For all of the unfolding mysteries that have made it so easy to get lost in Westworld's sprawling narratives, there's at least one thing we know that's made a lot of people reconsider whether or not they'd want to visit the good folks of Sweetwater: the cost.
In the third episode of the series, Logan (Ben Barnes) casually mentions to William (Jimmi Simpson) that they are each paying $40,000 dollars a day for their respective stays in Westworld and that the park's exorbitant cost encourages the men make the most of their time there. When I spoke with Aeden, the Siri-like Westworld host available on the show’s official website, they informed me that $40,000 was, in fact the daily fee.
"Westworld's price tag is indicative of the one-in-a-lifetime, luxury nature of the experience," Aeden explained. "Can't afford it? We can set up a payment plan to get you there."
Even in a world where I could afford to make a monthly payment of $300 a month on a $40,000 loan with an entirely reasonable interest rate of 4.66%, it would take me about 16 years and an extra $16,454 to pay off my full balance for a single day's worth of wandering around the park.
As lux an experience as Westworld is supposed to be, it's difficult to imagine a world where enough people could foot the kind of bill that the show's human protagonists have undoubtedly racked up during their multi-week adventure. And yet, every episode, we see that there are plenty of people wandering around Sweetwater and its environs shooting, sexing, and living it up with synthetic humans.
One could assume that every person we see visiting Westworld just so happens to be insanely wealthy. But in reality, it's much more likely that there are multiple price points available which the Delos Corporation chooses not to advertise as widely. Let me explain with a theory Westworld writer Charles Yu recently floated on an episode of Maximum Fun’s Pop Rocket podcast.
Violence is arguably the park's biggest attraction considering the number of guests that we see shooting, killing, and robbing hosts without fear of consequence. But we also see a number of guests who don't partake in Westworld's more debaucherous plot lines, choosing instead to shop, take in the sights, and just living out their relatively tame fantasies of living in the Old West.
If everyone in the park is paying a flat rate of $40,000 a day, it means that those who choose not to destroy things like property and the hosts are underwriting the cost of the damages caused of those who do. While it's possible that Westworld's guests could go into the park understanding that they'd essentially be throwing money away unless they took advantage of each and every single thing that you could do during their stays, it would make a lot more sense that some people just weren't paying for the Full Cowboy Experience.
$40,000 a day might get the the opportunity to shoot and kill an outlaw, but what if all you want to do is spend time in the town's saloon and chat up the locals? Alternate, cheaper daily fees for a slightly less all-inclusive stay at Westworld would a) address the issue of some people paying for things they don't necessarily want and b) actually make Westworld the sort of attraction that could regularly draw enough people to keep itself in business.
When I asked Aeden who Westworld was for, they explained that it was a place where people “from all walks of life" could become who they've always wanted to be. Perhaps everyone's got a shot at getting inside the park, but fully reinventing yourself while there comes at a premium.