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With the financial difficulties at Zhonghong. there is certainly someone within the Six Flags corporate structure tasked with keeping an eye on SEAS and occasionally puts feelers out to SEAS. There is just as surely someone within the CF corporate structure that does the same.

 

I didn't see anything misleading about the original story in the Orlando Sentinel. If people decide to put more credence in the shaky source with a lack of details that's on the reader not the contact reporter. If this article is written by a feature writer, that's a completely different scenario.

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With the financial difficulties at Zhonghong. there is certainly someone within the Six Flags corporate structure tasked with keeping an eye on SEAS and occasionally puts feelers out to SEAS. There is just as surely someone within the CF corporate structure that does the same.

 

I didn't see anything misleading about the original story in the Orlando Sentinel. If people decide to put more credence in the shaky source with a lack of details that's on the reader not the contract reporter. If this article is written by a feature writer, that's a completely different scenario.

 

When I worked at SFMM many years ago (during the height/end of the spending spree that ultimately led to BK), Busch representatives visited the park numerous times with the intent being to check out the park for a potential purchase.

 

Are we at the point a purchase is imminent? No way. But I have no doubt someone from Six Flags at least explored (or is still exploring...) the option.

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With the financial difficulties at Zhonghong, there is certainly someone within the Six Flags corporate structure tasked with keeping an eye on SEAS and occasionally puts feelers out to SEAS. There is just as surely someone within the CF corporate structure that does the same.

 

I didn't see anything misleading about the original story in the Orlando Sentinel. If people decide to put more credence in the shaky source with a lack of details that's on the reader not the contract reporter. If this article is written by a feature writer, that's a completely different scenario.

 

Zhonghong's stake in Seaworld cost them over $400 million in 2017. They just defaulted on $174 million in bonds. Yeah, doesn't look good for Zhonghong. And yeah, they could raise the cash by selling off all or part of their 22% stake in Seaworld (they could theoretically sell off a quarter of the stake to raise the cash and still maintain control of the board). The issue is ... who is going to buy it? Six Flags' has about $68 mill in cash on hand and another $230 mill or so they can borrow against in a credit facility. Cedar Fair has more - $145 mill or so in cash for investing and another $160 mill or so they can get ahold of by financing it (they have a credit facility, but only for operations, not financing). Even if Zhonghong wants to take a 50% loss in valuation on that stake - which they most likely wouldn't want to do unless absolutely necessary - neither SF or CF is in a position to buy it. I'm sure the management groups of all three parks are in contact though, as that's common industry practice. Portfolio managers routinely check in on companies that are on their watch lists. It could easily be a twice-yearly visit from SF triggered a rumor and some admin ran with it. Stranger things have happened.

 

As for the article, most large papers don't actually employ regular journos other than editors and big-name feature writers. They largely rely on freelancers who get a lot of their information much the same way we do - scraping through internet forums, Facebook groups, reddit subs and other places insiders are wont to post about their jobs. The piece itself is pretty innocuous if not exactly rooted in reality for the reasons listed above, but it's not exactly what the Columbia J-School would label "good journalism" ... or really, "journalism".

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If Six Flags was wanting to buy SEAS, I don't think it is unreasonable right now that they could find an institutional lender willing to to finance the transaction. They might have to sell off some stuff afterwards (e.g. Aquatica San Diego) but I can't see a situation in which they'd be forced to rely purely on their cash in hand and revolving credit.

 

Anyways, journalism is dead and signal boosting no-name bloggers is in.

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If Six Flags was wanting to buy SEAS, I don't think it is unreasonable right now that they could find an institutional lender willing to to finance the transaction. They might have to sell off some stuff afterwards (e.g. Aquatica San Diego) but I can't see a situation in which they'd be forced to rely purely on their cash in hand and revolving credit.

 

You're probably right in that, especially since they voted to double the amount of common stock they can issue in May. And right now isn't a terrible time to borrow, what with the Fed announcing no rate hikes for the next year. I think the issue is still desire to take on those liabilities along with the assets and the debt load. I think every park watcher and person familiar with the industry read that and immediately thought of the SeaWorld of Ohio/Geauga Lake/Worlds of Adventure disaster x 3.

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You're probably right in that, especially since they voted to double the amount of common stock they can issue in May. And right now isn't a terrible time to borrow, what with the Fed announcing no rate hikes for the next year. I think the issue is still desire to take on those liabilities along with the assets and the debt load. I think every park watcher and person familiar with the industry read that and immediately thought of the SeaWorld of Ohio/Geauga Lake/Worlds of Adventure disaster x 3.

 

Like I said; different companies, different management, different perspectives. Even with Six Flags' disappointing numbers in 2018, everyone seems to have seen attendance dropoffs too minus SEAS, and that you might attribute to SEAS simply bottoming out after years of backsliding and financial disaster. Six Flags' business model is not what it was in the 1990s or 2000s, and they've actually been super successful with it.

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At the time I thought Cedar Fair was biting off more then it could chew when they purchased the paramount parks. Fast forward 10 years and it doesn't look so bad now.

 

Their debt to revenue ratio is still way worse than Six Flags', but they also have really strong assets with those parks that I think they're getting a better hold of how to maximize value on. And a big part of that is...wait for it...large passholder base.

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But in other news, I got a survey a couple days ago from Six Flags asking about all kinds of stuff related to the Flash Pass program. It sounds like they're considering different options for season Flash Passes, but with various restrictions like what day it can/can't be used (any day, no weekends, no Tuesday), or what time of day it can be used (any time, after 2PM, after 4PM), or whether or not you'd need to get an advance reservation and how far in advance that might be (none, 24hrs, 3 days), or how many rides are available (5-30, but no mention of which rides those could be or if it was the number of line skips you get independent of which attractions you can ride).

 

Not sure if this new Season FP would be an option in addition to what they currently have or in place of those. The feature sets and price points were all over the map, with a lot of feature/price combinations that just made no sense at all and couldn't possibly be economically viable (like a minimally-restricted Platinum FP for $50, or a really-locked down Regular FP for like $250)

 

Got another survey today, this time about employee grooming: "Your feedback today will have a direct impact on whether or not we change our policy and will be personally reviewed by the company CEO." Not sure exactly what they're going for since the first part was asking about an employee's appearance with a very badly photoshopped hair dye job, but the last 2/3 was all about short, well-groomed beards/goatees for male employees. So maybe they're thinking of relaxing their grooming standards to allow unnatural hair colors and facial hair? Who knows though.

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Got another survey today, this time about employee grooming: "Your feedback today will have a direct impact on whether or not we change our policy and will be personally reviewed by the company CEO." Not sure exactly what they're going for since the first part was asking about an employee's appearance with a very badly photoshopped hair dye job, but the last 2/3 was all about short, well-groomed beards/goatees for male employees. So maybe they're thinking of relaxing their grooming standards to allow unnatural hair colors and facial hair? Who knows though.

 

They clearly stated in the survey that they were considering changing their policy on employee facial hair!

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Wow, so they're making a distinction between Outback Steakhouse and a good steakhouse? Are they throwing shade because Outback dropped their sponsorship of the Australia section of Safari Off Road Adventure? The world may never know.

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The survey was hilarious! This was my favorite question:

 

I got a high-end steakhouse, Red Robin, and Taco Bell in mine.

 

Ooo, the plot thickens! Now I'm curious as to what other options there are and if it's based on what park you picked or what?

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I had

Six Flags Great Adventure

Hilton Garden Inn

Outback

Downtown Tattoo Parlor

and I don't remember the specifics of the other two. I remember one being high end and one being downscale.

 

Based on Your Local Grocery store being an option, I don't think the options are customized by your location or the park you picked. Also, all the chains mentioned to date are national in nature as not cause too much confusion. So they probably have a list of at least 12 businesses and the ones you receive in your survey are randomized, with the exception of the Six Flags park you choose.

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The survey was hilarious! This was my favorite question:

I received a similar survey for SFoG but the 'other' establishment options were different. There was Taco Bell, 'local family park' and others.

 

On another topic, I posted a couple weeks ago about not being able to access the pass holder / member portal through my phone and my desktop PC. After attempting unsuccessfully to get help on this at my home park as well as national tech support, I attempted to login on my laptop and I got through. Strange though that I have to get out my laptop to reserve Diamond parking but at least it works.

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I think the Taco Bell appearance would be a curve ball. I've been to Taco Bells where the employees are pretty well kept and friendly, but ours is very.... urban...

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The survey was hilarious! This was my favorite question:

 

I got a high-end steakhouse, Red Robin, and Taco Bell in mine.

 

Ooo, the plot thickens! Now I'm curious as to what other options there are and if it's based on what park you picked or what?

The most hilarious one I got, and mind you, I chose Six Flags St. Louis which is closest to me, was Ritz Carlton. I'd like to meet the single person in the world who has a membership to Six Flags St. Louis and also frequents Ritz Carlton hotels.

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