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Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread


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SF is not a well run company so they don't always make the smartest choices and plan ahead.

 

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.

 

Yeah, nothing like posting a link from the official website to show authority from a source. Their stock was in the gutter for so long that increasing dividends and the rising price of the stock doesn't mean much. It just means that the people who bought it on a firesale before are seeing it coming back to Earth now. But I can also agree that its just the Wal Mart/Spirit Airlines/Megabus/McDonald's of amusement parks... at best. Their model is to cut costs and give families a serviceable experience with no bells and whistles.

 

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.

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And to add that is a blanket statement to apply to the market in general and even among entertainment stocks. Recession or not, a big part of it depends on the company's business model. Generally speaking regional entertainment does OK in recession periods because people are cutting back on big vacations and look for things closer to home. In SIX's case their plan to create licensing and leasing deals should set them up nicely regardless of any small dips in the economy. If/when they get the China parks online that will be a huge revenue stream for them that can help balance out softness here. They shared that the 5-7 year goal for the first China complex is upwards of 7 million guests a year. That's big revenue numbers from licensing.

 

And overall SIX has done a great job about value perception (according to the CEO in a recent earnings call the value perception rating has never been higher from guest surveys). If things in the economy slip and you look to cut out things, they have positioned the passes at such a great value it might no longer be the first thing a family cuts when for ~125 bucks/person a year they can entertain their kids and have them feed. Compared to a movie or a sporting event, SIX is a great value. They have said as much in calls that the passes are designed to get those incremental visits from guests when they think "what should we do this weekend? oh we have passes, let's go there."

 

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.

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In a global recession, everyone is going to be hurting. Everyone. Six Flags is in a position that is relatively safe because the cost of creating a competitor product in the markets where they are is so absurdly high, no one will do it. That's one of the reasons for the high valuation. If the concern is "what if there's a downturn," then what of Cedar Fair? They have a far higher amount of debt-to-revenue, no real potential for international licensing deals since they don't really have a "brand" - I don't even know that they can use Knott's since Smucker's bought the brand in 2008 - and some of their biggest parks are in lousy markets for an economic correction - Cleveland and Cincinnati.

 

People apply the thinking that Six Flags is Six Flags, and that's just not the reality at all. When did Six Flags run multiple trains like they do now in the late 1990s/early 2000s? Practically never.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal). Most people aren't as critical of parks as coaster enthusiasts (Example: You citing an apparent lack of greeters at Six Flags as something that bothers you about their parks when you're probably the only one on the face of the planet that cares).

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal).

I can think of four exceptions - Northern California (Discovery Kingdom and Great America), southern California (Magic Mountain and Knott's), Washington DC / Fredericksburg VA (America and Kings Dominion), and Philadelphia PA (Great Adventure and Dorney Park).

 

Obviously some locations have a better park (Kings Dominion and Six Flags Great Adventure), but the difference in perception for a weekend warrior and / or their family isn't as great as we here make it out to be...

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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.

 

There are three problems here with looking to appeal to 1%er families:

 

1) They are 1%ers. That means there are 3 million of them in the entire United States. Six Flags' needs to appeal to significantly more people than that.

 

2) They already have products they like - Disney World, luxury resorts, adventure travel.

 

3) If they decide they want big coasters, then often Six Flags is the only real game in town. They're by far the most convenient "big coaster" park for the people living in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta.

 

Somehow, they got me to buy a Diamond Elite membership when the sale was going on, so that insulates me further.

 

They got you to pay, what, 2.5x/3x more than you would have paid for a standard season pass (probably something close to a Platinum Pass) to get food that is priced at only a profit margin of 300% and some slips to ride a couple things with a minimal wait which are handed to you by a staff member that was already being paid. Sounds like their pricing scheme worked! Think how many times you would need to show up with a standard pass to generate the same amount of revenue from you.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal).

I can think of four exceptions - Northern California (Discovery Kingdom and Great America), southern California (Magic Mountain and Knott's), Washington DC / Fredericksburg VA (America and Kings Dominion), and Philadelphia PA (Great Adventure and Dorney Park).

 

Exactly, and in the non-California examples I still feel like you have two parks (Dorney and Six Flags America) that are primarily appealing to the ultra-local market, in large part because of the free water parks. They're not really trying to compete otherwise.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal).

I can think of four exceptions - Northern California (Discovery Kingdom and Great America), southern California (Magic Mountain and Knott's), Washington DC / Fredericksburg VA (America and Kings Dominion), and Philadelphia PA (Great Adventure and Dorney Park).

 

Exactly, and in the non-California examples I still feel like you have two parks (Dorney and Six Flags America) that are primarily appealing to the ultra-local market, in large part because of the free water parks. They're not really trying to compete otherwise.

 

Knott's is basically the Orange County locals park for people priced out of Disney, while Magic Mountain is the locals park for people who live outside the valley or aren't super rich kids. SFA doesn't draw much from NoVA but does from Prince George County (predominantly African American but still upper middle class suburb) because reasons.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal).

I can think of four exceptions - Northern California (Discovery Kingdom and Great America), southern California (Magic Mountain and Knott's), Washington DC / Fredericksburg VA (America and Kings Dominion), and Philadelphia PA (Great Adventure and Dorney Park).

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal).

I can think of four exceptions - Northern California (Discovery Kingdom and Great America), southern California (Magic Mountain and Knott's), Washington DC / Fredericksburg VA (America and Kings Dominion), and Philadelphia PA (Great Adventure and Dorney Park).

2q86to.jpg

Hmm, Worlds of Fun is pretty much on the opposite side of the state as Six Flags St. Louis. Hersheypark and BGW are closer to DC than the two Missouri parks I mentioned are to each other.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal). Most people aren't as critical of parks as coaster enthusiasts (Example: You citing an apparent lack of greeters at Six Flags as something that bothers you about their parks when you're probably the only one on the face of the planet that cares).

 

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.

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Hmm, Worlds of Fun is pretty much on the opposite side of the state as Six Flags St. Louis. Hersheypark and BGW are closer to DC than the two Missouri parks I mentioned are to each other.

Missourians don't think much of driving to the other side of the state. Lots and lots of us will day trip it and not even need a hotel. That's not just true of the park visitors, either; water cooler talk is full of people who drove across the state to a ball game, concert, or some other entertainment. It's not that big a state, and we're used to it.

 

I grew up having SDC season passes but we went to one of the other two about once a year. All the kids I grew up with did the same, and even as an adult I've met a lot of people at all three parks who do this. It's really common.

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There are three problems here with looking to appeal to 1%er families:

 

1) They are 1%ers. That means there are 3 million of them in the entire United States. Six Flags' needs to appeal to significantly more people than that.

 

2) They already have products they like - Disney World, luxury resorts, adventure travel.

 

3) If they decide they want big coasters, then often Six Flags is the only real game in town. They're by far the most convenient "big coaster" park for the people living in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta.

 

 

They got you to pay, what, 2.5x/3x more than you would have paid for a standard season pass (probably something close to a Platinum Pass) to get food that is priced at only a profit margin of 300% and some slips to ride a couple things with a minimal wait which are handed to you by a staff member that was already being paid. Sounds like their pricing scheme worked! Think how many times you would need to show up with a standard pass to generate the same amount of revenue from you.

 

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.

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With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal). Most people aren't as critical of parks as coaster enthusiasts (Example: You citing an apparent lack of greeters at Six Flags as something that bothers you about their parks when you're probably the only one on the face of the planet that cares).

 

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.

 

Yeah, I don't care.

 

I don't want to sound like a jerk and just respond to that long of a post by simply saying "I don't care" in a dismissive tone and that's not my intention but that's my opinion. I also don't see a big difference in Six Flags operations and Cedar Fair operations across the board. I think most people just see great summertime ops at Cedar Point and act as if that's commonplace chain-wide all season. Do I see a big difference in peak operations at parks like Carowinds, Dorney, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Valleyfair or Cedar Point in the Spring or Fall vs the average Six Flags park? No, and in some cases Six Flags is probably better.

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Yeah, I don't care.

 

I don't want to sound like a jerk and just respond to that long of a post by simply saying "I don't care" in a dismissive tone and that's not my intention but that's my opinion. I also don't see a big difference in Six Flags operations and Cedar Fair operations across the board. I think most people just see great summertime ops at Cedar Point and act as if that's commonplace chain-wide all season. Do I see a big difference in peak operations at parks like Carowinds, Dorney, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Valleyfair or Cedar Point in the Spring or Fall vs the average Six Flags park? No, and in some cases Six Flags is probably better.

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Then you're getting a sense of value. And perhaps you renew if you're happy with 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.

 

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.

 

Honestly, I'd be more motivated to go to higher levels with the passes if you got to skip the lines for food.

 

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?

 

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.

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Then you're getting a sense of value. And perhaps you renew if you're happy with 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.

 

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.

Honestly, I'd be more motivated to go to higher levels with the passes if you got to skip the lines for food.

 

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?

 

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.

 

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.

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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 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.

 

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.

 

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.

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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 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.

 

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.

 

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.

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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.

 

I look at it like this: Did I save money with my Gold Pass this year? Well, if I compare the value of the Gold Membership to the cost of individual entries to the parks, sure, I saved money vs. paying to go to SFOT twice, SFGAmer, La Ronde, SFStl, and SFMM. Now, if I didn't have a pass, would I have gone to SFOT twice? Nah. I'd have gotten a QBot and gone for one really exhausting day. Would I have gone to La Ronde? No. SFGAmer? No. SFStl? No. SFMM? Definitely not - that was a work trip and I got 5 hours sleep that night while everyone else with the team spent a long night in bed. I had to pay for hotels and gas and car maintenance and Ubers for all this. I never really come out ahead compared to spending my time birding or hiking because of the other costs involved.

 

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.

 

The official language is:

 

You agree that Six Flags may change your monthly membership payments any time after the expiration of the Minimum Term. Six Flags will give you notice of any change in your monthly membership payments before the new payment amount goes into effect, by sending a notice to the email address you provide. If you do not wish to continue your membership at the new payment amount, you must cancel your membership as described in the Cancellation Procedure below. When the new payment amount goes into effect, Six Flags will charge your Card for the new monthly membership payments of all Members, unless you cancel according to the terms of this agreement. You acknowledge that your monthly membership payments may be different from others’ monthly membership payments because of discounts or promotions offered to others for which you may not be eligible or which are not available at the time you sign up.

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All this "is it worth it for the Diamond Elite membership" talk and I'm just sitting here with my gold season pass for all the parks with parking that cost me less than $75.

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The official language is:

 

You agree that Six Flags may change your monthly membership payments any time after the expiration of the Minimum Term. Six Flags will give you notice of any change in your monthly membership payments before the new payment amount goes into effect, by sending a notice to the email address you provide. If you do not wish to continue your membership at the new payment amount, you must cancel your membership as described in the Cancellation Procedure below. When the new payment amount goes into effect, Six Flags will charge your Card for the new monthly membership payments of all Members, unless you cancel according to the terms of this agreement. You acknowledge that your monthly membership payments may be different from others’ monthly membership payments because of discounts or promotions offered to others for which you may not be eligible or which are not available at the time you sign up.

 

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.

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