Knott's Berry Farm cuts ticket prices

Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 8:53 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Knott's Berry Farm, which has struggled to boost attendance in recent years, is counting on lower ticket prices and cheaper cotton candy to attract more customers. Starting today, the Buena Park venue will cut adult admission 11%, from $45 a ticket to $39.95, the company said Tuesday. The price of cotton candy will be reduced to 25 cents from $2.75.

Read more from The LA Times.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 8:55 AM
This makes me nervous. I understand why they want to reduce the price of admission, but I think that it's a little too drastic. I mean, drop it two or three dollars and see how it goes first. If that correction isn't enough, do a few more.

If Shapiro is right about one thing, Six Flags did undervalue the industry. I'd hate to see that disease start to spread.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 9:35 AM
Seems funny than Knotts have significantly dropped their admission whilst SFMM has significantly increased theirs.
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:10 AM
KBF has billboards right outside of SFMM that show a Cowboy and the caption... "More Bang for Your Buck!" Maybe this is just a temporary "market share" ploy...? They may be seizing the moment as more and more people find out about the $60 fee to enter SFMM. I'm not sure if it will work or not. How many people from the Valley will drive down to Anaheim for the $20 difference? I know I would...and that would be with the pricing reversed... :-)

Time will tell...
*** This post was edited by Jeffrey R Smith 3/1/2006 10:11:42 AM ***

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:18 AM
I remember reading somewhere that cell phone companies considered $40 as a critical price point to gain mass appeal. Cedar Fair seems to be taking a page out of that book.

I hear what Shapiro is saying about under valuing the industry. I tend to think he is right about Six Flags season pass prices, but I don't think single day tickets were undervalued.

A single day at an amusement park for an average family that spends all day at the park, eats a couple of meals, plays some games and buy some souvenirs is really pushing the limits of affordability for many families. Cedar Point's research on average income brought that point home.

A lot of people compare an amusement park trip to sporting events. Twelve hours of entertainment at a park has a lot more value than 3 hours at a sporting event. That is fine, but it is assuming that a family can afford to go to either of those venues. If the price of admission is too high, it doesn't matter if the value is there.

I'm on a season ticket plan with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field. Judging by the types of conversations going on around me, and the appearance of the typical fan there, it appears that many or most are upper middle class and above. Very different from the old Cleveland Stadium in the 70's when cheap tickets brought a much wider cross section of society to the ball park. Have low to middle class people been priced out of baseball? Could be, and they very well could have been priced out of amusement parks as well.

I think this year will be very interesting in comparing Cedar Fair and Six Flags. I tend to think the Cedar Fair strategy is the right way to go. The Six Flags strategy of raising prices could lead to an attendance drop for them, and it seems to go against economic theories of using supply and demand curves to set price points. Though that, of course, is very simplistic. Time will tell, but we should know by around the middle of summer which company is right.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:25 AM
They should adjust the prices of all food within the park. Saving 25 cents on cotton candy is not a big deal. With TGIF right outside their front gates, serving much better food at similar prices, it has to be damaging their in-park concessions. Now with Johnny Rockets opening up inside the park this year, people will have even less reason to eat at a Knott's wholly owned concession.

Also, Knott's has no new attractions this year, so the discount on tickets is one of their only options as a marketing angle.

I hope it works out, Knott's is a great place and deserves the best.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:30 AM
Actually, that's saving two-fifty on cotton candy. Candy floss will now only cost a quarter. Question: Didnt some other park announce that CC would be 25cents? Was that Six Flags or some other park/chain?
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:36 AM
25 cent cotton candy will be at all Cedar Fair parks, the other park you heard announce that was probably Cedar Point.

DBJ- Johnny Rockets is a wholly owned Knott's concession. They bought a franchise. Just like the TGIFridays restaurants out side of Knott's and Cedar Point.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:41 AM
Well i think it's great that they dropped the price in this time of sky-high fuel prices. It may not be that much of break for people who have to travel far to get there but at least knotts is stepping up to the plate. I can't see how lowering the price to get people in there would be a bad thing.
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 11:03 AM
Knotts has had a billboard just south of SFMM for decades now. Nothing new there.

As for Shapiro's mantra about SF "undervaluing" the industry IMHO the only thing they undervalued was their customers.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 11:16 AM
"More Bang for Your Buck" was the point I was making. It seems they are taking the price war head on! Maybe (key word) the thought is that we can get more people down here to check us out with $20 cheaper gate and then wow them with our service...? Interesting strategy... I hope it works for them.

I do think that amusement parks are generally too cheap though! However, this is capitalism at its best! Competition certainly is supposed to serve as a price check! I'm just not certain that these parks are close enough together to make a difference.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 11:40 AM
Ah, I see. Well the "more bang for your buck" slogan has been since Silver Bullet debuted so nothing new there either. Sorry ;)

edit - meant Silver Bullet, not Ghostrider.


*** This post was edited by Mamoosh 3/1/2006 12:02:45 PM ***

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 11:45 AM
Attendance would have to increase 12.6% to make up for this cut. That's assuming that in park spending is not affected by this. I'm sure it will increase some... people will have more money to spend afterall.
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 11:57 AM
Very interesting stuff here.

About the cotton candy- only thing I can think of is...someone buys it just because it is cheap...if it were 2.75 they would not have bought it at all. Cotton candy makes you thirsty...so the person who wouldn't have spent a penny then buys a drink at a huge profit margin for the park. Makes sense.

Sounds like Knott's is taking on SFMM head on with "family friendly" pricing.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 12:16 PM
I think Jeff is right. A few dollars would have been a better way to go. I'd hate to see Knott's overrun with rowdy, ride tagging teenagers this summer. And with summer discounts, promotions and things, could we actually be paying $30 for Knott's this year? That's insane.

As for Six Flags, I've said before that IMO the prices both at and outside the gate will drop some once Shapiro can raise the season pass prices up to where they belong.*** This post was edited by DWeaver 3/1/2006 12:27:52 PM ***

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 1:08 PM
$5.00 drop isn't THAT huge of a drop. It's not like the Geauga Lake deal where it was a flat $25.00 from nearly $40.00 admission.

I tells ya, if they DO have Cotton Candy at $0.25 a pop at all Cedar Fair parks, you can bet your willy that I'll be first in line for that! Will that make me say "awesome deal"? Yes. Would I have bought it otherwise? Hell no. Will I be seeing that as a savings to use on something else at the park? Oh hell yes! I'll be less hesistant to buy a Pepsi rather than just use the drinking fountain because mentally, I'll say to myself "I just saved so & so, so it comes out to maybe 90 cents per item".

It's a good strategy to value certain foods at a severe discount, because it'll attract other business for other food. I liked when Cedar Point gave away free refills for the Dragster cup after the initial $10.00 sting.

I really hope THIS will set Cedar Fair in the right direction... lowering prices, vs hiking prices. Although I'd like Six Flags to succeed, I hope the pricing strategy in Shapiro & Snyder's mind just totally backfires (mainly 'cause of the parking issue). Cedar Fair always seemed more like the Target of amusement parks while Six Flags kinda felt like the WalMart of the amusement industry.

If I was given a toss-up of 2 parks... Magic Mountain & Knotts. Faced to compare & contrast what each park offers... I'd choose Knotts. 16 coasters? So what... better value at Knotts with quality coasters, quality rides, a quality reputation, and a quality ownership of Cedar Fair... not to mention the $.25 cotton candy! :)

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 1:34 PM
Well, given the choice between Tragic Mountain and the overrated Knott's, I'd split the difference and go to Disneyland. ;)
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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 2:57 PM
Which is what I'm guessing a lot of folks will do this year, DWeaver!

To respond to Robert Mosley's comment... lowering the price to get people back in could be a bad thing if price wasn't the reason attendance was slipping. From the sounds of it, a lot of SoCal folks think KBF is slowly turning into SFMM, in terms of the atmosphere. And there's a lot of ground to make up attendance-wise to compensate for lower ticket prices.

We'll see what happens. At the very least, it's an interesting economics experiment on display in California.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 7:32 PM
Six Flags adds fruit to its lineup, while Cedar Fair drastically lowers their price on cotton candy.

I think it's obvious who the healthier fan base will be...

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006 10:07 PM
First post here, but I am a long time reader.

My 2 cents (no pun intended) I thought that businesses that are competing for people do this kind of thing. One company lowers there prices then the other company tries to say there better so they lower there prices a little more then the other company to get more people. Well SFMM upped there prices and Knotts lowered theirs. I know there mite be a difference in the two parks, but its a little weird to me.

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