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At Theme Parks, a VIP Ticket to Ride

Thursday, July 11, 2013   (0 Comments)
New York Times (06/10/13) Barnes, Brooks

Universal Studios Hollywood hopes to increase its profitability by imposing a tiered pricing model via its new $299 VIP ticket, which comes with extensive perks and amenities, including special back-lot access, fancy meals, valet parking, unlimited line-skipping, and gifts. Although some customers say the VIP ticket establishes a class system of haves and have-nots, the amusement park industry is eager to boost profits without introducing expensive new rides and attractions each summer. Universal's VIP Experience offers a relatively inexpensive way to generate revenue and promote the idea of bigger and better within the marketplace. The VIP Experience was upgraded and its price hiked after the company saw that the old experience "was selling out more and more frequently," says Universal Studios Hollywood executive Xiomara Wiley. She also reports that since the upgrade, the theme park is seeing double-digit percent volume increases. Meanwhile, Disney has refrained from stratifying its theme park tickets, although it does offer very expensive V.I.P. tour guides, which are already exorbitantly priced to limit demand. Nevertheless, demand for a more broadly available special-access offering is strong. "Parks are trying to maximize their revenue in a marketplace that’s becoming more and more economically stratified anyway,” notes ThemeParkInsider.com editor Robert Niles.

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