VIP experiences deliver special theme park access

Posted Thursday, May 1, 2008 9:51 AM | Contributed by Jeff

For both amusement parks and guests, V.I.P. access is a win-win proposition. Guests can jump to the front of the line, experience parts of the park they normally wouldn’t see and ride their favorite rollercoaster over and over again. Meanwhile, amusement parks get to win that most valuable of non-corporeal commercial properties: customer loyalty.

Read more from Forbes Traveler via MSNBC.

Thursday, May 1, 2008 12:13 PM
janfrederick's avatar You mean win-win-lose right? As in you also lose some customers who don't like folks getting to take cuts in front of them at any price. But, if the balance sheets all balance out...

I'd argue that in hard economic times, you'd rather get more butts in doors versus fewer, yet bigger butts. ;)

*** This post was edited by janfrederick 5/1/2008 12:13:51 PM ***

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 12:26 PM
While I know many HATE legal cutting, the only thing I will say in my defense as a staunch Flash Pass and VIP user is that anytime you get on an airplane for the sole purpose of an amusement park, then utilizing Flash Pass-type systems is completely legitimate in my book.

In addition, anytime you have (as a soon-to-be 26 year-old) uppity parents/in-law's (when you might not be yourself) who like to go to amusement parks, but aren't accustomed to standing in line or waiting for things and are in their 40's and 50's, then VIP's are also completely legitimate in my book.

But if a park is close enough to drive to, then standing in a queue is absolutely a rite of passage...

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 12:36 PM
janfrederick's avatar If it's there, why not use it? But I'd much rather the parks staff and run the rides better in order to increase capacity for everyone. I think it would be better for the bottom line in the long run (for the parks that is).
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Thursday, May 1, 2008 3:46 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Does that article start to get a little silly in the middle-end?

It seems like they're confusing season passes and the VIP experience once they start talking about Dollywood.

Or is it just me?

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 4:53 PM
^^No, actually, I thought the same thing.

Btw, just got done listening to the podcast, and it would have been funny if at the very end during the outtakes, you were saying, "...and I'm still looking for the parking prices!!" [on Great America's website]

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 8:11 PM
LostKause's avatar I'm staying out of this one. Cutting in front of everyone used to be very disrespectful. Now it's fine as long as you can pay.

I'll never accept it as normal.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008 8:50 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar Yeah, this article was poorly written. The flow seemed to be new technology => new parks => international growth => back to new technology => increased crowds => long lines => VIP experiences as evident with season passes? => exclusive access

The journalist buried the lead. And I guess you can construe a season pass as a VIP experience, but that is not typically how one thinks about it.

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Friday, May 2, 2008 3:15 PM
Pete's avatar It's only disrespectful if you do it against the rules. The VIP programs and Flash Pass devices make it perfectly acceptable if you are in one of those programs.
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Saturday, May 3, 2008 3:00 AM
The only way to make this system work and not be some freakish upper class slap in the face of the less-willing-to-piss-their-money-away to companies like SF is to do the following: block off the queue line stalls to the gen. public side of the platform and dedicate those seats only to the jet set - if the spoil brats aren't waiting by the v.i.p. entry to take the next ride, the attendants can then call out for more sets of riders to come forward from the regular queues to fill the seats. Without doing it that way, it is extremely rude. Even on airlines, the first class seats are obviously separated, then you can get an upgrade to those seats if they are not occupied
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Saturday, May 3, 2008 3:14 AM
What a jaded article! Only Forbes could have the audacity to showcase these stupid policies. The fact that people can buy there way into anything they want, including theme park rights, is simply ridiculous. Especially for the kids they are dragging along through these VIP tours who grow up with a sense of entitlement throughout their lives. Let them eat cake
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Saturday, May 3, 2008 9:39 AM
Jeff's avatar It's not ridiculous, it's capitalism. If you work enough to make a boat load of cash, yeah, you are entitled to what you can pay for.
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Saturday, May 3, 2008 10:27 AM
I'm not arguing that point at all - just that parks should clearly separate and designate sections off limits to the common folk, just like the airlines do
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Saturday, May 3, 2008 11:37 AM
Maybe the parks should build two of everything, separated by walls. That way the VIP's won't have to look at the "little" people, and the general public won't be offended by the special treatment the VIP's get. Out of sight, out of mind. Everybody's happy then.

:)

-Tambo

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Saturday, May 3, 2008 4:31 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar 1. The parks offer these systems.
2. People are either willing or able to pay to use them.
3. Lots of people do use them and the parks make a lot of money because of them.
4. Many people seem to like the option.
5. It's not going anywhere anytime soon.

I can't believe people still question the existence and validity of systems like VIP programs and Flash Pass and FastPass or whatever after all of this time. This is now the 7th or 8th season that these have been available to the general park-going public.

Closing in on a decade. Think about that.

You realize that means that the teenage visitors probably don't remember a time when these systems didn't exist. It's just normal to them...and it won't be many more years before those kids are the mothers and fathers taking their own children to the park.

The implication that people who use these systems "piss away money" or are "spoiled brats" or have a "sense of entitlement" simply isn't true. That's such an old stereotype - that people who can spend or choose to spend freely are like that...especially in this case. Look at the people using the systems at the parks - it's far from the stereotype that the haters try to perpetuate. It's teens. It's middle class families. It's moms and dads who work hard and want the most for their money.

Why spend hundreds of dollars to stand in line after line all day long when for a few bucks more you can avoid the hassle? It's not about an "I'm better than you" mentality - it's about finding value in a purchase...

..and a lot of people are seeing that value and have been for almost 10 years now.

Don't expect anything to change anytime soon...or ever.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008 4:50 PM
Carrie M.'s avatar You know the more I thought about the season pass reference in this article, the more I realized that even that concept is a bit VIP. At Hershey a season pass gets you 15% off food at the park, free parking, and a special parking section next to the front gates. That's pretty VIP.

And even if you don't get extra perks with a season pass, isn't it true that after about your third visit you are getting in with free admission?

So why is it that we have come to accept season passes as something other than elite or privileged, but we are still declaring inequity in the Flash Pass-style programs?

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Saturday, May 3, 2008 9:53 PM
^^ "Maybe the parks should build two of everything, separated by walls. That way the VIP's won't have to look at the "little" people, and the general public won't be offended by the special treatment the VIP's get. Out of sight, out of mind. Everybody's happy then."

Yes, they should if continuing to offer the perks. They use a curtain on airlines and it's more about not exposing the coach people to how badly they are being treated compared with the first class passengers up front getting a peek at the little people. Since the theme parks don't use this technique, it remains extremely offensive - they should just rope off the stalls dedicated to the flashpass seats on a ride. Like it mentions in a few posts back, if there are no flashpassers entering those seats, the attendants can fill them by motioning for more riders from the general public queues. It's a simple strategy that is more in line with the airline curtain courtesy.

I experienced a horrible example at SF Great Escape this summer of how the system can be misused and abused: We waited in line for front seat of the Comet since there were only about six people ahead of us. The flashpass seats were clearly marked as the center car of the train by overhead signs. The incompetant foreigner workers from Ukraine were obliviously letting the flasspassers take whatever seat they wanted instead. Well, duh - of course every single pair, one by one chose the front seat as we waited for about six trains of flashpassers to finally clear through. Just when it was going to be our turn on the next train twenty minutes later, another set of flashpassers can along and of course chose the front seat. Everyone in line for the front seat including us were yelling at the attendants for allowing the abuse of the flashpass system, but the workers didn't understand English anyway - I guess that explains why they couldn't read the word 'FlashPass' clearly written on signs above the middle car of the train*** This post was edited by Rye.D.Ziner 5/4/2008 2:21:15 AM ***

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 4:05 AM
LostKause's avatar "Why spend hundreds of dollars to stand in line after line all day long when for a few bucks more you can avoid the hassle? It's not about an "I'm better than you" mentality - it's about finding value in a purchase..." - Gonch

It wouldn't be such a valuable "purchase" (pay-off) if everyone bought it though. Your "few bucks" is almost the price of another admission at a SF park, btw. an additional Thirty-something Dollars is not a "few bucks" to some people.

Those who have the money to throw around are less likely to have a problem with it. Standing in "line after line all day long" is partially the result of these systems in the first place. Line cutting scams make lines longer because of the added "virtual" people waiting in line.

Just because it is still around after almost 10 years doesn't make it right. We've been sold out, and that line cutting is no longer wrong.

I think that it is important to remember that before all this line cutting stuff, everyone was treated fairly. Parks should be ashamed that they choose to profit by offering to let people cut.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 9:33 AM
"I think that it is important to remember that before all this line cutting stuff, everyone was treated fairly. Parks should be ashamed that they choose to profit by offering to let people cut. "

You do realize that theme parks exist to make money, right?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 1:18 PM
LostKause's avatar Of course I realize that businesses exist to make money. They should look for ways to profit as much as possible, but all my life it has been insinuated by the parks and by the society that cutting in front of people was unfair to the other people in line, that there are some unspoken line rules and that if you break the rules, then you are a jerk. This didn't pertain to only amusement park rides but everywhere you waited in line everyday...the bank, the grocery store, the traffic light.

So embed it into my brain all my life that it is wrong to cut the line and then charge people money to cut in front of me...Does that sound right to you?

Someone will say next, "But you have the option to buy a line cut as well, so it really is fair", in which I would reply, "But why should I pay to cut in front of everyone else when I don't like for other people to cut in front of me?" Just because it is now acceptable to be a jerk doesn't mean that I should be a jerk.

Cutting in line is still wrong no matter if it is offered as a perk or not.

About any other perks, including Season Passes, i see no problem at all with that. Be allowed to visit a park as much as you want does not infringe on anyone else's positive experience at the park. I am all for any perk that doesn't take away from some one else...and the profit that it may bring.

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