Amusement parks can be fun for kids and families! What a classic way to spend a summer day. Of course, a day at the park can be expensive for the family as well.
This edition of the Squirreling Gone Wild series will share a story of a friend of mine who discovered a way to maximize the return on his investment of time and money at the park. Just keep this in mind: don’t shoot the messenger who’s sharing this story, this wasn’t me:)
Anyway, first of all, let’s talk about the friend. He’s someone who likes to save a buck or two. I’ve known him a long time, but don’t see him as often in recent years since we’re both busier. Anyway, he’s a good guy – let’s establish that up front.
We were on the phone the recently catching up, and he started to tell me about his visit to a major amusement park earlier this year. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, but would like to take my own kids sometime in the future. So, I asked him what it costs to visit these days. He proceeded to tell me how expensive the park is, counting tickets, food, etc. Plus, they stayed multiple days as they made a vacation out of it. Needless to say, he shelled out a fair amount of money for this trip.
Then, he started laughing as he told me that he found a workaround for visiting the park that could save time and money, if someone had the guts to do it. The idea is to complain to customer service in order to board rides immediately.
Here’s how he figured this out. First, they had arranged for something called a fastpass, which apparently allows you to “reserve” a time window during the day in which you can visit a certain ride and stand in an express line. The way he described it, you could get fastpass at say, 11:00am for a certain ride. The fastpass will have a window of 1 hour later in the day, say 2:00pm to 3:00pm, where you could go back and have a shorter wait. For comparison, he indicated that if a ride’s normal line might be 45 minutes, the fastpass line might be 15 minutes. So, you end up saving time by scheduling your ride ahead of time.
So, they went to that ride at their allotted time, and got into the fastpass lane. They were excited to have a relatively short wait in this express line! Well, unfortunately as they got in line the ride wasn’t working. They didn’t get to go on that ride, even though they had planned around it with their fastpass scheduled time. Bummer, right?
The Customer Service Response
Well, he wasn’t happy about it. His next move was to go to see customer service and complain about it. Not something I would have even thought about, actually, but he went and did it. Lo and behold, they gave him some kind of special pass for immediate boarding on one other ride! So he got something for his family’s inconvenience, after all.
He went to another ride and bypassed the long line and boarded immediately with his new, special pass. He mentioned that it was great walking right on, bypassing not only the massive wait in the regular line, but also the shorter wait in the fastpass line. Essentially, he didn’t wait at all!
Then, he had a thought come immediately to his mind. Apparently, he liked the convnenience of immediate boarding so much that he went to complain to customer service again, saying that he was unable to board a ride. Now, this wasn’t exactly the case. He just wanted to board another ride without waiting.
So, he got the special immediate boarding pass and went to another ride. Later in the day, he did it again. Complain to customer service, then get immediate boarding on your next ride – that was his formula.
Then, the money saving aspect came into the conversation. He assessed that yes, one could cut out an extra day of visiting by compressing more rides into one day. Then, there’s no need to stay an extra day because you’ve experienced all the rides. You just have to complain a bunch of times, get immediate boarding passes, and get it all done in less time. That means one day less in the park, which means less money spent overall – including hotel, food, etc.
Savings by complaining: Hundreds of dollars and a day of your life!
So, would he do it again? No. The reality is that he only complained those few times I had mentioned above, and that’s it. He felt guilty about it, and didn’t think it set the best example for anyone. Plus, seeing everyone standing in the other two lines (regular long line and fastpass line) while he boarded immediately made him feel bad. He just got carried away in his enthusiasm. He just had the lightbulb go off in his head, got fired up, and took advantage. But he has a conscience and won’t do it again. Like I said, good guy.
That didn’t stop us from laughing about it though, and talking about the money savings opportunity that it presented:)
Two takeaways I had from this story:
- It seems like the park’s customer service might be pretty good. Kudos to them.
- Don’t actually do this. Rather, be honest.
My Questions for You:
Have you (or anyone you know) ever schemed to save money at some kind of entertainment venue, be it a theme park, concert, sporting event, movie, etc?
Ever do something along these lines that seemed funny at the time, but you might not do again?