Six flags season pass parking change?

Monday, April 25, 2011 5:08 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

My goodness people I don't want to pay 17 for parking but they have to make money somehow. For those that miss the old six flags, it went Bankrupt...


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Monday, April 25, 2011 5:45 PM

And they still have pretty much zero gate integrity with their prices.


Original BlueStreak64

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Monday, April 25, 2011 6:07 PM
Jeff's avatar

There really is a perception problem that they make worse with that arrangement. I fully expect that its their mission to get $x per visitor, as you would expect. The problem is that they've got the mix all wrong. I can stomach certain admission prices because I see that I'm getting a park full of rides and shows or whatever. I see value. When I have to pay a high price for parking, however, I don't see any value at all. I get nothing for my money.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, April 25, 2011 6:19 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Yeah, you have a point there. If the average car has 3 or 4 people in it, just bump the gate $5 and call parking free. Works for the other parks doing this already.

We've discussed the myriad of ways the parks can creatively break down that $X that they're after. Apparently SF thinks selling the ticket at a low cost to attract people is more important (or outweighs) the effect of hitting them with a $17 parking fee.

Then again, I still think $17 isn't excessive in certain geographic locations (SFGAdv) or in comparison to the price of event parking in most situations.

I look at it as $4.25 per person for our family of 4. It makes my online-bought tickets $41.24 each if I'm going to the Jersey park.

Sorry, but I can't relate to the complaining. $41 for a day at a large regional amusement park is a steal.

Which all goes back to the original point, I suppose. If they sold it as $41.99 for tickets with free parking they probably generate goodwill and better feelings right off the bat - like the other 'free parking' parks.


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Monday, April 25, 2011 7:00 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I spent $36 to park when I went to see Janet Jackson In NYC last month and maybe $20 to park at TWC Arena in CLT 5 nites later for Prince. $17 sucks but not so much when the SP is less than those concert tickets.


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Monday, April 25, 2011 8:13 PM
Jeff's avatar

I know everyone likes to compare to sporting events and concerts, but really, I don't think it's a valid comparison. You're talking about places that are almost exclusively in downtown areas with dozens of parking facilities, often not owned by the venue. If you've ever worked in an area like that and didn't use public transportation, then you know you also paid some amount every day for that parking. It's a completely different arrangement.

By contrast, amusement parks almost always own their parking, they're in a place where the land is plentiful for that parking, and they choose to charge whatever amount. In the case of Holiday World, they choose not to charge for it at all, and bake it into the price of admission. The customer will always feel better about that.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, April 25, 2011 8:27 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

The reason it's a valid comparison is because parking is parking. All that you said is true but that's not really how the rest of the general populace thinks about it. I'm not thinking that paying to park at six flags is any different than parking down town for a concert when I'm forking over money.


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Monday, April 25, 2011 8:46 PM
rollergator's avatar

You two have made me think about the former SFEG park. Dowtownish, and I really don't recall what they were charging for parking (since I had a parking pass at the time). Nonethless, the city had spaces RIGHT outside the gates where you could pay by the hour at a ridiculously-low rate per hour, if you could get one of those spaces - I imagine it was relatively cheap because right next to RR tracks isn't usually the "preferred" area of downtown.

Nonetheless, having cheap and esp. accessible parking run by the city CAN drive down rates - typically, it obviously works in the opposite direction.

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Monday, April 25, 2011 8:51 PM
LostKause's avatar

When I see the parking fee the first thing before I even get to the gate, I say to myself, "Self, get ready to get ripped off all day long." The higher the price of parking, the more I prepare to get ripped off throughout the day.

Offering "free" parking, even with a slightly higher admission price, is a really great idea that creates warm fuzzies, even though in the end, it ends up the same price overall. Warm fuzzies equals loyal, repeat visitors.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:43 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
I know everyone likes to compare to sporting events and concerts, but really, I don't think it's a valid comparison.

I'm with Clint. Parking is parking. I don't care what the arrangement is. It's not uncommon to pay $20, $30, $40 to park in certain situations. Amusement parks are one of those situations.

In the case of Holiday World, they choose not to charge for it at all, and bake it into the price of admission. The customer will always feel better about that.

Agreed, unless the cost of wrapping it in becomes a price point that is a turnoff and doesn't get them there in the first place. At some point wrapping it all in and charging $X is going to turn people off right out of the gate. I'm pretty sure that's not the case with SF at their price point though. But when a ticket to a SF or CF park is less than a ticket to HW, you have to wonder how far selling the 'freebies' can go before the sheer effect of the number on the page becomes more important?

Is it easier to sell people on the idea that it's 'only' $35 to visit or that it's $45 but you get stuff for free? And at what point are those lines crossed? It's the art of business, I guess.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:20 AM
Jeff's avatar

Sorry, I don't think parking is parking, and I don't think "people" feel that way either.

As for price sensitivity, I'm starting to think that it's largely a manifest destiny problem on the part of far too many companies. No one wants to actually believe that what they sell is worth charging for anymore. It's like, do it Wal-Mart style or you'll never make it. And yet, there are great companies selling things at a premium and they're making a killing. Apple is excellent at this, not getting into a race to the bottom with HP and Dell selling commodity crap. Heck, Disney is the same way with their theme parks, and they've done a bang up job getting through the recession and positioning themselves to kick even more ass on the other side.

So even if Six Flags didn't have their mix all screwed up, why are they so afraid to charge what their parks are actually worth? It'd be a lot easier to stomach than trying to shake people down for parking.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 9:47 AM

You're talking about places that are almost exclusively in downtown areas with dozens of parking facilities, often not owned by the venue.

Michigan Stadium is surrounded by a whole bunch of open land. Some of that land is owned by the local school district. They get $40 per vehicle to park on grass, even though you can park in the street for free if you are willing to walk for 15-20 minutes to get to the game.

(And, yes, I walk. I'm cheap that way.)

But, your broader point regarding the mix of gate/parking and perceived value is on the money. Folks *value* the park experience more than the *parking*, and charging more for the gate and less (but maybe not zero) for parking is more aligned with folks' perceptions of value.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 10:11 AM
Jeff's avatar

I know there are exceptions, and leave it to this community to tabulate them. Let me reframe the argument. It was rare for anyone to pay $15+ for parking at an amusement park even five years ago. People will not be ok with it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 11:10 AM

I think the main problem people have is that a great deal just got a lot worse. My Six Flags GAdv pass with only parking to that park was 160.00, my Cedar Fair pass was 165. Six Flags needs to make it consistant in all the parks like Cedar Fair does, and no one would have a problem.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 11:37 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
It was rare for anyone to pay $15+ for parking at an amusement park even five years ago. People will not be ok with it.

And five years before that it was rare to pay $10. And five years before that it was rare to pay $7. And five years before that...

So even if Six Flags didn't have their mix all screwed up, why are they so afraid to charge what their parks are actually worth? It'd be a lot easier to stomach than trying to shake people down for parking.

Well, like I said, I agree. But I'm not sure a raw number on paper works that way especially when you're looking at ticket prices. I still think there's a psychological effect - and heck, your parking aversion proves it - in what the number is and how it's presented.

$17 for parking feels like too much, but you'd pay the same amount (more?) if they just called it admission. Your problem isn't the total cost, it's that they're putting so much of the cost under the 'parking' header instead of the 'admission' header.

But what about admission? There has to be a point that starts to make people feel icky in a similar way. You can go to a park website and buy tickets for $39 each. Parking is listed elsewhere, it's meant to be a non-factor in thinking about how much it costs to visit. What happens if that number is $50 but you put a pretty "free parking" graphic on the page? Is the $50 too scary for people before they even get to the park?

There's a definite psychology at play. Who knows exactly where the lines are drawn, but there's a number that's going to make people uncomfortable no matter how you word it.

I'm still with you guys though and think tying it in would go a long way towards the perceived value while potentially even raising the amount they get overall. But apparently a lot of parks still think breaking it into a couple of different places and getting people there before they hit them with the additional charges makes more sense.

Maybe someone needs to try free admission, but parking is $200 per car? ;)

---

I know there are exceptions, and leave it to this community to tabulate them.

I often feel like I'm working with paintbrush and everyone else was issued a scalpel. :)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, April 26, 2011 11:38 AM
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:45 PM

rollergator said:
You two have made me think about the former SFEG park. Dowtownish, and I really don't recall what they were charging for parking (since I had a parking pass at the time). Nonethless, the city had spaces RIGHT outside the gates where you could pay by the hour at a ridiculously-low rate per hour.

The last season it was a Six Flags park the charge was $15. PARC lowered it back down to $10. The also added VIP parking on one side of the lot, which I always thought was stupid, but they were desperate for cash. I heard that last year they changed the standard parking to a weekday price and a more expensive weekend price. People complain, even in downtown.

As for the metered parking, I think it's only good for 2 hours, but the way most enthusiasts react to Elitch's, 2 hours is plenty for them.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:48 PM
LostKause's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
What happens if that number is $50 but you put a pretty "free parking" graphic on the page? Is the $50 too scary for people before they even get to the park?

I agree with you entire post, oddly. I just thought that I would like to point out that the Orlando parks have gone far beyond the $50 admission price, and that's exactly when I started to feel that it was WAY to expensive. They are still charging for parking too.

However, it's strange to me that after a few years of the $50 Orlando admission price, I realized that they are worth that much. They offer an incredible experience.

When SF raised their admission price to $50 a few years ago, I felt that it was too much (but that was coming from my past experiences). The price was one factor keeping me away. I really don't know how $50 with free parking included at a SF or CF park would feel to me


Maybe someone needs to try free admission, but parking is $200 per car? ;)

(*Limit four per vehicle. Additional parking fees apply to more passengers) You totally flipped the discussion on it's head. I'd love to watch an experiment to see if that would get more people through the gates or not. lol


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:50 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
$17 for parking feels like too much, but you'd pay the same amount (more?) if they just called it admission. Your problem isn't the total cost, it's that they're putting so much of the cost under the 'parking' header instead of the 'admission' header.

But what about admission? There has to be a point that starts to make people feel icky in a similar way.

Yes, that's correct, and I've been saying for years (and I'm pretty sure you have too) that they've not reached that level of ick. Not even close. I think Holiday World continues to be an excellent case study in this. They charge $42.95, and zero for parking. Six Flags Great America, if you buy online, charges $36.99, and $20 for parking. Even for a party of four, that makes Great America the better deal, but who do you think has the higher per cap and satisfaction rates? You get what you pay for.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:31 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
Even for a party of four, that makes Great America the better deal, but who do you think has the higher per cap and satisfaction rates? You get what you pay for.

Well, I'm not sure that fact is all due to gate/parking pricing, but point taken.

Be interesting to see how things changed if HW were to use a more traditional structure like $32 tickets and $7 parking (their online price is $39). Or in SFGAm went to $43 all inclusive.

I don't think it's necessarily one size fits all though. What works for a little park with three coasters and a waterpark in Nowhere, Indiana might not work quite the same for a big park with a dozen coasters and a waterpark in the Chicago or Philly/NYC area. Then again, it might.

I think the gate/parking ratio is an intersting aspect too. I look at a park like Busch in Virginia and they have $13 parking, but their gate is $64. To me, it feels less dirty to pay $13 for parking when the ticket is $64 than it does to pay $17 when the ticket is $37. Again, it's psychology and there's a zillion ways to approach it.

LostKause said:


I agree with you entire post, oddly. I just thought that I would like to point out that the Orlando parks have gone far beyond the $50 admission price, and that's exactly when I started to feel that it was WAY to expensive. They are still charging for parking too.

Well, the $50 was completely arbitrary. That could be any number. The point was, there will be a number where the admission price turns people away no matter how many of the different costs you combine to create a single 'admission' price.


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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 2:23 PM

To me it makes the most sense to allocate more cost/price to things that folks value (such as admission to the park) and less cost/price to things that folks view as a necessity to get the value (such as parking). But I know a lot of businesses that focus on making the primary cost/price appear as low as possible. Look at how car tires are sold. How much is a new tire for my car? $120. Fine. Do you want to put in on your car? Well, yes. That costs more. Do you want to put air in it? That costs more. You want it not to wobble? Again, that costs more. So now my $120 tire is really $160. Had I been looking for something to place in my family room, the $120 price would have made sense. Though I see more tire places actually telling you the total price of the tire up front. More of an art than a science.

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