Q&A: IT is a moving target for Six Flag's CIO

Posted Monday, May 5, 2008 8:48 PM | Contributed by Chitown

With 20 parks and nearly $1 billion in sales, Six Flags is the second-largest amusement park operator in the world. Since coming to Six Flags as part of a management reorganization two years ago, CIO Michael Israel has overseen a bottom-up rebuilding of the IT architecture in the parks and in the company's data center, which moved from New York to Dallas. Israel describes the amusement park business as a shopping mall with rides. Spend per attendee is everything," he says.

Read more from Computer World.

Monday, May 5, 2008 9:24 PM
Wow.$600,000 in ELECTRICITY operating costs for a single large roller coaster in one season.So give or take a little, Cedar Point and Magic Mountain pony up approximately $6 - $12 million in electricity bills JUST for their roller coasters alone in a single season. Yipes! And Michael Israel noted that the $600,000 doesn't include the costs of maintenance labor and parts for each coaster, which runs up to over a million PER coaster each season.

*** This post was edited by kRaXLeRidAh 5/5/2008 9:26:24 PM ***

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Monday, May 5, 2008 9:45 PM
And people wonder why parks raise admission when a new coaster is added. :)
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 8:13 AM
It also explains how SFOG could cut ticket price this year.
Take out a coaster and replace with a tram that runs in a circle.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 10:36 AM

Cedar Point and Magic Mountain pony up approximately $6 - $12 million in electricity bills JUST for their roller coasters alone in a single season.

Take that a step further. If it's costing a park like CP $12,000,000 a season just for electricity just for the coasters - stop and consider that only about 3 million people step onto the property each season.

That's $4 a head. Or 10% of the per cap.

10% of the money they get from each guest goes just to the electricty bill for just the coasters.

Something to think about when considering park pricing.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 11:07 AM
LIM/LSM coasters operating costs are even higher. Now you know why Geauga Lake's first removal was their impulse coaster.

Power cost does vary pretty widely across the country though. That's why Google's putting data centers in places like South Carolina -- cheaper power there.

Good on SF for centralizing on Netapp. They aren't cheap, but it's very reliable stuff.

Also... a million in just parts/maintenance for coasters? There's your reason for S&S buying Arrow. Just the parts business alone has to be fairly profitable. (Phantom's Revenge for example would still need S&S parts; the only moving parts made by Chance Morgan would be the restraints.)
*** This post was edited by bit0mike 5/6/2008 11:10:56 AM ***

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 11:28 AM
I can't help but mention that food prices, which also get alot of bad publicity, reflect the park's increased COST of providing food. The refrigeration and electricity to keep hot food hot, cold food cold, and run registers while moving food locations to allow more space for the new attraction...fairly daunting.

IT jobs in the amusement industry, huh? :)

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 8:33 PM
And people wonder why Magic Mountain does not race Superman The Escape.

I read somewhere somebody that was able to speak to a technician during a private event at the park a few years back mentioned depending on the rates at the time set by Southern California Edison, every cycle Superman runs consumes enough electricity to set back the park approximately $200 - $500 due to its substantial usage of electricity thanks in part to the hundreds of sets of heavyset electromagnetic staters.

Taking those numbers into account, imagine how many cycles Superman has in a single operating day. Add those up over a week, then a month, then a year. Operating costs for Superman carries over into the multi-millions each season for Magic Mountain.

And that also doesn't factor in the power consumed by the ride's overly complicated central operating system, then individual control and power feed units that line down the track (the little square office-like buildings that line down the 900-foot launch track).

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008 10:41 PM
The CIO should look into solar power for their parks to cut down on the electricity costs. They make solar panels that look like roof tiles now, and CA gives a rebate for installation. With the number of structures that sit in direct sunlight, they could rack up quite the savings. Or bring some much badly needed a/c to the coaster stations. Re: Superman. Would it be costs effective to one day to remodel the launch into a hydraulic system?
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Wednesday, May 7, 2008 6:23 PM
^ I agree. Even if it wouldent help out with the coasters teh ammount of building sucking up power cost a good ammount also. As for superman I think Magic Mountain should dump the ride. It does not go as fast as it use to, its really loud and annoying, very short, and cost a ton to operate.
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Thursday, May 8, 2008 12:42 AM
I'm not sure solar would put out enough power to justify the cost. It's a nice idea but the output per square foot is unfortunately pretty low.
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