The Price of Access at SFGAdv.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 1:57 PM
I get Six Flags needs to get out of their billion dollar debt and they'll probably never be able to afford the level of park operations that you find at Disney or Busch Gardens. They can't afford to good customer service, or to build any big new rides in the future. They can't afford to let go of FlashPass and its multimillion dollar profits that causes aggravation for most in attendance. They can't offer affordable parking. And management can't seem to afford to get out of their corporate high chairs to find out what will bring guests back to their parks. But banking on the public's good will, patience and understanding doesn't sound like smart business practice to me.

Six Flags did not go into debt because they bought too many coasters. The company lost sight of their fan base, which was the point Shapiro was making with his family based initiative (which he seems to have given up on). Still, this company doesn't seem to know how to connect with their fans. In the long run a park full of frustrated guests is going to cost the company money. Right now Six Flags can see nothing but profits during this Columbus Day weekend, and that's short sighted. *** Edited 10/13/2006 2:38:43 AM UTC by rc-madness***

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Thursday, October 12, 2006 2:40 PM
rollergator's avatar I guess where I tend to disagree is that to me, raising more cash thru VQ is fine, but operating rides at half-capacity and then *recommending* the Qbot to everyone....that's a policy that is based on the notion that consumers have short memories and are more than willing to forgive you for poor performance. Was NOTHING learned from the debacle of Story-Burke Land?

Sure, it MIGHT help you raise a few extra million this year, which certainly helps and likely WILL be going to pay down the debt...but in my recently-sowed farmer's lexicon, you're eating your seed-corn that way....

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Thursday, October 12, 2006 3:48 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar I'm (as usual) with Gator on that one. The times that I've gone to guest relations with a complaint about bad ride operations, I've been told to "buy a Q-bot."

Regardless of whether this generates income, relieves debt, is or is not fair, or whatever, the response to "Your lines are long because your operations suck" should not be "pay us more and we'll make it acceptable."

Though I totally agree with Gonch on this part (which is unusual), the fair/unfair argument is totally crap. Six Flags is essentially offering two (or five in some cases) products: a medicore day for $50 or a great day for $80. Who can afford which product is not a matter of fairness, but economics. Sadly, some people can afford Mercedeses (sp?) and some can afford bicycles. It might be unfair, but mercedes isn't about to start giving them out for free or start selling bicycles.


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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Thursday, October 12, 2006 4:40 PM
^ But it is unfair in a way; just see your second paragraph:

[Regardless of whether this generates income, relieves debt, is or is not fair, or whatever, the response to "Your lines are long because your operations suck" should not be "pay us more and we'll make it acceptable."]

I agree with this. But, if EVERY amusement park out there was offering this type of system, then I might shut up about it, at least a little :) Thing is, parks operated without it for YEARS, and some still do, and get by fine. Enter Six Flags, who decided to not only implement the system, but charge people for it, AND have bad operations.

So, basically, "regular" folks who wait in the normal line suffer because of the bad operations AND the people the park is letting jump the line--just because they paid more. I'm not down with this.

If I go and purchase a Chevy, I know I'm getting a more basic, non-high luxury car, and that's what the money will get me. If I buy a Mercedes, I'm expecting more because I'm paying for more. This is autos.

However, amusement parks never used to have different "service levels". You had to pay an admission price (exclude parks like Knoebels and such), which got you in and gave you access to most of the rides and shows at no extra charge. Whether you paid full price or a discounted price, you and Joe Schmoe had the same access to the same rides.

Six Flags changes this AND runs things crappy. Why defend them when there are plenty of great parks out there who still run things the tried-and-true way, AND are in better financial and operational shape?

*** Edited 10/12/2006 8:46:04 PM UTC by rablat5***


coastin' since 1985

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Thursday, October 12, 2006 5:14 PM
Jeff and gator, welcome to the side that "doesn't get it." ;)
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Thursday, October 12, 2006 6:12 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar ^^rablat

The only way this argument works is if there are people who pay gate not knowing that other customers have access to q-bot AND Six Flags intentionally does not inform them of this.

At this point, I think everyone who goes to Six Flags knows of their options and knows that if they pay the "Chevy" rate they're going to have people with qbots cutting them.

I don't defend them as a smart or profitable business, but I do defend them as "fair".


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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Thursday, October 12, 2006 9:16 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Jeff said:
...the only reason some people are compelled to buy a premium queue spot is because the rides are so poorly run in the first place.

I wish I could express myself that clearly.


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Thursday, October 12, 2006 10:58 PM
Six Flags can run their park what ever way they want. Some will say its fair to pay for better access to rides, some may say its not fair. They are in debt, and they need out anyway they can. Beyond the ethics questions which people here won't agree on, there are economic questions. If this is a strategy, a strategy Six Flags is using to get out of debt, will it work? In the short run I actually believe it will, but I don't see a long term strategy here. And why is that?
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Friday, October 13, 2006 2:31 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar You guys are lucky I'm out of town and only now at 2:30 in the morning am I getting a chance to look at this. ;)


Jeff said:
The point that I think some people are trying to make is that the only reason some people are compelled to buy a premium queue spot is because the rides are so poorly run in the first place.

I don't doubt that *some* do, but if operations were up to par, Q-bots would still sell...like hotcakes even.

Also note that what Jeff said has been different from every argument I've seen any of the anti-virtual queue people make.

There's no accusations of a conspiracy, there's no complaints of unfairness or classism, there's no nothing except the statement that SF sells more q-bots because operations suck.

That's an absolute truth. Hell, anyone could tell you that. Even *I* would agree with that. I love how it got treated as a revelation. :)

If anyone at anytime had argued anything every remotely close to that simple statement, then you'd have had me in agreement. But that's never been said anywhere that I can remember up to the point where Jeff stated the obvious.

So what are we left with at this point?

SF operations suck and some people buy a q-bot because they do.

Well, friggin' duh! :)


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Friday, October 13, 2006 2:39 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Sorry. Double post coming at you.


Six Flags changes this AND runs things crappy. Why defend them when there are plenty of great parks out there who still run things the tried-and-true way, AND are in better financial and operational shape?

Which seems to be a point you keep going after, so let me answer it once and for all...hopefully. (where's the roll eyes smiley?)

Because they can choose to run their business however they see fit. They owe nothing to you and don't have to do business in a way that you (or anyone) sees fit. If you don't like the way they do business then don't do business with them. You're putting the issue into the wrong hands with that approach.

I repeat a line word for word that I said to you in an earlier post:

It's not a SF problem, it's a rablat5 problem.

(it's getting to the point where I have a page with a handful of canned responses - every time the discussion goes back into the same loop, I can just copy and paste ;) )


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Friday, October 13, 2006 9:29 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
I don't doubt that *some* do, but if operations were up to par, Q-bots would still sell...like hotcakes even.

I don't think anyone would have an issue with that. No one seems to ever care that I am skipping them in line at Universal cause I am a resort guest. Their line is moving, they are getting on the rides at a decent clip, theres no problem.


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Friday, October 13, 2006 9:50 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar I was there Monday as well. I have been to Great Adventure many times but have NEVER seen it THAT packed. I assume that the beautiful weather, the fact that it was a holiday and they had some type of Jewish event going on there explained the crowds. It was NUTS!

It took me 45 minutes just to get through the front gate! :)

Anyway, I was only there for El Toro. We were not that far behind but managed to wait 2 hours anyway. It broke down for a while that morning. It was worth it though! After that and a quick ride on Nitro we left. I wasn't even going to try to get in line for Ka considering they were running one side and the wait was already 3+hours by 11am. Getting that gasmic El Toro ride was worth the $15 parking fee. If I didn't already have a SF pass I wouldn't have even bothered.

It's always funny to see the Q-Bot line longer than the lines to most of the coasters. That STILL cracks me up. :) At it's peak I would estimate the wait time to get a Q-bot was two hours.

Maybe they need a Q-bot for the Q-bot line? ;)

-Tina

*** Edited 10/13/2006 1:55:31 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

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Friday, October 13, 2006 10:45 AM
Picking up a Q-Bot is about as involved as picking up a drivers license at the DMV. Gave them my address, signed my name three times, gave them my I.D. and credit card, surprised they didn't take my picture. I mean, no wonder it took over an hour just to pick it up. How they keep those paying to avoid hour long lines, in hour long lines is beyond me.

I never had to wait to pick up Fast Passes at Disney. You stick your ticket in one of the five or machines at the ride and they give you a time to come back. No staff needed and totally free. Maybe Disney owns the patent for efficiently run queues?

And Gonch, I think some are asking if park guests are basically paying Six Flags to run their rides stupidly? I hope the question meets your standard for intelligent debate. *** Edited 10/13/2006 4:37:51 PM UTC by rc-madness***

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Friday, October 13, 2006 12:17 PM
I guess it bothers me that some of you buy into Six Flags' crap. As for supporting Six Flags--do you think I would bother if I wasn't into coasters? There's plenty of better-run parks, but not all of them are as close or have the same great rides as some of the SF parks.

Anyway, I think I would be bothered less if 2 things were done:

1) improve operations (most of us will agree on this)

2) run Flash Pass with MINIMAL impact on the rest of the guests--this is a KEY point. (this is where I think we will differ) Do like they used to do: close off 1 row/car on each coaster and use it exclusively for FP users. Fully staff the stations, have the FP entrance come up to the station on the exit side, and have 1 of the restraint checkers monitor the queue. Simple.

This way, FP users get to jump the line, and the rest of the gusts still get the majority of seats per trainload. So what if you don't get to choose your seats--part of the compromise of skipping the line.

But as it stands, I don't like the system, and I don't endorse it. I still wish they didn't exist.


coastin' since 1985

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Friday, October 13, 2006 12:46 PM
rollergator's avatar

eightdotthree said:

Lord Gonchar said:I don't doubt that *some* do, but if operations were up to par, Q-bots would still sell...like hotcakes even.
I don't think anyone would have an issue with that. No one seems to ever care that I am skipping them in line at Universal cause I am a resort guest. Their line is moving, they are getting on the rides at a decent clip, theres no problem.

Exactly....when the lines are MOVING, no one seems to notice or care...when friends HAD a gold-bot at GAdv and the lines are *stationary*, they're getting cheated, and feel like it. Then you have another group of people "not getting their money's worth"...and this time it's the guests that ARE paying extra.

Third busiest day of the season? Have rides running AT capacity...guests do NOT care to hear explanations or excuses about maintenance issues, staffing issues, or even how the new GM feels about it....they want rides RUNNING, and FULL....and quickly. Pesky "guests"! ;)

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Friday, October 13, 2006 12:58 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

rc-madness said:
And Gonch, I think some are asking if park guests are basically paying Six Flags to run their rides stupidly?

Maybe. Maybe even probably.

But who's fault is that? As long as that Q-bot line is filled with people waving their credit cards, there is no problem as far as SF is concerned.

I guess my problem is I just don't understand the point of the debate.

-SF has poor operations.

-SF uses a virtual queue system that supposedly everyone hates, yet the line for this service is often long itself.

-Other parks are better run and less costly.

So now what?

I get it. You get it. We all get it. Where do we go from here?

(hint: a funny answer would be, "Not to Six Flags!")


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Friday, October 13, 2006 1:00 PM
rollergator's avatar

RatherGoodBear said:Jeff and gator, welcome to the side that "doesn't get it."

If Gonch can double-post, so can I. :)
edit: Stupid Gonch, broke in and separated my double-post.... :~P


Apparently I've always been on the side that "doesn't get it"...but what I *do* get, is how people FEEL about stuff. The curse of empathy? LOL! Moving lines that are long, people can deal with...when the lines DON'T move, then people get irate...and then your park gets TRASHED (see: SFMM a couple years' back).

Quoth Tina: "At it's peak I would estimate the wait time to get a Q-bot was two hours."

Is this where I ask at what point do SO many Q-bots exist that they are rendered meaningless....and at what point do guests begin to recognize that fact?

*** Edited 10/13/2006 5:01:36 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Friday, October 13, 2006 1:04 PM
WOW!
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Friday, October 13, 2006 2:33 PM
Great questions Gonch. Given everything you pointed out, where does Six Flags go from here? What they are doing make sense in the short run, but I see no plan for the future. If nothing changes, things can only get worse for many Six Flags parks.
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Friday, October 13, 2006 4:19 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

rablat5 said:

2) run Flash Pass with MINIMAL impact on the rest of the guests--this is a KEY point. (this is where I think we will differ) Do like they used to do: close off 1 row/car on each coaster and use it exclusively for FP users. Fully staff the stations, have the FP entrance come up to the station on the exit side, and have 1 of the restraint checkers monitor the queue. Simple.


This is largely off topic, but in my experience this is exactly the wrong way to run VQing. For 1, VQers don't get to choose seats. 2, it usually implies VQers coming up the exit or entering the train from the wrong side. This usually means a load cycle twice as long. 3, if there aren't VQers or if there's any confusion, people will do something dumb. Someone will sit in the wrong seat or it will go out empty or people will be trying to line up with their friends and an extra car will go or something.

In my experience S:RoS NE is the best implementation. The merge point is right at the entrance to the station. VQers can pick their row and wait for it AND (this is the most important part) merging of VQers never has an effect on capacity or loading process. The one downside on that particular ride is, it seems like the op lets about as many VQers as regular guests in at any given time...


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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