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Six Flags Magic Mountain Mark Shapiro Interview


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Today Theme Park Review was invited to come have a chat with Six Flags President and CEO Mark Shapiro as well as check out the first completed X2 train.

 

A lot of questions were asked, and I think you'll be very pleased with some of the answers! Be sure to listen to the interview below. It's in MP3 format and you can either stream it or download it.

 

As for some of the bullet points that were discussed outside of the audio portion of the interview, here you go:

 

TPR: When asked about taking out older rides -

Mark Shaprio: "It's about taking out what's not working. The old philosophy would just let rides sit there and rot. We are going to go through our park and clean them out. We have a master plan. You might not see an immediate exchange, but in time we will fill out the park."

 

TPR: When asked about 2009 at Six Flags Magic Mountain -

Mark Shaprio: "We are looking into a new coaster for 2009. Can I say anymore? No. We're also looking into Wiggle's World. "

 

TPR: What kinds of rides do you like?

Mark Shaprio: "I like big drops, but I'll be honest, I don't like to go upside down. Goliath is my favorite ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain."

 

TPR: Thomas Town looks like it will be well themed, you are adding new theming to X2, can we expect this level of theming with up coming attractions?

Mark Shaprio: "Everything we launch will come with a storyline, it will come with a theme. That's a focus for Six Flags moving forward. Historically it's been 'put down a ride where ever we have room', I don't believe in that. We want to do something for both families and the thrill seekers. Will Six Flags Magic Mountain gain back the coaster capital status? In due time, absolutely."

 

TPR: When can we expect X2 and Thomas Town to open?

Mark Shaprio: "Memorial Day weekend, 2008."

 

I can also mention two things that have not been announced yet that Shapiro talked about today. First off, in the location of Circus Wheel will be a new high-energy, complex Midway game. It will be a "3 point challenge Basketball Game" that promises will be full of entertainment for the guests. Not only the ones playing, but for spectators as well.

 

The Sky Tower will also be turned into the Sky Tower Museum. You'll see exhibits from past Magic Mountain rides on display and will give more reason to visit Sky Tower.

 

Anyway, onto the photos and onto the audio interview. There is quite a bit more covered in the audio portion of the interview - Fright Fest, attraction removals, where the park is headed in the next few years, etc.

 

Here we go.....

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I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Tim Burkhart, Mark Shapiro, and Jay Thomas for having us out today! Thanks guys!

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Some examples of what you might see in the new Sky Tower Museum.

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Opening this summer in the Sky Tower will be the "Sky Tower Museum" and will feature many different pieces of Six Flags Magic Mountain's history.

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In the area where Circus Wheel once stood will be a new "3 Point Challenge" basket ball game. It's kind of a midway game meets entertainment venue. From what we've seen it looks like it will have a lot of energy and be fun for spectators as well. So what about new rides you might ask? Shapiro tells us "be patient...we WILL fill out the park."

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Again, more improvements. Some of this work you just can't see when the park is open for obvious reasons, so it was nice for the park to invite us in during the off season to show off the investments being made.

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At the moment it's still just ripping up dirt!

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Quite a bit of work going on. We are told that vertical construction should be started by West Coast Bash.

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A new sign went up for Thomas Town yesterday. There's even kid sized holes in the wall so they can peek into the construction.

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Oooh....blue prints. I wonder what they could be for? Hmmm....

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During the mid-week off season huge sections of the park are being re-paved.

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It was time to take a look at some other improvements in the park. The old coffee shop will be turned into the "Cyber Cafe."

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This is will all be replaced when the ride re-opens Memorial Day weekend, 2008.

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Take one last look at all this old signage.

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This is X2's biggest fan.

(ps. The fire alarm says "HI JAHAN!")

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TWV coming out of the station.

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The transformation looks really nice!

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Check out the station.

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"Hey everyone! Me and my buddy Mr. Folder are having a good time on X2!"

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Looking down the lift hill.

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There's the new turn around.

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The paint job is pretty much done, and it looks AWESOME.

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Ok, ok, so it's not totally complete...but it's close.

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Train Wheel View (or TWV for short)

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Nice view of Viper from up here!

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To get some really cool photos, we got to walk the lift hill of X2.

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Hey! Who put their gum on the trains???

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Mark Shapiro, Jay Thomas, and Tim Burkhart tell us all about what's happening with Six Flags and Magic Mountain in the near future.

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This is the view that ride ops will see quite a bit. (with people...of course!)

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Good to know!

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"It's all about the new hotness!"

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"Hey guys...what about me?" Sorry old X, you're old and busted.

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Hows that for a close up view?

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For those of you studying the wheel assemblies, here's a few more shots for you.

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All of this old signage will be replaced with the X2 logo.

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Another shot of the train.

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Inside Seat.

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Outside Seat.

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The station track has been painted.

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Here it is...the very first X2 train. Complete!

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Hey guys! Make sure that lift motor is good and working.

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We arrive at the site of X2 where we will check out the first complete train and chat with Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro.

shapiro_interview_feb2008.mp3

Theme Park Review Interviews Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro. Listen to the interview now!

(NOTE: If the audio stream doesn't work, download the file at the end of the photos)

shapiro_interview_feb2008.zip

Mark Shapiro Interview - Download this .zip file to your hard drive. Unzip it. Then double click on the .mp3 file to listen.

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What a great interview! It sounds like Mark Shapiro really cares about the future of his parks. I think he has it spot on when he talks about variation in adding new rides. That's a good idea to mix things up a bit. Also, it really sounds like SFMM will be very worth while to visit. I've never been, but I hope I can in the near future!

 

EDIT: Hmm...I wonder if Shapiro can give Dick Kenzel a couple of lessons, but that's a story for another time.

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Wow, this guy is good. I'm really impressed with what he had to say. I can't wait to see what happens with SF parks in the next few years. I really feel like Shapiro has the right game plan. Any worries I might have had are now put to rest. I'm particularly excited about his move towards more themed attractions. That was the one question I was particularly interested in and he told me exactly what I wanted to hear. The future is lookin' good.

 

Thanks for the awesome interview, Robb! And thanks for asking a few of my questions, even I was directly the source!

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Man, he was sure stuck on the Tilt A Whirl remark!

 

Great interview though, it is nice to see a lot of positivity coming out of the management. Let's hope they keep this up.

 

(ps: thanks for asking my question even if he didn't directly answer it)

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^ Tilt-a-whirl has been in three locations. It was first where the Jolly Monster was (Goliath entrance) and it was called "Jolly Roger", it was next up on Baja Ridge near the entrance of the "Revolucion" (not the Revolutions entrance) and Viper where it was named "Balle de las Flores". And of course lastly it was where the Circus Wheel once was and surprise...it was called Circus Wheel.

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It sure seems like Mark Shapiro knows what he's doing.

I trust him, he seems like he cares about the future of the park and how to improve it. I love how he's approaching the improvements one step at a time.. I'm sure this year we will see lot's of improvements not only at SFMM, but other Six Flags parks as well.

 

I'm pretty confident that with Mark Shapiro in control, the future of Six Flags parks will greatly increase.

 

I'm glad the Tilt-A-Whirl is gone. I hate em'!

 

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Awesome Job Robb. Color me impressed. This is why TPR has is the most exciting "coaster" place to be on the net.

 

X2 looks amazing, and I'm as excited by the looks of it as I would be of a brand new coaster. I'm also very excited by what I heard from Mr. Shapiro today. I'm glad he isn't completely abandoning the thrill ride aspect of the park, so much as fleshing out each aspect of what the park needs.

 

I never thought I'd see the day I could once again begin to be proud to call Magic Mountain my home park.

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From the time Mark took over the company I said he knew what he was doing... and im glad to see how much he cares... The complete turnaround great adventure made is insane... Im looking forward to what he is gonna do with the rest of the company! Its great to hear that hes taking out the problematic rides and putting in new ones, and not wasting time and money on old outdated rides... The family is possibly the best market out there... its good to see them tapping into it hopefully he stays true to his word... I'd personally love to see a Six Flags park take 1st. in the Golden Tickets and knock down Cedar Point! Great interview!!!

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That was a great interview Robb. Mark seemed very enthused about the park and I can't wait to see all these improvements come to light over the next few years. His team's sense of humor was a nice change from the corporate speak you hear from so many other executive teams.

 

As for Skytower, last Saturday I noticed a huge aerial photo from the 80's up there. Now I know what it's for! Although, I do wish they'd bring back that snack bar near the base of the tower.

 

Oh ya, THANKS FOR ASKING MY QUESTION! I felt special for like 30 seconds.

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Wow i'm really impressed! I think this guy (Shapiro) really knows what he's talking about. Listening to him speak really made me want to just get up and go to a Six Flags park. I'm someone who wants to work in the amusement industry after college and i found what he had to say very motivating. It's someone like him that i would want leading myself and others. I agreed a lot with what he had to say and I cannot wait to see what he has planned for the near future.

I'm really excited for WCB now and just the overall park...too bad X2 wont be open by then

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Years of being a SF Fanboy has finally paid off.

 

Welcome, my friends.

 

Awesome interview Robb! What an awesome opportunity and you hit the nail right on the head with the questions.

 

So based on the X2 track pictures, it looks likes a train was run through the circuit.

 

The new X2 trains couldn't possibly have been running yet, if you look at all the pictures its not completely assembled. But I'm sure it'll be secretly ridden many times before opening day...

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So based on the X2 track pictures, it looks likes a train was run through the circuit.

 

Or do my eyes deceive me?

 

My name is William,

And I am SIX FLAGS!

 

As ^ said, the train isnt even complete yet so it can't have been around the circuit.

 

I'm guessing you're referring to the fact the red paint is missing from the points where the wheels contact the rails. It looks to me as though the rails have been painted but they have tried to avoid painting these contact sections.

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Looks more like where the brush marks end than than having been worn off by the wheels.

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For me, it's still a bit too early to proclaim this guy a saviour, but I do appreciate his aggressive nature towards the parks (can you tell he works with Dan Snyder?). Couple that with a clear message of PATIENCE for his parkgoers/enthusiasts, and I believe he's definitely got it together (hmm, maybe even moreso than Daniel ).

 

I really like the whole "if it doesn't work, get rid of it" mentality. It's almost like he's taking a very clear-cut "RCT" approach in real life. What, Deja Vu is a waste of time and money? Eh, right click it, trash it, and put a restroom there. Hey, at least people will consistently get to use that.

 

Nice work on the interview, Robb.

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TPR: When asked about 2009 at Six Flags Magic Mountain -

Mark Shaprio: "We are looking into a new coaster for 2009. Can I say anymore? No. We're also looking into Wiggle's World. "

 

TPR: Thomas Town looks like it will be well themed, you are adding new theming to X2, can we expect this level of theming with up coming attractions?

Mark Shaprio: "Everything we launch will come with a storyline, it will come with a theme. That's a focus for Six Flags moving forward. Historically it's been 'put down a ride where ever we have room', I don't believe in that. We want to do something for both families and the thrill seekers. Will Six Flags Magic Mountain gain back the coaster capital status? In due time, absolutely."

 

The coaster is probably going to be a Tony Hawk coaster.

 

From what this tells me is that SF still seems to want to go to the same Xtreme Park concept from before. That's good only as long as they still keep their eyes on the family aspect of the park and not add coaster after coaster each year.

 

Shapiro is doing a great job on turning the company around. The only thing I have against it is he could at least lower the prices for parking, admission, and food and drink stands in the parks.

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From what this tells me is that SF still seems to want to go to the same Xtreme Park concept from before. That's good only as long as they still keep their eyes on the family aspect of the park and not add coaster after coaster each year.

 

3:20 of the interview.

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