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Everything posted by DirkFunk

  1. The comparison isn't Kentucky Kingdom, it's Sears/Seritage. And the investors wanting an REIT don't care if theme parks operate or not, they want maximum return on their investment. In any case, my wife sobered me up some last night and basically made the argument that it didn't matter anymore for us and she's right. I'm not on YouTube generating revenue when people click on my theme park content. I do financial analysis and administration for Sub-saharan African economic development projects. There's not one of these parks in my community where it would have a significant impact on us if it closed down. If they want to bulldoze half of Kings Dominion to build an eSports center that will fail miserably, why should I feel bad?
  2. It's not a stupid idea if you're solely interested in making money. REITs can be very profitable as spinoffs. The thing is that REITs don't have the same interests as the business sitting in the space.
  3. There's also going to be parks which are outside the bounds of what the target audiences are of the company or whom have other issues potentially kneecapping them. Coaster enthusiasts are frankly not that smart and not very into the business side of stuff, which is why I've seen literally no one say "Hey, when do those contracts for operation of SFOT and SFOG come up again?" They're gonna be laden with debt and both companies have been hurting hard the last few years in every imaginable way, passing all their issues onto the customers (which is part of why they are doing so badly). They've cut a lot of their leadership, especially in stuff like group sales and advertising, turning into regional teams rather than having employees at the park level. The announcement and discussion basically reinforces to me that they intend to operate with what one half would have used in that skeleton crew sort of system and let go of the "duplicative labor". Parks are going to go away. Lots of parks. CGA is already going away. It will be joined by others which will not be sold to operators because then they'd be selling themselves competition.
  4. Ask yourself this question: are either Six Flags or Cedar Fair better today in 2023 than they were in 2018 from a perspective of operations and guest satisfaction? I know, I know the world is different and changed versus 5 years ago. But I'm also talking about 5 years ago. Not ancient history. 5 years ago. How do they perform against a standard they themselves set? I have my opinions. I'm sure you all collectively have yours. I don't see how this merger does anything to change my expectations of the joined brand.
  5. I saw this thread in the trending and thought "Oh, I wonder if anyone found that article about how the global economic downturn appears to have started at LEGOLand Korea?" https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/11/10/legoland-south-korea-bond-market-crisis/ But no, it turns out that someone about to talk about it got disappeared. Well, anyhoo....
  6. I rode all the coasters I could ever want and then some. I'm good right now. I might be good forever. You don't need to take a victory lap. Just be happy I'm not occupying space in the line.
  7. I'm not gonna linger long because honestly, my desire to be involved in this hobby is gone and probably never coming back. The Mindbender is something I rode and I'll readily admit that it was a source of enormous "anticippointment" - I hated the accordion restraints and realized people had just made up stories about them being better/different than other attractions like Taz's Texas Tornado. But there were the bones of something very good there. In honestly, the real reason to even interject myself here is just to say somewhere online that Mindbender going away is just part and parcel of what feels like a kind of "end" for that generation of attractions. A lot of stuff that was a big deal domestically and abroad when I got into the hobby - The Ultimate, Montana Rusa from Mexico, Mindbender, countless giant wood coasters, Big Bad Wolf, Eagle's Fortress - all that stuff is gone. What's taken its place is honestly "better" in terms of dynamics, pacing, forces, and such, but I find it to feel much more generic and interchangeable. There's less weird when every coaster is built by one of every 6-7 firms and there's 20 examples of everything. And what is "weird" now often has no positive, good properties. Screaming Squirrels are weird but they suck. But then again, if I think everything sucks, maybe the Screaming Squirrel is actually fun. And that's why it is time for me to move on.
  8. I assume there is no future for this park at large, honestly. They've been in trouble for years and I doubt they'll get out of it now either in this form.
  9. Intamin doesn't build the track for it. That may actually be part of the problem. Who knows what kind of lead time they were required to have by Cordes Holzbau for getting new track pieces built?
  10. The current CEO isn't spending on infrastructure though, so it isn't going to rehabilitate itself from a perspective of flower beds or structures.
  11. To be completely honest with you, I do see Kings Island, even plus'ed up with projection mapping and better fireworks, as a "cheap park" compared to Universal or Disney. You can get a pass to go every single operating day for less money than it costs to go to Universal Studios Orlando for one of the two parks for one day. I don't think there's a dramatic difference between operations at most Cedar Fair parks and most Six Flags parks. Cedar Point has had lousy operations now for about a decade for most of it's season: Six Flags Great America usually has been in better shape. Cedar Fair has built some decent stuff, sure, but there's plenty of parallel examples of Six Flags doing the same (Justice League, the SFGAdv Safari) from a "themed entertainment" lens. I also don't think the CEO anticipated the losses being what they were or that he was going to be firing a bunch more of his senior leadership right before the last earnings call. Nor do I think he was necessarily chasing to have his company downgraded by institutional investors. edit: also, just for clarity - the reason why I asked about the demographic mix at Kings Island was because of what I was arguing earlier: they might have managed to increase per capita spending, but it hasn't fundamentally changed who goes to the park. If you don't do that, the people who won't go now because "its unsafe" will never go. Not to mention that when CF did their earnings report, they no longer try to separate out the performance of the parks they have now vs. what they had pre-COVID. Remember, they made the deal to buy Schlitterbahn in mid 2019. They should be showing an increase in attendance and revenue vs. that year or prior years because they have more facilities. Oddly enough, no one seemed to notice this when the reports came out except me.
  12. Bingo. If we use the example of Kings Island, well, sure, let's examine that. First, we had Dick Kinzel buy it and try to crater season pass sales to seek more valuable per capita attendance figures in the middle of a pandemic. Oopsies, that didn't work, and Dick Kinzel got shown the door. Then his replacement (you know, the guy who came from Disneyland) emerged and reset pricing for season pass products in the marketplace, getting people back in the park. Since then, they've spent a decade constructing new rides and attractions and plussing up infrastructure to get to a point where, when adjusted for inflation (https://web.archive.org/web/20120827093407/https://www.visitkingsisland.com/season-passes and https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/), I find that the cost of a Kings Island Season Pass is now....9 dollars cheaper in real terms.
  13. Who are the people going to Kings Island? Really, are people seeing some massive sea change in the demographics of individuals visiting the place because the season passes are priced at $9 more than Six Flags St. Louis? That's what these parks are. They are regional parks serving regional audiences who often have few or no serious alternatives for full day amusement facilities because the competition has been closed forever. And that's why it keeps failing to try and jack up the prices without investing heavily in the facility. Cedar Fair hasn't even been able to increase costs to the consumer in the fashion Six Flags has attempted this year; why would anyone expect a different outcome than what did happen (loss of revenue greater than the improvement in per capita spending)?
  14. Yes. That's what they probably should do. Their periods of profitability come from acting as regional amusement/theme parks that cater to the people in the community, regardless of whether or not they are of sufficiently high incomes for the current CEO. Ask yourself a legitimate question looking at this thread: What do you think it would take to get someone like prozach626 to go more frequently to SFStl or even downtown St. Louis? Like really, what would it take? I don't think it would be accomplished in a period of less than multiple years and with zero guarantee of repeat visitorship once you get whatever it is you have planned done. Having access to more metrics doesn't mean you're doing a good job! Using the example of Shapiro here as he did literally this exact same plan in the mid-2000s; Shapiro's time as head of Six Flags ended in bankruptcy. Any of us could run Six Flags into bankruptcy. It's like finishing with an 0-17 record in the NFL and expecting leniency from ownership when any human being could have accomplished the same end result.
  15. No, the mix for attendance at Six Flags parks is historically overwhelmingly in favor of memberships and season passes. IIRC (and it's likely in this thread), people with some form of pass made up in excess of 65% of attendance at the parks pre-pandemic. Some would suggest that this is unsustainable - Six Flags was profitable at this time. Very profitable. In fact, their debt to income ratio was lower than Cedar Fair's, which meant that their fundamentals were even arguably better. Then the pandemic happened: some companies took out loans to retain senior folks, whereas Six Flags pushed to just burn their existing cash and layoff people. There are many people both in the industry and in this community who cannot accept that the Six Flags parks are basically just regional amusement facilities catering to a local demographic, most of whom are passholders and visit frequently. They demand everyone operates like Disney World, where passholders are a substantial minority in favor of higher per-cap spending day visitors buying one day tickets. Six Flags - ANY OF THEM - isn't Disney World. It has virtually none of the infrastructure of Disney World (or even Disneyland) to generate revenue related to park visitation like hotels, restaurants, or entertainment districts. Operating regional amusement parks from a budgetary standpoint though isn't interesting to most people, and so they gravitate towards the thing that sounds much more interesting, which is from a business model completely and utterly separate from what Six Flags is. And it is no surprise to me whatsoever that this strategy - pump up the prices, spend nothing in capex - fails miserably over and over and over again.
  16. They've improved their food offerings dramatically, but I have to throw in the caveat that they still have severe staffing shortages that leave many of their smaller stands empty and closed.
  17. If your primary interests are hobbies in which a bunch of 17 year olds being paid crap wages are responsible for staffing them and providing you a service, then yes, everything sucks. If you have a wider breadth of things that you do with your life, the fact that we don't have anywhere near enough laborers to do the amount of labor our economy requires is not going to impact you to the same degree. Theme parks are intrinsically going to be one of the points of failure in a situation like this because they are luxury services committed to high margin-low wage operation. There's a million things to do instead that aren't as impacted. I have had no issues finding such things to do, and honestly, I don't feel as though my life is poorer for it. The opposite is in fact true!
  18. The area looks fine. Good way to reuse existing attractions to buttress a new one. Beyond that very surface level analysis? Well, to date it is net +1 ride though I noticed that the Himalaya wasn't part of the mix there. Gotta wonder if its gonna be an orphan still in its location or will be hitting the scrap pile. Dragster there's no updates about but we weren't expecting that necessarily. Bath House Pavilion thingie is, uhhh, I mean, it's definitely a thing that will require more staff, which, hey, good luck guys. Might want to plan in advance on the bartenders to be paid more than park minimum wage if you want someone who can competently mix a drink. Biggest thing to me is that, well, the Himalaya could have played the exact same role as the Wild Mouse in this area. They didn't do that, which is fine and leads to us getting a new coaster, but doesn't do much as far as the biggest needs the park has. It seems wild to suggest this is a "hot take," but a coaster that will probably have a height restriction of 42 inches w/an adult is not the thing that the park needs most. Cedar Point needs a ride - ANY RIDE - that can consistently operate in wet conditions or in wind, preferably indoors. They have very, very little in that vein, and obviously they have no indoor rides of any kind.
  19. There's plenty of stuff to do that's basically the same experience as before: Zoos, museums, national/state/municipal parks, to name a few. Casinos have been slow to bring back buffets by and large because A) disease concerns B) they're historically unprofitable, but aside from that, the experience of gambling is identical if not significantly better with the legalization of mobile betting. When I go to see a sporting event, the actual action on field/track is basically the same as it's always been, with perhaps the exception of slightly longer lines for food/drink. Even that's not really been anything I've noticed in my area or traveling for events. Concerts? Just the same as always. Theme parks though are so labor intensive, and have such a grossly outdated labor model that I've spent years pillorying here and elsewhere that when the labor crunch came and all the people who thought they couldn't do anything else with their lives suddenly found themselves able to seek new and higher paying forms of employment, that it was impossible for them to adjust meaningfully. It was bad before COVID. It's absolutely worse now in every way, and it's bled over into the actual products and services being provided. Cedar Point is down launched two coasters and a family ride, but hey, they got a new chicken restaurant located about 300 feet from another chicken restaurant. :makes the JO motion:
  20. I went to multiple parks in 2020 and 2021. I would actually go so far as to say that I enjoyed the park visits I had in 2020 to a degree I rarely had before, in part because the few parks that were open were well staffed. 2021 was a different story: Everything was a disaster. I've been to one park in 2022, and that's probably all I need to do. It's just shortsightedness all the way down from people who have no creativity left in them. Here's an example I've heard about: the major operators opted to cut costs by reducing the number of menu items to the basics. Except now, of course, everyone operating a seasonal park is just selling the same exact stuff. So the already stretched supply chain on certain items gets even tighter and prices increase even more. Completely predictable except to everyone but the people in charge because the people in charge are not very good at this industry (especially at Six Flags). I also don't feel any need to be mad online about it by and large. Six Flags thinks they have a product worthy of the kind of cash outlay I had at Universal 5-6 years ago. They can believe that all they want, because I don't owe them my business for an inferior service that costs significantly more than it used to while not being any better. If parks start to close, well, you know what, the fun was wrung out of them for me and I guess that's how it ends - with a whimper, and not a bang.
  21. Their CEO came in and decided that he would do the Mark Shapiro thing of "cut costs, increase prices" which would in turn generate bigger revenue numbers. The open letter brings up the Mark Shapiro reign as a comparison point, and Mark ran up prices to the point at which the offset of lost attendance actually made things worse. That's the scenario here, with the (rumored) claims that the current CEO has not and will not read any reports from any individual parks about how their capital expenditures are being spent and is openly critical of using money to maintain existing infrastructure. In short: He has no idea what he's doing. And he's going to fail miserably. This latest move with the season passes? Let me explain something - that agreement that Six Flags has with you about the membership lays out that they are to inform you in advance of price hikes. They didn't. Ergo, they're in breach of the contract they set out with you and you can sue them. They know this. I guarantee it. They don't care and almost certainly are taking the tact that literally stealing money from people through the membership increases will be more profitable after losing a class action lawsuit than not stealing money from guests would be. That's the kind of leadership in charge. I used to post a lot more here, but this hobby sucks right now in the US. Aside from Universal Orlando, basically every single park in the entirety of the US is worse off in every way than it was pre-COVID. I don't think it's fun anymore, and the people in charge clearly don't care about me as a customer because they believe they are entitled to my money. They're entitled to nothing and most of them will probably watch their businesses circle the drain while they figure out how they can spin it during the countless TEDx talks they'll give about how their failure wasn't really their fault and they'd be a great consultant.
  22. There's an open letter from someone who claims to be in a position of management at Six Flags making the rounds on Reddit, and having read it and heard plenty of other things this year from People I Trust ™, I'm here to say that the company is screwed and has extremely poor leadership. I've even been told specific parks that could ultimately face an untimely demise and/or be sold to competitors (of which there are zero with the capital to make such an acquisition). Changes like having "regional" group sales managers because they have cut their executive management teams to the bone are just totally self defeating moves and their CEO is completely sold on it. Short of bankruptcy and reorganization, I dunno what changes in the immediate future.
  23. A source that has been impeccable in the past informed me some info about the investigation that's now been taken over by the state and what's taken place to date. They have been dead on re: everything at the park before, right down to Cedar Fair being delayed to opening last year because the state of Ohio had laid off the inspectors in the pandemic. What they told me shook my confidence immensely as far as the park's operation and maintenance is concerned and makes me strongly consider not renewing my season pass for the first time since I moved to the Midwest over a decade ago. If there is truth to it, and I believe there is, it fully explains why the Sandusky Register became so aggressive in demanding details (as they likely would have heard it too).
  24. I meant Cedar Point. My first thought was that they'd staff the park heavily as they did last October by just closing their lower performing parks and sending employees to Sandusky again.
  25. I'm going to take them at their word and say they're planning to be open for those parks. I don't know how they're gonna staff this, but that's not my problem.
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