Coaster Kingdom

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It all used to be fairly simple. If you were visiting a theme park, you’d expect to pay once and then have unlimited access to almost all the rides and attractions.

Those visiting amusement parks would more likely be dealing in a currency commonly known as the ‘token’, paying for only the rides you want to ride.

Recently, more and more different ways to enjoy your favourite park have been spreading at an almost bacterial rate, making use of new technology, changing trends, sometimes making more money by stealth – but perhaps more surprisingly, often saving the visitor money, too.

The Bell

The Bell, above, competes for your custom as Prater does not have the option to buy wristbands

One of the most famous free-to-enter parks is Vienna’s Prater Park. Dating back to 1766, the park has been an area of public recreation for centuries with gardens and rides open to the public.

Prices per ride range from €1 to €10 (60p to £6.70), although no way of paying in bulk, such as a wristband, is available.

The rides at Prater are concessionary, run by different showmen. Like many fairs, the showmen compete for your custom with rather grandiose ideas such as The Bell, and a pay-one-price scheme would make this a mockery.

While those running the less popular rides would expect a windfall as they get their share, those with the more popular rides, or those who make more of an effort, could see their share fall as they subsidise other rides in the park.

Similarly, Fantasy Island has free entry, yet uses an archaic and cumbersome system to pay for individual rides at 60p per token with the amount of tokens varying per ride, meaning that you have to bulk buy tokens, each of which are about the same size and weight of a clay pigeon. None of the rides at Fantasy Island are concessionary, either – all are run by Blue Anchor who operate the Lincolnshire park.

Idiotically, the two largest rides, Millennium Coaster and Jubilee Odyssey, work on a separate token scheme meaning that pound-for-token and ride-for-ride Fantasy Island can become possibly the most exorbitant park in the UK if there’s any possibility of you re-riding.

Readers, this isn’t some innocuous and quaint little seaside resort – although they have delusions of grandeur, Fantasy Island is a large park with two major coasters, a decent amount of spin rides and a lot of family rides and coasters on top of that, too. Continues...

Coaster Kingdom Magazine


Issue 22: Sep 2006

Issue 22
Admit None
Whatever happened to pay as you go entry? 

In The Picture
In The Picture
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