Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia has a big new attraction debuting this summer — Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom. But the park is keeping its general admission price at $61.99. For the same price, patrons have been able to get an annual pass with blackout days and no parking. That changes June 4 when the pass price goes up to $71.99. However, the unlimited pass with parking remains $125.
"We continually evaluate pricing and are committed to maintaining our competitive edge," said Six Flags spokeswoman Sue Carpenter.
Although the price increases may not be welcome by park-goers, the Southern California economy benefits significantly from the presence of these venues, said Robert A. Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
Theme parks in Los Angeles County alone employ about 35,000 workers, he said. The parks attract millions of out-of-town visitors whose spending helps boost local hotels, restaurants and other businesses and generates sales tax revenue for state and local government.
"It certainly does create valuable economic activity that wouldn't otherwise be here," Kleinhenz said.
The price increases are not likely to dissuade foreign tourists, who make plans to visit theme park months and even years in advance, according to industry experts.
"If there is going to be resistance, it will be from locals," said Gerner. After all, they're more likely go multiple times in a year.
To appease them, industry experts say theme park operators often unveil discount deals for area residents during lower attendance periods, particularly in the fall or winter months.
But Disney fans such as Casado don't want their visits to be limited to off-peak periods.
She created a savings account, and contributes to it often, to buy annual passes for her family. Casado said she and her family try to visit one of the Anaheim parks once a month.
"It hurts," she said of the price hike, "because we count on that as our only entertainment."