Orlando theme parks start targeting the super rich

Posted Monday, July 19, 2010 11:57 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The economy could be teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession, and Orlando's theme parks are still tossing discounts at reluctant travelers. But there are encouraging signs from at least one small segment of consumers: The super rich.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, July 19, 2010 2:31 PM

Gonch is smiling.

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Monday, July 19, 2010 2:32 PM

Actually, he's at Kennywood, so he's probably already paid for some VIP perk today ;).

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Monday, July 19, 2010 2:44 PM

It says Sea World is looking into expanding Discovery Bay. I wonder if this means any of the other boutique park concepts are going to make a comeback. That new theme park model was picking up steam until the recession brought it to a halt.

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Monday, July 19, 2010 3:41 PM

"The company classifies "ultra-affluent" consumers as those who charge at least $7,000 a month on their card, or a minimum of $84,000 in credit-card charges each year."

I know plenty of people who do that. Unfortunately, their income is only $50,000. :)

From reading the comments below the story, sounds like the peasants are already lighting their torches, ready to storm Cinderella's castle.

Last edited by RatherGoodBear, Monday, July 19, 2010 3:42 PM
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Monday, July 19, 2010 4:19 PM

The "trick", so to speak, is to prevent regular guests from co-mingling with these deluxe customers. Gotta keep 'em separated. ;)

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Monday, July 19, 2010 5:40 PM

If somehow I ended up with $8 million, spending that money to buy a house at Walt Disney World so I could have a concierge arrange tickets to the parks for me would not be anywhere near the top of my shopping list. On one hand, you could say the extremely affluent are not afraid to spend their money. But on the other hand, you could ask whether they're spending their money at Islands of Adventure because they can no longer afford Islands of the Mediterranean or Caribbean.

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Monday, July 19, 2010 11:02 PM

ApolloAndy said:
Gonch is smiling.

I love that stories like this bring me to mind. I'm doing something right.

Tekwardo said:
Actually, he's at Kennywood, so he's probably already paid for some VIP perk today ;).

No need for VIP today. Lines were almost nonexistent at Kennywood today...and we were only there about 4 hours or so. (and it still felt like a great value ;) )

rollergator said:
The "trick", so to speak, is to prevent regular guests from co-mingling with these deluxe customers. Gotta keep 'em separated. ;)

I think there's actually some truth to that. Used to be that things like this were 'hidden' from the masses - the little guy never saw the big guy throwing his money around - but, like the article put it, this sort of thing has traditionally be thought of as "shameful" and somewhere along the way attitudes started changing. I tend to believe there's a new psychology taking hold where business wants this kind of thing out there for others tosee and 'strive for' - that's why you end up with the people RGB talk about ($84k a year on the card and $50 a year in income).

I do enjoy how angry people get at people who are able to spend freely though. Gotta love the comments.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:27 AM

I definitely think that they want to advertise this kind of thing more, also because it helps to get the 'midrange' perks selling more. Maybe you can't afford to do one of the VIP packages at Six Flags, but you can afford a QBot, and still get one of the biggest perks...

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 10:25 AM

While obviously more affordable, waterparks offering private cabanas is sort of related to this catering to the "haves" in society. I never realized how many "rich" people there are until we starting renting out cabanas at our park for $200 a pop. For the most part, many of our renters don't bat an eye dropping that kind of money for a 10' X 10' cabana.

Again, a little different than an $8M home, but it shows that the "rich person" market is alive and well, and really a nitche part of the amuement park market that many parks are trying to take advantage of in different ways.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 10:35 AM

I did the cabana thing at WWK a couple of years ago, and I will say, it's pretty much the only way to roll at a water park.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:44 PM

Ditto that. I didn't think I was the sort of person to enjoy that sort of thing. Boy was I wrong. As Ferris said, if you have the means, I highly recommend it.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:18 PM

Hanging n' Banging said:
I never realized how many "rich" people there are until we starting renting out cabanas at our park for $200 a pop. For the most part, many of our renters don't bat an eye dropping that kind of money for a 10' X 10' cabana.

Am I the only one who thinks spending $200 (on anything really) doesn't make you 'rich' by any stretch?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:23 PM

Yeah, I spent $200 on my phone on contract and I'm certainly not rich.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:24 PM

No, you're not.

On the other hand, the $200 is entirely superfluous. It doesn't really get you anything you couldn't get for yourself---get there early if you want shade, etc. It's "splurgy". Another example: on that summer Florida vacation, do you rent the regular fullsize car for $250, or the convertible for $500? Usually, I go with the fulsize. Every once in a while, though, I splurge. It's nice. (And, while I've only done it once, I agree on the whole cabana thing. The Right Way, for sure.)

(And, yes, I am considering upgrading my rental car for the trip that's starting on Friday...the Sebring convertibles that National stocks are fun.)

Last edited by Brian Noble, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:25 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 1:39 PM

Yeah, you're right, Brian.

So let me rephrase:

Am I the only one who thinks being able to blow $200 on something doesn't make you 'rich' by any stretch?

The thing with money is that it's very subjective.

People making six figures could very easily say that they can't afford something like a $200 cabana because they put their money different places or have more debt or save or invest or whatever while someone making half could live a different lifestyle and would easily be able and willing to spend $200 for a cabana and, in turn, someone msaking half of that might have cut corners and saved to partake in a special little treat during the summer.

The thing is we don't know people's situations, tolerances or frequency of such things for the most part. All we know is that in today's economic climate, people will pay $200 for a cabana.

The very fact that Hanging n' Banging is surprised at "how many" people are spending makes me think it's not limited to 'rich' people - probably quite the opposite.

Just an observation. :)

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:09 PM

$200 is a lot of money to me. I just spend a little over $200 on a midi controller, and it just about killed me.

Everyone's different.

For example, a few days ago, Gonch, you said that it didn't bother you to spend a hundred bucks for your family to go see a movie. It's costs me less than $10 to see a movie, so $100 for a movie sounds like a lot to me.

...But I don't have kids, so, yeah, everyone's different.

About this super rich thing, I have no problem at all with it as long as it doesn't negatively affect the "poor guy". A lot of average families have to save up to visit a park, and may only get to visit once a year. Their day should be enjoyable too.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:22 PM

LostKause said:
Everyone's different.

Yeah, that's what I just did a whole post saying. (it's the one directly above yours ;) )

And I added the idea that the amount you spend on any given thing is not even remotely an indicator of one's general wealth (except possibly in very extreme situations).

So basically we agree.

A lot of average families have to save up to visit a park, and may only get to visit once a year. Their day should be enjoyable too.

Serious question here:

Why is it assumed that their day is not enjoyable?

Seems to me that's a fallacy of the entire "haves vs have nots" argument.

More interesting question:

Would it be better in your eyes to just raise the bar a little more so that these families can no longer afford to go in the first place? (Discovery Cove style)

I mean isn't it all just different examples of only missing something because you know what you're missing?

Which, in this case, is really just a variation of "Stuff changes and is changing. I long for the good ol' days." at the core of the argument.

Amusement parks used to be like one thing and now they're not. That's the argument here, right?

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:23 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:35 PM

I'll just respond with repeating in different words that if "perks" are taking a lot of whatever away from the majority of park guests, I against it, and if "perks" can be intrigued into the system in such a way that it doesn't negatively affect them, I am for it.

Edit - And I'll add that if stuff like this went to far, Most CoasterBuzzers wouldn't be able to afford to visit a park. How's that a good thing?

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:37 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:38 PM

But what about perks like Discovery Cove? They intentionally set the price high so that only people willing to pay a high price to get in can afford it, while other people who would normally be able to afford $75 to get in can't...

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