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Ride Pricing






One of the mysteries about park management is how to price rides when we operate a park in which the free rides option is not flagged. Ultimately our ride’s eventual price will depend on the other rides and attractions in our park, the standard of our park as a whole, and guest attitudes towards our park.






As a point of departure, if there is free admission to the park we can simply add a decimal place to the ride/track’s excitement rating. If we take a coaster with an excitement rating of 8.3 as an example we’d start with a price of £8.30 but do keep in mind that this figure is merely a start towards the price we'll eventually charge for this ride.






After that we'll mark that figure down to the nearest increment (see Pricing Increments in this article). Taking into account the listed increments, in this example we'll start with a ride price of £8.30.






After setting our ride price at £8.30 one of four things will happen:








A

Almost no one will ride your ride. Just about everyone who enters the queue will leave it again complaining about the ride price, which means we've started with a price that's too high.








B

Roughly half the guests who enter the queue will ride the ride with the other half leaving the queue complaining about the price.








C

Nearly all the guests who enter the queue will ride the ride with about 5% - 10% of the guests complaining about the price.








D

Nearly every guest who enters the queue will ride the ride with the occasional guest commenting on what a great value the ride price is.






We don’t want D and we don’t want A. C is the ideal situation because ultimately we do want a small number of our guests complaining. If we’re at B we can consider that with a few minor incremental adjustments (see Pricing Increments below) we’d soon reach C.






If at some point after attaining C the ride’s been there awhile and guests suddenly leave the queue in droves with no new guests queuing, if the ride's not broken down there’s a good chance that something’s degraded in your park resulting in the price that you’ve set suddenly becoming disagreeable. Before simply assuming that the price needs to come down, what with guests happy to pay your prices suddenly being dissatisfied with these same prices you’d want to scan your park to see what’s changed:







Are your janitors stretched too thinly with too many tasks? Are there one or more places in the park where litters and vomits are accumulating and are not being cleared away?


Have you experienced a huge number of breakdowns? Has one or more of your rides crashed? Are your mechanics taking too long to fix your rides?


Has your pool complex lately been making your guests sick?


Have several of your staff quit?


Is there suddenly too much dung? Can all your animals get to food and water? Has breeding overpopulated your enclosures? Has the Animal Protection Society removed several of your animals?


Has your park rating dropped dramatically for any other reason?






After you’ve fixed what’s gone awry your guests will return to paying the prices you’ve been asking. If you’ve hired enough staff at the outset and are an attentive park manager your park will seldom take negative turns like this.






If you do opt into lowering the price of your ride, just like setting the price of a ride, lowering the price of rides is trial and error.






Using this method of researching ideal ride prices can be a little time consuming so we'd want to be sure our park is just about complete before we begin researching ideal prices. For instance: If during the development of our park it turned out that on 31 October of Year 1 we had 20 rides for which we'd researched the prices (let’s call that Research Session "X"), and then by 31 October of Year 2 we had 40 rides and at the end of Year 2 we then researched the prices of the 20 new rides we'd added (Research Session "Y"), there'd be two points to take into consideration:







We'd have conducted two separate research sessions.


By 31 October Year 2, with 20 additional rides and further progress on our park, the prices already determined during Research Session A will by now be inaccurately low. This means we’d need to repeat Research Session A to ensure we'd earn the best profits for those rides to reflect the new developments we'd made to our park by October Year 2.






Having taken this information on board, just how does one go about researching ideal ride prices in our parks?






Setting Up For Research






The best time to do this is during one of your final test runs of the park when you've got just about everything in the park that you want and the park contains the maximum number of guests. When your park has peaked out at guest attendance, i.e., no more guests are attending your park, save your park as something like Park Before Testing Prices. This will be the parksave from where you progress after you’ve done with testing and have found all your ideal prices.






Make up to have at hand a list of the rides and attractions for which you’re researching prices. Do not close the park but close everything you’ve got going on inside your park: from rides & coasters, shops & stalls, facilities, pool complex, and viewing galleries. Open the first attraction that you want to find the best price for. It should be the only attraction opened at this time so as to attract the maximum number of guests in the minimum amount of time.






Often in a busy park the priority is dropped on guest thoughts so we'd be unable to rely on the Guest console for their thoughts there, nor can we reliably click on the ride and see what the thoughts are there so at this time avoid using the guest thoughts list, or the guest thoughts feature in the ride console. It's best to zoom in on the station and see for yourself how many guests turn away from the station because the ride is priced too high. Close up at the station like this, if you wish you can click on the guest and confirm in each individual guest’s thought that the reason they're leaving the queue is because that ride costs too much. You’d be surprised how complete reliance on the information displayed in the consoles leaves us caught out in a busy park by our not checking the guests thoughts directly like this.






When finding the ideal price for your rides and attractions aim for a small trickle of guests complaining that your ride costs too much. From about 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 guests complaining about the price you’ve set is a good balance. Some guests will find everything expensive so ideally, you will want the occasional complaint that the price is too high. Once you’ve found this level only a few guests will have a problem with your price while everyone else is either fine with the price you're charging, or doesn't need what you’re offering.






The more there are of guests who complain about your ride’s price the more likely it will be that you'd be pricing yourself above the maximum number of guests who could be riding your attraction. If you aim for a level where no guest ever complains about your ride price you’ll end up with the occasional guest commenting that your ride’s price is a good value, which will tell you that your ride is not earning as much in profit as it could.






You’ll be able to research ideal prices like this just as long as the guests continue milling around your park without going home. When they realize there’s nothing opened and start leaving by their hundreds you’ll want to close this pricing experiment park (which won’t need to be saved) and reopen Park Before Testing Prices so that you may continue experimenting with prices. You’ll repeat this until you’ve found the ideal prices for each of your rides & attractions.






When you’re done finding the ideal prices of everything close the park in which you’ve been researching prices. Again it does not need to be saved. Return to your Park Before Testing Prices parksave where you can simply go all around the park and price everything all in one go with the ideal prices you got in your test park. Save the park with your updated prices after which you may play with and operate your park as usual, now with thoroughly researched ideal prices instead of estimated prices that you’re not quite sure about.






Pricing Increments






The increments for pricing seem to be set:







at either 20 or 30 pence,


at 50 pence,


at 80 pence, and


evenly on the pound.






Any other increments don't seem to count whether pricing a ride up or pricing it down. What this means is that if you've priced a ride at £3.50 and think it might need to be priced higher, you're wasting your time trying £3.60, and then trying £3.70. Simply go directly from £3.50 to £3.80. Each time you’ve discovered the ideal price for any attraction do be sure you make a note of the ideal price you’ve discovered during your research.






Oddly, animal viewing galleries seem to command higher admission prices the less there is that is opened in the park. In a park with only the viewing galleries opened they'll attract double the income as they will in the same park with everything opened. In my test park I tried gazelles, zebras, mandrills, rhinos, giraffes and horses. All of the galleries peaked at different prices. The viewing gallery test for zebras attracted £7.50 while the gallery test for rhinos only drew £2.30. When I closed my test park and returned to my previous parksave (in which the park was fully operational with all attractions opened) guests wouldn't pay more than roughly 50% those prices for the same galleries in the same locations in the same enclosures, i.e., in the fully functional park with everything opened giraffe galleries were priced at £3.50 instead of the researched price of £7.50, while rhino galleries were priced at £1.30 instead of the test price of £2.30.






All rides and tracks in our parks can be priced up to a maximum of £10. This includes animal enclosure viewing galleries. If you’re building a coaster in a park requiring finance it wouldn’t be a good idea to start out with the expense of building a block-buster coaster with a rating of E17, I6, & N2 because you wouldn’t be able to charge £17 for rides, you’d be restricted to charging £10. However, building such a coaster would make sense in a park in which you charge £50 for entry because you’d likely only be able to price such a coaster around £10 in this park where the guest has also paid for park entry.






Pool complex is the only attraction with a maximum chargeable price of £20, probably due to its potential for us to add pool rides & slides which cannot be individually priced.






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In a small park with a moderate number of stalls & attractions in which we’d charge our guests to ride the rides we’d probably want to charge a ‘token’ entry fee and keep our park entrance ticket prices to around £10. Because we’re charging for the rides in that park we’d raise or lower the park entrance price and, if necessary, lower the ride ticket price (from the level set by it’s excitement rating) by only a little. At the other end of the scale, in a huge park with several coasters, perhaps a dozen or so flat rides, nearly a hundred stalls & facilities, and lots of scenery, we could charge much more for park entrance but would lower our ride prices considerably from the level set by their excitement ratings.






Stall Prices






Stalls and facilities come with a £20 maximum chargeable price. The exception to this would be toilets with a maximum charge of £10. ATM’s and First Aid are not chargeable.






The more extras/toppings there are on each item the higher a price can be charged for it. This would also suggest that the prices that come with the stalls and facilities are only a point of departure from which we’d eventually need to make upwards adjustments. Likewise, the £10 upper limit for rides and coasters would suggest we’re supposed to have several moderately built versions of these in our parks, rather than only a couple of huge star tracks.






While building and developing your park it’s a good idea to ignore stall prices and extras until you've got just about everything in your park that you want in it. If you wait until then to increase your shop & stall prices you’ll find you’ll hardly get complaints about the increases that you’ve made. At such time simply put the maximum amount of toppings on all the items and increase the default prices by 150%. In my research I found that park maps, umbrellas, inflatables, and swim suits are sensitive to prices that are increased too much beyond their default prices.






After several years of park time guest attitudes towards our park will gradually diminish and there may be a gradual increase of guests who find our prices too high. It might be said that at such a time our park along with its attractions has gotten old. In RCT2 our only option was to replace the rides & tracks or to use the “make all rides new” option in a trainer. In RCT3 we have a more complete and convenient option which is to close everything in the park, let all the guests go home, and then reopen the park to new guests who will have fresh attitudes towards our park as if everything in our park is new. Along with our new guests will come a willingness to pay those ideal prices that we so thoroughly researched.






Because of their £20 upper limit in pricing it might originally have been intended that stalls and facilities were to be huge money earners in our parks, and that in a exceptionally managed park with an excellent park rating of long-standing it would have been possible to charge £20 for a burger and £15 for a soda.






We can dream.

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