Paid Admission Parks
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Paid Admission Parks

Following is a post that I made in the RCT Station Forums. A wonderful thread resulted, which has been reproduced here with the permission of the authors.

P.T. Barnum, one of the greatest promoters in American history, was the master of paid admission attractions, including the "Barnum & Bailey Circus."

He was attributed with the quote, "There's a sucker born every minute."

His New York City museum was a major attraction in its day. It had an huge sign inside that said, "This way to the Egress." Following the arrow, customers came to a door labeled, 'The Egress."

Upon passing through the door, they were on the street, and forced to pay for a second admission to see the museum.

I've found that you need a little dose P.T. Barnum to be successful with paid admission parks.

I've done some experimenting with the Amity Airfield scenario since completing it. I let it run, unattended. By year 10 I was $16,000 in the red, and sinking - I had about $500 at the end of the scenario, October, year four.

I checked a few peeps. Typical was "Darren M." who had been on 112 rides, consumed 15 drinks, etc. He was so happy that he might never leave! I had less than 6,000 total admission in ten years, and had about 3,500 guests in the park.

Then I closed all the bathrooms.

Checking one year later, year eleven, I was $20,000 in the red, but by year sixteen, I was $90,000 in the black. The park was run totally unattended. No advertising, no changes to the rides, park rating remained at 999. I had fewer guests (by about 25%) because they didn't stick around as long.

The Saint Ok...

What's the punchline here?

To what do you attribute the enormous inflow of cash? And what did you charge for park entry?

Did people leave so they could go to the local 7-11 to use to toilet, then return to the park (which offered no hand stamps) and paid full admission again? (referencing your PT Barnum story)


It's about "turnover." The game limits the number of guests, primarily based on the number of rides, modified by advertising. The faster they leave, the faster they are replaced, and the more you make in entrance fees. They spend money in the park, but not as fast as getting a fresh $40 admission fee.

A park has a peep capacity based on number of rides. After the capacity is reached, it can be boosted somewhat by advertising - but there is still an upper bound on the number of peeps in the park at a time. So, if too many stick around until the end of the scenario, you'll get cash-constrained and have to work very hard to build a sufficient number of coasters and other rides to win.

Once you've sold a peep an overpriced umbrella, an on-ride photo, and maybe a few other trinkets, then the only money you can get out of them is from food and drink. This amounts to only a few $ per year.

My peeps were staying an average of over five years. So I found a way to encourage them to leave. My findings, presented above, are quite dramatic. Just by closing the bathrooms the park turned from a money-loser to a money-maker. There was no drop in the park rating.

There was a drop in the number of guests. This suggests a strategy for parks that charge admission - don't build bathrooms (and cash machines) until you have enough rides constructed to win the scenario. In all other respects, make their park experience pleasant, and they'll leave quickly with a smile on their face.

The Saint

And walking out quickly with their hands clasped over their crotches... Pretty funny looking!

I can see your point, but I think there's got to be a more effective way to win. In Gravity Gardens (Admission Charge scenario) I had guests who had bought several food and drink items. The key I use is to MAKE THE SUCKERS WALK!

Making them walk gets em hungry and thirsty. Having them ride lots of rides does the same. Then you charge $3.00 per major food item (burgers, dogs, pizza, subs) and spread them out enough and voila! Lots of income from shops/stalls.

I can see how turnover is important in a Admission Charge only park though. So when your park is small, get em in, get em out, so you're getting more gate, and expanding faster to get more in (repeat as necessary...)

Good point (but I'll keep the bathrooms open).

Greg Wolking

Some additional thoughts:

1. Raise food/drink/merchandise prices as high as possible (e.g., $.10 less than the point where they refuse to buy).

2. Don't build any ATM machines! Casual observation leads me to believe that they get $50 every time they visit one.

3. Don't forget on-ride photos and the prices thereof. Again, you want it as high as possible. Guests can now buy photos from more than one coaster, but there still appears to be a limit as to how many they can carry (which seems to vary from one scenario to another). When you demolish a coaster that has an on-ride photo, all photos from that coaster magically disappear. So, if you have a coaster that can be easily rebuilt, it might be worth the price differential to demolish and rebuild it. You will get more photo sales and drain their pockets more quickly, which should help increase turnover.


The Saint That's an intersting observation, Greg! (about demo'ing a ride and get them to buy another photo on the replacement). A simple looping design would probably be most cost-effective in this effort.
Greg Wolking Well, not necessarily a photo from the replacement, but also from other coasters that offer photos. There is a limit to the number of photos they can carry, which seems to be based on the number of coasters in the park.

In one try on this scenario, I modified the existing Treetop flyer (see my other post in this section) to add an on-ride photo, then built another coaster with a photo section -- they could still buy only one photo. On a subsequent try, it wasn't until I had 4 coasters in the park (two of which did not support photos at all) that they could buy more than one photo.

Also, closing the bathrooms is a bit extreme. I find it's much more effective, once the park reaches capacity, to just close it for a while and let a couple hundred guests or so drain off, then reopen it. This is even more effective while it's raining. (I address this and similar techniques in my other post).

On my current try, the first thing I did (after modifying Treetop Flyer) was to rip out all the unnecessary paths so I could pay off the loan right off the bat, and still have enough cash left to build a couple of small coasters before I had to go back to the bank. I'm proceeding carefully, but it seems to be working. I have four coasters now, attendance at around 700 or so, and admission of $40. The park is earning between $500 to $1,000 profit per month, even after I let its attendance stabilize.


Screamin' Eagle Heh...

After reading this thread, I tried this in a park I'm working on:

From October 1 - April 1 of each year I close the park entrance and all the rides, but leave the stalls, shops, and bathrooms open.

What happens is, all those thousands of peeps get dumped from the ride Qs, and at least half of them will be hungry enough to buy food, so they head right for the food stalls en masse. Once they've bought food, they sit down and eat it - a process that keeps them occupied for another game month, so they don't notice or care that the rides are closed. They even go buy souvenirs after their post-lunch happiness rush hits! Shop income triples the first month I close the park, and with no ride running costs, the park remains profitable during that first month (or at least doesn't lose too much money - the shop profits nearly cover staff wages, even for the mechanics).

The peeps that are "running out of cash" just head for the exit when the park closes, and they aren't replaced, so park attendance drops by about half during this two-month semi-closure.

Come April 1, I re-open everything, and by July or August the park's back up to full capacity. A thousand peeps in at $40 per head over four months or so, that's about ten grand per month in entry tickets. Normally, a good month is lucky to get me five grand.

This works during rainstorms too. Close the rides during inclement weather, and all those people who would have just ridden the carousel go buy an umbrella instead. Ka-ching! Those who aren't going to spend money just leave, and good riddance to them.

Oddly, the peeps seem to be just as happy to buy a souvenir as to ride a ride for some reason, at least over the short term, so the park rating doesn't take a hit. I've done this three years in a row and never dropped below 900, and that's with the "higher more difficult" park rating option turned on.

So thanks, Fossil! As thanks, can I offer you some white salmon, guaranteed not to turn pink in the can?

-Screamin' Egress


You're welcome.

Salmon? Only if it's "really good value" and I can get some Soy Milk from a stall as well.

Fried Seafood and Soy Milk...or left over turkey....decisions, decisions. :)

So, there you have it. Several techniques that have been tried and proven successful. Good luck with your next paid admission park!