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Six Flags St. Louis (SFStL) Discussion Thread


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It was neglected and run into the ground for over a decade

 

I would argue longer than that, I'd say 20 years.

The Boss was a cheap alternate to a Hyper. Then we lost our Hyper to SFOG. All the frigging hand-me-downs from Texas (Astroworld, Dallas). I guess the two highlights are American Thunder and Justice League (when it is working).

 

My family used to have passes but we haven't renewed in years. Instead we road trip every summer for a weekend at another park in the Midwest. It was decided a weekend trip is better than a season at SFSTL.

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It was neglected and run into the ground for over a decade

 

I would argue longer than that, I'd say 20 years.

The Boss was a cheap alternate to a Hyper. Then we lost our Hyper to SFOG. All the frigging hand-me-downs from Texas (Astroworld, Dallas). I guess the two highlights are American Thunder and Justice League (when it is working).

 

My family used to have passes but we haven't renewed in years. Instead we road trip every summer for a weekend at another park in the Midwest. It was decided a weekend trip is better than a season at SFSTL.

 

And this is the mentality that more and more people are using... and for those who are looking for new options and are not as savvy as us when it comes to amusement parks, adds from HW and WisDells are a welcomed site to them and they now have an option they may not have known they had before.

 

WHen it comes to saying 20 years.... eeehhhhh, I kind of see what you mean. I think 1998 was the last all around decent year and the park still looked good and was still running well... then it kind of started coming back around 3 or 4 years ago, but now slipping again... but I see where youre coming from. I guess its all in the way each person perceived it and if their wants and expectations were met..... lets just break it down the middle and say 15 years lol

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It was neglected and run into the ground for over a decade

 

I would argue longer than that, I'd say 20 years.

The Boss was a cheap alternate to a Hyper. Then we lost our Hyper to SFOG. All the frigging hand-me-downs from Texas (Astroworld, Dallas). I guess the two highlights are American Thunder and Justice League (when it is working).

 

My family used to have passes but we haven't renewed in years. Instead we road trip every summer for a weekend at another park in the Midwest. It was decided a weekend trip is better than a season at SFSTL.

This is the modern problem with small corporate parks in the U.S. now. Companies like Cedar Fair, Six Flags, and even Herschend find it acceptable to neglect their smaller parks in order to add huge, expensive rides to their other parks. They are too obsessed with profit that they barely have any insight into the future. That was Six Flags' downfall in my opinion and the reason the wealth is spread a little bit more even between the parks. Cedar Fair will soon realize it has gigantic mega parks with so many people attending that there is little room for growth. Meanwhile, the smaller parks all have 10+ year old aging, small attractions that aren't marketable anymore and need to be replaced.

 

Honestly I believe RMC saved Six Flags. Without their fantastic, cheap coasters, Six Flags would have a very hard time bringing the company back together.

 

Mark my words: If CF doesn't change it's ways soon, they will fall just like Six Flags did.

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^I agree with every bring except the last sentence. Cedar Fair absolutely knows what they're doing with their parks, and they're not over-investing in their large parks (namely Cedar Point) too heavily at all. Actually, they've been spending less on coasters and more on infrastructure at that park now than the past 20-30 years.

After that, they have a solid group of mid/large size parks that actually do have quite a bit of room for growth in size and attendance (Kings Island, Canada's Wonderland, Carowinds, Kings Dominion, even Knotts as we've seen). The smaller parks haven't really taken a hit that we've seen and they're starting to make some movement with CGA and eventually Valleyfair.

I see your username so maybe that belief has to do with that? Either way trust a company that's been on the up & up. Seriously.

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I'd love to see attendance figures for all the Six Flags parks. We know that SFMM, SFGradv, and SFGAM are the top dogs. The next tier I imagine would be SFOT, SFOG, SFMexico. The 3rd tier SFNE, SFDK, and SFFT and so on. I wonder just where St Louis is and what their attendance is.

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I'd guess attendance is probably at million every year, maybe a bit lower.

 

This is where the argument comes in...

1. when attendance rises then SF will begin to invest big money into the Park

or

2. if SF invests big money then attendance will rise.

 

I happen to agree with #2. If you built it they will come.

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I'd guess attendance is probably at million every year, maybe a bit lower.

 

This is where the argument comes in...

1. when attendance rises then SF will begin to invest big money into the Park

or

2. if SF invests big money then attendance will rise.

 

I happen to agree with #2. If you built it they will come.

This is where HWFan's words come in to play. The park gets $x of improvement funds. That can be spent on anything from maintenance to rides. Adding a ride means sacrificing fixes the park desperately needs.

 

What corporate needs to do is double that budget for the lower tier parks for a year to catch them up to a degree. But that is easier said than done. The big ones already get sufficient funds to do both it seems. Once caught up regular maintenance should be feasible with the current budget and still get rides - it is that deferred maintenance that is the killer. We aren't the only Six Flags park with that laundry list sitting there.

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I'd guess attendance is probably at million every year, maybe a bit lower.

 

This is where the argument comes in...

1. when attendance rises then SF will begin to invest big money into the Park

or

2. if SF invests big money then attendance will rise.

 

I happen to agree with #2. If you built it they will come.

 

The biggest issue with SFSTL is that it just doesn't have that signature ride that people will travel to the park for. It has a nice lineup of coasters and the JL dark ride was a great addition (hopefully the updates will fix the reliability issues), but it's the only SF park that doesn't have a RMC or a Hyper coaster. HW has Voyage and Thunderbird (plus the water coasters), while SDC has Outlaw Run and is rumored to be getting a major B&M next year. I visit SFSTL because my wife has family in the area and I already have a SF season pass, so it doesn't cost me anything to go to the park when I'm in town. But I certainly wouldn't plan a trip just to go to SFSTL. On the flip side, we are planning a trip next summer just to visit HW, SDC, and KK.

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I'd guess attendance is probably at million every year, maybe a bit lower.

 

This is where the argument comes in...

1. when attendance rises then SF will begin to invest big money into the Park

or

2. if SF invests big money then attendance will rise.

 

I happen to agree with #2. If you built it they will come.

 

The biggest issue with SFSTL is that it just doesn't have that signature ride that people will travel to the park for. It has a nice lineup of coasters and the JL dark ride was a great addition (hopefully the updates will fix the reliability issues), but it's the only SF park that doesn't have a RMC or a Hyper coaster. HW has Voyage and Thunderbird (plus the water coasters), while SDC has Outlaw Run and is rumored to be getting a major B&M next year. I visit SFSTL because my wife has family in the area and I already have a SF season pass, so it doesn't cost me anything to go to the park when I'm in town. But I certainly wouldn't plan a trip just to go to SFSTL. On the flip side, we are planning a trip next summer just to visit HW, SDC, and KK.

Which is sad because The Boss could have been a destination ride if executed correctly.

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SF StL is a solid park worth the drive if you've never beer but I'd go to St.Louis for the bbq, not the theme park.

 

When did we become known for our famous BBQ? I know KC is, but I have never heard that reference about this city. We have a few decent places and that's about it.

Salt + Smoke, Sugarfire, Pappy's, Roper's, Smokehouse, Shaved Duck, Adam's, Andre's, Smoking Barrels...

 

We have quite a few. Most of this pretty recent. We weren't known for it 15 years ago - but we have a pretty darn good BBQ scene now.

 

Absolutely, brother. Bogart's Smokehouse was stellar and had the best ribs ever!

 

I guess you guys are right. I still wouldn't say we're a BBQ destination, like KC, but we do have plenty of good selections as opposed to other cities.

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The biggest issue with SFSTL is that it just doesn't have that signature ride that people will travel to the park for.

 

I strongly agree with this statement and I feel that Worlds of Fun suffers the same fate, currently. I also used to feel this way about Holiday World, until the addition of Thunderbird.

 

I rarely let the inner-nerd in me take over, so I make it a habit of intentionally not rating rides or comparing them too seriously. However, after my almost 200 experiences with different roller coasters, they've all kind of naturally fallen into a few categories for me:

 

Those roller coasters which I really enjoy and want to ride repeatedly throughout my visits.

Those roller coasters which are fun, but I don't go out of my way to ride repeatedly.

Those roller coasters which I do not prefer to ride.

 

(women fall under similar categories...)

 

In order to have desire to visit a park, it must have at least one roller coaster which I want to ride repeatedly, with the other decent coasters just supporting the main reason(s) for the visit. For example, let's take a look at King's Island, and for simplicity, we'll use the above mentioned categories as: Level one (Good) through level three (meh..).

 

Level One Coasters: Diamondback, Beast, Banshee (the evil b**** that I can't get enough of)

Level Two Coasters: (or supporting coasters): Bat, Racer, Flight of Fear, Adventure Express, Backlot Stunt Coaster

Level Three Coasters: Invertigo, Vortex, Firehawk, and the other crap

 

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons for me to go back to KI. Anything more almost wouldn't be enough to do in one day without marathon riding, which I have no interest in doing, since I'm more of the grab a beer, relax, and ride when I feel like it visitor. For comparison, let's also compare WOF:

 

Level One Coasters: none...

Level Two Coasters: Mamba, Patriot, and Prowler are fun, but they aren't good enough to really make me want to ride them repeatedly throughout the day.

Level Three Coasters: Boomerang, Timber Wolf, Spinning Dragons (Why even bother?), and all of their other junk.

 

Now for our park:

 

Leven One Coasters: None....

Level Two Coasters: B:TR (close, but no cigar), Freeze (Used to be a level one for me before ruined), American Thunder, Screaming Eagle

Level Three Coasters: BOSS!!, Boomerang, Ninja (VR? no thanks), Mine Train and Big Spin ( again, why bother?) anything else I possibly left out.

 

I could go on all day with this crap, but as you can see, there's really no reason for me to visit our park or a park like WOF on a regular basis until the void is filled. Keep in mind that this is my personal preference, but it's also coming from someone who loves roller coasters, meaning I should be a pretty easy sell. Parks within reach, like Kings Island, will draw me in season after season as opposed to SFSTL and some of the other local competition. Hell, even SDC has a priority coaster for me now (Outlaw Run), as well as Holiday World (T-bird). I'm not dogging the park at all. I'm just trying to relate to what some of you are saying without being as pessimistic about it. I really do hope that our park, and even WOF, get that 'must ride' desirable modern coaster sometime in the next few years to make me want to make consistent return visits.

 

Speaking of which, I'll post my nice, but underwhelming, trip report of WOF sometime within the next few days. Let's just say that with the park being loaded with teenagers and the beer stands being closed that it was an abbreviated visit.

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I think I'd be happier if corporate actually called their shots and explicitly committed to St. Louis being a secondary park. The mantra from park representatives that "other parks have no influence on Six Flags St. Louis attendance" feels like it cuts both ways. Sure, it means there's no competition from them...but it also implies that this park is no competition to them either. Which, hey, might be how they want it. Corporate says, "for your every weekend family fun, visit your local Six Flags. Once or twice per season, use the same pass to road trip to your Top Tier Six Flags in Chicago!" That may be a more financially sustainable business model than supporting a dozen parks with massive roller coasters on a regular basis.

 

If they were explicit about making this more of a family friendly park, they'd be able to at least allay the drumbeat from people like Prozach. Now it's just a large portion of enthusists saying "what on earth are you doing," whereas making it explicit would let them say, "hey, we're not for you." Which is fine. Not every product has to be for every consumer, and I guarantee you the family with a couple adolescents is happier about Fireball and The New Revoluation than they would have been with a B&M install that the kids can't even ride.

 

Of course, the open question is how such a branding would thrash overall attendance. Is the "Missouri's Coaster Capital" branding so much better than "your local family fun park?" I don't know.

 

Also, while i was waiting in the line for Fireball this weekend I timed a half dozen dispatches from Ninja, keying off of the top of the lift hill. Average time between trains was about 2:10. It's not a great sample since that was all the same station crew, but it's at least some data. If someone else wants to grab a few more samples before The New Revolution goes live, that'd be neat, since it'll be the last chance to get comparison point data to see how badly the headsets and full trains destroy dispatch times (my money is on "savage" destruction.)

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I pretty much follow Prozach's logic... almost to a T. Of course i dont have to buy my way into SFSTL considering a perk of being an employee is free visits, but that... that right there should say something... I can go whenever I want for free, yet rather spend my money going somewhere else that has something much better to offer.

 

As far as attendance, SFSTL's numbers aren't bad, but arent great either. They usually hit their projected goal, but literally by just a small handful.... there were a few seasons in the past 10 years that were not met... in the long run, the long future projections they had in mind 10 years ago for this time arent close to what they thought. The problem is SF relies on cheap season pass sales to lure people in... it works but it doesnt and ill tell you why. Yes, SFSTL sells the hell out of season passes, actually one of the strongest in the chain for its market size which is good. The problem is for many years, our season passes were cheaper than other SF parks, so what would happen is, visitors from other cities with SF parks would renew at our park to save money. Youre probably thinking that is good for SFSTL... WRONG! When a season pass is bought, the park it is sold at gets a small chunk of that right off the bat. The rest is held to see where the seaosn pass is used. If the season pass is used at 1 park, that park sees the profit, if its used at multi parks, it is divided up. If it is used at primarily at 1 park, then once or twice somewhere else, the primary park sees most if not all of it. The downfall to this is a lot of passes are bought at our park, but then primarily used at other parks. Now, you probably think that if that many people are coming here to renew, we must be seeing some of the cut... no again, because if they visited their home SF park 6, 7, 8 times, then ours once, we arent seeing any $$ from that... once that oerson had a SFSTL season pass, they would renew online for SFSTL instead of their home park and save money. And on the flipside, we dont see as many other parks passes come to us to get a cut. The system has been worked over since all of this, but still kind of follows the same guidelines.

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^^ Interesting Stuff ^^

 

My guess is Tidal Wave will be gone next year and a Zack Spin 4D 'whatchamacallit' in its place.

Intamin or S&S? Either way I'm not a fan of another cookie-cutter. But at least this would actually be a coaster and could be marketed as one without making me cringe. Guess we'll take what we can get. Might need to see about improving traffic flow with a new high capacity ride though.

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Those roller coasters which I really enjoy and want to ride repeatedly throughout my visits.

Those roller coasters which are fun, but I don't go out of my way to ride repeatedly.

Those roller coasters which I do not prefer to ride.

 

(women fall under similar categories...)

 

 

What's this, a ranking system that actually makes sense? I won't allow it!

 

But somewhat seriously though, I agree in principle, but maybe you guys just need to relax your standards a tad. I consider Freeze and American Thunder at least to be coasters I'd ride repeatedly, and Screamin' Eagle is close for me as well if it were a bit smoother. B:TR, despite being a clone, is also really good.

 

What everyone is really yearning for is the fourth category: Those roller coasters so good that enthusiasts will travel to visit. IE: Fury, Outlaw Run (or most any RMC), Piraten, etc. It's a tough spot for followers of this park because the park is "big enough" for a ride like that in a linear-development sense, but in reality it seems that is not the business plan of the current management.

 

I've not seen the numbers (are they posted somewhere specifically for this property?), but from my few visits the park is doing really well bringing in the locals. If they can carry a good profit through smaller capital investments that are enough to keep the locals coming back, then they've met their goals and don't need to risk some giant investment in a coaster that puts them into deeper competition with other regional parks. Perhaps their long-term strategy is have a lower average capital investment schedule so they can be able to push their entrance fees even lower, thus being able to undercut WOF and SDC from at least the STL market.

 

Point is: as much as we feel that a park is "ready" for something on the next level, they might not actually be ready to commit to that much risk. More expenditure = more debt, more secondary expenses (marketing, staff, insurance, etc), and less flexibility in the short term.

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If they got a free spin, it would be a S&S model for sure. I really doubt SF will build any more Zac Spins after how terrible Green Lantern at SFMM turned out. That ride is just plain painful and not fun at all, trust me. The S&S models actually look like fun and have better capacity. The S&S would be a nice addition to SFSTL but it wouldn't solve their problem of not having a "Tier One" ride as Prozach said.

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Knowing SF they might just remove Green Lantern from SFMM and send it to SFSTL. I wouldn't trust corporate decision making with regards to SFSTL one iota.

This year, for example, you guys get a Larson Looper as your only addition. But, apparently, you lost another good flat ride (Rush Steet Flyer) in the process. Meanwhile SFOT receives a Giant Discovery and a Giant Endeavor from Zamperla. Those two plus a complete refurb and re-theme of the existing Huss Troika.

 

To be fair, SFFT received a Larson Looper as well. But they also got Hurricane Force 5 (Zamperla Disk-O) and a brand new Tilt-A-Whirl to add to their Boardwalk.

True, they lost another flat (Frisbee) but they gain three flats in return. By my way of thinking, SFSTL should have received a flat ride package, not just one flat ride. It makes me think that SF corporate assigns less importance to this park than they do to others. SFSTL is located in a relatively scenic area with plenty of room to expand. If SF did the right thing they would change the park's name back to Six Flags Mid-America and begin making capital investments similar to what CF is doing with Carowinds, itself a former regional theme park.

 

SFSTL should finally become the flagship park it was intended to be in the first place instead of falling into mediocrity.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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I'm not going to release the numbers, but I have either actual or estimated attendance numbers for almost every year that SFSL has been around, you can correlate the ups and downs in whatever way you want to. The park will likely have higher attendance this year than it has had in several years by extending the season, but that is an artificial increase (back in the early 80's the park closed in early October), so remember that all the seasons are not equal days.

Attendance.thumb.jpg.730d353f744b1366a9d28aa2fb2be6ef.jpg

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I'm not going to release the numbers, but I have either actual or estimated attendance numbers for almost every year that SFSL has been around, you can correlate the ups and downs in whatever way you want to. The park will likely have higher attendance this year than it has had in several years by extending the season, but that is an artificial increase (back in the early 80's the park closed in early October), so remember that all the seasons are not equal days.

From a google search, I learned SFStl's attendance was 1.6 million in 1993. Based on this graph I'd assume attendance for 2015 was around the 1.2 to 1.4 million mark?

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What's crazy is you could directly correlate attendance spikes with $$ spent on improvements.

1999-hurricane harbor opens

2000-boss opens

2001-current attendance declines as no major installations happen.

 

We can talk all about how much JL cost but as that attendance graph proves, it's not as marketable as a new coaster.

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There also appears to be a Ninja spike and Batman spike. Tony Hawk and Evel Knievel also seem to have moved the needle.

 

Is the 1986-1987 increase potentially in response to Colossus? The 1992 increase I can't fathom though. Tidal Wave was the year prior (and while I remember quite the marketing blitz obviously wasn't too special)

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If they got a free spin, it would be a S&S model for sure. I really doubt SF will build any more Zac Spins after how terrible Green Lantern at SFMM turned out. That ride is just plain painful and not fun at all, trust me. The S&S models actually look like fun and have better capacity. The S&S would be a nice addition to SFSTL but it wouldn't solve their problem of not having a "Tier One" ride as Prozach said.

 

They are the ones who made it terrible by neutering it themselves. The Zac Spin at Gröna Lund lives up to the name Insane. Although I haven't tried the S&S I'm pretty sure they tuned it down as well since Alan Schilke said that when they were testing it out they were competing over who could make it spin the most (it's was designed so you could control the spinning with your bodyweight). I've never seen anyone flip non-stop from start to finish yet in a video.

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