Gold Passes Are The Fall Guy?

Thursday, October 28, 2021 7:39 AM

Scott Cameron said:

…the lady who scanned my PP…

😳😳 That’s why I don’t wear gray sweatpants to the park anymore.

On a more serious note, the perks that Gold Passholders receive is exactly why Platinum Passholders are so irritated with this new pass. With how they are giving away the gate, what exactly is the perk of early entry? Not to mention, I have seen many people claim “bring a friend” tickets allow them early entry too. Sometimes I think admissions employees are not all on the same page either.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 10:10 AM
djDaemon's avatar

And on top of that, dramatically expanded early entry dilutes the value of the resorts.


Brandon

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 10:46 AM

^ Exactly! Some people would argue where is the perk of staying on property other than just a place to stay steps away from the park and beach.

Personally, location is the only selling point for me because after a late night at Surf Lounge or Beach Bar, I’m not waking up in time for early entry ;) But a lot of people find value in early entry for resort guests.

Last edited by TwistedWicker77, Thursday, October 28, 2021 10:46 AM
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Thursday, October 28, 2021 1:48 PM
Paisley's avatar

The more people that have early entry the less of a big deal it is. I think as far as passes go it should have just been kept a platinum perk but then platinum bring a friend should allow your friend in early if you are with them.

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Thursday, October 28, 2021 11:33 PM
Jeff's avatar

If everyone is special, no one is special.


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - Blog - Music

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Friday, October 29, 2021 1:38 AM

I'd be shocked if they ever did it, but early entry should be resort/platinum only.


CP Coaster Top 10: 1. Steel Vengeance (37 rides to date) 2. Top Thrill Dragster (190 launches to date, 4 rollbacks) 3. Raptor 4. Millennium Force 5. Maverick 6. GateKeeper 7. Valravn 8. Rougarou 9. Magnum XL 200 10. Gemini

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Friday, October 29, 2021 2:56 PM

James Parker jr said:

I'd be shocked if they ever did it, but early entry should be resort/platinum only.

No passes at all, whatsoever. ONE admission price per day for everybody.

Maybe "Starlight", but that was never a bargain, anyway.

You = Everyone Else

Everyone Else = You

Unless, of course YOU > Everybody Else

Or, Everybody Else < You

Last edited by DaveDzRochNY, Friday, October 29, 2021 2:58 PM
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Friday, October 29, 2021 3:05 PM
vwhoward's avatar

I think early entry should be resort only. Force that overnight stay!


Joe
Eat 'em up, Tigers, eat 'em up!

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Friday, October 29, 2021 5:10 PM
TwistedCircuits's avatar

I got a ride and refresh wristband with pass perks. That was actually decent.


Still haven't been able to uncross these circuits...
DJ Fischer

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Friday, October 29, 2021 7:45 PM

0g, I was at the park the entire weekend, October 14th through October 17th. Thursday Night and Friday weren’t too bad crowd wise. Sunday wasn’t bad but as the day went on it did get more steady as the day progressed. However, Saturday the 16th of October was insane. But at the same time, October & July are both the busiest months of the season. Plus add nice weather and it’s a recipe for a busy park.


Jake Padden
13-Tiques/Wave Swinger
12-Camp Snoopy; Tiques/Wave Swinger
11-CP & LE Railroad Platform; Cedar Creek Mine Ride; Tiques/Wave Swinger

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Friday, October 29, 2021 7:47 PM

Also to the people on here saying they received e-nails from the park about pass perks, the park hasn’t sent me a single e-mail the entire season, unless I used the contact us page on their website. 🤔


Jake Padden
13-Tiques/Wave Swinger
12-Camp Snoopy; Tiques/Wave Swinger
11-CP & LE Railroad Platform; Cedar Creek Mine Ride; Tiques/Wave Swinger

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Sunday, October 31, 2021 4:42 PM

Supposedly the last day of the Gold Passes for $109, All the Cedar Fair Parks are scheduled to end their "best sale prices" today. Whether they stick to it will likely depend on if they met their expected sales goals.

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Sunday, October 31, 2021 5:57 PM

This is why I don’t post often. I don’t have the time for the inevitable back and forth. :) But, here goes.


djDaemon said:

TomT said:

If the park felt they were putting enough people through the gates with the higher priced pass, especially on weekdays, then I doubt they would have experimented with the lower price.

In Hildebrandt's book, it's clear that there is a contingent of park management who are solely focused on attendance numbers, all else be damned. This group is just completely, religiously convinced that they're "winning" so long as they get bodies in the gate. And that's not a terrible strategy for some parks, perhaps even most parks.

But as Disney and others are showing, there are opportunities for some parks to offer a more premium experience, at a higher price point, to fewer customers compared to "most parks."

Look at movie theaters, where 30 years ago going to the movies was a relatively common, mundane experience where the goal was to pack in as many people as could uncomfortably fit in upright seats, and sell crappy food at high prices. Then some new players came along and demonstrated that there are plenty of folks who would be happy to pay a fair bit more to have plush reclining seats, decent food, and booze. Yes, these theaters are putting significantly fewer butts in seats, but they're making as much or more in overall revenue compared to the "attendance at any cost" operators.

Here’s what Hildebrandt said in his book “Always Cedar Point, a Memoir of the Midway” about CP experimenting with a lower season pass price back in the 80s:

“It worked. We went from selling about 2,000 passes to selling about 20,000 passes, which generated about 80,000 park visits in 1984, which it turned out we needed as 1984 was, for Cedar Point, a poor attendance year.

I remember thinking at the time that if conditions were right and we were smart about how we marketed the program, we might sell 100,000 plus passes someday. Years later we did pass that mark, and the growth continues. We asked ourselves: who is our best customer? Wouldn’t it be ideal if every one of our guests was a pass holder In theory, yes.

As market research demonstrated conclusively, season pass holders were Cedar Point’s best guests. They loved the park and were ambassadors for us in the marketplace. They were knowledgeable, loyal, and, over the course of the season, spent plenty of money at the park.”

Of course, he wasn’t talking about a drop in price commensurate with the Gold Pass, but he still seemed to feel it was good to increase pass holder sales by lowering the price. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pass holders back then complained about the diluted value of their passes.

And, they are experimenting with other ways of providing a better experience for those who can afford it by offering such extras as the fast lane passes and VIP tours. There are several pricing/benefits models to choose from, and they making a choice. Only time will tell if it’s the right choice for today. But I think the complaints on this forum are basically sour grapes, not unlike the complaints I’ve seen on various forums over the elitist nature of the fast passes. It would seem there’s no pleasing everyone.

And I don’t agree with the comment that, in the past, the park “wasn’t nearly the impressive product, comparatively speaking, as it is today.” It’s all relative. In my opinion, the park was equally impressive at least as far back as the 70s, relative to all other parks.

In the 70's the park was not drawing global attention as the "Roller Coaster Capital of the World," nor were they fully leveraging the beach resort asset as they finally began to do under Ouimet.

I’m not saying the park hasn’t evolved. I’m saying that, relative to other parks, CP was a very impressive park, able to draw visitors from a wide area just as it does today. They were already the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World” back in 1978 according to this article:

https://www.nytimes.com/1978/07/05/archives/coaster-nuts-talk-old-t...nster.html

I also don’t agree with the insinuation that people who are buying gold passes due to the price won’t contribute much to in-park sales.

But it stands to reason that someone who could not justify ~$200 for a season pass within their entertainment budget, but can justify half that, isn't going to spend as much in the park compared to someone who does budget more for entertainment.

It's not a rich vs. poor thing, it's all about what people value and how they budget based on those values. Our family, like any, has an entertainment budget, and we (well, I mostly) love hockey, but we cannot justify allocating a large enough portion of our budget to get season passes. If they were to lower season ticket prices by half, we might bite, but that doesn't mean we'd increase the portion of our budget to do so. We may very well buy the season tickets and be exceedingly frugal while at the arena, since we still want to enjoy the other things our entertainment budget provides for.

If the Red Wings were filling their arena on a nightly basis at high prices (spoiler: they ain't right now, but I digress), why on Earth would they cut season ticket prices in half to get my family in the door, since doing so would push another family out that is willing to spend more in concessions, etc.? They'd be selling the same product at a lower price point, which just doesn't make sense when your product is in demand.

First, I think you’re making broad assumptions about other people’s spending habits without the benefit of the market research that CP has. People adapt their spending habits based on their entertainment choices. They don’t have to spend as much as you, and none of us know what the ideal spending target might be. Secondly, as I said, I don’t think CP management feels that they are “filling their arena” so to speak.

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Sunday, October 31, 2021 6:04 PM

If all of this Gold Pass crap didn’t directly coincide with new faces taking the top level exec jobs who had previously run another chain into the ground with cheap season pass strategy, then the above arguments might hold more water.


ROUNDABOUND.

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Monday, November 1, 2021 12:27 AM
Jeff's avatar

Even if attendance in 1984 was 2m, 80k visits is still only 4% of the total (and I believe they were already closer to 3m by that point). Hildebrandt in his book is only referring to budget targets.

And I agree, this all smells like Village Roadshow, and that's not a good thing.


Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - Blog - Music

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Monday, November 1, 2021 1:18 PM
djDaemon's avatar

TomT said:

Of course, he wasn’t talking about a drop in price commensurate with the Gold Pass, but he still seemed to feel it was good to increase pass holder sales by lowering the price.

Yeah, Hildebrandt was part of the "more bodies in the park means we're winning" cohort, so of course he would feel that way. But it's a shortsighted strategy that cheapens the product in the long run.

But I think the complaints on this forum are basically sour grapes, not unlike the complaints I’ve seen on various forums over the elitist nature of the fast passes. It would seem there’s no pleasing everyone.

How is it sour grapes to be concerned about the long term impact of giving away the gate? The park had been on a fantastic trajectory - fully realizing the value of the resorts, increased focus on upmarket potential, etc. - after Ouimet took over. The new management team's strategy is regressive by comparison. I don't lose any sleep over this observation, I'm just concerned it's going to damage the brand in a way that could be difficult to reverse.

...none of us know what the ideal spending target might be.

Are you suggesting their target is to find people who spend less in the park? As critical as I am about the new management team, even I don' think they're that bad at business.


Brandon

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Monday, November 1, 2021 8:41 PM

Jeff said:

Even if attendance in 1984 was 2m, 80k visits is still only 4% of the total (and I believe they were already closer to 3m by that point). Hildebrandt in his book is only referring to budget targets.


Can you clarify? I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.


ROUNDABOUND.

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Monday, November 1, 2021 9:09 PM

Its been 20 some years now, but if my memory serves me correctly:

Back in the early 2000s, before the Platinum pass, there was really only the regular season pass. Parking was a separate pass. You could get early entry, but that required adding on the "Joe Cool" club, which was another additional add on. Now, with the Gold pass, pretty much all the perks are being offered at the most basic price, eliminating some of the incentive to spend more money to get a better product. Now, the only upgrade is the $100+/person/visit fastlane. While fastlane is certainly priced reasonably, Cedar Point seems to have eliminated the pass perks in the $20/person/visit range.

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Monday, November 1, 2021 11:39 PM

djDaemon said:

TomT said:

Of course, he wasn’t talking about a drop in price commensurate with the Gold Pass, but he still seemed to feel it was good to increase pass holder sales by lowering the price.

Yeah, Hildebrandt was part of the "more bodies in the park means we're winning" cohort, so of course he would feel that way. But it's a shortsighted strategy that cheapens the product in the long run.

I get that there could be reason for concern. But it's not like people are getting in for free. And, I'm guessing they would like to boost weekday attendance, which the GP will probably provide.

But I think the complaints on this forum are basically sour grapes, not unlike the complaints I’ve seen on various forums over the elitist nature of the fast passes. It would seem there’s no pleasing everyone.

How is it sour grapes to be concerned about the long term impact of giving away the gate? The park had been on a fantastic trajectory - fully realizing the value of the resorts, increased focus on upmarket potential, etc. - after Ouimet took over. The new management team's strategy is regressive by comparison. I don't lose any sleep over this observation, I'm just concerned it's going to damage the brand in a way that could be difficult to reverse.

"It's not the mere existence of a low cost pass that is a problem, it's that the low cost pass offers essentially the same benefits as a pass that cost twice as much, so doesn't need the added incentive."

"The Gold Pass isn't an inherently bad idea. It's that it should have been strictly for access to CP, and not included parking, early entry, CPS access, in-park discounts, etc., and probably should have blacked out HW. Maybe include resort discounts to increase awareness and lure people to stay on-property, but that's it."

"The perks that Gold Passholders receive is exactly why Platinum Passholders are so irritated with this new pass..."

"early entry should be resort/platinum only"

Maybe it's just me, but those comments sound like sour grapes. If a PP holder is satisfied with what they receive for the money, then they should buy a PP. If not, they can buy a GP for each of the parks they intend to visit. I guess what it is coming down to is if the added cost of the PP is worth the benefit of being able to visit multiple parks plus maybe a few extras.

...none of us know what the ideal spending target might be.

Are you suggesting their target is to find people who spend less in the park? As critical as I am about the new management team, even I don' think they're that bad at business.

I was referring to the in-park spending associated with the two different passes. At least some people seem to be assuming that GP holders won't spend as much as PP holders. That may be true to some extent, but the point is that the park will make up for that in volume. Going back to the elite movie theater experience, theaters that offer more comfortable seating at an additional cost still want to fill all of the standard seats and the concession income that they provide.

I am reading contradictory statements:

"On one hand, how much are going to get out of people who will only show up if they could get in cheap?"

"Food and drink stand lines are terrible, bathrooms are dirty, etc."

If the food and drink lines are terrible, then apparently they are getting a good bit out of the people who are only showing up because they could get in cheap.

"...cramming as many people into the park as they can to reap the benefits of higher sales food, concessions, game, photos, and merchandise sales. It also drives up the demand and price for FastLane. Those are high profit items and that's what they're after."

I agree with this, but this runs counter to those who have implied that the lower price won't generate in-park sales because they don't have the buying power of platinum passholders. Especially if FastLane sales are up, as I wouldn't consider those to be cheap. Yes, they may lose a few PP holders who are used to feeling special. But, as I said, I'm guessing they will continue to find ways to provide that "special" experience for those who want it and are willing to pay extra for it. It just may not be part of the suite of PP perks.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2021 7:02 AM
djDaemon's avatar

TomT said:

...I'm guessing they would like to boost weekday attendance, which the GP will probably provide.

The Platinum Pass user base was, as far as I recall, steadily growing every year. That pass, at roughly $200, was in demand, deemed a value by customers. And then they just cut the price in half.

If the goal is to goose weekday attendance, then by all means, offer a weekday-only Gold Pass that doesn't include effectively every single perk that guests had previously deemed worth twice the price. It's nonsensical.

I mean, yeah, Apple would certainly sell more iPhone Pros if they just charged half the price for the same hardware, but that would be cosmically stupid, right? So Apple offers the SE instead.

...the point is that the park will make up for that in volume.

In other words, pack more people into an already-crowded park in order to achieve roughly the same revenue. The park will thereby provide a worse experience, since capacity is fixed, but still gets roughly the same revenue. How does this strategy make sense?

Going back to the elite movie theater experience, theaters that offer more comfortable seating at an additional cost still want to fill all of the standard seats and the concession income that they provide.

Take an existing high end movie theater that is at or very near capacity every weekend. In what world would it make sense for that theater to lower their prices by half? Those theaters already do offer a lower-priced option to goose revenue - they provide cheaper tickets at times where demand is lower and often when not every amenity is available (e.g. bar service to your seat, maybe the full kitchen isn't open, etc.).

The Gold Pass makes all the sense in the World if, like the movie theater above, certain dates are blacked out - July 4th, weekends in July and August, HalloWeekends, etc., in the park's case - and the pass didn't include early entry, since that perk devalues the resorts, one of the park's most unique and therefore valuable assets. But sure, throw in free parking to increase the perceived value and turn the one-day-a-season visitor into a two- or three-day visitor.

I just don't see how it makes sense to take an in-demand product and cut its price in half.


Brandon

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