Jump to content
  TPR Home | Parks | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | Instagram 

Too Fast For Comfort

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Too Fast For Comfort

  1. I'm not willing to go that far, I just think they like to mitigate risk / overhead by keeping staffing levels at an absolute minimum. Do they lose out on some revenue on busy days by doing that? Probably. Do they make more money over the course of a long season? I have no idea. Yeah, honestly, I can't imagine how difficult it must be to keep a park staffed when you rely on seasonal help. The 365 park have an advantage, as they can offer year round employment, but they still run into the same problem: people who work for $8 an hour and want to work in parks generally tend to be students, so their services are inherently going to revolve around the school year. Its not just the cash outlay, but also the logistics of working with a limited labor pool.
  2. I've spent way too much time standing in beer lines at Great Adventure in the middle of the summer when the park is "fully staffed" wondering who I had to blow to get a beer as I watched the one incompetent bartender pour beer into the center of the cup with 99% head to think that they care about speeding up food and beverage service (and that's at a bar where nobody is using a dining plan and every single person is paying with cash or on a card and the profit margins are ridiculous). You're right, but they don't care and they've never cared. You're lucky. I have visited SFStL on busy summer weekends where they're fully staffed at there isn't a bartender at all. Anywhere at the whole park. Gotta love my Florida parks. Pretty much every park in the state that I've been to has no beer jail at all, and you can bring booze in line with you. The other day I brought put my beer in the cubbies at BGT when I was riding. Talk about the ultimate "hold my beer" experience. No beer jail at BGT, SWO, both Universals, all four Disneyparks, and both FunSpots. Not sure about Legoland and the other rando' kiddie parks.
  3. I've spent way too much time standing in beer lines at Great Adventure in the middle of the summer when the park is "fully staffed" wondering who I had to blow to get a beer as I watched the one incompetent bartender pour beer into the center of the cup with 99% head to think that they care about speeding up food and beverage service (and that's at a bar where nobody is using a dining plan and every single person is paying with cash or on a card and the profit margins are ridiculous). You're right, but they don't care and they've never cared. So it seems to me like if the general consensus on here is that Six Flags is in good shape financially, and they have some smart guys making decisions at the executive level that the logical conclusion is that they don't really give two shakes about auxiliary revenue from concessions and retail, and are perfectly happy making their money off of memberships, passes, and ticket sales. The armchair executives and armchair analysts always seem to obsess over in-park spending, but if SF really cared about that, they'd make sure that everybody who wanted to spend money in the park, could very quickly and easily. In my opinion, there's a good chance that SF just really pulls in a ton of money getting people into the park, and that's enough to keep them happy.
  4. Man, I definitely love those SeaWorld parks. These and the Cedar Fair parks I think are the top two chains. Every chain has its pros and cons, but these two I think just go out of their way to make the experiences better for their customers.
  5. If I'm at the point where I'd have to take a bus to connect to something else, that's where I give up and just do a car or Uber directly. I put my time in living in Boston for several years taking the T or Ubering, only using my car once every 2-3 weeks or less. Generally, if there's an adequate place to park and I'm not planning on getting stupid drunk, I jut go with the car option. You weren't the one asking about if it is possible to do the two parks without a car though. I answered with how it is possible for the person asking... OK I guess it comes down to the phrasing of the question. Its possible, sure. I'm just not sure if its advisable.
  6. ... or just cut those positions entirely and keep churning out food at the same glacial pace that they do now. My money is on that option. But you would think that if you're going to cut back on any staff, that you shouldn't be doing it for the stuff where people are actually willing to hand over their money to you.
  7. Those issues will go away increasingly as I'm sure Six Flags (like everyone) will transition to having more and more touch screen ordering. They already do ordering on the App for food. Then they can move the staff back to primarily working on making it. I dream of that day. I get pretty excited as I see more and more over the counter restaurants going to app based ordering and touch screens (not necessarily at parks, but at everyday places). Unfortunately, there are a lot of kinks to work out, and I still see stand-by line customers getting priority over people who took the time to order online and wait virtually. If the kinks can get worked out, I can see the system really taking over. But at a certain point, we'll have to worry about the bots teaming up, and a Skynet or Matrix situation down the road... Well we'll cross that when we get to it.
  8. Easily solution: just load everything on a wristband with a barcode. And anyway, the problem with your argument is that with pass discounts, you have have the same problem as you just mentioned, plus people having to figure out how to pay as well. I still can't comprehend how somebody could screw up taking a pass out of your pocket and having it scanned, but I honestly don't doubt you knowing the average American. Yes, I'm a huge supporter of the bands, and short of that, loaded plastic wristbands with barcodes that can easily be cut off after the day is over. I've seen BGW use them and was blown away by the technology and efficiency. Haven't seen any other park use them though. The Magic Band is a whole other ball game. Disney goes above and beyond, but they also have their issues and inefficiencies from time to time. And for the record, Six Flags just has out of control lines for their concessions. The horribly understaff and have poor procedures and systems in place. I don't think that people digging pass cards out of their pocket has much to do with it. And that mostly hurts the park -- they get little to not benefit by the extra people in parks, as people aren't being turned over in the concession stands, and little extra food gets sold compared to a flow of people that meets the stands capacity.
  9. If I'm at the point where I'd have to take a bus to connect to something else, that's where I give up and just do a car or Uber directly. I put my time in living in Boston for several years taking the T or Ubering, only using my car once every 2-3 weeks or less. Generally, if there's an adequate place to park and I'm not planning on getting stupid drunk, I jut go with the car option.
  10. Well, I've thought about this, and I actually think that the smoke and mirrors does provide a pretty cool benefit that you might not think of that adds value: It makes the experience more cashless. I think that anything that the parks (or any business that focuses on entertainment, hospitality, or customer service) can do to eliminate the amount of times that you have to take out your wallet and pay for something the better. Its just a hassle and in my minds takes away from your experience. You're either taking cash out of your wallet and then dealing with loose change when you get change back, or you're fiddling around with the credit card machine, and waiting for the transaction to go through. To the extent that parks can figure out pre-loaded cashless payment systems, or build in free stuff with memberships/hotel stays, I think it goes a long way to making the experience more luxurious and fun for the customers, even if you take out the social engineering aspect on the park's end, or gaming the system on the customer's end. So to me, I try to prioritize perks that give you something for "free" (or at least something that you don't pay for) as opposed to perks that just give you discounts.
  11. Yes. This week is the busiest time of the year for all Florida Theme Parks. Looking at the crowd calendars it does look like attendance drops off a cliff after New Years for the Florida parks though.
  12. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a total credit whore to get me to a 317. It was a decent enough kiddie coaster, but it felt icky to wait 3.5 hours for a kiddie coaster. In all fairness, the posted wait time was 90 minutes, they just completely screwed up on that. The theming was pretty good. I liked how the beginning and end were outdoors, and the dark ride portion was in the middle, it was a nice twist. I also think that the swinging train aspect helps makes the turns smoother. Magic Kingdom is just getting out of control crowded these days. Maybe its just the holiday season that's doing it, but I've been twice in the middle of the week over the past month and a half, and its always completely mobbed. I've been able to figure out how to beat the other Disney parks.
  13. Well, the one thing that makes it hard to synergize with other levels is that to get access to the early entry gate to the right, you either have to actually have a Platinum or higher pass, or be using a 50% off or a bring a friend for free from a Platinum or higher holder. It sucks, but I figure when I go with my Gold friends, I can just use that time to get my two skip the line passes, and buy the Flash Passes for the group. It would be kind of an ass move if I started riding without them I think. But I try to synergize the food. My friend that I go on a lot of road trips with usually gets the full season meal plan for Cedar Fair, so we just trade back and forth on that. The group will share a meal when they're available, and we'll all go out and get real food at a restaurant or bar afterwards (well that's the plan, but usually we're so dead after the parks we jut go straight to the Airbnb).
  14. So it sounds like the answer is definitively no. If they did lock in the prices, I'm sure that they would have advertised that as a perk in big letters and exclamation points. I was thinking that offering to lock in prices would be a way to encourage people to keep renewing and forget about it, and for SF to get constant revenue. In this case, I'll certainly cancel as early as possible, and reconsider what I'm doing down the road. As I was saying, at the time I thought that it seemed like something that I wanted to do, but in practice, I just don't think that it has enough perks compared to the dirt cheap basic passes.
  15. To be honest, amusement parks are probably one area where you really need a car to make it work -- maybe an exception would be if you're staying with family and can get dropped off. Parks just rarely are close to public transportation, and long Uber rides will kill you. You may even be getting some crazy surge-charges when you're leaving and trying to get picked up. I could see not having a car if your plan is to fly in, stay at the same park the whole trip, and stay at a local hotel, but if you're going to be moving around you probably need a car in some capacity. For one thing -- you generally don't see big parks in downtown parts of major cities where you would see convenient public transit access. For that matter -- the public transit in America outside of a few cities is certainly something to be desired.
  16. But it's not really a "break even" though, right? The only people who get the meal deal and season passes who manage to only be at cost to Six Flags are people who go a lot - like probably 40+ times a year. Maybe your value per visit is only $25 or so when you get to the end of the year, but that's not what's relevant. What's relevant is that you spent $300 up front + whatever else you get. If you spent $100 on a season's pass w/parking in the past you would have needed to buy 14 $15 meals to even approach what you're spending now. They aren't spending anything extra, really, to acquire that money from you. They've even been able to push the price of food higher knowing that it will push you into buying a pass. I do the same thing. I think we all do. But I also understand why this makes money for Six Flags and why they're doing so well. All good points. Maybe after the season is over I'll sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate the savings I actually made and figure out the cost per use to see if it made sense or not. A speculative question that I've been wondering about: do you know if they lock in membership dues for life if you keep renewing? Or will they go up to market value whenever the prices change? If they were locked in, that might make bang my hand against the wall for doing such a high level, or make me think two or three times about keeping the pass.
  17. 1%ers can't spend enough at Six Flags to justify them being catered to. There aren't hotels. There aren't paintings for sale or crystal Bugs Bunny and Superman statuettes to buy. There's no luxury steakhouses or modern american restaurants with $50 entrees. There's no cruise ships to move people towards. Then you're getting a sense of value. And perhaps you renew if you're happy with it. So you spent like $250-300/person on products and services you don't intend to use? Like, you get that the pricing is in part based on expectation of consumption in addition to what the price has to be to get you to buy it, right? So whatever that "next to nothing was", should you willingly not use it, is them extracting money from you that you were never going to spend in park. The lines are because of the meal passes (getting utilization out of the staff which was already present, selling the stock already bought), of course, and selling a "premier" skip the line meal line pass would perhaps shorten the wait which was created by the passes in the first place. Again, you'd be paying more money into Six Flags for services you didn't ever need or want before because of other premium services you've purchased that never existed in the past. Is it starting to make sense now how Six Flags is making money? Like I've said before, I've seen plenty decent operations there compared to Cedar Fair parks. I'll take a Six Flags Great America or Great Adventure in October over Cedar Point or Kings Island in October any day. I think I'll come close to a break-even point or zoom past it, but I would also have been happy with a cut-rate pass and doing my own thing for food. My doubts were mostly about the pass taking away my flexibility, and the silliness of getting such an extreme pass when I live so far from even one Six Flags park. But I'm an extreme minority when it comes to how I go to parks. I wouldn't take what I do and consider that the norm. Heck, I live in Tampa, and they consider my home park to be Six Flags Magic Mountain. But I also make the money back because I try to strategize with my passes and hit certain chains harder when I have their pass in a given year, and take some time off afterwards. I'm going to see how it goes. If I'm blown away, I might continue to renew, and if I feel like it was overkill, I'll take some time off, and go back to Gold when I need to.
  18. Its all good, don't worry about it. I have fun writing about that kind of stuff and thinking about operations so its no hassle for me to write about. Don't feel obligated to get involved in my geekdom. I'm not saying that CF has great operations (outside of CP at full capacity), but just that it represents the middle of the spectrum, while SF represents the worst end of the spectrum. To TLDR version of my long post is just that more staffing, better training, and more thoughtful planning will always decrease wait times and add efficiency. But that also means more money, so it comes back to getting what you pay for.
  19. Funny, I was thinking about this on my drive to work. Obviously B&M does what they want, and doesn't really do anything revolutionary by the park's requests very often, but in the case of SFA, I was thinking it would make sense to make custom trains: Make them two across, and eight long, but make them with lapbars -- even if there had to be a floor. I think that having a coaster like that with lapbars and panoramic views would justify the conversion. And the ride barely gets much ridership anyway, so being four across is pretty unnecessary. It will still probably be a walk-on two across. But as I was saying, this would have to be B&M spearheading it. They don't generally make custom trains at the park's requests, and they're obviously still not ready to cross the inversions with lapbars threshold... even though there's absolutely zero reason to have OTSR's on a coaster like Iron Wolf if you aren't standing up.
  20. I'd use Turo. I've started using that over rental cars. Its like Airbnb or Uber, but for rental cars. You use an app, and rent cars directly from hosts. Sometimes they're regular people just looking for spare money, and lately some people are making real businesses out of the app. Its selling point is that its generally a lot cheaper than rental car companies (think the price between Airbnb and a hotel) and you get access to better, more luxurious cars compared to the rock bottom economy cars you'd get from a rental car company. And their minimum age is only 21, so you'd be all set. They also allow you to rent a stick, which is unheard of at rental car places. Only drawbacks are the occasional hassle of putting it together and doing some of the work yourself, having to pay an upcharge to get the car from an airport (but you can Uber to a parking lot and pick it up for no upcharge), and the mileage being limited (I think that its usually no less than 300 miles, so you can get to the LA parks, just no big road trips).
  21. Well, I think that the problem with appealing to 1%ers can be summed up by their relative scarcity, and the perception that going to amusement parks outside of Disney just isn't something that 1%ers do. But the motivation behind 1%ers is the income inequality in this country, and the exponentially higher profit margins you get from them. If you really want to do a lot of things and take your business to certain levels, you just need their cash, and in this country so much of our cash and wealth is loaded at the top. As I was saying, it wasn't really the best decision on my end, but from when I bought it through the end of the 2019 season, I'll probably be going to 8-10 Six Flags parks, so there's a good chance I'll be getting my money's worth out of it. Also, usually I'll just share my meals with my group, and we get real food afterwards. I got the meal plan, which was next to nothing with the level discount. One of my biggest regrets is that the food is so bad at SF parks, and the lines are so long for it. Honestly, I'd be more motivated to go to higher levels with the passes if you got to skip the lines for food. One of the motivations behind the pass was the two free skip the line passes and the Flash Pass discounts. Incidentally, with all of this talk about business -- its an interesting business model where they're able to actually profit off of their slow ops.
  22. I know that you were just citing an example and didn't want the example to be nitpicked, but I just want to state my case about greeters/crowd control: Its not that I really care about being "greeted", its about having a full complement of employees to properly run a ride. I can definitely tell that cutting back on staff in a given ride immensely affects wait times, congestion, rowdiness, and all around experience. Sure, to your point, the GP isn't walking around with a clipboard saying "uh-oh, no greeters, that's a demerit." But greeters and crowd control in my observation make the experience more smooth, efficient, and luxurious. Just look having four or more restraint checkers instead of only two. And in some cases, a Six Flags or local park will only have 1-2 employees in the entire ride, and they're responsible for checking restraints, crowd control, and dispatching the ride. In my view, a fully functioning ride would have the following: Greeter: They manage the Fast Pass/Quick Queue/Fast Lane, etc., do a once over of the guests to make sure they won't have any problems getting on, and do another one to make sure that they aren't carrying any loose articles that will slow the dispatch up. Crowd Control: They prioritize the Fast Pass/Quick Queue/Fast Lane, etc. vs. the regular line, receive the single rider line (a dying breed, but my fully functioning ride would have one), act as a back-up of the greeter's once over, make sure no shenanigans are going on in the queue line, and if your employees are good enough, you can teach them to count and group. In my opinion, having only the size of the train in the station pre-grouped ready to go without empty seats does wonders for speed, efficiency, and overall luxurious feeling. But in realty, you might need 4-5 staff between the greeter/crowd control to pull this off, and possibly more if the line has theming, pre-ride shows, or moving parts to it. Restraint checkers: If you have the money, going beyond two per loading station does wonders. Oh yeah, if you have the money, dual loading stations, tandem loading stations, and separate exit/entrance stations do wonders. Obviously you don't need as much staff on the exit station as the entrance station. But four restraint checkers does wonders compared to two. Interesting note: it looks like Disney is able to get away with the restraint checkers just telling you to tug on the restraints and observing you. Granted, they have less extreme rides, but even Rock N' Roller Coaster does this. I wonder if its due to looser Florida regs, or they pay their employees more and trust them. This is another topic I'm interested in. The ride op: this should be the most skilled employee stationed at a ride. Ideally they don't have to get up and are positioned where they can see the signals from all employees. Hopefully the ride is mechanically sound and it won't malfunction, make life hell for the ride op, and cause delays. I think that the more you're willing to invest in employees, the less you'll stack, the faster your ops will be, and the more smooth and luxurious the experience will be. Even if the consumers don't care about how the sausage gets made. I've noticed that the GP still hate waiting in line as much as we do, so the more you can do to crush lines, the better. Of the ~15-20 parks I've been to this year, most of them horrifically stack on most dispatches -- even SeaWorld/Busch. They've pretty much given up on three train ops because they can barely avoid stacking with two. While Universal has their problem rides, they're generally pretty efficient. Disney is scary efficient, partly because their rides aren't that extreme, and also because the rides are staffed to the extreme -- and also it seems like the guests are in general better at taking orders than other parks. Just my insights, I'd love to hear what other people think.
  23. I don't buy into it being a "race to the bottom" mentality. They're pricing for their market (which will never, ever be something akin to Disney parks) and they have management that understands that per capita spending isn't the end all-be all for success. I think back to Eddie Lampert's argument that his terrible operation of Sears was to increase margins by reducing costs related to things like renovations or branding. Obviously he intended to dismantle the company, but he had to have a rationale for doing so without going to prison, and that one fit even though it clearly and definitively was in total opposition to how the retail industry operates. I mean, I'm not disputing the financial health of the company as of 2018, but I can definitely tell that as a consumer, when I go to the parks, I don't exactly feel like I'm a living a lap of luxury. I've gotten back into coasters pretty hard in the past year after taking a sizable break other than going to about one park a year. In the past year I've been to about 20 different parks (I'll have to formally count at some point), and the two Six Flags parks being SFMM and SFoG. I still see very slow and disinterested operations on rides, no crowd control/greeters, and out of control lines in the concessions. Granted, I can gameplan to go when the crowds will be minimal or get a Flash Pass, but I can see how a lot of 1%er families wouldn't put up with what Six Flags does. Somehow, they got me to buy a Diamond Elite membership when the sale was going on, so that insulates me further. But as of now, I'm carrying six season passes: Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Kentucky Kingdom, Fun Spot, BGT/SWO, and Disney World M-F. You can get a SF season pass for dirt cheap, so I don't know how they got me to pay $200 a year for it, but it does make the park experience pretty easy, and I'll get some mileage out of it in 2019. For the record, I've done pretty much all the chains in 2018, and I still think that Cedar Fair is my favorite of them. I respect and love what Universal and DIsney does, but they just don't have the coasters I want. CF is the crosshairs of being pretty well run, efficient, and friendly, but also having elite coasters too.
  24. Well, the Great Recession was more of a depression really. It was so bad that even bargain entertainment options were hurting. But part of why Six Flags was doing so bad in those days may have just been due to poor management too that was coincidental to the meltdown. But as you guys are saying, it looks like Six Flags has made a miraculous turnaround in recent history. I just hope that they don't overextend as they buy up properties.
  25. Others are saying SF is well run and have provided measurable metrics (stock growth, dividend increases) to support why there think the park is well run. You have yet to provide any evidence or facts to back up your view, you only point out what you don't like. Six Flags horrible past has no bearing on the current situation. The company dissolved and went went complete restructuring after Dan Snyder. When it was repriced and brought with the new IPO, it was not a firesale and investors were still taking a risk. Dividends can only be given out and increased if the company performs. Granted if you start with a very low dividend it is easy to deliver quarter over quarter increases in the short term. Are you also implying that McDonalds and WalMart is not well run. The choice of a company to focus on low cost sales over service does not mean a company is not well run. A company that takes that approach and doesn't make money is not well run. No I was agreeing with you. I was saying that maybe Six Flags just makes its money because it uses the race to the bottom mentality. Cut costs as much as possible, pass the savings onto the consumer, and try to capitalize on that niche of the market.
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use https://themeparkreview.com/forum/topic/116-terms-of-service-please-read/