FunPix seems to be doing well at the five Cedar Fair parks – Cedar Point, Kings Island, Canada’s Wonderland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Carowinds – that introduced it earlier in 2016. It is a great improvement over what was offered in most cases at these parks in recent years. It is more economical, and it definitely encourages two things – more people to grab their memorable ride photos and more people to share those great park memories with friends and family online. With added value like this for park guests, it is greatly encouraging repeat visits, aligning with the parks’ successful season pass and season-long dining plans. In totality, this helps everybody win, especially the parks!
Now, I have to admit; I LOVE park entrance and ride photos. If I walk into a park that I’ve never visited before or into a park that I visit often, it just does not matter; I want those park-provided photos. Sure, I will take hundreds of photos with whatever smartphone is closest to my hand throughout the day, but it’s worth it for me to buy the photos offered by the park, and this is especially true if they provide a convenient way for me to do so and at a value-added price point. In fact, the Coaster Addict team has already posted 222 park-bought ride and entry photos for the 2016 operating season (as of the time that this article was published), far surpassing the 130 that we shared for 2015. So, if you ask me, the move to test a FunPix system at Cedar Fair’s top five parks was a great idea and one that was needed in light of what competing parks and chains offer. But, what does the future hold for this system? Here are some hopes and expectations!
FunPix’s Future Expansion
If the perceived success of this program is even ½ reality, many should expect to see Cedar Fair expand it to its’ other parks. While it is unknown how that roll-out would look like, it is hoped that the success at these five parks would fuel excitement and expectation to the point wherein Cedar Fair would invest the funds to add FunPix to all of their parks in 2017. For those enthusiasts who travel to a lot of the Cedar Fair parks each season, it can be a little frustrating having to deal with a number of different systems. While it is not expected that park experiences will be identical at each Cedar Fair park (NO!), some of the structure would be expected. Park guests already see similar offerings across the Cedar Fair parks – season pass perks, dining plans, souvenir drinking cup integration across related parks, same type of quick queue system, various special event alignments, and much more. So, FunPix at each Cedar Fair park would fall right in line and certainly strengthen the overall product / service offerings. One might also assume that adding this system across all of the parks would help operations become streamlined and, hence, even more efficient! It should be noted that, as more Cedar Fair parks’ apps are revamped or enhanced, maybe we will see a clearer picture of which parks might be getting FunPix next – will the rest of the Cedar Fair parks all get it in 2017, or will the potential expansion roll-out be spread out across the next few operating seasons?
With the prospects of more parks getting FunPix in the coming years, could it be assumed that there might be an option to have unlimited photos season-long across all the parks for one flat price? Certainly, Cedar Fair has offered that type of pricing for park entry and dining – platinum level season passes have grown in popularity, especially among coaster boys! In 2016, the price for a daily FunPix pass was $29.99 at these five parks. For $10 more, season passholders were allowed to have unlimited photos for the entire season. Yet, in 2016, I have purchased four of the five available FunPix season passes. At an investment of $120 plus appropriate taxes, I have access to these photos, but I’m likely an outlier. It was worth the extra $10 to get each season pass version versus the day pass, but each park just used my Cedar Fair Platinum Pass with the same system login, so there has to be a way to offer an all-inclusive, organization-wide option at a more reasonable price. When I log into my FunPix account, all Cedar Fair-related photos are there, so it is certainly possible. Plus, the competition has already been offering this type of option for a number of years now. With more potential parks on board in future years, it is hoped that additional consideration will be given to something along the lines of a FunPix Platinum pass. I’m sure the leadership team at Cedar Fair is pondering this issue already, and I strongly hope it becomes a reality in 2017.
Hopeful Future FunPix Fixes
In addition to expanding to other Cedar Fair parks and the hopes for a platinum-like level option for one low price, there are some fixes that I hope are made to improve this new system. While I am thrilled this system is available at these five fine parks and is working nicely, there are some improvements I hope to see. I call this FunPix 2.0!
The first enhanced feature in FunPix 2.0 is the option to adjust your photos when you log in. One of the most convenient features offered by parks with FunPix is the kiosk. You just walk up, scan the QR Code on the back of your FunPix pass / season pass and add the appropriate photo to your FunPix account. However, with convenience comes a bit of risk. The photos are locked in. Sure, they look great on the screen most of the time, but, if I recall correctly, those photos do not appear on the screen of the kiosk with the related ride / theme border on them, so what appears to look great when adding the photo to the card might later look underwhelming when you log into their FunPix account. If you go up to the park employee at the photo area, he or she is likely able to show the photo with the border around it and make minor adjustments to the image – up or down, left or right. If the camera is off a bit on a given day, you’ll likely have a photo missing most of you when return home. Also, certain rides have themed borders that are not always friendly to every seat on a coaster train’s row or car. Take Diamondback at Kings Island as one example. The ride is great, and the photo equipment appears to work well, but the themed graphic of the snake tends to block the person sitting in the seat closest to the queue line in the back of each car section (even numbered rows). If you do not get a park official to shift the image for you, the snake head will not come out centered. Sure, you can go up to the photo staff each time and they will be happy to help you, but I’d rather not have to bother them each time, and the park would likely want them to focus more of their efforts on up-selling the people who have not purchased the FunPix package. Ultimately, competing parks, big and small, are already offering guests the opportunity to adjust their images at home, and most give the option to switch to other themed borders (or to save the image without a border). These added options are great, and it provides even more options for the park to offer up-sell opportunities to guests after the visit. Essentially, this is one of the biggest contentions that I have, and I am hoping to see this feature in FunPix 2.0!
Another fix that should be made is to provide guests with better border options in the park. The current FunPix setup allows park guests using the system to log into their FunPix account via the mobile app and then scan various placards throughout the park. Scanning these QR Codes on these placards ultimately unlocks new borders to take photos with right away. You’ll scan the QR Code, and then a handful of border options will appear. You will select one, and then your phone’s camera will turn on in selfie mode for you to take a picture to save to your account showcasing your selected border. The problem I have with this begins when I walk away from that placard. If I open the park’s mobile app again and select the FunPix option, I cannot pull up those same borders without first scanning that placard. I’d love to see it wherein the borders are merely unlocked by scanning these placards versus having to go back to the placard to use those borders again. Sure, it is not the biggest issue, but it is still something that slowed my picture-taking efforts down a bit. Currently, the only work around for this that I found was to have your friend take a quality picture of the placard and then reference that image from his or her phone each time you want to scan its QR Code in order to access those same borders. In addition, it would be great if the mobile app would use the phone’s GPS to allow us to navigate to the next FunPix placard and not just to the next attraction of our choice!
Lastly, I wish there was a system in place to help in the rare situation where a photo booth was not being manned. During the Valravn World Premiere event this spring at Cedar Point, Top Thrill Dragster opened up late. We immediately got over there when the attraction opened. However, after riding it with some friends who had never been on the ride before, we immediately sought the ride photos. Unfortunately, while the ride photos with their numbers appeared on the screen, the photo area was closed; the kiosk was not even available. In that case, I wrote down the photo number and then reached out to the park the next day. Luckily, they were able to track down the photo that next week, and the folks in the merchandising department were fantastic. However, I wish there was a better way. If only we could key in the photo number into the app directly. That might sound ambitious, but there’s always hope. Of course, it would also be great to be able to get confirmation notifications that new photos were added to your account shortly after they do, but, until that time, I will continue to log in to double check that the photo I just added to the account has indeed posted to my FunPix account!
So, there you have it. FunPix is a great system and a welcomed addition to the five of the largest and most popular Cedar Fair parks, but, like any new and/or nice system, there’s room for wishful thinking and improvement. Certainly, there is hope for expansion of the FunPix program to other Cedar Fair parks and offering an all-Cedar Fair parks [Platinum] FunPix option at a reasonable price. Even though some of the competition charges $30 or $40 for unlimited all-season photos at all of their parks (i.e. Six Flags), I am more than willing to spend $50 or so to secure unlimited photos to compliment my platinum season pass, dining pass, and souvenir cup investments! Are you a big fan of ride photos and the FunPix platform?