Amusement parks are cash-intensive businesses. Some large parks have hundreds of tills in operation on any given day. Employees may spend dozens of hours handling cash manually.
This might seem surprising at first, but it makes sense when you consider the factors involved. Although alternative payments are becoming more common, many visitors are likely still accustomed to parks and vendors that only accept cash.
Many people are also tourists, and they’re more likely to carry cash. Cash allows for better tracking of what’s been spent. It’s also accepted almost universally, while a credit or debit card may not be.
People may also keep coins and bank notes on hand to pay for items like drinks at a vending machine. Small transactions of this sort are usually paid for with cash.
So where are visitors most likely to use cash in an amusement park? Almost everywhere seems to be the best answer. Here are some of the most common transactions.
The Front Gate and Parking
As cars stream in through the front gates and into the parking lot, no one wants to be the person who holds up the line by using their credit or debit card. If your card happens to be declined or you enter your PIN incorrectly, you’ll be asked to try the transaction again.
Cash is often much faster. Some parks may even institute a policy of cash-only at the parking gate in order to keep vehicles moving.
At the front gate, the cost of admission is a strong determinant of whether cash will be used or not. People tend to prefer cash for smaller transactions, so if the cost of admission is relatively low, people are more likely to pay with cash. In a 2018 survey, 82% of consumers said they preferred cash for smaller transactions.
Again, many visitors are tourists and they tend to carry cash. This could mean that even higher ticket prices don’t discourage the use of cash.
Concessions Stands and Restaurants
A trip to an amusement park is often an all-day affair, which means park visitors will likely want a meal or at least a snack.
Concession stands may be mobile or stationary. Some will be relatively close to the front gate, while others may be quite far away. Although mobile payment technologies are reducing the technological gap, the reality is that, for most of history, concession stands haven't offered any payment form but cash. Even today, ensuring they have the right technology can be a challenge.
Concession stand purchases are often on the small side as well, which leads people to use cash instead. People may run up bigger bills at a restaurant, but they might still pay in cash.
The Midway and the Gift Shop
If the park offers games, these are often paid for either with tickets or with cash. Tickets need to be purchased separately from the entrance fee in most cases. People usually pay for these transactions in cash.
The gift shop is another common place for cash to be used. Some people spend a lot of money in the shop, while many others will pick up a small trinket as a souvenir, spending less than $20. The low value of the transaction encourages them to use cash.
If the park features other shops or vendors, such as sketch artists or temporary tattoo parlours, people are also likely to pay cash for these purchases.
Handling Cash Effectively at an Amusement Park
As you can see, visitors to amusement parks are likely to use cash just about anywhere and everywhere. The question for most amusement park owners is how to handle this volume of cash effectively.
The right cash management technology can help.