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.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:41 PM

If a park gets extra money from people willing to spend more we all benefit in some way. It's a trickle down effect. If a park had to survive on people like me then they would go bankrupt in a year, but there's people willing to spend money on a q-bot or a cabana or any of those other extras. So I'll stand out in a line longer or let someone infront of me or whatever and still have an enjoyable time because it's subsidized by those poeple.

It's good business to differenciate your product so you can get the most money from different groups of people.

Last edited by BDesvignes, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 2:48 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 3:43 PM

BDesvignes said:
So I'll stand out in a line longer or let someone infront of me or whatever and still have an enjoyable time because it's subsidized by those poeple.

:)

There you go.

So now back to this:

LostKause said:
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?

So now which is the worse evil?

1. Allowing these 'perks' at the expense of some level of the experience to the base level to keep that base level cost reasonably affordable.

or

2. Dropping the perks and creating a level playing field and potentially raising the base price beyond the levels of a certain segment of guests.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:20 PM

Obviously, I meant integrated in my last comment.


I'm all for DC. It's totally different. It's more of a once-in-a-lifetime type park for the majority of people.

Worst evil? I remember when parks were doing just fine, not so long ago, without making wealthy people feel like they are royalty, and broke people feel like scum. They didn't need, and they still don't need, to walk this narrow line.

Along with that, I really don't understand why a business feels that they are failing if they don't grow their profit each year. What's so bad about keeping the same amount of profit coming in year after year?


I try to stay out of these conversations, because I really don't want to do this anymore. It's the same argument over and over and over.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:28 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:28 PM

Yeah, but you ignored the question.

Would you rather any given park eliminates perks and everyone pays more for a level playing field or rather the park keeps the perks and uses the additional revenue to keep base admission lower and theoretically available to more people (at the expense of dealing with a percentage of guests using the perks)?

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:32 PM

Why does a park have to make more? Why can't it just make the same as before?

I'm not in any way convinced that "base admission" has to be subsidized by perks. Look at Holiday World, Kings Island, and Kennywood, for example.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:07 PM

Let me re-phrase in a different way. I spend a lot of time in our admission center. And it feels like over the past 2-3 years, guests are constantly moaning and groaning at our $36 admission price. I am constantly looking at their eyes widen when a family of 4 costs almost $150 to visit our waterpark for the day. This happens constantly, and started a few years ago when the economy really went to the crapper.

Now, I also spend time in our cabana rental center which attracts a different socio-economic class of guest. And when we tell these guests that it is $200 for a cabana rental, they don't bat an eye. The visa card is out of their wallet before we finish giving the price. We sometimes have guests renting 2-3 adjacent cabanas at a pop....that's $600, and again, the visa card comes out faster than you can give the price. For these folks, $600 is nothing.

My point is that while we can all probably afford $200, there are still lots of folks out there that $200 is chump change. And cabanas, sky boxes, box seats and first class on airplanes are all ways that businesses reap the benefits of the "haves".

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:07 PM

LostKause said:
...without making wealthy people feel like they are royalty, and broke people feel like scum.

This still sounds like you're projecting self-esteem issues. Just sayin'.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:09 PM

LostKause said:
Why does a park have to make more? Why can't it just make the same as before?

Because the expense of doing business continues to rise. Hell, the expense of everything continues to rise - it's called inflation.

And even if you only account for that, it's still stagnation. I can't think of a single thing that thrives on stagnation. Exists? Sure. Thrives? Never.

I'm not in any way convinced that "base admission" has to be subsidized by perks. Look at Holiday World, Kings Island, and Kennywood, for example.

Three parks that list $42, $50 and $36 as a gate price respectively. All significantly higher than they were in the past. They make more now too. But if they made more elsewhere (at the expense of others), those ticket prices might just be lower.

Also interesting that you chose HW as they 'subsidize' the cost of drinks in the gate price - artificially inflating it - and make the drinks free inside the park by making everyone pay into the system at the gate. It's pretty much the exact opposite of the idea that upcharge perks make the gate available to more people. It's an upcharge gate that makes in-park perks available to all.

You're right though, they don't have to be subsidized, but your answer of "I want prices to be as low as possible for everyone" isn't realisitic, nor an option. I want everything to be free...and have no lines....and be open when it's convenient for me...and 72 virgins...

Still not gonna happen.

Just trying to gauge your stance a little better and the "which is less evil" question is very intriguing.

I guess I'll never know.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:19 PM

Hanging n' Banging said:
Let me re-phrase in a different way...

So your point is that everyone's different? That's what I said! :)

Some people struggle to pay $36 admission while others whip out the Visa and spend $600 as an afterthought.

The beauty part is that only represents the line segment representative of people that visit your waterpark.

The actual line itself extends far beyond those points to extremes all the way from people who don't even show up and moan because they can't even afford the $36 that the moaners shell out up to the people who don't show up and toss their Visa at you because the thought of something as cheap and mundane as a rented cabana at a waterpark is something they would never do.

Which is what led me to my line of questioning in the first place - it is better to offer tiered experiences in an effort to attract as many people as possible or to offer a higher "base" that represents a level playing field?

Or in terms of being all touchy feely - is it better that places offer these upcharges and keep the base admission affordable to more families or should all be treated equal at a higher base cost? Which is the greater injustice? Classic moral dilemma.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:20 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:41 PM

I think the answer models your typical stadium or arena, for a sporting event. You have everythning from the "cheap" seats, to the luxury sky boxes. If you go to a professional sporting event, you get every income class of fan, from the retial worker making $9 an hour to the investment broker making $2M a year. Something for everyone. This is the model...

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 6:43 PM

I really don't think that I have any self-esteem issues, Jeff. I've never really thought about it. That may explain why I enjoy being on the stage so much though, but then again, when you have an audience who couldn't imagine life without you, who wouldn't?

If I was super rich, I would probably still have a problem with it, unless the particular perk doesn't affect the regular park guest. *Super Rich Travis* would probably still say, "Kiss everyone's butt, or no ones butt, but not just a certain group of people's butts."

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 6:59 PM

So giving the same to all in a smaller group is more important than giving a little less to most at the expense of giving a lot more to a few in a bigger group?

Or in park terms - you'd rather see less people able to go, but be treated equally than more able to go with different levels of treatment.

(I'm really not trying to lead you into anything here, I'm genuinely curious as to how you feel given the choice of the two evils)

---

Also interesting that you mention *Super Rich Travis* having the same outlook because *Super Poor Gonch* does too.

Back when I couldn't even begin to consider purchasing things we do now, I still didn't begrudge those who could and did.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:04 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:45 PM

It doesn't have to be either one, Gonch. Parks did just fine before all of this separating class crap.

Cabana's are fine. Water parks can make "Bajillions" off of them and I wont mind one bit. People sleeping in a tent while the park is open actually makes the lines shorter for me. :) ...VIP, as long as it is so expensive that only a few people can afford it per day, really doesn't bother me much either. Just don't get in my way. :)

There are some crap that certain park chains think they can pull that do take away from their regular guests, and that's really not the group that they want to upset, because there are more people in the regular group then the super rich group.

Where will it end? Will the super rich eventually become the regular guest, and will the current regular guest not be able to afford to go?

What is the next step, Gonch? Even you may be priced out of a park trip someday

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 7:59 PM

LostKause said:
Where will it end? Will the super rich eventually become the regular guest, and will the current regular guest not be able to afford to go?

Does it matter? Ultimately the parks do whatever a free market economy will allow them to do. That's what I meant about the self-esteem thing... it seems you're worried you'll be left out.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:09 PM

Jeff said:
Does it matter? Ultimately the parks do whatever a free market economy will allow them to do. That's what I meant about the self-esteem thing... it seems you're worried you'll be left out.

I think being worried about being "left out" isn't low self esteem, but rather "left out" as in not being able to afford to go someplace you genuinely enjoy. Not to say that is at all what LK is worried about.

I think there are very few, if any, cases so far of the extremely expensive perks having a huge impact on regular guests. I think some things could be done to reduce resentment, like making it less obvious when guests get to skip ahead in line. Otherwise, until someone does something obviously detrimental, most concerns are just going to be slippery slope arguments.

Last edited by Sagretti, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 9:11 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 10:27 PM

It doesn't have to be either one, Gonch. Parks did just fine before all of this separating class crap.

You are still trying to avoid the question. I can't tell if you are being stubborn, or if you just don't understand that these differentiated services really do relieve some of the pricing pressure on most folks.

The park needs to earn $X in a year, on attendance of Y people. You can charge everyone X/Y. Or, you can charge *most* people a little bit less, and a few people a lot more, give those few people a "VIP experience", and make the day in the park more affordable for everyone else, with a marginal reduction in services delivered.

Which do you prefer? To put my cards on the table: I prefer the latter. It makes my average day cheaper because I know how to have a good day at the park without all that extra fluff, *and* it gives me the option to splurge on the fluff if I wish---and sometimes I do.

And, don't fool yourself about the cabana not "costing" anyone else anything. Those are usually prime spots, and the cluster of them tends to be very-low density, so the "non-cabana" people have to be packed a little closer together, a little farther to the periphery. It might not make a line longer, but it certainly takes "common amenities" (space and location) taking from the many and giving to the few.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:34 PM

LostKause said:
It doesn't have to be either one, Gonch. Parks did just fine before all of this separating class crap.

Brian said it better than I could have. I suck like that.

Where will it end? Will the super rich eventually become the regular guest, and will the current regular guest not be able to afford to go?

What is the next step, Gonch? Even you may be priced out of a park trip someday

And I'm entirely ok with that. Which is another misconception I think you have about me (and others) - that I'm ok with it because I am able and tend to choose to spend on those things.

I'm ok with it because I think it makes sense. I don't see the problem and if it ever gets out of my range, I'll simply accept the fact that I can't afford it...like I have in the past and still do on occasion...and do with countless other things in life that I wish I had or could do. I'm 'left out' of things all the time.

Other than that I think Jeff hit on the emotional side of it pretty well.

But there's still the point that you're avoiding - these upcharge perks are helping make it so everyone doesn't have to be priced out.

Parks sacrificing revenue is not an option. No matter how hard we wish.

I'm still wondering which side you'd lean towards - injustice for the greater good of inclusion or exclusion for the greater good of fairness?

Again, I ask not as some sort of lead to a greater point or anything. It's honest-to-goodness curiosity about how the mind of Travis works. Which virtue is more worthy?

I personally don't know where I fall, I could probably argue either way (surprise!).

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:01 AM

It all comes down to a matter of priorities and what's important to each person. For some people, spending $200 on a cabana is worth the price to them, and it doesn't matter if their income is $25,000 or $250,000. There are some at the $250,000 level who will refuse to pay that amount, and other who probably think the whole concept of going to a waterpark is silly.

At the other end of the spectrum, some at the $25,000 level won't have a problem paying for a cabana because they don't spend a lot on clothing, or eating out, or other discretionary purchases. Others will pay for the cabana and cut back in other areas for a few weeks. Still a few other total fools will pay for the cabana and not pay the electric bill for this month. Income itself isn't the controlling factor.

Travis, spending $200 for a midi controller was a large purchase for you, but you spent the money because that item is important to you and was something you'll use in your music. I have no need for something like that, but I can see that it would be useful to you. Other people won't see the value in that and think that's a foolish purchase. Again, it's all a matter of priorities.

I think it's also important to point out that Disney's attempt to target the ultra-rich consists of building a residential subdivision of 450 very expensive houses. There's no mention of any other in-park percs. And are all of those families ever going to be in the parks at the same time? How many days will these people even spend in the parks? How noticeable will their presence be compared to present crowds, even if there are more percs involved?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:08 AM

So I think what you're saying is that everyone is different. I wish someone would have just come right out and said that. :)

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:28 AM

I already answered, neither, Goncher. I do not think it's that black and white; that these perks serve to lower the price for everyone else. The price of the average amusement park ticket is not getting lower as new add-on perks were added. The average amusement park ticket seems to be rising in price, and what the customer gets in return has been less at some parks, because the park scrapes a little off of the regular guests experience and adds it to the "super rich".

It looks something like a strawman argument to me. Do I prefer a or b? Neither, because a and b could be false.

Last edited by LostKause, Wednesday, July 21, 2010 12:30 AM
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