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Published: Saturday, 9/7/2002

Let it ride, park says of season pass price

Coaster fans take the plunge on Millennium Force as Cedar Point puts plans on track for next year. Coaster fans take the plunge on Millennium Force as Cedar Point puts plans on track for next year.

SANDUSKY - Like last year, Cedar Point amusement park will offer customers a season pass at a low price - $85 - even though its parent firm has said that high season-pass sales prior to this year hurt its per-visitor spending this summer at its six amusement parks nationwide.

Brian Witherow, head of investor relations for Cedar Fair LP, conceded that the large number of season passes sold before this summer contributed to flat per-capita spending this year. Such spending includes admission, food, and souvenir purchases made at each park.

While the season passes played a part, other factors included more people's going to Soak City and the company's other water parks, taking business from the amusement park, Mr. Witherow said.

Cedar Point's discounted season pass is $14 off this year's regular price. A year ago the postseason price was the same but was just $6 less than the regular fee then. The discounted passes are available through Nov. 15.

Tim Conder, an analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis, said encouraging people to buy passes now is probably smart, even if it might hurt gate sales next season.

``The thing is: you don't know how many times a person would use that pass and how that will change the overall mix of revenue,'' he said.

Mr. Witherow said Cedar Point will try to boost visitor spending.

“It's not all admissions revenue by any means. Fifty percent of per capita is spending in the park,” he said. “So that means if we get some hot merchandise items next year or desirable food items, we'll see people spending more money inside the park.''

Further, the Lake Erie park will have a major new attraction - the exact nature of which has not been disclosed - and that could provide opportunities for T-shirt and photo sales, he said. Plus, it should boost attendance, he added.

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