In this week's poll, we ask whether all theme park attractions should be included with the price of admission.
There has been a lot of hype recently about the newly opened Dinosaurs Alive! attraction at Kings Island but this hasn't been solely related to the more than 50 animatronic dinosaurs that live there. The $5 upcharge that guests must pay to experience the attraction has caused a lot of controversy amongst theme park goers, and it is this that is the subject of this week's debate - should theme parks install upcharge attractions?
It is easy to hear the word "upcharge" and instantly climb onto your soapbox and start ranting about how unfair this is after paying the admission price and gas to get the park, plus souvenirs, and food, and ice cream and...the list goes on. I began thinking about the other upcharge attractions located in top theme parks, the reasons why the parks opted to charge extra for them and whether they are right or wrong in doing so.
Arcade and "funfair-style" attractions, for example penalty shoot-outs, shooting galleries and "aqua balls" are the usual types of attraction that feature upcharges in theme parks. Several Disney parks host paid-for shooting galleries in their Frontierland areas, and arcade and penalty shoot-out attractions are located at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park amongst others. The AquaJets at Thorpe Park are popular on warm sunny days, with excited children queuing up with not-so-excited parents (who face having to reach into their pockets to part with more of their cash).
The YES argument
So what are the possible reasons behind upcharge attractions? Could it be to enable parks to install more new rides or shows than would otherwise be affordable? Kings Island opened Dinosaurs Alive! this year, but its main new addition was the WindSeeker spinning tower ride (included with standard admission). You may argue that it seems unlikely that the park would have opened both if Dinosaurs Alive! was also included in the standard admission price.
The use of upcharges could be a way for admission prices to be kept slightly lower on the whole, because guests have a choice over whether to pay extra or not. This point seems reasonable but anyone visiting Kings Island with a child is going to seriously struggle convincing them that they can't see the massive dinosaurs because it isn't included in the standard admission price...that's right, I hear tears and screaming too! For a family of four, that's $20 - tears and screaming may not only come from the children!
The NO argument
At Kings Island, the free SpongeBob 3D attraction has been replaced with the Dinosaurs Alive! 3D movie, which also carries an extra charge of $4 or $2 if combined with the main attraction. Therefore, a previously free offering has been replaced with an upcharge attraction. Sister park Cedar Point is also opening a Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit in 2012, and in doing so is taking out its long-standing free Paddlewheel Excursions attraction to make way for the beasts! Is this simply profiteering?
Are theme parks adding upcharge attractions out of the goodness of their hearts to give us more attractions each year, or is it just a money making scheme to make extra profit from visitors who they know will be forced to pay anyway?
Should theme parks install upcharge attractions?
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