Tomorrow is the best day of the year, at least for my kids. The final day of school has arrived for this household and the anticipation is high. After the school trip to Cultas Lake Water Park yesterday we have crossed that summer fun time activity off the list, though i do want to make a trip to Splash Down since it is the final year for that park from what I’ve heard. The great thing about Summer is that there is time for all the fun things out there to be done, local tourist season is upon us and south coast BC has no shortage of things to do. There is only one real flaw in all of it, it isn’t cheap.
I think we’ve all done it whether or not there are children involved. “HOW MUCH TO GET IN!?” Zoo, Aquarium, Water Parks, Go Karts and a vast array of other local tourist and fun spots are all sporting admission prices that bulge eyeballs. Seems unfair to a lot of us that are trying to create memories with our children, we only have so many summers where they can truly appreciate it and be OK with hanging out with Mom and Dad at the same time. Honestly though I have to ask myself, are they being unreasonable charging the prices they are, perhaps not. Let’s consider the land mass of some of these places, for Playland an Water Parks we are talking dozens of acres, property taxes and leases are not cheap either, five or six figures a month would not surprise me in the least. What about utilities? Consider the electric bill for Science World or the common multiplex theatre, food outlets, lights, constant exhibits and displays, there’s anther four or five figures a month. Want hot water or gas fed cooking appliances, pay the gas man too. Obviously is you in food preparation appliances you need the food, not hard to get but not cheap either. Just the basic requirements of running a massive facility can be astronomical. That doesn’t include the specialized stuff like, insurance, tickets, computer system, security, office and transaction supplies.
At this point most people would be doing a bit of mental math and considering the basic costs. What about the cost of staff? In many of these places there are two types of staff, specialized and non-specialized. Honestly there should be a large payroll gap between the two. There are jobs that do not require a special skill to do, fast food attendant, cashier, janitorial staff, those entry level jobs are designed to keep short term employees and give them experience and perhaps inspire them to find a specialty. The specialists should be paid more, period. If you are at a pool of water park there are people there trained to keep you alive, hopefully their day is more pacing and repeatedly saying “stop running” but if something bad happens those people have the sills to save lives. Many places need an in house mechanic or handy man capable of repairs, perhaps here is a sophisticated projection system that needs a dedicated operator, sea or air tours need a properly trained and accredited driver and mechanics. Let’s stop that and dial it down to a numbers thing, even if one of these facilities has a low specialty level there is still the fact that places that are larger need more staff, even at a very low wage payroll may be for hundreds of people. Hundreds of paychecks or even more than a dozen that means a good accountant or two, especially at tax time.
For me to take my family to thee tings it can cost hundreds of dollars at a time. I can say it isn’t worth while to do these things as a family. The case can be made that there are a lot of field trips that kids can go on to see these places but there is the family aspect that is important to add to it, which is expensive, it isn’t an empty expense, there is a tremendous amount of value to these trips. The thing to remember is that these places do have overhead expenses and there are people at the top that do need and deserve to get paid for providing them, if you owned them you would too. The thing that occurred to me standing in a line several dozen feet off the ground over looking the water park is that the most common term for these places is “over priced” I watched various staff and considered the amenities around me, that doesn’t seem right, expensive maybe but taking it all in perhaps “over priced” is an ignorant term. I have to choose wisely this summer and pick the trips to make, you might have to as well, just remember there is a difference between expensive and over priced, the gap is in the value not only of the facility but in the time spent.