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Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread


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On 8/11/2022 at 9:26 AM, Manic Monte said:

Actually, if anyone is coming off upset, it's you. 

LMAO, quite the contrary, I think its hilarious. I'm coming off harsh about those who are trying to defend corporate Six Flags. This board came in years ago saying they were determined to keep Six Flags going in an upward direction. They say they wanted to do so with input from the employees and clientele from each park. As they continued to say they wanted this input, they did the complete opposite. Management that had been there decades started leaving, park presidents retiring, the masses out the door, guests complaints more and more by the years. Those of us that decided to leave warned exactly what would happen if they continued, and look at where its at. This was a long time coming, even before the pandemic, the pandemic just made whats happening now premature a few years. I said it would be 2025 of what we're seeing here in 2022. I just don't get how people are defending corporate Six Flags, a few people here are prime examples. Many Six Flags parks were once top notch parks, some even world renowned... can't say that now at all. So many people get pissy with Six Flags or other parks because the park didn't build a 600Ft, 180mph rollercoaster. I can give 2 craps less about things like that. What makes Six Flags utter crap now a days, is corporate not allowing the parks to run individually as they did for 20, 30, 40 years. They wanted to make them identical across the board... you just can't do that. Next, these parks LOOK horrible and run down. They refuse to spend money to fix things properly, instead patch, glue, and ghetto fix things over and over, which in turns end up costing just as much over time, and still not getting the job done. The lack of care of broken promises to employees affects employees negatively, in return, you get less enthusiastic employees. Employees aren't given tools and resources needed to do their jobs correctly.... you can go on and on with the issues with this corporation. It is so bad that it is literally funny.

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7 minutes ago, parkjunkie said:

LMAO, quite the contrary, I think its hilarious. I'm coming off harsh about those who are trying to defend corporate Six Flags. This board came in years ago saying they were determined to keep Six Flags going in an upward direction. They say they wanted to do so with input from the employees and clientele from each park. As they continued to say they wanted this input, they did the complete opposite. Management that had been there decades started leaving, park presidents retiring, the masses out the door, guests complaints more and more by the years. Those of us that decided to leave warned exactly what would happen if they continued, and look at where its at. This was a long time coming, even before the pandemic, the pandemic just made whats happening now premature a few years. I said it would be 2025 of what we're seeing here in 2022. I just don't get how people are defending corporate Six Flags, a few people here are prime examples. Many Six Flags parks were once top notch parks, some even world renowned... can't say that now at all. So many people get pissy with Six Flags or other parks because the park didn't build a 600Ft, 180mph rollercoaster. I can give 2 craps less about things like that. What makes Six Flags utter crap now a days, is corporate not allowing the parks to run individually as they did for 20, 30, 40 years. They wanted to make them identical across the board... you just can't do that. Next, these parks LOOK horrible and run down. They refuse to spend money to fix things properly, instead patch, glue, and ghetto fix things over and over, which in turns end up costing just as much over time, and still not getting the job done. The lack of care of broken promises to employees affects employees negatively, in return, you get less enthusiastic employees. Employees aren't given tools and resources needed to do their jobs correctly.... you can go on and on with the issues with this corporation. It is so bad that it is literally funny.

Actually, SF has been refreshing the parks with landscaping as well as improving food quality.  I cannot speak for each and every SF park but here at SFoG much has been done.  Two legacy roller coasters  here have received complete overhauls in the past couple years, including new track and fresh paint and theming.  The food quality has greatly improved at most locations.  These are things that have not been done in decades.  That is the good part.

On the flip side, employee service has remained hit-or-miss, with some really bad attitudes.  There are many nice folks working here but there are far too many bad experiences too.  While the food is better, getting it is still a challenge with long waits and sometimes poor service, though lower attendance has reduced the waits on some days.

It does appear the current CEO's strategy of lowering attendance with higher prices has backfired though.  Raising prices during a period of inflation was a double blow.  And without a major new attraction, many would-be guests have stayed away and spent their discretionary dollars elsewhere.  (The new landscaping is nice but no one is coming to the park just to see it, just sayin')  

The chain should have waited a year to raise prices and then paired that with adding a major new attraction at all (if not most) of the parks.  It is difficult to justify such a steep price hike while not getting added value for it, but instead getting reduced hours and schedules.  

On the surface it seems like Mr. Bassoul is making some bold (albeit risky) moves in an effort to change things up.  Unfortunately everything else we are hearing about the current CEO is not good.  I know this chain could be exceptional if the right leadership were found.  SF once set the standard for theme parks.  Angus Wynne has been turning over in his grave for awhile now.

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Six Flags' biggest problem is that their parks are not stratified properly.

Even stores like Louis Vuitton have stratified stores, they have their Pinnacle stores which get all the latest and most exclusive stuff vs their Outfitter locations that only carries the most classic time-tested LV products. This is how LV thrives in boring places like DC or Aspen, and flashy places like Las Vegas and Miami. 

Six Flags has no stratification in place like this.

 

Off-hand SFMM should be the Flagship and should receive what other parks get before any other park. WW should have been installed before NJ Devil and been the first of a trio. SFMM receiving it a full calendar year before Great Adventure or Great America would place SFMM in the Pinnacle position. 

Obviously the Pinnacle should be the most attended park and should serve as the preview for what to expect in the other parks. Trickled down. 

Another one, SFMM should have received Aquaman first, not SFOT. That is another ridiculous oversight that compromises the brand as a whole. SFMM should have gotten Aquaman for a full calendar year then they can build clones all over if they choose. Six Flags needs a centralized department that creates Trios or Quartets of rides to be installed in a strategic manner across the country. Each park should have a one-off rides to ensure it is unique in some way. 

The installation of the arrow triplets (viper shockwave gasm) and batman clones IS six flags dna. 

Six Flags should consider selling off all their lowest performing parks, namely SFA.

A park like SFA has so little to do with a 'real' Six Flags like Great Adventure it shouldn't even have the Six Flags name. 

 

They should seriously consider dropping 100 million on SFMM to turn it into the Pinnacle. SFMM has been neglected since honestly 2008. 

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6 hours ago, parkjunkie said:

LMAO, quite the contrary, I think its hilarious. I'm coming off harsh about those who are trying to defend corporate Six Flags.

OK so you originally replied to me so I'd like you to point out where I defended corporate Six Flags.

You are delusional.  🤣🤣

(Sorry for the double-post, but I missed this absolute gem.)

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Whenever a theme park company has a bad quarter, people fall over eachother to explain that the reason for the bad quarter is whatever they don't personally like about the company to validate themselves. The reality though, is that 99% of these complaints would have applied for years even in times where they were making tons and tons of money. When you're trying to figure out why this year sucks compared to last year, the easiest place to start looking is wherever there has been an actual change between this year and last year.

The main differences:

1) They raised prices dramatically, ended very popular programs, cut special events and cut hours so they're offering less for more.

2) Strong economic headwinds are impacting the entire industry to some extent.

Most companies are weathering the storm, so the majority of the problem is likely #1, though #2 isn't helping.

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8 hours ago, Lotologist492 said:

Actually, SF has been refreshing the parks with landscaping as well as improving food quality.  I cannot speak for each and every SF park but here at SFoG much has been done.  Two legacy roller coasters  here have received complete overhauls in the past couple years, including new track and fresh paint and theming.  The food quality has greatly improved at most locations.  These are things that have not been done in decades.  That is the good part.

 

Similar at SFFT, and with a new ride investment too.

*however*. . after Salim visited the park ~3 weeks ago?   almost EVERY food improvement and/or new menu item is now gone (and I mean it. . I'm not talking "dining plan" stuff, which has taken a hit too. . but you can't even BUY things like the Calzone, the schnitzel, the cinnamon bread, or the baked potatoes any more).    FFS, they just took "Beef and Broccoli" off the menu at Chop Six.   (no, really)

yeah. . he's basically fucked the parks with his cost cutting - even the ones that were running fantastic independently.  

(and poor Jeffrey Siebert is stuck standing there watching all their hard work go down the toilet - huge investment in both time/effort, and money to refresh Sangerfest Halle, and improve the food options in the food court option. .  . and now?  all that is being offered is:  Personal Pizza (cheese or pepperoni), Chicken strips, a prepackaged side salad, and if you wanna pay $17?  a baked chicken and beans plate.

it's wrong, and driving any customers who WOULD have eaten in the park, away.     It did us, we went and found a better option.

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2 hours ago, coasterbill said:

1) They raised prices dramatically, ended very popular programs, cut special events and cut hours so they're offering less for more.

Am I missing something? It seemed to me that SF has been basically giving season passes away for years now. Is it that the GP tend to pay for single-day / at-the-gate pricing? During pandemic, I've really only visited SFMM and SFFT, so I'm not really paying close attention.

I remember the days when you'd take an empty coke can to SFMM and get discounted entry. I swear, the season pass I've been buying for the last several years is (I hate to say it, and I assume I'm on my own in this regard) wildly underpriced.

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They raised season pass prices a lot and made the day ticket prices certifiably insane (though they've recently started discounting them). They've also raised parking prices to pretty crazy levels. Great Adventure now charges $40 to park, $47.45 if you pay online. They also made food prices even more insane and discontinued dining plans.

I didn't really think people would care this much since their passes are still really among the cheapest in the industry, but the public seems to be pretty loud and clear that the perceived value just isn't there with Six Flags.

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22 minutes ago, coasterbill said:

They raised season pass prices a lot and made the day ticket prices certifiably insane (though they've recently started discounting them). They've also raised parking prices to pretty crazy levels. Great Adventure now charges $40 to park, $47.45 if you pay online. They also made food prices even more insane and discontinued dining plans.

I agree that $40 to park is absolutely absurd but a single day ticket for a weekend is anywhere between $65 to $75 dollars, which still seems pretty reasonable especially considering that a season pass is only like $117 or $177. 

 

I can't comment on food prices but is it really any different than any other entertainment offering these days, concert, sporting event, movies theatre etc.? I paid like $24.00 for a beer and a soda at an NFL game this past weekend, it sucks but that's kind of how it is these days I guess. 

 

Again I'm not trying to defend Six Flags here or anything but I think we can all agree that some of the previous pricing models were absurdly low and needed to change.

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I legitimately almost spit my drink out when I read that SFGAdv now charges $40 to park. 

That said, SF pricing looks like a steal when compared to the Jersey shore. Admittedly we were there on a Saturday, but I was spellbound by how much tickets cost. I wanted enough tickets for us to take our daughter on the Ferris Wheel and carousel, and MAYBE have enough left over for a solo ride on Great White, and it still cost me over $50.

There's really no middle ground anymore for someone looking to just dip there toes in and do a few things and leave. It's either go all-in and get your money's worth or just find something else to do.

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Moreys makes carnivals look cheap. If you can't get a wristband, tickets are beyond absurd there.

As for SF, I agree that things were priced unrealistically low but they probably could have raised prices and ended programs a little more gradually than they did. It became too noticeable to the average joe that they went way up on everything within a few months.

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Perhaps the new CEO is looking at the big overall picture and isn't glued to what is happening in a clear transitional period?

The fact is, they were giving away the gate for so long, and just accepting cheap guests and bratty teenagers,and that needed to change.

If you wait until all the parks are in great condition to make that change, you'll be waiting forever,  as we've seen.

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To the people pointing out that other parks charge more, look... I'm with you but people are clearly willing to pay more for those places than they are for Six Flags. I didn't expect attendance to be impacted as much as it was, and I doubt they were either but clearly we were wrong.

Day tickets have dropped a lot recently though, and attendance has improved slightly.

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6 hours ago, coasterbill said:

They raised season pass prices a lot and made the day ticket prices certifiably insane (though they've recently started discounting them). They've also raised parking prices to pretty crazy levels. Great Adventure now charges $40 to park, $47.45 if you pay online. They also made food prices even more insane and discontinued dining plans.

I didn't really think people would care this much since their passes are still really among the cheapest in the industry, but the public seems to be pretty loud and clear that the perceived value just isn't there with Six Flags.

Got it. For what it's worth, I was at SFMM today and noticed the sky-high parking prices. I also happened to notice a lot of A4-style printed tickets in hands. I seem to recall some back and forth between the Gold Plus membership thing and that weird monthly fee thing they were pushing. I'm glad they caved and we were given the $70 or so Gold Pass option. It should probably be something like $140, though.

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$40 for parking at SFGAdv, wow.  That absolutely blows my mind.  When I first started working for the park at those very booths where you pay for parking in 1998, it was $7.  That is a 471% increase.  For comparison, the inflation rate for those 24 years totals 82%.

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If Six Flags wants to change, all of these things pretty much have to happen. Can they improve the parks to match? If not people won't be coming back.  If they do actually improve things, people will come back. 

They are still relatively cheap compared to the other big chains. But, their parks generally aren't as good either. What if they did improve that? It could happen.  I doubt it will, but if all their parks suddenly looked like Fiesta a few summers ago will multiple shows and new rides every few years the people would show up. 

 

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15 hours ago, coasterbill said:

They raised season pass prices a lot

More than tripled. $56 all park gold pass plus to $240 for the Extreme (the cheapest all park pass) at SFoG. Ok it includes the $40 one day meal, so $200.

Even the single park pass is $132, which is nearly triple. A huge increase with reduced benefits.

 

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21 hours ago, Arthur_Seaton said:

Am I missing something? It seemed to me that SF has been basically giving season passes away for years now. Is it that the GP tend to pay for single-day / at-the-gate pricing? During pandemic, I've really only visited SFMM and SFFT, so I'm not really paying close attention.

I remember the days when you'd take an empty coke can to SFMM and get discounted entry. I swear, the season pass I've been buying for the last several years is (I hate to say it, and I assume I'm on my own in this regard) wildly underpriced.

No, the mix for attendance at Six Flags parks is historically overwhelmingly in favor of memberships and season passes. IIRC (and it's likely in this thread), people with some form of pass made up in excess of 65% of attendance at the parks pre-pandemic. Some would suggest that this is unsustainable - Six Flags was profitable at this time. Very profitable. In fact, their debt to income ratio was lower than Cedar Fair's, which meant that their fundamentals were even arguably better. Then the pandemic happened: some companies took out loans to retain senior folks, whereas Six Flags pushed to just burn their existing cash and layoff people.  

There are many people both in the industry and in this community who cannot accept that the Six Flags parks are basically just regional amusement facilities catering to a local demographic, most of whom are passholders and visit frequently. They demand everyone operates like Disney World, where passholders are a substantial minority in favor of higher per-cap spending day visitors buying one day tickets. Six Flags - ANY OF THEM - isn't Disney World. It has virtually none of the infrastructure of Disney World (or even Disneyland) to generate revenue related to park visitation like hotels, restaurants, or entertainment districts.  Operating regional amusement parks from a budgetary standpoint though isn't interesting to most people, and so they gravitate towards the thing that sounds much more interesting, which is from a business model completely and utterly separate from what Six Flags is. And it is no surprise to me whatsoever that this strategy - pump up the prices, spend nothing in capex - fails miserably over and over and over again. 

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This kind of transformation they are trying to do CAN work, but there is just no way it can with the leadership they have and constant shuffling of it. 

Best business example of something similar to what they are trying to do was with the St. Louis Blues pro hockey team. Ownership gutted the team and sold it cheap. New managers came in did everything they could to make a quick buck on a bad team, including lowering ticket prices to ridiculous levels and even selling concessions rights for up front cash. That ownership THEN sold the team.

The ownership group who bought it from them (the current ownership) was a very competent group that knew they were going to have to take their lumps but would make the best decisions they could while building things back up....and the main thing they knew that HAD to happen was raising ticket prices to an acceptable level to maintain competitive balance. And they had to start doing it with a relatively bad product on the field/ice. People raised hell and it was temporarily an issue....but they stayed with the business plan both on and off the competitive field. Roughly a decade later, the Blues are profitable, ownership is stable, the team regularly contends for a championship. I know there are other examples in pro sports of this approach, and I understand it's not near a 1:1 comparison, but still it feels pertinent to the discussion because they had to get a horrible business/leadership situation under control as well as the actual product.

The difference here is Six Flags is going to raise prices without doing anything to improve the product, and they continue to have a VERY unstable management group. I would assume it's going to continue to be bad until ownership/management dramatically shifts. 

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^ Agreed. This looks like a long game play. The problem of course, if you're going to go this route, the higher ups really need to know what they're doing and need to stay the course even through sagging bottom lines and negative responses from the blogs.

Can they?

Can they (in a sense) turn Six Flags into the equivalent of what Cedar Fair managed to do with Kings Island and Carowinds?

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