Prices vary wildly on Busch theme parks' chain-wide annual passes
Busch Entertainment today sent along a press release detailing new benefits for annual passholders at Busch's Sesame Place theme park in Pennsylvania. Sesame Place is offering a 30 percent discount on all food and merchandise purchases in the park for its passholders this season. The park offers three pass levels, from a basic $77.95 pass to a $110.95 pass with free parking and preferred show seating, to a $159.95 "Super Grover Season Pass" that includes unlimited free admission to all Busch Gardens and SeaWorld theme parks through Dec. 31, 2009.
And that's what caught my eye. Because I hadn't seen Busch offering an unlimited admission pass to all its theme parks for such a low price. I checked, and found wildly different pricing on Busch's "Platinum Pass," depending upon the park where you buy it.
In Florida, you can't even get a one-year pass to all Busch parks. The best you can do is a two-year Platinum Pass, for $429.95. Ouch. But if you were to buy the same two-year pass from
Busch Gardens SeaWorld San Antonio, you'd pay just $199.99. It's $249 at SeaWorld San Diego, but they'll throw in an extra two months on to the pass if you pay for it all at once and don't opt for the EZPay multiple payment plan.
San Diego offers a one-year Platinum Pass for $169, again, with two months free if you pay the full price at purchase. The same pass (minus the two free months) is $179.95 at Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Virginia.
For comparison, the Florida-based theme parks are selling a one-year, two-park annual pass for $159.95, $10 less than you could get a pass that covered all of Busch's theme parks, if you bought in San Diego.
I know that we've talked about these types of pricing discrepancies before. But I still don't get it. I can see a variance of give or take $10-20 bucks based on home parks for a chain-wide annual pass, to reflect higher costs of operation in different markets. But a $230 difference?
And why charge the highest chain-wide prices in Orlando, the market with the most out-of-town visitors. Why wouldn't Busch want to encourage Orlando visitors from mid-Atlantic states, for example, to make a weekend trip to BGE or Sesame Place later in the season? Two days at SeaWorld Orlando costs $130 with online advance purchase, $150 at the gate. I bet if you offered visitors at SeaWorld Orlando's front gate the opportunity to come back for the next year, plus visit Busch Gardens Africa and all other Busch theme parks (save Discovery Cove) for that year for just $20 more than the two-day gate price, you'd get more than a few takers.
What are your thoughts about chain-wide annual passes, and their prices? What would you like to see? What would get you off the fence and visiting more theme parks this year?
I see your point. It would appear as though the all parks pass prices are based almost solely on distance to multiple parks. They figure someone living in the Orlando area has the most parks available to them and closer so those people are more likely to pay more for the use of more parks? If I were planning a trip to Orlando I would without a doubt head to Sesame Place (45 minutes away) and purchase the all parks pass, how could I not.
You can buy a two-year Platinum (all-park) Pass through Busch Gardens Europe's Web site for $299.95. I paid for my pass renewal with my Visa ($11/month)two years ago and was grandfathered into the old rate. Who knows if that offer will still be good when Busch-In Bev sells the parks?
I remember years ago when I lived in Europe, I had a Six Flags pass that got me into any Six Flags park ANYWHERE. We had bought the passes in the states (to go to the park in New England), used it again for the Six Flags in MD. THEN, we got to use it at the two parks in Europe. :) It was a great deal, and basically paid for itself in two visits (which is how it sold itself to us). I don't see why Busch parks couldn't do the same thing.
Frankly, the horrendous jump in Florida Platinum Passes prices cost them 4 renewals this past May. We might go to Williamsburg this summer, but you can bet we'll be going via San Antonio! ;)
Then really is it possible for someone who lives like in FL to order the S.Street unlimited pass just to use it in FL? Or they making you have to live near that park to take advantage of it? With the Internet, you'd think people would just order one, unless you have to go to the park to validate it?
At BGE n Williamsburg, you can also buy a 4-pack of the 2-year platinum passes for $252 each. Unfortunately, you have to pay for 4 passes with a single credit card.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.