Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby coasterbill » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:01 am

Too Fast For Comfort wrote:
coasterbill wrote:With the exception of a few unique markets there's no competition between Six Flags and Cedar Fair. People just go to the regional park that's closest to them and likely assume that what they experience there is typical of every park not owned by Disney or Universal (if they even know the difference between Disney and Universal). Most people aren't as critical of parks as coaster enthusiasts (Example: You citing an apparent lack of greeters at Six Flags as something that bothers you about their parks when you're probably the only one on the face of the planet that cares).


I know that you were just citing an example and didn't want the example to be nitpicked, but I just want to state my case about greeters/crowd control:

Its not that I really care about being "greeted", its about having a full complement of employees to properly run a ride. I can definitely tell that cutting back on staff in a given ride immensely affects wait times, congestion, rowdiness, and all around experience. Sure, to your point, the GP isn't walking around with a clipboard saying "uh-oh, no greeters, that's a demerit." But greeters and crowd control in my observation make the experience more smooth, efficient, and luxurious. Just look having four or more restraint checkers instead of only two. And in some cases, a Six Flags or local park will only have 1-2 employees in the entire ride, and they're responsible for checking restraints, crowd control, and dispatching the ride.

In my view, a fully functioning ride would have the following:

Greeter: They manage the Fast Pass/Quick Queue/Fast Lane, etc., do a once over of the guests to make sure they won't have any problems getting on, and do another one to make sure that they aren't carrying any loose articles that will slow the dispatch up.

Crowd Control: They prioritize the Fast Pass/Quick Queue/Fast Lane, etc. vs. the regular line, receive the single rider line (a dying breed, but my fully functioning ride would have one), act as a back-up of the greeter's once over, make sure no shenanigans are going on in the queue line, and if your employees are good enough, you can teach them to count and group.

In my opinion, having only the size of the train in the station pre-grouped ready to go without empty seats does wonders for speed, efficiency, and overall luxurious feeling. But in realty, you might need 4-5 staff between the greeter/crowd control to pull this off, and possibly more if the line has theming, pre-ride shows, or moving parts to it.

Restraint checkers: If you have the money, going beyond two per loading station does wonders. Oh yeah, if you have the money, dual loading stations, tandem loading stations, and separate exit/entrance stations do wonders. Obviously you don't need as much staff on the exit station as the entrance station. But four restraint checkers does wonders compared to two. Interesting note: it looks like Disney is able to get away with the restraint checkers just telling you to tug on the restraints and observing you. Granted, they have less extreme rides, but even Rock N' Roller Coaster does this. I wonder if its due to looser Florida regs, or they pay their employees more and trust them. This is another topic I'm interested in.

The ride op: this should be the most skilled employee stationed at a ride. Ideally they don't have to get up and are positioned where they can see the signals from all employees. Hopefully the ride is mechanically sound and it won't malfunction, make life hell for the ride op, and cause delays.

I think that the more you're willing to invest in employees, the less you'll stack, the faster your ops will be, and the more smooth and luxurious the experience will be. Even if the consumers don't care about how the sausage gets made. I've noticed that the GP still hate waiting in line as much as we do, so the more you can do to crush lines, the better. Of the ~15-20 parks I've been to this year, most of them horrifically stack on most dispatches -- even SeaWorld/Busch. They've pretty much given up on three train ops because they can barely avoid stacking with two. While Universal has their problem rides, they're generally pretty efficient. Disney is scary efficient, partly because their rides aren't that extreme, and also because the rides are staffed to the extreme -- and also it seems like the guests are in general better at taking orders than other parks.

Just my insights, I'd love to hear what other people think.


Yeah, I don't care.

I don't want to sound like a jerk and just respond to that long of a post by simply saying "I don't care" in a dismissive tone and that's not my intention but that's my opinion. I also don't see a big difference in Six Flags operations and Cedar Fair operations across the board. I think most people just see great summertime ops at Cedar Point and act as if that's commonplace chain-wide all season. Do I see a big difference in peak operations at parks like Carowinds, Dorney, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Valleyfair or Cedar Point in the Spring or Fall vs the average Six Flags park? No, and in some cases Six Flags is probably better.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby Too Fast For Comfort » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:12 am

coasterbill wrote:
Too Fast For Comfort wrote:
coasterbill wrote:
Yeah, I don't care.

I don't want to sound like a jerk and just respond to that long of a post by simply saying "I don't care" in a dismissive tone and that's not my intention but that's my opinion. I also don't see a big difference in Six Flags operations and Cedar Fair operations across the board. I think most people just see great summertime ops at Cedar Point and act as if that's commonplace chain-wide all season. Do I see a big difference in peak operations at parks like Carowinds, Dorney, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Valleyfair or Cedar Point in the Spring or Fall vs the average Six Flags park? No, and in some cases Six Flags is probably better.


Its all good, don't worry about it. I have fun writing about that kind of stuff and thinking about operations so its no hassle for me to write about. Don't feel obligated to get involved in my geekdom. I'm not saying that CF has great operations (outside of CP at full capacity), but just that it represents the middle of the spectrum, while SF represents the worst end of the spectrum.

To TLDR version of my long post is just that more staffing, better training, and more thoughtful planning will always decrease wait times and add efficiency. But that also means more money, so it comes back to getting what you pay for.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:41 am

Too Fast For Comfort wrote:Well, I think that the problem with appealing to 1%ers can be summed up by their relative scarcity, and the perception that going to amusement parks outside of Disney just isn't something that 1%ers do. But the motivation behind 1%ers is the income inequality in this country, and the exponentially higher profit margins you get from them. If you really want to do a lot of things and take your business to certain levels, you just need their cash, and in this country so much of our cash and wealth is loaded at the top.


1%ers can't spend enough at Six Flags to justify them being catered to. There aren't hotels. There aren't paintings for sale or crystal Bugs Bunny and Superman statuettes to buy. There's no luxury steakhouses or modern american restaurants with $50 entrees. There's no cruise ships to move people towards.

As I was saying, it wasn't really the best decision on my end, but from when I bought it through the end of the 2019 season, I'll probably be going to 8-10 Six Flags parks, so there's a good chance I'll be getting my money's worth out of it.


Then you're getting a sense of value. And perhaps you renew if you're happy with it.

Also, usually I'll just share my meals with my group, and we get real food afterwards. I got the meal plan, which was next to nothing with the level discount.


So you spent like $250-300/person on products and services you don't intend to use? Like, you get that the pricing is in part based on expectation of consumption in addition to what the price has to be to get you to buy it, right? So whatever that "next to nothing was", should you willingly not use it, is them extracting money from you that you were never going to spend in park.

Honestly, I'd be more motivated to go to higher levels with the passes if you got to skip the lines for food.


The lines are because of the meal passes (getting utilization out of the staff which was already present, selling the stock already bought), of course, and selling a "premier" skip the line meal line pass would perhaps shorten the wait which was created by the passes in the first place. Again, you'd be paying more money into Six Flags for services you didn't ever need or want before because of other premium services you've purchased that never existed in the past. Is it starting to make sense now how Six Flags is making money?

One of the motivations behind the pass was the two free skip the line passes and the Flash Pass discounts. Incidentally, with all of this talk about business -- its an interesting business model where they're able to actually profit off of their slow ops.


Like I've said before, I've seen plenty decent operations there compared to Cedar Fair parks. I'll take a Six Flags Great America or Great Adventure in October over Cedar Point or Kings Island in October any day.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby Too Fast For Comfort » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:14 am

DirkFunk wrote:
Too Fast For Comfort wrote:Well, I think that the problem with appealing to 1%ers can be summed up by their relative scarcity, and the perception that going to amusement parks outside of Disney just isn't something that 1%ers do. But the motivation behind 1%ers is the income inequality in this country, and the exponentially higher profit margins you get from them. If you really want to do a lot of things and take your business to certain levels, you just need their cash, and in this country so much of our cash and wealth is loaded at the top.


1%ers can't spend enough at Six Flags to justify them being catered to. There aren't hotels. There aren't paintings for sale or crystal Bugs Bunny and Superman statuettes to buy. There's no luxury steakhouses or modern american restaurants with $50 entrees. There's no cruise ships to move people towards.

As I was saying, it wasn't really the best decision on my end, but from when I bought it through the end of the 2019 season, I'll probably be going to 8-10 Six Flags parks, so there's a good chance I'll be getting my money's worth out of it.


Then you're getting a sense of value. And perhaps you renew if you're happy with it.

Also, usually I'll just share my meals with my group, and we get real food afterwards. I got the meal plan, which was next to nothing with the level discount.


So you spent like $250-300/person on products and services you don't intend to use? Like, you get that the pricing is in part based on expectation of consumption in addition to what the price has to be to get you to buy it, right? So whatever that "next to nothing was", should you willingly not use it, is them extracting money from you that you were never going to spend in park.

Honestly, I'd be more motivated to go to higher levels with the passes if you got to skip the lines for food.


The lines are because of the meal passes (getting utilization out of the staff which was already present, selling the stock already bought), of course, and selling a "premier" skip the line meal line pass would perhaps shorten the wait which was created by the passes in the first place. Again, you'd be paying more money into Six Flags for services you didn't ever need or want before because of other premium services you've purchased that never existed in the past. Is it starting to make sense now how Six Flags is making money?

One of the motivations behind the pass was the two free skip the line passes and the Flash Pass discounts. Incidentally, with all of this talk about business -- its an interesting business model where they're able to actually profit off of their slow ops.


Like I've said before, I've seen plenty decent operations there compared to Cedar Fair parks. I'll take a Six Flags Great America or Great Adventure in October over Cedar Point or Kings Island in October any day.



I think I'll come close to a break-even point or zoom past it, but I would also have been happy with a cut-rate pass and doing my own thing for food. My doubts were mostly about the pass taking away my flexibility, and the silliness of getting such an extreme pass when I live so far from even one Six Flags park. But I'm an extreme minority when it comes to how I go to parks. I wouldn't take what I do and consider that the norm. Heck, I live in Tampa, and they consider my home park to be Six Flags Magic Mountain.

But I also make the money back because I try to strategize with my passes and hit certain chains harder when I have their pass in a given year, and take some time off afterwards. I'm going to see how it goes. If I'm blown away, I might continue to renew, and if I feel like it was overkill, I'll take some time off, and go back to Gold when I need to.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:44 am

Too Fast For Comfort wrote:I think I'll come close to a break-even point or zoom past it, but I would also have been happy with a cut-rate pass and doing my own thing for food. My doubts were mostly about the pass taking away my flexibility, and the silliness of getting such an extreme pass when I live so far from even one Six Flags park. But I'm an extreme minority when it comes to how I go to parks. I wouldn't take what I do and consider that the norm. Heck, I live in Tampa, and they consider my home park to be Six Flags Magic Mountain.


But it's not really a "break even" though, right? The only people who get the meal deal and season passes who manage to only be at cost to Six Flags are people who go a lot - like probably 40+ times a year. Maybe your value per visit is only $25 or so when you get to the end of the year, but that's not what's relevant. What's relevant is that you spent $300 up front + whatever else you get. If you spent $100 on a season's pass w/parking in the past you would have needed to buy 14 $15 meals to even approach what you're spending now. They aren't spending anything extra, really, to acquire that money from you. They've even been able to push the price of food higher knowing that it will push you into buying a pass.

But I also make the money back because I try to strategize with my passes and hit certain chains harder when I have their pass in a given year, and take some time off afterwards. I'm going to see how it goes. If I'm blown away, I might continue to renew, and if I feel like it was overkill, I'll take some time off, and go back to Gold when I need to.


I do the same thing. I think we all do. But I also understand why this makes money for Six Flags and why they're doing so well.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby Too Fast For Comfort » Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:54 am

DirkFunk wrote:
Too Fast For Comfort wrote:I think I'll come close to a break-even point or zoom past it, but I would also have been happy with a cut-rate pass and doing my own thing for food. My doubts were mostly about the pass taking away my flexibility, and the silliness of getting such an extreme pass when I live so far from even one Six Flags park. But I'm an extreme minority when it comes to how I go to parks. I wouldn't take what I do and consider that the norm. Heck, I live in Tampa, and they consider my home park to be Six Flags Magic Mountain.


But it's not really a "break even" though, right? The only people who get the meal deal and season passes who manage to only be at cost to Six Flags are people who go a lot - like probably 40+ times a year. Maybe your value per visit is only $25 or so when you get to the end of the year, but that's not what's relevant. What's relevant is that you spent $300 up front + whatever else you get. If you spent $100 on a season's pass w/parking in the past you would have needed to buy 14 $15 meals to even approach what you're spending now. They aren't spending anything extra, really, to acquire that money from you. They've even been able to push the price of food higher knowing that it will push you into buying a pass.

But I also make the money back because I try to strategize with my passes and hit certain chains harder when I have their pass in a given year, and take some time off afterwards. I'm going to see how it goes. If I'm blown away, I might continue to renew, and if I feel like it was overkill, I'll take some time off, and go back to Gold when I need to.


I do the same thing. I think we all do. But I also understand why this makes money for Six Flags and why they're doing so well.


All good points. Maybe after the season is over I'll sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate the savings I actually made and figure out the cost per use to see if it made sense or not.

A speculative question that I've been wondering about: do you know if they lock in membership dues for life if you keep renewing? Or will they go up to market value whenever the prices change? If they were locked in, that might make bang my hand against the wall for doing such a high level, or make me think two or three times about keeping the pass.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby DirkFunk » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:28 pm

Too Fast For Comfort wrote:All good points. Maybe after the season is over I'll sit down with a spreadsheet and calculate the savings I actually made and figure out the cost per use to see if it made sense or not.


I look at it like this: Did I save money with my Gold Pass this year? Well, if I compare the value of the Gold Membership to the cost of individual entries to the parks, sure, I saved money vs. paying to go to SFOT twice, SFGAmer, La Ronde, SFStl, and SFMM. Now, if I didn't have a pass, would I have gone to SFOT twice? Nah. I'd have gotten a QBot and gone for one really exhausting day. Would I have gone to La Ronde? No. SFGAmer? No. SFStl? No. SFMM? Definitely not - that was a work trip and I got 5 hours sleep that night while everyone else with the team spent a long night in bed. I had to pay for hotels and gas and car maintenance and Ubers for all this. I never really come out ahead compared to spending my time birding or hiking because of the other costs involved.

A speculative question that I've been wondering about: do you know if they lock in membership dues for life if you keep renewing? Or will they go up to market value whenever the prices change? If they were locked in, that might make bang my hand against the wall for doing such a high level, or make me think two or three times about keeping the pass.


The official language is:

You agree that Six Flags may change your monthly membership payments any time after the expiration of the Minimum Term. Six Flags will give you notice of any change in your monthly membership payments before the new payment amount goes into effect, by sending a notice to the email address you provide. If you do not wish to continue your membership at the new payment amount, you must cancel your membership as described in the Cancellation Procedure below. When the new payment amount goes into effect, Six Flags will charge your Card for the new monthly membership payments of all Members, unless you cancel according to the terms of this agreement. You acknowledge that your monthly membership payments may be different from others’ monthly membership payments because of discounts or promotions offered to others for which you may not be eligible or which are not available at the time you sign up.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby A.J. » Wed Jan 02, 2019 12:53 pm

All this "is it worth it for the Diamond Elite membership" talk and I'm just sitting here with my gold season pass for all the parks with parking that cost me less than $75. :lmao:
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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby Too Fast For Comfort » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:51 pm

DirkFunk wrote:
Too Fast For Comfort wrote:

The official language is:

You agree that Six Flags may change your monthly membership payments any time after the expiration of the Minimum Term. Six Flags will give you notice of any change in your monthly membership payments before the new payment amount goes into effect, by sending a notice to the email address you provide. If you do not wish to continue your membership at the new payment amount, you must cancel your membership as described in the Cancellation Procedure below. When the new payment amount goes into effect, Six Flags will charge your Card for the new monthly membership payments of all Members, unless you cancel according to the terms of this agreement. You acknowledge that your monthly membership payments may be different from others’ monthly membership payments because of discounts or promotions offered to others for which you may not be eligible or which are not available at the time you sign up.


So it sounds like the answer is definitively no. If they did lock in the prices, I'm sure that they would have advertised that as a perk in big letters and exclamation points. I was thinking that offering to lock in prices would be a way to encourage people to keep renewing and forget about it, and for SF to get constant revenue. In this case, I'll certainly cancel as early as possible, and reconsider what I'm doing down the road. As I was saying, at the time I thought that it seemed like something that I wanted to do, but in practice, I just don't think that it has enough perks compared to the dirt cheap basic passes.

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Re: Six Flags Corporate Discussion Thread

Postby bluestreak » Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:31 pm

A.J. wrote:All this "is it worth it for the Diamond Elite membership" talk and I'm just sitting here with my gold season pass for all the parks with parking that cost me less than $75. :lmao:


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