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The pros and cons of a park offering a fast pass


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Hey guys so I'm writing a piece about this and thought it would be fun to have a discussion. I saw a lot of people saturday on facebook and twitter commenting that they felt Fast Pass was contributing to creating kind of a miserable experience for a lot of people at KI (and parks in general). I've seen this topic discussed in other threads (where it wasn't necessarily relevant) before, and it sometimes became a bit contentious so I was hoping to have an actual civil conversation about it here. Personally, I'd really like to hear from both sides and I'd like to suggest a few rules here:

1.) We are all aware that from a monetary perspective it is better for the park itself to have something like fast pass. The benefits from a business perspective to charging up to an extra $150 per person on top of abmission are obvious, and not really worth discussing. Please keep the discussion to whether or not fast pass is good or bad for the guest.

2.) Please keep it civil. No personal judgements.

Thanks guys! Looking forward to it.

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Someone like me who travels a long distance to visit a park I like fastlane. If I am driving 5+ hours to visit a park I wanna ride everything. I try to visit 5ish new parks a year and I want to get all the coaster credits. I recently visited Wild Adventures and they did not offer a fast pass and I missed 2 credits. 

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There's two sides to this coin.

Local guests, or guests on a limited budget: It's bad. Lines for the general public are much slower.

Out of town guests: It's good. If I'm visiting a park that I may never get to visit again, I'm buying the Fast Lane. Especially if the park is going to be crowded. I didn't come all that way to miss out on some rides because I ran out of time.

Ideally I believe it hinders the overall guest experience, but I see where they can have their place. I'd say keep them, but limit them much more than they are.

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I get every Friday and Saturday off and I am almost 2 hours away from King's Island and 3 hours from Cedar Point. I have all season all chain Fast Lane. Without it I would not be able to enjoy the park on the weekends and would likely not be going near as much as I do. That would mean a lot less spending on merchandise, beer, food not on the mealplan, lockers etc. Plus the money that goes to businesses outside the park like hotels.  I certainly would not have visited Cedar Point twice last fall without it. Or on Sept Friday the 13th 2019 the first night of Haunt.

On the other hand I went to Holiday World for Holiwood Nights last year and on Saturday during regular park hours coasters all had a 2 hour wait. The park was only open to the public from 10am to 6pm. They started closing off quick queue lines at around 4pm.That park does not offer fastlane. Now if I had driven 5 hours to go visit that park on a Saturday only to get 3-4 rides in total I would not be happy and likely would have never went back. Thankfully I was there for an event and had plenty of ERT.

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Interesting responses so far. I definitely see where everyone is coming from and I can relate, especially when you're talking about driving 3 hours+. At Cedar Point I almost feel like you really need it sometimes in order to have a good time.

I'm really curious if anyone has any input on the negative impacts it might have to the overall guest experience at the park, particularly as it pertains to paying guests who cannot afford fast pass. At times I've noticed that lines for popular attractions will move incredibly slowly due to groups of guests with FLP looping around over and over. Another thing that I've noticed is Ive started to see that oftentimes since they've started constantly assigning seats they put all the FLP people in the front, so by the time they get to the standby line people are unable to experience the ride in those seats. Thoughts?

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I get put in seats at random as a FLP holder. It is not any particular row. I prefer the back row anyways over the front. I find maybe the only downside to fastlane is I am a lot less likely to get my favorite seat. Because prior to Covid I was used to fill empty seats. That means left side on Mystic when right side has the most airtime for example. I am a single rider so maybe its different for people who have fastlane with friends or family. I get more rides with fastlane and I know with more rides sooner or later I will get that seat I want. If its a new ride to me like Orion last year I will go out of my way to request one front and one back row ride but I don't like to push it.

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It makes a lot of money for the chain. They need to build coasters and stuff to draw crowds, but a lot of those “nice to have” upgrades like painted buildings, pavers, and renovations stem from the fact that the company has a lot more cash flow. FL is a big reason why. 

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I used FLP on Saturday when I went.  I did get some looks every once in a while and was able to hit 20 rides.  I could have had many many more if I wanted but thought it would be entirely disrespectful to marathon "Orion" on a day like that. I wanted to badly but decided against doing something like that on a VERY busy day. 

 

I usually go to Kings Island during the week and never buy FLP or FL because it's never needed.  However, I almost always buy FLP if I go on a weekend. It certainly has it's pro's and con's. Overall I think it's balances out most of the time as the park isn't as busy as Saturday even 90% of it's operating season. 

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7 minutes ago, Diamondbackfanatic said:

I used FLP on Saturday when I went.  I did get some looks every once in a while and was able to hit 20 rides.  I could have had many many more if I wanted but thought it would be entirely disrespectful to marathon "Orion" on a day like that. I wanted to badly but decided against doing something like that on a VERY busy day. 

 

I usually go to Kings Island during the week and never buy FLP or FL because it's never needed.  However, I almost always buy FLP if I go on a weekend. It certainly has it's pro's and con's. Overall I think it's balances out most of the time as the park isn't as busy as Saturday even 90% of it's operating season. 

Thats funny lol. I very very rarely buy a FLP, but on the couple occasions I have it's been glorious, but I've also felt a little bad about just walking by everyone waiting in line lol. I know what you mean.

 

 

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We have Platinum All Season. As far as analysis, it has changed Cedar Point I think more than any other park. With their complicated and temperamental coaster lineup, combined with the rain and wind downtime major rides there have, you really need it to get a full experience if you only have 1 or 2 days. It does create haves and have nots, especially considering that it can cost $150 on the busiest days.  We get our passes and add ons through Wonderland (our home park) but even so the cost is very high. 

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Fast Lane and the like are only what I would consider to be negatively impactful to the average guest at a few parks around the country - Cedar Point and the Disney parks leading the way.  I would argue on the "average" Kings Island day Fast Lane is really more of a nuisance.  The problem is that when the park is moderately busy or busier then it becomes a real impediment to the standby line at the popular rides, particularly at Orion, Diamondback and The Beast. 

The reason that it's an issue at those rides is because they're allowing half of each train to be filled with Fast Lane guests (I'll leave aside the issue of them receiving the first choice of seats, as that's a separate issue).  It's clear that management is trying to artificially suppress the Fast Lane waits at the popular rides to make the Fast Laners happy.  The problem with that is that the overwhelming majority of Fast Lane usage is at a handful of rides, which creates even more demand for the stuff everyone wants to ride.  I would argue that the best thing for everyone involved would be for Kings Island to raise the price of Fast Lane on weekends ($75 FL/$90 FLP is too inexpensive for weekends, and especially Saturdays IMO) and/or limit the volume of Fast Laners allowed on each train to a more reasonable number.  Cutting that Fast Lane allotment each train from half down to a third would make a significant difference to standby waits.

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Ten years ago I swore off Kings Island because of the fast pass. It was an Saturday in October. We were there for 12 hours. I got to ride four total rides. After waiting in line for more than two hours to ride diamond back I saw the same group of 8 in the Fast Lane ride DB four times before I did. 

I drove three hours to get there. I ate sandwiches in my car I had packed. I didn’t have money to buy a fast pass. It was a waste of a day.

I now live 5 miles from Kings Island. I have a season pass. We either go after work on week days or early on weekends. If the crowd is large we leave.  I feel sorry for people that don’t have that luxury. 
 

I personally think there should be some sort of limit imposed. Like one ride per hour. 

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This is my first year buy Platinum Season Fast Lane. Up until this year, I had only ever gotten it for one day at KI and one at CP. Due to my work schedule, I am unable to go on weekdays as I do not get much PTO. This means that if I am driving an hour and a half to go on the weekend, I need to make sure I have fun and get some rides in. Nobody wants to spend 10 hours at the park on their day off and get 5 rides in. 


I used to dislike people using FastLane but now I understand why it exists. Some people just cannot make it during weekdays or after 5 on weekdays. They need to find a way to keep those people coming to the parks and because of FastLane, I have spent over $2,000 on their parks with only 1 visit in this year. That money is money they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This also does not include all the drinks/ food/ souvenirs we will buy in their parks this year. I think FastLane is a pretty big necessity to uphold their current business model and prices.

 

 I also saw someone suggest raising the price of FL but I really don't think that is a good idea. Someone else already mentioned not being able to afford FL and I am sure that happens a lot. Raising the price will only make it harder for the general public to buy, but the people that always purchase them still will no matter how much you raise it (within reason of course).

 

I'm definitely not opposed to a time restriction on how quickly you can come back to the same ride, but of course that creates a logistics problem.

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I think Fast Pass should be re-worked.  I would like to see it be allowed for 1 ride per day.  This way it keep people from marathoning and still ensures that everyone get's to ride that bought one.  They do it with the dining plan, seems like they could do it with this.  The person at the front of the line could verify you had a pass (wrist band) and the person at the end could scan you in (in case the ride breaks down or you get out of line). 

Going to a park and seeing someone ride 5 times while you're in line for 2 hours just because they threw money at the park is a deterrent for people to buy season passes.  I understand people come from a long way away to come to the park so maybe the price of such an offering could be tweaked.  This could also be expanded/used for the Haunt as well. 

They could even put a 1 time use code for the new attraction attached to every season pass sold as a perk.  They could also allow 1/2 price for season pass holders on slow days, etc.  

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9 hours ago, gad198 said:

Fast Lane and the like are only what I would consider to be negatively impactful to the average guest at a few parks around the country - Cedar Point and the Disney parks leading the way.  I would argue on the "average" Kings Island day Fast Lane is really more of a nuisance.  The problem is that when the park is moderately busy or busier then it becomes a real impediment to the standby line at the popular rides, particularly at Orion, Diamondback and The Beast. 

The reason that it's an issue at those rides is because they're allowing half of each train to be filled with Fast Lane guests (I'll leave aside the issue of them receiving the first choice of seats, as that's a separate issue).  It's clear that management is trying to artificially suppress the Fast Lane waits at the popular rides to make the Fast Laners happy.  The problem with that is that the overwhelming majority of Fast Lane usage is at a handful of rides, which creates even more demand for the stuff everyone wants to ride.  I would argue that the best thing for everyone involved would be for Kings Island to raise the price of Fast Lane on weekends ($75 FL/$90 FLP is too inexpensive for weekends, and especially Saturdays IMO) and/or limit the volume of Fast Laners allowed on each train to a more reasonable number.  Cutting that Fast Lane allotment each train from half down to a third would make a significant difference to standby waits.

It's an interesting that your experience is them filling half a train with FL people. To me, it seems that different line separators and different rides allot a different amount of FL people to each train. I had a ride on Orion this weekend that had 3 FL people on it yet one on Banshee that had 10. I have never seen them fill half a train with FL but I definitely don't doubt you. I could easily see that happening on FoF or BLSC, something with limited capacity. 

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1 minute ago, MrSourNinja said:

This is my first year buy Platinum Season Fast Lane. Up until this year, I had only ever gotten it for one day at KI and one at CP. Due to my work schedule, I am unable to go on weekdays as I do not get much PTO. This means that if I am driving an hour and a half to go on the weekend, I need to make sure I have fun and get some rides in. Nobody wants to spend 10 hours at the park on their day off and get 5 rides in. 


I used to dislike people using FastLane but now I understand why it exists. Some people just cannot make it during weekdays or after 5 on weekdays. They need to find a way to keep those people coming to the parks and because of FastLane, I have spent over $2,000 on their parks with only 1 visit in this year. That money is money they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. This also does not include all the drinks/ food/ souvenirs we will buy in their parks this year. I think FastLane is a pretty big necessity to uphold their current business model and prices.

 

 I also saw someone suggest raising the price of FL but I really don't think that is a good idea. Someone else already mentioned not being able to afford FL and I am sure that happens a lot. Raising the price will only make it harder for the general public to buy, but the people that always purchase them still will no matter how much you raise it (within reason of course).

 

I'm definitely not opposed to a time restriction on how quickly you can come back to the same ride, but of course that creates a logistics problem.

I see your point but still think that if they can allow me a meal every 4 hours or drink every 15 minutes with the meal plan, then they can pull this off with the Fast Lane as well.  Another thing they should do is allow the app to show you how much time you have left until your next meal or drink.  I think they have the logistics to pull it off, they just need to find a financial reason to do so.

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1 minute ago, robintodd said:

I see your point but still think that if they can allow me a meal every 4 hours or drink every 15 minutes with the meal plan, then they can pull this off with the Fast Lane as well.  Another thing they should do is allow the app to show you how much time you have left until your next meal or drink.  I think they have the logistics to pull it off, they just need to find a financial reason to do so.

They definitely could make it happen if they wanted to. I am guessing, since it hasn't happened yet, there isn't many people complaining about it.

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8 minutes ago, robintodd said:

I think Fast Pass should be re-worked.  I would like to see it be allowed for 1 ride per day.  This way it keep people from marathoning and still ensures that everyone get's to ride that bought one.  They do it with the dining plan, seems like they could do it with this.  The person at the front of the line could verify you had a pass (wrist band) and the person at the end could scan you in (in case the ride breaks down or you get out of line). 

Going to a park and seeing someone ride 5 times while you're in line for 2 hours just because they threw money at the park is a deterrent for people to buy season passes.  I understand people come from a long way away to come to the park so maybe the price of such an offering could be tweaked.  This could also be expanded/used for the Haunt as well. 

They could even put a 1 time use code for the new attraction attached to every season pass sold as a perk.  They could also allow 1/2 price for season pass holders on slow days, etc.  

Personally, 1 ride per day is too little to entice me to go and buy passes and FL. With the amount of fast passes in circulation, me riding Orion 6 times in a day is going to have a negligible effect on peoples wait time in the regular line, yet it really increases the quality of my time at the park and the likelyhood that I will return.

 

I think this weekend was especially bad for FL since no other CF park was open. This meant that anyone who was itching to get out that also had a PFL was probably at King's Island.

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1 hour ago, MrSourNinja said:

It's an interesting that your experience is them filling half a train with FL people. To me, it seems that different line separators and different rides allot a different amount of FL people to each train. I had a ride on Orion this weekend that had 3 FL people on it yet one on Banshee that had 10. I have never seen them fill half a train with FL but I definitely don't doubt you. I could easily see that happening on FoF or BLSC, something with limited capacity. 

They definitely were filling Banshee, Diamondback, and Orion with half- FL, half- regular line when I rode on Saturday.

I have no problem with FL in general, but I think they need to raise the price and sell fewer of them. That way it will still make the park money, and if you really want one you can get one. It probably doesn't matter outside of Saturdays but I think they should at least raise the FL price on Saturdays.

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After thinking further about it, this year is probably an anomaly as far as fast pass goes.  I'm sure many people bought the all season Fast Lane last year (considering it would be good for 2 years) and with the stimulus more people are buying fast pass this year when they visit.  I'm expecting fast pass lines to be longer than normal this year, but they will be back to normal next year.

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1 hour ago, MrSourNinja said:

Personally, 1 ride per day is too little to entice me to go and buy passes and FL. With the amount of fast passes in circulation, me riding Orion 6 times in a day is going to have a negligible effect on peoples wait time in the regular line, yet it really increases the quality of my time at the park and the likelyhood that I will return.

 

I think this weekend was especially bad for FL since no other CF park was open. This meant that anyone who was itching to get out that also had a PFL was probably at King's Island.

Maybe they tier it with one price for 1 time rides and another price for unlimited (like FP is now).  One thing is for sure I can see all parks going to a Flash Pass (like six flags) option in the future.  Basically you reserve a virtual place in line and get notified when it's your time to ride.  This means more people spending time and money around the park than being in line for 2+ hours.

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As someone who doesn't live that close to any park and has limited time off from work, I love the option of FL+... Some days the added value is worth the extra cost to me... Some days it's slow and it isn't worth it to me... Everyone gets to do their own math on that and make their own choice...

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These have been some really great responses so far folks.

I've been on the fence about Fast Pass for a little while. I kind of came into this thinking Fast Pass is something that's detrimental to the guest experience (once again, the financial benefit to the park is obvious, I'm essentially just focusing on the quality of the experience the park provides) and really kind of believed it would be better for the consumer if fast pass was done away with. However, I feel like I've talked to enough people on this topic  to know that at least in my experience not that many people would be in favor of this. I've actually been surprised how much people seem to like it now, since I remember when parks first started offering them the initial reaction skewed pretty negative.

On top of that though, I really do understand the benefits it has for people who aren't able to visit the park very often and have no choice but to plan trips on weekends. Cedar Point is one of my favorite places on the planet, but I'm all too aware of how easy it can be to end up having a miserable time there if the park is packed and you don't have a FLP. Also I mean, let's face it...it's a total blast to have one, despite the fact they really are very expensive and the few times I've had one I felt that guilt that comes with any kind of super frivolous purchase :lol:.

I do think they cause some pretty irritating problems when you're on the other side of the cattle pen though. As others have mentioned, they are mostly used on a select handful of the most popular rides (of course), and while I agree that it's generally not that big of a problem at Kings Island, I've witnessed more than a few situations where the standby line essentially stops moving entirely as you watch the same group lap you over and over. There are also some edge cases that can be a bit infuriating as well, like when it starts raining and everyone piles into Flight of Fear where you get to stand on the stairs by the UFO while the same 10 people ride again and again.

Here's my take: FLP is a good thing for both the park and the guests, but it has problems and could use some tweaks. Here are some suggestions for a revamped system, would love to hear your thoughts:

1.) FLP wrist bands would be scanned in the station. You can ride each ride up to 2 times in a 60-90? minute period. This will keep FLP guests moving through the park (rather than looping through one line over and over) while still providing them with good value. By the time you finish riding Orion, Banshee, MT, Diamondback, and The Beast you're probably good to go ahead and loop back around to Orion for instance (and if not you could probably just grab a quick ride on The Racer or something and then be good to go.)

2.) Another thing I've noticed in my conversations with people (as well as seeing it in the park) is that it seems there's some inconsistency in the way the line separators handle FLP. Some of the time I see them let more flp guests through than other times. Sometimes they front load the train with them, others are saying they just put them anywhere. If there's someone reading this that's worked as a line separator, I'd love to hear how this is supposed to work. I'm aware there are probably things about this I don't know. Either way, I think it might be good to try and create a little more consistency here.

Would also love to hear any other suggestions anyone has to balance the system a little better.

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I agree with the sentiment that front-of-the-line passes like Fast Lane are unpleasant for locals but a definite interest for out-of-town folks. Systems like FL are intrusive to the overall guest experience, but the trade off is that there is minimal overhead. People buy them and have a near-instantly improved park experience, but it's also extremely noticeable when you see the same people ride the ride 5 times while you stand, frustrated, in the standby queue.

I'm a huge fan of systems like Six Flags's Flash Pass instead. There are multiple tiers, and NONE of them guarantee you instant access to the rides. The base one has you wait just as long as everyone else, but you don't have to wait in the queue. The mid-level one reduces wait times by 50%, and you don't wait in the queue. The top-tier one reduces wait times by 90%, and you don't wait in the queue. If someone comes from out of town, the base level is affordable and offers a benefit but doesn't heap people into a front-of-the-line queue. If they're willing to shill out the dough for much faster access, they can, but it can be priced to keep it from becoming a common thing. I think it's a clever system, and I wish more parks would use it.

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FLP should be factored in to guests at Breakers.  Have them raise the price there a little more like a premier hotel at universal.

I normally buy flp when I take my one trip to cp yearly.  I don't go to my home park KI enough or want to ride the same rides over and over.  Plan on hitting KD and carowinds this summer but will hit them on a weekday.  Those parks are top heavy and don't feel like riding them over and over.  I am staying at a premier hotel at universal for a week so we will be taking advantage of the express passes there.

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I was there on Saturday and waited 3 hours in the Stand-by line for Orion.  2:35 pm -5:35 pm.  I did not have a problem with it 'per se', as I knew it would be long, but I was quite disappointed when I saw the way they were handling loading the trains.  The ride ops would fill a train with FL patrons, then the next train would be all Stand-by riders.  No wonder it took so long.  That is not the way to do it.  It should be a handful (4-8) FL riders per train, then the rest stand-by riders.  Doing it this way makes the wait times unbearable.  I was shocked at the amount of patrons in the FL line riding multiple times.

Also, the price needs to be at a cost where people really need to think about purchasing it.  If people throw down the money with no issues... Kings Island is not charging enough.  If the price was $200 you would have a shorter FP line and happier general admission patrons. Just my two cents.

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6 minutes ago, ROBBE1 said:

I was quite disappointed when I saw the way they were handling loading the trains.  The ride ops would fill a train with FL patrons, then the next train would be all Stand-by riders.  No wonder it took so long.  That is not the way to do it.  It should be a handful (4-8) FL riders per train, then the rest stand-by riders.  Doing it this way makes the wait times unbearable.  I was shocked at the amount of patrons in the FL line riding multiple times.

Yeah this is exactly my issue with the whole thing. Some days (yes, even busy ones) they seem to handle it pretty well, and other days they prioritize FL to the point the standby queues just do. not. move. 

 

12 minutes ago, ROBBE1 said:

Also, the price needs to be at a cost where people really need to think about purchasing it.  If people throw down the money with no issues... Kings Island is not charging enough.  If the price was $200 you would have a shorter FP line and happier general admission patrons. Just my two cents.

I see where you're coming from on this, but I think FLP is an even bigger problem at CP where it costs like twice as much. As long as they're going to have FLP, I'm not sure I like the idea of putting it even further out of reach of the average guest than it already is. On this forum some people make it seem like it's no big deal since for a lot of us this is one of, if not the main hobby we care about, but for most families an extra $70-150 on top of admission per person is NOT a trivial expense. Above I suggested using some kind of scanning system in order to limit FLP guests to a certain number of rides on an attraction per hour (or some other timeframe). I'm curious if you think that would help solve the problem at all?

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4 minutes ago, ldhudsonjr said:

Above I suggested using some kind of scanning system in order to limit FLP guests to a certain number of rides on an attraction per hour (or some other timeframe). I'm curious if you think that would help solve the problem at all?

I think that would be a nice enhancement, maybe only allowing the FL/FLP users 1 ride per hour.  That way they would have to ride some other attractions instead of spamming just one.

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My only issue with it is the number of FL people they let on each cycle. When they fill 1/2  or more of a train each time I think that is to much. 3 rows per cycle should be the limit. Granted I might feel different if I was standing in the FL queue. 

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Just now, IndyGuy4KI said:

My only issue with it is the number of FL people they let on each cycle. When they fill 1/2  or more of a train each time I think that is to much. 3 rows per cycle should be the limit. Granted I might feel different if I was standing in the FL queue. 

^^^What he said^^^  :-)

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