Changes at Six Flags Great America position park for summer

Posted Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:42 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The financial roller coaster that Six Flags is riding will have no impact on how the Gurnee theme park is run, CEO Mark Shapiro said Tuesday. The New York-based company, struggling financially because of a $2.5 billion debt load taken on by previous owners' expansion sprees, says the customer will notice only improvements at all of its 20 parks.

Read more from The Daily Herald.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 2:35 PM

Nobody jumped on Shapiro's "Disney experience" comment? You folks are slacking.

Funny to see the comments to the story on the Daily Herald's site. There's still a lot of negative sentiment about the park. The two biggest complaints: price and security. I like the cut of Shapiro's jib, but he definitely needs to make inroads with the types of people making those negative comments. SFGAm didn't have that reputation 20 years ago. Then again, I could get a discount ticket for $12 at Dominick's 20 years ago.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 2:39 PM

Because quite frankly in the early 90s the place was unsafe. The clientel was rougher, and the park actually started closing early (8pm) to avoid fights at night which then caused really long lines and days where you went there and only did 5 rides the whole day. That slowly changed, but people have long memories, speaking from a personal perspective my first visits that, I think it colors my opinion of the place. If I never go to Great America again Ill be ok with that, it never felt like my home park like my other former and current parks do. The only reason I would go back would be to enjoy Viper, Raging Bull and the origninal B:TR again.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 2:41 PM

There's a lot of good stuff in that article. Shapiro gets it and he's done nothing but deliver since taking over as CEO. There's absolutely no arguing that at this point - the parks are a better experience than they were 4 years ago, more people are visiting and the park finally turned a profit for once.

Reading stuff like this and getting out there and seeing it happening firsthand just shows out far out of the loop the haters are.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 3:53 PM

This makes me more optimistic for having all 11 major coasters open when I go in a couple weeks. I am counting on getting to my big 100 mark on that visit, and I am at 89 right now. I have been a bit cautious not to get my hopes up too much though.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 4:15 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
There's a lot of good stuff in that article. Shapiro gets it and he's done nothing but deliver since taking over as CEO. There's absolutely no arguing that at this point - the parks are a better experience than they were 4 years ago, more people are visiting and the park finally turned a profit for once.

Reading stuff like this and getting out there and seeing it happening firsthand just shows out far out of the loop the haters are.

Couldn't agree more. I was at SF New England this weekend, a park that has had plenty of the same issues in the last decade, and I was blown away by how much Shapiro's crew has done for that park. Four years ago it was a trash hole with one good ride. The coaster count isn't much improved, but things like cleanliness, anti-line cutting, no smoking and having an overall better atmosphere have improved ten fold.

Haven't been to Great America yet, but from what I've read, these kind of improvements have been happening at most SF parks, which is really cool.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:17 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
...Shapiro...

I think you have a man crush on the guy. ;)

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:44 PM

I've said several times that I'm gay for him.

I think there's a great point of interest in the fact that it took someone so far from the industry to come in and fix the company. The guy gets it.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 9:54 AM

And, most of us thought the problem with Burke and his executive team was that they didn't come from the industry...

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:22 AM

Yeah, shows how much we know. It says to me that he's a really smart guy, or running an amusement park chain is based on really common sense business principles (that the previous administration lacked).

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 12:35 PM

Jeff said:
Yeah, shows how much we know. It says to me that he's a really smart guy, or running an amusement park chain is based on really common sense business principles (that the previous administration lacked).

I'm going with c) All of the above

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 12:38 PM

Lord Gonchar said:I've said several times that I'm gay for him.(snip) The guy gets it.

Someone's going to be wearing a Shapiro costume to PPP... ;)

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Thursday, May 28, 2009 2:57 PM

What a wide range of comments to the article, from filthy and dangerous to sparkling and safe. Hmmmm... I haven't been to SFGA in a number of years, (in fact, I don't even have Raging Bull on my list, so it's been a while) and I can't comment first hand.

But when I was at Cedar Point last week I was surprised by the number of Chicagoans I met (in the hotel, mainly - at least 5 different familes or couples, and there was a couple from Milwaukee) that were taking a weeks vaca to the park. Each one mentioned that they had been to their own park, alright, but they were tired of it, the rides weren't all that great, the place was cruddy, unsafe, kids runnin', blah blah. They also mentioned how much they loved CP, how clean and fun it was, and how they try to make it an annual trip.

So go figure- I didn't think to ask any of these people how long it had been since they tried SFGA, but they clearly seemed disenchanted. And if the price of food listed in the comments article is accurate, then the prices at CP certainly didn't faze 'em!

Six Flags is far reaching, and provides a form of entertainment that we all love, so the more successful their recovery becomes the happier we should all be. But I'm not at all surprised that an article about them that features an interview with Shapiro is complementary. I'm gonna try to get up there this summer and see for myself.

Last edited by RCMAC, Thursday, May 28, 2009 2:59 PM
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Thursday, May 28, 2009 8:57 PM

Lol Gator. I wish we could vote on the funniest post of the week! You'd have my vote.

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Friday, May 29, 2009 12:35 AM

rollergator said:
Someone's going to be wearing a Shapiro costume to PPP... ;)

Yeah, I'm surprised he hasn't chimed in yet. :)

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