THEME PARK THURSDAY: Kings Island's Fast Lane

From VisitKingsIsland.com:

“Add this brand new option to your ticket for just $50 and you’ll get a wristband that allows you to go up the FAST LANE entrance on 10 of our most popular rides.

This wristband allows you access through the FAST LANE ENTRANCE as many times as you want between Noon and 7:00pm on the day of your visit.

Hurry, there are a limited number of these FAST LANE passes available each day.

Purchase the voucher on this page, redeem it at the FAST LANE TICKET BOOTH located just inside the main gate and then floor it to your favorite rides!

Please note: This does not include admission into Kings Island. You must have a pre-purchased ticket or season pass to enter the park.”

The new CEO of Cedar Fair, Matt Ouimet

Personally, I wouldn’t buy this because with the exception of about 5 days of the year (Saturdays in the heat of Summer), the lines aren’t long to begin with.  But I appreciate the option and am glad to see that the new CEO of Cedar Fair, Matt Oiumet (former boss at Disneyland), is already making changes and doing SOMETHING with the park.  While I’d love for him to add 5 new dark rides and 3 or 4 more Broadway style shows, the reality is that his focus is going to be on GUEST EXPERIENCE – and probably not guests like me.

See, I’m not the target demographic for Cedar Fair and Kings Island’s decision-making.  As a Gold Pass holder who paid $70 for my ticket (including free parking) I actually cost them money.  I’ve been there 23 times this summer and plan to go at least 10-15 more times before the end of October when the park shuts down completely for the winter.  While I like to think they like my loyalty and dedication to their product, it is a business and it does boil down to dollars and cents.

If as few as 40 people buy this new Fast Lane pass in a given day, the park makes $2,000.  For doing nothing other than letting them ride before me.  Even if all forty people were in line ahead of me on Drop Tower, for example, that is one ride cycle that I’ve had to wait extra for.  That’s less than 10 minutes.  Roller Coasters will be even less, depending on their load time.

My point is this will not impact the average Gold, Platinum, or Season Passholder very much.  I don’t see many people paying $50 extra to ride the rides on an average day unless they don’t know any better.  My friend Connie and I almost added a perk similar to this at Universal Studios in Florida.  They offer their pass complimentary to guests staying in their resorts and then allow “day guests” to add it on to their ticket for a (fairly substantial) fee.  Once we saw how few people were in the park and how short the lines were without it, we were very relieved we didn’t buy it.  I think the same will be true at Kings Island for most folks on most days.

And yes, Disney does it for free with FastPass, but you still have to wait.  Disney’s is a “virtual queing” system.  This is a “line cutting” system much more like Universal’s Express Pass.  Plus, I would guess that Disney World is more crowded on its slow days than Kings Island is at any time, making it more worthwhile.  Also, Kings Island can be visited for about $36 a day if you buy your ticket online.  Disney World’s one day admission is now $90.53.  How “free” do you think FastPass really is?

Another argument against this Fast Lane is that it isn’t “fair.”  I’ve read things like “I’ve got 4 kids and it would cost me $200 more to add this on.  They shouldn’t charge so much!”  Of course, if they charged less, more people would buy it rendering it more of a challenge for the “regular” line guest.  Also, life isn’t fair.  I make a good living because a) I work hard, b) am in an industry where I’m compensated better than others, and c) because I’ve been fortunate not have any major catastrophes in my life.  Reason C is random and therefore unfair.

The idea that everyone needs to be treated equal by amusement parks is ridiculous and nonsensical.  If you can’t afford to stay in the Ritz Carlton, you stay in the Motel 6.  Is that fair?  Should the Motel 6 offer the same perks as the Ritz Carlton just so no one gets their feelings hurt?  Of course not.  I could go on and on about this and show the parallel to how people vote for our leaders, but this is THEME PARK THURSDAY and I try to keep things upbeat and light.

I won’t be buying the Fast Lane at Kings Island because I won’t need it.  But I most definitely support the decision to add the option for others who do choose to pay extra.

However, if they start charging for front row seating at the shows, well, Mr. Ouimet and I will have a problem. 🙂

What do you think about this new extra option?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!  Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for PHOTO FRIDAY!

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