Newest jump-to-the-front-of-the-line scheme at Hersheypark--Gonch had it right--there is no escape

Monday, July 23, 2007 1:42 PM
Cool read, matt. :)

I found the two replies to the article quite interesting. Is queue etiquette an American thing?

Also from the article:

"In Washington state, legislators are close to passing a bill that would make cutting in line for the congested Puget Sound ferry (purchase required) illegal, but even there the punishment would be a small fine, not hard time."

I guess we can just consider the cost of these virtual queue systems as a 'pre-payment' of potential fines incurred by line cutting. ;)

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Monday, July 23, 2007 1:56 PM
Now there's an interesting thought. People cutting in line get the opportunity to cut to the front of another line - the one standing before the judge. :)
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Monday, July 23, 2007 2:07 PM
Well, I'm not doing the CP VIP experience until I can get "executive bathrooms" access!!
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Monday, July 23, 2007 2:20 PM
Hmmm, Gonch's post certainly enlightened me. I never realized there was such a huge market of families who would be willing to spend a minimum of $534.50 so their 5 and 3 year olds could have front of the line privileges for... Frog Hopper and Bizzy Bees. Throw in the 3/4 of a hotdog and the 6 sips of soda each kid will ingest in 5 hours and $99 does sound like a steal.

RGB, practicing the stern glare I'm going to flash at VIP's walking up the exit ramp of the Capital Blue Cross Monorail. :(

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Monday, July 23, 2007 2:23 PM
Nah, you just underestimate both the 8-year old's ability to ride and the real world's willingness to spend.
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Monday, July 23, 2007 2:37 PM
I have said it before, but it bears repeating. When it comes to a q-bot at six flags gadv, I consider it a must have. Now that said I hate the idea, and wish it didn't exist, but it does. And because of my reason for having it, i don't consider myself in a higher "class"...Its just the opposite, I consider myself a normal schmuck just trying to SAVE money.

With the lines at SF GADV, I would need 2 days addmission, a hotel room, and food and drink for 2 days (which at the park is very $$$). Now if I pay for a gold q-bot, i can do the park in one day, not have to buy an admission for the second day or pay for meals, snacks and drinks, and drive home at night and not have to pay for a hotel room. For me personally, the additional up front charge equals a huge savings!

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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:02 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
Family of four (with two kids under 9) driving their RV to the campground in June:

RV spot: $36.50
Adult Sweet Access: $300
Kids Sweet Access: $198

Total: 534.50

It's a f'n steal at that price. That's an average of $133 a head.

In comparison, a Gold Q-bot at SFGAdv would run that family of four $176 plus park admission. (and isn't going to offer the rest of the perks either)
....
I noticed that SFGAdv's VIP price has been raised to $299. (looks like they realized they initially underpriced it)


Here is another way of looking at it though. You only get 5 hours of "sweet access" and with either the Six Flags VIP or Gold Q-bot you get all day access (12 Hours). If you count the hourly rate that family gets the get VIP time-

Per Person-
Sweet Access (cheapest)-$26.60 per hour
GAdv VIP-$25 per hour
Family of 4 with Gold Q-Bot plus admission-$7 Per hour (Holy Crap thats a steal!)

Yeah you get some gravel to park your RV on(which gets 10 Mile per gallon so you might as well have stayed at the Hershey Lodge and drove a civic ;)) or lay on the ground in a tent, and the other 7 hours for Hershey (which "commoner" time is about $3/hour.) All and all though in this respect the Six Flags VIP and sweet access are comparable.

In addition the number of sweet access opportunities is limited to how many rooms/sites are available.Combine this with the fact they only get 5 hours, I saw a total of "1" sweet “accessor” on my visit to Hershey this year, and they weren't even cutting for my seat. ;)

I think The Sweet Access is more or less a marketing tool to offer a high end experience and to fill the resorts, otherwise they would offer it to everyone. I have a feeling if they did offer it to everyone, there would be a price increase.

I think anyway you look at it though; all these opportunities are a deal.

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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:21 PM

matt. said:


I was under the impression that these laws more or less served to protect the parks against any potentially litigious, line-jumping cry-babies. I may have my news stories mixed up.


Hmmm...perhaps that is the "real" reason behind the law. In any case, the signs at the fromnt of each queue mentions the penal code which should at least make someone think twice.

Then again, line-jumpers don't strike me as the kind of folks who would take the time to read the signs out front. So I suppose it being a CYA would make sense.

Gonch, you are too funny. I wonder of the state would ever catch on and sell motorists the opportunity to speed? Perhaps even charge a little extra to keep the points off your record? ;)

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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:23 PM
Hershey's Sweet Access isn't that new. I am pretty sure it was when Storm Runner was brand new in 2004, but it may have been 2005. Time flies so fast its hard to keep track.
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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:24 PM

Gary B said:


With the lines at SF GADV, I would need 2 days addmission, a hotel room, and food and drink for 2 days (which at the park is very $$$). Now if I pay for a gold q-bot, i can do the park in one day, not have to buy an admission for the second day or pay for meals, snacks and drinks, and drive home at night and not have to pay for a hotel room. For me personally, the additional up front charge equals a huge savings!


That pretty much exactly sums up the way I feel on the Q-Bot issue. Add to this mix the (insanely) cheap Six Flags season passes and you don't really even have to factor in the price of a day's admission AFTER your first visit to any park. As they say.... time is money... more specifically, my time is my money. Cost of hotel room (or twice the gas cost if I make two day trips out of it), one less vacation day burned at work...

IF (When?) Hershey starts to offer some sort of Flash Pass like program (not the VIP program described above, but a qbot like program for everyone, not just those staying on Hershey properties), I am not sure I would use it. I have a season pass for Hershey... I can get there multiple times a year at times when the park is not all that crowded. The "travel" cost for me to go there is not all that great (just mainly gas money)

At places like Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags New England where I took advantage of the Qbot option, it meant I could do all I wanted to in one day, saving lodging cost (in the case of SFNE) or high milage cost (in the case of SFGrAdv) for a second day... as well as not having to use extra vacation time from work.

I am probably in the minority here... but BECAUSE SFGrAdv and SFNE offer Gold Qbots, I am MORE inclined to go back (more bang for the buck) than if they did not (a two day visit to do only half the stuff).

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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:30 PM

Super Loopy said:
If someone is crazy enough to pay that kind of money then they can take the seat before me.

Does that mean you're not coming with us anymore in August?

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Monday, July 23, 2007 3:46 PM

janfrederick said:
Perhaps even charge a little extra to keep the points off your record? ;)

This certainly wouldn't be anything new.

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Monday, July 23, 2007 4:13 PM

Joe E. said:
Here is another way of looking at it though. You only get 5 hours of "sweet access" and with either the Six Flags VIP or Gold Q-bot you get all day access (12 Hours). If you count the hourly rate that family gets the get VIP time...

You make a lot of good points, but I think it's the additional perks of the Sweet Access that make it the 'steal' from a pure money standpoint.

The free food for 5 hours, the in-park discounts after (or before) your VIP time, on-ride photo, no parking costs, etc.

It basically eliminates all the 'nickel & diming' that SF catches crap for.

And there's always the 'time is money' angle as well. For those of us dumb enough to head out on park trips or make multiple stops or are of the "I'm just there to ride" mindset - the price essentrially lets you do the park to your liking in 5 hours. Hell, you could squeeze a second park into the same day and save a lot of time on one of those types of trips.

I still often wonder if we see low usage on things like this because they're new (and lesser known) or because of the price. Q-bot has been in place for something like 5 years now and it's priced at a level attainable for just about anyone blowing money going to an amusement park. And tons of people are using it. Maybe as some of these other deals have time for word to spread and more people to take notice, you'll see their use more and more often? (just a theory :) )


janfrederick:
Gonch, you are too funny. I wonder of the state would ever catch on and sell motorists the opportunity to speed? Perhaps even charge a little extra to keep the points off your record?

Oooh, a 'preferred' lane on the highway! Pay a toll to enter that lane and the speed limit is 20% faster than the 'standard' lanes. :)

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Monday, July 23, 2007 4:34 PM
The reason I said that Gonch had it right is because in a previous Podcast, he said that in ten years none of this will seem out of the ordinary. It just amazes me how much faster his predictions are becoming.

Already at your local Apple store, they offer ProCare. For just $99 a year for up to three computers, they offer Fast Track--If you have a quick technical question or need to drop off a repair, just flash your ProCare card. You'll skip right to the head of the line at the Genius Bar--and we'll take care of the rest.

Also available are advanced reservations up to fourteen days in advance. The "normal" customer I think has only one day to make a reservation. With you ProCare membership, you'll have access to every available time slot. So let's say that I'm a normal customer and I booked 3pm today, and then some ProCare member goes for the same time. Does that mean that I get bumped backwards, or do they have extra people to help out? Hmmm...

Look at what was being pushed hard under Maryland State Deparment of Transportation when I worked there in 2004. The so-called "Lexus lanes." For an extra fee, you could travel on a separate road that parallels (I'm guessing) the main road and avoid the congestion. The brochure I got pointed out several other areas in the country that already had these extra-pay lanes.

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Monday, July 23, 2007 5:35 PM

Intamin Fan said:
Look at what was being pushed hard under Maryland State Deparment of Transportation when I worked there in 2004. The so-called "Lexus lanes." For an extra fee, you could travel on a separate road that parallels (I'm guessing) the main road and avoid the congestion. The brochure I got pointed out several other areas in the country that already had these extra-pay lanes.

Wow! I honestly didn't realize this concept actually existed and was in practice. Friggin' brilliant!

Sorry, folks. The real world includes extra perks and benefits for those willing to pay...why should parks be any different? (and yes, we have this discussion all the time) But this "Lexus Lane" or HOT lane thing is quite interesting.

Do a google search and you'll find some eye-opening info on the topic. For instance:

I found a couple of pages/sites including this CA report that claims use of such systems ranges across the entire eceonomic spectrum with the lanes they studied showing only 25% of users at any given time were of 'high income' and that the majority of users were low and middle income motorists.

There's also an outstanding article from the WSJ that details how the system works (and instantly brings to mind JRS's theory that a fluctuating price system would be fairest at the parks).

And those "housewives in minivans" the article talks about at the end...they're cool with Q-bot too. :)

I dunno. I still feel pretty strongly that it's not an issue for very many people. More and more in the real world you pay to play (and I've often said it's always been that way in my eyes) and things like this aren't just 'for the rich' - they're for those who find value in said perks and that applies to anyone.

Welcome to the future. :)

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Monday, July 23, 2007 7:06 PM
This is how capitalism works. If there's a buck to be made, someone will come up with an idea to extract it from your wallet. It's supply and demand....
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Monday, July 23, 2007 7:07 PM
If I had the money, I'd buy that up in a heartbeat! :)

Personaly I wouldn't fork out that much. $195 is a little much for me for something that can be easily avoided if you visit Hersheypark in the early Spring or late fall.

I don't see any of these front-of-the line things going anywhere. As a matter of fact I could see it being commonplace in most parks within the next 5 years or so. When it's affordable and it's well-organized I will take advantage of it. It's not like anyone is forcing anyone to fork out the dough, like parking.

Gonch, join the dark side! You can't escape! ;)

-Tina

*** Edited 7/23/2007 11:09:11 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Monday, July 23, 2007 8:12 PM
Hershey was absolutely mobbed when we were there in June on a Saturday and we barely waited for anything. Maybe July and August are different, but it didn't seem necessary to have front-of-the-line at Hershey.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007 1:09 AM
Last year we made the big mistake of visiting Hershey in August. The place was insanely crowded. We never got on Wildcat because the line was so darn long the whole day. You have to understand how unusual this is.

I don't know how The Boardwalk will affect crowd levels at the dry rides (and the three previously-existing wet rides that are part of the new section), but I would imagine that in August it's going to be crazy on the Midway America/Western Frontier side of things.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007 2:04 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

Intamin Fan said:
Look at what was being pushed hard under Maryland State Deparment of Transportation when I worked there in 2004. The so-called "Lexus lanes." For an extra fee, you could travel on a separate road that parallels (I'm guessing) the main road and avoid the congestion. The brochure I got pointed out several other areas in the country that already had these extra-pay lanes.

Wow! I honestly didn't realize this concept actually existed and was in practice. Friggin' brilliant!


Actually, I think this came up in the last permutation of this thread. San Diego has this and they charge on a sliding scale based on the amount of congestion.

Call it a perk if you want to, but for the folks who could only afford one of those homes in the 60 mile distant burbs, it is a necessity.

Then again, a lot of these folks bought out there to get a McMansion at the same price we paid for a small home with a better location. We don't need no stinking Auto-Q-bot (wow, getting into the Transformers theme of things here).

*** Edited 7/24/2007 6:04:55 PM UTC by janfrederick***

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