A blast from the past with the world's fastest coaster

April 29, 2019, 10:56 AM · When Six Flags opened its original theme park in Arlington, Texas, it featured something radical for the industry — a "pay one price" admission ticket instead of the pay as you go admission system that every other park had been using, including Disneyland.

Eventually, the entire industry came around to the Six Flags model, with even Disney abandoning its A-E ticket system in favor of new "passports." But as the theme park industry continues to look for innovations that will help boost attendance and revenue, it's inevitable that some old ideas will return along the way.

So check out the latest offer from Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, home of the world's fastest roller coaster, the Ferrari F1-themed Formula Rossa.

For Ramadan, the park is offering a "Free View" deal, with free admission to the park on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from May 9 through June 3, the first day of Eid in the United Arab Emirates this year.

Want to go on Formula Rossa or some of the park's other rides? That's where we find the blast from the past. Ferrari World is offering a pay as you go deal to get on its attractions.

Options range from a one-ride pass for AED60 to an all-ride pass that allows one entry on each attraction for AED100 (US$23).

It's an interesting play to essentially discount the park experience for people who might be unwilling to pay full price to visit during a time of year when Muslims are called to fast during the day. (That's why this is an evenings-only offer.)

But it's also an interesting proposition for other parks around the world looking for ways to boost attendance. Find a marginal attendance period and switch to a pay-as-you-go model that might get more people in the door at a time when they have been less likely to visit. Then, once they are there, bank on them spending on those rides as well as food and souvenirs.

Parks have effectively extended their seasons with after-hours and special events, such as Halloween haunts and Christmas festivities. But maybe an old idea like pay-as-you-go nights or days might help parks, as well.

Replies (4)

April 29, 2019 at 2:33 PM

Blackpool pleasure beach is another option for those who want to see how the old timers had it. You can buy just a ticket without the ride wristband, and buy tokens to pay as you go... but unless you really just want to get a single credit, it’s not going to financially worthwhile.

April 29, 2019 at 2:49 PM

Valleyfair in Minnesota had the half price option available a few years ago. We were there on the last day of Ramadan, and unbeknownst to us at the time, thousands of Muslims in the area flock to the park near sunset on that last day to take advantage of the lower price and to end their fast with a variety of food and sweets.

April 30, 2019 at 11:51 AM

I don't think this concept would work in the US because of parks' reliance on season passes. Fewer and fewer guests going to parks enter through a single day admission, making the audience for a pay-per-ride event extremely small compared to the typical day with the park filled with pass holders. As US parks seek new streams of revenue from "Memberships", perhaps they will add new tiers that limit the rides that guests can enjoy, opening up the opportunity to add a pay-per-ride option.

I've been to three pay-per-ride parks in my life - Kennywood (before it changed to standard admission), Knoebels, and Nickelodeon Universe, and every time, I always got the unlimited ride pass. I've also been to Tivoli, which allows for guests to pay to enter or enter with an unlimited ride pass, but does not offer another incremental riding option. If anything, I think US parks could move to that option to allow the older guests not interested in rides to save some money if they don't plan on riding, but want to join their family or simply stroll around the park and take in the ambiance.

May 6, 2019 at 12:09 AM

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