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Three theme park ticket options I would love to buy, but can't

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Published: September 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM

With all the ticket options available to theme park visitors - park hoppers, City Pass, seasonal options, no expiration tickets - it might seem hard to believe that there remain some options that are not available to theme park fans. But there are.

Here are three ticket options I'd love to buy, but can't because their parks haven't made them available (yet):

Universal Studios Hollywood

1. An unlimited free parking option for annual passholders at Universal Studios Hollywood

USH is the closest theme park to my home, but most years I don't buy an annual pass. That's because I typically only end up visiting the park about once a year or so, outside press events. The park just doesn't have enough attractions for my family to want to make multiple visits a year. (Now, when Universal Studios Hollywood builds its version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, that'll be a different story.) But we would love to go to CityWalk more often.

The $10 parking charge keeps up away, though. CityWalk-like developments such as Americana at Brand validate parking for several hours, allowing us to see a movie or eat a leisurely dinner without having to pay to park. Heck, even Anaheim's Downtown Disney offers several hours of free parking. I'd gladly upgrade to a USH annual pass just for the free parking at CityWalk (which I prefer to Americana). But USH's top AP's parking perk is only good if you arrive before 5 pm.

2. A no-expire option on multi-day tickets for Disneyland

A multi-day, no-expire ticket is a great option for someone who wants to visit a Disney theme park a few times a year, but not often enough to justify the cost of an annual pass. Disneyland offers a variety of annual passes, but all but the most expensive are blocked out on the weekends and school vacations when I can drive the family down from Pasadena.

I've got one of those seasonal annual passes, which I use to visit the park about once a month or so on a workday. But I'd love to get my kids a multi-day ticket as a Christmas present. Unfortunately, multi-day Disneyland Resort tickets expire 14 days after their first use. Unlike Walt Disney World, Disneyland does not offer a no-expire option.

A no-expire option also could be a good way to upsell out-of-town visitors to a longer Disneyland pass, helping ensure they return for a future visit. And yes, like the USH parking option, I would pay extra for this option.

3. A combined Universal Orlando/Universal Studios Hollywood annual pass

Now that Disney's offering a combo Disneyland/Disney World pass, Universal is the only major chain that does not offer any type of national chain-wide annual pass. I suspect the reason's been that, up until earlier this year, Universal Orlando was half-owned by another company, meaning that USH and UO technically had different owners, making a two-coast ticket a difficult cross-company arrangement.

But NBCUniversal's the sole owner of both theme park developments now. What better way to celebrate that acquisition than by introducing a UO/USH AP?

(Especially if that three-park pass also included free parking at Universal Studios Hollywood after 5pm....)

Is there a theme park ticket option you'd like to buy, but can't? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Let's keep the discussion to new options that one company could introduce without the cooperation of another (so no requests for the not-gonna-happen Disney World/Universal Orlando park-hopper, please). And everyone knows we'd all love to see more discounts. So let's talk about just those options for which you'd be willing to pay extra.

Readers' Opinions

From Zena Sharpe on September 15, 2011 at 1:44 AM
I think the idea of the parking is great. I think carrying on from this, when you buy a 7/10/14 pass, you should be able to buy a discounted parking ticket which allows you to park free in all the parks (ie on a 10 day ticket, if all days are used you will be looking at parking of $140. So why not sell a sinlge ticket for $100 and you can park free for all your days?
From Anon Mouse on September 15, 2011 at 7:20 AM
Those are all good ideas, but I think they don't offer them precisely because it is a way of letting people pay less. Paying less is not what they are trying to do. Universal doesn't make nearly as much as Disney for their annual passes, which is why I think they won't ever have a parking pass.

It would be nice for Disneyland to offer a non-expiring pass like WDW does; however, I think it conflicts with much of what it currently offers its customers. There are many seasonal discounts and they offer the Southern California Annual Passes for those who want to go more frequently. Certainly I would love to pay much much less for an occasional park goer like myself, but I don't think I will be able to do so.

From Robert Niles on September 15, 2011 at 7:51 AM
True, but could Universal make more money via rents from CityWalk if more people visited in the evenings on their AP free parking? And would Disneyland be able to switch some of their part-day seasonal AP visitors to more profitable full-day multi-ticket visitors if it offered no-expire? I think those are fair questions to consider.
From Dominick D on September 15, 2011 at 8:52 AM
I would love to get that WDW Florida Resident Weekday select pass next year! Oh and Robert, WWOHP is exclusive to Florida, and shall be forever.
From Tom Rigg on September 15, 2011 at 9:31 AM
I have a Busch Gardens Seaworld Platinum Pass which, through my rather small amount of knowledge on the subject, seems to be one of the better chain wide season passes out there. Not only do I get 2 years of admission to every Seawold/Busch Gardens park in the US, I also get a 10 percent discount on all merch and food, priority seating at certain seaworld shows, I can buy discounted tickets for my friends, and I receive special deals throughout the year, such as this weekend's Pass Member Appreciation Day where I get 30 percent of merch and food and free prizes. Also, they only advertise that you get free preferred parking at your home park which for me is BGW and Water Country USA, but in actuality, they give you it at all parks.

What I would love to see added to this is the inclusion of admission to hard ticket events. There are only a few: Christmas Town in Williamsburg, and Howloscream in Tampa (Williamsburg Howloscream is included in park admission.) Even if it were only the ability to attend each one twice each season, I would gladly tack on another 30-40 dollars to the current sticker price of almost $300 for the two season platinum pass.

From Joshua Counsil on September 15, 2011 at 9:53 AM
At every park, I'd like to see one of the following two options:

1) Four-hour Passes

In the interest of Robert's Four-Hour Tour Plans, I'd like a pass that comes with unlimited attraction admission for four hours (or six hours - approximately half of a day). I often spend four hours or less at a theme park due to arrival/departure days or other plans and find I can knock off the best attractions in quick succession. Four-hour (or equivalent) tickets at discounted prices would attract visitors who are unsure about paying full-pop for a half-day. The tickets could be sold at, say, two-thirds or less of the price of a full-day pass.

2) E-tickets

I don't want to revert to the pay-for-play system, but something similar to an E-ticket system in addition to the current system would be nice. Why? When my family visits a park, my dad and brothers hit everything but mom isn't a thrill-seeker. She ends up paying full-price and experiences anywhere from 25% (Disney, Universal) to 75% (Six Flags, Cedar Fair) less of the attractions that we do. Sometimes she skips the park entirely in favor of other local attractions because she wants to save the family money. When we visit Orlando, for example, she and dad go canoeing while the boys hit Islands of Adventure since that park has little to do for her. If, however, there was a pass that allowed her to just experience a few attractions at a discounted price, she'd probably see the park.

From Robert Niles on September 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Dominick, I have confirmation from Universal (and they've declared in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission) that Universal has the contractual ability to bring Harry Potter to its other theme parks.

On background, I've heard that it will cost Universal a not-insubstantial amount of money to activate those rights, both in terms of development costs and increased royalty payments. So I don't expect Universal to expand Potter to other parks until the Orlando version's earned a bundle more money for the globe gang. There is that Blackstone buyout to pay for, too, you know....

From Jack Curley on September 15, 2011 at 12:56 PM
I got a Six Flags season pass one year, and the only downside was that it required me to go to Six Flags.
From Jack Curley on September 15, 2011 at 1:08 PM
I'd gladly pay extra for a WDW annual pass if it gave me a moving Yeti.
From southie chick on September 15, 2011 at 3:24 PM
As for the free parking after 5 or 6PM at Universal Hollywood ..... they took away that option a little over a year ago in Orlando so I highly doubt they'll offer that in Hollywood. LOVED hopping down to City Walk if I was in the area in Orlando after 6PM, but now I don't even bother.
From Dominick D on September 15, 2011 at 3:58 PM
"Respond to Robert"

Well then, Mugglenet told me wrong :P

From Ben James on September 15, 2011 at 8:35 PM
I can't say that I have a particular option that I want. But, I do wish there was some consistency with Six Flags policies chain wide.

1) Parking is a huge opportunity. I love that Great America offers annual parking pass holders the ability to park in premier parking for no additional cost. But St. Louis does not offer this. Instead, pass holders can pay the difference to park closer. I obviously prefer the prior option.

2) Daily parking at any Six Flags park is a joke. The argument is that the cost is suppose to cover security and maintenance. At St. Louis, most of the lots still need repaving and weed removal. In addition to some new lighting.

3) Entry plazas need to be more consistent as well. I wish that security screening was more (well,) secure. At Great America you pass through the metal detectors after your ticket has been scanned and you are technically already in the park. At St. Louis its prior to the ticket booths and closer to the lot. This helps prevent any incidents from occurring. And you aren't sending anyone back out of the park for items that are not allowed.

Wow! Sorry for going off track. But, I really do feel like this chain needs to find consistency before they offer additional passes.

I do wish Six Flags offered some new pass that was like a bunch of 1 day tickets for one season to each park. So you could visit each pass once.

From Michael Owen on September 16, 2011 at 4:13 AM
How about an annual pass, which is substantially cheaper than the top-end pass at Disney, which offers weekends and holidays but not weekdays.

This way families can get to theme parks at a convenient time, for a convenient price, and Disney still makes a bundle from it.

From 216.64.80.82 on September 17, 2011 at 8:26 AM
I bumped up to an annual pass for Sea World and Aquatica because it offered free parking ($15 per park) and wasn't that much more than the Florida Resident Fun Card.

As for CityWalk Orlando, I no longer go there. That $3 parking fee after 6pm really ticked me off. I told our Universal rep that they seriously needed to rethink that policy because it would really annoy the locals who liked to go there for dinner, the movies etc and their response was "but it's only $3..." I told her that that wasn't my point, that this was just nickle and diming us. She just shrugged. So now, I spend my dinner/ movie money over at Downtown Disney.

I have a hospitality pass to Disney (one visit to each park for self and a guest) and use that but if I was going to get a bigger ticket, I'd either go for the Seasonal pass or buy a Non Expiration 10 Day Base pass. Food and Wine..yummm...

Now if only they'd do a resident pass for the MNSSHP or MVMCP..that $60 kills you for 4 people.

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