Great Escape neighbors offer alternative parking

Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 9:39 AM | Contributed by supermandl

Vance Cohen stood smiling in his full parking lot Tuesday, while the Great Escape's freshly paved and manicured lots next door still sported empty spaces. Cohen's new parking gig has proven lucrative since he began it Sunday, with the 40-spot lot between Shindig's and the Gelato ice cream shop filling to capacity each day -- at $10 a pop. Cohen is battling with the town, which has issued him a notice of violation, over a new business venture he says precedent entitles him to run. His is one of two businesses allowing cars to park all day for a price at or below the Great Escape's newly instituted $10 parking fee.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 9:49 AM
This is such an awesome story. You'd think we'd hear more stories like this with the insane price points at certain Six Flags parking lots.
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Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:17 AM
Like why can't one of those businesses outside of Great Adventure do the same thing and run a shuttle bus. Lots of room, and the lots of potential.
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Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:30 AM
That's great! Way to stick it to the man!

I've often thought about doing something similar on Ohio State football game days. But I don't have enough room in my yard to make it worthwhile.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 10:44 AM
If they're not underselling the park, I'm not sure why people would pay the same amount to park elsewhere...can't really be a shorter walk now that the park has the overpass built...
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Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:00 PM
Wait, this isn't how it sounds. Am I reading the article right?

Basically the park added a pedestrian bridge for safety and subsequently changed where you enter the parking lot. People still try to enter the old way and find themselves having to turn around in this dude's parking lot. This guy takes advantage of that to make a few bucks at the expense of making people cross a busy road where there will soon be no traffic light.

This has nothing to do with the parking fee except for the one line quote from some guy who lives in Vermont. It's all about some local business owner taking advantage of the confusion caused by the changes SF made with their parking lot in interest of guest safety.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:02 PM
Actually, 'Gator... it is. The parking lot that Cohen has is DIRECTLY across from the entrance gates... the only danger is the street light that will no longer exist.

The pedestrian bridge was built much closer to the hotel, of which can be a long walk for people who park in the Great Escape parking lots (especially the South lot). They have to walk up North to the bridge, cross it, and then walk South again. It can be a real time-saver, especially of those who are just too tired to walk the unnecessary distance after a long day (especially since the lots are fenced/gated, so you can't just cut thru w/out crossing the bridge).

The only difference is that the fact that the price is the same. Who'd you rather give the 10 bucks to? Six Flags where who-knows how the money is distributed, or the individual owner who pockets the 10 bucks himself?
Also, don't forget that once you leave Cohen's lot, you're outta luck. Don't expect to go out for dinner & come back... vs. Great Escape where you can probably exit & re-enter if you want to grab something to eat elsewhere.

I can see both sides of the story... but I'm all for a little healthy competition. Solution? Lower your price, Six Flags!

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:14 PM
"The pedestrian bridge was built much closer to the hotel, of which can be a long walk for people who park in the Great Escape parking lots (especially the South lot)."

Ohhh, OK. I thought (mistakenly) that SF would've built the bridge further up the road, closer to Demon, and closer to their own parking lot...

It was FREE parking last year, wasn't it? That makes the immediate jump to 10 bucks seem steep to me....but that's what the neighbors are asking (and getting), so I guess not... *shrug*

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:31 PM
TGE is one of those parks that would be better outside of the Six Flags umbrella. It was once a family-run park and has a more family oriented nature than most Six Flags parks. It is also one of the unbranded Six Flags parks. IMO this park would be better if Kennywood operated it and turned it into another Lake Compounce. LC does charge for parking but at a more modest price level. Of course LC also has free drinks and reasonably priced food, something that contrasts starkly with Six Flags parks.

Six Flags forte is big parks like SFOT, SFOG, SFMM, SFGA, and SFGAm. SFNE is one park in the region that does fit with their identity. TGE is not. I believe that one reason Six Flags holds on to this park and does what they do with it is because the other major nearby parks are also Six Flags (SFNE and La Ronde). LC is the nearest serious non-Six Flags competition to TGE. All that I know is, if I lived somewhere between TGE and LC, I would prefer to go to the Lake if I was looking for a family oriented park.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 1:43 PM
Six Flags or not, this park deserved having a paved parking lot. While I was unaware that they also built a pedestrian bridge, it makes sense because the pedestrian traffic is significant and Rt. 9 is a relatively busy road. I'll pay $10 to support these improvements.

What doesn't make sense is where they put the parking lot entrance. According to the article, the new Six Flags Drive is on Rt. 9 across from Glen Lake Road. Using some on-line maps, I estimate this to be 3/4 of a mile North of the main entrance. (Last year, the parking lot entrance was directly across from the main entrance.) As well, because of the trees and the curve in the road, it may be impossible to see the hotel or theme park from the entrance of Six Flags Drive. Guests like myself tend to look for the roller coasters first, and parking second. Maybe the new signs at Six Flags Drive are not sufficient.

Or maybe instead of improved signage, they'll install a Intamin Hydraulic Launch coaster with a 200-foot top hat directly over the parking lot entrance. (I can dream, can't I?)

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 2:44 PM
Since it's not clear from the story, is it that the pedestrian bridge is only accessible from the "official" parking lots, and not these other businesses?

As far as the town goes, I don't know if it's as much an issue of safety as it is that somebody is making money that they can't get their hands on. From the article, it sounds like their beef is that it's a new "business venture." (i.e., taxes, permits). Why should the town be concerned that this guy is charging people to park on his property? He's not forcing them-- and they certainly have other choices. He also has to pay for the upkeep and repairs to the lot that his own customers as well as the park's have used for years. If someone doesn't want to pay him, they can easily drive away.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 2:59 PM
The bridge is accessable to anybody, basically... but because of the gated lots, you're going to have a tough time getting to them. There is an opening that is a sidewalk, of which is accessable to the main sidewalk along Rt9 just North of the bridge. This may be needed for those whom want to goto Martha's (since it's owned by Six Flags AND it's advertised in the park), they'd naturally want you to take the safest route there.

There's limited gating on the East side where the handicapp parking is, however... and that's how it's easy to have anybody get through.

Parking WAS free last year, albeit it was also in a dirt lot. The paving was inevidable since they knew they were building the hotel way ahead of time & the lot was to follow since it was raised around 3 to 5' from all the earth dug up for the hotel. However, the ORIGINAL plan was to charge just $5.00 for parking ($15.00 season). They even sold some season parking passes at that rate for a short while, but when Snyder, Shapiro & Co. took over, they jacked everyone's parking to a minimum of $10 - $15.00 parking... so it didn't last too long.

The parking entrance is EASILY visable when you get off of the Northway at the correct exit when you pass Great Escape, because of the signage & the new turning lane... On the opposite lane, I'm not sure about signage initially, but you eventually see the entrance because of the middle turning lane.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:41 PM
Here in the Ft Lauderdale area the Florida Panthers (hockey) arena is directly across the street from the Sawgrass Mills (massive outlet) mall. Since the arena has been open people have chosen to park at the mall (an enterainment/restaurant portion of the mall is right there) for free and walk across the street to the arena.

The Panthers have come out and said they are going to charge people for walking to the arena next year. Now, mind you, there are two or more legitimate crosswalks with proper signage so it isn't like the pedestrians are jaywalking...but the Panthers want to charge the fee anyway.

I know why the amusement parks and stadiums all charge for parking....because they can. But, can you imagine being charged a fee to park at McDonald's, the local movie theatre, the mall, the grocery store?

Why we let businesses bend us over a chair I will never understand.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:48 PM
The old walking fee, of course! It's striking how stupid some businesses can be.
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Thursday, June 22, 2006 3:58 PM

But, can you imagine being charged a fee to park at McDonald's, the local movie theatre, the mall, the grocery store?

Am I the only one who parks in places that have parking meters or in garages that charge per hour - places like that?

The idea of paying to park seems so foreign to so many that I'm wondering if I live in some bizzaro world and I'm missing out on a world where everything is free.

(not directed at you Wahoo, just used your quote as a jumping point for my opinion :) )

I know everyone is sick of hearing the analogies and some just flat out don't believe it, but...

You are paying to park at places like the mall, the theatre and McDonald's. The cost of maintaining a parking lot is figured into the cost of doing business and in turn affects the prices you pay inside. Ever seen the signs at a department store begging you to return the carts to help keep prices as low as possible? Same idea - you're paying for the carts you use too.

(that part was a little more directed at you, Wahoo - but not entirely ;) )

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 4:17 PM
But it doesn't cost $10 each trip to the mall when I barely spend a hundred bucks there per year!
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Thursday, June 22, 2006 4:33 PM
My roomates and I used to do this on Ohio State football days when I lived in a house near campus. We lived a good 10-minute walk from the stadium and we had a lot that held about 6 cars legitimately, or about 12 cars if you blocked everyone in, which we did. And we made upwards of $150 every game. Score.

Not that there ARE any legitimate parking lots for OSU football.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 4:38 PM
I guess it's the perception of different people, and what they deem acceptible, the norm, etc.

Why should certain states charge to drive on certain roads, while others just pass the cost along to the taxpayers? Personally, I have less of a problem paying to go over a large bridge or through a large tunnel than to just drive on a road, like the Ohio or NJ turnpikes.

A couple years ago or so, the MD govt. decided to raise certain fees, like license plates, tolls, etc. than to raise taxes. Why? It's the whole perception thing--people will complain about fees being raised, but, in general, won't complain as much as if their taxes had been raised.

Personally, I don't agree with Shapiro's price gouging on parking. Ineterestingly enough, in a recent interview, he said the following:

"I don't want any price gouging. You can't nickel-and-dime people."

This is ironic, since, to me, he IS gouging people on parking. If other park chains, on average, charge a decent amount less, then why does he think he should charge as much as he does? If I already view the other parks as gouging, how much more so will I view his prices? But then again, this is from my perspective. I suppose if you live in NYC and actually own a car and use it, you will be used to paying a lot to park it, and that will be the norm for you.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 5:22 PM
I think this guy is being pretty clever. He's trying to make some money while providing a service, can't blame him for that.

In Downtown Orlando, most of the houses around the TD Waterhouse Center let you park in their "lots" for a price at or lower than the regular lot. For those familiar with that area, lots of people do it because the walk is shorter from the "lake side".

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Thursday, June 22, 2006 5:43 PM
Jeff - this might be a good podcast discussion. I figure there's gotta be one or two people who don't completely hate my attitude yet. :)

rablat5 - good points and I certainly don't expect everyone to feel like I do. I just rarely see anyone say, "Hey, life happens. I understand the price of things and find annoyance at the little fees in life to be more of a hassle than just sucking it up and accepting the game."

I guess I'm that guy...and a lonely one at that. :)

I never think twice about road tolls, parking fees, taxes and crap like that. Not when I'm doing well financially and not when I'm doing not so well. Never.

It is what it is and, short of a major uprising, caring about things like that doesn't change them. Maybe when (if?) the revolution happens, I'll be out there fighting alongside everyone...until then it's not worth my energy or stress. Give me a call when we coordinate an effort to overthrow the establishment.

I also find in interesting that when business says, "Hey, we're business" that everyone cries foul and hates participating in the system, but when business drops a lie of, "Hey, we're here for you" everyone thinks it's all peachy keen. This seems even more pronounced with enthusiasts (who I generally regard as smart folk until this subject comes up) and the amusement industry.

I don't have a problem with Shapiro basically saying, "Hey, we're a business who's goal is to make money and I'm doing what I think is in the best financial interest of this company. Pay up." but the bluntness of that approach seems to get to people. I find it more deceitful when parks claim freebies like parking and such as if they're doing you a favor when they're doing nothing of the sort and in the end have the exact same goals as the guys like SF and Shapiro do - procure as much as your money as possible using whatever method makes you hand it over - whether it just be asking you for it (high prices) or tricking it from you (perceived value).

I am interested in where that Shapiro quote came from because in the context you use it, it does seem more than a bit hypocritical.

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