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Published: Saturday, 5/24/2008

Cedar Point starts early in offering special deals

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

In an unusual move that may be a sign of the economic times, Cedar Point this week announced three admission-ticket promotions to lure visitors to visit the amusement park this summer.

And the Sandusky park isn't alone. Six Flags St. Louis amusement park announced yesterday it was reducing its gate admission by $10 effective immediately to help its visitors cope with rising prices.

Such moves are unusual this early in the season, said Paul Ruben, North American editor of Park World magazine.

"I think they're as aware as anyone else of the rising fuel prices," he said. "They're trying to offset that and give people a reason to come to their parks. Everybody has to provide inducements one way or another this season."

At Cedar Point, the premier amusement park of Cedar Fair LP in Sandusky, the first promotion begins today and runs through Monday, offering customers an all-you-can-eat meal for $2 above the regular $42.95 admission price. The offer is only available online at cedarpoint.com/deals.

The other two deals at the park, which have June 15 deadlines, offer a second $10 admission for use later in the season if a regular admission is purchased, and a $40 saving for anyone buying a four-ticket family package. All the deals are available through Cedar Point's Web site.

Rick Munarriz, an analyst with the Motley Fool online investing site, said the promotions aren't that unusual, but the timing is.

"It's surprising to see so much promotion in May, but they want to eliminate the doubt," he said. "It's better to do something now in May when you can still do something about [attendance] than wait until later when the season's almost over."

From a financial perspective, Mr. Munarriz said, the deals don't hurt Cedar Point much. "Most people going into the park aren't paying the retail price anyway. They have these coupons on cans and such," he said.

With the rising gas prices, the amusement parks have to find a way to make their product more attractive, he added.

"If you're a food-a-holic, they come up with the food deal; if you're a park hopper, they'll offer you a second trip at a discount," Mr. Munarriz said. "The key is to get them in the park. Once you get them inside, anything is possible."

Parks like Cedar Point draw from a 300-mile radius, but the visitors who live 300 miles away are not the concern, Mr. Ruben said. It is the visitors who live 50 miles away and visit more than once who are the key, he added.

"I think this is a good marketing direction for Cedar Point to take," he said.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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