Whose Pricing will Prevail -- Six Flags or Cedar Fair?

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 9:33 PM
Given the audacious price increases at Six Flags versus more reasonable pricing policies by Cedar Fair, the interesting question is, which policy will win out?

Will Six Flag's $15 parking become the norm (other than because of general inflation over a number of years) or will the prices be rolled back? What about food and drink? Six Flags pushes prices higher while Cedar Fair uses restraint and even lowers some prices. And what about queue systems? Six Flags has that costly Flashpass (Qbot) while Cedar Fair does very little here.

There's also the admission prices (compare SFGAdv and Cedar Point, for example). Raising the prices high means discounting off of a higher price which means that the common discounted prices go higher as well.

I hope that Cedar Fair's way wins out. Sure, prices have to rise over time (not to mention that the admission price at GL is artificially low because of circumstances specific to that park) but I sincerely hope that Snyders approach falls flat on its face for the good of all of us.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 9:36 PM
Gonch, Your on!

Not that I'd agree with ya.

Chuck :)

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 9:54 PM
All I am going to say is that if the park is good enough then people will pay to get in. Look at disney world. There prices keep going up .

I see nobody complained about disneys parking prices went up to $10 dollars a day to park.

also nobody is taking into account six flags has 2 billion in debt to tackle.

Also take into account cedar fair just bought paramount parks so unless they want to have the same debt and problems six flags had they will need to start raising prices too.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 10:00 PM
Majortom, no one really pays for Disney parking. If you are on property then there are shuttles that take you anywhere and you get free parking anywhere anyways. If you are off property you hotel usually has a shuttle to the TTC. Thats why not many complain.

Also when it comes to CF/Paramount merger, its not like CF dropped money into a bottomless pit, the Paramount parks generate profit and will only add to CF's bottom line in the future they will more then make up for the investment in a few years without raising prices.

SF came into trouble because they bought small parks and sunk huge amounts of cash into them (ex. SFDL's S:ROS) that were never going to make back their investment. PKI, PKD, PCW are major parks (remember PKI had more visitors last year then CP) that will make major cash.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 10:02 PM
I bet this will only last a couple days.;)

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 10:11 PM
was going to but Im just gonna sit back on this one. My view of being tteated well at a decent price obviously gets no respect.

But why did HW get the Applause award? For doing the same thing everyone else is? Thats not what the award is about! Its for parks making contributions or changes to the industry that actually helps it.

DUH!

Chuck

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 10:14 PM
I don't see any cash flow problems for Cedar Fair because the five parks they acquired are so immense and all produce good revenue. Of the other seven Cedar Fair parks, only CP (including Soak City and the hotels) and KBF exceed these park's revenue levels.

What irks me about Snyder and Six Flags is the in- your-face way in which they put in the new pricing. While the old admission and parking prices were in line with other comparable parks, the food prices were already excessive and there was this pay queue business that they originally started.

Six Flags is not like the Florida parks because the Florida parks are primarily vacation destinations and have so many unique feartures. The Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks are primarily regional parks drawing most of their visitors from within a 250 mile radius.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 10:34 PM

Touchdown said:
SF came into trouble because they bought small parks and sunk huge amounts of cash into them (ex. SFDL's S:ROS) that were never going to make back their investment.

That's a common myth that is not true.

Superman at Darien Lake was paid off within two seasons. Back then the park was PACKED because the park was adding new things the past few years. However they are really pushing their luck with that 12 million dollars. That ride is one of the only things keeping them in business.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 11:08 PM
^Are you telling me SF could not market a beach front park, with a hotel and a boat load of huge concerts every year without S:ROS?
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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 11:17 PM
Ride of steel is right. they had plenty of backing to buy what they did. The problem was they paid dividends and co presidents mega salaries. Kept adding multi millions in rides to parks and never paid off the creditors.

CF has a sound plan. it will work and they will succeed. I still see corporate parks as being on the downside of the industry but they aren't committing suicide like SF is.

SF is making more money off fewer customers at the customers expense of pleasure (Staffing, rides closures, capasity) and therefore alienating the ones who pay the bills.

CF is not although it might get tougher and tougher for them to thrive in a market where employee revinue isn't rising much and cost are soaring for everything. (Meaning people are being tighter with their money)

If somehow, someway one of these parks (FL and California Disney not included) could get people through the gate, Food and drinks for $50 each or even 60 at some better parks like CP. I could see them growing in the future. Right now it's over 70 each with parking, food , drinks ect for a single visit.

Or I could go watch the local HS football game for 3 without a parking fee.

Get it, Got it? Good.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 12:19 AM

Charles Nungester said:
Gonch, Your on!

LOL! I love ya, Chuck!

I have no idea what I'm supposed to say. I feel like I've said it all before and we've been through this a gazillion times (and all I've learned is that enthusiasts in general are cheap-asses ;) ).

I guess I'll start with the standard quote dissection and see where it goes.


Will Six Flag's $15 parking become the norm (other than because of general inflation over a number of years) or will the prices be rolled back?

I think it already is. You could argue that no other park charges $15 to park, but most of the big parks are close. PKI charged $11 this year (really, in the big scheme of a park trip does $4 matter...really?)

CP charges $9 (is that CF-wide?) - again, is $6 really changing things? If I take the family of 4, the difference works out to $1.50 a head. Who really spends the money on parks trips and has to worry about that kind of pocket change?

The usual disclaimer of "everyone has their own situation and viewpoint" applies, but to me - $9, $11, $15 it's all the same in this context and the difference amounts to a few dollar bills.


There's also the admission prices (compare SFGAdv and Cedar Point, for example). Raising the prices high means discounting off of a higher price which means that the common discounted prices go higher as well.

Last time I checked, (if you considered the lowest price available) the price to visit an SF park vs a CF park were virtually non-existant.

One can go to SFGAdv for $39.99 and that includes both the park and Safari. CP will run you $39.95 per adult admission. Please don't tell me you're worried about 4 cents...please! And if you are, consider the additional Safari admission. Both parks charge additional fees to visit their respective waterparks.

Total cost for a family of 4 for admission and parking:

SFGAdv - $174.96 (includes Safari and souvenir map)
CP - $168.80 (includes no extras)

The difference is $6.16 total or $1.54 a person.

I don't care who you are - if you spend that kind of money to visit an amusement park, then the $6 and change isn't a problem.


...but I sincerely hope that Snyders approach falls flat on its face for the good of all of us.

How is it good for us? It does nothing for me. I'll go either way. Do you really think SF will exist if they lower prices - they're already on par in admissions and parking. I don't see how SF selling off parks for development property is good for any of us (unless you happen to be a developer or in construction or something related)

I also chuckle at the idea that these parks deserve to fail for trying to get as much of the money on the table in their pockets as possible, when that's exactly what the bargain hunters are trying to do themselves. Big corporation trying to acquire money = bad, but individual trying to acquire money = good? Sorry, I don't get the difference.

I dunno. The quality of time I have at any given park usually has nothing to do with what I'm paying for it. I don't immediately have a better or worse time know how little I paid for the day and I don't immediately have a better or worse time knowing how much I paid for the day. The money spent is a non-issue. If it were an issue, I would be at the park in question and I wouldn't be worrying about it because it wouldn't be a place I'd be able to frequent.

I still think that deep down inside the issue for a lot of people is that they feel they're being priced out of something they want. If any given product isn't in your price range or doesn't offer an acceptable price/value ration then you simply pass. I really wish I could score a new Jag for $20,000 but it's not going to happen. I can't justify $80,000 so I just forget about it and move on. I really wish I could score a 4BR/3BA McMansion in the area for less than a quarter million, but I can't so I just move on to something better suited to my needs. I don't curse the folks at Jaguar for pricing their cars as they see fit. I don't damn the fools who inflate the property values. I kind of accept that those things won't work for me in my current situation.

I'd do the same thing tomorrow if any park put their prices out of my reach or in a place where it just didn't feel worth it anymore.

(See, it was just the same old thing I always say - we've all had this conversation too many times already)

And for the record, I did make my first visit to HW this past weekend. You know what sticks in my mind? The super ridiculous kick-ass ride The Voyage delivers, not once do I think of how much (or how little) I paid that day, nor was it a topic of discussion amongst those who went or those who wanted to hear about the visit. Go figure.

*** Edited 9/6/2006 4:21:12 AM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 12:46 AM
Love you too.

End of lovefest.

It it isn't the 4 dollars for any one thing that gets to me.

Its the preception of not feeling welcome and getting ripped off that that 15 dollar parking fee means when several parks don't charge or its what? 5 bucks?

Expecially in parks that don't provide services other than light security for their lot (No tram ect)

Food, are you really making money by selling a burger fries and a coke for 16 dollars when you could easily sell it at 8 dollars, Still make 300 percent and have that customer return to buy it three our four times over the next couple years instead of next time (If there is a next time) packing a cooler.

No, not everyone is on the cheap but just like HW yesterday, I bought food in the park, T shirts and even played a game because none of it to me was percieved as REDICOUSLY PRICED.

Chuck who figures his SF savings was somewhere around 45 bucks, thats the tanks of gas to get there and back. Easy!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 1:43 AM
You picked SF Great Adventure to price out, which is a park on par in terms of ride quality with Cedar Point (though definitely not service), but what about a park like Darien Lake or Wyandot oor even like America. Some of those gate prices are a tad bit overpriced for what the park respectively offers, aren't they?
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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:23 AM
SFDL is only $29.99 and that includes the waterpark - that's less than HW, less than Knoebel's R.A.D. option (which still doesn't include all of their attractions) and only a dollar more than KW's gate.

SFA is $39.99. Wyandot is just $24.99.

Plus, if we're switching up the game on one side then we have to do it on the other as well.

VF is $33.99. WOF is $36.95. DP is $33.95.

SF parks are directly in line with other big park offerings (+/- a few bucks) and their smaller parks often cost less for admission that the traditional, "family" parks we all like to rave about.

If the SF gate is overpriced, then the entire industry is. Still don't see the problem in their pricing.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:35 AM
Dammit Gonch! You always have to introduce logic into the discussion and ruin it for everyone ;)

*** Edited 9/6/2006 6:36:26 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:46 AM
It's my forte. :)

And I failed to re-address Chuck so:


Food, are you really making money by selling a burger fries and a coke for 16 dollars when you could easily sell it at 8 dollars, Still make 300 percent and have that customer return to buy it three our four times over the next couple years instead of next time (If there is a next time) packing a cooler.

The only problem is you're basing it on the assumption that everyone feels ripped after one visit - it's clearly not the case.

Here's two TR's; one from SFGAdv and one from SFKK both from me where I didn't feel ripped and would probably go back to either park if I wasn't more interested in hitting a variety of parks.

In just the past day there's been TR's by Vater at SFGAdv and Neuski at SFOG that were realistic and generally positive. Vater dropped extra cash on lots of little extra things and said he was, "quite satisfied with our day." while Neuski said of SFOG, "The park ranks into my upper level Six Flags parks, but it should have been better" and even sang the praises of the Q-bot's joy delivering service.

Are these opinions not valid? Of course they're valid! Not everyone has a problem with the game SF plays and (gasp!) some of us even have a good time at the parks, just letting go and enjoying things for what they are.

Could the SF parks be better? Undoubtedly. Does everone in the world cower in fear at the prospect of spending a few extra dollars? Hardly.

Pricing is the least of SF's problems. It's a non-issue. Now if you want to discuss how much work needs to be done at the parks and how long it will take to get a sinking ship to float upright, then we have a conversation. That's the real issue. What happens in the park may very well not be up to the pricing in play. But then again, is any price low enough to overlook crap-ass service? It isn't for me.

*** Edited 9/6/2006 6:52:25 AM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:52 AM
Actually, the gate price at SFA is $49.99. Does anyone actually pay that? I hope not.
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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:54 AM
Gonch said, in his sexy voice: It's my forte.

I wish checking your private messages on another will-go-unnamed coaster site was, too ;)

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 5:24 AM
How can you compare full price at some parks to discounted price at other parks? Don't the Cedar Fair parks have discounts as well. They might not be so deep because they start from a more reasonable full price but they should be there and this would bring the prices for comparable parks to a lower level.

What about GL vs Wyandot Lake? They had prices that are close to each other. Both primarily draw people for the waterparks but GL has around 10 coasters. WL has one junior coaster, last I heard. Of course, Wyandot was sold to the zoo and will be undergoing changes.

Actually, the thing that irks me most about Six Flags is the food and drink pricing. I believe that food and drink adds to the park experience and that is one of the things that I like about parks like KW, Knoebels, and HW. Cedar Fair has set their prices somewhere in the middle for the most part, higher than the above parks but lower than Six Flags. This wouid encourage me to buy something at their parks while I try to avoid any food expenditures at Six Flags parks unless absolutely necessary.

The question now is, what will Cedar Fair do regarding pricing at the Paramount parks. Admission appears to be at the correct level but what will they do regarding food and parking? Will PKI parking go back to $10 or will it go up even more? Food? Will CF impliment the pricing changes there that they did at some of their other parks?

Getting back to Six Flags, Mr. Snyder, this is not a Redskins game! So why do you have Redskins prices for food and drink?

As for Gonch, he's a Wall Street guy all the way. He seems too sympathetic to the current state of the corporate world even though there is so much wrong there at present.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:05 AM
It will be interesting to see, that's for sure.

But, price reductions are not CF-wide; Knott's and Cedar Point are the only ones who have recently lowered prices. The rest have held steady at least, and possibly increased. Knott's is in a unique environment, because four of the five major players are there: SF, CF, Universal, and Disney. You could even argue that Busch is in that market too, by virtue of San Diego, but I think that's stretching it.

Cedar Point is the one interesting test market---they lowered prices without significant competition.

From what I'm reading, CP's attendance is flat. So, unless per-capita spending went through the roof, they lose. Also from what I'm reading, SF's attendance is down. So, unless their increased per-capita or decreased costs make up for it, they lose too.

Which pricing strategy "wins" is anything but clear, that's for sure.

An interesting counterpoint is Disney. They've been raising the prices significantly, and their attendance is increasing and per-captia is strong. Perhaps it's the quality of the experience, or the *value* of the experience, rather than just the price, that makes the difference.

Which is what many of us have been saying all along. For example, I've never been convinced that the economy was the only problem at Cedar Point---until this year, the park was chipping away at the edges of the quality-of-experience, but this year is a marked improvement in many ways.

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