Pay Queue Syetems -- Flashpass etc.

rollergator's avatar
GAdv is a busy park, no doubt....people everywhere....*crowded* in fact. Now I've come to accept the fact that I cannot go there without paying to RIDE the rides. Wouldn't really bother me too much, IF they'd run the rides TO CAPACITY. However I may feel about it is really not relevant, it's how the majority of GAdv guests feel. My guess is, they're not unlike me...a park that size, in its location, you expect crowds. I cannot think of another park I've EVER visited where three attractions simultaneously had 1-1/2 hour+ waits, like the park did on Columbus Day last year (Medusa, Nyquil, and S:UF). These are B&M coasters, and can EAT large numbers of people when run to capacity...

C'mon, Marky, meet us half-way here...a regular guest buying a regular day-ticket might expect what, 5-6 rides during a LONG, long day of waiting....that's downright inhospitable....definitely un-Disney-like...CAPACITY!

Then worry about all your pay systems... ;)

PKI at least for now doesn't have a PAY extra virtual Q of any sort.

They have certain days that season passholders can go to the front of the line, front rows of shows ect but even at it's most the gold pass was 5 dollars not 49.99 over normal park addmission.

Mostly it's done in a non guest incoviniencing way also. Like early ride time in certain sections of the park before the paying public enters

Quite honestly and Gonch can argue THIS FACT all he wants. IT DON't work and heres the proof.

SFGAV, SFGAM, SFOT, SFMM and SFNE all have way higher (And I do mean by millions over PKI/PKD ect) population bases to draw from.

With the exception of SFMM (Year round park) Why aren't they the top seasonal parks? They should be by a long shot NYC/Eastern NY alone is a 30 million people base compared to greater cincinnati/sandusky thats barely two million people.

Not saying Bots are the cause of this but it has to be park of the operations/prices/customer service, of these parks that people aren't comming, or comming back in droves.

I've been to SFA 7 times this year (so far), and have yet to see a FlashPass being used. Most of the rides are either walkons or have a minimal wait. Not all rides are set up for it, anyway. IIRC, it's just the big coasters (Superman, Roar, Wild One, Batwing, and I think Mind Eraser and Joker's Jinx). *Willing to be corrected on that* *** Edited 7/29/2006 1:27:11 PM UTC by ilovethewildone***
Anybody that wastes a Flash Pass on Roar (other than during "Praise in the Park" or "Latino/a Heritage Day") is a goof ball. Other than those special days, I've never seen Roar's line more than a 5 train wait...usually not more than 2. :)
PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux

Lord Gonchar's avatar

SFGAV, SFGAM, SFOT, SFMM and SFNE all have way higher (And I do mean by millions over PKI/PKD ect) population bases to draw from.

With the exception of SFMM (Year round park) Why aren't they the top seasonal parks? They should be by a long shot NYC/Eastern NY alone is a 30 million people base compared to greater cincinnati/sandusky thats barely two million people.

1. In higher population places there are generally more non-park leisure activities to compete with.

2. I suspect there are regional differences in amusement park interest. The midwest seems more inclined to visit amusement parks - that's why PKI, CP and SFGAm are among the most visited parks and why HW can pull in over a million guests. (just a theory, but an interesting one)

3. It is indeed impresive that a park like HW can pull a little over a third of the attendance of SFGAdv, but it's not like they're doing that at the expense of potential SFGAdv guests. (same with PKI) People in NYC/Jersey/Philly are not deciding on a day at the park and then driving to Cincinnati or Indiana. Hell, they're not even making it to Knoebels or most of the piers.

4. Competition. Consider the sheer number of amusement parks that draw from that same NYC population. Now consider the number of parks pulling people from the Cincy population base.

5. No park pulling from that '30 million' does more than +/- 3 million attendance per year. Why should we expect SFGAdv to? In fact, they're right up there at the head of the pack.

6. It's that plateau thing I mentioned in the earlier post. You're saying PKI pulls over 3 million people from less than 2 million population base, so should SFGAdv be pulling in 45 million people a year from their 30 million person population base? Of course not.

One could argue that WDW draws from a nationwide population base and their least attended park draws 8.2 million. Geez, only 8.2 million guests when you're pulling from a population base of 300 million. Disney slackers!

Parks reach a point where attendance just won't grow. Could SFGAdv do better? Sure, but not much.

Enough speculation. You want numbers?

Here's the AB top 25 attendance list for 2005 with year-round parks removed (yes, 16 of the 25 are year-round parks):

1. Canada's Wonderland
2. Kings Island
3. Cedar Point
4. Morey's Piers
5. SFGAdv
6. SFGAm
7. Hersheypark
8. BGE
9. Dollywood

Stop and consider the boost for the parks that are in destination/vacation spots (Morey's in Wildwood, Hershey in Hershey/Gettysburg, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, BGE in Williamsburg) because it matters. The point is that those parks don't necessarily draw people, the areas they're in do and they benefit from it. Location, location, location. It's not a coincidence that half of the top 8 attended seasonal theme parks in the USA are in spots that draw people for other reasons.

SFGAdv is the 4th highest attended seasonal theme park in the USA and they were only 200,000 people away from 2nd. How much better do they have to do before you admit that people aren't turned off nearly as much as you think?

So to reiterate:

SFGAV, SFGAM, SFOT, SFMM and SFNE all have way higher (And I do mean by millions over PKI/PKD ect) population bases to draw from.

With the exception of SFMM (Year round park) Why aren't they the top seasonal parks?

Two of those 4 parks are - they're numbers 4 and 5 on the list of US parks. If anyone can find a more comprehensive list of 2005's numbers, I'd love to see where SFOT and SFNE fall.

*** Edited 7/29/2006 4:53:51 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

2. I suspect there are regional differences in amusement park interest. The midwest seems more inclined to visit amusement parks - that's why PKI, CP and SFGAm are among the most visited parks and why HW can pull in over a million guests. (just a theory, but an interesting one.

Hehe, I've got a theory about your theory...IF guests at PKI, CP, SFGAm, and HW were treated the way "guests" get treated at SFMM and SFGAdv, you'd find their turnstiles going SILENT pretty quickly...Midwesterners, in general, value people *and* money more than those blasted people living on the coast, and don't take kindly to being taken, or taken for granted.


Plus, Midwesterners do find more "family-friendly" leisure activities, and seem to spend a LOT more time outdoors...camping, etc.

bill, longtime purveyor of crackpot theories... ;)
*** Edited 7/29/2006 6:11:08 PM UTC by rollergator***

I'll give you an example...being from the Midwest and all...

I live in South Bend, Indiana. To the west, I have Great America and the Dells all less then 6 hours away. To the North, I have Michigans Adventure. To the South, I have Indiana Beach, Holiday World, and to an extent, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. To the East, I have CP, PKI, GL, KW, PKD, HP, Knoebels, etc...all less than 10 hours away, most less than 6. So I'm basically in the thick of things when it comes to Amusement Parks, especially now that I'm driving.

Yet tell me why we always choose every year to go down to Florida to go visit there parks instead?

Now granted most of the time we go during the winter, but the main reason we go is because they are a lot better at treating people and resolving problems quickly.

I will also tell you that we usually go to Indiana Beach about 3 times a summer, whereareas we only go to Cedar Point once, and usually skip Six Flags altogether.

My point of this long post about geography is that I could spend a day at any of the parks listed above with relative ease, yet we usually don't. We spend most of our time in an environment where people treat you better and make you feel like your at home. Now that does not come at a small price, but we justify the costs because thats what we want. We don't wanna go to a themepark where people spit on you and jump in front of you, we don't wanna go to a themepark where I have to pay 10 dollars for a slice of papa john's pizza and a drink, and we definitely don't wanna go to a park where I have to spend 100 dollars + to ride all the rides in one day.

That's why when you visit all those parks on the coasts, save for disneyland maybe, you won't find many people from the MidWest. Believe it or not we do have higher standards and expect better hospitality from people because that's what the Midwest is.

Florida parks and the smaller parks do it right, they get your money too, but like us, most people don't notice it...cuz they are too enthralled with the experience.

That's what Mr. Shapiro needs to realize. Taking candy from a baby vs. Giving the baby all the candy he wants and charging a little more to clean there teeth :)

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

ApolloAndy's avatar

rollergator said:
GAdv is a busy park, no doubt....people everywhere....*crowded* in fact.

Holy crap, you should see it during Fright Fest. I've had to wait 45 minutes for DDR (and that was the only thing I could do that visit). They should virtual queue for video games.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

I still say Im right and your wrong.

The fact PCW has basically come from nowhere and it also draws from a large population base (Toronto 7 million Hamilton 2 million) is proof that if a park does things better their attendance will grow.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

I still say Im right and your wrong.

Heh. How can I debate that!? :)

Here's a little example of that plateau effect:

People at BeastBuzz this year can vouch for how ridiculously crowded the park was. It was near capacity with parking full. Like over the top nuts.

The estimates we all heard that day were between 35,000 and 40,000 in the park.

So let's imagine PKI does that every operating day.

They're open 124 days this year. That gives us a yearly attendance of between 4.3 and 4.9 million. In theory that's pretty much the absolute most they can do. And that would be if people accepted the fact that the park was always that crowded.

I can tell you right now that if PKI was always that crowded, I wouldn't be there - and I expect a lot of others wouldn't either. Why? The same things we complain about SF - long lines and wait times.

The idea that PKI will ever do 4 million people in a year without extending the season or expanding the park is preposterous. They have to do more than 32,000 people a day - every single day they operated!

For comparison lets use the most trafficked park in the USA - WDW's Magic Kingdom. They're open 365 days a year and did 16.1 million guests in 2005. That's a daily average of 44,100 guests.

You're expecting these regional, season parks to draw on that level. Disney themselves can't live up to the bar they set with MK. Animal Kingdom did an average of 22,500 guests last year.

Again, there's only three season apark in the USA that did more than 3 million guests in 2005.

There's not much more headroom to go up - and like I said previously, this is when you start to see the biggest parks look for new ways to improve the bottom line. SF's new higher pricing, CF's new lower pricing, more and more parks tacking on extra days at the beginning and end of the season and special holiday events - stuff like that.

For comparison, here's some other 'most attended' park daily averages for 2005:

IOA - 15,780
BGT - 11,780
EPCOT - 27,123
Hershey - 18,000
Morey's - 21,680
PCW - 28,350
PKI - 21,855
CP - 21,380

Now, with all of that said - in fairness, SFGAdv operates 158 days in 2006. To hit 4 million people they'll have to average around 25,300 people a day which isn't entirely unreasonable - but then again, no park within 500 miles of New York City pulls numbers that high, so why would we expect SFGAdv to?

Lets imagine ten more rides are added to PKI spreading the crowd. More rides, less waits, more people willing to come back.

Yeah, I know theres a point that you reach a plateu. It just seems to me that some parks are stuggling to maintain it, Let alone grow it.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
More on the original topic:

Check out this pic of the line for Flashpass this past Saturday at the park.

Yes, I see and even appreciate the irony of the situation, but man, the line speaks for itself. Somebody doesn't mind the additional fees for the added convenience...a lot of somebodies.

rollergator's avatar
Re: Flashpass....If *everyone* has one, doesn't it theoretically work out the same as if NO ONE has one? At SFNE and SFGAdv, it seems like they're making more money on those things than they are on admissions...LOL!

Again, if ANY line where customers fork over cash (Flashpass, food, drinks, PARKING) gets 20 minutes or longer, you should have ANOTHER staff person wanting to take the money faster...

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Well, technically, if you're using the basic Q-bot (not the gold) then it should work out the same no matter how many people have one. The difference is where you spend that time waiting - which I assume was the purpose of the damn thing in the first place.

...and it doesn't matter how fast you get the money, just that you get it. ;)

I had to check the picture to see if I was in it. :-P

Funny thing was there was someone high up from Lo-Q at GAdv on Saturday. He was working the different FlashPass ride queue lines.

He said the Dollywood pass system will start later this season with the shows. Yep, HFEC will infact be using it. Why shows? The shows at Dollywood draw like the coasters at GAdv do.

Also I remember him telling me something about they are trying to get Six Flags to use the system in all their parks and do away with the tickets. Which I feel would be great. I say that IF and only IF they do something about the operations of the FlashPass queueing and the operations of the rides in general.

As I have said after Saturday in HELL!!!! I will not be doing a day at GAdv until I hear improvements in the summer operations.

I'd rather melt in the land of chocolate. :D

Watch the tram car please....
I was at Six Flags Great Adventure yesterday, where it was in use on El Toro - which, as we all know, is extremely popular *and* horribly slow loading, with a train getting out every six to eight minutes at best. To add to the fun, they were having technical difficulties with the ride, so by 11:30am only five trains of guests had gone out overall. I'd conservatively estimate that two thirds of those people were Flash Pass users.

Can anyone honestly say that this is right? After all, those in the normal line had paid for park admission too.

rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:...and it doesn't matter how fast you get the money, just that you get it.

See, I think it DOES in fact matter...

Time is money too, and the more of my TIME you waste, the fewer remaining opportunities you have for me to yank out my wallet. Also, we've *decided* that Flashpassers and Q-Botters in general are more willing to spend money to save time, so....

Add in to that the fact that "guest experience" is greatly enhanced by reducing waits (or we'd have stuck with the General Admission in the first place, LOL). If guest experience heads south, so do the all-important RETURN VISISTS.... ;)

P.S. I feel pretty much the same about ALL lines, grocery stores and everywhere - but if you've seen me, you know I'm willing to wait a little longer when there's *groceries* involved... :)

Wasting your customers' time, that costs YOU customers...I really do believe that. *** Edited 7/31/2006 2:18:57 PM UTC by rollergator***

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Are there any detailed attendance stats anywhere for US amusement parks? Im curious to see how many parks are doing.
Dick Knoebel, Will Koch, Harry Henninger, are you listening? With Six Flags in the tank financially and Cedar Fair tapped out by the Paramount deal, you all have a golden opportunity. It's time to give Six Flags and the other big chains some serious competition with parks offering better value. We need more decent sized parks with reasonable admission charges, free or inexpensive parking, good reasonably priced food and drinks, no pay queue systems and good operations. You all show that it CAN be done.

As for HFEC, my respect for them has diminished. They have just sold out their principles for more bucks just like the Flags.

Arthur Bahl

Lord Gonchar's avatar
If 'value' was all that mattered, those parks would be putting the SF's and CF's of the world out of business already.

In fact, that whole post bothers me. :)

Do you really think for a second that if and SF or CF parks ran pricing similar to the parks under control of the gentlemen you listed that they'd make it another 2 seasons? Stop and think about the staffing, operations, maintenance and general expenses of running a 300+ acre park crammed full of thrill rides versus the costs of runner a park 1/4 of the size.

Don't think those parks wouldn't bump their prices right to the level of any big corporate chain in a second if they could. But they can't.

Why? Value. :)

Would you pay $40 or $50 to visit any of those parks? (and don't give me the canned enthusiast response of 'caring' or ' service' or whatever) Flat out, Joe Sixpack isn't going to spend $50 to go to the cute little local park when he can hit the megapark for the same price. These parks offer lower pricing because they have to in order to compete. Otherwise their gates would shut even quicker than a corporate park trying to lower pricing to their levels.

Which is exactly where you guys lose me with this 'value' arguement. $40 or $50 for a dozen coasters and a 300 acre playground of thrills is no less a value than $20 for a couple of coasters and a handful of smaller rides. I see no difference in the value of either. The price to play scales according with how much there is on the other side of the gate.

It goes on and on and on. Sadly, the bane of being an enthusiast is that it is often easy to miss the forest through the trees. Sure, 'value' matters to everyone and it matters even more to those of us crazy enough to travel the world spending most of our free time and money pursuing this cool little hobby we share, but if 'value' alone determined the success of each individual park - most would have closed years ago.

Cheap gate prices, 'free' (God, I hate that assumption) drinks and parking and even good service and operations might help the cause - but where do the rides fit into the equation? Seriously, don't we visit these places because we like the rides? The GP certainly visits to ride the rides.

All the good intentions in the world won't beat a skyline of megacoasters, themed experiences and that whole 'larger than life' feel of the bigger parks...ever.

The truth is that so much go into the 'final equation' that even this little rant is oversimlifying things to an obscene degree - my point is, if it were as simple as offering the lowest prices or best 'value', then every park would have done it already and we'd all be hunky dory. That's hasn't happened and it never will.

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