Park food... do franchises help the park?

Monday, April 4, 2005 11:08 PM
As a loyal season passholder at Paramount Canada's Wonderland, I've noticed in the past few years a shift in thier park food.

In the past, all of the food in park was generic and prepared on site at various themed outlets. I was always ok with that, and the food was always pretty good, if not over priced. This is what I've also noticed at most parks I've visited.

Over the past few years, there's been a big shift at PCW towards franchised food outlets. It began with New York Fries, then continued with Pizza Pizza (Ontario's largest Pizza chain) and Mr Sub (a Canadian version of Subway). Last year all of the in-park ice cream stands were converted to Dairy Queen outlets, complete with sundaes and Blizzards! Add in some other franchises (like Chinese food and Teriyaki) and the midway is looking more and more like a food-court in a shopping mall.

The Pizza Pizza on International Street at PCW sells more pizza slices in a year than any of it's other 400 restaurants, and it's only open for 126 days. That has to be a huge win for the park and the franchising company.

My assumption is that by adding familiar franchises, Dairy Queen for example, the park is attempting to add a level of quality to thier food. If people feel the food is of higher quality, they will be more likely to buy. The more per-cap spending in the park, the better the park performs financially.

Has anyone else noticed this trend, or have any comments about it?

Monday, April 4, 2005 11:16 PM
I would rather have regular park food than franchise food. Most times I have felt that I have gotten ripped off because the franchised food is more expensive in the park!
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 12:06 AM
I ate at the subway restaurant at kings island once. That was the last time because of the outragious prices. I think it was nearly $5 for a 6 inch sub.

When we go to geauga lake, I always hit the taco bell. Prices are not as bad.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 12:23 AM
I think it has less to do with a higher level of quality in the food and more to do with the fact people are more likely to shop, or in this case eat, somewhere familiar.

People like what is comfortable and safe, even if it may not be as good as one of the in-house brands.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 12:34 AM
Not only is it more expensive to buy from a franchise inside a park...but the portions are smaller too. For example- a Subway sub at Six Flags- you have to order "extra meat" for a huge extra fee to get the regular amount of ingredients.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 12:44 AM

crazy horse said:
I ate at the subway restaurant at kings island once. That was the last time because of the outragious prices. I think it was nearly $5 for a 6 inch sub.

When we go to geauga lake, I always hit the taco bell. Prices are not as bad.

Those $1.29 tacos are garbage compared to a $5.00 Subway sub, since at least you are eating well from Subway. Heck, you can even buy the $4.25 Kids Meal and eat it yourself, and it has a drink and a cookie included.

For real food at an amusement park, GL can't compare to the offerings at Kennywood. It's a shame too, since that Aurora park had some of the best variety a few years ago.

If Subway inside GL is too expensive for you, how about going to the shopping plaza across the street to eat, which has a Subway, Bob Evans, and a KFC. You are now allowed to leave the park one time during your daily stay, so you can go across the street for some real good nutrition. Bob Evans in fact has a new Baked Cod Dinner, that is served with rice and steamed vegetables, that makes my mouth water just thinking about it :)

*** Edited 4/5/2005 5:38:19 AM UTC by midwave***

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 5:45 AM
SFA has Panda Express, Ben & Jerry's and Subway. Both are pretty popular with park guests. However, I still eat the in park food. They typically have something I'm looking for whether it's Pizza, a BBQ Sandwich or Chicken.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 9:18 AM
SFGadv used to have a McDonalds in the park...but that closed down. So what does that tell you?
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 9:41 AM
The only franchise food in a park that I'll eat is LaRosa's and Skyline Chili at PKI, because those are both Cincinnati-based, local chains.

Most of the fast food you see in parks (McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell) is gross anyway, and especially so when you buy it at double price and it's all cold and mashed. I say, find something unique to eat... or, like midwave said, go across the street.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 9:44 AM
I also noticed the change from PCW to franchises over the last few years. I was never really impressed with PCW food before, so if anything, the franchises are at least improving the food consistency (to protect their brands). IMO, PCW did this because they realized that their core business is operating the park, not necessarily the food vendors inside the park.

IMO, a key advantage of using franchises in a theme park is the potential for better management. The on-site franchise management team is likely borrowed from / rotated with an off-site franchise location with regular training and retraining. Staff selected from April's seasonal hires may need additional training.

Franchise food (McDonald's) has worked really well for La Ronde in Montreal. The prices and quality are both very good. (Too bad about the patrons...)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 10:33 AM
I don't like seeing franchised food at parks. It isn't about quality as most park food (with a few exceptions) is mediocre and overpriced and most fast food is really nothing special (or healthy). But C'mon..I can go to a Dairy Queen, McDonalds, Taco Bell, or Jerimiah's House of Grease and Fat a n y w h e r e. Locating the dang things inside the park make me feel like I'm taking a cruise down some ugly commercial suburban highway strip with no character and no real way to tell if I'm in Oakley Kansas or the outskirts of Chicago.

I want to go to a park for a different experience then what I get in the outside world. If I want a Subway sandwich then I might as well buy it outside the park and keep it in a cooler in my car instead of getting it in the park for 3 times the price (and I'll often do just that).

I'm also sick of the near constant bombardment of commercial messages and the modern theme park has gotten particulary bad at transforming a day of fun and escapism into a giant interactive commercial. If I want an overpriced low quality hamburger I'd rather get it from a generic park stand rather then an overhyped fast food outlet and avoid the commercial indoctrination.

I don't have a problem with a park introducing some local and regional flair. Maybe a well known local dish or a small local restaurant chain would be a better idea. It would give people a chance to try something different or at least offer some clue that they are in southern Louisiana or the douglass fir forests of Oregon.

But I know that parks don't care about this and people seem to flock towards the familiar so it is probably a successful thing to do in a strictly business sort of way. In terms of social quality and life experience, well it makes our time on this earth just a little bit poorer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 10:49 AM
I am with Millrace I don't like franchised foods at a park. If I wanted to eat those I'd leave the park, and eat at them. Also I'd save a lot of money by doing so. Usually when I take a trip to a park I almost always leave, and eat lunch and dinner elsewhere. I think most parks food pricing is too outrageous, and don't merit spending the extra.

There are exceptions. Knoebels is a good example. Reasonable pricing, and better food then you'd get outside of the park.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 10:55 AM
LaRosa's was really great, and the Panda Express at SFMM was expensive, but you got A Lot of food and it was good (I ate more Panda Express as well as Carl's Jr., both of which we have on the east coast in Cali, but forgot to eat at In and Out :().

But at USH, Disney, and Knott's, we ate in park. All were good, if expensive. can go across the street for some real good nutrition.

You can only leave GL's gates one time per day? Is there a reason? Is it because they don't want you going across the stree to eat? Thats weird, I didn't know that...

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 11:10 AM

TeknoScorpion said:
But at USH, Disney, and Knott's, we ate in park. All were good, if expensive.

LOL, at USH we spent the 20 bucks for the AYCE wristbands...between soda and food, I figure they LOST 20 bucks on me....the Panda Express WAS good food, too....wish there had been ANOTHER one of those on the upper level of the park...

20 bucks, all you can eat and drink, ALL day, at a PARK no less...USH will either make a TON of money doing that....or they'll LOSE a ton...;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 11:15 AM
Skyline chili....drool
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 11:36 AM
I prefer the chains *outside* the park, including Skyline. It's just not the same.

The Universal Hollywood all-you-can-eat $20 deal was the best, considering a typical meal was around $9-$12. We PUT it to good use.......even ate when we weren't that hungy. :-D It was limited to three restaurants but they were all EXCELLENT quality. You could go through the lines as many times as you wanted. All the soda refills you wanted, etc. The pizza and chicken strips were especially excellent. :-)

I never ate so much in a park in my life. :-P I just wish more parks would offer such an option.


*** Edited 4/5/2005 3:39:42 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 11:42 AM
I will be doing that if they have it next year at Solace time, Bill. We didn't do it this year because we had dinner plans with Moosh, and we were at the park from only 2-6pm, so it wouldn't have paid us to do it, even though our meal was almost the same cost.

More parks should consider something like that, I'd do it every time, esp. with a season pass.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 1:57 PM
Me? Well, it all depends on the quality. I've seen bad and good franchise food, and I'd rather see good park food than bad franchise food. Price is also up there, if it costs the same as the rest of the park, and you get the quality and quantity of the franchise, I'd say it's good, but once they start charging you for $2 for a large fry, then it's bad.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 3:15 PM
Interesting you say that Greatwhitenorth... its a constant that every year here in Montreal, the newspapers will run a story on how the food at La Ronde is so expansive and its wrong! I never eat at McDonald's or Nickel's at La Ronde. Usually, its either the asian restaurants or the Vieux Duluth Express, which serves gyros.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 3:23 PM
If I wanted fast food, I would walk across the street and get it (at least most places). Parks have an opportunity to make you a repeat visitor by the fare that they offer, yet most of them fall flat. I get just as excited about the food at Kennywood, Knoebels, Knotts, etc as the rides themselves when I plan a visit.

// Remembers eating the $1 Belgium Waffle with fruit and ice cream at the original GL.


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