When I went to Six Flags Magic Mountain, I only had a day to do all of it, so I bought a Flash Pass. I would not have enjoyed my day without it.
Last year, they had a great package that combined multiple-night tickets with the express. We went more nights, had express every night, and paid less than we had in previous years. Hope they bring that option back this year!
Did want to add one thing about SeaWorld's quick queue option.... I don't know how much it costs, but unless you're going at a horribly busy time of year, I couldn't see the point in ever buying it. I was just there last week -- walked right on to Manta in the single rider line and only waited about 20 minutes for Atlantis with my mom.... Guess it would depend on your situation.
I've had this opinion on this sort of thing for years, especially since Universal introduced it. I recall going up to the cart, being like, 'Oh, well, twenty, thirty bucks might be worth it to guarantee going front of the line on everything.'. Then I saw the price was something in the range of $60, and I laughed and walked off.
At Busch Gardens they had a deal where you could pay $5 to skip the line at any time. So when we were running late, we put down the $5 and skipped one of the bigger lines. I would not have paid $25 for a pass, but if things were more crowded, I could see making 5 individual $5 decisions to skip lines.
You also have to wait until you used your first one to collect another. Basically, you spend a whole day at the park.
I voted yes because I am sure we will hit SFGA at the end of Summer and Busch Gardens on our vacation, I will purchase them at both parks.
My wife and I live in Orlando, so we don't wait in long lines, period. If the park is too busy we take a lap around the park, get a treat and have lunch, then go home.
We have been Premier Passholders at USF and I really love the after 4 Express Pass feature on the pass, but honestly after 4PM most days of the year (not including summer months) you can walk right up to the front of the queue on almost every ride at USF or IOA, so the price of the pass is a little steep for that feature.
If we were travelling on vacation, I would probably purchase express passes IF we were limited on time. We have helped many people plan their vacations here and the first thing we always ask (in a PC way) is "what do you have more of: Time or Money?". That kind of dictates how to plan. BTW if you answer "neither" to that question our advice is to stay at home and save until you have one or the other!
I had a miserable time at Universal Studios in Florida because of this "feature". Lines were atrocious because rich folks could afford to go right in.
What the parks are trying (I think) is try to have people stand in line as less as possible. Thats good for the guests (but I´m sure they couldn´t care less) but it´s even better for them because guests will have more time to shop and eat crappy overpriced food.When a park is turning into a class system where the hard working client who has to save his money all year to get a few days to an already very expensive themepark to get a lesser experiance to the high roller who can smak down a lot of money to skip the lines I would feel not very happy and I would never come again. If I could pay it would I do it, no, I would go when the crowds are thin, like I do now.
That's a pretty limiting statement. I admire your resolve, and I'm doing my best so far to stick with my aversion to these plans. Before too long that statement will mean the only parks you'll go to will be tiny, local, family parks. Even places like Kennywood and Dollywod...which are not part of the Disney/Cedar Fair/Universal/Six Flags spectrum..have introduced some form of paid line cutting.
This removes any incentive for the park operator to bring up extra ride capacity on busy days. They now have a financial incentive to keep the regular lines moving as slowly as possible -- because some riders will pay extra to skip that slow-moving line.
I've heard it said that IQ's drop about 10 to 20 points when people get into an amusement park or theme park -- this is confirmation of that observation.
The absolute worst though in my mind was how Universal Orlando does "Rip Ride Rocket". It's bad enough that we wait for 45 minutes while others get 2-minute fast-path to the ride, but then the only way you get to ride the front is if you paid extra. That sucks. If I want to wait an extra 20 minutes for the front, I should be allowed to do so. Restricting front-of-the-ride to extra-paying guests really pissed me off.
And I don't think parks want their guests being upset or feeling mistreated.
I'm not a fan of Busch Garden's method of handling the fast pass -- they have a reserved seat, it's not the front, but it means a row often goes off without anybody sitting in it -- unless the 3rd-row people get smart, and sneak over into it (I often choose the 3rd row for that reason, because it will move faster).
I think in this case you're thinking of the single-rider line, which is open to anyone. And from what I've observed, the Rockit staff are very good about filling the cars from the main line and only sitting single riders when there is a legitimate hole. I've done single-rider on that coaster twice and, honestly, the first time I did it I think it would have been quicker to just wait in the regular line.
You wrote: "This [paid access] removes any incentive for the park operator to bring up extra ride capacity on busy days. They now have a financial incentive to keep the regular lines moving as slowly as possible..."
Amen. I have already seen this lousy business practice in use at Worlds of Fun. It is one reason I likely will not be back to my local park this summer (the other reason is that, frankly, three good coasters do not a good park make - can you say, "stationary carnival?").
Anyway, I am fine with parks rewarding those who want to pay more, but they should not punish the rest of us.
I do plan on going on the behind the scenes coaster tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg on my next visit, which comes with passes to bypass the line on all their big coasters. I'm more interested in the tour, but am more than willing to suffer through skipping the lines on the others.
I also would have voted "no" if the question had been: "Would you stay at a theme park resort hotel that charged you a daily fee to park?"
We usually go during off time of the year, march april, or sept oct so the wait is min at best.. least year in sept at harry potter ride we walked almost all the way to the castle before we got to the "line". It was nice to slow down in the castle to see all the stuff that is going on so it worked out nice.. now during the summer HELL NO... would not go as its way to busy.
my kids are on a different school schedule than most other school in the east coast so we have little wait at most places.. longest was like 15 min at forbidden journey ride. sign out front was saying 45 min.
we do tend to see more UK students on holiday during that time so we are talking with them in line which is neat.. one time i ask a couple on their first trip to the states how they like the colonies,, after a pause they gushed WONDERFUL...