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The Great Debate- How Would You Handle The Crowds

Talk about anything that has to do with Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor here.

How Would You Handle The Crowds

Eliminate Membership/ Summer Thrill Pass
3
33%
Raise Season Pass Prices
6
67%
 
Total votes : 9

Postby Coaster Justin on April 6th, 2017, 7:52 am
I'd be fine if they raised Season Passes to $100
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Postby RollingCoasting on April 6th, 2017, 8:15 am
If I wanted to handle crowds I'd get rid of Read to Succeed and BAF/BAFF. :D But if one of these, raise season pass rates, cause I have a membership, lol.
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Postby stergmi on April 6th, 2017, 8:55 am
I don't think raising pass and membership rates will change the crowds much. But I think the added revenue solves for a lot of our other complaints


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Postby JaminOut on April 6th, 2017, 2:54 pm
1. Limit park capacity (20,000 per day)
2. Raise season pass price to $99.99
3. Remove all season pass admission deals and enact a season long BAF $29.99.
4. Allow no ticket deals, but lower ticket prices to $49.99


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Postby Whizzer Whiz Kid on April 6th, 2017, 5:13 pm
At this point, I'm pretty sure that Great America knows it could raise prices, but in the end, what they would gain at the gate isn't enough to cover what those people who come twice or three times a season spend on food and merch. This is why the Twicket worked so well for so many years. Great America is smack dab in the middle of two giant cities and its closest real competitor is Cedar Point, which is 6 hours away. Even though us enthusiasts might not like it, Six Flags is playing a very smart game, which they should after they ran into the ground a few years ago. They care about money and that is what they are gaining.
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Postby Guy_With_A_Stick on April 6th, 2017, 7:10 pm
Oh boy, here we go.

tl;dr: We shouldn't drive guests away/limit the number of guests who can come in- we should create better accommodations, increase operations, have faster service, and try making the park cleaner/more comfortable to handle larger crowds to increase revenue, which in turn allows for the park to make bigger and better additions and accommodations for the future.

There are a Lot of factors that impact a person's decision to visit the park- The Weather, New rides/attractions, In-Park events(ERT, Concerts, Celebrities visiting, etc.), Deals(BAF, Read to Succeed, etc.), if they own a Season Pass or not, if it's a holiday, how crowded it is, and many many more.

Before we get to changing everything, let's take a look at the Six Flags Business Model(assuming we're handling crowds under Six Flags Management). We are one of the top parks without doubt. We are quite far from the biggest, but we are extremely profitable because of that. The park is smack dab in between two major US cities, which is a great place to put a park if you want a steady flow of crowds. Anyway, Six Flags prides itself in adding something new to every park every year. If they want to keep that promise year after year, they need constant crowds. Like Whiz said, they're playing a smart game right now- see if something works at one park, then spread it to other parks. We may not like it because it decreases diversity, but we're the some of the only people who would actually venture to other Six Flags Parks. Anyway, let's see how SF can manage crowds.

Unless you are a literal wizard, you can't control the weather, so let's adjust the things we can change. Starting off with New Rides. Like I said, SF prides itself in adding something new each year. So to keep that going, they need guests to constantly come to the park and return; which they do when there's a new ride. So there really isn't much to change here, since they're already getting guests to come back year after year.

Another way people return to the park is with special events like Concerts and Extra Ride Times. We have plenty of ride times in my opinion- usually averaging around 4-5 a month. One thing we don't have is concerts. I'm not talking 'Live and Local' venues(although some of the artists are really good), I'm talking A-List Bands and Artists. Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, all these huge names in music that would draw huge crowds. Obviously the park would probably have to spend a load of money, but maybe a week-long concert series with one or two popular bands/artists and a lot of smaller ones could work out. Something like this would seriously drive up some of the numbers. Also, while I'm on the topic of a concert series, maybe do something like what Busch Gardens does and have a Food and Wine festival at the same time, giving guests some specialty dining options(maybe a few local places like Momcorn or Chocolate Sanctuary). Events like this do bring in numbers.

Deals are an interesting case- yes, it drives the numbers up, but it doesn't increase revenue at the gate. Yes, more money is spent in-park, but it usually isn't enough to cover the missed gate sales(kind of like what Whiz said). The deals are nice for those who want to bring a friend to the park who usually doesn't. However, they are extremely inconvenient at times. Why not just give each season pass like 3 or 4 free friend tickets, and have them available all season long? When they run out, it can change some BAF for half off, then $20 off, $10, etc. It'd still bring in the numbers that come in to the park, but it would spread them out over the entire season rather than having peaks concentrated into short time periods. As for Read to Succeed, I think it's a great program in schools. It encourages kids to read more, which I think is a great thing. In the park however, there isn't much that can be done. The tickets are already valid for most of the season, it's just that the families wait until the very end to use them. Not much to do about that.

Another deal could be that you(as a season passholder) convince some of your friends to get a season pass. When ordering them, they could say that you recommended them, which could possibly translate to a reward of some sort(free go on DDD/WInner's Circle, exit pass, discount on merch, etc.). Not only would this increase season pass sales, it would also encourage existing passholders to come back.

All of these are mostly ways to increase crowds to come to the park, but that is a problem already without these changes. Increasing the prices of season passes would really only give the park more money than drive crowds away, which I don't think is the way to solve this problem. The best solution is to make the accommodations better. Larger sit-down restaurants instead of lots of walk-up food stands to decrease food lines and increase food quality. Faster dispatch times and more trains to decrease wait times. More benches with shade to make guests more comfortable. More trash cans to keep the paths clean. More rides that appeal to those who want a tame, relaxing experience. More indoor areas to relax. Things like these can seriously improve the park's ability to handle large crowds. Driving them away is only going to lead to less money for the park, and more angered guests. Being able to take in more crowds and handling them better increases revenue, guest satisfaction, and park operations. With the increased revenue, the park can then invest in better additions each year, which can include even more accommodations to handle even more crowds, and the cycle repeats.

I get why you all want less crowds, but that's not what SF wants. The best of both worlds is to increase operations to decrease lines, and increase accommodations to handle more people.
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Postby doubleb on April 9th, 2017, 10:29 am
Whizzer Whiz Kid wrote:At this point, I'm pretty sure that Great America knows it could raise prices, but in the end, what they would gain at the gate isn't enough to cover what those people who come twice or three times a season spend on food and merch. This is why the Twicket worked so well for so many years. Great America is smack dab in the middle of two giant cities and its closest real competitor is Cedar Point, which is 6 hours away. Even though us enthusiasts might not like it, Six Flags is playing a very smart game, which they should after they ran into the ground a few years ago. They care about money and that is what they are gaining.


Wouldn't be so certain they can raise prices much. People have gotten very used to very cheap prices and raising them will stop a certain % of people from buying, especially if there is no new attraction they deem worthy of the price increase. SF has built their model on high volume and low prices over lower volume at higher cost. Case in point in pricing, a SF gold pass(free parking all parks) + gold dining w/ tax processing is $151. The equivalent at CF is a platinum pass(free parking all parks) + all parks dining is $323 and you need to pay another $33 to get the all season drink which SF already includes, so it's $356. That's $205 more in total.

SF is banking on getting you to park with cheap entrance and getting you with extras once in the park. Whether this will work long term better than CF parks or BG that have higher prices and lower volume is not known. Currently SF spending per visitor is substantially behind CF, but the higher SF volume makes total revenue the same. I personally like the lower volume, higher price b/c it's more enjoyable when the park isn't as crowded. When I go to any park I avoid weekends unless it's unavoidable.
Last edited by doubleb on April 9th, 2017, 3:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Goku1910 on April 9th, 2017, 11:05 am
Also notice how we've gotten cheaper additions year over year. :roll:

Seems there's less investing going into park improvement projects and it's disappointing.
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Postby batmanfan80 on April 13th, 2017, 7:55 am
To me the biggest issue is all the pass holders that live within 30 min of the park who go all the time. I bet a high percentage of them are revenue losers who don't spend a dime after buying their passes. Does anyone know who all is tailgating in the parking lot? As I've said in the past, probably 75% of the crowd shows up impulsively based on weather. If it's been raining or whatever on a Fright Fest weekend that would normally have 50,000 people, all of a sudden you have manageable crowds. Raising prices I think would help. I'm guessing that's why the native Floridian population doesn't ever seem to go to Busch Gardens and Sea World. Everytime I go it's always foreign tourists and extremely reasonable lines. Even in July, Montu supposedly never has a wait longer than 20 minutes. However, Cheetah Hunt has had a 90 min wait most times I've been there(but it's usually the only ride that has anything over a 30 min line). Would not surprise me if that was because they were running one train because that seems to be the norm there. I just don't see Central Florida's people being that different from here. If Great America had those prices, I think a good percentage of their crowd would stay home. If they ban tailgating that will also keep the cheapies away. If they did both these things, I imagine they'd lose minimal money while increasing satisfaction for those who are investing more in their trip.
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Postby momlovescoasters on April 13th, 2017, 9:27 am
I guess I would qualify as a "revenue loser". :) I have a season gold pass and live within 30 minutes of the park. I do spend some money throughout the seaon on souveniers but I do not spend a dime on food. I do not have the patience to wait in long lines for overpriced below average food. I'm much happier getting a break from the crowds and having a sandwich in the car. No food offering could ever change my mind on that.

I think raising the season pass cost would help, but probably not enough. I would love to see a "tiered" pass. I would be willing to pay much more for the pass if I had more benefits. Instead of just the regular or gold, you could do bronze, silver, gold, platinum. Early entry or seperate line to enter would be worth A LOT to me. Last season the entry process was a disaster. I don't know if it was the machines, attendents or just the lack of commen sense, but it took way too long to get people in.

Eliminate BAF days....all of them. No one wants to wait 2+ hours in line for a ride. And if the "friend" is coming to the park for free or a reduced rate, how much are they really spending during the day? Probably not much...more than likely they are hanging out in the parking lot with me eating a sandwich.

I also think, as a previous poster mentioned, limiting park capacity would be great. I know Six Flags wants the highest number of guests possible, but if the overall experience sucks, people will not return.
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Postby doubleb on April 13th, 2017, 9:57 am
batmanfan80 wrote:To me the biggest issue is all the pass holders that live within 30 min of the park who go all the time. I bet a high percentage of them are revenue losers who don't spend a dime after buying their passes. Does anyone know who all is tailgating in the parking lot? As I've said in the past, probably 75% of the crowd shows up impulsively based on weather. If it's been raining or whatever on a Fright Fest weekend that would normally have 50,000 people, all of a sudden you have manageable crowds. Raising prices I think would help. I'm guessing that's why the native Floridian population doesn't ever seem to go to Busch Gardens and Sea World. Everytime I go it's always foreign tourists and extremely reasonable lines. Even in July, Montu supposedly never has a wait longer than 20 minutes. However, Cheetah Hunt has had a 90 min wait most times I've been there(but it's usually the only ride that has anything over a 30 min line). Would not surprise me if that was because they were running one train because that seems to be the norm there. I just don't see Central Florida's people being that different from here. If Great America had those prices, I think a good percentage of their crowd would stay home. If they ban tailgating that will also keep the cheapies away. If they did both these things, I imagine they'd lose minimal money while increasing satisfaction for those who are investing more in their trip.


There are many ways to be "revenue loser." I don't live within 30 minutes of the park and only go to GAm 4 or 5 times a yr. They lose money on me b/c I go to multiple other SF parks and it totals up to 15+ days a yr. 15+ days of amusement for $64 Gold Pass. SF would be smart to make 3 tiers where a certain level you into all SF parks. instead of having a regular pass do that. SF should make an all SF park pass significantly more than a pass just good at your home park.....ie...like CF does.


Bronze Pass - home park with no parking
Silver - home park with free parking
Gold - all SF parks with free parking and early entry of 30 minutes to an hr determined by each park.

The only reason to upgrade to Gold pass currently is free parking in my opinion, the other " benefits" are blah such as more BAFF days, etc... Do, the same structure with dining passes and make the drink bottles an add on no matter what level and just make the bottle $30 for basic, $25 for deluxe dining and $20 for premium. $20 for all during flash sale.

I never really paid attention to the tailgating aspect, for me that seems like a big time expenditure and hassle.
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Postby CoasterRiderSC on April 14th, 2017, 3:02 pm
I was a "revenue loser" as well! I almost always brought my own lunch and then would eat dinner on the way home. The food is mediocre. BUT for this year I got the Season Dining Pass and will give it a try. However one thing that comes to mind is: if I go to our park 8-10x will they make money on my Season Dining pass when you consider the total cost for the food (cost of food, preparation equipment, personnel, etc)?

I see nothing wrong with bringing your own food and actually doing that helps keep the lines down for all the non-tailgaters!

Having a peak limit of guests during a day is an interesting concept: they would have to manage the total # of people in the park at a given time and if capacity is reached, then people can't enter unless people leave. That could/would probably make people very angry if they show up and buy a full price ticket with cash (non-season passholders).

One thing they can do to reduce the traffic is get rid of all the people stopping you and trying to take your picture, as well as the annoying timeshare people that are just taking up space. And perhaps get a self-serve refill station for soda that could be monitored by 1 person who's also serving food.
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Postby stergmi on April 16th, 2017, 9:57 am
You wouldn't even need a person to monitor it. Just set up a bar code scanner and program the machine to fill up no more than a season bottle per scan. And then set it so you have to wait 15 minutes before you can scan for a drink again.


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Postby aaron60060 on April 17th, 2017, 2:33 pm
I know so many people who have gotten passes in years past, but aren't doing it again this year, because of the massive increase in crowd sizes(perceived) over the past few seasons. For that reason, I'd say they need to raise prices, but also increase the SIZE of the park so it can accomodate all of the new sales. If people think they'll have to wait forever every time they go, they are just going to let their membership lapse. Without physically increasing the size of the park, they are going to hit a churn point where new memberships don't make up for cancellations aka stagnant growth.
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Postby stergmi on April 17th, 2017, 3:20 pm
aaron60060 wrote:I know so many people who have gotten passes in years past, but aren't doing it again this year, because of the massive increase in crowd sizes(perceived) over the past few seasons. For that reason, I'd say they need to raise prices, but also increase the SIZE of the park so it can accomodate all of the new sales. If people think they'll have to wait forever every time they go, they are just going to let their membership lapse. Without physically increasing the size of the park, they are going to hit a churn point where new memberships don't make up for cancellations aka stagnant growth.


We got a big enough park for the crowds. We have 300 acres and 50+ rides. What we need are better operations, regularly a good chunk of food stands are closed. We lack self serve soda machines. The ops at the food stations that are open seem minimal. On top of that Bull is the only ride that runs 3 trains on it despite Demon, Whizzer, and Eagle also capable of it.

If we could get a gold pass only entrance that lets them into the park 15 minutes before everyone else that will also solve for some of the front gate and Flash Pass booth log jams too.


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Postby Viper 88 on April 18th, 2017, 4:53 pm
Ok raising the price of a season pass is not the answer. I live in Chicago stuff is expensive as all hell, but im stuck cant move. For a lot of people a trip to 6 flags is their vacation maybe even their entire summer entertainment. What they need is to totally eliminate the water park from the dry park. Find a sizeable plot of land and have a seperate gate admission. 2 Higher capacity rides ie Sky Whirl which had 12 cars per arm and could hold 5 passengers per cabin. We need 3 Trains running on DEMON AE and Whizzer. 4 Faster ride ops that want to actually be there. 5 More Rafts, Boats, Logs, and Pirate Ships on the Water rides. 5 Kill the Flash pass you may think it eliminates long lines but all it does is actually create them because these people are jumping in front of you and 200 other people. 6 Additional theater or revamping of Pictorium to include collapsing stage to do double duty. 7 Backstage food preparation areas with items being delivered to food locations so someone doesnt have to fill a drink then chop picode gallo then make funnel cake then ring up a pretzel food service is seriously in a dizzying disarray. 8 Self service drink stations. 9 Limit school/group picnics on any given day.
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Postby Viper 88 on April 18th, 2017, 5:37 pm
doubleb wrote:
batmanfan80 wrote:I never really paid attention to the tailgating aspect, for me that seems like a big time expenditure and hassle.

As a former tailgater I can definitely say it's a huge pain in the ass! You have to fight crowds getting out of the park plus hand stamp, get to your car, set up, eat, make sure you're not getting dive bombed from the a hole seagulls people feed by leaving their crap all over and not picking up after themselves, then clean up, through the lot to metal detection and turnstiles and fight through even more crowds to get to whatever ride you wanna hit, really just a nightmare!
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Postby ConorTully on April 18th, 2017, 9:38 pm
Viper 88 wrote:
doubleb wrote:
batmanfan80 wrote:I never really paid attention to the tailgating aspect, for me that seems like a big time expenditure and hassle.

As a former tailgater I can definitely say it's a huge pain in the ass! You have to fight crowds getting out of the park plus hand stamp, get to your car, set up, eat, make sure you're not getting dive bombed from the a hole seagulls people feed by leaving their crap all over and not picking up after themselves, then clean up, through the lot to metal detection and turnstiles and fight through even more crowds to get to whatever ride you wanna hit, really just a nightmare!

Yeah, especially considering the amount of stress saved by just scanning a dining pass and sitting down in your favorite area of the park to eat your food. Sure the lines can be atrocious and the food could definitely be better, but with a cold tea or soda it sure as hell beats hiking all the way out to your car or burger king to eat, both of which ive done a multiplicity of times.

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Postby CoasterDemon on April 23rd, 2017, 1:04 pm
My Cedar Fair platinum season pass was just under $200. Sure, it's a lot of money, but the quality of the service is very high.

$200 is still cheap for what I get. But SF operates on a completely different game plan. One which enables an incredible amount of frustration on the guests. You get what you pay for. It would take a long time for SF to turn that around.

And I can say with a certain amount of confidence, our home park of SF Great America is probably the best run in the chain. Scary, huh!?
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