', which I've visited more than Hershey. Even though Hershey is probably only 10 minutes farther away from my home, I think of Knoebels as the place to go when I want to hop in my car at 6:00 to catch a quick few hours in a park.

That's an interesting observation: Knoebels' ticket model works kind of like my "season pass" model---it makes it easy to just pop in for a quick lap on a coaster if you're in the neighborhood.

I haven't even thought about maximizing my season pass. I just go to the park when I went to. It's not about if I didn't go 2 times, it's not worth, and thus I have to go 2 times. I go enough to my home park, that is just doesn't matter.

This year I got a really cheap deal compared to other years with that how much off for one day thing for Six Flags. With gas being so high, I don't do the just plop in the park for a hour, and leave this year. That's stupid for me.

It's a stay the whole day thing, or don't go. Heck, this year from last year I went to the waterpark for so long, and I went after that. Not this year.

Get Ready. Get Set. Spinout! Six Flags America: The Park that is Full of Disappointments
ApolloAndy's avatar
When I lived in Jersey, I would get a pass to GAdv. and do a day trip to any park in the area (4-5 hrs) that had something new that year. Hitting GAdv. for a few hours at a time never prevented me from doing any other trips.

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."

I try to keep record of how I use my pass so I can see how much I got out of it at the end of the season.

So far in 2008, I have used my Platinum Pass at WOF 36 times as well as visits to 9 other CF parks.

Prowler. Opens May,2 2009.

Like PCWCoasterBoy I have a pass to CW. It's a great value so after a couple of visits it's paid off. I didn't get to use it as much this year - I had two nasty summer colds (!) and the weather usually crapped out on days when I intended to go. Only getting about 5 visits in this season but usually average well over 15. The only disappointment is not that I didn't get value out of my pass, which I feel that I did, but that there's a killer new coaster and wanted to ride more.

I also have a pass for Marineland. I enjoy the park, it's not a destination but an added bonus for a trip to or passing through Niagara Falls. Also the pass is only a $5 upgrade on the day ticket, so feel that an extra day on Dragon Mountain is worth it.

The great thing about having a pass is the ability to just go to the park for a couple of hours and feel ok with it. As I get older, I really don't enjoy spending a whole day in the park and hate crowds and long lines. So will visit park more in shoulder season or go early in the morning when it's busy and bail out by 2 or 3. I do admit it does feel kinda good when they scan that pass and it feels free. :)

We don't travel around to visit parks anymore. We'll plan a trip to a specific location and then see what's in the area and then find a way to work it into the schedule. So don't feel like we're cheating outselves out of pass value by checking out other parks.

On a side note we both ski a bunch and also get midweek season passes to Blue Mountain north of Toronto. The pass pays for itself in about 3 ski visits, but the benefits are really great. Blue is owned by Intrawest which operates a bunch of lski resorts around North America uncluding Whistler, Mont Tremblant and Steamboat. With our Blue pass we get nice discounts at other resorts in the company on tickets and lodging. Occasionally they'll even offer free lift tickets. Because of this, we're able to afford more tips during the ski season. We do ski outside of the company and of course go where the snow is, but we get a sweet deal at some of the best places in North America so makes it easy to take em up on it.

I'm in Columbus so the CF pass is the natural choice for me. Even though I haven't gone as much as past years, i spent a week at CP in May, will be going again more toward the end of the season (starting with tomorrow and Saturday, in fact) and have made several Sunday and after work visits to KI. So it's been well worth it. As far as traveling goes, it's worked out that we might choose a vacation destination that allows us to visit another CF park. This year it was KD and Williamsburg when Skybus operated, last year it was Knotts on a vacation to LA, year before that was Valleyfair when we visited the Minnesota State Fair.

Six Flags used to work well for us here, but these days no. We had Geauga Lake then, Wyandot Lake, and then throw in a visit or two to SFKK and it was worth it. It wouldn't be economical for us now.

So I guess the thing to do is consider where you live, how close are the parks are and how likely it is that you could take advantage of parks in other states. It not hard to figure out the cost per visit and weigh it against the price of a season pass.

I am 25 minutes from Hersheypark, and I always more then get my $'s worth out of that pass. I visit whenever the mood strikes. Last night for example: The park closed at 8pm. I got there at 7pm, rode the Sidewinder, 2 laps on Storm Runner, and caught Beyond the Dragon Gate before calling it a night at 7:55. I'd say I easily visited the park 30 times this season, and still have a few more weeks of the regular season.

I bought my Six Flags Passes at Six Flags America last fall when they had the visit today when you buy your 2009 pass. I have been to America one more time since then, and Great Adventure twice. Will be going back to Great Adventure during Frightfest. I also have 6 passes to take friends, and will be taking a crew along for free.

I bought my Cedar Fair pass at Kings Dominion in March, and have been to Dorney twice this season. Going back to Kings Dominion and visiting Cedar Point next month.

To me I always get my money's worth out of the passes just because of the parks I have close enough to make day trips. As sad as I am to see Canyon River Rapids gone at Hershey they may as well put my name on a beach chair because I'll be at Hershey even more now with the addition of the Wave Pool, and Lazy River. :)

Due to work, I am not able to travel all over the country to go to parks. Because of that I usually only get to Great Adventure, Dorney, Hershey and possibly Morey's most seasons.

I have gotten at Dorney pass for the past 3 years and got a Great Adventure pass this year and I don't have to try to get my money's worth since I basically only go to Dorney and Great Adventure on a regular basis.

If Hershey was closer I would probably get a pass there as well but since Dorney and Great Adventure are the only 2 parks less than an hour away (not coutning Sesame Place), I don't feel like I am missing out on other parks since I really don't have any other options especially since a lot of my park visits are for 4 hours or so before I go into work. *** Edited 8/29/2008 6:46:35 PM UTC by YoshiFan***

Amusement parks are my way to relax, part of that relaxation is the flexibility to go whenever I want and with very little prior planning. Since I have moved off on my own (ie since Ive started buying my own passes) I have always had a pass to two parks nearby. In DC that was a BGW/WCUSA Gold and a HP pass, I bought them knowing they would break even (HP) or I would make money on them (BGW/WCUSA.) In Toledo, my Maxx+ last year I made money on (15 trips to CP, SC and KI) and this year Im already in the black (6 soon to be 8 after this weekend.)

I go because I have the pass that often, but I buy it because without the pass I wouldnt. If I can relax at a park (ie its a park that I have fun in which means good rides, and operations without too many negatives,) and its within 3 hours Im going to want a pass.

That said when I have enough money, the SPs will also function like they did with my family, as a way to save money on trips.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

eightdotthree's avatar
If Kennywood had a season pass our visits would increase and shorten in length. We would go after work or on our way to or from "The Waterfront" where we shop now and then. We are ten minutes away, it would be so easy.

As it stands now, we will go twice during the regular season this year. Once for an evening with an out of town friend, and once to use our school tickets. We will go again for Halloween.

^ Looks like your wish is coming true.
I think a season pass is a great idea, but the values on some passes are greater than others and are worth more to pick up than others. For example, a Hershey pass is nice, but it's only for one park. Six Flags gives you a season pass for a hundred bucks and then you can go to any Six Flags park in the country and you paid the same or less than you did for a pass for other parks around the country. Also, if the passes have different levels, that's a nice feature. You can get a regular CF pass at any of the parks for a set price (Dorney's is 100, I think) OR you can get a Plat Passfor 150 that allows you to visit all the parks. I'm all about the options. I won't be purchasing a Plat pass in 2009 because I won't be heading to Cedar Point as far as I can tell, and all the other CF parks are even farther from me. Thus, the sensible option is to buy a regular season pass for Dorney and hit Dorney up about 30 times, then maybe buy a SF pass and hit Great Adventure and the Maryland park on the way to visit my dad. Plus, some of the passes pay for parking as well (of course not Six Flags), so you save even MORE.

I agree that it really depends on what you are closest too, and you've gotta take into account the quality and quantity of rides that you would like to ride more often that are near you. I'd likely never buy a Busch Gardens pass because they only have a few coasters, and while they are great coasters, I think I'd get supremely bored quickly if I lived by that area...I dunno, though.

All in all, season passes are the way to go if you've got a decent park near you. Do some investigative work to get the best values, and you'll have a wonderful coasting summer!

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

eightdotthree's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:
^ Looks like your wish is coming true.

Do you know something I don't?

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