Theme Parks Split on Summer Pricing

With summer here, theme parks and other youth-oriented businesses have 3 months to make hay. (Technically, hay gets made in the fall, but it’s a small discrepancy.) CNN reports that Cedar Point amusement parks has dropped admission prices and many concession prices. They’re even offering cotton candy for a quarter. Meanwhile, Six Flags continues to hike admission prices, up $11 in New Jersey to $60.

Which approach is right? Both could be right, or wrong. Cedar Point’s market is the Midwest, while Six Flags New Jersey draws from one of the most affluent states in the union. The question is not which approach is right, but what methodology and data did the respective parks use to make their decision? Cedar Point’s attendance was down last year. Was price the culprit? A combination of factors? What kind of demographic information and transactional information do the parks use to set prices and promotions? What information would they like to have?

Also, theme parks offer extensive coupons and other discounts– meaning that the effective price of admission may be considerably lower than the official price. I’d guess that the higher the prices, the bigger the average discount, but I don’t know.

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