The cash register goes “cha-ching”, you just paid $3.50 for a can of Pepsi at your local Six Flags park. At the grocery store it is only a dollar however. Have you ever wondered why theme park prices are so much higher, than the average price? Some may go as far as saying that they’re overpriced. The places that these outrageous prices are located at are theme (or amusement) parks. They are pay to enter parks that feature fun rides like the swings, mild rides like the go karts, and of course the thrilling roller coasters. Although these parks are awesome, the prices at them are just ridiculous, and many times scamming guests. Theme parks over-price food as it is the only available food option at the park, raise ticket prices on busier days, and raising prices so high to the point that the middle class is struggling to afford them.
As stated previously food pricing is way too high. However, theme parks know this and are taking advantage of guests. The article “How Theme Parks and Movie Theaters 'Price Gouge' for Food”, Lance Cothern states, “They (theme parks) have the only option for concession stand items if you don’t want to break the rules. Most people accept it and pay the prices.” Theme parks are very well aware that their concession stands are the only places to eat or drink at the park, so pricing items high is a smart business strategy, even though it is not a nice way to treat guests. For instance, the fact that one slice of pizza at Disney world is $7, but a whole pizza at Papa John’s is $9 is just straight up absurd. The article also states:
"Research shows that they (theme parks) likely optimize their prices so that they can make the best profit possible. I’d venture they test out different prices in different locations and see how the product sells. A simple example would be at $1 they sell 100 sodas, at $2 they sell 90 sodas, at $3 dollars they sell 75 sodas, and at $4 dollars they sell 50 sodas. In this case they make $100 at the $1 price point, $180 at the $2 price point, $225 at the $3 dollar price point and $200 at the $4 dollar price point. In the example above the seller doesn’t sell quite as many sodas but they do end up in maximizing their revenue."
This quote does a great job explaining what pretty much goes down at a theme park marketing meetings. Us humans are so lazy so we either just accept the high pricing or do nothing. Rather than leaving the park to get your own food or drink.
Also, theme parks only give “reasonable” prices on empty days. Empty days are just days when the park is not crowded at all. The article, “Disney Quietly Raises Theme Park Admission Prices Again” by Brad Tuttle states, “When Disney introduced variabel pricing, all of the low price admission days are when kids are in school.” So on the other side of the coin, this means on weekends and non-school days, the prices go up. Theme parks are almost trolling guests, offering low price offers on days when almost nobody can go. Especially Disney and Universal parks, who have been in a ton of news lately for there high pricing shenanigans. Companies like Six Flags and Cedar Fair however, are not far behind. Another trick theme parks like to do is offer multi day passes for cheaper prices. The article also states,
“Interestingly, on the same day regular admissions prices increased, Disney added a $20 online discount for passes of three days or more. As the industry publication ThemeParkInsider.com noted, two-day pass prices at Walt Disney World in Florida actually decreased as well, from $202 to $199. What this tweaked price structuring shows is that Disney wants to encourage guests to linger around the parks longer. When they do so, after all, they’re far more likely to spend extra money on (Disney-owned) hotels, restaurants, and gift shops. In other words, if you “save” money by buying a multi-day theme park pass, you may not be saving at all—because, odds are, you’ll wind up spending more cash out of pocket overall.”
As stated previously, this is strictly another trap. If you stay at a park for more than day you will have to open the wallet even more for a place to sleep, food to eat, and gasoline to drive you from place to place. When looking at these “deals” or “offers” make sure to think about if will truely save money.
On the other side of the coin however, many argue that these theme parks with these unreasonable prices are not targeting the middle class, but rather the higher (or upper) class. The article, “How theme parks like Disney World left the middle class behind” by Drew Harwell states, “Disney’s made a strategic decision that they’re not going to discount to hold onto people at the middle part of the economy, they’re going to set their prices at the top 10 percent of family incomes and make their where the money is.” Part of this argument makes sense as these prices theme parks are now offering are reasonable for the wealthy or upper class. Also, parks would make much more money targeting this class anyhow. However some arguments can be made against this, a New York Times article states, “Attendance declined at 13 out of 14 Disney theme parks around the world, higher prices were a major factor.” If attendance has dropped after price increases, that that definitely shows that the middle class was a major part of Disney’s attendance. They left because they can’t afford Disney’s pricing.
At the end of the day, theme parks are very overpriced. They over price food and drink since it is the only option for food. Also theme parks raise prices on busier days, and finally the middle class is struggling to afford the new pricing. So be aware of how theme parks may be ripping money out of your pockets.