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Mark Shapiro Visits SFGAm


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Some interesting stuff in here. Like the locker policy.

 

Make sure to check out the comments with the link. Yikes.....

 

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=296367

 

The financial roller coaster that Six Flags is riding will have no impact on how the Gurnee theme park is run, CEO Mark Shapiro said Tuesday.

 

The New York-based company, struggling financially because of a $2.5 billion debt load taken on by previous owners' expansion sprees, says the customer will notice only improvements at all of its 20 parks.

 

Shapiro pointed to a new water ride, longer season, a cyber coffee cafe and additional concerts among the additions at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, the most profitable in the 20-park portfolio.

 

Meanwhile, the company was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in April and is in the process of preparing for a debt-for-equity offering. If that is a success, Six Flags may avoid bankruptcy filing this summer.

 

"We're going to restructure. We're intent on clearing our balance sheet once and for all," said Shapiro during an interview Tuesday at the Lake County park. "We're not afraid of (the debt)."

 

Despite the debt struggles, the company is coming off one of its strongest seasons ever. For the first time, the company turned a profit last year of $5 million to $10 million, after years of losses of as much as $100 million.

 

The profit was a big boost in proving that the changes Shapiro's team is making are working, he said.

 

"It was do or die last year. We needed to score and we did. It was a monster year," Shapiro said.

 

He stressed that Six Flags is different from a troubled auto company like Chrysler or General Motors in that his product, unlike automobiles, is selling. Attendance on Memorial day wast about 25,000, which is up from last year.

 

Shapiro said he's hoping to keep the momentum going.

 

Instead of lowering ticket prices across the board, he's stepping up advertising and pitching the "value" of a day at the amusement and water park combo, complete with concerts held throughout the summer.

 

"Six flags is a Disney experience with a lower price," he added. Attractions include thrill rides and family-oriented rides including the new $5 million Buccaneer Battle water ride.

 

Shapiro acknowledged families don't have lots of discretionary income, but he said they still feel a need to get away for the day and have fun. The company is also seeing increases in the purchase of season passes, which did go down in price to $70.

 

Next to the financial troubles, Shapiro said, his biggest challenge has been to restore the image at Six Flags Great America. Since he took over, the park has beefed up its work force and security to better offer a clean, family-friendly experience, he said. New rules including no smoking and no offensive clothing, address parents' concerns that unruly teens were dominating the park, he said.

 

"We have no tolerance for that," said the 37-year-old father of three boys ranging in age from 2 months to 8 years.

 

He stresses that it's a balancing act to attract both teens and families with young children.

 

Another aspect that brought some complaints last year were lockers that have been installed at the big roller coasters. Riders must pay $1 to lock up purses, bags and big stuffed animals before they ride.

 

Shapiro says the concept, taken from another amusement park, was implemented to cut down on theft and the amount of time people wait in lines. There are seven rides with the lockers, up from five last year.

 

He said the concept is working. The speed of the lines with lockers has improved by 20 percent and theft has decreased 30 percent, he said.

 

Shapiro has confidence in the future of the company. He and his management staff recently renewed their contracts. Under his four-year agreement, he will be paid a base salary of $1.3 million, with the potential to receive performance bonuses between $1.3 million and $2.6 million.

 

The former ESPN executive will continue to work to make the parks "standout" places to visit.

 

"So far, Gurnee is off to a rolling start," he said.

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If nothing can be left in the station, shouldn't theft decreased more than 30%. I still don't buy the whole speed of the line argumement. Lines move faster yes but I have been to other parks without lockers that still dispatch trains faster because they have more than 2 people checking a train that seats 32 or 36 people.

 

Plus there is the whole negative view of them. I see people getting annoyed every visit and I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't say anything and are annoyed by it. The comments say it all.

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^ Indeed. The goal of any park should be to make each guest's day as hassle-free as they reasonably can. Just trading one inconvenience for another really doesn't accomplish anything.

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The way I feel about lockers at parks is that you know very well going in that you will not be able to bring your belongings on the ride. And if you don't, you didn't do your homework. If you have more things than can fit in your pockets, you really can't complain that the park won't let you lug all that stuff into the station or on the ride. This removes a lot of hassle, confusion, and clutter in the stations which results in a more refined, safer station. I don't think paying $1 to put all of your excess things in a locker is that big of a deal. If you don't want to, just don't bring that much stuff. I would love to have my camera with me at parks, but since I don't want to have to deal with renting lockers, I just don't bring it. I only bring what can fit in my pockets, meaning just my wallet, phone, and car keys. Sure, it would be nice if these were free for a small time period, such as at Universal Studios, but I don't think it should be something park guests complain about. It's a convenience charge for if you want to have the luxury of carrying all of your things with you in the park instead of leaving them in your car and having to go out to the parking lot if you want them.

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LOL @

 

"Six flags is a Disney experience with a lower price," he added. Attractions include thrill rides and family-oriented rides including the new $5 million Buccaneer Battle water ride."

 

ALSO LOL @ THESE COMMENTS!!

 

posted by SwissCheese on Wed May 27, 2009 7:35 AM

 

$70 bucks for a season pass

 

$60 bucks for a season parking pass

 

$55.00 bucks for a hotdog/soda/chips for a family of 5

 

PRICELESS !!!!!

 

posted by Sam Haiin on Wed May 27, 2009 8:20 AM

 

Dirty. Expensive. Gangs.

 

posted by domino on Wed May 27, 2009 8:29 AM

 

Hey Emmentaler hate to break it to you, but the hotdog I had on Thursday was $8.99, and the water was $3.56. so times 5 that would be $62.75.

 

Priceless none the less...

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^ Since when was SFGAm closing? I've never heard this rumor before... I doubt SF would want to close their most profitable park unless there was a really good reason.

 

^^ Do you have some sort of hatred toward SF? Most of those comments seem to have been made by members of the GP who have had bad experiences in the past (by past I mean around 1999-2005) and the chain has reformed since then...

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I do not hate SF.

I personally only wish for them to open their eyes and see what it would take to increase attendance and make more money to save the company.

 

It's like they are either blind to the reality or they are just fooling themselves.

I mean do they seriously think they are going to get a "Disney" image by adding a $5 million water battle ride? Although Salvation is a step closer the reality is that they can't pull it off by simply building new rides and claiming that security has improved.

I've said it before, the biggest thing keeping families from going to Six Flags are the amount of trouble-makers. In some parks like SFA, the security seems to be too afraid of the GP to kick line-jumpers out of the park. The people that do this feel the entitlement to do so, and come back to the park for that very reason. I don't see this changing simply because of the sheer amount of this activity that occurs at these select few parks. The families that were disappointed with their trip to one of said SF parks are then less likely to visit a good SF park.

 

Although those comments are from the GP, it is the GP that will ultimately decide the company's fate. If they don't pull off the family image thing, I predict that the company will fail. And personally, I feel that it could possibly be out of their hands. But last year, as I waited in 2 hour queues for Superman ROS and Batwing at SFA and stood there as 10 different groups of city kids pushed past me and a security guard stood there and watched this activity occur, I couldn't help but place blame on the park management and ultimately the company itself, resulting in a grudge that lasts to this day. This grudge exists among many other former SF-goers outside the "GP".

 

Oh, and also how many times have you heard "nickle and dime you" from the GP regarding Six Flags? It's because the reality is you can get a better park experience from many other parks for the same price or cheaper, and some of those parks really are Disney quality (Busch anyone?)

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If nothing can be left in the station, shouldn't theft decreased more than 30%. I still don't buy the whole speed of the line argumement. Lines move faster yes but I have been to other parks without lockers that still dispatch trains faster because they have more than 2 people checking a train that seats 32 or 36 people.

 

Plus there is the whole negative view of them. I see people getting annoyed every visit and I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't say anything and are annoyed by it. The comments say it all.

Locker theft is a problem there. More then once I've seen people trying to or actually stealing from lockers during Fright Fest alone. I can only imagine how bad it is during the summer with the water park and such.

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^ Magic Mountain now has attendants outside all the lockers, which should help decrease theft if that move is reciprocated across the country.

 

Then again, if I had a dollar for everytime I heard "The locker won't open for me!" or "I lost my ticket!" ... :/.

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I really do not have an issue with the $1 lockers. Cedar Point and Busch Gardens has been doing this for YEARS before Six Flags started it. So Shapiro is absolutely spot on when he says they took the idea from another amusement park.

 

As for most enthusiasts, we know the drill when it comes to dealing with our crap on coasters, but have you watched the general public?

 

I can't tell you how many times I've see a train's dispatch held up 30 seconds or more from some chick who can't figure out what to do with her purse or some dude who goes through the process of stripping down his jacket and hoodie who then has to hop out of the train and put it on the side, jump back in the train, etc.

 

It makes it MUCH easier to just get rid of all that stuff before you get in the station. And if you're going to bring a bunch of crap with you (that you arguably could have left in the car) deal with paying $1. OMG a whole *DOLLAR*

 

If you are going to complain about spending money, moan about the $4 soda that you can get at 7-11 for $1.79 and even I don't complain about that kind of stuff because, well, I'm at a theme park. I know damn well when I go to a theme park, sporting event, concert, movie theater, etc, that I'm going to pay more money for concessions than I normally would.

 

And I don't think anyone should be surprised by this.

 

--Robb

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I still don't buy the whole speed of the line argumement. Lines move faster yes but I have been to other parks without lockers that still dispatch trains faster because they have more than 2 people checking a train that seats 32 or 36 people.

 

"Other" parks having more ride ops checking restraints has no bearing on the fact that dispatch times are noticeably quicker without people leaving bags on the station platforms at Six Flags' parks.

 

 

I do not hate SF.

 

But last year, as I waited in 2 hour queues for Superman ROS and Batwing at SFA and stood there as 10 different groups of city kids pushed past me and a security guard stood there and watched this activity occur, I couldn't help but place blame on the park management and ultimately the company itself, resulting in a grudge that lasts to this day.

 

So you don't hate SF, but you hold a grudge to this day. That's a little confusing.

 

As if it wasn't clear from your previous posts that you hold a grudge.

 

Too bad you hold a grudge you are missing out on some other SF parks that are run quite well.

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^ He's just saying that the lockers aren't the only solution to this problem.

 

I would have liked to see them take the same approach that Universal does, but I understand that for the coin operated lockers that isn't possible.

 

Jake "Packs Light" Sundstrom

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^Doubling the number of people checking restraints is going to cost money. Those employees are paid.

 

SF has found a solution to a problem without spending more money. For a company in deep debt, that is a good situation.

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The real reason for the policy isn't to speed up lines. It's to increase ad revenue.

 

Advertisers on SFTV are concerned that people waiting in line will be too distracted by their cell phones, ipods and other gadgets that they won't watch the commercials. So Shapiro comes back and says he makes all guests leave loose items in a locker before entering the line.

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The way I feel about lockers at parks is that you know very well going in that you will not be able to bring your belongings on the ride. And if you don't, you didn't do your homework. If you have more things than can fit in your pockets, you really can't complain that the park won't let you lug all that stuff into the station or on the ride. This removes a lot of hassle, confusion, and clutter in the stations which results in a more refined, safer station. I don't think paying $1 to put all of your excess things in a locker is that big of a deal. If you don't want to, just don't bring that much stuff. I would love to have my camera with me at parks, but since I don't want to have to deal with renting lockers, I just don't bring it. I only bring what can fit in my pockets, meaning just my wallet, phone, and car keys. Sure, it would be nice if these were free for a small time period, such as at Universal Studios, but I don't think it should be something park guests complain about. It's a convenience charge for if you want to have the luxury of carrying all of your things with you in the park instead of leaving them in your car and having to go out to the parking lot if you want them.

 

If they want to cut down on load times due to loose items then just put a separate bin in the queue about halfway through much like the ones KD uses on BL:SC,V:TBC & Ricochet so that you can pick them up as you exit the station & at the same time are clear of the platform so staff can load the next train.

 

Of course it's all about the extra $$ that Shapiro & Co. are able to rake in per guest that's the real logic behind such an assinine policy.

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The real reason for the policy isn't to speed up lines. It's to increase ad revenue.

 

Advertisers on SFTV are concerned that people waiting in line will be too distracted by their cell phones, ipods and other gadgets that they won't watch the commercials. So Shapiro comes back and says he makes all guests leave loose items in a locker before entering the line.

 

Yes and the next step is to not allow friends and family to enter the coaster queues together. Talking to those around you is distracting. For the record there are no TVs along the queue lines for any of SFGAdv's major coasters.

 

Of course it's all about the extra $$ that Shapiro & Co. are able to rake in per guest that's the real logic behind such an assinine policy.

 

So why don't they charge $2 per locker. But your are right, if SF took a proper tactic and charged $125-$150 for a season pass at all parks, they wouldn't need to charge for lockers

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^ Since when was SFGAm closing? I've never heard this rumor before... I doubt SF would want to close their most profitable park unless there was a really good reason.

Apparently there's a rumor floating around up there that the park may be closing. I talked to some family in Gurnee last week and they told me that they heard it was going to remain open for another year. I didn't have alot of time to ask them to elaborate on it much further, though.

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Im gonna cut in the locker convo here because of personal experience. I was a rides supervisor at SFGAm when they introduced the lockers spring last year. I couldnt go ANYWHERE without getting pestered about the lockers. Every time I walked by a rides entrance people would make sure to let me know how they felt about it. People would demand to talk to my supervisors, park managers, company executives, etc because they thought it was a ripoff. I couldnt even go to class without students/proffesors complaining to me about it. I felt really bad for the 15 year old employees they hired to stand out there and take the heat all day and hope its working better for them now.

 

What really makes it funny is that they tested a few ways the year before, and the other ways worked really well and the lockers did horrible. At GADV for example they tested station lockers and it worked very well, at SFMM they tested the sliding bins and that worked very well, and at SFOG they tested the entrance lockers and it was a disaster, slowed down the dispatches a lot and pissed off a lot of people. And naturally, thats what they went with. But thats SF for ya.

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^Those test lockers at SFGAdv were on Nitro and slowed down the dispatches more than the old bin system. Lockers were not always opened properly and/or in a timely manner, customers were confused which lockers were for their trains and there were still people climbing over each other to get back into their seats after placing their valuables in the lockers.

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The real reason for the policy isn't to speed up lines. It's to increase ad revenue.

 

Advertisers on SFTV are concerned that people waiting in line will be too distracted by their cell phones, ipods and other gadgets that they won't watch the commercials. So Shapiro comes back and says he makes all guests leave loose items in a locker before entering the line.

 

But they allow cell phones, ipods and anything else that you can fit in a pocket in line.

 

Im gonna cut in the locker convo here because of personal experience. I was a rides supervisor at SFGAm when they introduced the lockers spring last year. I couldnt go ANYWHERE without getting pestered about the lockers. Every time I walked by a rides entrance people would make sure to let me know how they felt about it. People would demand to talk to my supervisors, park managers, company executives, etc because they thought it was a ripoff. I couldnt even go to class without students/proffesors complaining to me about it. I felt really bad for the 15 year old employees they hired to stand out there and take the heat all day and hope its working better for them now.

 

I guess all the complaining didn't work because the article said more rides got lockers this year and Great Adventure added them to Skull Mountain and Scream Machine this year as well as at the log flume and rapids. Not counting kiddie coasters, 9 out of 11 coasters have them now

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