Dan Snyder and SFI

Thursday, December 28, 2006 3:34 PM
Dead horse, maybe, but there's still some meat on those bones.

I don't feel the need to qualify my "fun" comment, but for the hell of it, why not.

I am a self professed coaster geek, like most people here. In fact, why would I be here otherwise. That being said, I am easily bored with why El Toro is better than The Voyage - or even The Voyager ;) - or why (insert park chain here) sucks or why Jeff's arrogant or the CoasterKid85 has X number of alter egos.

But if we start discussing something that digs deeper than just opinion and preference in a civil manner, it becomes interesting.

A couple of post back Tambo compares this to religious or politcal debate. On one hand I agree, as passions can run high, on the other hand, the cliche still stands, amusement parks by and far are businesses. Successful businesses tend to be run in consistent and sometimes methodologically complex manners. Six Flags is not currently successful, but they are working to make it better. The facts support this.

Let's see what happens after they've stopped bleeding. If the customer experience continues to slide from the GP perspective, then we can call Six Flags a failure. Until then let's just hope they can stay afloat to allow the focus shift.


". . . don't you know baby that life is a scream!" - Gordon Gano

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Thursday, December 28, 2006 10:28 PM
I find it interesting not just because it's about Six Flags, but also because it's an education about how to (or not to) re-build a tarnished brand. If Shapiro's plan works, not only do we get to reap the benefits, but we get to watch it happen before our eyes. If it doesn't, we get to see the fallout of what happens when a big company folds. We've all seen it happen before, but not quite in this context, and while discussing it on a coaster themed board.

And I'll say what I always say when someone questions why we're discussing a topic for the upteenth time. The day this topic *doesn't* garner 3-6 pages of insightful discussion is the day it will end. It's not as if any flame wars broke out.

Not to mention Tambo, somehow for the apparent 10,001st time, you bothered to enter the thread *and* take time out of your day to post. ;)

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Saturday, December 30, 2006 2:44 AM
"Flat" revenues (and by revenue I mean everything they take in at the gate, parking, food, games, etc.-- not profit or loss when all expenses are included) wouldn't be that bad a thing except for one thing-- the company is 2.1 billion in the red and counting. It's not much different than making the minimum payment on a credit card when you're carrying a huge balance. You're not doing anything to reduce your debt, in fact you continue to increase it. It will take decades to get out of debt, even if you never make another purchase.

Six Flags needs to increase revenues in order to pay down that debt-- whether it comes from selling assets or taking in more at the gate. Bragging about the fact that 12% fewer customers are spending on average $4.00 more at the park doesn't cut it. They have to maintain or, better yet, increase attendance AND the per cap spending to improve their financial situation.

The idea that 12% fewer guests means 12% less operating costs doesn't exactly correlate. Can they realistically say attendance is down 12%, so every 8th day we won't do any ride inspections or maintenance, clean bathrooms, etc? Maybe they can save money by reducing hours (and staff) for certain food stands, games, or even rides to be open, or even shut down 1/8 of the restrooms, but then they risk projecting a bad image to your guests similar to a shuttered up downtown. Maybe they can reduce operating hours by 12%-- maybe even close one day a week, but that might affect attendance further. And who wants to come back to a place where a noticable percentage of attractions are closed?

Another thing that's been mentioned before is maybe there aren't other parks directly competing against SF in many locations, but it doesn't mean there aren't other forms of entertainment in the same locality. The 200,000 people who didn't click the turnstiles at a Six Flags Park this year didn't necessarily go to a Paramount, CF, or small independent park. They may have just decided they didn't need to visit any park at all and went somewhere else instead.

Why don't "we" offer solutions for SF? Because "we" weren't the ones offered a $5 million signing bonus, or a $1.3 million dollar salary, or a 30 percent increase in salary and bonus. I relish the fact that the Red Zone boys took over and thought they knew it all, and that it was everyone else in the industry who was stupid and clueless. They were convinced that all it would take was dropping the right names and people would fall all over themselves to give Six Flags their money. The quality of the guest experience didn't matter one bit to them.

BTW, notice a pattern with Mr. Snyder? Red-skins, Red Zone, Red Zebra, and (in the case of Six Flags) Red Ink... ;)

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Saturday, December 30, 2006 3:56 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Bragging about the fact that 12% fewer customers are spending on average $4.00 more at the park doesn't cut it. They have to maintain or, better yet, increase attendance AND the per cap spending to improve their financial situation.

I don't know whether the take the high road here and reply with 'agreed' or be my usual self and reply with 'obviously' - so please accept both.

It's an excellent 'first step' and already a move that SF hasn't seen in what? Like 6 or 7 years. It's forward progression. The parks have steadily lost attendance over the years, so nothing has changed there. They've also been notorious for stupid-low pricing and subsequent loss of revenue. Big change there. It's a win (however small) in my book.

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward" - Old Chinese Proverb


The idea that 12% fewer guests means 12% less operating costs doesn't exactly correlate.

Not always, but often. I'm thinking more in terms of things like staffing (which you did touch on), because maintenance, wear & tear and such seem to be more fixed cost items to me.

I'm working on the assumption (there's that word again) that 12% less guests means 12% less use of everything in general on average. That means in those areas you can either cut man hours by 12% and provide the same service for less cost or you can leave everything staffed the same and theoretically provide better service for the same cost.

It works on rides, shops, games, sweepers, bathroom people, pretty much across the board where you have humans hired to interact in some way with guests. How it works on paper and in practice would be two different things, but for the most part the opportunity is there.


The 200,000 people who didn't click the turnstiles at a Six Flags Park this year didn't necessarily go to a Paramount, CF, or small independent park. They may have just decided they didn't need to visit any park at all and went somewhere else instead.

Again, agreed. But here's the catch. With increased spending keeping revenue flat, SF has proven they don't necessarily need those guests. It goes back to the idea of using attendance as a measure of success when it's often not.

I mean who's the bigger success? SF moving tens of millions of people each quarter through their almost 30 parks and losing money on the deal or a park like HW or Knoebels that's happy when they do around a million guests in an entire season, but are doing great numbers financially. (another assumption, we don't get to see their books)

Sure you need customers if you expect to bring in a buck, but the actual number of guests you need varies widely from situation to situation and given the current state of the Six Flags experience - they're probably better off dealing with slightly smaller crowds. For now, at least.


Why don't "we" offer solutions for SF? Because "we" weren't the ones offered a $5 million signing bonus, or a $1.3 million dollar salary, or a 30 percent increase in salary and bonus.

I can't imagine why. ;)

Maybe if we found a couple of guys willing to take that kind of pressure for 'real world' wages , then we'd have our answer.

Seriously, I understand the "it's not my problem" thing - really, I do. However, no one seems to be able to answer the question of how they'd turn a profit or even just increase customer service in mere months without the means to do so, but "we" can all talk about how bad of a job Marky Mark and Uncle Danny are doing because they can't either.

I imagine the flip side being those guys saying, "When you put in the time and have the track record to get a seven figure job then you can tell us what we're doing wrong."

I find humor in weird places.


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Saturday, December 30, 2006 3:34 PM
If its starting to get bad. They should insure some of the un-profitable parks really well. Then give fire dancing lessons. Then eventually someone will burn down some of the park and if they are lucky all of it and pay off some of their debt with insurance fraud.

Bolliger/Mabillard for President in '08 NOT Dinn/Summers

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Saturday, December 30, 2006 4:42 PM
If you have a creditcard bill of $500 and you pay the minimum payment every month it would take you 25 years to pay it off. So just how long do you think it will take to pay off a 2 billion $ debt. They got in debt from buying to many parks and coasters, so now its time to start selling some off IMO is the right thing to do.

Theres to many people that expect everything to be fixxed over night (don't we all wish) but thats not going to happen. I think it will be at least 3 to 5 years before we see SF running right. I'm glad that they won't be putting in multimillion $ coasters in, so they can start putting the money into maintenance and employees. IMO the coaster wars are over and I'm sure CF will benefit from this as well if only seeing the problems SF has and not to make the same mistakes.

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