Six Flags Membership vs. Season Passes: Is one the better choice for you?
Published: May 11, 2014 at 2:45 PM
In its newest attempt to get your hips pushing through a turnstile, Six Flags unveiled a “membership” program. The pitch: Low monthly payments that keep the cost of a season pass manageable. This is by no means a new idea in the theme park industry. Before my wife started working at Disneyland, her annual pass was paid for monthly and I believe (though I may be mis-remembering) that Six Flags has offered something similar in the past.
The catch: The membership isn’t simply a payment plan. It’s a 12-month commitment, then beyond that, Six Flags will keep on billing you until you tell it to stop. You’re locked in for a calendar year and then you are free to cancel at any time. The real catch? How many Six Flags are open 12 months a year?
That low monthly payment won’t hurt a bit in May, June or July when the park is open seven days a week and the uses are a-plenty; but how are guests going to feel in February when they quite simply can’t go to their local theme park? Yeah, that’s probably going to upset a few people.
Here’s a breakdown of what you’re getting with a Six Flags membership (standard):
- Free admission to every Six Flags park in the country (day tickets are usually in the $45-50 range)
- 15 percent off retail purchases of $15 or more
- Free Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park admission
- Park-picked days to bring a friend for free (yes, these days do get extremely crowded)
- Lots of coupons of marginal value
- If you buy a gold membership (I did) parking is free. Price breakdown below.
The standard membership at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (my “home” park) runs $6.58 a month if you purchase between 1-3 passes. If you increase your quantity to four or more passes (clever girl) they drop the price to $5.65 a month. For the gold membership you pay $8.75 ($6.49 for 4+) and get the a few additional benefits. The prices quoted above are after you’ve paid a $20 refundable security deposit. You can pay a dollar more a month and avoid making this payment; the deposit is returned after you cancel your membership (so long as you’ve kept it current for a year, of course).
Some of the additional benefits of getting a gold membership (at Fiesta Texas):
- Parking is free at every Six Flags park! This is awesome! Parking runs anywhere from $10 to the still-beating heart of a close friend, so right off the bat this makes the gold membership worth it in my opinion.
- No blockout dates (regular passes are blocked out October 18, 25 and December 20-21)
- An extra bring a friend free ticket (still on select days)
These features are identical to what is offered with the season passes, so the only meaningful difference is that the price is paid over 12 months instead of in a lump sum. Again, it’s not a payment plan. No doubt Six Flags’ plan of attack here is much the same as other companies offering a membership: They don’t want you to cancel. On May 4 next year I’ll be able to cancel my membership -- but they’re hoping I won’t -- whether that be thanks to a great experience at Six Flags parks this year or (more likely) because I forget to cancel it.
Benefits and costs for each membership vary from park to park. At Magic Mountain, the gold pass runs you $10 a month and includes admission to Hurricane Harbor -- the standard one-park pass is just $6.08 a month. How a regular pass at a Six Flags in southern California is cheaper than one in San Antonio, I don’t know. I guess it’s balanced out by parking at Magic Mountain costing an extra $10, or something.
There’s value to be had in Six Flags’ newest season pass offering, but you’re not going to be having much fun when you pay $9 for a service you can’t use come February. Six Flags is hoping your use come summertime will help ease the pain of the payments through the winter.