Value

We've had a ton of discussion on the forum over the last few years since the Gold Pass was first announced for Cedar Point. As a Six Flags Diamond Elite VIP membership holder as well, I've been following along with the wholesale changes that Six Flags is making.

If you are interested, check out Airtime Thrills new video about the new Six Flags passes. It's a pretty short video, but he does a great job breaking it down. I find it shocking how much they are changing up their offerings, and they will now cost SIGNIFICANTLY more than any Cedar Fair pass level. I'm happy that my membership will be able to continue, but I have to think that will change someday. The removal of dining is particularly interesting.

At this point, the value swings completely towards Cedar Fair with these major changes. Not sure that's a good thing longterm, for a lot of the reasons that we've talked about on the forum. I wonder if we'll see CP/Cedar Fair respond going forward...


CP Coaster Top 10: 1. Steel Vengeance (40 rides to date) 2. Top Thrill Dragster (191 launches to date, 4 rollbacks) 3. Magnum XL 200 4. Millennium Force 5. Maverick 6. Raptor 7. GateKeeper 8. Valravn 9. Rougarou 10. Gemini

Jeff's avatar

We've been talking about this on CoasterBuzz, and mostly we're like, "It's about time." This silly race to the bottom against mostly themselves is not sustainable.

You have to remember that Cedar Fair and Six Flags do no compete in every market, if they compete at all. I would argue the only serious place they do is LA, and with year-round parks, the rules are different anyway. Cedar Fair isn't "winning" for having a cheaper pass.

The more butts in parks is a horrible strategy when the labor cost of servicing more people is as high as it is. You're better off having fewer people who paid more. That's where Six Flags appears to be going, and it's certainly where Disney has decided to go. Cedar Fair is giving away its gate and trying to make it up on volume of in-park spending. The problem is that this doesn't yield significantly higher attendance to offset the lost gate revenue. Why would it? John Hildebrant's book talks about how for all the pricing levers they tried to pull, none significantly changed attendance. The park is not a commodity product, it doesn't have any real competition, so why would you price it so low?

Also, LOL that "diamond elite VIP" is a thing.


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

GL2CP's avatar

Attendance is interesting. For all the perceived or actual busy days the park has had recently it still had several early and late season weekdays with barely a soul around. Especially with inclement weather. I wonder how the past few years compare to the 1994 season with its high attendance. The managers have a desire for feet on the midway so they throw out good pass deals. They know what they’re doing for what they want to have happen. Hildebrandt wrote about how more people is a good thing. The high gate price is probably not much more than a reason to sell more passes. Money up front is better than money later.


First ride; Magnum 1994

I'm not a six flags member, but here's my rant on the Cedar Point dining plan.
While the food is getting better, on average, most of the meal plan options are not up to par with restaurants outside the park. The main benefit is the location, and the cost. But the value goes down with each new food option they add that's not included.

I'm probably closer to the 'meal plan every day' guy than to the average person. If I had to pay for every meal I ate over 2021, it would easily be over $1000. I know I'm being subsidized by people who don't use it as much.

Still my average visit was split between food, shows, and rides. Losing 1/3 of that would make me seriously reconsider getting the next pass. Losing the free parking would also probably be a deal breaker. Looking at the six flags prices, $299 seems reasonable if necessary to continue offering the benefits. Paying full amusement park price for food, not so much.

I think the dining plan menu is much better at Dominion, KI and Knotts than at CP, personally. I'll be back at Knotts next month and I'm looking forward to everything, including the meals. Dominion having Grain and Grill and the Burrito/Bowl place on International Street represented two options I personally preferred over anything at CP. Hopefully the new "signature" restaurant in Frontier Town steps it up.


CP Coaster Top 10: 1. Steel Vengeance (40 rides to date) 2. Top Thrill Dragster (191 launches to date, 4 rollbacks) 3. Magnum XL 200 4. Millennium Force 5. Maverick 6. Raptor 7. GateKeeper 8. Valravn 9. Rougarou 10. Gemini

Jeff's avatar

Hudson said:

If I had to pay for every meal I ate over 2021, it would easily be over $1000.

OK, and how many people would spend that absent the plan? That's why I'm not sold that it's a good idea. Maybe a poor comparison, but this year I did Epcot Food & Wine using a gift card that I could recharge. Fewer large transactions were easy to track. We spent about $600 over four months, basically a Cedar Point season. Granted, that's actual good food and alcohol, not food service crap, but I'd love to know how many consumers roll this way.

The company has already experimented with benefit oriented consumers who spend extra money (Fastlane, special events, upcharges), and it's not an insignificant opportunity. So why do they keep dicking around with a goofy low entry, high per capita strategy? Make it a high entry, high per cap, quality product.


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

Unfortunately, I don't have enough industry knowledge to even guess at that number. I agree that the value they're currently offering greatly exceeds the cost, that's why getting a new pass each year is a no-brainer. If they upped the price for a better product, I'm not really sure where my personal tipping point would be. Removing or degrading the dining plan would not be a better product in my eyes.

I suppose I prefer the one (not very) big payment and the convenience that I can enjoy myself whenever I want without having to spend more money. I don't think I spent an extra $600 on pretzels, fudge, and tshirts but maybe. (I like the idea of a prepaid card for keeping track)

Since it sounds like the big issue is labor costs, would a price increase even translate to a better product? (again, not my area of expertise)

I am curious about Disney since I've never been. Was the $600 just you or your family? I'm assuming you found it worth the price. Do you think Cedar Point is capable of quality near that level? Based on the past few years I'm not expecting that level of change, but I've been surprised before.

Jeff's avatar

It was mostly my wife and I for F&W. Cedar Fair parks have been producing great food for years, but mostly for events and catering. I wasn't there for the early season stuff they tried, but the word here was that it was good but horribly operationalized. This is where looking at the Epcot festivals is helpful. Stands selling three or four items have up to three cashiers and an expediter at the window. The lines move fast, which is key to seeing volume. If you can sell a $5 dish every minute, and a $10 alcoholic beverage every two, your margins will be very high.

SeaWorld has kind of imitated these festivals, and their quality is high (their culinary in general is very good), but they understaff it and don't get nearly the volume of Disney. They do prepaid punch cards and it's still slow.

So yes, I think they could do it, but it's all hands on deck to do it right. You need the IT for reliable POS (cashless helps), the HR for the best hires and great culinary to figure out how to make gourmet in volume.


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

The last few times I've been to CP the food has been bad and don't know how they can serve some of it I'm always really really selective where I eat there!

I know this isn't what you're saying, but a $300 per person meal plan with actual good food. Minimize the 'not included' items, maybe ease up slightly on the 4 hour / 2 per day. Either as an upcharge or a replacement for the current plan. I'd consider that an improved quality product. (and significantly under the $1k I had a problem with). But I get that's probably not very realistic.

With what CP wants you to pay now in order to have a good day and enjoy the experience at the park they have priced me out and I'm not going back for the foreseeable future! I love CP but I feel with some of the things there doing and the overall park experience has gone downhill and it's not the same for me anymore IMO!

Dvo's avatar

^$99 for the whole season has priced you out? Curious how you enjoyed the park in the past.


374 MF laps
Smoking Area Drone Pilot

Totally disagree with the "value swings towards Cedar Fair." If you look at Knotts vs SFMM, a market where they directly compete, Knotts is still a premium product when you look at benefits to cost. Brief comparison of some of the major benefits.

----Knotts Season parking $75 , Season drink bottle $35. 1 day Dining $32, Knotts Scary Farm day ticket are $50 to $72 or a season Knotts Scary Farm pass is $99+

Knotts regular pass is $140(doesn't include parking or Soak City or Knotts Scary Farm),SFMM Thrill pass is $115(includes parking, Hurricane Harbor w/ blackout dates, Frightfest w/ Saturday blackouts)

Knotts Gold Pass is $160(adds access to Soak City, but still no parking or Knotts Scary Farm or any other Cedar Fair Park ). SFMM Extreme pass is $180(all SF parks, includes parking, full access to Hurricane Harbor, full access to Frightfest, season drinks, 1 single day meal plan,

Cedar Fair PLatinum is $230(no access to Knotts Scary Farm)

SFMM Ultimate is $330(Frightfest, get a drink bottle, 10 meals, $50 attraction credit, preferred parking, etc..)

----The SF passes also give 1,2,5 skip the line passes for the year, minor benefit but it's something

Cedar Fair is still a premium priced product in a directly competing market of SoCal. I have always preferred Cedar Fair, but SF is finally appears to be moving in the direction of not being a complete discount priced product.

Last edited by CED23,

Dvo said:

^$99 for the whole season has priced you out? Curious how you enjoyed the park in the past.

I can't go all the time like alot of people on here and probably never will! For me for a day to Pay Admission, Dining Plans, Fast Lane which I hate Drink Plans, plus doesn't include gas to get up there and back, and if ins tayed at a CP resort or another hotel it has priced me out right now and the foreseeable future! I've been going to CP since 1994!

You realize of course you don't have to do all of that, right?

*Stay offsite

*Don't buy a meal/drink plan

*Go on a traditionally slower day and avoid the need for Fastlane

That will take 70-80% of your cost away instantly

Cartwright said:

You realize of course you don't have to do all of that, right?

*Stay offsite

*Don't buy a meal/drink plan

*Go on a traditionally slower day and avoid the need for Fastlane

That will take 70-80% of your cost away instantly


Like i said i can't go every year and during slow times of the season!

^ I mean to be fair, that doesn't sound like a Cedar Point pricing problem, but a "you not having time" problem. I feel like Cedar Point (especially with a Platinum Pass) is an insanely good value, and I'm certainly not what I'd consider "wealthy."

F1rePhant0m said:

^ I mean to be fair, that doesn't sound like a Cedar Point pricing problem, but a "you not having time" problem. I feel like Cedar Point (especially with a Platinum Pass) is an insanely good value, and I'm certainly not what I'd consider "wealthy."

I'm not bashing CP and love going there and i have been since 1994 but the last couple times i've been there i've had really bad trips and experiences at the park that i've never had in recent memory! I can't do a season pass cause i can't get to the park like alot of people i live three hours away and with my job i have no time for that!

Kevinj's avatar

Jeff said:

The more butts in parks is a horrible strategy when the labor cost of servicing more people is as high as it is. You're better off having fewer people who paid more.......The park is not a commodity product, it doesn't have any real competition, so why would you price it so low?

Obviously agree on both points. And I also agree with the question. What gives?

The only thing I can even think of goes back to Fast Lane. Those of us who have used Fast Lane can attest to the fact that Fast Lane has gotten busy. Much busier than say, 2 seasons ago. Many days to the point that to regulars it almost doesn't seem worth the cost, but still beats the other choice.

I'm not saying this is smart or even remotely economically sensible, but could part of the "why" be the idea that if the park is bananas and the price of admission is low, then the consumer will be more likely to purchase the Fast Lane product (or, more specifically, Fast Lane Plus?)

Meaning the consumer thinks....

"Man it's busy here. How much is that FL Plus again? Woah that's expensive...but wait...I only paid $100 for the whole year, and these lines suck...so....OK".

I'm not saying this is a thought process that the park has, and in terms of value for the customer it's backwards, but offering a Gold Pass to the park for only $99 is pretty dumb, so I guess it wouldn't surprise me if this was part of the equation.

Last edited by Kevinj,

Promoter of fog.

XS NightClub's avatar

The park's gold-standard reputation was built on fond memories.

As more of those fond memories become memories of irritation, dissatisfaction and of devalued experiences the park will continue to diminish its reputation.

The Ouimet era was the recent high point for the park, where he addressed many of the short comings that weren't up to par for that caliber of a park.

Zimmerman.... well going on year 5 and I'm not seeing a distinctive plan or anything other than a Paramounting of the entire chain. Packing the parks is a devaluing experience that goes in the face of all the good that Ouimet brought from his prior runs at Starwood and Disney parks/cruises.

I sincerely hope the Zimmereman era is short and corrected.

Last edited by XS NightClub,

Missed a full season at CP for the first time since 2007, maybe Sandusky will be back on my travel list next year.... Depends what CP has up their sleeve for 2023.

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums app ©2023, POP World Media, LLC - Terms of Service