VIP programs becoming standard at theme parks

Posted Friday, June 14, 2013 10:02 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Many now have VIP tours with perks usually reserved for celebrities — private tour guides, no waits for the biggest attractions, reserved seating at shows and parades along with behind-the-scenes peeks at places normally off limits. All of this, of course, comes at a steep price.

Read more from AP via KTVX/Salt Lake City.

Friday, June 14, 2013 11:15 AM

I also blame Gonch for this one.

~Rob

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Friday, June 14, 2013 11:25 AM

Well, I do blame Gonch for selling me on the Roaster Coaster Insider Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I loved every minute of it and it was worth every penny.

Hey Gonch, did you ever get your sales commission from that?

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Friday, June 14, 2013 12:19 PM

James Whitmore said:

Roaster Coaster Insider Tour

I prefer the Deep Fried Coaster Insider Tour, but I'm sure they're both pretty good.

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Friday, June 14, 2013 1:12 PM

Brainfart... sorry. How many times in my life have I typed "roller" and now this.

I'm not going to edit and fix it. I'll let the world enjoy my goof.

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Friday, June 14, 2013 2:36 PM

That's ok, the other day a crossing guard at my kid's school made some small talk to my wife about the weather, and in response she said "Yeah, it sure is roasty toasty today!"

She immediately thought to herself "wtf, did I really just say that?" As a stay-at-home mom, we both agree it's obvious she needs more adult interaction.

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Friday, June 14, 2013 3:44 PM

James Whitmore said:

Hey Gonch, did you ever get your sales commission from that?

Nope. Bastards.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 8:37 AM

I do love the behind-the-scenes tours. We have done the one at Williamsburg twice. Never gets old. Haven't done the new expanded one at Tampa yet. Was just Montu last time we went. Worth paying for IMO. It enhances the overall experience!

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 11:31 PM

I'd never be interested in a VIP tour. You're at the park to ride rides, not to see the backside of Bizarro's station or the place where the costumed characters take their smoke breaks....

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Saturday, June 15, 2013 11:52 PM

Because if people wanted to see that, they'd already offer a tour like that.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 12:02 AM

bjames said:

I'd never be interested in a VIP tour. You're at the park to ride rides, not to see the backside of Bizarro's station or the place where the costumed characters take their smoke breaks....

Then you'd be happy to know that part of the tour usually includes rides before the park opens to the public and the FOL perk once it does open. (At least with the BGW tour)

Plus, we got to hang out on top of Griffon. Way cooler than the backside of some random station.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 12:12 AM

Good lord, that shot makes me dizzy. So... You walked up the steps to the top? If so, what kind of liability must they carry to allow guests to do that?

Isn't the view just beautiful from up there? Of course, I've only seen it long enough for the train to make the turnaround...

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 4:59 AM

^^Whoa. I'm assuming Griffon has a lift cart like Millenium Force or something? Probably had to wear a safety harness as well? If not, was the next VIP activity a fireman's pole race down the lift supports?

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 8:57 AM

I find it quite amusing that, at least in this thread, Gonch has become more of an enthusiast than a lot of the rest of you.

Lift walks are great, especially for photography purposes. I remember a lift walk being part of the Magnum training. Several of us climbed it in the morning and got a host of great shots with excellent lighting. Given the chance, I'd love to do it again with my current camera. I only wish I'd have remembered my camera when I worked on X-Flight at Geauga Lake, because those would've been some cool shots as well.

Ultimately, I like how BGW offers that option. It's a great, relatively unique touch to the standard VIP programs one usually sees.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 9:58 AM

You'd have to pay ME to climb to the top of a lift hill.

I know Universal is starting an upgraded program, but a quick question: does anyone know if they're doing any kind of combined regular park and Halloween attraction VIP tour? I have a tentative plan for hitting Universal in late September with the husband, and if we do that, I'd like to surprise him with this.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013 12:11 PM

Jeph said:

^^Whoa. I'm assuming Griffon has a lift cart like Millenium Force or something?

Yes.

Probably had to wear a safety harness as well?

Just a seat belt in the cart. At the top you were free to roam the entire turn area at the peak - all the way over to where the train is parked in that photo I linked to above.

sirloindude said:

I find it quite amusing that, at least in this thread, Gonch has become more of an enthusiast than a lot of the rest of you.

Well, that's just it. It felt more like a VIP thing than a coaster nerd thing...and that was the point I was trying to make. There's definitely some maintenance bay nerd talk and fondling of coaster parts, but there's even more behind-the-scenes park/ride info and firing up of rides pre-opening for quick laps.

I mean, you can pay $20 for Quick Queue or you can pay $70 for the tour which includes Quick Queue, a couple of laps on each coaster before the park opens and unprecedented access to the coasters (which works for me for photo purposes). It's all way closer to VIP treatment than coaster nerd love.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Sunday, June 16, 2013 12:11 PM
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Sunday, June 16, 2013 6:39 PM

The free roam still surprises me. The increasing trend seems to be making things idiot/fall/suicide-proof. This definitely is not. I checked it out on their website. You have to be at least 14. Did you have to sign a waiver? I wonder how long before the free roam portion is removed...

You also get preferred parking and a photo memory CD. It sounds like a steal, especially if a crowded day. I imagine this would be a far more memorable experience than buying fast pass at a Six Flags / Cedar Fair park for about the same price. When I get to Busch someday, I'll have to do this.

Last edited by Jeph, Sunday, June 16, 2013 7:03 PM
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Sunday, June 16, 2013 8:47 PM

I don't see any issue. The thing is built to be safely evacuated up there as safely as possible.

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Monday, June 17, 2013 12:30 AM

Jeph said:

You have to be at least 14.

Yes, but...(and you didn't hear this from me)...it's not exactly strictly enforced.

Did you have to sign a waiver?

No.

You also get preferred parking and a photo memory CD.

Yep. Our parking spot was a few feet from the side entrance. (I don't remember what it technically is, but it's around the side of the park from the main gate.)

You do get a CD of photos, but honestly, I felt like mine were better. Don't expect much other than snapshots of your group.

It sounds like a steal, especially if a crowded day. I imagine this would be a far more memorable experience than buying fast pass at a Six Flags / Cedar Fair park for about the same price.

Exactly.

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