I wanted to go back to blogging the rest of my Japan experiences for a moment. I wanted to talk about Theme Parks. Being a theme park junkie, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to hit Tokyo DisneyLand, Tokyo DisneySea and Universal Studios while I was in Japan. What I found interesting was that there were a few creating means for making extra money at these parks.
In Australia, there are theme parks such as Dreamworld and Warner Bros. Movie World. At these parks, you tend to just pay the entry fee (somewhere around the $60 Australian Dollars) and then you have access to everything in the park. Most of the profiteering comes from the entry fee, paying for food and drinks, and then any souvenirs that you buy. And of course you pay a premium for these things. This was no different at these Theme Parks, and DisneyLand especially would have made huge money selling novelty hats, especially since you looked like the odd one out if you weren’t wearing a hat.
Sponsor A Ride Today!
One of the interesting sources of income came from sponsorship. At DisneyLand, nothing seemed to be out of bounds in terms of what could be sponsored. This included the parades and the rides. This seemed like a great idea similar to how companies can sponsor Sports Stadiums.
Don’t Like Waiting, Pay to Skip the Queue
There were also many places where they introduced Micro Transactions. The model of Micro Transactions seems to be becoming more and more popular every day. You see this model predominantly in budget airlines, where you get the “luxury” of paying for anything from meals on the plane, stowing luggage and the extra leg room of the over-wing exits. At these theme parks, they had the concept of “Fast Pass” at DisneyLand and Universal Express Booklet at Universal. The idea behind these concepts was to provide a means to skip the queue and jump straight onto rides. A brilliant idea to say the least seeing as waiting 90 minutes for 10-15 minutes of enjoyment is hardly “time well spent”. (And let me tell you, there were lines for everything in Japan. Do you want a photo with Mickey Mouse? There’s a 45 minute wait for that.) Surprisingly, DisneyLand offered this service for free (maybe it was because their rides were all sponsored… haha). Either way, they let you queue up for a “Fast Pass” every 2 hours. This was to ensure that they didn’t over subscribe the “Fast Passes”. (as an aside, it’s best to queue for the busiest rides first, as they tend to fill up quickly.) Over at Universal, they made you pay (a large sum) to purchase their Universal Express Pass. The cost for this pass was close to the price of admission. So for double the cost (i.e. around 4000 yen, or $50 Australian dollars), you could get an Express Booklet to skip the queues on the ride (they come in a 4 ride and 7 ride variety). These Micro Transactions at Universal didn’t stop there though; you could also pay for “special entry” to the night time parade where they gave you a foam mat to sit on and a souvenir badge.
Overall, I’m not averse to the idea of Micro Transactions to skip queues. It does beat waiting in line for 90 minutes for a ride. But at the same time, still doesn’t make it feel right that you have to pay extra money, just to get access to something you already paid to get access to, but just get access to it sooner.
What are your thoughts, is there anything else you’d pay a some extra money for to have it sooner rather than having to wait for it?