Pay Queue Syetems -- Flashpass etc.

Friday, July 28, 2006 2:52 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

The 2nd day we sprung for the gold flash pass. Without it you can't enjoy yourself in the park.

With that said though, I must admit I hate the whole idea.

Another interesting observation.

I hear this more and more lately. People who absolutely despise the very idea of the system feeling that they have to buy into it and acting on that notion.

All that says to me is that it really is here to stay - even hardened enthusiasts are ponying up and paying to play.

I'm just waiting for the time to come when the FlashPass threads aren't full of complaints, but rather full of people sharing tips and advice on using the system to your advantage. ;)

All it says to me is that the second day they bought it just so they could enjoy the park instead of not being able to do anything.

He also mentioned how Hershey does things. Sure the new ride gets a huge line but hershey adds when it needs to spread the crowd and unless its saturday I believe every line except super saturator or whatever is less than a half hour. Same with Holiday World. All it says to me is MAKE MORE MONEY OFF PEOPLE BEING MISSERABLE. Which in essence backfires in the long run when the person finds hershey or knoebels and is unwilling to be treated that way again.

Chuck *** Edited 7/28/2006 6:55:15 PM UTC by Charles Nungester***

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:09 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Regardless of the reasoning - he bought it. Bottom line. The point is no matter how 'against it' he was, that he still participated in the system.

That's exactly what more and more people on these forum seem to be saying. The motive is irrelevant, the result is that FlashPass is being paid for.

It's not going anywhere. Parks like Universal have dropped free systems altogether for pay systems and even 'sacred' parks like Hershey now offer a form of priority line access for a certain segment of guests. None of these parks would have anything like this in place if there weren't a demand for it.

Honestly, I don't understand why ANY park would pass up such a potentially lucrative revenue stream.


Well, duh! The whole idea is based on the idea that people don't want to wait in line. That's the whole business model.

SF operated like crap long before FlashPass and in many cases they still are. There's no conspiracy.

So what's their motivation to speed things up when people are buying FlashPass? I dunno, you guys are the ones who go off about "word of mouth advertising" and "people who have a bad time won't go back", so I'd guess the motivation is to make return customers of the vast majority of guests who don't purchase FlashPass.

Again, there is no conspiracy. FlashPass doesn't make the wait any shorter for those users (Gold PAss excluded) so if I spend the cash on one, I'm still still waiting an hour for the one-train operations to pan out like everyone else. Heck, I'd prefer they run three trains too - then my FlashPass wait would only be 20 minutes like everyone else's.

The SF operations issue and the FlashPass thing are two different beasts and with each passing year virtual queue and/or line priority status can be bought at more and more parks. Welcome to the future of amusement park big business. :)

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:11 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar Gonch - you forgot again. :P

When you're virtually queued for a ride, you can line up for another. Thus you can wait for 2 at a time while "mere mortals" can only ride 1 at a time. *** Edited 7/28/2006 8:21:19 PM UTC by ApolloAndy***

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:17 PM

Kyle Fobe said:
Each time you went with your season pass or was it like a coupon for one time?

Umm, I only went to SFNE once, but all I had to do was show the guy my SFA pass to get the discount. Funny aside, in the Q-bot "briefing" room, they had a list of the prices and at the very bottom, in smaller print' was a note that said something to the effect of 'discount with season pass...but you have to ask'. I had no idea *how much* the discount would be until it was time to pay.

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:19 PM
I never said there was a conspiracy and it will be there as long as it pays for itself and makes the park money.

All Im saying is I think it backfires. The person who had to by the bot just to be able to enjoy the park is less likely to go back realizing the actual cost of the park is 450.00 compared to the 250.00 for a family of four advertised price.

Yeah there are people out there willing to pay it but for how long? I could go up the street from SFGADV and visit Dorney and Hell the lines for Steel force were 10 minutes on a saturday without a flashpass or bot.

I see two directions parks are going, Making it more family friendly and affordable or add ons just so a stock holder group can show a profit.

Sorry, people aren't stupid, They are loosing in the long run as evidenced by me and others who do not go to the park because of this.

Chuck, who's had this conversation before over different subjects about parks, The fact is the ADD ON parks are showing little to no growth and the affordable friendly parks are growing 20+% a year.

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:21 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar I haven't needed to score a FlashPass yet this year, but in the past the discount was the 'upfront fee' for the Q-bot.

Basically you pay a fee just to get the Q-bot and then each person (starting with the first) that you put on it costs money. That 'upfront fee' was waived for passholders. (see this pic from last year at SFOG for reference - in that case the inital $10 was waived for passholders)

No idea what has changed since Red Zone took over.

And the most important advice of all. :)

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:29 PM
Jeremy, the system in place at SFNE's SROS would also work, but it is so dependent on an employee doing the right thing, and also being present. If they don't staff an employee there, or if the employee isn't doing their job right, then you can throw that out the window.

Personally, I've even taken advantage of Fast Lane at SFGAdv--when it was free and first-come, first-served. There was only a limited number of these things, and they were open to everyone.

Now parks are putting people on unequal playing fields and letting people who have the cash and spend it to wait in line less. It just bugs me. Perhaps I would be less annoyed if they would implement a standard system chain-wide that was run very well and that had very little effect on the GP. Perhaps if they ran all the trains and rides effiently. Of course, if this was the case, they'd have less need for it :) *** Edited 7/28/2006 7:31:59 PM UTC by rablat5***

coastin' since 1985

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:39 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Charles Nungester said:
All Im saying is I think it backfires. The person who had to by the bot just to be able to enjoy the park is less likely to go back realizing the actual cost of the park is 450.00 compared to the 250.00 for a family of four advertised price.

Exactly, which is why the conspiracy thing makes no sense. (and I understand you specifically didn't claim conspiracy)

Sorry, people aren't stupid, They are loosing in the long run as evidenced by me and others who do not go to the park because of this.

And I look to the other side and see the 3 million people a year who do go. If these parks were turning off people in any significant numbers, the one-train ops wouldn't matter because the lines wouldn't get that long in the first place. People are not running from these parks. They're still going in droves.

Chuck, who's had this conversation before over different subjects about parks, The fact is the ADD ON parks are showing little to no growth and the affordable friendly parks are growing 20+% a year.

(note: I'm equating 'family friendly' parks with 'small parks' - feel free to define it differently for me, preferrably citing examples)

But that's just a symptom of where they were in the first place. The small parks have no where to go but up. The big parks have hit a plateau of sorts and must now brainstorm for new guests and/or additional revenue.

SF went with the addition revenue approach with new pricing and things like FlashPass. Cedar Fair went the more guests route banking on the idea that cheap cotton candy will magically make the numbers jump.

Those smaller parks, in general, are adding new attractions and drawing new guests who now have 'taken notice' and the growth comes from being a small park in the first place and slowly making the transition to large park.

Face it, no regional park is realistically going to pull more than 3 1/2 or 4 million people a season. All the big parks already hit those plateaus. That's exactly why I think Cedar Fair's price cuts were a knee-jerk reaction. They didn't price anyone out of things, they just reached a point that significant additional attendance is not realistic.

Sure, they'll see a boost on years that high profile attractions are added, but in general, most of these big regional parks have reached a point of terminal velocity, so to speak.

This is all turning into the same conversation that we had in the thread we hijack from CPLady (and I still feel bad for that)

The cold hard facts are that the 'big parks' (many rides, high priced, add-on type places) do attendance numbers that other parks don't touch. People are not as scared of spending money as you think.

*** Edited 7/28/2006 7:39:36 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

Friday, July 28, 2006 3:58 PM
I heard somewhere that Dollywood is going to put in a pay Lo-Q system. Shame. I never thought that HFEC would do this.

Fortunately this is unlikely to happen at some parks because the waits are short enough that a pay queue system wouldn't be gaining you much for the price. KW is a good example of this as are many of the smaller parks.

KB deals with the line problem on weekends by going pay-per-ride only. You pay so much for each ride and can rest assured that you aren't going to pay a big charge and only get a few rides in return as often happens at parks like SFGAdv.

As for HW, as long as the Kochs own this park, it isn't going to happen there. HW charges a bit more at the gate than other comparably sized parks but takes pride in not taking you for big bucks elsewhere. They have free parking, free drinks, free sunscreen, reasonably priced food and merchandise, and all guests being treated the same when it comes to waiting in the lines.

Arthur Bahl

Friday, July 28, 2006 4:09 PM
^^Except of course, those who are granted a Holiday World Ride Boarding Pass, who then receive access to some of the major rides in similar fashion to a Flash Pass holder. Not saying that I'm against this practice (I think it makes good courteous business sense) but this *is* a case of exceptional treatment.
lata, jeremy
--de-railing th econvo train as usual ;)
Friday, July 28, 2006 4:24 PM
I just had to add some points about parks and value.

In the case of CF, I dont know if lowering the admission price at CP was a good idea or not. Time will tell. This park appears to be a bit underpriced now considering what it has to offer but then you do have to look at the local economy. I do know that the price at GL was lowered in an attempt to draw people back that were turned off by Six Flags. Maybe Cedar Fair could differentiate CF from GL and MiA through the pricing. CF is the big coaster park and GL and MiA could be positioned as smaller, more family oriented parks with more affordable pricing.

There are a number of smaller parks that avoid major "add-ons" that are indeed growing rapidly in attendance. HW and LC are good examples of this and they are on the verge of leaving their "small park" identities behind. Other smaller parks such as Waldameer and Beech Bend are also expected to show considerable attendance growth as they add new attractions.

As for KW, the highway remains a critical matter here. This park experienced considerable growth in the 1990s but has saturated its local market and needs to draw from other areas. KW has already left the ranks of the "small parks" but wants to join the ranks of the larger parks in the future. It will be interesting to see if they can do this while continuing provide good value.

Regarding the high priced parks with the big attendance, these parks can't hold much bigger crowds and so they go for higher prices and more add-ons. What some of them need is some real competition from parks with similar attractins but better operations and fewer "hidden" charges. Imagine what would happen to SFGAdv if HP or DP had more room to expand.

Arthur Bahl

Friday, July 28, 2006 4:40 PM
^ I'd like to see some other parks stick it to Six Flags, especially SFGAdv. It is just too overpriced. Heck, it was close to being overpriced LAST year.

I recently changed my plans for a SFGAdv trip next week to a Hersheypark trip. Why? Because I wanted to have a good time and treat the others I'll be with to a good time. I want to have excellent operations and smaller wait times. And I want to have most/all of the rides running! SFGAdv is really having a bad year with this. Let's see--as of now, we have:

--Batman: The Chiller down
--Robin: The Chiller down
--GASM down
--Kingda Ka up and down
--Rolling Thunder left down
--Tango down

On top of this, we have possible 1-train op on Batman, Superman, and RMT. Add a crowded park, Flash Pass users, poor operations, high prices, tolls, expensive parking, and hot weather, and I'm looking at a not-so-enticing situation.

Yea, Hershey wins this time--heck, Hershey wins most of the time. The main advantages SFGAdv has over HP in my book are the coaster selection and the fact that I can use my SFA pass there. Other than that, why even bother, especially now?

coastin' since 1985

Friday, July 28, 2006 5:19 PM

rablat5 said:

--Kingda Ka up and down
On top of this, we have possible 1-train op on Batman, Superman, and RMT. Add a crowded park, Flash Pass users, poor operations, high prices, tolls, expensive parking, and hot weather, and I'm looking at a not-so-enticing situation.

Kingda Ka up and down? That's pretty much the whole ride save for the bunny hop!

Okay, seriously now. The one point that you can't gloss over is "crowded park" and you can blame that on park ops, down rides, and Flash Pass users, but the reality is that the park can still be pretty crowded even if it's running on all cylinders and simple market forces would dictate that the prices may not be high enough, the parking may not be expensive enough, etc. to keep folks away. I'll spare you the Yogi Berra quote about the place no one goes to anymore because it's too crowded. Too late.

As for Hershey, great park. But why is everyone giving Hershey a free pass on pay passes here? When I was there last month, all of the Hotel Hershey guests were offered a deal where you would be limo'd to the park and be escorted on 5 of your favorite rides with no waiting, and limo'd back to the hotel. Sweet Access Pass or something like that.

PKI, Herhsey, Cedar Point, SFGadv all have VIP plans where you pay a few hundred bucks a head for an all access pass.

Are we going to jump on Cedar Point, Universal, Disney, and Hershey because they open the parks an hour or so early for resort guests? If the distinction is that those guests don't inconvenience the guests during the day after "paying to cut" ask yourself why the park didn't open an hour early to ALL guests or why you hightail it to a ride only to find that the Breakers guests are already in front of you on Millie?

That's the free markets at play here. Are some guests paying to cut? You bet. Are they cutting to make your admission cheaper? You bet, too, because if the parks didn't have that revenue they would have been finding a way to divide it between all guests.

The beauty of free markets too is that if you don't like a park's policy, don't go. If enough people think like you, the park will suffer and be forced to change its policy. If you find yourself going back, and others going back too, then you may be making mountains out of molehills.

Friday, July 28, 2006 5:41 PM
^ I suppose I can see what you are saying here. But Flash Pass aside, all the parks you mentioned here are run better than SFGAdv, and perhaps some of the other SF parks. Hershey wins my vote because it's an all-around better experience, and so is getting there.

Personally, I'd rather have the park open an hour earlier for everyone who wants to pay extra for it instead of fast lane type systems--at least that way there won't be anyone "legally" cutting the lines the rest of the day.

If Six Flags ran their parks the way they should be run, we would definitely have less of a "need" or whatever for these line cutting systems. SF needs to get off its crutches and start walking again.

coastin' since 1985

Friday, July 28, 2006 6:24 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Boy this sounds a lot like the "fat people" thread. The real issue isn't these systems at all, it's the operations of one chain that happens to use a virtual queue system.

Old hat. SF has sucked for years. We've all heard it, we've all said it. The best we can hope for is that Red Zone delivers and all of Shapiro's promises come true.

Other than that, Paris' post is well written and hits every point I fully stand behind.

Friday, July 28, 2006 8:53 PM
Can we talk about something less dead-horseish, like smoking in parks?
Friday, July 28, 2006 9:28 PM
That was me Gonch...

I still think this is the way to go. We could start phasing it in by going back to the old ticket system...but the future is in my plan! :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006 1:43 AM
For the most part virtual queue is a good idea. Now obviously expect multi-billion dollar a year disney to do it a lot better then your local run-of-the-mill six flags.


Because that's how the industry is. Just like how Disney spends 100 million dollars on the same rollercoaster that Six Flags would spend maybe 10 million at the most on.

It's not that Six Flags is lazy with operations or w/e your excuses are. It's just that they don't have the resources like companies that do it right do.

You will never see Six Flags have operation like Disney or Universal, or even to a certain extent, Cedar Fair.

It's just how the industry (that I know nothing about) works.

Kyle Says: Diamondback was a lot of fun! Made his first time at Kings Island worth it all!

Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:28 AM
HEY! My favorite topic is back. So how many people have finally decided that this topic will always be about line jumping?

If you agree, put on a happy face. :)

Saturday, July 29, 2006 2:59 AM
Personally, I feel that the Disney fastpass system and the system Cedar Point had was a good idea. It allows people to have about 2 fast passes a day for free, and it kindof helps spread out the line.

But the idea of paying admission into a park and then paying another 40 bucks to actually ride rides makes me mad. Excpessially when six flags has 1-2 trains running per coaster, the only way to ride them all is to pay that extra money.


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