Knott's Berry Farm will offer up-charge haunt this fall

Posted Monday, August 6, 2012 10:00 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park will offer a premium maze for small groups apart from the crowds. Access to the exclusive maze, starting Sept. 21, will come with an extra charge. It will cost $60 for a group of up to six people, on top of admission to the park, which runs from $36 to $60 per person.

Read more from The LA Times.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 10:35 AM

So if it's $60 for UP TO six people, that means your average couple pays the same $60, unless they join up with strangers outside the attraction?

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Monday, August 6, 2012 10:48 AM

Correct Mike.

I have never been scared or even mildly freaked out at a park haunt. For $60 they better scare the hell out of me.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 12:00 PM

Or give you a Lobster Tail or Steak Fillet dinner like they to with Boeckling's Banquet at Cedar Point.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 1:43 PM

The price alone scares the hell out of me.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 2:08 PM

I always love the overreaction to these things - and they'll always find someone to give them the quote they can use:

"It sounds to me like they are trying to cater to rich people," Kirchner said.

Paying $10 per person for 25 minutes of entertainment makes you rich now?

Wow.

Any decent regional haunt will cost you twice that.

It's time to finally lose this POP mentality that the industry dug itself so hard into for so long. Clearly the trend is moving the other direction...especially for things that are popular - and these theme park haunt events just get more and more popular each season.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 2:46 PM

The $60 a head for one maze is a bit much, but they will get some action on it, whether or not it will be enough to justify the operating expense remains to be seen.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 3:00 PM

It's $60 for six heads.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 3:08 PM

Your assuming he knows 5 other people ;-)

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Monday, August 6, 2012 3:47 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Any decent regional haunt will cost you twice that.

And most are 10 times as good.

This isn't exactly new. Some Six Flags parks (Ohio) have always charged extra for their houses and at parks like Busch Gardens Tampa or Universal the event is already the upcharge.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 4:46 PM

Funny Jason, yeah I missed the "up to six persons" part. So it could cost you anywhere from $10 to $60 depending upon the size of your party. Not too unreasonable for a half an hour if you have the max. number of people.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 5:45 PM

Back to the whole issue of entertainment being expensive, I spent $80 at the casino last night and only had a hangover to show for it, but I had a great time. if I hadn't spent that money inside (which earned me free parking), I'd have been stuck paying $25 for parking when we left. I'm much happier dumping it into games i may or may not win, rather than paying for parking, which has no value to me.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 5:58 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

It's time to finally lose this POP mentality that the industry dug itself so hard into for so long.

Why?

Everyone pays an admission. If I am spending my time in the haunts, I am not spending time on the rides. If you are spending time on the rides, you are not spending time in the haunts. The fact that someone chooses haunts or rides (or shows) does not disrupt the value proposition.

If a park had 2 attractions it doesn't matter to them which I prefer--as long as I pay my admission price. You can argue that the park might prefer that people choose the attraction with lower costs, but they built the attraction with higher costs to get people to come and pay the admission price.

If I prefer the rides over the haunts, I could care less if haunts are an upcharge--I'll just ride the rides. If I prefer the haunts to the rides, I'll decide if I want to pay an extra $10-60 ON TOP OF ADMISSION. If I don't, CF loses the admission price they could have collected from me. If I do, CF could simply have jacked up the admission by $10 and collected the the same $$$.

That is why POP started--it didn't matter to the park which attraction you spent your finite time at. And it was less expensive to the park than selling tickets & having ticket-takers at every attraction. CP could just add a "Haunt Surcharge" on to the admission and come out at the same place

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Monday, August 6, 2012 6:31 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

It's time to finally lose this POP mentality that the industry dug itself so hard into for so long. Clearly the trend is moving the other direction...especially for things that are popular - and these theme park haunt events just get more and more popular each season.

And of course we'll see the pendulum swing back too at some point.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 8:59 PM

Jeff said:

It's $60 for six heads.

Not touching that one... ;)

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Monday, August 6, 2012 9:21 PM

Same thing that was done at BGT. They had all the haunts, but had one that you could go through as a small group for an upcharge.

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Monday, August 6, 2012 9:24 PM

DaveStroem said:

I have never been scared or even mildly freaked out at a park haunt. For $60 they better scare the hell out of me.

Me too.

That being said, we did Haunted Graveyard once about 5-6 years ago as an add-on to Lake Compounce. I don't remember precisely, but my guess is that it added *about* $15 to the LC admission. At 35-40 minutes, it was easily worth it. As a bonus, HG did reservation times and stayed open after LC closed for the night - so we didn't forfeit any ride time.

As we were leaving, I mentioned to a friend that it was easily better than ANY haunted attraction I've done - including Howl-O-Scream and HHN. One of the HG managers overheard, and came to talk to me for a while....they were happy to hear the compliment, and mentioned that they are continually trying to improve and upgrade their haunt...

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Monday, August 6, 2012 9:32 PM

How much do you charge to touch it?

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Monday, August 6, 2012 9:32 PM
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012 12:52 AM

Captain Hawkeye said:

Why?

Because.

Everyone pays an admission. If I am spending my time in the haunts, I am not spending time on the rides. If you are spending time on the rides, you are not spending time in the haunts. The fact that someone chooses haunts or rides (or shows) does not disrupt the value proposition.

Ok.

If a park had 2 attractions it doesn't matter to them which I prefer--as long as I pay my admission price. You can argue that the park might prefer that people choose the attraction with lower costs, but they built the attraction with higher costs to get people to come and pay the admission price.

Ok.

If I prefer the rides over the haunts, I could care less if haunts are an upcharge--I'll just ride the rides. If I prefer the haunts to the rides, I'll decide if I want to pay an extra $10-60 ON TOP OF ADMISSION. If I don't, CF loses the admission price they could have collected from me. If I do, CF could simply have jacked up the admission by $10 and collected the the same $$$.

Ok.

That is why POP started--it didn't matter to the park which attraction you spent your finite time at. And it was less expensive to the park than selling tickets & having ticket-takers at every attraction. CP could just add a "Haunt Surcharge" on to the admission and come out at the same place

Ok.

You made that WAY more complicated than I intended.

All I know is that park attractions began as a pay-per-ride thing. Parks were a fun place to spend the day and as attractions got added, people had to pay.

Once parks got to the point where it was about the rides as much as (if not more so) than the day at the park, POP became an easy way to express value and do business. POP is a pretty easy concept.

In the last decade or so, we're seeing more and more upcharge come about in the park experience. Less and less parks grant access to everything with your POP admission. It's more like POP with an asterisk.

It's flat-out not "show up at 10am, buy a ticket, and ride all you can" anymore. People pay different prices for different tickets or passes, some guests have access to the park at different times than other guests, some pay for additional ride access with VQ and FOL systems, some pay for additional attractions. It goes on and on.

Why do we all still buy into the charade? Why do the parks continue to perpetuate the myth?

This causes some degree of confusion, disappointment, anger, whatever with a certain segment of the customer base. Not sure if they're a large segment or just a vocal segment, but they exist and always crawl out of the woodwork to express their displeasure that a park would dare ask for additional money in addition to paid admission.

This is where my comment comes in. In reference to the customer expectations, pricing and the park experience.

The trend of upcharge services, attractions and experiences grows with each year. We're already past POP like it or not. One price isn't getting you everything. POP doesn't quite fit anymore in a growing number of parks, places and situations.

You could tie everything into admission but that creates issues too. How much can you tie in before the value proposition is no longer there?

Or in the case of this haunt in particular, how many people can the attraction handle before the unique experience is lost and it's no longer worthy of the upcharge price it was commanding? The same idea applies to other upcharges as well.

With POP there's a certain expectation and the way the park business model is moving, I'm not sure that expectation can reasonably be met in a way that satisfies all parties. We keep getting closer to the tipping point - especially for the big parks. I'm being a tad premature in my suggestion to jump from the POP ship, but it's coming. Or maybe it's not - POP will exist as one of a myriad of options. Most likely it will live on as a lower-end 'value' choice for visiting the amusement park.

I've been a big proponent of tying in multiple costs to the gate for years around here, but I'm not so sure any more. Painting with that broad of a brush feels like it's losing favor. Once price fits all doesn't quite work like it once did.

As parks continue to find ways to offer multiple levels of service, cater to individual wants and find ways to relieve every guest of their dollars as efficiently as possible it'll be the first park to ditch POP for a better model (and I have no idea what that model may or may not be) that will be the pacesetter for the next phase of the amusement business.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, August 7, 2012 12:54 AM
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012 2:26 AM

It does seem kind of crappy that they are replacing a "free" maze with an upcharge. I'd rather see the upcharge added as an expansion of the overall offerings.

That said, it is an interesting concept. Smaller haunts have been selling premium experiences for quite some time, either as an "enhanced" experience or something more personalized, like sending people through by themselves. It'll be very interesting to see if a huge park like Knott's can pull off something like this in a way that makes the extra fee worthwhile. I know BGT had a pretty successful upcharge house last year, but the concept of that one was that you went through alone and not in a group.

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