2005 SFGAm Attendance up roughly 20%

Friday, August 5, 2005 10:01 PM
According to the Gurnee Village Administrator, quoted in today's Chicago Daily Herald, the park will attract over 3 million visitors for the first time since 1999. This would be an increase of about 500,000 people from 2004.

The article is actually quite bland, focusing on the traffic congestion the added attendance has caused. But I found the attendance thing to be an interesting tidbit.


Friday, August 5, 2005 11:28 PM
And what, pray tell, brought those numbers in the gates?

The biggest coaster in the world? No.

A flying coaster? No.

Two coasters in a season? No.

A wavepool and some slides.

The end.


Friday, August 5, 2005 11:36 PM
Yeah, but what got me there?

A brand spanking new waterpark? No!

Several coaster additions over the past few years? No!

A flying coaster? No!

Finally being in Chicago when the park was open? YES!!!

I know that only counts for 2 of the over 3 million attendees. Just giving Playa some trouble. :)

The waterpark looked great, even though all the slides weren't completed. Next time I'll be giving that part of the park some quality slippin' and slidin' time.

Friday, August 5, 2005 11:49 PM
And to think they're pissing away money by including it in the gate.
Friday, August 5, 2005 11:55 PM
Knowing I had a chance to visit SFGAm was the only reason I bought a $50 SF season pass in the first place. It certainly wasn't for SFEG!
Saturday, August 6, 2005 12:09 AM
"Six Flags pissing away money" equals happy customers in this case. The real question is how much attendance would be up if the waterpark wasn't included.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 12:38 AM
I'm sure there is a legitimate reason why they decided not to charge to enter the waterpark. I'm sure they would have charged to enter it in a heartbeat if they thought it was in their best interests. I know Six Flags has made big financial blunders in the past, but I don't think they are here. *** Edited 8/6/2005 4:39:39 AM UTC by Scream Machine***
Saturday, August 6, 2005 12:49 AM
Actually, it was originally marketed as a second gate--then they changed their minds.

Most (if not all) reports say HH fills to capacity in no time...which means people can't get in and then maybe aren't so happy. Actually, I had a coaster lovin' Chitown native (but not a poster or lurker) totally rip HH for long slide lines and not enough to do.

Even if they drew half as many visitors, they'd still have a quarter-million more visitors coughing up another $20 or so apiece. Use that to add a little more to HH and THEN include it in the gate. Monday morning quarterkbackng? Not really! I was saying the same thing long ago.


*** Edited 8/6/2005 4:50:57 AM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

Saturday, August 6, 2005 1:35 AM
You guys should have seen the park this week...the line to exit the highway onto Grand Avenure extended for miles, and pretty much every ride had a full queue overflowing. The line for Giant Drop (the Intamin drop ride) was even more than an hour. The place was PACKED. Expect record crowds at the park tomorrow.

And to anyone who has been to the park this will give you an idea: The American Eagle was using many switchbacks in the tent area. In previous years that was completely unheard of...

And yes, as posted above HH does hit it's capacity very quickly pretty much everyday.

*** Edited 8/6/2005 5:38:13 AM UTC by Raging_Bull***

Saturday, August 6, 2005 2:52 AM
Maybe they didn't think the water park was big enough to be separate admission. At this point the water park is filled the capacity by noon usually, and there are big waits to get in all day.

The park only holds 7,100 people. If they had 15,000 people a day going for just the water park there could be a problem with people stuck outside the park not being able to get in. With admission being combined now, if they can't get in the water park they can at least go and enjoy some rides, shows or water rides on the rides side. Something they would have to pay extra to do if the parks were separate.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 3:44 AM
I just can't wait to visit for my first time. Even though I have Wed and Thurs, I only plan on going Wed. Maybe the Illinois kids go back to school early, like the Texans, so the lines will be reduced during the week. Ugh.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 10:31 AM
Most Illinois school kids go back near the end of August. And as for the crowds this past week, it could be partly due to the Six Flags reading program. My mom was telling me that her ticket (for being the teacher at her school that runs the program) expires 8/7/05.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 10:40 AM
It's *always* like this this time of year. This is because, as stated in the post above me, that the Read To Succeed program expires first week of August. People are procrastinators so of course everyone waits until the last week to go, causing HUGE crowds at the park.

The good thing is they will run everything to capacity. The bad thing is, there will be almost 38,000 people in the park...you're gonna have huge lines regardless of capacity with that kind of crowd.

Go, enjoy the park, but just don't expect to be marathoning on Raging Bull! :)

Joe "enjoyed my crowded visit to the park last week" C.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 12:38 PM
It seems to me, in light of these posts, that the real solution to the park's problems is to drop the "read to succeed" program.

In the wake of Harry Potter, kids no longer need a carrot dangled in front of them to pick up a book.

Saturday, August 6, 2005 12:40 PM

Jeff said:
And to think they're pissing away money by including it in the gate.

I disagree. I think that, by including the waterpark in their admission plan, Six Flags Great America will enjoy a much greater bump in revenue than they would have with Hurricane Harbor as a separate gate.

Not only are they able to increase their ticket price under the rationale that they've added a whole second park, but the resulting attendance increase because of the new waterpark will come in paying the much higher prices of a theme park as compared to a waterpark.

Here are some numbers (using estimated figures) to back up my thinking:

Scenario 1 - Gated Separately:

400,000 waterpark admissions x $25 (estimated admission per-cap) = $10,000,000

(400,000 annual visits is what Hurricane Harbor in NJ gets, according to AB, and would be an impressive tally for a stand-alone waterpark in its first year. The NJ waterpark charges $29.99 per person before any discounts. So I think the use of these figures is reasonable.)

Total Revenue Increase: $10,000,000

Scenario 2 - Two Parks, One Price:

2.3 million (2004 baseline attendance, from AB) x $3 increase ($41.99 in 2004 vs. $44.99 in 2005) in ticket price = $6,900,000


500,000 new visits (from newspaper article) x $35 (estimated admission per-cap) = $17,500,000

Total Revenue Increase: $24,400,000

I'm thinking they made the right move!

Saturday, August 6, 2005 1:53 PM
I forgot to mention that the reason it has been so busy the past two weeks is that the Read To Succeed tickets expire this Sunday and of course everyone waits until the last minute. The park has had numerous 40,000+ attendance days during this period. After this Sunday I'd say normal crowds should set back in, expect around a half hour for Raging Bull, 20 or 25 minutes for B:TR, ect.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 1:53 PM
Snowman- One small problem: SFGAM's planned admission rate for both HH and the original park were exactly the same.

So go ahead and pull your thumb off the scale (you know, where you're estimating the visits in your favorite scenario at $10 more apiece and dropping the two-gate visits by 100,000) and let the numbers line up as they should.


*** Edited 8/6/2005 6:13:53 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

Saturday, August 6, 2005 1:58 PM
Snowman: You assume that no one will go to both parks. Your numbers are irrelevant and don't consider per cap spending in the parks.
Saturday, August 6, 2005 3:14 PM
CoastaPlaya: I was not aware that the park had already published admission rates before making the "two parks for one" announcement. Fair enough. (Though I'd like to see a timeline, as they might have made both decisions simultaneously while choosing to release the information separately. I say that out of my own curiosity--not asking you to supply evidence!)

I don't think it's realistic to expect a separately-gated waterpark in its first year to see 500,000 visits. Six Flags' top waterpark, Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, reportedly saw 470,000 visits in 2004. But I'll do the math with 500,000 visits anyway.

I also don't think that it's improper to assume the $10-lower per-cap on admission at the waterpark. Six Flags' highest-priced waterparks come in at $29.99 before any discounts. Factor in coupons, comps and season pass visits, and that figure can only come down.

So then, with some adjustments, here's the separately-gated figures:

500,000 waterpark visits x $25 = $12,500,000
2.3 million baseline theme park visits x $3 = $6,900,000

Total $19,400,000 Increased Revenue

I still come out $5,000,000 ahead "giving away" the waterpark.

Jeff: I'm sure a certain number of vacationers would have gone to both parks, but I think that approach works much better at resort properties--Cedar Point, Disney, etc. Great America is more of a day-tripper park, and I question how likely it is that a family making their annual one-day visit to the property would plan on adding another trip in the same season. I think it's more likely that they'd choose one or the other, and that'd be it for the year.

You bring up in-park spending, and I think that further supports my viewpoint. Because people tend not to carry their wallets around in a waterpark, in-park spending is much lower than at a dry park. The combined-parks approach forces guests to walk past plenty of spending opportunities, while still in possession of their wallets, before even reaching the waterpark. The same guests walk past those same outlets a second time on the way out--and perhaps take in a ride or two, increasing their length of stay (and likelihood of spending a little more).

There are still other angles to look at here, not the least of which is the very powerful marketing message of "two parks for the price of one." It's a very strong perceived value that's also easy for the average consumer to understand.

I'm convinced they made the right decision.

*** Edited 8/6/2005 7:17:19 PM UTC by Snowman***

Saturday, August 6, 2005 4:06 PM
Your two-park guess assumes different prices for the new guests (and the absurd notion that everyone is paying gate in the base visitor count). Your figures don't even remotely account for season passes either, and that's where you've got it all wrong. Half of the boost in attendance could just be from better weather for all we know. They aren't getting a half-million extra guests just for the water park, and it's reasonable to assume that a huge percentage of them are pass holders. You had them anyway. If they don't buy food and sunblock, you don't get anything from them.

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