Close Magic Mountain? Residents Aren't Thrilled

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 10:52 PM
I'll give them credit though, rc-madness and GWHaydude have made some interesting counter arguements, some things I had never considered. That's why I hate topics where everyone agrees, and then all the 'lemmings' post whichever way the popular wind blows. Counter-arguements are the only way to stimulate interesting conversation.

Not that it matters much though, I'm pretty sure the decision has already been made, and whatever the final reason, I don't think SFMM will be part of the chain in 2007, if it exists at all.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2006 11:45 PM

coasterdude318 said:

Of course not, but I never said longterm. By your own admission, Six Flags is scrambling to stay together right now. Dumping the necessary improvements into SFMM isn't an option they can afford to take. I'm not sure what else you're trying to recommend (other than filing for Chapter 11). If profits were flowing in from SFMM we wouldn't even be having this conversation. But that's not the case, and there's no sense in keeping a huge drain on your company when you're already up a creek.


All I'm recommending is that we not think that dumping MM, EG and the other parks will make any difference at all with the parks left in the chain, except to delay the executioner. The money will NOT be going to improve other parks - just delay their closing.


Sure it is, because he's still leading the company, and he's still accountable for where that stock value goes. Sure, he may personally make some money, but running a publically-traded company isn't about toying with its stock so you can make money (personally) off it. That's illegal.

Yes, and Ken Lay maintained his innocence until the day he died. Snyder and Company were losing money under the old SF management, so they pushed them out (deservedly) and took over. I completely believe they wanted to see if there was any way possible to save the company, and they may still be looking for that answer; but if push comes to shove, and the banks are pushing HARD, their primary interest is in minimizing their losses. As you've pointed out, that's business.


People are running around and screaming as if it's so unfathomable that Six Flags is considering cutting SFMM loose, and that the result of that will be a chain reaction that will eventually lead to every park being sold. Don't forget that SFMM is a unique situation. He's cutting the parks that are hurting the company more than helping it. He's not cutting them just for the sake of doing so.

Sorry, I don't at all buy the notion that MM is some sort of unique situation. The only thing unique about it, in the SF picture, is that it's not near any other SF parks. ALL of SF's big city parks sit on real estate that is valuable. SF's maintenance varies from park to park, but they're never top of the line in that department.

The parks offered so far are those that have the highest potential real estate value - the choice of which parks to offer shows absolutely no sign that park profitability was a consideration at all.


GW:anything they get from selling the park will be dedicated to reducing their debt, not to any improvements to the other parks.


Except who is going to be interested in buying all of those used coasters? They may be able to sell off one or two of the coasters, but if there's one thing they learned from SFAW, it's that the majority of the industry had little interest in snatching up used rides. I think this management realizes you can't just go several years without adding anything new, and if they're suddenly going to have a whole boatload of free attractions to distribute to their parks, you better believe they're going to jump on that.

-Nate


IF they have any money to pay for moving and reconstruction, which can be very expensive. The existing loans MUST be serviced first from any sales proceeds. They might move the top 1 or 2 coasters from a park or two, but most of them are far more likely to be sold as scrap metal than moved. And of course wood coasters like Colossus at SFMM and Twister 2 at SFEG have no hope at all of being relocated.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2006 11:46 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

rc-madness said:
If he signs it he will forever be know as he man who killed Magic Mountain.

To the very, very few people who even know that Mr Shapiro, or Coasterbuzz, for that matter, exists, sure. To Wall Street, he will be known as either the man who saved Six Flags, or destroyed it. To the general public ... by and large they don't and won't care one way or the other.

Please understand: the person in charge of any amusement park company is running a business. Not a charity. Not a sentimental hobby. A business.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 12:46 AM

GWHayduke said:

Sorry, I don't at all buy the notion that MM is some sort of unique situation.

Really?
-It's hardly a profitable property
-It's on an extremely (and I mean extremely) valuable plot of land
-It's hardly a profitable property
-It's not attracting management's target audience
-It has tons of competition and can't compete without tons of investment that can't be afforded at this time
-It's hardly a profitable property
-It's reputation within the community has been completely destroyed
-And one last time (AND most importantly), it's hardly a profitable property

You continue to miss the entire point of the sale of SFMM. To argue that the sale will in no way help the other parks in the chain is ridiculous. That sale will allow the company to stay afloat and, in turn, allow those parks to keep operating! Honestly, it's almost as if you think they're just selling SFMM for fun. They're selling it because the chain is in financial trouble and this is one of the ways they plan on getting out of it.

Are you forgetting or just purposely ignoring that Snyder and Company have salaried jobs to keep the company's stock value high? Where management's own personal stock lies is irrelevant to this discussion.

-Nate
*** Edited 7/6/2006 4:47:46 AM UTC by coasterdude318***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 1:16 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Nice going, Nate! Bring logic and good business sense into the argument you ruin it for everyone else ;)

I have a GREAT idea: maybe Shapiro should sell off SFA, SFGAdv, SFGam, SFNE, and all of the other SF parks and use the cash to pay off the debt and only keep SFMM open!

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 1:32 AM

coasterdude318 said:

You continue to miss the entire point of the sale of SFMM. To argue that the sale will in no way help the other parks in the chain is ridiculous. That sale will allow the company to stay afloat and, in turn, allow those parks to keep operating! Honestly, it's almost as if you think they're just selling SFMM for fun. They're selling it because the chain is in financial trouble and this is one of the ways they plan on getting out of it.

Are you forgetting or just purposely ignoring that Snyder and Company have salaried jobs to keep the company's stock value high? Where management's own personal stock lies is irrelevant to this discussion.

-Nate
*** Edited 7/6/2006 4:47:46 AM UTC by coasterdude318***


No, you're missing the point. Six Flags, if you eliminate every uprofitable property and use the proceeds from those sales to reduce the company debt, STILL isn't profitable enough to make the annual payments on the remaining debt. Selling the six parks offered so far might raise enough money to stave off the creditors until this time next year.

It's like buying a homeless person a meal - it helps with the immediate situation, but doesn't address the real problem. The real problem with SF is that the previous management ran up so much debt and withdrew so much capital that the ONLY realistic way to save the company is to try to negotiate down the debt, not to actually pay it.

I fully understand that selling SFMM, Elitch Gardens, Darien Lake, Enchanted Village and the waterparks will enable them to keep operating the other parks for ONE more year. What I'm trying to get across is that after doing that, in a year from now they'll be in exactly the same situation in regard to servicing the debt, because the profits from all the remaining parks are not enough to make the payment due on their loans. They'll be forced to sell more parks, which will let them operate whatever's left for one more year, and so on until finally they have no more parks to sell.

Yes, Snyder, Shapiro and company are getting paid for what they're doing. (Unlike most of us, as board members they get to determine how much they get paid, including a nice bonus whether the company is profitable or not.) But don't for a minute think that any of those guys are dependent on SF for employment - if it's gone they'll all land comfortably elsewhere. (You can make a pretty compelling argument that it's just a rich man's toy for Snyder, no matter what happens.) They're in this because it's a challenge which they enjoy, and because they're being well compensated. And if they fail with Six Flags? Well, the previous management just screwed it up so much no one could save it; not their fault!

To summarize: you say they're selling these parks to get out of trouble. I say they're in way too much trouble to get out without help from their creditors, and are simply buying time, during which they can continue to draw those salaries. They could just go ahead and put everything up for sale now, but then they wouldn't get paid for nearly as long. And they probably get a little better price by doing it over time.

ADDENDUM: I realize I stated in an earlier post that Shapiro bought 5ook shares. It was actually Snyder. No change to the point being made, just correcting a minor error on my part. *** Edited 7/6/2006 5:50:05 AM UTC by GWHayduke***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 1:58 AM
That's all well, but then why are you arguing they should hold on to SFMM? Why hold on to a property that's draining your profits while demanding tons of investment in order to turn around?

Selling SFMM (and others) is obviously not some magical fix that will immediately save the company forever. I agree with you that negotiating down the debt payments is something that's probably going to have to be done. But they're going to have a much easier time doing that if they're actually making payments on that debt.

The bottom line is that SFMM is a larger headache than it's worth. At the same time, Six Flags realizes they can unload a problematic property and make a dent (however relatively small) in the company's debt.

One way to get out of debt is to sell off properties to pay for that debt. Another way is to increase chain-wide profitability. Selling SFMM accomplishes both.

-Nate

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:00 AM
I have to wonder though, GWHaydude, what would you do if presented with the same situation? You've got the banks treatening to pull the plug on your entire company if they are not paid. Of course this isn't a situation you created, but one you've assumed.

Wouldn't you research which properties are the most profitable, and which ones you could stand to lose, especially given the fact that *something* has got to go and quickly? I think this is the point that Nate is making. Bottom line, the chain cannot continue as before, it's finantially impossible, as you yourself admit.

The problem here seems to be not that they've decided they need to sell to continue, but which park they chose. But think about it for a second. Obviously, one of the big boys has to go. The chain cannot continue to support all 3 or 4 of them. So you research which park has the most potential to earn based on several factors: ROI, annual attendance, per cap, maintainance, as well as it's status with the community.

Even I (not a business prefessional yet) can see that SFMM is the weakest link. Shapiro's recent statements more than echo this. We're assuming the SFMM decision was an easy one to make. I bet it wasn't, and it's probably been debated since day one and continues to be. Remember, this isn't just Shapiro's decision here. I *do* agree with you the SF's problems are hardly over, not by a long shot. They still can't even run their flagship park up to standards. But the SFMM decision seems like a no-brainer to me, as much as I hate it.

There's something else at work here though, at Coasterbuzz. People close to the park seem to be noticing a nonchalant (and maybe even slightly gleeful) attitude towards losing the park, and feel some posters are perhaps piggy-backing on this situation with their own agenda. Perhaps NOW their homepark might get that large coaster afterall. ;)

I'm not saying I agree or disagree, but it is a seperate issue that keeps creeping into this one, and maybe it needs it's own thread. *** Edited 7/6/2006 6:09:52 AM UTC by DWeaver***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:11 AM
The park has removed many flats and non-coaster rides including two octopus-type rides, enterprise, looping starship, crazy barrels, skywheel [Intamin ferris wheel similar to one recently removed from Hersheypark], bumper boats, two steam trains, two sky rides, a transportation ride called The Dragon, and a walk-thru house of illusions. The park's original Le Mans Speedway car ride was was moved to a new location, shortened by at least 75%, and received antique cars. And let's not forget the park's monorail still sits SBNO.

----------------------------------------------------

No doubt Mamoosh is correct in describing how Six Flags broke this park. No doubt Six Flags has made some retarded business decisions that put the parks they purchased in grave peril. Shapiro brought himself to the table to turn things around, right? Or does he see a money making opportunity as this company circles the drain?

Again, I don't have an issue with the company handing off parks to others in the business. Shapiro has the right to do what ever he can to put as much cash in his pockets as possible. Why are so many self-proclaimed amusement park fans on this blog so eager to let Shapiro off the hook should he decide to scrap parks rather than hand them off?

If someone is elected to be mayor, doesn't he have some moral obligation to try not to make things worse for the town, or destroy the town all together? Why the hell are we arguing about this? This is supposed to be a web site for coaster fans. I thought I'd be preaching to the choir?! *** Edited 7/6/2006 6:22:40 AM UTC by rc-madness***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:13 AM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

Sometimes it's easy to forget that this guy has only been in charge of the train wreck for 7 months.

Why am I getting this strange visual image of Dr. Strangelove? ;)


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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:13 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Just saw in interesting new commercial for Knotts. The message: thrill rides for the older kids, Camp Snoopy for the little ones...something for the WHOLE FAMILY.

Coincidence? Methinks the sharks smell blood.

I thought I'd be preaching to the quire?!

Maybe that's the problem? You should have been preaching to the choir instead ;)


*** Edited 7/6/2006 6:15:33 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:17 AM
rollergator's avatar

Mamoosh said:I have a GREAT idea: maybe Shapiro should sell off SFA, SFGAdv, SFGam, SFNE, and all of the other SF parks and use the cash to pay off the debt and only keep SFMM open!

I knew you liked the old management better! ;)

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:24 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Remember when SFMM was a nice, clean place to visit with rides running at capacity? When in between adding coasters they added flats like a looping starship and condor or a water ride or new show? When spending a day at the park was better than having your wisdom teeth pulled?

THAT is the management I liked ;)

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:40 AM
But...Disney and Knott's outdrew SFMM even back then, confirming what I've been thinking. It's not about which park can draw the most families, that's a bit narrow minded. It's how many *repeat* visits you get from *happy* visitors.

Cue *Moby* track, "One of these mornings".

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 2:42 AM
I remember Magic Mountain back in the 80's. It was hopping, crowded, fat with people, just as much or more at times than Disneyland. Attracted lots of families. Magic Mountain was about the only place on the west coast to find mega coasters. I was there the summer Colossus opened in '77. It was a big damm deal, largest coaster in the world I think at that time. The Revolution had just opened too, the only coaster with a loop. I thought for sure I'd fall out of it.

There were few thrill-rides at Knott's back then. It was close to Disney was a main reason people went. Disneyland had mostly kids rides. Magic Mountain was a park for the thrill-seekers, not really competing with Disney or Knott's. If anything Knott's and Disney stepped up their thrill rides in response to Magic Mountain. Six Flags now just needs to respond by offering more of a variety in their attractions as well.

What the hell were they thinking pulling out all those flat rides while installing new coasters each year? Couldn't somebody at Six Flags see they were driving down attendance? *** Edited 7/6/2006 7:02:53 AM UTC by rc-madness***

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:00 AM
Mamoosh's avatar But...Disney and Knott's outdrew SFMM even back then, confirming what I've been thinking. It's not about which park can draw the most families, that's a bit narrow minded. It's how many *repeat* visits you get from *happy* visitors.

While I agree that repeat visits from happy visitors are key -- and I'd even add visits resulting from positive word-of-mouth from those happy guests -- one has to remember that both Disneyland and Knotts are open daily year-round while SFMM is not. If the playing fields were even and park experiences were all equally positive the parks that are open daily have the advantage in the numbers race.

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:11 AM
Hail CBuzzer Rc-Madness,



rc-madness said:
I remember Magic Mountain back ...
I was there the summer Colossus opened in '77. It was a big damm deal, largest coaster in the world I think at that time. The Revolution had just opened too, the only coaster with a loop. I thought for sure I'd fall out of it...


Actually, "Six Flags" took over a park that had MANY deaths on the local news.

Then, all the REALLY COOL STUFF, and no deaths!!!!!

And the STUFF got "really cooler", and people didn't die.

"according to LA TV"

SFMM, has RECENTLY turned into a park to bash fest.

SFMM, has some of the most amazing attractions...

SFMM, did really fark up the guest experience lately when I visited.

$ are $ ...
$ Fun Family Coaster Parks.

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:16 AM
Mamoosh's avatar Anyone want to translate that from Sprig to English?
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Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:26 AM
My point Moosh was that it's not just about numbers, as some seem to insist. You actually helped make that point though, so thanks. :)

If you switched SFMM with Holiday World, we wouldn't be having this conversation, even with Knott's and Disney down the road.

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Thursday, July 6, 2006 3:30 AM
Mamoosh's avatar LOL ;) Odd as this may seem I prefer Holiday World to stay right where it is. The fact that it takes effort on my part to visit the park makes it my visits all the more special and meaningful.
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