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Shapiro Looks to Holiday World/Dollywood for Ways to Improve


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I have to hand it to Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro. Not only does he make himself accessible to journalists with his regular conference calls (see my recap of this week's chat session), but he is generally open to any questions lobbed at him and can be refreshingly candid. For example, when I asked the park poobah what plans he has for this season's food offerings, he let slip that he appropriated the idea for "big skillet" food stands (at which chefs cook the ingredients for meals in giant wok-like pans over open fires as guests watch) from Dollywood after he visited the park last year. Shapiro said that his travels also took him to Indiana's Holiday World in 2009.

 

I don't think it's any coincidence that the parks Shapiro chose to visit rank highly among park fans. It likely demonstrates his curiosity about industry best practices and his commitment to making improvements at Six Flags. Still, I have to wonder whether he was concerned about being discovered during his reconnaissance missions, and if he made any attempts to go incognito. Shapiro's exploits remind me of the time that Disney's then-CEO, Michael Eisner, was allegedly caught snooping around Universal Orlando's huge parking structure. At the time, the Mouse House was planning to build its own mega-garage as part of its Disneyland Resort expansion. Shapiro may not have the same visibility as Eisner, but it still might have been an awkward situation if anybody recognized the Six Flags CEO behind enemy lines.

 

What do you think about Shapiro's extracurricular park-hopping? Would you be surprised if you bumped into him as he entered the queue for a coaster at a competing park? Share your thoughts by clicking on "Comments" below.

 

With Shapiro visiting parks that cater well to both families and thrill seekers, we should see the parks continue to improve in even greater ways than they already have. Also, the "big skillet" idea is great. I'd love to see some in Southwest Territory or Yukon Territory at Great America.

 

 

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Oh boy, while I'm glad to see Shapiro taking notes, I'm not sure if this will have good effects for HFEC parks. All the cool things they do might start to seem a little less unique if all the SF parks try to copy them.

 

I think SF needs to concentrate on bringing back a quality amusement park experience, meaning: a jumble of good rides in a clean, friendly atmosphere that doesn't gouge your wallet at every turn. Getting some real food in there is a good step, making it affordable should be the next. They've already started cleaning up the parks, so they're getting there!

 

I just don't want to see them start trying to mimic big name theme parks too much, at least not unless they want to go for the full-on experience.

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Oh boy, while I'm glad to see Shapiro taking notes, I'm not sure if this will have good effects for HFEC parks. All the cool things they do might start to seem a little less unique if all the SF parks try to copy them.

 

I don't think there's really any danger of that. Taking one food idea isn't going to turn a Six Flags park into Dollywood.

 

I think they could have done better than skillet food. That stuff sits in there and gets overcooked and soggy. But it does look and sell well.

 

/Foodie bigot, I know.

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Getting some real food in there is a good step, making it affordable should be the next.

 

Six Flags is already one of the most affordable theme park chains. Most park's have incredible online deals for one-day tickets, and the value of a Season Pass is unmatched. Plan accordingly and a visit to any SF park shouldn't be a financial burden.

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Airtime and Gravity - thanks for starting this discussion.

 

However, I'm going to lock this thread as I just posted the complete transcript from an online conference call where Six Flags' Mark Shapiro discussed this topic and many others affecting Six Flags in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

 

I don't want anyone to take this one portion of the conference call out of context.

 

It's a lengthy transcript but here it is:Mark Shapiro Online Conference Call

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