Most capitalist and socialist theme parks

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Hi guys. A few weeks back, I seem to remember seeing someone on another forum asking about whether theme parks are capitalist or socialist, and to be honest, I think it’s quite a mix, as I think different parks fall on different ends of that spectrum dependant on a number of factors. So my question to you today is; which theme parks are the most capitalist and which are the most socialist, in your opinion?


My personal nominee for capitalist is controversially the Disney parks. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some absolutely brilliant times at the Disney parks, and I think they provide great, great experiences to every guest, but if you have the money, Disney parks are certainly willing to jump to extraordinary heights! I seem to remember Disney offering priority experiences for a little extra cash in just about any aspect of the park experience (e.g. VIP parade seating, VIP character dining etc.), and the cost of these extras varied widely, from just a few dollars to well into triple figures. Despite the fact that FastPass+ is free, I even seem to remember hearing that they’ve begun offering paid FastPass at some of their properties.


On the other side of the coin, my personal nominee for socialist is Europa Park. From what I can gather, without having visited, every guest at Europa is treated as an equal regardless of financial status. There’s no Fastrack of any kind, there aren’t really that many (if any) paid extras or “VIP” experiences on offer, and that makes it sound quite socialist to me, as far as theme parks go!


But which theme parks are the most capitalist and socialist, in your opinion?
 

Thameslink Rail

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Smiler
Well virtually all parks are capitalist, they exist to make money, the difference is how obvious they make it and how much they are willing to allow it to detract from the experience. At Europa Park, whilst in normal circumstances they do make a lot of money, once you are in the park there are very few extra charges. At a Merlin park they will do paid Fasttrack and those awful TV advert screens (nothing adds to a Transylvanian theme more than an advert for Tesco). The price of entry at Europa is higher than at the Merlin parks for those reasons.
The only parks that are really socialist are the few that are run by charities or not for profit organisations like Wicksteed however there really aren't any major parks run like that especially in the western world.
 

Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
Well virtually all parks are capitalist, they exist to make money, the difference is how obvious they make it and how much they are willing to allow it to detract from the experience. At Europa Park, whilst in normal circumstances they do make a lot of money, once you are in the park there are very few extra charges. At a Merlin park they will do paid Fasttrack and those awful TV advert screens (nothing adds to a Transylvanian theme more than an advert for Tesco). The price of entry at Europa is higher than at the Merlin parks for those reasons.
The only parks that are really socialist are the few that are run by charities or not for profit organisations like Wicksteed however there really aren't any major parks run like that especially in the western world.
The basic question I was asking is; which parks lie on the less capitalist end of the spectrum, and which lie on the more capitalist end of the spectrum?

As you say, all parks are capitalist to a degree, given that they exist to make money.
 

OilyWater

TS Member
There are a small number theme parks out there run by charity foundations (Efteling and Linnanmaki) so if you interpret it that way you could say theyre 'socialist', but all theme parks exist to make money by offering good entertainment.

Europa Park makes a huge tonne of money, but they believe in doing it by offering guests the best possible experience for the cost
 

venny

TS Member
Is the question you’re asking, which parks are most blatant at gauging you for money?

If so, I’m not sure I’d have Disney at the top of that list. They extract lots of money but can be relatively subtle about it in comparison to how much added revenue they generate. EP are even more subtle, but still have premium experiences and events which are upcharge.

Merlin are clearly a lot less subtle, especially when you used to be accosted by photographers walking down Towers Street and fast track sales at ride entrances.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Six Flags and Merlin are probably more obvious with money grabbing in that they push fastrack and flash pass sales harder.

But Disney are just better at making sure you don't notice it as much once you are in the park. They offer resevered viewing areas that need to be booked in advance, extra park hours in the parks in the morning and evening at an extra cost (not the hotel extra magic hours, these are early morning magic and Disney after hours), an extra five hours in the evening can be the same price as a full day ticket! But to a day guest its unlikely they would even notice the event is happening later on.

Same with photos, Disney have photographers everywhere too, but they add the photos to your account and if you haven't pre-purchased downloads (Memory Maker) then you pay later on on the website or app. Also there are so many people who pre-purchased Memory Maker they are queuing up for the photos so they don't have to hawk and get you to come for a photo in the same way has been suggested happens at Towers Street.

So I would definitely agree that Disney are the best at extracting money from the guests, they just try to do it all in advance rather than once you are at the park.
 
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pluk

TS Member
Capitalist and socialist are really odd terms to use to describe theme parks.

They all exist to make money, they just go about it in different ways. EP believes the best way to make money is to provide a genuinely excellent experience for one fair but high price and showcase their hardware to potential industry clients. That does not make them socialist. They are a business which exists to do business.
 

jon81uk

TS Member
Capitalist and socialist are really odd terms to use to describe theme parks.

They all exist to make money, they just go about it in different ways. EP believes the best way to make money is to provide a genuinely excellent experience for one fair but high price and showcase their hardware to potential industry clients. That does not make them socialist. They are a business which exists to do business.

I think this has already been resolved further up in the thread, the question is more which park feels more capitalist? Who is more money-grabbing and who thinks more of the guest.
As has been mentioned, some parks feel money-grabbing but others re fantastic businesses and make a lot of money but don't feel "capitalist" in that you feel the experiance is more important than the money and that then makes them make more money.
 

Funcone

TS Member
Pretty much every park does at least need to break even, with a few exceptions like Give Kids the World. But some parks are much more financially driven than others. You can’t always take what parks say in public interviews at face value, but one example that comes to mind is an interview I once saw with the owner of Knoebels. This was shortly after they’d started building The Flying Turns. He said he didn’t think he’d ever get back the money he was spending on it, but that wasn’t why he was doing it. He sounded very genuine and like a really decent bloke. The corporate parks tend to be fairly single minded about making money. For the independent parks, I think it varies more. Some rides and parks do become passion projects.
 
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