Prices vary wildly on Busch theme parks' chain-wide annual passes
By Robert NilesBusch 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.
Published: February 23, 2009 at 3:11 PM
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
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?
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