Season Pass: In the beginning.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 9:25 PM
I am curious to know what park or what company that owns parks started the one thing all of us coaster geeks have come to own and cherish. "The season pass". If it wasnt for these plastic wallet size cards, we probably wouldnt do as much coaster riding because one day passes can get quite expensive if you frequent a park multiple times a year.

So, who thought of this idea and implemented it? Also, when did this take place?

Arena football has arrived in the Windy City. Go "Chicago Rush"

Tuesday, June 17, 2003 9:50 PM
Let me respond with an unqualified, "juh???"

Great question, Chitown. How did you even think of that? This is why you're posting in the middle of the night.

My first guess would be Disney, but I have no real clue. It seems like the season pass is something more relevant to regional parks than destination parks. It also seems more relevant to parks with a longer operating season.

Completely stumped...

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 4:22 AM
I'm more curious as to why season passes are #1 so cheap and #2 good company wide. I'm sure its not that big a dent in their overall profits, but SF and CF must see some sort of a reduction in profits from folks who either pay $75 for a CF season pass and go to CP 15 or 20 times a year (that would be about $645 - $860 in gate costs) or worse yet, uses that pass at Knott's! ($55 lost in gate costs). Doesn't seem like good business, although I'm not complaining! Maybe the fact that at least 10 of those times, I have someone with me who's paying full admission, and that seems to make up for the loss - by my frequent return?

"As soon as you design something that's idiot-proof, the world will go and design a better idiot."

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 5:03 AM
Is it really a loss?

I will use the park and pass I am most familiar with ... Hersheypark.

For my wife and I, the total cost of two passes was $225 with an "early bird" discount. This gets us into Hersheypark and Dutchwonderland. Parking at Hershey is also free with this pass.

We figure we have to go somewhere between 3 and 5 times (depending on when... after 5pm we would be paying less than if we would go during the day) to make the passes pay for themselves. If we go more, we save money. But does the park really lose money? Sure, if we go more, they lose our entrance fee, but we buy food and drinks (granted, with a 15% discount with the pass). HOWEVER... if we would not have the passes, would we go that many times? We may go once or twice and pay full price... but would we make 5+ trips? I doubt it. To me, it has been, "if we wouldn't have it (the pass), we wouldn't do it (visit the park 5+ times)."

With the exception of fanatics like most of us on this board, how many people acutally use their passes to go to parks "15 or 20 times a year?"

Kind of hard to take a post as objective if a park or coaster name is part of the "user name"

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:32 AM
I can't answer the question of who started offering season passes. That might go back to a baseball team or something for all we know.

Did Pacific Ocean Park have season passes? How about Sea Lion Park? Just trying to think of the earliest P-O-P parks.

The question I do know the answer to, though, is who thought to make the passes valid for all parks in the company. We can thank FunTime for that one, for making their passes valid at Geauga Lake, Darien Lake, and Wyandot Lake. I think Six Flags was next, followed by Cedar Fair and Paramount though not necessarily in that order. Premier Parks was in an interesting situation for a while, in that my FunTime passes were good at all the Premier parks...Geauga, Darien, Wyandot Lakes, and at Adventure World and Frontier City...but Adventure World and Frontier City passes were not good at the three Lakes. Eventually Premier decided to make all their passes transferrable, then they bought Six Flags.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 6:39 AM
I think SLFAKE is right. Parks may lose some money on your return trips but they still make money on your visit. It's almost impossible to not spend money at a park. I tend to spend a minimum of $20 at a park for the entire day. Thats just for food and drinks. If I add in a shirt, onride photo, magnets and all the other junk I'm well over $50. I may not get the shirt and other junk everytime but I'm most likely going to get a drink or two and food.

I just don't see how parks can lose money with offering a season pass. As long as your in the park for a period of time you will spend some money. If you didn't have a pass you probably wouldn't have been there in the first place. It's a win win situation for the park.

Signature will be closed today. Sorry for the inconveinance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 7:25 AM
I think most people who buy season passes, especially families and people older than teens, will tend to spend more money in the park than they would at the gate anyway. So getting them in multiple time will more than outweigh the loss in gate revenue. Besides the in park spending is what gives the park it most profit.

Zero G Thrills - Moved and Improved

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 7:47 AM
1) You can bet that the parks have figured out the economics on this. SF even takes survey's of season pass holders at the gate to determine usage patterns in more detail than just what the computer registers when your card is swiped.

2) People tend to go to the park more often when they have season passes. This results in more spending on food and merchandise. Without a season pass, I would probably only go to my home park 4-5 times per year. With it I probably go about 20 times. I will often stop by the park for 30 minutes to an hour when I'm driving in the area and catch a couple of rides. Often as not I will spend money on something while I'm ther.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 7:57 AM
Guess I'm just their worst nightmare then ;) I avoid spending money on food, drink and souveniers in the park like the plauge!

"As soon as you design something that's idiot-proof, the world will go and design a better idiot."

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 7:59 AM

PittDesigner said:
SF and CF must see some sort of a reduction in profits from folks who either pay $75 for a CF season pass and go to CP 15 or 20 times a year (that would be about $645 - $860 in gate costs) or worse yet, uses that pass at Knott's! ($55 lost in gate costs).

Well, having a season pass causes a change in perception for the customer. I went to Knott's earlier this year, using my Cedar Point pass. Did Knott's "lose" the gate cost on me? No, because without the pass I wouldn't have gone in the first place. They weren't getting that gate cost from me either way, but with the pass, I DID go, and proceeded to buy food and souvineers. The cost of me plopping down in the seats on their rides was negligible compared to the increased revenue they got from me. The same applies to using the pass at Cedar Point itself -- without the pass I MIGHT go once a year. They actually get more "gate" money from me with that pass, plus the food and occasional souvineer or game.

The Six Flags pass works the same way. This year I've used my Worlds of Adventure pass at Magic Mountain, Great America, and Kentucky Kingdom (twice, actually). I'll probably also hit Darien Lake and Great Adventure. At those parks, I'll buy food, souvineers, and probably whatever virtual queue system they have implemented. Without the pass, I probably wouldn't go to any of them anyway, so there's no "lost revenue" for letting me in with the pass.

--Greg, aka Oat Boy
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"Mary Jane, don't you cry, you can give it a try, Again when the sequel comes out" -- Weird Al, Ode to a Superhero

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 8:03 AM
Im with PittDesigner, With my Six Flags pass costing 42.50, about 11 dollars more than regular admission at SFDL, I try not and buy food, but I always do anyway.

I Think one way they try to get you is on parking.


Wednesday, June 18, 2003 8:51 AM
You can't forget about the money the save when they don't have to print out a ticket for you. :>)


Wednesday, June 18, 2003 9:07 AM
First of all in order to have a season pass you must have a gate price (instead of ride tickets). SFOT premiered this type of admission policy in the 60s/70s so there is no way that the season pass existed (employee pass maybe but not season) before that time. My guess is that the season pass proably appeared not soon after, proably at SFOT

Summer 03-CP, HP, Canobie, SFNE, SFWOA, and SFGAm.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 9:29 AM
Without a doubt, the park makes money on me BECAUSE of the season pass.

Without one, I doubt I would ever go to CP, because you'd be rushed to get everything in during the day. I KNOW, without a season pass, I would NEVER sit down to see a show for a half hour (and in turn, get something to drink), which I tend to do multiple times a day (I really like the shows this year at CP).

I also know SFGAm made money on me, because without the SF season pass, I wouldn't have done Coaster Buzz, and I would not visit SFWoA (which is the closest park to my home).

I also tend to buy things at all these parks every year. I've already dropped a couple of hundred dollars on CP souvenirs this year. I'd even spend more at Six Flags parks if they made more merchandise taylored to the specific park I'm at, rather than going with generic SF merchandise that they can use in all their parks (for example, I really wanted a SFGAm Viper shirt, but they only had one that I saw, and I wasn't all that thrilled with it. i ended up with a S:UF shirt because it had the park's name on it...which surprised me, since there's more than one S:UF).


Scooby Doo and The Haunted Castle...MUCH more fun when you have ride partners!!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 9:44 AM
The Season pass is golden!...i love who ever invented it.Genius! Bravo! Bravo!
Wednesday, June 18, 2003 11:06 AM
One other thing that (surprisingly) no one has mentioned is advertising. The more times you walk in the gates the more "attendance" goes up. I am sure that the price they can charge sponsors to promote their products goes up with every click of the maingate turnstyles. So your mere presence in the park helps them out, even if your a "nightmare" like Pittdesigner ;)

lata, jeremy

--in need of a new sig

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 11:14 AM
I also avoid spending money at a park like the plague. However, as mentioned, I would ride a heck of a lot less if I didn't have a pass. Also think about all the people that buy a season pass and go to the park twice or go to different parks once. The customer makes out because they don't have to pay twice, and the park makes out because you can be sure that customer wouldn't pay full gate twice.

One other thing that I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned is bringing friends. I convinced at least 6 people to buy passes last year because of the number of times I was planning on going and traveling, and I convined at least 3 people this year (and bought one as a gift). I have also brought at least 25 people on different occasions to the park with me (granted, most of the time with the "bring a friend for cheap" coupons, but). So off of my season pass, I'd say Six Flags has made at least $500. (Granted I abuse the thing to death, but...)

As Greg said, there's really no loss to have more people in the park except on the very busiest days.

Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"It's not a Toomer" - Arnold Schwartzenkoph
"Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know." -Jeff

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 11:34 AM
The concept of a season's pass is truly WIN - WIN. The park receives many benefits from season pass holders, and of course season pass holders receive many benefits also.

I can confidently say that the vast majority of season's pass holders visit the respective park(s) far more frequently simply because they are seasons pass holders (boy that's an easy one). This translates into additional revenues for the park & it parent company (again easy to figure out too). On the consumer's side they have the advantage of unlimited admission to the park, and it's sister parks also!

And as is obvious because of greatly varied pricing for season's passes at parks within the same company, each individual park's popularity and demographics play a role in determining season's pass pricing.

You could have paid $44.99 for a SFKK season's pass earlier this year, and now you can pay $94.99 for a season's pass at SFGAm. That is over double the difference in cost and either purchase will provide more or less the same overall benefits.

It really boils down to business and marketing, and is easy to over simplify. You have to look beyond the face value of a season's pass to see why it is truly in everyone's best interest.

The bottom line is that we are all lucky (as park enthusiasts) that they are available to us!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 1:10 PM

SLFAKE said:With the exception of fanatics like most of us on this board, how many people acutally use their passes to go to parks "15 or 20 times a year?"

Good point. Actually, I bet even the number of 'enthusiasts' who use their pass that often is fairly insignificant as far as the parks are concerned. Personally, the park I frequent most doesn't even offer a season pass.

I would guess the season pass purchasing GP look at how long it will take the pass to "pay for itself" since that's how the parks market it anyway. And in most cases, a pass pays for itself in 2 (full price admission) visits. So even if the pass holder uses the pass 4 times, the park still collects the equivilent of 3-4 discounted admissions. And I've got absolutely nothing besides a "feeling" about this, but I don't think "non-enthusiasts" visit their local park more than 4 times a year.

I would also imagine season passes are good for business because they bring in revenue during the off season and very early in the operating season.

For me, my season pass is how I jusify paying $3 for a bottle of water. My SF pass, purchased at Magic Mountain for $53 in January has been used at MM (2), KK (1), and NE (2) with upcoming visits to StL, GAm, and WoA. If by the end of the season, my average SF admission cost is about $9 a visit, and I've spent $3 on a bottle of water (keep the bottle for refills at fountains) and $7 on food, I end up spending about the same amount of money as I'd spend in a day at IB. So it's a good value for people who hit the parks a lot, but I don't think the 'average' park goer really saves that much.
*** This post was edited by dawnmarie313 6/18/2003 5:11:42 PM ***


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