September 11th 2011 :
Towers selling fastrack at ride entrances
Alton Towers scrapped its free fastpass system many years ago in favour of a paid system, which initially was priced at around £5 per person for a number of major rides. Prices at present cost around £10 for 2 or 3 attractions, with single ride fastrack also available priced around £3-£4 per person per ride. These tickets allow guests to experience rides with only a short waiting time (usually between 10-15 minutes).
Although it is generally accepted that a paid fastrack option is now seen as a very important source of revenue for many theme parks, the manners in which it is sold are a hotly debated issue amongst regular theme park go-ers.
Recently, Alton Towers has followed THORPE PARK in placing Sales & Information hosts (Fastrack ticket sellers) at the entrances to some of the more popular theme park rides, such as Sonic Spinball and Rita. These hosts are positioned in order to upsell to as many park guests as possible. Typically, as has been experienced by many of our members lately, a guest will approach the attraction and be asked if they wish to purchase Fastrack for the ride at approx. £3-£4 per person. For a family group, this would cost £12-£16 (based on 4 people). Upon enquiring how long the main queue is, the host then gives a rough waiting time. On several occasions, the time given by the host was in fact 15-20 minutes greater than the actual queue time although it can only be assumed the fastrack host was unaware of the actual size of the queue. Guests who go ahead and purchase the fastrack option are then able to use the fastrack entrance which, in the case of Sonic Spinball, is the ride exit. This then increased the waiting time for guests in the main queue.
Whilst it is understood that fastrack is now an essential part in the financial make up of parks in the Merlin Group, it remains to be seen whether selling fastrack at ride entrances leaves a positive or negative impression on guests of the park, who have already spent a lot of money for transport, admission, parking, food and merchandise on their day.
Please feel free to discuss this on our popular forum.