Six Flags Announces Nation's Best Theme Park VIP Program

Thursday, March 15, 2007 11:25 PM
Uhhhhh. Yeah I don't see your point. You're saying the same thing. Different classes in society are separated by how much money they have. Different "classes" of people at the airport and grocery store are separated by how much money they have. Sorta seems like the same thing to me. LOL!! I guess I do see your point about not seeing the separation before like you do now.

However, the lines you're talking about are usually free. They're "frequent customer" lines. It doesn't matter how much you spend usually. Its a way of a business "tricking" you into always using them. If they make you think you're getting a bargain by collecting points or something, you're going to use them over anyone else. That means they get to collect more of your money. They've secured you as a customer. That's an entirely different concept than the VIP thing at the parks. The VIP thing is a one-time deal. If we were talking about season passholders gaining FOL access, then I'd agree with you.

Friday, March 16, 2007 12:01 AM
sirloindude's avatar Rob, whose to say that they're making 5 times the profit instead of 10? Nobody, because the smart grocery store would charge enough to make up for the ten people who don't come back. I'm not saying that Six Flags has assured themselves that they will lose a ton of customers based on this, but I'm willing to bet that they accounted for it to some degree and charged accordingly. One thing to remember is that if you paid the extra money to enhance your experience, you are going to be far more willing to come back and spend that money again. Heck, some people might just pay the bare minimum and have a pretty good time but still not return. The people with the fat wallets, outnumbered though they be by the average Joe who visits on a budget, are going to keep coming and coming and paying however much is necessary to get the ultimate experience.

One thing to also keep in mind is that many of you keep saying that these new upcharge options designed to keep improving the experience will drive everyone else off. Um, I didn't notice too large of a decrease in attendance last year, at least not a decrease that's any bigger than the decreases they've had for several years now since before these line skipping options really became such a necessity at times. Given that many felt that the customer service didn't improve last season, you can probably rest assured that the so-called Q-bot "problem" isn't hurting attendance. It's the same problems that have been around forever. Like I said in my earlier post, I think what's really bothering so many of you is that there's a line in the first place that one would want to skip. If you were cranking out the full potential of Nitro, you wouldn't be bothered by all the Q-bot buyers filling up the one row because they're taking a borderline insignificant portion of the full capacity away.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

Friday, March 16, 2007 3:10 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

What about parks that offer ticket-per-ride and POP admissions? Isn't that kind of creating the same idea? That you have to buy the POP to make the most of your day.

Everyone who wants to ride all day chooses the POP plan. People who go just to hang out (like a grandparent, for example) choose the book of tickets to ride a few rides with the family. Parks that offer plans such as this are always "FREE ADMISSION" parks.

It's totally different from a theme park that offers one admission price for everyone, and then offers another add-on that is priced high enough on purpose to limit how maney can afford it.

Cut-in-line add-ons tell the public that, "If you have money, you deserve a better experience than everyone else". Parks figured out a service to sell that doesn't cost much to implement because they simply take it from the regular "guests". It's even worse because it gets flaunted in everyones face.

Another words, what Rob said.

Friday, March 16, 2007 8:04 AM
Yeah, you are missing the point, halltd. I'm not talking about separation of classes, especially at retail businesses such as grocery stores- I'm talking about special privileges for people who are willing to spend more to get them. I'm talking about businesses deciding that pleasing some customers is more important than pleasing others... basically telling some people, "This customer paid us more so they deserve your place in line." Perks like special meals, escorts taking guests around the park, free merchandise- that stuff doesn't affect the other customers, except in the way that they don't get any of it. But when you start letting guests cut in line, it sends the wrong message. Suddenly, the business is no longer inconveniencing themselves, they're inconveniencing other guests who also paid money.

With the airlines that I regularly fly, it's about having a ton of points AND spending money for the privilege of being able to board the plane first, get your luggage unloaded first, etc. Provided you accumulated enough points, you are given the option of buying into the "VIP" program that suddenly elevates you above all the other customers. It's not fair to the regular customers, no matter what you say.

^ At least dexter gets it... his last parapgraph said it best.

Cut-in-line add-ons tell the public that, "If you have money, you deserve a better experience than everyone else". Parks figured out a service to sell that doesn't cost much to implement because they simply take it from the regular "guests". It's even worse because it gets flaunted in everyones face.


Friday, March 16, 2007 8:47 AM
Are you just now realizing that life isn't fair? :)

I think most people on here are confusing the FlashPass thing with VIP. FlashPass has a HUGE affect on the regular queue and definitely is Six Flags wanting more money from guests. This is marketed towards the average guest. And, LOTS of people use it. So, I would agree that FlashPass is causing the "class separation" you're talking about. Its making the regular queue unbearable and allowing the people with money to have a better experience at the park. At the Six Flags parks I've been to recently, its blatantly obvious that you have to pay more than general admission if you want to have any chance of experiencing the parks like before FlashPass (with bearable queues).

However, the VIP is used on such a limited basis (at least at other parks - not really sure in what numbers SF uses VIP) that it doesn't affect the normal queue. You can't tell me that a group (or even four) of four guests moving to the front of a queue of several thousand people has any noticeable effect on the wait time. This is why you RARELY, if ever, see VIP groups holding up the line at Cedar Point. If you factor in the tiny amount of VIP guests with Cedar Point's normal attendance, they may as well not even be there.

Now, if you want to talk about having to pay for the virtual queue system, then I totally agree with you. That's why I despise Universal's and Six Flags' virtual queue systems. Disney is the only company that has it right. They figured out how to limit the amount of time guests have to wait in line for their attractions and they don't charge for it. You don't even have to stay on property to use the system. You just have to be a guest in the park. They offer other perks (Extra Magic Hours) to their resort guests which is a far better way of providing a "benefit" to guests without negatively affecting the other paying guests like you are talking about.

VIP and having to pay for a virtual queue system are two totally different concepts which produce two entirely unique affects on the guest experience. Don't confuse the two.

Friday, March 16, 2007 9:16 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
And I'll be treated even better if I just drop a few bucks at the big park.

We both win. :)

Better than what? What other parks give everybody? Short lines and lots of attractions at a afforable price?

Thats what I don't get, That If you pay more your gonna get better. YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TOO.


Friday, March 16, 2007 9:22 AM

sirloindude said:
To be fair, I think that if Six Flags parks maintained capacity levels on par with those of, say, Cedar Point or Disney, we wouldn't even be arguing about this. It's the fact that even without Flashpasses, Q-Bots, and VIPs, the lines move terribly slow that's bothering everybody. Having worked at a high-capacity park with a VIP experience, it really does barely anything to slow the line down if us ops are moving quickly. However, when it's one or two trains taking 5 minutes per dispatch, the effects of seats being taken by those who paid twice as much tend to be more severe.

It's amazing how nearly every argument over a Six Flags policy ends up boiling down to capacity and/or customer service.

Frankly, I like the idea, but I can't help but wonder if it creates a catch-22 for Six Flags. On the one hand, increasing capacity will allow shorter waits all around, especially for those penny-pinching season passholders such as myself trying to cram as much in as possible on as little money as possible (well, only at SFA and SFGAdv since I have the chance to visit them more frequently and thus don't need to spend as much money per visit). However, by increasing capacity, they're detracting from the value of the package. I think it's a pretty safe bet that most people would take advantage of it merely for front-of-the-line access. On the other hand, by leaving capacity at the painfully low levels it reaches at some parks (note: SFOT and SFFT are excluded from this based on my previous experiences at those 2), Six Flags would be alienating the penny-pinchers. In the end, the profits will be the decision-makers, and if Six Flags makes more money by charging 10x the amount of money as another park for the same experience, well, I can't say I blame them.

In my opinion, alot of the problem is the lack of competition many parks face. Take Six Flags Over Georgia for example. The closest parks are several hours away from it (I think, but I'm not positive if Carowinds is or not), and so without any other parks pulling their guests away, I suppose they can rely on the fact that so many of their guests don't have any other parks to go to (in the same class of park), and therefore wouldn't know that it's any different anywhere else. Most people don't know the industry standard and can't really argue that things are better anywhere else. We just can because most of us have been all over the place.

LOL, I feel kind of bad using SFOG as an example given that so many people find the park to be fantastic. *** Edited 3/16/2007 2:19:53 AM UTC by sirloindude***

Sorry for quoting the whole darn thing but SOMEBODY GETS IT! They are MAKING YOU BUY THE BOT to enjoy the park by running at LESS than capacity making the percieve VALUE of a BOT more justified.

If you walked into SFNE and they were running at full capacity with 10 minute waits for the woodies and 15-20 minute waits on the SUPs and BTDN (LIKE THE PARK COULD DO) WOuld you buy a Bot? Most likely, Unless it was a saturday when lines would be longer from attendance and not operations, The answer would be no.


Friday, March 16, 2007 9:31 AM
It's not a separation in classes IMHO (In amusement park terms) it's a separation in SERVICE GIVEN and the need for it is ARTIFICIALLY CREATED at many SF parks.

If the park ran at capacity and the only day I could visit SFNE was Saturday. Yeah, I'd probably purchase a bot. But because they don't they have big lines even on weekdays when THIS SHOULDN't be the case making everyone spend a extra 49.95 just to be able to ENJOY THE SERVICE YOU SHOULD ALREADY BE GETTING IN THE POP.

CP, runs at capacity, Id probably be willing to purchase a bot on a busy day, Not because the service was bad but due to crowd levels.


Friday, March 16, 2007 9:40 AM
Again, you're talking about virtual queues, when the thread was about VIP. Two different things.
Friday, March 16, 2007 9:47 AM
I'll agree to that and I'll also agree if you see the need to use the VIP thing, thats ok.

I'll never agree to pay extra because of crappy service tho.



Friday, March 16, 2007 9:47 AM

halltd said:
Are you just now realizing that life isn't fair?

Yup, I'm just realizing now that life isn't fair. I'm a slow learner.

True, this IS a thread about VIP programs but my unhappiness stems from virtual queing... it's just that this is the first time I've really spoken out about this sort of thing. I actually have no problem with the VIP program aside from the line-cutting.... sh*t, if someone wants to be a moron and pay a ton of money for a bunch of stuff that sounds great on paper but adds very little to the theme park experience, that's fine with me. It's just that virtual queing is a big problem with me.

Friday, March 16, 2007 10:40 AM
Go into any restaurant that don't offer reservations.

The wait is 1hr. Should you be allowed to pay a extra fifty bucks to get to the front of the line?.

NO! and everyone there waiting their turn is gonna be pissed when that couple that *JUST WALKED IN* gets a table immediately. Now some restaurants have virtual but it's given as a convinence and not a extra cost benifit


Friday, March 16, 2007 10:50 AM
Precisely. It's one thing to call ahead and put your name down on a list- chances are you're still going to wait a bit for a table- but it's another thing to hand money to the person taking names and sit down before someone that's been waiting for 45 minutes. Money is money, and money DOES talk- but there are certain instances when everyone should be treated equally, regardless of how much or how little you have in your wallet to pay for ungraded service.
Friday, March 16, 2007 11:28 AM
I'm glad that the whole virtual queue thing bugs other people, too. halltd said it very well. Disney seems to be the only one to have gotten this right and kept it fair. It's bad enough that Universal and Six Flags do it, but Six Flags lousy operations make it even worse.

These VIP programs won't have a huge effect, but to me, it seems like this is just another straw on the camel's back for the average Six Flags guests. Flash Pass is the main issue, but adding the VIP thing just makes it worse. If they were to eliminate Flash Pass and just have the VIP deal, that would be great! But Six Flags enjoys taking people's money at the expense of others' having a less-enjoyable time.

It's like Six Flags talks out of both sides of their mouths. Line jumpers will be ejected from the park--unless you pay to do it.

coastin' since 1985

Friday, March 16, 2007 11:32 AM
I'm not even that thrilled with the Disney system. I might be a hypocrite for using it but I only do it because everyone else is doing it.

It's a matter of what these systems do to other park guests. It's one thing for a company to find a way to make more money by giving those people more, but systems like virtual queing don't really cost the company anything- all they are doing is taking something away from one paying guest and giving it to another guest that paid them more. And that thing is your seat in the next train.

Friday, March 16, 2007 11:33 AM
janfrederick's avatar I agree that money talks. Obviously SF *thinks* this is worth pissing some people off. They are probably hoping that instead of getting pissed off, people will either think, "I wish I'd thought of spending the extra bucks." or "That's fine, I ain't gonna spend that kind of money for that.".

As for forcing people to endure crappy service, nobody is forcing anybody to endure anything. If the value isn't there for the regular guests, they'll spend their money elsewhere. It's an entirely different problem. If this program highlights those problems in the guests minds, then they need to fix the service in general. But don't blame the VIP program.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Friday, March 16, 2007 11:39 AM
I blame the VIP program because it emphasizes the virtual queing system.

Parks aren't forcing guests to endure crappy service but they are forcing guests to give up something that they have no right to ask them to give up. That sends the wrong message to the average guest, and as long as average guests continue to comprise the core of the company's business (which they will), I would think the company would be more careful before expecting everyone to be okay with that sort of thing.

A lot of people ARE going to think, "I'm not spending the money on that sort of thing." Thing is, they might also think, "Next time I'll take my business elsewhere."

What would be the ultimate scenario? Driving out the average guests and turning parks into places that only people willing to spend $250/day will visit? Once that happens, how will the companies come up with ways to divide that group of guests? Surely there would be a plan to charge those people $500/day for something EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA SPECIAL, right?

Friday, March 16, 2007 11:57 AM
I have to agree with Rob here. I don't care if somebody has a ton of money and can go to a park more often, buy more food than me, buy more plastic crap in the stores than me, buy more tickets at Knoebels than me. Good for them. I'm happy they are financially successful.

But it is wrong when it degrades my experience. I have to wait in line longer than I would if somebody didn't pay to get ahead. That's not fair. I paid the price for the ride and I should have just as much right to ride as anybody else. Nobody should be able to pay to cut in front of me.

"Line jumpers will be ejected from the park without a refund*"

*unless you bribe us with a few hundred bucks.

Paying extra for "premium" services is fine if that's how you want to spend your money. But some of these programs cross the line when somebody else's happiness depends on making others unhappy.

If a business wants to operate like that, fine. But don't expect me to be happy about it or have any reason to support them.

Wouldn't this give Six Flags (or any park) incentive to have long lines? Why be efficient? Why increase capacity? The more people are frustrated with long lines, the more likely they'll buy some premium service. Oh except for those poor slobs who can't afford it, but who cares about them anyway? We already got their $60 admission. How long before that begins to cut even deeper into their already poor reputation?

Friday, March 16, 2007 12:16 PM
Yup, Line jumping is not a sporting event.

Unless you pay us a extra 89 bucks.


Friday, March 16, 2007 12:28 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar You guys are too much. :)

All I can do is repeat what I said to Chuck (and paraphrase it):

These pay-to-play systems that offer benefits to those willing to spend more have been around at the parks for years now, they're popping up at more and more parks with each passing year and there's no reason to think it won't continue. If it were really hurting the parks in any way, they'd be gone in a second, but rather more parks adopt them and come up with new package ideas each season.


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