Pay-to-cut: Not Fun For Everyone

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 3:32 PM
Its clear no one who pays to cut to the front is going to be conviced to do otherwise. Those who are forced to wait twice or three times as long as a result of that will not be cool with it.

Such a divisive issue which splits a group who all love parks and coasters, but come down very differently on this issue. It is unfortunate parks are introducing this source of contention between guests. Parks ought to be an escape from politics.

You can see it in the dirtly looks they exchange between each other, when the frustration really should be directed at parks for creating this frustrating situation. This issue will only grow over time in parks that seem to run pretty well without it a few years ago.

I wonder if parks are factoring in the effects of negative press on this issue when calculating profit opportunities for pay to cut services. *** Edited 6/1/2005 4:38:24 AM UTC by rc-madness***

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 3:48 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Its clear no one who pays to cut to the front is going to be conviced to do otherwise. Those who are forced to wait twice or three times as long as a result of that...

Still an untrue statement for the pay systems you originally complained about. Keep trying though. Maybe 'truth by osmosis' will happen eventually.


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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 4:10 PM

Its clear no one who pays to cut to the front is going to be conviced to do otherwise. Those who are forced to wait twice or three times as long as a result of that...

Yesterday I was looking at the real estate section of the paper. There was an 88 acre farm for sale. I would love to have that much land. However, it cost $895,000. I don't have that sort of cash laying around... but I would love to have that farm. Therefore NO ONE with the cash should be able to buy it, because it is not fair that I can not afford to buy it!

But back to parks.

If I walk up to a park and I either don't have the cash to pay for admission or I don't want to pay the cash for admission... guess what... I am not going to get in. Is it fair that those a) who have the cash or b) want to pay that price get in?

Hmmm... let me see. Park rules state that admission is $48. If you pay the park $48, then you get in.

Park rules say that if you pay X$ you get to use a Q-bot, and you pay guess what... you get to use Q-bot.

Seems fair to me.

(You know.... this must certainly be one of the signs of the Appocolypse... I'm kind of defending Six Flags!)

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 4:52 PM
SLFAKE, and every time you don't use a Q-Bot, (showing my age, that term still makes me think of Q-bert every time I hear it) you're that much closer to that 88 acres. :)

For all you folks who can afford to pay extra, great. Have at it. Whatever puts the creme in your twinkie. I guess I just have this suspicion of businesses who act like they're doing me a favor, for an extra cost of course. Meanwhile, they're dreaming up the next thing they could charge extra for that the crowds will dive for like pigeons hopping after a few crumbs.

That's why I'll stick to Knoebels most often-- I'll just hand over the same number of tickets as everyone else and wait for a couple of rides with everyone else. No making "playdates," no 2-hour waits.

RGB, Coaster-buzzer NOT Coaster-bourgeois

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 4:59 PM
Hey, given the choice... I would take Knoebels anyday over a Q-bot park.

Last weekend... 4 hours at Six Flags America... (no Express Lane)... 5 rides. 6 hours at Knoebels... 43 rides!

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:06 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I guess I just have this suspicion of businesses who act like they're doing me a favor, for an extra cost of course.

That's just it. Businesses don't do you favors, friends do. Businesses sell you goods and services in exchange for legal tender.

Six Flags is not my friend and I don't expect them to act as such.


No making "playdates,"

I don't know why but that got a chuckle out of me. :)


That's why I'll stick to Knoebels most often-- I'll just hand over the same number of tickets as everyone else and wait for a couple of rides with everyone else.

Every time I've gone to Knoebels I've gotten a Ride All Day wristband. Knoebel's is obviously unfair because for one flat price, I don't have to deal with the mess and hassle of tickets and get instant access to any line by just showing my wrist. ;)

*** Edited 5/31/2005 9:39:07 PM UTC by Lord Gonchar***


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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:27 PM
You market guys will like this...You social equality types will cringe...but I firmly believe that my system is the future of amusement parks...

This is my opinion and quite educated thesis of the most perfect system. A system, I might say, closely resembles the “ticket” policies of years past before the advent of the “pay-one-price” plans that are now the norm. Of course there is a new twist to the old system that utilizes new technology that should be quite profitable and most palpable to those who hate wait times…

Why not just charge for "tickets" (virtual or otherwise) on a per ride basis based upon the price the market will bear AT ANY GIVEN INSTANT OF TIME? If indeed the parks are in it for pure profit---and I believe they are and should be---it appears we have hit a popularity and/or capacity threshold in which it makes most sense to return to days past of the old ticket system. The evidence for my argument is the fact that we have rides at any given park with lines of up to and over 1 hour wait time. We can use today’s technology to create a “virtual ticket” system unlike that which has ever been tried or seen before. This system, I suggest, will dramatically decrease wait times for all who participate.

A park could have a credit card processor on those qbot-type machines and allow people to deposit the cash needed for the ride of choice. Or they could set up processing machines throughout the park (much like fastpass machines) where guests could go to by their “tickets.” The tickets they buy would have ever-changing prices based upon the demand for that ride in the INSTANT a person wanted to ride. Why subjugate your guests to pre-planned days as many have suggested is the future of the Disney system when the technology is there to allow instant access to rides of choice?

There would be a fee for this service. This fee would be the ever-changing cost to ride. It goes without saying that the more popular rides at any given moment of time would cost more than those with little to no wait (little or no demand). Not all rides are equal, so it seems safe to say that not all rides should cost the same to ride. Furthermore, on crowded days, it seems counterproductive for the park to charge the same price for a ride that it would on less crowded days when the demand is decreased.

My plan gets even better as the master-computer should be able to recognize “virtual” waiting times for rides at ANY GIVEN MOMENT and charge a price based upon simple supply and demand in that INSTANT. Therefore, early in the day before the crowds get big you may pay $3 to ride Raptor, but as the “virtual cue” begins to notice the increased ridership and wait times, the price would increase to $6. All numbers are made-up and for example purposes only. The park would be able to monitor their pricing structure to see which pricing level gives them the most profitability while simultaneously keeping waiting time to a minimum. This is a win-win situation for the guests and the park.

Guests could look at their “virtual” ticket to see the wait times and prices for any ride in the park for that given moment and decide the price they are willing to pay. Their ticket could indicate the price and expected wait time so the guest knows exactly what they are paying for. Parks could even charge different prices for different seats on a train as these factors obviously affect supply and demand. The park would monitor lines and pricing from a master control center and adjust all aspects in real time. There would be no need for any real or virtual line cutting, as lines should be quite short if monitored and implemented correctly. No guest would have to feel as “less a person” while watching others walk in front of them. Guests would ride and pay for only the rides they wanted and felt were worth it.

In my system it is safe to say that a Saturday at your average park would most likely cost a lot more than mid-week. Don’t hotels do this already?

I know that some people love the “pay-one-price” structure and will have a hard time adjusting to a change. But lets be honest… The parks ARE changing the structure. Qbot is nothing more than a fee-based “ticket” not too much unlike which I suggest. Parks keep getting larger and larger crowds. It is just naïve to suggest they are too expensive when all a person has to do is look at the ever-increasing crowds and wait times at the parks they visit. The fact of the matter is that ANY ride with over an hour wait is SIMPLY under priced. Simple supply and demand economics indicates that parks are not reaching their maximum profit potentials when they have such large lines for their rides. The fact that there are such large lines indicates that there is a LARGE DEMAND and not enough SUPPLY. When this situation occurs, you simply increase pricing to decrease the demand. I cannot tell you where the pricing levels should be for any individual ride at any point in time, but I can tell you that the technology is there to do just this. The market will weed out excess waiting times and provide maximal return on investment in my system.

I’m not sure we will see my ideas implemented in my lifetime, but I sure hope I do.
I think my system is the most fair for all parties involved in any amusement park endeavor.

*** Edited 5/31/2005 9:28:10 PM UTC by Jeffrey R Smith***

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 7:48 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

Its clear no one who pays to cut to the front is going to be conviced to do otherwise. Those who are forced to wait twice or three times as long as a result of that...

Still an untrue statement for the pay systems you originally complained about. Keep trying though. Maybe 'truth by osmosis' will happen eventually.


I will say this much though Gonch, these virtual queing systems "appear" to make the line longer, even though in essence they do not.

In any park that one is accustomed to visiting, that person can have a good gauge on what the wait time is from a certain part of the queue. For example, if the line to Millie is to the soda machines, it's about a 1 hour wait (**). So person X sees the line is at the machines and figures she has a 1hr wait. However, she has no idea how many people have virtually qued for that time so when her wait time exceeds this one hour she feels like she was made to wait longer than she should have due to the virtual system, even though those people were actually in line before here.

I hear that this was a major complaint when Disney first rolled out their system. People (read enthusiasts) were thinking that line reaching to a certain point were still approximately the same wait as before. Yet they failed to take into account the virtual queue. So their perception was that the wait was longer (doubled, tripled, etc).

And as they say, "Perception is reality".

lata, jeremy

--who used Qbot once @ SFGAdv, and would do it again in a heartbeat! (Hopefully they'll offer it for free as a perk for staying in their new hotel...)


zacharyt.shutterfly.com
PlaceHolder for Castor & Pollux

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 11:09 AM

Jeffrey R Smith said:


Why not just charge for "tickets" (virtual or otherwise) on a per ride basis based upon the price the market will bear AT ANY GIVEN INSTANT OF TIME?


"Raptor rides were up 2 and a half at $16.58..." :)

Don't take it personally, I'm not making fun of you. It's a novel concept. Heck, I'll even agree with you that in some ways, they ARE heading in this direction...just far more subtly. VIP parking anyone?

But ultimately, it will never happen. Know why? Because it's vastly more profitable to make everyone pay for something very few, if any, wil use. You're not gonna see every show and ride every ride for your pay-one-price admission...but you just paid for them. You're never gonna drink enough pop to cover the extra $5 you paid at the HW gate, but you opened up your pocketbook nonetheless.

The illusion of an incredible value will always win out.

-'Playa


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 11:27 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

2Hostyl said:
I will say this much though Gonch, these virtual queing systems "appear" to make the line longer, even though in essence they do not.

Exactly! They make the line longer but not the wait. I know that sounds like a direct contradiction, but it isn't. I touched on that with my last reply to RideMan.


Hopefully they'll offer it for free as a perk for staying in their new hotel...

Hey! You're on to something there. :)


'Playa said:
they ARE heading in this direction...just far more subtly. VIP parking anyone?

Sorry to totally bastardize the point of 'Playa's post, but there's another example of an optional upcharge - VIP parking. You pay a little more and get to leave your car closer to the gate.

Q-bot is much like offering a VIP ticket - pay a little more get a comfort benefit that really doesn't affect the day of other guests, but makes yours a little easier.


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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 11:37 AM
People pay park admissions to have access to rides and attractions. Yet they are denied access to certain rides for several hours, or not at all (when the line stalls due to the volume of Q-Botters or FastLaners) in order to give preferential access to those paying more money.

I am okay with a park deciding to sell tickets to rides at any price they choose. But when a line stalls completely for people paying regular admissions because so many cut to the front, isn’t this a case of denied access?

The problem is when a park sells you a ticket so you can ride what ever you want, and then denies you that access because the park has sold that access to someone else (at a higher price), this is a case of misrepresentation and false advertising. I’m curious if this is a legal issue. Any lawyers want to chime in on this?

And the reason I feel FastPass shortens lines while FastLane lengthens them certainly starts with the premise long lines provides a great opportunity for park profit when FastLane is in effect. FastPass shortens lines because people are less willing to wait longer in line when they can take a FastPass ticket to access shorter lines later for free.

When I was a Cedar Point I did not wait longer then an hour on any coaster. When I could see the line seemed long, I got a FastPass for that ride later in the day, then got into a shorter line at another attraction.

It was clear Cedar Point was working as hard as they could to keep ride capacity high and waits in line short. I do not see the same amount of park effort to shorten lines with a FastPass, Q-Bot, pay-to-cut system. If it is the goal of a park to make money as a business, then a business decision would be to lengthen lines to force more people to buy into FastLane. *** Edited 6/1/2005 3:40:25 PM UTC by rc-madness***

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 11:38 AM
*mutters 'frickin Gonch' under his breath*

There are some things they just can't get everybody to pay for--and for those items, they'll upcharge. So both points actually coincide with each other.

BTW, Gonch: Child swap rules ALL. I once nabbed nearly a dozen family rides @ CP while the grown folks stood in line for PT, then hopped aboard and took my turn.

But when you think about it...who's gonna whine for candy, T-shirts, overpriced pop and get away with it quite like the little booger-eaters? They've got cheeks and stuff.

-'Playa

*** Edited 6/1/2005 3:39:58 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***


NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 12:05 PM

It was clear Cedar Point was working as hard as they could to keep ride capacity high and waits in line short.

Well, except for those horrible MF dispatch times. I waited 35-40 minutes to get on the train with a freeway stamp. With the recent operational policies on that ride, I've basically given up on it unless I have a freeway stamp or I am there early on a slow morning. *** Edited 6/1/2005 4:05:55 PM UTC by Brian Noble***


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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 12:15 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

When I was a Cedar Point I did not wait longer then an hour on any coaster. When I could see the line seemed long, I got a FastPass for that ride later in the day, then got into a shorter line at another attraction.

So you were essentially standing in two lines at once. One physically and one virtually.

Yeah, I can see how that makes the lines for all the attractions shorter. ;)


If it is the goal of a park to make money as a business, then a business decision would be to lengthen lines to force more people to buy into FastLane.

Three things:

1. I don't buy the conspiracy theory one bit.

2. It would be one of the worst business decisions ever. So bad that I wouldn't even call it a business decision, but rather the maniacial whim of an insane suit.

3. Since no one has outright said it, let me. When we talk about pay-to-virtual-queue systems, we're talking Six Flags. With all due respect, SF has never been a park chain known for it's high capacity, efficient ride operations. Nothing has changed with the implimentation of the FastLane system. They haven't suddenly dropped to one train operation in an attempt to sell more Q-bots.


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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 12:49 PM
Wait a minute. Fill me in on something. There are now posts that claim "the line stalls due to the volume of Q-Botters or FastLaners".

You have a train that can hold 24 to 32 people depending on its type. Now I have only seen FastPass or FastLane or what ever it is called in operation at Six Flags Parks (SFA and SFGrAdv to be specific). On those trains, there are 2, perhaps 4 seats that are Reserved for FastLane. So... on any given ride, you will have 2-4 FastLaners and 22-28 non FastLaners riding.

Granted, while it may pee you off to have waited in line for hours to see someone who ponied up the bucks waltz right in and grab a seat with out a wait, I would hardly say that it "Stalls" the line. When I think of the word "Stalls" I think of coming to a grinding stop.

As for the Conspiracy theory of cutting efficiency to force people to buy the FastPass... I thought that last year, but now I am not so sure. If that is the case... Six Flags America must have really wanted people to use FastLane on S:RoS, because they took the level of inefficiency to the point of shutting down the whole bloody thing!

Nope... The more I see, the more I read... I believe that Q-bots or no Q-bots, some parks are just inefficient.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 1:07 PM
FastLane is doing away with reserved seating on rides, Q-Botters simply skip lines and step onto the ride, choosing any seat they want.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 1:22 PM
Reserved rows depends on the ride. At SFNE, Thunderbolt has a reseved row. For the rides that actually get people using Fastpass, or whichever they call it, like Superman and Batman, there is just a separate entrance. There have been time where the line for SROS has been held up for a decent period of time, while the Fastpass people are allowed onto the station. When 1 group is let in, it doesn't hold the other side up and nothing grinds to a halt. However, when 30-40 people are let in, and I've seen it happen, no one is allowed into the station from the "regular" line for 5-10 minutes.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 1:27 PM
At sfgadv some coasters have reserved seating some dont.

You want to know the real hold up on the coasters at least at gadv. The general public.

I have literally heard the ride op announce thirty times in an hour on nitro for people waiting for the front row to move to the left side of the stairs and for people riding the other rows to get to the right. Does anybody listen no .

Also people going in rows they shouldnt be. IF there is a garbage can blocking the row that means do not go into that row. IF people sit down on that row that shouldnt be there they have to release the restrains open the air gates tell the people to get back inline, let the new people on and close the gates and the restraints again. That takes a lot of time and waiting.

Also when the ride ops have to tell everybody to stop pushing on the airgates and to get off the railings.

Those things hold up the line more then qbot does. also rarely are there more then 6 people going on a train from qbot. *** Edited 6/1/2005 5:29:08 PM UTC by majortom1981***

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 1:32 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

FastLane is doing away with reserved seating on rides, Q-Botters simply skip lines and step onto the ride, choosing any seat they want.

For the love of God, they're not skipping lines - they had to wait roughly the same time as you for access to the ride. They were simply not standing in line, thus hinding your ability to determine the actual length of your wait for a SROS ride.

Which, let's face it, is the real reason you are angry. You didn't expect the wait you got. Had the line been spilling onto the midway and been clearly a 3 hour wait, you'd probably have passed on waiting at all.

Still it makes an interesting point if the line truly stalled. SROS holds 36 riders per train. That means 36 people at one time (and supposedly more than once this happened) had reserved ride times - then a hell of a lot of people are embracing the Q-bot concept.


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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 1:34 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

So you were essentially standing in two lines at once. One physically and one virtually.

Yeah, I can see how that makes the lines for all the attractions shorter. ;)


It's funny, I thought about that same point earlier and was just going to post about it. Standing in two lines at once makes other guests wait time longer. How fair is that? Y'all can decide that for yourself.

On a somewhat related tangent that people have begun to touch upon...We are essentially discussing SF's system here. People are jumping to defend the system...but if the system a)is profitable and b)equitable/fair (or whatever word you want to use here), then why aren't other parks doing this?? Why doesn't HW have it (maybe Paula is reading and can shed some light)? Why doesn't Knoebels or Busch or HP use it? I honestly can't answer that...who knows, maybe they are going to be implementing a similar system.


No further explanation needed. I'm hopelessly lost.
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