The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:08 pm

Jew wrote:Seriously though, you're missing my point: There are tons of other local entry level jobs that offer full time hours AND more benefits. I have no doubt there is a portion of their staff that is happy to get more hours and don't care about the other benefits, but I do think you are overestimating the impact of going to daily operation has on impacting their staffing.


That was the case when they had a seasonal schedule too. Of course, the labor market now is the most competitive in 50 years, with the lowest U3 and U6 in my lifetime, but sure, it doesn't matter at all, especially when you're trying to staff for an extra 100 or so calendar days.

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:21 pm

^ Just want to say I really appreciate your injection of expertise into the discussion. It's really valuable. Also love the sarcasm.
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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:29 pm

I hate being a dick about stuff, but the whole "theme parks can easily get labor just paying minimum wage" thing is such nonsense. Cedar Point was platooning rides last year like they were Conneaut Lake while telling people on their quarterly calls that they're spending Trump's tax cuts on building dorms for international employees at most of the chain, and this stuff somehow still comes up. Offering more hours to employees is an obvious way to keep wages from increasing (which is obviously the goal here) while retaining services of people. If every other business in town can offer more money and more benefits, why would anyone work for Six Flags ever?

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:50 pm

Yeah, minimum wage is actually higher than minimum wage, if you know what I mean. Around where I live minimum wage is $8.60 but I frequently see fast food places advertising $9.50-$10.

When I was a kid I seriously entertained working for Silver Dollar City, but when I could get more money and more hours from McDonald's with a shorter commute, I chose that. We're seeing a similar economy now and guess what? All the kids are making the same choices I did in 2000. Go figure.
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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:57 am

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Yeah, minimum wage is actually higher than minimum wage, if you know what I mean. Around where I live minimum wage is $8.60 but I frequently see fast food places advertising $9.50-$10.


Its not any different almost anywhere. There's never been this many open jobs in history:

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/12/us-job-openings-jump-to-record-high-of-7point3-million.html

That's the job market. Pay has been slow to increase, in part because lots of businesses are operating in anti-competitive fashion these days (all those corporate mergers had an effect) and in some cases created monosopoys. But even that's changing as the open jobs number creeps up.

When I was a kid I seriously entertained working for Silver Dollar City, but when I could get more money and more hours from McDonald's with a shorter commute, I chose that. We're seeing a similar economy now and guess what? All the kids are making the same choices I did in 2000. Go figure.


If your primary goal is to make money, you'll go to where the money is. On the whole, I sense that GMs and HR figures in the theme park industry believe that they want to pull from people who aren't driven solely by money, but primarily from kids who want to have fun working at theme parks, which is outrageously stupid. This is what youth labor force participation looks like at the federal level:

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNU01300012

I didn't make that up on the fly. It's been stable at a summer peak in the low-mid 40s for a decade, down from mid-high 60s in the 1990s. That mentality is a dinosaur that somehow managed to lurch its way into surviving long past when the asteroid should have killed it. It doesn't matter how true it is either because its so engrained as a belief that even pointing at the parks that do something different goes nowhere ("That can't work here, this is how we've always done it" mentality).

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:18 pm

Wow, that's really interesting. Seems to have made a major change around 2001....I wonder how much of this has been NCLB and its progeny? With so much more placed on kids academically at that age, possible they just don't have time to devote to work. I doubt the percentage of kids who have to work at that age has changed all that much, so it's kids who were previously choosing to work now choosing other things.
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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Wed Feb 20, 2019 1:36 pm

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Wow, that's really interesting. Seems to have made a major change around 2001....I wonder how much of this has been NCLB and its progeny? With so much more placed on kids academically at that age, possible they just don't have time to devote to work. I doubt the percentage of kids who have to work at that age has changed all that much, so it's kids who were previously choosing to work now choosing other things.


There's definitely not a single reason for labor force participation on the whole to be declining (it is, FWIW), but in the case of younger people, the primary offset is school enrollment as the return on investment from education has grown appreciably since the 1980s.

Even if the reason though was "Kids are lazy now and play these goddamned video games!", that doesn't matter. You'd need to find motivating factors at that point to move them into the work place for you. If the return on investment from education makes it tough for low skill positions to be filled, then what is the obvious counter that has to occur to bring the market back to a position of balance?

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby MagicMountainMan » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:00 pm

I am confused as to what the argument being made actually is now...

However I am confident that SFMM going year round has been positive for at least some of the employees that work there, with a catch*. There are hours for a lot of employees that work there all year since the place is perennially understaffed. Being understaffed hasn't changed, but the fact that a food service employee who is already available to work can now work a mystical 40 hours per week all year instead of just on operational days is a net benefit and will most likely help in retaining that employee.

*With that being said the work culture of Six Flags, the amount of stress put on kids who are working in places that are always understaffed (literally food services), and the pay certainly outweigh the gain of a hypothetical 'more work hours', because that's not quite how it works at Six Flags.

SFMM works on a tiered system; Tier 1-3. Tier 1 employees are the majority of the park employees, they get no benefits from Six Flags and are guaranteed no hours. Tier 2 employees (some leads, most supervisors, and a few front line employees who are always there) are guaranteed 30 hours per week, which is the bare minimum under ACA guidelines to qualify for employer insurance. Tier 3 employees are the full time salary employees.

Here's the catch though, SFMM does a very good job at making sure Tier 1 employees stay Tier 1 employees. When SFMM went to 365 ops last year, there was not much of a bump in Tier 2 promotions, instead they had hiring fairs and took on more Tier 1 employees to dilute the workforce and they aren't laying off as many 'seasonal' team members like they used to. Also, for the busy summer months they do still rely on an international workers program as well as hiring surges.

My long winded, overall point is that while it may seem like a great thing on paper that SFMM went full time operations, the benefits of that full time schedule only partially trickled down to the base employees. It's (arguably) unfortunate that they can 'get away' with paying minimum wage, not paying employees a holiday rate even for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and cultivate a pretty toxic work culture. However until the bottom line starts to be affected and it makes financial sense to change their business practices, they won't.

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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby Jew » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:47 pm

This has turned into a fun discussion. Point is, Magic will always struggle to retain people because they have nothing to offer besides minimum wage, park tickets, and a flexible schedule. They essentially use bandaids to get enough people to operate the park, but ultimately I would guess that their turnover rate is higher than ever with an ultra competitive job market for entry level positions.

I'd be curious to see how much their costs actually are in hiring more part time team members vs. what it would be to make improvements to pay/benefits/etc. Hiring & training isn't cheap.
Last edited by Jew on Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:47 pm.
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Re: The Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) Discussion Thread

Postby Diamondbacker27 » Thu Feb 21, 2019 6:36 am

ytterbiumanalyst wrote:Yeah, minimum wage is actually higher than minimum wage, if you know what I mean. Around where I live minimum wage is $8.60 but I frequently see fast food places advertising $9.50-$10.

When I was a kid I seriously entertained working for Silver Dollar City, but when I could get more money and more hours from McDonald's with a shorter commute, I chose that. We're seeing a similar economy now and guess what? All the kids are making the same choices I did in 2000. Go figure.

I have much closer places to me to work, that pay more, but I drive about 25 miles to Kentucky Kingdom to work because I love it that much. :lol: It pays my bills and I'd rather get paid a little less for a job I love than a little more for a job I hate. Plus, I always get at least 40 hours a week at the park. I know not all parks are like this, I'm just glad mine is.
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