What is a bargain for a season pass?

I have been a Hersheypark season passholder for the last 7 years, and to renew my pass before January 1, 2008 it costs $125, and on January 1, 2008 it goes up to $135. Of course I am going to renew it, because I am only 20 minutes from the park and usually visit at least once a week.

After seeing Hershey's prices it really makes me think where is the line of overcharging on season passes? Six Flags is an example of undercharging, but how much do you think they really make off other charges? You have to pay for parking at each individual park, and it makes me think how much of a bargain Cedar Fair's Platinum Passes are. We were thinking of getting our Platinum passes at Cedar Point when we go for Boobuzz, so we can get the early entry into the park without having to stay on site. I had been getting them at Dorney, and went with Kings Dominion this year since we go there and BGE for our first trip of the season.

Then I noticed Six Flags America has their pass prices posted, and they are still giving away the passes for nothing.


This season was the first season I didn't get a Six Flags pass because I didn't really plan to visit anywhere except our spring visit to Great Adventure. Now since I seen their prices, and it includes a free visit to Frightfest we are actually going to stop there to get our passes, spend a few hours in the park, and then head down to visit KD. What a bargain.

Cedar Fair charges $140 for a Platinum pass, includes parking, and other perks depending on the park it is issued from.

Hershey you get free parking, and free admission to all their events all season long, coupon book and 15% off in park food prices. I just get a Hersheypark pass, and that will cost $125 until Dec 31, and $135 January 1st and after. If you were to add Dutch Wonderland to it a Gold Pass would be $165 to Dec. 31, 07, and $180 after January 1, 2008.

Six Flags America $49.99 for the season pass. I don't buy the parking pass because I don't visit that park enough to merit it. You get a coupon book with plenty of decent bargains. Guess they figure they make their money at each individual park. We'll have to pay parking. Plus they figure they'll sock you with the food prices once you come in the gate.

I see Cedar Fair's as a really good value, and know that I will get my use out of it. Hershey's isn't a great price, but I know I will get my moneys worth out of it just because we visit there so much during a season. Six Flags is just a steal. A season pass for the price of a one day admission is truly a bargain. They could easily make those $80 or $90 no problem, but for some reason they don't. What is everyone's opinion on this? Who's strategy is the smartest to make the most profit?

Gonchar I know you'll be one of the first to chime in, so let's hear it. ;)

*** Edited 9/28/2007 1:06:14 PM UTC by Coasterfantom2***

Cedar Fair's is a bargain to me because before they bought Paramount Parks in that last season with them separate I paid $92 for a Dorney pass, and $80 for a Kings Dominion pass, So I am saving $32, and getting free parking at all the parks.
Who knows the mind of Shapiro or Six Flags?? The only thing I can think of is a.) season passes have been so cheap for so long, the risk of alienating potential buyers outweighs the price increase?

or b.) forcing you to get a season pass will increase your frequency in visits, AND *maybe* increase your likelihood of buying food and up-sell's in the park if you at least got in cheap.

I know this year I've made 16 separate park vists (and my sisters with families about 4-5 visits each), and I know if we didn't have season passes that number would be probably halved.

While there is an argument for: if you increase the season pass price then you might force people to make more visits in order for the pass purchase to have been "worth it", I still think if you know you can go for "free" then maybe the cumulative sum of a smaller amount of money spent over many park visits will be greater then the sum of a larger amount spent over a few visits.

I'm just trying to rationalize the pricing...and while higher pass prices may eliminate some teens and in turn increase guest satisfaction, maybe that's still too big of an attendance trade-off for SF, and also some parks attendance may dip too greatly if pass prices were higher since Six Flags' reputation is still in a state of repair. *** Edited 9/28/2007 2:07:46 PM UTC by tigellinus***

What does a CF Maxx pass cost you for the 2008 season? $140? That gets you into into any CF park , waterpark, and includes parking?

Now look at SFGAm passes. It's around $100 (no discounts) and you have to pay extra for a parking pass (around $60). This season pass and parking pass gets you into any SF park and it's parking lot. (Not including waterparks that are separate admission)

That right there says SF is charging more. However it depends on the SF park you go to to get a pass.

Don't lump SF altogether as undervalueing. It depends on where you go to purchase it.

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

Hershey's at $135 is reasonable. Visit 3 times (at full price) and its paid for (not to mention free parking and %15 off food).

If you are going to a park less than 3 times, why buy a season pass?

"Yes... well... VICTORY IS MINE!"
Good point Chitown. Six Flags Great Adventure pass prices are similar to Great America, so you are right not all Six Flags parks are the bargain that America is. Without looking at all the other parks for prices I'd guess that their pass prices would probably average around $80. I am sure someone else will take the time to research, and let us know what the real figure is.
StLCPfan's avatar
Six Flags St. Louis has been offering 2008 passes for $54.99 and parking passes for $45. They are also letting people use the 2008 pass for this year's Fright Fest if they get it processed now.
SF is getting 15 bucks from each car that enters it's gates from these season pass holders buying cheap season passes. There also getting five bucks for a drink.

That kinda offsets giving the gate away. IMHO getting people there is the main thing. So what if you get a season pass for what it cost to go once, They've got you to at least come once and even if you use that pass to visit every chain in the park, They're still making money off you in other ways.
Chuck *** Edited 9/28/2007 3:25:08 PM UTC by Charles Nungester***

The thing is that not everyone has to buy a parking pass from the parks. It's only really for the person that drives.

SFGAdv is $80 now, and it will rise up higher. The $100 thing is later in the year. How many people really buy it that late in the year? SF is still way too cheap. The parking pass should be cheaper, and the season pass should be higher.

^Depends on the park Chuck and if you are willing to pay for the parking pass.

It's $15 to park at certain parks if you don't purchase the parking pass. However, if you purchase a parking pass, you can park at any SF park. Even SFKK (where the parking isn't owned by SF, they will give you a refund at Guest Relations)

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

If your a SP holder and regular one at that. It makes every bit of sense to buy in Sept/Oct. It's a good christmas Gift, It allows you to visit in the end of the prior season if you wern't a SP already.

CF should consider giving it's HH events to 2009 purchasers for KI


I got my Six Flags pass at SFDK in May for $60 (regular admission was $40). That seemed like a really good deal to me... actually, way too cheap, to be honest.

Hear that Gonch? ;)

Rob Ascough said:

Hear that Gonch?

Will Gonch have internet access anytime soon between driving (in his new HHR) to Holiday World, getting trimless Voyage rides, podcasting with Jiffy in his RV of love, and lementing in his joy at being in the motherland--Jasper, IN??

I don't know...but if I hadn't previously committed to babysitting my sister's baby this weekend I would have been there to bear witness :(

Didn't know Gonch was in transit. He'll certainly appreciate my stance whenever he gets around to reading it. I think.
Lord Gonchar's avatar
Oh, I'm not gone yet! :)

I hear it loud and clear - and you're WAY right.

I've mentioned it on the podcast a few times but we got our SF passes for $45 this year.

That's stupid. Just stupid.

I look st it this way - if one-off parks like Hershey and HW can get $120 or $130 for a pass then the chains should be charging at least that.

rollergator's avatar
SFA, to be sure, has a better ride collection than SFDK, and certainly a better ROAR...but other than that, SFDK is a MUCH more enjoyable place to be. Money is NorCal is fairly "cheap", so I'm kinda surprised they're not asking for $80 at least for their SPs.

SFGAdv, SFGAm, and SFNE can charge more, because (like SFDK) money there is worth less... ;)

^^ Hell yeah, especially when you're granting someone unlimited access to any one of a couple dozen parks. There's no way a season pass should go for anything less than three day's admission to the park where it can be purchased.

^ Good point, gator. That's why I think the price should still be in line with what each park costs. Considering most season passholders aren't going to go to another park in the chain, the price of a season pass should reflect the park experience.

*** Edited 9/28/2007 5:54:39 PM UTC by Rob Ascough***

boblogone's avatar
Is Six Flags thinking more like a magazine or television show? Advertising rates based on attendance/viewership? The more peeps in the parks the more dollars from bill-boards and sponsored rides? Thus the low season pass prices?

Magazine subscriptions are less than half cover-price to keep advertising rates up.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Rob Ascough said:
There's no way a season pass should go for anything less than three day's admission to the park where it can be purchased.

I'd go as far as to say that's a good starting point.

That's why I think the price should still be in line with what each park costs. Considering most season passholders aren't going to go to another park in the chain, the price of a season pass should reflect the park experience.

That's exactly why CF's new pricing structure makes so much sense. Each individual park's pass has been assigned a value and the entire, chain-wide pass has a seperate value.

No reason for anyone to pay more than they have to and no reason for the park to give away passes. Everyone wins.

Six Flags would probably be wise to do the same thing. Offer one season pass for a specific park and another for a chain-wide pass. I agree, three times the price of admission is a good starting point. If people want those, people will buy them. Disney has outrageous prices for their season passes and they still sell like crazy.

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