Nicole said:I think there are those who would argue against allowing small children into the park for free, regardless of the value of the offer. There is a debate to be had about the impact on the "culture" of BGW, as well as how the park prioritizes its limited resources.
jpcommons said:this is a good deal with one exception. If you plan to eventually switch your kids to an annual pass, you may as well buy it now on the EZ pay system and lock in your rate for a while. I used the preschool pass first and then upgraded my kids later. In that time, the EZ pay option increased 3 dollars a month. Eventually, that $3 per month will cost me more than the amount I saved by using the free passes.
metalman said:Question- My family are pass holders. My wife, I, and my 8 yr old. We also have a 3 year old who was free until now. Will he be allowed into pass holders days, as we are all going as a family, in any way?
I would hope good customer services would allow him in with the free 3-5 pass with the rest of the family being pass holders.
halfabee said:My youngest kiddo just turned 6. Dangit.
I do wonder what the park has been seeing in guest surveys and young-family revenues, to drive this decision. I also wonder what the typical revenue breakdown is in the young-family demographic, between admissions and food/concessions/games/souvenirs.
Also, not sure where else to put this thought, so I will park it here: Last year we (a family of 4, 2 of whom are elementary-age girls) went to Disney for a week. Right in the princess-madness sweet spot, age-wise. Not my first trip down there, but it had been a while. Thanks to a friend who works in the massive Disney travel ecosystem, we were able to keep the cost down to a "reasonable" $5-6k for what I would call a comfortable mid-range experience. We hit all 4 major Disney parks and a few other attractions. To the kids, the biggest attraction by far was the hotel pool. Second place was the princess stuff. Third place was everything else. There was a lot to enjoy, but still -- logistics down there can be nightmarish at times. Crowds can be horrifying year-round. Lots of cool attractions, but with that many people, even at off-peak times, the experience can frequently be the very opposite of enjoyable. Even the "easy" stuff doesn't seem to be all that easy at Disney. (Though the Magic Band system was pretty awesome.)
By contrast, every year we take a week-long summer trip to Williamsburg and stay at a nice resort in the area. Consistently: the pool is arguably every bit as nice as a mid-range Disney pool, especially considering the concessions they serve up cheap; the transportation is much easier despite the lack of buses, boats, monorails, helicopters, hot air balloons, etc.; crowds are manageable; the two parks provide plenty of entertainment and immersive thrills for all; the kids aren't dead on their feet and dragging by the end of the day; the vibe is lighter and more relaxed; some of the rides are actually more exciting than Disney's. It's not Disney, obviously, but that can actually be a good thing on multiple fronts. It's every bit as much of a vacation. Total cost for the week is a bit north of $1k up front, and then a few hundreds bucks more over the course of the week for food and goodies and such. Astoundingly inexpensive.
Is that comparison problematic? I'm not so sure it is. It's a week's vacation and I know several families who weigh BGW (or something like it) against Disney pretty regularly when planning vacations. We have brought a few of those families into the W-burg fold over the past 5 years, and they too are a bit incredulous at the ample offering for a small price tag. It's like a "discovery" which they should not have had to "discover" in the first place. It should have been known!
I worry about the future of certain better regional theme parks like BGW, which seek to occupy the space between raw-thrills venues like PKD and theme-first juggernauts like Universal. And I don't know enough (at all) about BGW's behind-the-scenes situation to confidently interpret this newly expanded free-kids policy as a concession to difficulties in attracting young families -- but doesn't it kinda feel like that? Williamsburg, with BGW, WC, historical attractions, parks, nice places to stay, and even the beach not-too-far-away, is IMO a slam dunk of a great vacation at a ridiculously low price. Why should it be necessary AT ALL to give away free admission to an expanded customer demographic?
So, to presume that I'm correct about any of this: is it the Orlando/Disney PR machine that sucks families away on one-way trips to the Disney universe? A lack of strong and coordinated marketing presence from Williamsburg and/or BGW itself to acquire new visitors? General social trends that drive people to want only the supposedly highest-octane theme park experience, leading them to Orlando regularly? Is something lacking at the park that would otherwise bring folks in? I've heard ideas here about IP, about on-property resorts, about... other stuff?
It worries me that over time, American enthusiasm for parks like BGW will slowly slip to levels that prevent the park from sustaining itself as we know it, much less growing. Against that concern, certain marketing changes are either an early indicator that continuing demographic troubles are afoot, or merely an avenue to commit the Type I error of believing the same. Not sure which it is.
halfabee said:So, to presume that I'm correct about any of this: is it the Orlando/Disney PR machine that sucks families away on one-way trips to the Disney universe? A lack of strong and coordinated marketing presence from Williamsburg and/or BGW itself to acquire new visitors? General social trends that drive people to want only the supposedly highest-octane theme park experience, leading them to Orlando regularly? Is something lacking at the park that would otherwise bring folks in? I've heard ideas here about IP, about on-property resorts, about... other stuff?
It worries me that over time, American enthusiasm for parks like BGW will slowly slip to levels that prevent the park from sustaining itself as we know it, much less growing.
Nicole said:Was that meant for me?
I believe the premise posed in this thread was that BGW is a cheaper, but fairly comparable, alternative to WDW. I think it is a reasonable theory to debate. I can see how and why people would opt for a BGW vacation instead of paying Disney's outrageous prices. I was merely countering that while I agree that BGW is a cheaper and fun alternative, I do not think it is equivalent.
And I agree that the conversation has gone a bit a field, but I think it all goes to the question of BGW's business choices.
Nicole said:2. I also disagree with the notion that BGW is comparable to Disney.
For example, not even Universal has anything that can match Disney's MagicBands. When I was at the former in January, I had to carry my room key, annual pass, ExpressPass,and credit card separately. Since I had to put everything in a locker for several of the rides, I was faced with a catch-22: how do I show them my pass to use the ExpressPass lane, while leaving my purse in the locker? We ended up smuggling a wallet onto the ride, which didn't make me happy at all. Disney has solved that by giving me an integrated token that does everything, including capturing my (admittedly unwanted) ride photos.
The differences go far beyond mundane logistical details, however. Unlike BGW, Disney has created a complete and mostly self-contained resort area. The hotels, restaurants, and transportation are all integrated with the parks.
Disney Springs is another example of where Disney kills the competition. While CityWalk was probably better than Downtown Disney, the new Disney Springs has fantastic food, amazing shops, and clever theming. BGW has nothing to which I could even compare it.
Finally, shopping. I will admit that BGW merchandise has improved recently, but Disney is really the king. I think someone claimed the merch is targeted at kids, and I couldn't disagree more. I have Disney Park exclusive Pandora beads, and we have bought art and even imported housewares. Disney Springs is a monument to themed, adult products. And for people who do like the IP, Disney will sell them everything from themed aprons to high-end luggage.
I guess what I am trying to demonstrate, that while BGW has a great park, Disney offers a comprehensive and integrated experience that doesn't have many direct analogs, much less competitors. Obviously, the question of whether those things are worth the money is an individual decision, but for me, I would not be able to claim that BGW is an equal alternative.
Nicole said:I understand both parks' interest in trying to capture the pre-K market, but honestly, it is not good for me as an adult, who neither has small children, not wants my entertainment geared toward other's people's kids.