Attendence changes and complete figures

Monday, April 9, 2007 9:22 AM
Those are some very interesting numbers, although none were really shocking except for Disney Studios in Paris. I knew the park wasn't doing all that well, but damn! And Eisner thought it was a complete park? Idiot.

It's amazing to see how Disney really rules the theme park world with gaudy attendance figures. I mean, they're about four times bigger (in terms of attendance) than their next-largest competitor. Not only that, but it seems that any company with an Orlando presence- no matter how few parks they have- are on the "elite" list. Busch doesn't have a great number of parks but they're right up there with other, larger chains because parks like Sea World Florida and BGA have high attendance numbers.

The SF drops? Not surprising at all. The same lousy experience for a higher price? Who'da thunk the figures would plunge?

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Monday, April 9, 2007 10:03 AM
Eisner wasn't the one who through it was a complete park.. Jay Rasulo was. He was in charge of DLP when that fiasco got approved. Tower of Terror was cut from opening and replaced by Rock n Roller Coaster... Fine ride yes, but a little redundant when you got a launched indoor looper in the park next door. the Coaster cost half as much as Tower, so in it goes!

The Lights! Motor! Action! Stunt show was originally supposed to be a James Bond stunt show... but that got cut and we got the plain version instead. The Jetskis portion in Paris didn't make it through soft opening. They just removed it before official opening. The Flying Carpets were supposed to go in Adventureland, but they were moved to the Studios at the last minute.

Tower of Terror? Can you believe the foundations for the ride have been in place since the original park construction? In late 2002... work resumed on the area... and a little later, we got the terrifying Toilette Zone (in french, bathrooms are toilettes, so the french fans played on it and mocked the Twilight Zone!). They finally decided to resume construction on the ride and it will open early next year. It won't solve any of the park's problem... since its right in the middle of it! So, you'll add another bottleneck to an already badly designed park.

The Crush Coaster is a good idea, but did they really need to take a Maurer-Sohne standard portable spinning coaster, add a short dark ride portion and then pretend its the new Space Mountain? Maurer-Sohne spinning coasters are great fun, but when you look at what Phantasialand did with theirs, its sad.

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Monday, April 9, 2007 10:42 AM
FlyingScooter- I didn't have time to count up the exact number of GL operating days in 2006... but I estimated about 103 (weekends only in May, daily from Memorial Day through mid-August, weekends only through the third weekend in September and not counting the Progressive Day buyout). Doing the math, that equals out to 6,796 people per day. If a "year-round" park like SFMM is only doing 9,000 a day... then GL does have some hope after all! ;)

Ray P.

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Monday, April 9, 2007 10:54 AM
^True enough. It's the Cleveland Clinic weekend and Prog day that give them a serious boost in attendance. CC weekend was huge. Parking lot was actually full.
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Monday, April 9, 2007 1:13 PM
Perhaps Jay Rasulo presided over the Disneyland Paris resort at the time but it was Eisner who ultimately cut theme park budgets- it's why DCA turned out like it did, and it's why Disneysea in Tokyo, which is partially owned by the Oriental Land Company or whatever it's called, ended up being so wonderful (at least according to those that have been there). Eisner was the one who used to stand behind exceptional theme park projects (Disney America was supposed to cost a fortune, even by Disney standards) but somewhere along the way he felt that it made more sense to build with Six Flags budgets. It's something that's going to cost DCA, Disney Studios Paris and Hong King Disneyland for at least a decade or two as the company scrambles to turn them into bonafide Disney parks.
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Monday, April 9, 2007 3:07 PM

SuperSteve said:
Wow, SFMM has to have more than 10,000 in average daily attendance, SDC has about that, and they are at least 4 times smaller. How many did they get total for last year?

2.55 million

The problem is the park needs more tourists, and more flat rides besides coasters. If you don't like roller coasters, many people get the impression that there's nothing else to do at that park. I always wondered if they advertisted during the off-season down there. My hunch is that they don't. Considering they won't give that park more money before, how could they advertise during the non-peak season?

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Monday, April 9, 2007 4:31 PM
SFMM doesn't advertise during the off season. The last batch of ads are for Halloween and then nothing until spring for season pass renewal time.

It's no secret that SFMM had a rough year. X was closed for most of the season, they had staffing issues, Tatsu opened late, it did rain quite a bit for socal last spring, the local news was filled with stories of the park being closed for condos and they didn't announce that it wasn't for sale until late into 2006.

From a chain wide perspective though, the attendance performance still put them up at #3. SF as a whole would be in a far better position if all their parks did at least as well as a bad year for SFMM. *** Edited 4/9/2007 8:32:03 PM UTC by DBJ***

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Monday, April 9, 2007 7:36 PM
Rob, Walt Disney Company doesn't fully own or control DLP. They're independant from the other parks, so that's why they do their own events and promotions and are not forced to use the same ones from the american parks. Instead of doing that "Year of a million dreams" thing, they instead created their own characters and will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the resort.

When the resort decided to finally do an expansion, they had to raise their own funds and Walt Disney Company didn't give a single dollar for it.

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Monday, April 9, 2007 8:18 PM

Lord Gonchar said: I'm still of the mindset that it's years of crap service that keeps SF's number down. On the plus side, when you're down there's nowhere to go but up.

Funny, I thought I had seen this argument before. And I'll be the last person to say that, as a whole, SF's attendance figures in the old regime were buoyed by fantastic customer service. ;)

But seriously, they were pretty steady, attendance-wise, over the years....for one of two reasons. A - year after year of plopping down multimillion dollar thrill rides kept people coming back DESPITE the ummmmm, substandard experience.... or B - ridiculously-low gate prices kept people coming back despite the obvious flaws. Either way, the people were NOT staying away from the parks in prior years the way they did in '06.

I have GOT to believe if the cause of the precipitous drop in warm bodies was due to horrendous operations, cleanliness, etc., that the people would have left YEARS ago....just flipping the coin over. So, that leaves me with two options, again. People didn't come in '06 because of the LACK of new thrills, or, alternatively and just as likely, it WAS the rise in gate prices that sent those customers packing. Either way, I *do* agree with you that Shapiro is just as happy they didn't come. Probably happier... ;)

*** Edited 4/10/2007 12:19:56 AM UTC by rollergator***

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:24 AM

Peabody said:
Yes, but if I remember correctly in those articles it was never SF Inc. of SFMM stating that, always some third party that sounded like speculation. Besides, if it was a money-making property then why offer it up for sale? (I'd dig up the LA times articles, but I'm not going to pay money to do so)

*** Edited 4/9/2007 1:14:23 AM UTC by Peabody***


The reasons for the potential sale of Six Flags Magic Mountain were clearly stated by Six Flags.

1. Highly competitive market filled with family oriented theme parks.
2. Magic Mountain’s positioning as a “Thrill Park” and their mix of attractions were noted to be successful, but not inline with the new direction Six Flags was taking.
3. Potentially an attractive property and theme park to buyers that would likely net a large sum of cash to help pay down the company’s burdensome debt and benefit the rest of Six Flags.

Those are good reasons. It was also apparent that Six Flags was hoping that by including Magic Mountain it would make the other properties more attractive to potential buyers as a package.

Six Flags Magic Mountain is clearly a profitable park with likely annual revenues in excess of $100 million. Six Flags has been touting their in-park per capita guest spending. Just do the math.

Also, the average daily attendance figures are really worthless. If they were meaningful they would include them in those reports.

If Cedar Point could operate the same schedule as Six Flags Magic Mountain their annual attendance would only increase a little and their average daily attendance would drop significantly as well. There are benefits to having year-round cash flow and there are fixed costs for any theme park that don’t change no matter how many days you operate.

Six Flags Magic Mountain is without a doubt one of the better performing Six Flags properties. The drop in attendance last year can be easily tied to the amount of negative press the company received. All year there was negative press that worked as advertising against their parks. It started with the proxy battle and continued through the entire year. Even Six Flags’ own CEO was a little to open and honest at times about the company and their problems.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:27 AM

Lord Gonchar said:

YoshiFan said:
I wonder if all the price increases turned people away from the SF parks. Going from a $47.99 to $59.99 gate price and from $10 to $15 for parking was a huge increase at Great Adventure last year.

Then again that was part of the "Great Price Debate of 2006" and the other half was CP lowering the gate and offering that 25 cent cotton candy deal.

Their attendance dropped too and you'll notice this year the gate price inched back up a few bucks and the cotton candy offer is off the table from what I understand.


When you compare Six Flags increase in pricing to Cedar Fair's decrease in pricing and the results it suggest that the gate price really doesn't affect the attendance.

I think you're right about the customer service at Six Flags being a factor.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:29 AM

Also, the average daily attendance figures are really worthless. If they were meaningful they would include them in those reports.

As worthless as the overall attendance numbers, at least. ;)


When you compare Six Flags increase in pricing to Cedar Fair's decrease in pricing and the results it suggest that the gate price really doesn't affect the attendance.

Agreed. That's what I've been trying to convince the general consensus around here of for a little over a year now. :)

*** Edited 4/10/2007 5:30:57 AM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 7:53 AM

FLYINGSCOOTER said:
*Geauga Lake - Dozens and dozens served!

GL had a good season. Even with a shorter operating season, they still managed to have an increase in attendence. Now if they operated on a normal season and still had the Haunt, I don't see how we couldn't hit 900,000 or higher seeing as October was the busiest season back when we had The Haunt/Fright Fest.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:00 AM

Absimilliard said:
Rob, Walt Disney Company doesn't fully own or control DLP. They're independant from the other parks, so that's why they do their own events and promotions and are not forced to use the same ones from the american parks.

When the resort decided to finally do an expansion, they had to raise their own funds and Walt Disney Company didn't give a single dollar for it.


I didn't know that was the case (and I'm pretty big on all things Disney). So DLP basically functions like a Disney franchise, with Disney more or less selling the rights to their IP for some kind of fee? Or maybe I'm missing something here?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:57 AM
Lord Gonchar said:


When you compare Six Flags increase in pricing to Cedar Fair's decrease in pricing and the results it suggest that the gate price really doesn't affect the attendance.
Agreed. That's what I've been trying to convince the general consensus around here of for a little over a year now.

I *kinda* disagree, and think of it more like apples and oranges. CF's situation and SF's situation were completely different, from the boardrooms to the restrooms.

I *tend* to think that CF was more "price inelastic", becauase their PRODUCT had shown consistency over a long period of time...in other words, patrons KNEW what to expect. This meant that for a *luxury* good like an amusement park visit, a reduction in price really wasn't likely to create a massive rush to the turnstiles...IN GENERAL.

SF was in a totally different world, where expectations were low, again based on past performance. But SF catered to a different demographic entirely, and recognized that by raising the gate, they might eliminate the "lowest-margin customers"....

Bottom line (as always, IMO, YMMV, etc.): For *comparable* luxury items, where quality is NORMALLY considered a given, responsiveness to minor price fluctuations should be pretty low (price inelasticity). But given that SF was dealing in a *lower-quality* product, I think their market WAS more responsive to price changes, and they were able to USE that fact to clear the parks of lower-margin customers. The next *trick*, so to speak, is to re-fill the SF parks with higher-margin customers....and the Q100 hookie-day promotion was exactly the way NOT to start...LOL! :)

*** Edited 4/10/2007 2:58:49 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:27 PM
^ Written like a true Marketing 101 teacher.

SF succeeded in differentiating themselves from the rest. The problem is, they did so in a negative fashion. SF is known for providing a poor customer experience - not exactly the way I want to be seen as different.

Until they make the experience a positive one, no amount of record breaking rides or innovative pricing strategy will fix their problems.

Edited 'cause half my post just vanished . . .

*** Edited 4/10/2007 5:30:43 PM UTC by CoasterDad64***

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 1:32 PM
^^That makes sense.

Either way it's not the pricing that's killing Six Flags, it's the experience inside the gate. :)

As long as we continue to see progress (and that doesn't mean overnight fixes, but rather steady progress over several years - real fixes, not quick fixes) they'll come out of this just fine and have taken themselves from the 'discount chain' to the price leader.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 2:25 PM
Maybe. They've got a ways to go to catch Busch or Disney, price-wise.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 2:29 PM
Orlando doesn't count. They're their own little world. :)
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 2:41 PM

rollergator said:I *kinda* disagree, and think of it more like apples and oranges. CF's situation and SF's situation were completely different, from the boardrooms to the restrooms.

I *tend* to think that CF was more "price inelastic", becauase their PRODUCT had shown consistency over a long period of time...

SF was in a totally different world, where expectations were low, again based on past performance. But SF catered to a different demographic entirely, and recognized that by raising the gate, they might eliminate the "lowest-margin customers"....


Gator thank you. Your argument actually further supports our thoughts that price really had little affect. The performance was really related to customer experiences both past and present versus price.

One more thing with regards to SF admission policy. Six Flags raised the "posted" admission price, but the two for one and extreme discounting chainwide did not stop. So yes, people paid more to get into the park, but they only paid about half as much as the increase after the discounts. They also again offered some of the lowest price season passes in the industry.

I would bet that a good share of CF guests pay the "posted" admission price where at SF very few do.

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