The return of the cheap Play Pass for 2007 at Magic Mountain

This is what I don't get...Shapiro complains about how previous management cheapened the brand name and experience by offering low daily admission and season pass prices...then it seems like with the realization that hiked up prices results in lowered pass sales and visits, he returns to what the old management did?

Can't wait for the conference call tomorrow and see what he has to say about the company's situation and plans for '07. Should be interesting to see how his ideas and plans have changed having seen how it's not AS easy breezy he thought back when he was installed as CEO...

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Arrrrgh! Why do they keep doing this!?

Unless, of course, the park is all but sold. Then you take the quick revenue while it's still a SF and offer a quick, "sorry" when the sale goes down.

Yes, it's a stretch and yes, it reeks of conspiracy theory craziness...but man, what the hell else can they be thinking?

Wow, I suggest everyone get out to Cali sometime in the near future if you want to go to SFMM, this LG, I definatly agree with you here, this park is a "dead man walking."

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

It sounds almost like a normal season pass to me. Granted, it is at regular park admission...but with all the coupons in the book, wouldn't that generate more in-park revenue to help off-set the costs?

Haha no I'm not giving Patrick the finger

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Yeah, I see what you're saying BigJim - but, that's exactly the problem.

The old leadership seemed to love the "let 'em in for free and make it up later" approach, but it never seemed to work. Just raising in-park prices alone won't fix much in this case. Those passes need to come up in price...WAY up.

Maybe start it off at the $125 mark? Offer the VIP treatment for $175 or so...hell they're in California, all the rich people out there should be able to afford that ;)

Haha no I'm not giving Patrick the finger

I doubt it has anything to do with selling the park or not. Most season passes for Six Flags parks stayed the same as last year or went up or down slightly.
Mamoosh's avatar
Pre-Shapiro SFMM season passes were under $50 -- sometimes as low as $37.99! -- so technically he is selling them at a higher price ;)
^ That may be true, but a year's worth of admission and a huge discount book for a single day's admission ticket price? I mean, if they charged $100 for a play pass, I wouldn't as a customer think that's unreasonable. And that's a $40+per person they'd make off a pass.

On the flip side you could argue that the cheap Play Pass works in benefit to the park in that it is an reminder-in-the-wallet to the passholder that he or she can go to Six Flags whenever he or she wants (sometimes with school, work, family, you could just forget to blow steam on a ride or two at Six Flags). Then they forget to realize as they arrive at the park that parking is still $15 followed with a day of purchashing overpriced soft drinks, pretzels, arcade games, and pizza slices.) Now that I think of it, Shapiro DID report a significant hike with in-park revenue while visits declined. Maybe they keep it around cause it works?

^Yes but honestly, do you think many passholders spend very much money in the park? I know I don't and most of the time the only money that the other parks get off of me is for parking.
SFA also offered the "play pass" during Fright Fest this year. Buy a one day admission and get the 2007 pass for $49.95. And you can still get that price on line.

Serenity now......Insanity later!

It's worth remembering that Magic Mountain is in an unusual situation, as it has to compete with Disney, Knott's, and Universal as well.

However, that doesn't explain why many of the other parks in the chain are doing the same darn thing. SFFT's annual pass was a whopping $1 over the single-day gate price (and only $15 over the discounted web price.)

Six Flags isn't alone, though. Sea World SA's basic '07 pass is only about $10 more than single-day gate, and a 2-year pass is less than 2 one-day tickets!

As for whether passholders spend or not---I think it depends on the demographics of the passholders. It probably works pretty well for families. I know we almost never set foot in CP without dropping at least $40 on a meal (and often twice), plus another $20 or so throughout the day on snacks, plus a few games, on-rides, trinkets, etc. here and there.

The group of college buddies with the weed in the glove box and the sandwiches and beer in the cooler, well, not so much. Unless they *really* need that pretzel, of course. ;)

Well, it's important to remember that their local competition does offer the exact same deal. USH has offered the buy a day get the rest of the year free deals for quite some time, and their attendance is higher than SFMM's. Also, SFMM has many tiers to those season passes - extreme play pass, vip pass, HH add on, etc. It's more like they have studied what USH has been doing and is offering the similar deal.

And, with parking still at a min of 15 bucks up to 30 (valet), they do make money off the repeat visits and I'm sure they will raise other prices throughout the park in 2007 again.

From a larger perspective, I'm starting to wonder to what extent any of this matters. CP lowered prices, but per-capita spending stayed the same---no effect on per-person revenue. Busch and Universal often price their parks as buy-one-get-a-year (at least for locals), and they seem to be profitable enterprises. The Mouse will rip you off for one day, but over a longer vacation, it's pretty affordable, and we all know how successful they are.

We are always quick to blame SF's financial picture on the gate. However, by all accounts, most (if not all) of their parks turn an operating profit. So, maybe that's not the problem.

The difference between SF and the other major players---and perhaps a better explanation of their financial difficulties---seems to be that they grew too quickly, both in terms of buying parks and in terms of installing attractions in existing parks. Four coasters in ONE YEAR in Cleveland was just disastrous. They didn't want to grow slowly, as the other players have. They wanted it all in a few short years, and their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. And now they are saddled servicing a cool billion or two in debt, and while the parks are profitable, they aren't *that* profitable.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Some good point, Brian, but we're talking season passes here and while there are some parks that give certain people the year for the price of a day, there's also many parks that charge for their passes.

We're all familiar with CF's new pass pricing structure - Knott's passes peak at $140. While still not 'expensive', the price is well over the price of a daily admission. Disney World passes go as high as $559 and Disneyland's top out at $359. Off the top of my head, HW and HP both price their passes at over $100 as well.

It just feels like such a case of leaving money on the table.

Perhaps their market is so fickle that raising the price much would result in the bottom dropping out, but I just can't believe that they wouldn't sell at $119 or even $149 or more - we're talking about an essentially year-round park. Heck, technically they could make them $179 and sell it as, "Pays for itself in just three visits!"

I do think it's a grab at the casual visitor. The type that would only visit once a year. THey see the price and figure."What the hell?" Then a few days, week, months down the road they remember that pass and visit again. The only probl;em with that is it's just another chance for SF to piss them off and lose a customer.

I still say get the money upfront - especially with passes.

Agreed. But the Busch parks in particular are starting to get me wondering whether there might not be more than one way to skin a cat.

Coaster_Lizard said:
SFA also offered the "play pass" during Fright Fest this year. Buy a one day admission and get the 2007 pass for $49.95. And you can still get that price on line.

Once you add the price of season parking to a SFA season pass ($40) the price is comparable to that of Kings Dominon/CF Max Pass at $90.

A day at the park is what you make it!

Lord Gonchar's avatar
The only angle I can figure on the Busch parks (specifically the two theme parks) is that they both reside in traditionally 'touristy' areas.

So they offer local residents a deal too good to pass up (retaining market share) and fund it with more reasonable ticket and pass prices from all the area visitors who pass by and make a stop at the park.

I mean, one-day admission at BGE for 2007 is $55 - and that's the online price! (but no one ever mentions that because it's not SF so it's not fun to complain ;) )

I'd say the single day admissions at $55 are making a small fortune off the casual touristy visitors.

As far as the Tampa park goes, they do offer a $48 online ticket, but it is only good for 6 consecutive days. Seems like the same "keep them out of the other parks" strategy as BGE, but in reverse.

Florida residents do get cool pay once and visit all year option for $63 and the season pass option (which includes parking and Sea World admission) is $93.

Orlando (Tampa?) market is a whole different beast though. Tourism goes a long way...those folks come ready to spend. I'm sure that applies on a lesser level to Williamsburg as well.

No idea how or why it seems to work at the Sea World Parks (excluding Orlando) and Sesame Place expects you to pay to play - and the kiddies want to play.

Lord Gonchar said:

I'd say the single day admissions at $55 are making a small fortune off the casual touristy visitors.

I was last at BGE in 1999, and once my kids are tall enough I will be back again, and I will expect to pay $60 just to get in by then. I was shocked at the price back in 1999 (don't remember what it was, but it was higher than CP at the time if I recall correctly) but that didn't make me turn around and leave. I did think it was severely overpriced at the time, and after getting sick on their pizza I REALLY thought I'd paid too much! :) The park knows, however, that the tourists will pay to get into a park that is as well known as BG, so they will charge whatever they want and we will open our wallets and like it!


You have disturbed the forbidden temple, now-you-will-pay!!!

Compare BGE to SFA. To get all of the benefits of a BGE pass that you get at SFA you have to purchase a SFA Premium pass and the BGE pass still offers more in terms of free premium parking at all AB Parks, early access to Scottland, discounts at all AB Parks.


Regular Pass $50

Parking(does not include premium parking) $40

Upgrade to Premium $20

Total $110


Two year platinum pass $285 or $142.50

To me the BGE pass is the better value because I can easily recoup the extra cost for the platinum passport in savings on food, merchandise and premium parking.

To me, SFA isn't giving the gate away.

A day at the park is what you make it!

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