I am a hypocrite. I bought Fastlane.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:02 AM

Tommytheduck said:

To put the Fastlane analogy to airplanes, imagine you bought a ticket on the 12:00 flight. The flight then becomes sold out. Then someone comes in (rich or poor, doesn't matter) but he takes advantage of the airline's new "FastAir" program and buys your seat out from under you for twice what you paid for it. Now you have to wait for the 2:00 flight. That's Fastlane... Someone is buying your ride out from under you, and you have to wait for the next train. Only in this case, the train leaves the station every 1 - 2 minutes.

Again, you're looking at it exactly backwards.

What it's more like is that you buy a cheaper "stand-by" ticket that guarantees you the next available seat and while you're waiting to board the 12:00 flight, someone else buys a standard higher-priced ticket for a seat on the plane and bumps you to the 2:00 flight.

I don't understand why you keep taking the onus off of the people choosing to wait in what amounts to a stand-by line.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:05 AM

I don't get the argument that amusement parks are not obligated to provide paying customer with rides, shows, and attractions to enjoy for their admission price, like they advertise. What am I missing in that argument?

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:14 AM

You're missing that nowhere does it state that you'll be doing anything in particular. Usually the fine print states the opposite - that if weather is inclement or that if a ride is not available that no refunds are given. Your ticket is nothing more than admission to the park. Once inside, nothing is guaranteed. Heck, most parks even have attractions that you have to pay more if you want to experience them (Skycoasters, Go-Karts, etc.).

There's no indication made at any time of what you'll be able to do, how much you'll be able to see and experience or the frequency in which you'll be able to see and do the things inside the gate. The ticket simply lets you in.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:16 AM
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:18 AM

What Gonch said.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 7:28 AM

Tommytheduck said:

The comparison to airplane and concert seats is flawed. Yes, there are different price structures, but the end result of all purchases is the same. You get to your destination at the same time...

OK, let's apply your logic to amusement park rides...

Yes, there are different price structures, but the end result of all purchases is the same. You get to ride the same attraction.

The problem with your analysis is that you should be comparing the limited resource of one up-charge scenario (extra legroom, for example, in first class), with the limited resource of the other up-charge scenario (less time invested via FOL access).

To put the Fastlane analogy to airplanes...

Wrong, on multiple levels. When you buy a ticket to an amusement park, you're buying access to the park, and whatever attractions happen to be operating on the day of your visit. That's your only guarantee - access to the park's operating attractions.

When you buy a ticket to fly somewhere, you're being guaranteed a seat on that particular flight. The flight may be delayed or even cancelled, but that won't be because someone bought the seat out from under you.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 9:20 AM

I don't get what's so hard to understand about stadiums and flights being poor analogies. We're not talking about the parks charging extra to sit in the front or back of coasters; we're talking about time.

A better comparison might be paying more for a concert ticket so you don't have to wait in line outside the venue (which I've done before). Regardless of how much anyone paid to get in, the concert still starts at 7:30; the difference is in how long people were waiting.

And with flights, business and coach arrive at the destination at the same time, but first class might get to board or deplane ahead of others. Now, if airlines could figure out a way for the front portion of the plane to arrive an hour ahead of the rest of the aircraft and charge a few hundred dollars more for the privilege, I'm sure they would. ;) Get to work, quantum physicists!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 9:32 AM

The only reason people are pissed about fastlane is because it's change. Most of the younger people I have taken to the park (as part of a church youth group) can't even imagine a park without fastlane. Just like the change from PPR to POP. I'm sure there weere lots of people who were used to be able to dropping $50 and never having to wait in line who got really pissed that all of a sudden everyone was in front of them because it was "free."

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:02 AM

An Argument for Buying a Fastland;

I've never bought a FL or Quebot, but I can certainly see the temptation to get one. I do not have the opportunity to travel to the parks that much. I have limited vacation time and I will have to fly out to most parks. I have only been to Cedar Point twice. I've already shelled out a few hundred dollars to make the trip. I would be glad to pay $50 for the FL perk and just visit the park for one day. It's worth it me as I can either save a vacation day or cram in another park.

When Fastland/ Fast Passes Go Wrong

Disney's Fastpass can make some standby queses painfully slow. I was a cast member at Disneyworld and I worked the Fantasyland attractions. A few times I worked the "Merge Point" at Peter Pan's Flight, where the two lines merge. The amout of FP guests allowed through was very high compared to the regular line. It was difficult to cut off the standby line after allowing about two families through. But, management wanted the FP guests to have no-wait once inside the line. The case I am making is when the ratio of Fastlane/ Fast Pass guests to Regular guests gets higher and higher....the problem gets worse. The ride's capacity reminds the same regardless, if more FL/ FP get on, the slower it makes the regular line. I don't frequent the parks that often, but it seems the FL guests are minimal and not really affecting the regular guests. Disney is just the opposite, but thankfully it's free for everyone. Please note that Cedar Faire (FUN) and Six Flags (SIX) are doing exceptionally well (according to their stock price).

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 10:55 AM

ApolloAndy said:

Just like the change from PPR to POP. I'm sure there weere lots of people who were used to be able to dropping $50 and never having to wait in line who got really pissed that all of a sudden everyone was in front of them because it was "free."

I remember my family being elated when Disney went POP. It meant that my dad didn't have to buy ticket books and divvy out the right amount for each of us to ride whatever we were standing in line for (and believe me, even with PPR, the lines were still eternal during peak season).

I see FL as kind of a combination of POP and PPR, but better. It's not mandatory, but if you decide to drop the extra cash it becomes a perk that gets you to ride quickly.

At least it's a better pricing structure than how I ran my RCT parks; pay an exorbitant admission price and then also pay through the nose to ride each ride. Somehow guest satisfaction always hovered around 999 all while I was draining their pockets. *maniacal laugh*

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 11:28 AM

Disney's Fastpass can make some standby queses painfully slow.

...

The case I am making is when the ratio of Fastlane/ Fast Pass guests to Regular guests gets higher and higher....the problem gets worse.

That's the practical side of the argument that seems to have gotten lost amid all the talk about morality and fairness: just how much time does it cost you when someone cuts in front of you? For a coaster, even if an entire trainload of people cut, the most it can delay you is one cycle, which is what, one to three minutes? Is that really that big of a deal compared to the hour or so that you waited?

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:07 PM

I recently had a similar experience. I visited SFOG this past Saturday to find massive lines (60+ minutes for all the coasters/major attractions). With it being only my second trip to the park ever, my wife's first, and not knowing when we'd get back I decided to purchase the Gold Flash Pass/QBot. I have always been a "purist" as far as these passes go, I never bought them before and found them to be a nuisance I didn't like the concept and didn't like the feeling of further nickle and diming by the parks.

For roughly $90 we never waited more than a train or two for any coasters, unless we wanted to wait for a specific row such as the front at Goliath which took an additional 20 or so minutes. All in all I felt it was worth the investment and I have some level of appreciation for the pass now. I can easily see myself buying it in the future if I find myself at a park I never visit on a very busy day.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:18 PM

birdhombre said:

I don't get what's so hard to understand about stadiums and flights being poor analogies. We're not talking about the parks charging extra to sit in the front or back of coasters; we're talking about time.

A better comparison might be paying more for a concert ticket so you don't have to wait in line outside the venue (which I've done before).

And with flights, business and coach arrive at the destination at the same time, but first class might get to board or deplane ahead of others.

Interesting point. And a decent one at that, but...

So I guess I have to point out that I think many of us are looking at it a different way - in that the complainers seem to think they're getting less because of the FOL users. Or a lesser experience.

It's not looking at it on the ride level, but rather at the park level. The idea is that the park experience is lessened without buying in or improved if you do buy in.

So with that angle on the topic, the other analogies make sense to me.

You had to wait to board the plane and then be cramped in a tiny seat too close to a snot-nosed, crying little baby in coach, while I stretched out and enjoyed the flight reading to pass the time. The person who paid more got a better experience.

I bought a front row seat to see Johnny Bravo on his latest tour. Not only did he sound great, but I high-fived him and I think he sweated on me, the guitar player did his solo 5 feet from my face and tossed me a guitar pick too. You paid a fraction of what I did, couldn't tell if it was actually Johnny on stage or an impersonator, were in a corner that suffered some sort of bass rumble that made the music sound like crap and had a laser light shining right in your eyes everytime Johnny raised his fist in the air. The person who paid more had a better experience.

I bought Fast Lane and rode all the biggest attractions multiple times with little-to-no wait which freed me to see several shows I wouldn't have otherwise, to have a nice sitdown meal and stroll along the midways taking photos for my collection. You bought regular admission and stood in stuffy long lines all day, barely managed on lap on everything you wanted to ride, had to grab a hot dog to eat while standing in line and never had the chance to get your camera out of your pocket all day. The person who paid more had a better expeience.

That's how I see it. It's not the time argument of the individual rides, it the idea the the overall day is better or worse depending on the choice you made when you entered the park.

In addition to your time approach and my overall experience approach, I think there's a third angle that's something along the lines of taking something from someone - in that by using Fast Lane, you're taking a seat that otherwise would've been someone's who stood in the big line.

But that's explained away pretty simply with the reservation or wait for a table analogy or the paid fan club members that get access to tickets first meaning other never even have a chance at them analogy or the hotel platinum members that hotels hold rooms for while the regular guy is sent packing to look for another place to stay analogy.

Just my thoughts. But the time thing is interesting.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:27 PM

Gonch, I think that was the best and easiest way to explain why FastLane/Flashpass systems are not the devil. Awesome!

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:33 PM

Gonch, I believe you have just written the FastLane Bible. Well done.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 1:50 PM

Gonch, I basically get everything you said, and don't disagree. I'd say it's even worth the infamous +1. ;)

And lest anyone get the wrong impression, I'm not opposed to line-skipping services in general, but I do prefer Six Flags' system of virtual queueing. I'm glad Cedar Fair is tweaking Fast Lane by making Dragster a more expensive option though.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:14 PM

Sirloindue said "I'm surprised Michigan's Adventure ever gets crowded enough to where Fastlane serves a purpose."

Michigan's Adventure is one place where I absolutely had to buy a Fast Lane pass or defeat the entire purpose of my trip. The purpose of the trip was to ride Shivering Timbers, with which I had fallen in love after watching a video on YouTube, and I had exactly three hours to spend at the park before driving to Grand Rapids to catch a flight. Alas, ST was not operating when I got to the park and although they did manage to get it up and running, I now had an even more limited time frame in which to ride it - so it was Fast Lane or nothing.

I'll never hear the end of this story, however. I'm struggling to pay my medical bills and my dad said "You can afford to go to Michigan to ride a roller coaster but you can't afford to pay your medical bills?" Well, that was almost a year ago and I wasn't planning to get sick.

As to other comments about the GP being or not being a lumbering beast, I sometimes wonder whether the people in the loading areas of rides have any common sense. Several times this past weekend I found myself in the loading station with people who just stood there and didn't move, blocking the way for everyone else. I repeatedly had to ask people which row they were waiting for so that I could get past them.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:16 PM

Vater said:

Gonch, I believe you have just written the FastLane Bible. Well done.

We need to find a publisher.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:26 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

I bought Fast Lane and rode all the biggest attractions multiple times with little-to-no wait...

To me this is the heart of the Fast Lane issue.

Most Fast Lane users tend to end up at a couple of rides - typically the most popular attractions - which tend to draw the most people and longest wait times. Yeah, you'll get a couple of folks that will give a cursory ride or two to a couple of rides just because, but it's clear that this is an issue that parks continue to deal with.

We now have evidence that bunching at popular rides is happening with the introduction of the Fast Lane vs. Fast Lane Plus option at the larger Cedar Fair parks (two of the most popular attractions are only accessible to quick queuers through the Plus version). Think about it this way...how many visitors would buy Fast Lane at Cedar Point if Gatekeeper, TTD, Maverick and Millennium Force weren't included?

Interestingly enough I think this is where Fast Lane (despite its many flaws) actually presents a more balanced equation for the non-Fast Lane user. There were plenty of reports last year of 30 minute or more Fast Lane waits for Millennium Force, Maverick, Firehawk and Leviathan last year. Most Cedar Fair parks I saw using the Fast Lane system were letting in Fast Lane users at around a 25% Fast Lane/75% non-Fast Lane user mix. This leads to some Fast Lane lines at the more popular attractions but longer Fast Lane lines help regulate the amount of people trying to strain the system even further.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:54 PM

I did notice this trend at Cedar Point last year. The Fast Lane pass did not allow immediate access to the rides and I agree that "this presents a more balanced equation for the non-Fast Lane user." Of course, it's different at Six Flags parks; as soon as that beeper goes off, you have immediate access to the ride.

A disability pass affords an even more balanced equation. I got one at two parks - Busch Gardens Tampa and Hersheypark - and while I didn't have to wait in line, I did have to wait. And although BG was very lenient in allowing me to pick a seat, Hersheypark was not. On Storm Runner and Fahrenheit they told me where to sit. (These seats would have not been my first choice, but for the privilege of not having to wait in line, I would have sat anywhere.)

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 3:01 PM

Bobbie1951 said:

I did notice this trend at Cedar Point last year. The Fast Lane pass did not allow immediate access to the rides and I agree that "this presents a more balanced equation for the non-Fast Lane user." Of course, it's different at Six Flags parks; as soon as that beeper goes off, you have immediate access to the ride.

Yeah, but at Six Flags you have to wait until it goes off. Then you get access. So it's essentially the same thing. You're just stuck waiting out that time in a physical line with Fast Lane.

And I've seen the Q-bot line at Six Flags get backed up a few times too.

I think Lo-Q still has the superior product with Q-Bot (used at Six Flags, Dollywood, et al.).

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