What's new

Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction?

Darren B

Active Member
So on my current trip around the USA & Canada I'm noticing a certain trend which for me is getting a little out of hand, and that's their money grabbing tactics. Now I know that this has been happening for a while now but it's seems to be amplifying itself on a yearly basis.

Six Flags seem to be the front runners here but Cedar Fair are hot on their trails. The parking charges, locker charges, food & drink prices, external brand advertising and bring a friend (scumbag) for free days seem to be excessively increasing on a yearly basis, and it's my belief that this is starting to affect guest satisfaction.

In comparison you have the Koch family who are running their 2 parks with no parking charges, no forced locker charges to ride attractions, reasonable, quality food at cheaper prices and free soft drinks. No brand advertising and no discount days to bring in the scum.

It's no surprise that the latter have been the best 2 days of the trip and I've thoroughly enjoyed my park experiences. I'm sure a lot of others would share my views.

So, what's your opinion?

Are you happy with the major chains continued efforts to penny pinch from their guests at every possibility? With the hope that the money will go into future attractions?

Or would you prefer the major chains to go down the 'take care of the customer and they'll take care of you' route?
 

gavin

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

It's far from an American issue. Look no further than the UK for the best examples of money grabbing.

Six Flags I find to be better than Cedar Fair. Yes, some parks have that awful "you must use a locker" policy, but they're not expensive. The whole $5 all-day transferable thing is actually ok, and I'd rather do that than leave bags with wallet/phone etc. on a a platform with multiple trains.

Look to places like Tivoli Copenhagen - who make it seem like a €3 locker is a necessity for riding when it isn't - or Chessington who charge £10 for a locker, and that's when you see what money grabbing really is.
 

GuyWithAStick

Captain Basic
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Tbh, most Six Flags parks have bins, even if lockers are also present. However, Cedar Fair(mainly Cedar Point) design their rides so you can't have bins, and lockers are required.

But for Six Flags, people are forgetting that they're building 3+ international parks. That's at LEAST 300 million USD. So to avoid another bankruptcy, they 'cheapen up' a bit in the states. They charge more, and give back less. And as a reminder, (Six Flags)Dubai alone is getting 3 B&Ms, one of which is the chain's first Giga, and an Intamin Prefab. Once those parks open and are making profits, then they'll start being 'less cheap'. /End rant

Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk
 

gavin

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

^ I was thinking of Discovery Kingdom, where they're necessary for everything, as well as quite a few (most?) coasters at Magic Mountain.

As I said though, I actually found their pricing reasonable and I liked the security of leaving stuff there over a platform/bin that's not really being supervised.
 

Jordanovichy

Credit Whore 2016
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

I've never been to a Cedar Fair park or a Six Flags park [/basic], so I can really only use Merlin, Universal and Disney as examples here.

I remember at IoA last summer I had to put my lose articles in a locker before riding Hulk (even though I'd already ridden twice with the items in my pockets, but that's not for here). The lockers there were free for up to an hour, which I was actually really happy with. I understand that parks have this sort of policy as a H&S thing rather than anything else but the fact they have this policy and then don't charge you for a locker, that's fine. If the queue lasts longer than an hour, I don't know what happens.

With Merlin, I've somehow ended up at Chessington with a weekend's travel stuff twice now, so like sleeping bag, several changes of clothes, toiletries etc. Plus I was on public transport so couldn't dump it in a car. I know this was my fault, who the **** turns up to a theme park with all of this stuff, I was willing to pay to put it in a locker for the day, a fiver perhaps, but the large lockers charge £20! £20!!!! **** ridiculous. And when you reopen it, that's it, you can't close it again.

Also Merlin charge around £8/£9 for an ORP? I can't remember the exact amount. That's ridiculous! Port Aventura for example charges €5, that's £3.50. Yup. Almost a third of the price.

I personally didn't find Disney to be too money grabbing really. They offer you three free fast passes a day, there's the photo pass+ thing where you get all your ORPs (yes you have to pay for this but it's not too bad if you split the cost amongst say 5 of you, you'd only have to get 2 photos each to pay it off!). The food in the places we ate (with the exception of the awful place in Italy, World Showcase) was well priced and good quality.

Merlin are the biggest money grabbers I've witnessed in my theme park travels so far...and they're going to take some beating!
 

cjbrandy

Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

gavin said:
Chessington who charge £10 for a locker, and that's when you see what money grabbing really is.
Is it seriously this much to put your **** in a locker for the day at Chessington? If so that's **** outrageous. Imo Chessington is a really poor value for money park if you were to pay the full £50 price for entry.
 

Jordanovichy

Credit Whore 2016
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

^And that's for a small locker! (Plus I think it is closer to the £15 mark now).
 

cjbrandy

Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Yeah I see now, £20 for a large locker is truly **** the customer in the ass. Also Merlin ORPs are a painful £10, its great to hear PA's are only €5, I'll get 3 when I go!
 

Ben

Social Media Team
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

If you'd asked me before this trip, I would have said that Six Flags were fine and I liked the way they run their parks.

But, it's gone really down hill since I was last over.

Prime example, we stumped up $90 each for fastpass at SFoT and then were told NTG, which is an extra $30 to add to the pass, had its line closed because the guy who does it hadn't turned up. Like, really?

$20-25 to park is daylight robbery, food and drinks is the most expensive I've ever seen it ($4.50 for a coke bottle!), and the advertising plastered everywhere is awful.

Holiday World are doing well and should be held up as a shining example. Put that attitude in to a chain like SF and you'd have a winner.
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Darren B said:
Are you happy with the major chains continued efforts to penny pinch from their guests at every possibility? With the hope that the money will go into [strike]future attractions?[/strike] shareholder dividends?
Fixed your typo. :wink:

To build on gavin's post, this is beyond the amusement park industry, but simply apart of the entire publicly-traded entertainment industry.

All companies have investors. Publicly-traded companies often have even more investors. And while there are those investors who really get the mission of their company, there are often many more investors that are specifically focused on gaining a return from their investment.

For the entertainment industry, there are a number of publicly-traded companies:

- Cedar Fair
- Six Flags
- Merlin
- Blackstone Group (Seaworld and Busch Gardens)
- Carnival Cruiseline
- AMC Theaters
- Universal
- Disney

While Universal and Disney are Tier 1 theme parks in terms of guest satisfaction and efficiency of running a park, they are also apart of a broader investment portfolio, not carrying 100% weight of investor focus. That is to say, Universal and Disney do other things outside of amusement parks.

Cedar Fair, Six Flags, etc. however are not nearly as diverse - diversity can literally be measured as seasonal or year-round parks. This then means investors will emphasize profit margins and increased dividends for park operations. Regardless, park growth in terms of attendance and in-park spending are driving line items that makes investors happy... and yes, that does translate to higher costs for park goers.
 

Snoo

The Legend
Staff member
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

I'll keep my feelings simple:

The bottom line rules all.


The bigger you are, the harder you fall into this tbh. Larger chains who are 'desperate' to be in the black will take more money grabs more often but when you look at small parks who aren't as worried (because they don't own 7 parks, have investors, have to build a brand new coaster every few years to keep the crowds), you won't see it. That's why Holiday World can have free parking and soda while Cedar Point cannot.

At the end of the day, if you look at this from the business side instead of enthusiast side, nothing I've seen in my years of coastering is a surprise. Annoying, yes. Surprising? Not in the least.
 

Intricks

Well-Known Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

GuyWithAStick said:
Tbh, most Six Flags parks have bins, even if lockers are also present. However, Cedar Fair(mainly Cedar Point) design their rides so you can't have bins, and lockers are required.

But for Six Flags, people are forgetting that they're building 3+ international parks. That's at LEAST 300 million USD. So to avoid another bankruptcy, they 'cheapen up' a bit in the states. They charge more, and give back less. And as a reminder, (Six Flags)Dubai alone is getting 3 B&Ms, one of which is the chain's first Giga, and an Intamin Prefab. Once those parks open and are making profits, then they'll start being 'less cheap'. /End rant

Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk
Okay, gotta point this out, but bar Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, all the major coasters at Cedar Point have a bin in the station for loose articles. Yes, they also have lockers there as well, but the only two coasters that really enforce them is the two big Intamins.

On the flip side, I have YET to hit a Six Flags park that doesnt require lockers for all their attractions.

On topic, the advertising is a hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes I like the train decals, othertimes they are blech and make the ride look gross. From personal experience, Six Flags is the worst, but Cedar Fair is getting there. Ive come to accept it as a common occurance nowadays, seeing as how Hersheypark has finally dipped into in-park advertising on their Monorail. While I do wish for all parks to be ran like Holiday World, it just isnt possible given the major park chain demands for yearly attractions.
 

LiveForTheLaunch

Well-Known Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

I'll write a longer post later, but it's not just about the lockers. The fact they plaster gross advjerts all over the walls of their stations and on the side of their cars, the fact they have bring a friend free day and essentially attract scum to the park, and the twenty five dollar parking fees are other issues that Darren is addressing. Like Ben, I hadn't noticed it as much as the trip I'm on now. There is no soul at these parks. Not only are they money grabbers but the staff is hardly enthusiastic and the atmosphere is often pretty gross. They'll never stop being ssuccessful, even if they charged ten dollars for parking... They'd be making a profit and not robbing their guests.

I am so close to never having to go back to a Six Flags park (unless they get something good) and I can't wait.
 

Smithy

Well-Known Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Can only really speak for Merlin, and I've noticed it across their attractions but it's not just them, but attractions in general.

When we went to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, I was getting pissed off at every other room having a smiling happy chirpy photographer waiting to pounce on us.

But the exact same thing happened at Loro Parque in Tenerife when we were visiting certain animal exhibits.

The exact same thing happened at Chester Zoo in certain animal exhibits.

The exact same thing happened when we toured the Nou Camp in Barcelona.

Eh, it's a big nuisance but clearly it's a moneyspinner. What I do find utterly sickening is 10 **** English pounds for an on ride photo. They were only a fiver in Liseberg and that was with fancy little frames.
 

ashtonrick

New Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Went to my first Six Flags park a couple of weeks ago (Great Adventure). Luckily we got the coach from New York so it was a fairly reasonable $72 for the journey there including entry (so we didn't encounter parking fees).

What did surprise me was the fact that you had to rent a locker before going on rides - although only $1 for 2 hours if you were going on rides not in the same area you had to take out the bags and put them in a new locker and pay again each time. Did like the security though over leaving them at the side of the station although compared to a couple of quid for all day (if I remember correctly) at Blackpool it's not brilliant value.

Although individual drinks were expensive we did get an unlimited soft drink refill all day for about $12/$13 each (the more you buy the cheaper it is) which was great value. The beers were extremely expensive though (about $10 a pint I think) and no matter how old you are you must show ID or no alcohol. As we had got served no probs in the bars / clubs around New York my friend who is 35 only took a colour photocopy of his passport and got refused service :)

Overall I think it's swings and roundabouts as some things are really pricey at the Merlin parks too.
 

caffeine_demon

Well-Known Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

I don't really have a problem with the six flags $1 lockers, particularly as I paid $15 for one at the waterpark in Hershey!

And I had good days in both SFNE and SFGAD..

What I do hate is those "blue screen" photo ops! Just wondering when whetherspoons will start offering everyone the chance to buy a photo of them eating a massive mixed grill on entry...
 

gavin

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

ashtonrick said:
no matter how old you are you must show ID or no alcohol. As we had got served no probs in the bars / clubs around New York my friend who is 35 only took a colour photocopy of his passport and got refused service
That's less to do with the parks and more to do with the USA being retarded when it comes to alcohol sales. I never had a problem in New York or Las Vegas, but was constantly getting checked in California and I clearly don't look even remotely close to being underage.

Smithy said:
When we went to Madame Tussauds in Blackpool, I was getting pissed off at every other room having a smiling happy chirpy photographer waiting to pounce on us.
I was going to mention this f**kwittery in my earlier post. Ocean Park is the ultimate worst for it. They've got photographers at the entrance to literally every aquarium and animal exhibit as well as the entrance to some rides; that's on top of the ORPs. They're especially annoying because they actually create a queue when all you want to do is get in and look at some f**king fish. I just walk past/around them, but the staff have no idea what to do when I refuse to stand there for their obligatory photo. "You have to stand here!" No I f**cking well don't. The locals just do as they're told and dutifully stand in line to get a picture taken that they're never going to buy. Boils my piss.
 

Jarrett

Most Obnoxious Member 2016
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

I find Six Flags to be way worse than Cedar Fair. I found literally everything at Magic Mountain to be way overpriced ($15 for a small Sprite and a slice of **** pizza? Really? Especially when it was 7$ at Beech Bend?), I've always found the employees to be rude, and I really didn't like how they would make it seem like you need lockers for their rides, especially when I bought one for Batman taking them seriously and it didn't work so I had to buy another. I remember when we went to SFOG when I was twelve my ten-year old sister was on the verge of heatstroke and they tried to use it as an opportunity to sell us a cold bottle of water instead of trying to get her the help she needed. I remember spending 45 minutes in Riddler's station because the were too cheap to not run one train, something I find inexcusable on a B&M that runs three trains. Full Throttle itself is a fantastic ride, but I feel like it's the perfect example of their mindset. They bought it because it was cheap and easy to market and then had stuffy guys in suits in some boardroom decide to put YOLO and the like all over it because "that's what the kids these days are into!" Both YOLO and X2 felt like short, relatively cheap rides that would have marketable gimmicks trying to squeeze bang for their buck at all costs. Twisted Colossus and Screampunk District seem to be a departure from this, though, so I'm curious to see if they stay in this direction.

Cedar Fair I feel is better but just barely. I hate that they make you get a locker for more and more coasters and I don't think that relatively basic-looking Rougarou tumbler is worth $20. I'd much rather wait the ten seconds extra it takes for one train to stow their stuff than buy a 2$ locker. They at least build good rides and take some time to make them look presentable and rehab existing areas nicely. You get the vibe they care that their park is good. The food isn't half bad either, Chicken Shack at Kings Island is pretty good for park food that isn't outsourced.

I personally think the best corporate chain of any kind doing this is Herschend. They make their parks look really nice, care that their rides are good, their food can be pricey but it's Michelin Star stuff compared to Six Flags. Their Q2Q system from Dollywood (not tried Trailblazer at SDC yet) is fairly priced compared to Flash Pass and their merch, while slightly expensive, isn't as expensive as it could be. I also like that they'll sometimes offer free parking for a few weeks just to be nice.

Overall I agree with Ben, take a tip from the Koch family. I love being able to just pull up to Holiday World without paying or just grab a drink if I'm hot. Their bathrooms are incredibly clean for public restrooms. They put so much effort in making sure Holiday World's coasters get the TLC they need (Legend in 2014 and 2015 is a prime example). They care that you have a good time and you can see it clear as day. I'd love to see those little soft drink stands at major parks like Cedar Fair or Six Flags. Cheaper park tat, bins in all stations, free parking and drinks, clean bathrooms, emphasis on making sure rides are good and well-presented, and other things the Koch family puts emphasis on should be industry standards, not exceptions.
 

Darren B

Active Member
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

^Massively agree with you.

I just don't feel like SF or CF care enough about guest experience. Holiday World & Alabama Splash are owned by people who care, and you can see that oozing out in every aspect of the experience. It's also clear that the model works; especially Holiday World. They're always expanding and adding to the park which is evident of a profitable parks. I don't think it's too much to ask of the major parks to put the needs of their customer to the forefront. Happy customers equals returning customers.
 

GuyWithAStick

Captain Basic
Re: Are the major chains greed destroying guest satisfaction

Family owned parks are miles better when it comes to guest satisfaction. Even the corporate-family hybrid of the Herscends are better than almost all US, and even a few European parks. Like mentioned above, a step toward guest satisfaction can really benefit both the park and the clientele(not by much, but comparing SF/CF clientele to Herschend/Koch clientele is definitely noticeable).

Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk
 
Top