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Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread


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47 minutes ago, Jew said:

I don’t actually believe they will make the investment that is required to become a more premium product. I can only speak for SFMM, but their pay/benefits package for staff is still nowhere near the top of the industry or even the local area for that matter.  They just half assed the opening of Wonder Woman and the DC area. Can’t even remember the last time any of their rides ran at full capacity.
 

If the CEO is serious about it, it will require a massive culture/budget change within the company to actually be a more premium experience instead of just raising prices and saying you are a premium product.

Since I don’t think they are actually serious about it, I’m of the opinion they should just stick to being cheap and find better ways to squeeze money out of people once they are inside the park.  Make people think they are getting a good value even though you are still marking things up like crazy (say, like the cheap souvenir bottle refills) and I bet that would make them more revenue than pretending they are a premium brand…

SFMM has never had good leadership that sticks around more than a year. Everytime they do the company promotes them (or runs them off). Look no further than Jeffrey Seibert at Fiesta Texas for what great leadership can do for a park.  I hate the word Premium. That's not what SF should be aspiring to. Quality is a better word. They should be modeling Cedar Fair, not Disney/Universal.

While I don't agree with prices being raised so much and so quickly,  I do agree with the new CEO that the culture needs a face-lift.  I've always hated the notion that the cheap, non spending, membership holding teen is the guest they should be courting. That any lousy guest is fine as long as they're clicking the turnstyle.

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2 hours ago, Manic Monte said:

You can be a regional theme park and still offer a much better experience than SF has the last 20 years. It takes time and doesn't happen overnight. Look at the former Paramount Parks now under Cedar Fair? Kings Island,  once not much better that your typical Six Flags park, is now one of the countries best. You think that happened after a year? 

 

I don't agree. I DON'T think the answer is to remain a cheap chain. These parks (especially the big 5) have so much more potential than that.

Who are the people going to Kings Island? Really, are people seeing some massive sea change in the demographics of individuals visiting the place because the season passes are priced at $9 more than Six Flags St. Louis?

That's what these parks are. They are regional parks serving regional audiences who often have few or no serious alternatives for full day amusement facilities because the competition has been closed forever. And that's why it keeps failing to try and jack up the prices without investing heavily in the facility. Cedar Fair hasn't even been able to increase costs to the consumer in the fashion Six Flags has attempted this year; why would anyone expect a different outcome than what did happen (loss of revenue greater than the improvement in per capita spending)? 

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1 hour ago, Jew said:

I don’t actually believe they will make the investment that is required to become a more premium product. I can only speak for SFMM, but their pay/benefits package for staff is still nowhere near the top of the industry or even the local area for that matter.  They just half assed the opening of Wonder Woman and the DC area. Can’t even remember the last time any of their rides ran at full capacity.
 

If the CEO is serious about it, it will require a massive culture/budget change within the company to actually be a more premium experience instead of just raising prices and saying you are a premium product.

Since I don’t think they are actually serious about it, I’m of the opinion they should just stick to being cheap and find better ways to squeeze money out of people once they are inside the park.  Make people think they are getting a good value even though you are still marking things up like crazy (say, like the cheap souvenir bottle refills) and I bet that would make them more revenue than pretending they are a premium brand…

Bingo. If we use the example of Kings Island, well, sure, let's examine that. First, we had Dick Kinzel buy it and try to crater season pass sales to seek more valuable per capita attendance figures in the middle of a pandemic. Oopsies, that didn't work, and Dick Kinzel got shown the door. Then his replacement (you know, the guy who came from Disneyland) emerged and reset pricing for season pass products in the marketplace, getting people back in the park. Since then, they've spent a decade constructing new rides and attractions and plussing up infrastructure to get to a point where, when adjusted for inflation (https://web.archive.org/web/20120827093407/https://www.visitkingsisland.com/season-passes and https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/), I find that the cost of a Kings Island Season Pass is now....9 dollars cheaper in real terms. 

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28 minutes ago, DirkFunk said:

Who are the people going to Kings Island? Really, are people seeing some massive sea change in the demographics of individuals visiting the place because the season passes are priced at $9 more than Six Flags St. Louis?

That's what these parks are. They are regional parks serving regional audiences who often have few or no serious alternatives for full day amusement facilities because the competition has been closed forever. And that's why it keeps failing to try and jack up the prices without investing heavily in the facility. Cedar Fair hasn't even been able to increase costs to the consumer in the fashion Six Flags has attempted this year; why would anyone expect a different outcome than what did happen (loss of revenue greater than the improvement in per capita spending)? 

Everyone DID expect it, including the CEO who was the first to predict it.

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36 minutes ago, DirkFunk said:

Who are the people going to Kings Island? Really, are people seeing some massive sea change in the demographics of individuals visiting the place because the season passes are priced at $9 more than Six Flags St. Louis?

That's what these parks are. They are regional parks serving regional audiences who often have few or no serious alternatives for full day amusement facilities because the competition has been closed forever. And that's why it keeps failing to try and jack up the prices without investing heavily in the facility. Cedar Fair hasn't even been able to increase costs to the consumer in the fashion Six Flags has attempted this year; why would anyone expect a different outcome than what did happen (loss of revenue greater than the improvement in per capita spending)? 

I don't disagree with this, and is exactly the point! You can be regional and still offer a quality product.  The two are not mutually exclusive. 

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1 hour ago, Manic Monte said:

I don't disagree with this, and is exactly the point! You can be regional and still offer a quality product.  The two are not mutually exclusive. 

To be completely honest with you, I do see Kings Island, even plus'ed up with projection mapping and better fireworks, as a "cheap park" compared to Universal or Disney. You can get a pass to go every single operating day for less money than it costs to go to Universal Studios Orlando for one of the two parks for one day. I don't think there's a dramatic difference between operations at most Cedar Fair parks and most Six Flags parks. Cedar Point has had lousy operations now for about a decade for most of it's season: Six Flags Great America usually has been in better shape. Cedar Fair has built some decent stuff, sure, but there's plenty of parallel examples of Six Flags doing the same (Justice League, the SFGAdv Safari) from a "themed entertainment" lens. 

I also don't think the CEO anticipated the losses being what they were or that he was going to be firing a bunch more of his senior leadership right before the last earnings call. Nor do I think he was necessarily chasing to have his company downgraded by institutional investors. 

edit: also, just for clarity - the reason why I asked about the demographic mix at Kings Island was because of what I was arguing earlier: they might have managed to increase per capita spending, but it hasn't fundamentally changed who goes to the park. If you don't do that, the people who won't go now because "its unsafe" will never go. Not to mention that when CF did their earnings report, they no longer try to separate out the performance of the parks they have now vs. what they had pre-COVID. Remember, they made the deal to buy Schlitterbahn in mid 2019. They should be showing an increase in attendance and revenue vs. that year or prior years because they have more facilities. Oddly enough, no one seemed to notice this when the reports came out except me.

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This may be somewhat off topic but I've always thought that Kings Island is a place that's maybe a little bit more important to the local economy than a lot of regional parks. I may be completely off here but being from around that area I've just always felt that Kings Island means more to the people and the community around there than a lot of other regional parks do. Like I don't think people in the Chicagoland area think of Great America as their own special local park the same way that people in the Cincy/Northern KY region think about Kings Island. There are certainly some other parks that are similar (SFFT, Holiday World, Carowinds, Lagoon maybe?) but on the whole it doesn't feel like most six flags parks are as ingrained in the community as a place like Kings Island is, if that makes any sense. Like I've got friends in Chicago who never even consider going to SFGAM, but everyone I know in the Cincy/Kentucky area goes to Kings Islands at least once every summer.

 

I agree that it still is relatively "cheap" compared to Disney and Universal but at least my last few visits it still felt like the people there care and take pride in their park, and it kind of shows.

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I'm walking a tightrope here because I feel like a lot of people are giving Cedar Fair too little credit , though at the same time I do acknowledge that they also shouldn't be given too much credit either as they did show us all last season that they can definitely be a rudderless-ship at times. "This city's population is x and the median income is y so we should get a giga coaster" is really over-simplifying things a bit though.

They may very-well feel like the demographics of the city are fine, but the nearest major parks are 3+ hours away and they've saturated the market so there's no reason to invest much. If they know they can throw open the gates and make a bunch of money every year without doing much then I get why they'd want to do that. A place like San Antonio (mentioned on the last page) may even have a similar metro area in many ways, but there's also a major competitor ten minutes away that keeps adding new rides every year and trying to grab market share.

At the same time though, there's also Carowinds which has also saturated their market and is a similar distance to their competition where they invest heavily so... idfk.

I don't even know what point I'm trying to make, I guess just that we should keep in mind that "Cedar Fair is dumb" is always a plausible explanation for anything but they also do have access to numbers and data that we don't and they may have a very good reason for not feeling the need to invest much in this park.

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37 minutes ago, Hilltopper39 said:

This may be somewhat off topic but I've always thought that Kings Island is a place that's maybe a little bit more important to the local economy than a lot of regional parks. I may be completely off here but being from around that area I've just always felt that Kings Island means more to the people and the community around there than a lot of other regional parks do. Like I don't think people in the Chicagoland area think of Great America as their own special local park the same way that people in the Cincy/Northern KY region think about Kings Island. There are certainly some other parks that are similar (SFFT, Holiday World, Carowinds, Lagoon maybe?) but on the whole it doesn't feel like most six flags parks are as ingrained in the community as a place like Kings Island is, if that makes any sense. Like I've got friends in Chicago who never even consider going to SFGAM, but everyone I know in the Cincy/Kentucky area goes to Kings Islands at least once every summer.

 

I agree that it still is relatively "cheap" compared to Disney and Universal but at least my last few visits it still felt like the people there care and take pride in their park, and it kind of shows.

Agreed. I used that park as an example for a reason. Pricing aside ( because pricing can always be adjusted), it's a park that used to feel cookie cutter and out of focus when it was my homepark. And I enjoy it far more today.

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6 hours ago, coasterbill said:

Dining plans and back, you need to go through the process of pretending to buy one of the new passes to get it to pop up.


So I see slightly lower prices at SFoG now for the sale through Labor Day.

Back to Memberships, at least in the name...
Gold, Platinum, and Diamond back in the naming too.
$40 more for Platinum over Gold (Gold is single park) to get 15% (vs 10%) discount and all parks. Still a big increase over the previous Gold Plus pass.

$80 single park season pass back (says through 4 Sep 2023), parking pass is an extra $30 (at least reasonable).
But no good reason to pick that over the $5 more Gold pass that includes 1 fast pass and 10% discount on food & merch.

And $135 vs $80 for meal plan... I guess if you go 5+ times it works. (Or have food prices increases more than I think? (I haven't seen 2022 prices)

Still a lot, especially when buying for 3+. You know the families they claim to want.
 

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I know many here are quick to criticize the new CEO and the direction (or potential lack thereof) the chain is headed, but taking a step back for a second....

While I cannot speak for other parks in the SF chain, SFoG has in fact invested a ton in beautifying the park with lots of landscaping work as well as refurbishment of two major coasters (Mindbender and Scream Machine). The ride rehabs are nice as is the spruced-up park, as these housekeeping items were long overdue. Food quality is better in some regards, but not all.  And let's not forget the resurfacing of the main parking lot last year, again, long overdue. Prior management should have been dealing with these tasks over time rather than ignoring it and forcing the current management to play catch up all at once.  Mr. Bassoul & company is in a tough spot having to invest in all of these tasks across the chain, none of which draw guests to the park but still needed to be done nonetheless. This round of rehab tasks are very costly, which means much less funding available for new attractions. It is very difficult to pass judgement on Mr. Bassoul right now, but he is making some bold and risky moves.

Basically, the new CEO will either crater the chain or we will look back in several years thinking how he brought the magic back to SF and made them excellent again.  Time will tell.

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4 hours ago, coasterbill said:

So they changed all of the passes again, and now they’re called memberships again.

Lol

D7E771FB-635A-4A37-AAD7-38ABFAF9B5D3.jpeg

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Basically, this also means anyone that bought a Thrill Seeker, Extreme, or Ultimate pass (yellow, red, or blue) will have a collector's item!

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6 hours ago, Lotologist492 said:

I know many here are quick to criticize the new CEO and the direction (or potential lack thereof) the chain is headed, but taking a step back for a second....

While I cannot speak for other parks in the SF chain, SFoG has in fact invested a ton in beautifying the park with lots of landscaping work as well as refurbishment of two major coasters (Mindbender and Scream Machine). The ride rehabs are nice as is the spruced-up park, as these housekeeping items were long overdue. Food quality is better in some regards, but not all.  And let's not forget the resurfacing of the main parking lot last year, again, long overdue. Prior management should have been dealing with these tasks over time rather than ignoring it and forcing the current management to play catch up all at once.  Mr. Bassoul & company is in a tough spot having to invest in all of these tasks across the chain, none of which draw guests to the park but still needed to be done nonetheless. This round of rehab tasks are very costly, which means much less funding available for new attractions. It is very difficult to pass judgement on Mr. Bassoul right now, but he is making some bold and risky moves.

Basically, the new CEO will either crater the chain or we will look back in several years thinking how he brought the magic back to SF and made them excellent again.  Time will tell.

The key is, you can’t just make the investment once and call it a day. We’ve already seen that song and dance when Dan Synder did his takeover of the company.  When they made their big push to make things more “family friendly,” they made investments like the ones you mentioned and then never maintained any improvements.

You can only squeeze so much out of the consumer (especially with six flags clientele), but the shareholders will still want you to squeeze more out of somewhere…

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17 hours ago, Lotologist492 said:

none of which draw guests to the park but still needed to be done nonetheless.

Not directly or immediately. But a nice looking park with a good feel will keep people coming back.
And many that quit going because it was run down will hear about the changes and comeback, at least once to see what has changed.
 

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9 hours ago, TEDodd said:

Not directly or immediately. But a nice looking park with a good feel will keep people coming back.
And many that quit going because it was run down will hear about the changes and comeback, at least once to see what has changed.
 

So true.  Hopefully the strategy pays off in the long run.  Here's to hoping the GP and fans are patient enough to see the potential payoff.  There's no question the SF chain has a boatload of problems.  The current corporate management has to start fixing somewhere.  For this reason, regardless of what appears on fan sites, it is simply too soon to say one way or the other whether this is the right path.

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3 hours ago, Lotologist492 said:

So true.  Hopefully the strategy pays off in the long run.  Here's to hoping the GP and fans are patient enough to see the potential payoff.

I don't think the guy in charge is the right one to for it.

 

As for patience,  I'll spend my money elsewhere until I see changes to make me believe it's worth the price.  It was marginally worth it in 2019. It's not even close today, even with the current sale and the return of the meal plan.

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19 hours ago, TEDodd said:

Not directly or immediately. But a nice looking park with a good feel will keep people coming back.
And many that quit going because it was run down will hear about the changes and comeback, at least once to see what has changed.
 

The current CEO isn't spending on infrastructure though, so it isn't going to rehabilitate itself from a perspective of flower beds or structures. 

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I haven't bought a Six Flags season pass in many years, but I was thinking about buying a platinum multi-park pass now that would be good for the rest of 2022 and all of 2023 as well.  In the past I bought a SF season pass online, but it seems like I had to activate it in person at my closest/local SF park?  Maybe I'm not remembering correctly?  Do you still have to activate a SF season pass (purchased online) in-person at a SF Park or is that not required anymore? 

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so. . .   via a personal message from Six Flags Fiesta Texas Park President Jeffrey Siebert, yesterday afternoon?

apparently they have heard the complaints regarding what happened to the food options in Sangerfest Halle (ie: they got really shitty). . and he sent me these snapshots of the menu boards, that I believe are back as of this coming Saturday.

that's why I love this park. . .they actually LISTEN and adjust accordingly.

(and yes. . those prices are nuts.   *but* most of it is on the Meal Plan as options. . . which as of my last visit the only things being served in Sangerfest were Personal Pizza, Prepackaged Salad, and Fried Chicken Strips (all Meal options tho), and the split chicken you could buy for $19.   So this is a huge step forward again.

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Maybe they listened to complaints. Prob part of it. They are also selling a new dining pass now, as well. They had to improve the offerings to sell it. Hopefully this happens at the other parks, too. 

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On 8/22/2022 at 11:39 AM, KBrylczyk said:

At least in the NFL you get first draft pick for being the worst.  Six Flags gets Larson Loops.

Dude... just... ... ... win. You win the internet for me this week.

100

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