Darien Lake ending season early

Posted | Contributed by SFDL_Dude

The state's largest theme park said it will end its summer season four weeks early this year as its corporate parent continues to suffer financial problems. Six Flags Darien Lake, located halfway between Rochester and Buffalo, is one of six properties being considered for sale by parent company Six Flags because of financial losses. As of July 31, the park had already reduced operating hours five out of seven days and closed two rides, including a major roller coaster. The new closing date is Oct. 1.

Read more from AP via USA Today.

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They MAY be covered legally. Morally their company is dog doo! However, I still think there MAY be a legal issue. There has to be some point in which it would be fraud. For example...could you buy the pass AND then have them say "we're closed for the year now"...say on May 21st?

I understand what the legal writing says...but I believe many states have implied warranties, or such...not sure how this would fit...BUT I'm guessing there is a legal argument that can be made. They are skirting on fraud by charging a price AND providing a schedule which gives you a foundation on what value you are getting for your money. Winning in court is another issue as I could argue either side.

Out of curriosity...can ANYBODY remember another park cutting this many days off the calender. I'm sure there has to be some that have done this before...but I cannot think of an example. Maybe somebody went bankrupt mid-season...?

I can see this as binding as the "ride at your own risk" waiver.
Ride of Steel's avatar
The truth is that the problems with the park lie both in Shapiro AND Burke AS WELL AS the Darien Lake management.

Throughout the 80s and 90s the park really did flourish and was a great day trip, or even camping trip. The potential for success is there.

Phoenix Phan, it is good to know that the management and Shapiro are enemies, however don't think that the management isn't at fault. I realize many decisions are made by the corporation, however day to day issues are the management's fault.

But hey, even with predator and grizzly run closed, Superman has been running 2 trains since mid June and has apparently been a walk on all summer, with the exception of Saturday where the station fulls, but none of the queue. I guess there is one positive! I visited in June and was shocked to see both trains on the track running 1/2 empty.

The park needs a new ride of some sort, the midway has looked the say for 7 years now. I'm not saying a giant coaster, but a drop tower or spinning coaster.

Mamoosh's avatar
But SF doesn't sell annual passes, they sell season passes. The park defines the beginning and end of their operating season.
I'm so glad Rob mentioned Erieview closing. I forgot about that! Now I'm REALLY excited!
JRS, how could you forget about SFNO? :) It's got Darien Lake beat by over a month.

It appears that Six Flags is simply cutting bait and walking away from the parks it's mentioned selling. Do they intend to open these parks next season if they don't find buyers before then? If they do, how do they intend to staff them? Who's going to want to work there knowing they could be let go at anytime, without notice, based on a whim from HQ? You know workers at their other parks are hearing about this too. What if they decide not to work for SF next year? Your operations just took a few more steps backward.

What's the saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face?

"The park defines the beginning and end of their operating season."

Yes they do. And the parks guide their customer by printing and providing schedules. Consumers buying season passes make their decision based at least in part, on the schedule provided. Everyone knows hours, and possibly days could be changed. I think we all understand that this is for extreme circumstances...weather, etc. To just close, for the sake of closing...?

I'm guessing there is the possibility for some legal action...should somebody have the time, effort, and money to make the case.

I'm not saying you guys arguing "hours are subject to change" are wrong. I'm saying that in today's society, given the grey areas and activist judges...there is a chance a suit MAY prevail.

There possibly may be other legal precidence (sp?) weather by law, or through case law that could supercede the warning on the back. Just as we know "ride at your own risk" warnings do not supercede injury torts...I believe an argument can be made that "hours and days are subject to change" do not supercede fraud.

Either way...I think we can all agree that this is just piss poor business action. Even IF they want to sell the parks, they do damage to their name and reputation for the other properties they may want to keep (if there are any)!

The fact that they are willing o do this...tells me they are either stupid pricks, OR they are in more serious trouble than any of us even thought...and we thought it was real bad.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
I totally see what you're saying, JRS.

If someone sued and I had to defend, I'd argue that the pass buys you admission to all SF parks for the calendar year and then present the actual number of operating days that one could visit a SF park and then present the actual number of lost days and with some simple math establish a percentage of days that were a loss.

Then offer a refund on the price paid for a pass based on the same percentage of loss.

With SF passes going for under $50 or $60 in most cases, I'd imagine Shapiro could pay every single person who bought a SF pass this year out of his pocket. ;)

The park can make it all better if they give prorated refunds on passes.
Not being a lawyer here, I won't let any legal mumbo jumbo get in my way. Instead, I will defer to common sense....

Checking SFDL's web site, the listed price for a season pass is $64.49. Says "Pays for itself in less than two visits". Do the math... it does. So anyone who has a pass and has used it for two (or more visits) basically is not out any money because, as stated, the pass has paid for itself and you are ahead of the game. Anyone who has NOT yet used the pass for their second visit and will not use that pass before the (new) end of the operating season for a second visit really has to step back and aske... "why did I buy a season pass in the first place?"

Also, anyone who has used their pass bought at SFDL at any other park also has no right to complain.

People (like me) who bought their SF pass at another park, has no right to complain either. "Hmmmm... I got my pass at SFA, and I used it at SFKK, SFStL and SFNE. Now SFDL is closing early? But I wanted to go there on their last day of the season! Better call my lawyer." Sorry... it doesn't fly.

With SF passes going for under $50 or $60 in most cases, I'd imagine Shapiro could pay every single person who bought a SF pass this year out of his pocket.

As they say... do the math.

On their current schedule, SFDL will have been open 117 days (on this revised schedule). That means that your season pass is worth $0.55 per day.

Not sure how many days were cut, but I am guessing 12 (they were not on "full week" operations, so I am going to just consider Fri-Sun). Doing the math there, your pass is worth $0.50 per day.

Value of the days that were lost? Around $6.... and that is providing that you have not visited the park twice (in which case you have already saved $5.49... based on non discounted admissions... so the difference there is only $0.50)

And you just know that is what they are banking on. I can see Shapiro's accountants now...

"Okay Mr.Shaprio... we take the total number of Darien Lake season pass holders, figure in the $0.50 that we are 'ripping off" from them, divide the total debt by that figure and we should be back in the black in approximately 800,000 years."

"Excellent Smithers... Excellent."

Ride of Steel's avatar
Believe it or not, back in April when my family but the passes, they were only $49.99 each. I've used mine twice at Darien Lake, twice at SFNE, and I'm going back to SFNE on Monday.

It was still worth it.

All good arguments indeed...

I can still make the argument that the schedule they provided was THE MOST valuable piece of advertising that went into the bargain from Six Flags. By changing the schedule AFTER the fact...they have POSSIBLY committed a fraud. While it would be a tough sell to get a judge to give the full $50-60 dollars back...there can be an argument (argument = case) made that they should.

It would probably lose...Shapiro can afford it..yada, yada! I agree with all of that.

I'm just saying that this would be possible. Keep in mind we are talking small case court claims here where the rules are minimal and the decisions are variable.

P.S. If anybody wants to give it a shot in small claims...private message me and I'll foot the court costs! :-) I would just like to see what happens.

Of course you need to write the company first demanding your money back so there is record that you tried to rightfully claim what is/was yours! :-)

ROS has said that the price back in April was $49.99. That is also what I paid for my SFA pass back in April. Looking back... what did I save for that $49.99 (off the full gate, no discounts) at SFKK, StL and NE? $134.97! Wait! SFDL is closing EARLY? That's about 12 less days over 4 weeks at the END of the season!

Okay... you might take it to small claims court... but I can just picture it now... after you present your case to Judge Milian I can just see her shaking her head and saying something like "If the 'insanity plea' was permitted in small claims court I would be advising you to take it."

Plain and simple....

SFDL will have been open for 117 out of an originally planned 129 days... that is the bulk of the season.

They are not saying, "We are open, but we are chosing NOT to honor your pass"

Websites and the back of the passes plainly state that they are good for any operating day of the regular season, and they are still honoring that.

Websites and the back of the passes also say "dates and times are subject to change."

If the Fright Fest has been plagued by bad weather in October for the past 8 years, why did it take them until August of this year to realize it?

Six Flags spokesperson Wendy Goldberg must be one of the most loyal employees out there or one of the most foolish. Either she already knows her ass won't be one of the ones getting canned when SF unloads this park, or else she's hoping pretty hard.

I think Wendy Goldberg must work for SFI, as I see her name pop up alot as spokesperson for different parks. I'm guessing that she just knows what side her bread is buttered on.
You guys don't actually expect the park's spokeswoman to actively denigrate the park in public, do you? I mean, I realize you don't like SFI, but come on! Maybe she just wants to be sure she gets paid through the end of August.

Darien Lake is no Magic Mountin---the land it sits on is basically still worthless---a quick look at all the surrounding farmland on google maps' satellite view will tell you that. This place will almost certainly be an amusement park for the forseeable future, and it's likely that most of the current staff will stick around for at least a little while into the new regime.

WHo cares....it is obvious SF does not becuase they are ready to unload..probably trying to keep the little bit of profit they get from the park to show investors. They are not worried about being the "bad guy" becuase they will not operate here anymore. Anyone know how well the hotel does during October? Taht's where the real money is!
The WNY area has about five local haunted house's that open for the sept/ october Halloween season not to mention there all within reasonable driving distance not driving 40 minutes to get out to darien for a even thats crappy to begin with, it dosnt suprise me on bit that they would can the event as they certianly dont pull the types of crowds the local haunted house's do. I can vouch for that, i work at one of them and on busy weekend fri/sat & sun we probably pull more people through than darien would for the entire month, we had 3 mazes last year, and have 4 this year. I'm expecting a huge turn out. Were also one of the more bigger haunted houses compared to the rest in the WNY area.
I have to agree with you, Dan. I find it's not worth the time to go all the way out there to pay for parking, pay to enter, and pay to get into each attraction. Why go when you have plenty of choices nearby Buffalo to have a better time. Although I prefer to go to the haunted attraction near Buffalo that has FIVE houses, each themed differently. I've gone to all of them around Buffalo and find that I get more than my money's worth by not going to Frightfest, but to Frightworld. Clearly the largest of them all.
*** This post was edited by The Dark Rider 8/11/2006 12:40:01 AM ***

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