Entertainment Costs: How High is Too High?

There’s an interesting, short side conversation happening on my Facebook wall at the moment, focused on the costs of going to the movies. I had said in my How to Train Your Dragon 2 review that $10 for a movie was highway robbery. Other question that accusation, but even after thinking about the matter some more, I still stand by my claim. $10 for a movie ticket just seems too high for me. Granted, I’m a cheapskate, but I’m a cheapskate who’s beginning to branch out into spending money on entertainment when I feel it’s justified.

Case in point: the Utah Olympic Park. I wrote about how I dropped $160 on that experience for my family, and I feel like it was money well spent. Is there a disconnect? How am I willing to spend $40 per ticket for four hours of entertainment but object to $10 per ticket for 2 hours? Granted, I’m not a mathemagician, but even I can figure out that at those rates, movies cost $5/hour to enjoy, and the Olympic Park costs $10/hour (less if you stay longer, granted).

What gives?

Here’s the thing: the Olympic Park is an experience I can only consume in one place. If I could install a 400′ zip line and an alpine slide on the cheap at my house, then you better believe I wouldn’t be giving anyone else money for those kinds of experiences. But I can’t. The same holds true for Mythbusters Live–a show Denisa and I bought tickets for the whole family for (coming this Thanksgiving!) We spent roughly $90/ticket (after taxes and parking and everything else) for what’s supposed to be about a 2 hour show. $45/hour?!? What are we thinking? Well, we’re thinking that TRC adores Mythbusters, and the chance for him to see them live is worth that kind of money. If it was just a showing of a Mythbusters episode on a big screen?

No thanks. We’d pass.

With movies, I can create a pretty close replica to the movie experience at home these days. I’ve got a surround sound system, high definition big screen TV, and a crying baby to interrupt the action now and then. True, it’s not in a huge theater, but for almost all movies, that doesn’t matter. I can consume that entertainment for a fraction of what it would cost if I went to a $10/ticket theater.

Of course, if I were going strictly by cost per hour basis, then I shouldn’t be going to any of these things. Books from a library are free and provide tons of hours of entertainment. These days, I’ve been buying more and more books instead of using the library. Why? Because my time for reading is sporadic, and it’s more convenient to pay money to own the book. Plus there’s that whole “support authors” thing.

In any case, it got me wondering how everyone else approaches their entertainment. How do you decide if something is worth spending money on or not? How much is too much? How much is so little you don’t sweat it? I imagine that as I continue to get older, the cost for these things will continue to drop in my eyes. Having more money available to you tends to make that happen. Plus, I really liked what my brother in law said about prices when we were talking about the Utah Olympic Park. He explained he felt like he wasn’t just paying money for the physical rides–he was paying money for the memories and shared experiences with his family. An interesting and important insight, I felt.

What do you think about the subject?

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