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Dec 23, 2011
I haven't done a concept in a while, but here it goes.

So I have been thinking about prices. Their expensive as always. No one wants to give $72 for unlimited use of the entire park when maybe they only use half of it? But then of course no one wants to keep constantly paying for things over and over again. So I have been thinking of a new way to really kind of mix things up for prices.

There could be three types of admission:

Pay Per Attraction - This is essentially the original pricing plan for amusement parks. People pay little or no price to get into the park and then pay per each attraction they use, each time they use it. What better way than to make sure you only get what you paid for? This will work using a digital swipe card method. Guests can pay like a $5 admission fee, and at the time of admission they receive something similar to a credit card. They can load a certain amount of 'digital tickets' on the card. They just go up to each attraction and before waiting in line, swipe and the digital ticket amount is subtracted. Should you decide to leave the line without actually using the attraction, you just leave the line the way you entered and the ride attendant that is usually there will swipe your digital tickets back on your card. Cards can be reloadable at any gift shop around the park. This is also good for families who have a budget of okay, you only spend so much on this. A good example of the system would be like the system set-up for game passes.

Pre-Pay - This is something a bit similar to the above. The main feature here is, you can pre-select everything you want to do and you will be charged one price for unlimited of what you plan on doing. So lets say you know you are only going to watch Celtic Fyre all day and nothing else. You can select unlimited use of Celtic Fyre for the day and receive a price that could end up being slightly cheaper than if you paid to see it each and every single show individually. This basically gives people the option to pay for only what they want, but unlimited so that they don't have to keep up with the constant paying for each use.

Annual Passes - Really you pay one price for an entire year and you get unlimited admission and unlimited everything. It would essentially be what it is right now, the only thing is, your pass would be more valuable because you won't have to keep paying repetitive prices.

So think of the pricing structure like so:

Pay Per Attraction
  • Admission: $5.00
  • 1 Digital Ticket (dt) = $1
  • A - Attractions: 1dt
  • B - Attractions: 2dt
  • C - Attractions: 3dt
  • D - Attractions: 4dt
  • E - Attractions: 5dt

  • Admission: $5.00
  • A - Attractions: $2 per attraction
  • B - Attractions: $4 per attraction
  • C - Attractions: $6 per attraction
  • D - Attractions: $8 per attraction
  • E - Attractions: $10 per attraction

Annual Pass - $150
  • Admission - Included
  • All Attractions - Included
  • Parking - Included
  • Discounts - Included
  • Special Events/Concerts: $10 per event
  • Reserved Seating/Quick Queues: $2 per attraction per use

The whole concept works on essentially replacing the ticketing system with digital swipe cards much like the systems that can be found here.

These cards would replace your admission ticket/season pass and are tied to you forever. I know everyone hates the slow fingerprint scanners, but there are much more accurate and quicker scanners that can be used. Sure they will cost a little more, but it is possible.

So imagine you are an annual pass holder like many of you are/were. You would pay for your pass, have your picture taken and printed on your card. Then every time you visit, you swipe, scan your finger and you are in. Another good thing is, they can have barcode to scan that can give them a look at if anything is wrong with your account, so if you swipe and scan your finger, they know if your pass is expired or you haven't paid for admission that day.

Then as you're going through the park, as a pass holder, you just either swipe your card to enter any queues for rides or shows or you can even just use your fingerprint. The idea is pass holders can choose to either use their fingerprint for everything or their card, giving them full flexibility to forget their card and still use everything.

Essentially, nothing really changes in the ways of the pass, except for a few add-ons and the fact you can use a pass or finger to enter and use the park.

Now I know some people are high-tech, but the goal with this system is to make literally as much as everything digital so that all you have to do is show up and pay. No worries or hassles with cards or wristbands. Pretty soon, they will have a wristband for everything and you arm will be filled with them. Why not instead of using wristbands use fingerprints? They are already attached to you fairly permanently?

Personally, if everything was converted to a fingerprint confirmation system, where you scan your fingerprint and it just needs to scan to ensure your authorized access to an attraction or the park or maybe you want to purchase items with just your fingerprint? Convert cashless wristbands to cashless fingerprints. its probably much more convenient.

This concept only works IF the park actually goes forth and spends the proper money on quick, fast, and accurate technology. If they choose to take the cheap way out, and use older, slower technology, then problems will come up and things will be slowed down and the concept fails.

So tell me what you think. Good? Bad? Any ideas for improvement are always welcomed.
I'm not sure if the individual ticketing system would work in a large park like Busch. I'd personally rather see the park drop its gate prices instead. $75-$80 is a bit much, even if it is a premium.

I do, however, love the idea of replacing all those paper cards that are easy to lose and kinda excessive with something more durable. I feel Disney has it right with the Magic bands. Just load everything up on the band and go crazy around the park.

For food, merch, and games, just tap the band against a scanner and enjoy. Same goes for premium stuff like tours, dinner experiences, and VIP seating.

Fastpasses can be controlled as well. Just tap the band at the entrance to the ride to drop money on front of line access for the individual ride. If you decide to get unlimited access, the band can be configured to give you front of line without paying at each ride. The park can adjust the prices based on how busy it is that day. If the park decides to implement virtual queuing (like Q-Bots or Disney Fastpasses), the bands can be configured to that too.

As you said, the bands can be refilled at the gift shops or ATMs if you run out of money. You can also place money caps on them to prevent your kids from using too much money. Money can be managed through a mobile app or on the park website at home.

The bands can act as your ticket into the park too. Just tap and go. The bands are good to last through the year and can be used at the other parks in the chain. Just load up the tickets into the band.
PR, thank you for taking the time to write this out. Unlike some people on these boards, you did put quite a bit of thought and detail into your ideas. You get bonus points for that. ;) However, you lost me pretty early on:

Party Rocker said:
Pay Per Attraction

No, no, no, and no. Just no. Absolutely not. God, no.

Pay-per-attraction is the worst. I can't stand going to a park that uses this system. It truly kills the freedom of being able to walk through the gates and getting to do whatever you wish. The whole time, I feel concerned about over-spending and/or blowing my budget all at once, and not getting to try better things later on. Outside of Knoebels and perhaps a few other exception, I cannot think of any large theme/amusement park that still uses this system. Doing such a thing would kill the freedom, wonder, and immersion ( which we already spend so much time complaining about) even more. I see what you're going for (it would be a nice perk for parents who don't wish to participate in anything), put since BGW isn't just a rides carnival, making visitors pay only for main attractions would be remarkably foolish and inconvenient for both the park and its visitors. Nic pretty much summed things up in another thread:

Nic said:
To stray further off-topic, as a child I hated the pay-as-you-go system. It meant that every ride was a cost-benefit decision, and I didn't get to go on everything I wanted or ride anything more than once (in general). My experience last year with the F&WF leads me to believe that I still dislike the pay-as-you-go system, for much the same reason.

I find a very similar issue with the pre-payed plan, as well. The annual passes are basically what we have now, so how is that a concept? And if you're thinking only guests with this pass may visit (I'm honestly not sure if that's what you mean or not), then no offense, but that is a horrible idea. Sorry to say, but not everyone visits Busch Gardens every other weekend.

I'm really sorry if I come off as being rude to your ideas. I really do appreciate the thought you put into them. I simply disagree with the ideas themselves.
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To play (slightly discursive) Devil's Advocate (despite the fact that I have already said I intensely dislike pay-per-ride systems) I can see one advantage to the dual-track system PR suggests. When I cajole my parents and non-thrill riding friends into the park, I feel a bit bad that they aren't really getting as much out of their tickets as I do. It might be better for them not to pay for rides they will never try. So, in theory, I could continue to get an annual pass, and have my guests pay only for the things they plan to do.

That said, I usually take them on days when I get a guest discount for just that reason. Besides, (1) I don't do everything in the park either; (2) their paying less wouldn’t increase their enjoyment that much; and (3) having to think about money before every attraction really does suck the fun out of the day.

Two last unrelated thoughts:

1. The idea of having to go back to gift shops throughout the day and stand in line to buy more rides for the pleasure of standing in line again to get on the ride sets my teeth on edge. And you know under this system, everyone would start with the minimum to avoid wasting money.

2. I wonder what this kind of pricing structure would do to park revenues.

So, in the end, I think I am still against any pay-per-ride approach.
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Nic said:
To play (slightly discursive) Devil's Advocate (despite the fact that I have already said I intensely dislike pay-per-ride systems) I can see one advantage to the dual-track system PR suggests. When I cajole my parents and non-thrill riding friends into the park, I feel a bit bad that they aren't really getting as much out of their tickets as I do. It might be better for them not to pay for rides they will never try. So, in theory, I could continue to get an annual pass, and have my guests pay only for the things they plan to do.

I totally understand what you are saying. However, while I dislike the system in general, I think such a system would be particularly bad at BGW. Yes, I understand that some people may pay a lot but not ride a lot. But they can easily attend as many shows as they want, pet as many adorable animals as they want, look at as many lush gardens as they want, or take as many laps around the park on the train as they want. There still is plenty out there to do for the non-thrill riders. This is where I get confused: we argue that BGW has plenty of things outside of rides to do sometimes, but at times like now we pretend the park has nothing but thrill rides. The reason a pay-per-go system wouldn't work at BGW is because BGW makes money off of things other than just rides, like entertainment and atmosphere. And like I said, it kills the freedom of getting to just let loose and enjoy yourself.
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Good point, and I agree.

I didn't articulate the counter-argument -- that much of BGW is experienced outside of the specific attractions; that the park is in and of itself an “attraction” -- mostly because I was providing a single argument for the proposal and then countering that argument specifically.
Let me try to write things out a little clearer.

I was proposing different options for different people. Yes, the annual passes stay the same, but their value will increase thus increasing annual pass sales.

The key motive behind PPA (Pay Per Attraction) is so you do not have pay for stuff you don't do. Yes, this has the most flaws out of the entire concept as a whole. I accept that fact, but the flaws only exist for people who do not take advantage of other deals. With this plan in place, you pay $5.00 and then an additional charge per attraction. Something I wanted to address was you claim it limits the freedom. You would still have it, to the extent you want it. If you're only paying for what you want then there is no restriction on your freedom. Like I said, if you know what you like and you know what you're going to do, there are other options best suited for you. The system that I plan is supposed to be quick and simple. You have a card similar to a debit card, you put money on it when you buy your admission or at any gift shop, and then swipe at the front of any line, no holding you back. Like I keep repeating, there are other options for those who know what they want.

The key motive behind PP (Pre-Pay) is so you know what you're going to do all day and you do not want to pay for each use. Basically, you still pay for each attraction, but you pay one price for each attraction for unlimited use that day. This is probably what is what most people will take advantage of. This is for people who go to the park with specific goals or know their likes. For example, a common complaint is why does a four year old have to pay the price of $62 when they can't do everything. Well, with this plan, you could only pay for them to ride the childrens rides and shows. The price would save people a lot of money and the park wouldn't have to give away free preschool passes. Like I said this is probably the more popular option since you know what you are going to do and you can do it all day. lets say you only go for the rides, then bam you only get the rides, no need to over pay for things you do not use. Also the idea behind this would be affordable cost. $5.00 plus an additional twenty or thirty dollars for one day is much more desirable than an entire $72.

The key motive behind annual passes is for those who just want it all and want the value. You can go anytime you want, you can do anything you want. Compared to the other two plans, this is the ideal plan for just having it all. I would take away special events and concerts and have those be add-ons for a small fee as well as other small fee perks. Plus with the EZPay option, many people would enjoy paying such a low price when everything else seems more expensive.

I think you didn't quite understand what I was trying to propose. I am not suggesting three groundbreaking concepts, I am suggesting one complete concept. Use all three methods at once. Why force people to over pay for things they don't use, but why feel the urge to continually spend? This concept is a merger of both plans. That is what makes the system work. The ability to have choices.

Now, the main thing that really makes this concept take off is the technology behind it. Ideally, they would go to the debit card like system. You would have a hard pass with a barcode to be scanned and a magnetic strip to be swiped. Really, you would swipe your card everywhere or scan it. What would really be neat, is if they got rid of everything and you just scanned your finger for everything, everywhere. Imagine your credit card being linked to that system, along with all your pass information and even an age identifier. So imagine people who buy alcohol, they just scan their finger and there is no need to show their ID or pull out a credit card or cash.

Remember this is one full complete concept, not multiple ones.

EDIT: Gosh you guys just continue the conversation without me even defending myself :p To point out a few more things, when I say attraction I mean more than just rides. It would include the skyride, the train, the shows, to would cover just about anything. The $5.00 admission covers the animal exhibits and walking around, the things that can't really be charged extra for. Also to respond to the line for the sake of lines, it depends on if they purchase smart. If you PP then you don't have to keep going back, you can ride whatever ride or see whatever show you want unlimited times. That is the point of PP. You can literally only pay for want you want all day long, no having to keep going back through lines in gift shops.
The biggest issue I have with cards is that they're easily lost or stolen. It's not too difficult to leave your wallet with your card sitting on a bench or in a ride. There's lanyards you can carry around, but the park would have to give one to everybody. Those wear down and get torn up with tons of use as well. Even though a lot of people don't like Disney's Magic bands, I still think they're a pretty good idea.

If a pay-per-ride plan is implemented, I'd suggest keeping admission free. Every other park that does a ticketing system has free admission. Even $5 is too much.

I dig the prepay option a lot, but I feel you should be given the option to add rides in case you make a last minute decision change and decide to ride something you didn't pay for before. Again, admission should be free if the park is still pay-per ride.

I still feel the park should stay one price admission though with emphasis on buying vacation packages like Disney. The prices are kinda steep for what you get.
People still have to retain their tickets currently, so there is no difference card or ticket. Should your card go missing, you can go to Guest Relations, get an new card and cancel the old one. his kind of recovery method is very common with the types of access control cards.

Not all parks with a pay-per-ride option have free admission, there are some that do charge a small admission free. However, I will say it was more common years ago, it still exists at a few parks today.

Prepay would just refer the fact your prepaying for the rides unlimitedly. You can always add other things at the last minute if you want or need to. Honestly, I feel like this is the best part of my concept because it is the most flexible.
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