Theme Parks '09 - It's A Recession

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:03 AM

Are parks doing anything about admissions in light of the recession?

My policy institute in D.C. usually takes a trip down to Busch Gardens each summers. I, being the coaster dork amongst the guys, usually step up to coordinate the occassion. Only this year, when I brought it up, the $60 admissions seemingly scared everyone away. $59.95, even for Busch Gardens, was sticker-value steep. The best of discounts at Richmond Rec. Center brought the price down only to $49.95.

I know parks cannot undercut their operation costs too much (i.e. Busch Gardens can't sell discount tickets for $20), but I've been suprised that for a number of parks, that I haven't seen any sales, discounts, or specialty tickets this season, especially Busch Gardens, which after inBev removed amenities such as beer-tasting, it's harder to convince even avid thrill-seekers in D.C. area to journey down to Williamsburg for a $60 + gas & food day of fun. Even something along the lines of Cedar Point Funday passes, Hershey Sunset admissions, or Six Flags "Everyone Pays Kids Price" would be well-received and expected, but nothing's shown up.

This made me wonder how much are parks doing to attract attendant and make their product financially feasible during these years? Does attendance at your local parks look okay?

I even tried pulling up my ACE membership and noticed that I could secure up to ten-tickets to Kings Dominion's Hurlfest, which prices a ticket worth retail value of $71 at a slae of $38.95 for a pretty awesome event. The response I got back from a number of friend was "...that forty dollars and it's a recession. Sorry. No dibs".

If people are penny-penching this tight ($38.95 for Hurlfest w/ all-you-can-eat buffet +ERT is a steal!), I'm wondering how hard of a hit our parks our going to take this year? Any thoughts from the rest of you guys?

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:22 AM

You do realize that if you pay the $59.95 , it buys you a funcard to come back unlimited times the rest of the season.

It sucks if some of your group only plan on going once, but otherwise, it's a pretty good deal.

If you click here, one place is offering tickets for $42.00

Last edited by Chitown, Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:25 AM

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:31 AM
DantheCoasterman's avatar

I have been wondering the same thing.

My family went down to Dollywood on Friday and were shocked to find that they were charging $53 general admission with NOT ONE discount to be offered...anywhere! No restaurant fliers, nothing on soda cans, and no deals through AAA or any welcome centers in the area...

It's hard to believe the park was still packed-full of people.


-Daniel

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 2:17 AM

^Filled with all season pass holders. :)


My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 8:04 AM

Chitown said:
^Filled with all season pass holders. :)

Is that why universal went up on Annual pass ?

Of course the parks know there will be fewer guests .If fewer guests and more are paying full price.The park doesn't get hit as bad.

For years we have been wishing for fewer brain dead morons in front of us at the park.This year you have your wish.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 9:03 AM

Dollywood has a couple things going on---mostly discounts on multi-day visits in various forms plus partnerships with local lodging. That makes sense given it's mostly a tourist market. If you're standing at the ticket booths, there's no need to offer you a discount, you're already committed.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 11:18 AM
crazy horse's avatar

Actualy, there is a AAA office right by busch gardens that is selling tickets for $11 cheaper. Plus busch has discounted tickits for groups as well. I don't find that a bad deal at all for getting into busch gardens.

This was the only decent discount we could find for busch gardens tickets, but it was no big deal to us because the AAA ofice was just 5 min from the park.

There is also a discounted(save $1) parking ticket you can buy on the busch gardens web site.

By the way, the funcard upgrade is only good if you are a Virginia resedent.

Our dollywood tickets were upgraded to a season pass for under $20 last christmas. Being that we are planning on going at least one time durring the summer and maybe once durring christmas, it was a no brainer.


what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.
Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.
I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 12:09 PM

I was shocked at Dollywoods daily price as well, Not to mention the Christmas Celebration not being any less than normal as several rides are down (Mostly water rides)I think the park is caught in transistion from a major expansion and a major recession (The previous announcment being cancelled)I like the park its just three major rides and a fair do not deem more than most multi major ride parks. Also the fact the park is 500 miles away and the SP wasn't good at the other parks hurt that option.Chuck

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:40 PM

Christmas Celebration not being any less than normal as several rides are down

Christmas Celebration isn't really about the rides. Heck Dollywood isn't really about the rides.

When we go to the Smokies, we usually stay a week, and get the combo season passes so that we can just come and go as we please without worrying about getting everything into so many days, etc. and just mix in visits with the other things we do. If you buy it during the pre-season sale, it's maybe $15-$20 more per person than the three-day pass, and as it is, it's a pretty good deal. Plus, Dollywood is one of the few parks where we do some non-trivial shopping, and the 20% Gold pass discount sure helps with that.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 3:44 PM
SFoGswim's avatar

Vertigo said:
The response I got back from a number of friend was "...that forty dollars and it's a recession. Sorry. No dibs".

Also, it's thinking like this that is keeping us in a recession, so a double whammy, really.


Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 4:02 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Thinking like, "I don't know how long I'll have my job so I better not spend money that I might be using to pay the bills in 3 months"?


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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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 4:11 PM
SFoGswim's avatar

Yes. It's called consumer confidence. And there is none.


Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 4:54 PM

Actually, it has picked up some, just in time for the bulk of the amusement park season:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/consumer-sentiment-rises-in-may-better-times-seen


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 5:02 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

In my neck of the woods, based on visual ques, personal experience and ancedotal evidence, confidence never seemed to drop.

I know numbers and polls and such say otherwise, but I just haven't seen it locally.

In fact, my wife has been stuck covering shifts because she can't fill a couple of positions. Nobody apparently even needs a job...or at least a hotel job.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009 5:58 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

Chitown said:
You do realize that if you pay the $59.95 , it buys you a funcard to come back unlimited times the rest of the season.

Im assuming by rest of the season you mean summer season. As the fun card is only good till Labor Day weekend.. The operating season for BGE runs until (now) December if you include Chrismastown, which for even regular passholders (non fun card) is an small extra charge.

Either way a normal 1 or 2 park pass and platinum pass gets you all the way through Howl-o-Scream in October for a few extra bucks.

As far as attendance.. They have hit projected #s every weekend that we havent had torrential downpours, and pass purchases have been doing well once the park opened.


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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 10:21 PM

Back in the late 1980's/early 90's when Denver and most of Colorado was going through the "oil bust", I can remember when Elitch Gardens, Waterworld, Lakeside and other local attractions like the Denver Zoo offered large discounts or in some cases free admission for those who live in Colorado and Wyoming but charge regular prices for those who live elsewhere. At the time when I went to college in Denver, I felt it was unfair that I had to pay full price since my ID was from Virginia but my friends who lived in that city, paid little to nothing at all to enter.

Looking back now, I totally understand the practice but once Denver's economy picked up in the mid 90's, other than the Denver Zoo ( and that is very limted..even now )..those "Colorado-Wyoming" discounts pretty much stopped.

Kinda surprised the attractions in the area haven't brought back this idea. But then again Wyoming I believe has the lowest or one of the lowest uneployment rates in the country and even Denver itself, the current economy there while its not great..its not really all that bad even though local Denver media does make it seem that their city's economy is worse than Detroit's.

Last edited by Chriscub, Wednesday, June 3, 2009 10:22 PM

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009 11:51 PM
rollergator's avatar

Just got something in the mail from Disney. I had a "play four days" thing thru AAA earlier in the year. It's used up, but they're going to turn it into a seasonal pass (the ones with blackouts) for 79 bucks. That's about eight months of DISNEY magic (free parking, etc.) for 79 dollars. I'd guess the regionals aren't feeling the pinch quite as much as our "destination parks", since I'm hearing similar deals out of Universal. Busch, as always, remains steadfast in their pricing.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009 3:19 AM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar

^Not a bad deal! :)

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Thursday, June 11, 2009 1:54 PM

I thought the Busch Gardens funcard was only for Va residents?

We just went to King's Dominion. We had 2 days to spend at parks on our trips. KD was $54.95 for 2 days, the only 1 day option had to be purchased online. W e considered going to Busch one day and KD the other, but could not justify the price tag of $60 for Busch and $55 for KD for 1 each day. We chose KD only.

In our case, Busch lost ticket sales because of their extreme 1 day pricing.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009 8:29 PM
DaveStroem's avatar

^ We are planning a trip to VA. Our original plan was to hit KD & BGW. Now we are thinking of KD and SFA since we can get SF season passes for less then 1 day admissions at BGW. I still want to go to BGW, but it is hard to justify.

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