Six Flags Exclusive Adventure

Monday, August 13, 2007 7:02 PM
Gemini's avatar

Brian Noble said:
I'm convinced that air travel is now a commodity. The only thing that matters to most consumers is price, and the only thing that matters to business travelers is the elite-level perks.

I fly on business several times a year. I would say that one of my biggest things at first was schedule. I fly Continental and Cleveland is a Continental hub. It's not very often where I can't get a good flight just about anywhere, even if I have to connect in Houston. But even though I initially went with Continental for convenience, I've found their service to be top notch and the flights comfortable. Familiarity is key as well. I know when I use ExpressJet, I'll be able to sit by myself (three across - A BC seating).

I had to fly Northworst last year to Rapid City, since it's one of the few cities Continental doesn't service. Both ends of the round trip featured numerous bad experiences, most of which were NWA related (as opposed to bad luck and such). At this point, I fly Continental even for personal flights. Since I know their prices are going to be the same or close enough in most cases, I don't even bother looking at discount airlines like Southwest. But, again, flying from a hub doesn't hurt.


Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

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Monday, August 13, 2007 8:13 PM
I log about 45K air miles in a typical year. #1 with a bullet is direct flights at good times.

Of course, as I'm a DTW NWA-hub captive, that almost always means Northwest. They fly direct almost everywhere, and unless I'm flying to some other airline's hub, there is no competition.


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Monday, August 13, 2007 8:44 PM
Personally, I haven't needed a Flashpass or Q-bot at a Six Flags park in sometime. I think if you're intelligent or savvy enough, you can make a determination if it's warranted or not based on the time of year you're visiting, the existing crowds etc.

It might take walking around the park, looking at the amount of cars in the parking lot etc. to get a feel for things and losing a couple of minutes in the process, but that's money in your pocket at the end of the day and not the parks.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007 5:53 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Rob Ascough said: What happens when people paying for upcharges realize that things aren't all that much better?

But the point is that things automatically get better when you limit entrance. What's the biggest GP complaint for a bad day at the park? Long lines (for food, rides, whatever). Even if you still have the same slow, grumpy, unhappy minimum wage workers to be their servers in the park, if there're 1/6th the number of guests, (paying 6 times the price) each guest will have a significantly improved experience.


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."

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Friday, August 17, 2007 12:32 AM
Anyone know if the tickets can only be purchased online, or will they allow walkups the day of the event?

It seems to me SF needs to sell a number of tickets very close to their limit to make it a worthwhile effort for them. But what if they're hundreds or even thousands short with online pre-sales? How many people would take the chance driving up hoping there are tickets available? And this isn't an event that many people would decide on the spur of the moment to do.

Other than the prospect of shorter wait times, what are you really getting for your $299? And even there, I think people will be unpleasantly surprised, because it's being presented as a nearly no wait event. Sounds like we've gotten to the point where we're willing to pay a premium price for basic service.

BTW, show of hands. Who's planning on going? and who already order their tickets? *** Edited 8/17/2007 4:33:36 AM UTC by RatherGoodBear***

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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:02 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

BTW, show of hands. Who's planning on going? and who already order their tickets?

Ha! I think you forgot who you're talking to. This is the "$3 for a drink is too much" crowd.


It seems to me SF needs to sell a number of tickets very close to their limit to make it a worthwhile effort for them.

You know I was wondering what numbers they'd have to hit to make it worth it, myself. I'll take this as the motivation to do the math.

What did we figure the daily average was at SFGAdv? I know the numbers came up somewhere. Wasn't it like 17,000 or 19,000 or something?

Let's round it to 20,000 just for fun. (that'd be the average if SFGAdv did 2.9 million in attendance this year - probably in range, but on the high side)

The most recent numbers put chain-wide total revenue per capita at $38.85. A little quick math gives us $777,000 revenue on the average day.

So they're looking to bring in three quarter of a million to make the same revenue as an 'average' day and the ticket price for this event is $299. A little more quick math...

2600 people will cover that.

(Technically, the park is only open for half a day for this event, so you really could cut that number in half, but for the sake of argument we'll leave it :) )

2600 people.

Think they can do it?


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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:32 AM
Do I think that there are 2600 people in the SFGAdv market willing to pay $300 for this event? YES!

Will the marketing for this event reach enough of these people? That is the true question, and I'll guess that the answer to this question will be no.


Yeah is Good!
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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:40 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Will the marketing for this event reach enough of these people?

Exactly my thoughts expressed on this week's podcast. :)

I don't know if they're promoting it beyond the website. (anyone?)

If not, we'll see. If so, they got it covered...easily.

I just can't shake the idea that this isn't some random idea to fill a Friday. This is a test - a chance to gauge the response.


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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:55 AM
They're not promoting it on St. Louis radio or tv stations, that's about all I can confirm at this point. ;)

Even if it is a great success, I can't see it becoming the norm. I can see mutiple days reserved for such events each season, but not the norm.

This is especially true in the smaller markets. SFStL doesn't have a problem with huge lines on a regular basis from what I can tell.

Other than little to no waits, what else are you getting?

Nobody likes waiting in excessive lines, but has anyone here got bored with a park when there wasn't a single line for anything at a park? I know I have and I know I'm not alone.

I know plenty of enthusiasts who get bored with ERT events and are done riding well before the event is over, and we're the nutty ones, right?

Just trying to figure out who this type of exclusivity will appeal to at this price on a REGULAR basis.

I mean, can't they at least build a coaster that only these patrons will be able to ride? Now that's exclusivity!


Yeah is Good!
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Friday, August 17, 2007 2:45 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Other than little to no waits, what else are you getting?

- Admission to both the park and safari
- Free Parking
- Free fountain drinks, popcorn, and cotton candy
- Complimentary catered buffet dinner
- Autograph signings and meet-and-greets with your favorite LOONEY TUNES and Justice League characters
- Our fantastic parade
- Spectacular end-of-the-night fireworks display
- All the rides, rides, rides you can handle

I think that covers it.

The price tag is probably on the high side. I could see dropping it a little. $249 maybe? $229?

I suppose that's where the whole 'finding the balance' thing comes into play.


Even if it is a great success, I can't see it becoming the norm. I can see mutiple days reserved for such events each season, but not the norm.

Maybe. I can certainly see more and more days reserved for this kind of thing if this one goes well.

Since we're talking numbers and we've figured out that 2600 people cover the revenue - what's that work out to for the year?

2600 x 145 operating days = 377,000 people

Think there's 377,000 people willing to pay to do this over the course of a season in that area?

The population of the NYC Metro area is more than 18,000,000. Add the Delaware Valley (over 5,000,000) to that and you have 24.5 million people that are 'local' to SFGAdv.

That 377,000 needed represents only 1.5% of the 'local' population.

I have no conclusions, just presenting numbers and ideas. :)


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Friday, August 17, 2007 3:39 AM
SFoGswim's avatar I would barely be willing to pay the regular admission price with 2,600 people in the park. Cut it down to 260 and then we could talk.
Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
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Friday, August 17, 2007 9:18 AM

Lord Gonchar said:


- Admission to both the park and safari
- Free Parking
- Free fountain drinks, popcorn, and cotton candy
- Complimentary catered buffet dinner
- Autograph signings and meet-and-greets with your favorite LOONEY TUNES and Justice League characters
- Our fantastic parade
- Spectacular end-of-the-night fireworks display
- All the rides, rides, rides you can handle


Sounds like a lot of fluff to me, like when you bring your car to the dealership for scheduled maintenance- they justify the outrageous prices by handing you a huge list of the things they're doing to the car but it never amounts to much more than an oil change and a bunch of visual inspections.

Admission to both parks and free parking... sounds good. Character meet-and-greets? I suppose that will appeal to families, but something tells me families aren't going to buying this as much as people with no kids (and thus more disposable income). The parade and fireworks- they aren't perks because everyone can see them. Free drinks? Other parks offer that for free. And the buffet sounds good, but I'm a little surprised the park would offer that because it keeps people away from the food lines where they make a lot of money. Of course, free popcorn and cotton candy means the park isn't giving away other stuff that people would want like ice cream and funnel cakes.

Considering you're still stuck with Six Flags lousy operations, this sounds like it's worth about $100-125, not $250.

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Friday, August 17, 2007 10:28 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar If there are only 2600 people in the park, does it matter if operations are lousy?

So bets on whether we'll see 2 train operation. And whether they'll be selling q-bots. ;)


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."

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Friday, August 17, 2007 10:52 AM
2,600 people will still dirty up the bathrooms, toss trash on the midways and encounter park employees. Those are some of the problems that will have to be fixed whether there are 2,600 or 26,000 people in the park.
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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:31 PM
So i am gathering that all these same people who are comnplaining about this would have no problems if this was cedar point doing this for the same price?
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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:34 PM
I don't think this is a Six Flags "thing" or a Cedar Fair "thing", I think it's people welcoming the change versus people opposed to the change with a bunch of others somewhere in between. I'm all for theme parks (and let me stress theme parks) charging more in an attempt to make more money with less people, but I expect an increase in the quality of the experience... an increase that I don't think is going to happen as long as park operators work on creating different pricing tiers instead of correcting the problems that have caused the amusement industry to remain stagnant for the past few years.
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Friday, August 17, 2007 1:54 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm all for theme parks (and let me stress theme parks) charging more in an attempt to make more money with less people, but I expect an increase in the quality of the experience... an increase that I don't think is going to happen...

Ahhh, this says a lot more than I think you intended it to.

Here's why we have such a high difference of opinion:

I'm of the mindset that theme parks are underpriced to begin with.

You think they have to up the game to match the price up while I'd argue that they're just doing a 'price correction' for their woefully underpriced product.

To me, the price of a day at the park is a downright steal when compared to other forms of entertainment that we can do as a family.


Considering you're still stuck with Six Flags lousy operations, this sounds like it's worth about $100-125, not $250.

Lousy operations are a matter of opinion, I'm of the opinion that they've improved a great deal. Since we can't quantify that, I want to focus on the other half of the statement - the price.

$100-$125 is much too low. Start to break down what you get:

Entry to park - $60
Entry To Safari - $20
Parking - $15
Gold Q-bot - $71

(I used Gold Bot to equate to the lack of lines you'll see at this event - on a normal operating day you'd need the Gold bot to experience the same...seems like a reasonable comparison)

The total there is $166 and that's before the included drinks, popcorn, cotton candy and catered dinner. You can't charge less than the value of the package.

As it stands they're charging you $133 for the 'freebies' - yes that feels high. (as I said before) but at something like $229 that number becomes $63 - very reasonable from where I stand.

I still think that $229-$249 is the key price point for something like this. At $229 they need a crowd of 3400 to equate the revenue of a full average operating day.

Now it's a matter of whether or not that additional $70 off draws 800 more people.

Again, no conclusion - just numbers and ideas. :)


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Friday, August 17, 2007 2:10 PM
This is where is all goes back to perception.

Let's assume that you're right and amusement parks have been hideously underpriced in relation to what they have offered. That means a price increase would be completely justified... on paper. Too bad for the parks that most people aren't going to see things that way. What kind of marketing is going to have the most positive impact when trying to gloss over a price hike?

1. We've dramatically increased our prices because we were charging too little for what we were offering.

2. We've dramatically increased our prices because we're providing cleaner midways, rides operating at capacity and an overall better experience.

Maybe some parks don't have to up the game- I'm of the mindset that Disney and Busch parks, with their near-flawless operations- are fine just as they are. But Six Flags and even some Cedar Fair parks aren't viewed as paragons of perfection, so they're going to have to do something to convince people that the increases are justified. People don't want to be told they were getting a good deal for the past three decades. Chances are they don't want any kind of price increase, so if prices are increased, they're going to want something in return. It might not be necessary, but again, it's about perception.

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Friday, August 17, 2007 2:56 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Yeah, I guess. I'm not sure why the Disney or Busch guest doesn't expect more in return for their money, but the other chain's guests do, but I see where you're headed.

You just kind of do it.

Notice how Disney has been raising their prices a few dollars every year for a while now:

1999 - $42
2000 - $46
2001 - $48
2002 - $50
2003 - $52
2004 - $55
2005 - $60
2006 - $63 then to $67
2007 - $71

In 8 years they've raised the single-day gate a full $29. That's an average of a 6.8% increase each year for the past 8 years! Have they really upped their service or offered more for the price increase?

No reason any park couldn't do the same...maybe even in a smaller time frame.

SFGAdv ticket prices at $60 list and $40 online. What if they did the same thing?

- Dollar for dollar increase & they have a gate of $89 by 2015.
- Percentage-based increase & they have a gate of $102 by 2015.

In the meantime, start tossing the leittle perks in and bumping the gate with those as well. Free drinks one year. Free parking the next. Free popcorn and cotton candy after that. Make the impression that your getting more. Run ads with people wonking about how great it was to come into the park and everything is free, how there's short waits for everything and so much to do.

Before you know it, they're offering this 'exclusive adventure' thing to people on a daily basis.

I'm also of the mindset that SFGAdv is the perfect park to test this out with. That whole Northeast Corridor is notoriously costly and packed to the brim with people.


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Friday, August 17, 2007 3:10 PM
I have nothing to back this up aside from what I've gathered through conversations with people throughout the years, but I'm pretty sure Disney and Busch guests don't really have too much to complain about. Sure, the parks are expensive, but look at what you get for your money: a wide assortment of rides for all guests (not just thrill rides/big coasters), spotlessly clean bathrooms and midways, empty trashcans, immaculate landscaping, friendly employees and everything run at capacity, or close to it. Six Flags guests and, to a lesser extent, Cedar Fair guests, seem to have some complaints. In other words, those parks are on a lower tier- not many people are going to admit that the Cedar Point experience is better than the Disneyland experience; the Kings Dominion experience better than the Sea World Florida experience.

Disney prices keep going up (is anyone else shocked that a one-day admission cost just $42 in 1999?) I'm pretty sure Busch park admission (at least in Florida where the two most visited Busch parks are located) have pretty much increased prices in lockstep with Disney. You can get away with that when you're making most of your guests happy and have them leaving at the end of the day wanting more, at least to a certain degree). But for a company like Six Flags that has become known for delivering a subpar experience more than anything else, guests aren't going to accept such increases unless the deal is sweetened.

Here's how I look at it, and assume that others look at it: Disney prices go up because of inflation, while Six Flags prices go up because of greed. That is not likely the whole story, but it's easy to see things that way when one company is doing things right and the other keeps on dropping the ball.

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