Oh, to be a one percenter at a theme park today! Once, the rich had to stand in line with the masses, fidgety and sweaty, waiting for a turn to fight nausea on the coaster. But no longer. Universal Studios theme parks, which charge more than $80 for a regular one-day ticket, now sell VIP passes for $299 apiece. Takers get valet parking, a fancy lunch, a Jurassic Park poncho, and the chance to cut in line as much as they want. (They also get hand sanitizers, in case they make contact with the commoners.)
The great unwashed, for the most part, are not amused. It doesn't help that the news follows charges that some rich Manhattanites hired disabled people to pose as family members, allowing them to cut in line at Disney World. But is a luxury pass simply the marketplace at work? Is it wrong to teach kids, early on, that life is unfair? Would you pay for a VIP pass, if you could? Below are some thoughts on theme parks and the elite. Add yours to the comments, or tweet at the hashtag #cutinline.
An ego boost for the psychologically needy?
Some people will do anything to skip the line. Universal’s VIP shortcuts only crystallize how childhood, fueled by people who think parenting is a consumer enterprise, has become stratified. If it’s not the fanciest stroller, well, it’s a VIP Jurassic Park poncho. This promotion plays to an impressionable demographic—people who sincerely believe that paying extra for roller coaster access makes a vacation. As for Universal Studios, who can blame them? As long as customers shell out to skip ahead, they should take advantage. Some people need to pad their identities with that VIP pass, and Universal is in the business of illusion, right?
Kara Baskin, @kcbaskin
Boston.com blogger, The 24-Hour Workday
The death of the shared experience?
Americans live and put up with wide-ranging and diverse forms of inequality. We accept that the rich drive better cars, own posh summer homes and monopolize the good seats at Fenway. But it is precisely because we are so tolerant of so many inequalities that some important life experiences must continue to be shared. For, if the reality of a shared existence wanes, the commitment to such an ideal will also wane.
Marc Landy, political science professor, Boston College
Excerpted from WBUR's Cognoscenti (full post here)
A reasonable deal for a rare visit?
With the raise in prices of the normal tickets, I'm honestly kind of at a loss as to why people wouldn't drop the extra few bucks for a nice package like this. Could people afford it all the time? Not most of them, but I'd imagine most individuals don't DO Universal more than once a year or once every five years or whatever. In the grand scheme of things, it is a drop in the bucket for a much better experience. Next year (or this fall...still on the fence), I will be certainly purchasing this.
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Just another day in the food chain?
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