CEDAR POINT Enlarge
Cedar Point amusement park will offer customers a $7 savings on each gate admission this year -- but only if customers check out its Web site prior to visiting.
The popular Sandusky attraction updated its Web site Wednesday with its 2012 ticket prices, and for the first time, Cedar Point has two prices for a one-day adult ticket -- $44.99 if bought online, and $51.99 at the gate.
Last year, Cedar Point charged $49.99 at the gate.
Online tickets are available now at www.cedarpoint.com, and the two-price strategy will be used through the 2012 regular season, which starts May 12 and ends on Labor Day, said Robin Innes, a Cedar Point spokesman.
"When people go to the Web site there will be additional offers once the season starts," Mr. Innes said. "But this is the first time we've offered the ability to buy a discounted ticket before the park opens. We know there's people always interested in receiving as much value as possible, so this is an opportunity to save early.
"Overall, our expenses are increasing and we felt the need to pay for our operating costs through an increase," Mr. Innes said.
The park also increased the price of its one-day junior/senior ticket by $2 to $26.99, but unlike the adult ticket, it is the same price online and at the gate.
The $2 at-the-gate increase is unrelated to Cedar Point's Dinosaurs Alive! attraction, which is debuting this year and will have a separate $5 admission after customers already have entered the park through a regular gate admission.
The cost of the $1 million animatronic Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit is being borne by the Cedar Point's parent firm, Cedar Fair LP, which is based in Sandusky.
While the two-price plan is new for Cedar Point, the park is not alone in launching such a strategy. Similar two-price plans were launched this week at four of the other 10 amusement parks owned by Cedar Fair, although Mr. Innes said each park chooses its own pricing methods.
Ticket-price savings at the other parks are greater than those at Cedar Point, which is Cedar Fair's flagship park, and range between $10 and $17. Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., of Cincinnati, said the two-price trend has developed the last few years.
"What has happened is the parks have become more familiar with the Internet and as the consumer uses it more, it's driven a lot more sales," he said.
Mr. Speigel said Kings Island near Cincinnati, which is owned by Cedar Fair, removed most of its ticket booths a few years ago because more people were buying tickets online as a way to cut down on standing in long lines to buy tickets.
Also, selling more tickets online allows parks to get away from offering discounts through third parties. "They no longer have to pay a commission or fee. They can give the reduction to the guest directly and not share that with anyone else," Mr. Speigel said.
Gary Slade, publisher of industry newsletter Amusement Today, said the two-price strategy is a good way to drive more traffic to Cedar Point's Web site.
"I think it's a smart move on their part," Mr. Slade said. "I think it's their way of kind of becoming more electronically savvy and taking advantage of how you can do more on electronic sites.
"The end result winner in this is the guest or consumer because now they've got a guaranteed way to save money before they ever enter the park," he said.
Contact Jon Chavez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6128.