SF hidden agenda?

Monday, August 23, 2004 10:03 PM
I LOVE conspiracy theories, and I came up with one that I feel is not so far fetched.

What if when Primier bought SF, they had a plan to add rides to the parks to increase their value, but held back on guest service to make the seem easily improvable for when they plan on selling them?

Just think how easy a potential buyer of one or more parks would think it would be to improve business at these parks. A lot of paint and more staff with a solid opperation plan would be all it would take to make some SF parks great moneymakers, right?

Getting to the point, I think that it is possible that SF is running a lot of parks badly on purpose. I think that maybe they planned on building rides and attractions, ruining guest loyalty, and then selling the parks for a huge profit to someone who thinks that they could do a lot better with opperating the park(s).

It's just an idea that I got. I'm not to knowledgeable on how businessess are run. It happens all of the time with homes; buy it for cheap, fix it up, sell it for a huge profit.

Does this sound possable?

Monday, August 23, 2004 10:15 PM
Wouldn't a park that has poor customer service and a dwindling fanbase be less attractive to potential buyers?

I don't have the details on the Geauga Lake transaction, but I have a hard time believing that Six Flags' purchase of the park netted them any profit in the end.

Monday, August 23, 2004 10:37 PM
In certain areas, the land is more valuable than the park itself. If SFI was to close SFA and sell the land to developers they could reap an enormous profit. The owners of Wild World almost did develop the land until Premier stepped in and SFI mentioned in a recent earnings report they might consider selling some of the land the park sits on.
Monday, August 23, 2004 10:41 PM
"selling the parks for a huge profit "

Here's the rub, SF lost money on the sale of WoA and the European parks. It was basically, cut your losses and let someone else give it a try.

Monday, August 23, 2004 10:45 PM
That's a pretty stupid theory. It's a publicly traded company. The goal is to maximize shareholder value. At four bucks a share, that's really bad news for people that bought in the twenties and still have it.
Monday, August 23, 2004 10:55 PM
Jeff I agree that is bad news for stockholders.

Now, suppose these parks could be big money makers (and they could), dont you think it would be smarter for SF to fix the parks for 'cheap' and take all the money themselves? I mean, if they could turn all the parks around, that would be some big time money to bring in.

Just imagine having over 25 paramount quality parks. No matter how you think about it, a consistant cash flow would be much better than just a big profit at the end. Thats just my opinion anyway.


Monday, August 23, 2004 10:59 PM
Here's your conspiracy: Premier conspired to make a lot of money by co-opting the Six Flags brand name, slapping it on a bunch of smaller parks, and expecting people to flock to them without actually doing anything.

Oh yeah, and they conspired to run Magic Mountain into the ground because, secretly, they held a lot of stock in Disney, Universal, Cedar Fair, and Busch.

Monday, August 23, 2004 11:15 PM
lol... i wouldn't be surprised... :) -- It may sound like a stupid theory.... but isn't 99% of six flags theory pretty stupid to begin with?

i rest my case.

-- alan "semi-kidding" j.

*** Edited 8/24/2004 3:16:28 AM UTC by SFDL_Dude***

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:04 AM
Sorry for the ridiculous theory then. I still think that SOMETHING is starting to seem fishy with SF. Not "illegal" fishy, but just "not what it looks like" fishy.

I'm just looking for a reason why a park chain would seem to deliberately run their business into the ground. It doesn't seem hard to just fix the problems. They should just look at what other successful parks do and mimmic it.

If having a hard time hiring enough employees, simply build housing.

If multiple ride breakdowns are a problem, simply increase the amount of maintenance employees (see above) and keep more spare parts around. Have these employees spend more time inspecting the rides and keeping them in good condition.

If the paths are dirty and trash cans are full, simply hire more people to keep the park clean (see above).

If you have enough employees and they are not doing their job, fire them and get better employees.

Instead of "giving away the gate", charge full price and give the guests a great day.

Instead of building new rides as a first priority, get the park up to your guests standards first so they get excited when you do build a new ride and not fearful that the new ride wont even be open.

Treat your employees well and get them excited about the great place that they work. Give them incentive to treat guests well and make them WANT to work. Spark their interest in wanting their guests to have a great experience. Give workers reconition for doing a good job. Make up fun little contests for them to enjoy while at work. (part of CP's secret to great ride capacity is that the ride ops unofficially compete for speed.)


I know that all of this would take cash, but that's what they throw at new rides anyway.

It just sounds too easy to screw up. That's what makes me think that something isn't what it seems. Good business decisions are easy to make, especially when they see what works from other parks.

I do not own a park, so what do I really know? I DID organize all ages concerts for a number of years; about Two per month for about 10 years. Bands, customers, and employees would see that I gave them more than the respect and service they expected. I had available quality equipment and a great venue. I always smiled and said, "Thank you", when collecting admission, and told my employees to do the same. Sometimes it was too loud for them to hear me say it, but I would anyway.

Same with the 11 Halloween season Haunted House attractions I helped to run and organize for charitable causes.

I see Amusement Parks as the same kind of business as concerts or Haunted Houses, just much larger. It seems just as easy to run a business like this right as it does wrong. Why not choose right?

Maybe I am unique and could do it better than others and that's why I think it would be easy. Maybe I don't know the REAL difficulties involved with running a park.

I'm not complaining here; just giving my analyses. It doesn't come from business education, but from experience.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:20 AM
I think the crucial flaw came with the "build it and they will come" approach. Simplified, of course, but I don't feel like elaborating at this moment.

We could speculate all day on why things are ugly for SF as a whole, but to simplify it to the level of "Why not just do it right?" makes no sense - if it were that easy no business would ever fail...

...they'd just "choose to do it right" :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:37 AM
When you see what they have planned for shock and wave, you will all be surprised ;)
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 7:21 AM
I don't think anything is fishy about Six Flags at all. The business just bought and built to much to fast.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:04 AM

dexter said:

Instead of "giving away the gate", charge full price and give the guests a great day.

There are some parks that have alienated enough of the general public the only way they can get people in is to give away the gate and hope they buy concessions and souveniers once inside.

.... Make up fun little contests for them to enjoy while at work. (part of CP's secret to great ride capacity is that the ride ops unofficially compete for speed.)

Why do "unofficial" contests like this scare me? *** Edited 8/24/2004 12:05:29 PM UTC by coasterguts***

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:08 AM

dexter said:

If you have enough employees and they are not doing their job, fire them and get better employees.

Better yet, pick them up with the tweezers and drop them into the lake, that way you won't even have to pay them. Do the same thing with angry guests that break your benches and your park rating will go up. Stocks will soar.

Seriously though, one of the big problems is, at most Six Flags parks, there's a culture in place there that is prohibitive to a good work environment. It's been so bad for so long, new employees coming in who MIGHT be the type to come in with a great attitude are trained by jaded or lazy employees, so the old become the new.

You gotta change the culture, and it can't be done with a pep talk and a piece of paper that says "Good job". I think the million dollar question is, what WILL it take?

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 9:34 AM
Actually, I think 'build it and they will come' wasn't such a bad idea in and of itself. Problem is, it's an incomplete idea.

'Build it, hike the gate and they will come anyway' was the idea they should have used.

You can't just plop in a hot new coaster. You have to hire enough staff to keep it up and running. You have to plop in a new food stand, new bathrooms, new restaurants and new flats. You have to give these new crowds enough to do to keep them there and happy.

And building more than one coaster in a season is flat-out idiotic. You build one coaster, then nudge up the gate, then another and nudge the gate up some more. Hell, VF season passes are going up $5 a head for a new flat ride...think I'll pay it? Without a moment's hesitation.

If you build three or four and then give away season passes, you make money when?


*** Edited 8/24/2004 1:34:50 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 9:51 AM
You make money when?

When you have all of these cool new coasters, run them periodically and with the slowest and worst ops you can find, thus creating horribly long lines and making it necessary to "buy" the services of a Q-bot for the day.

With out discounts, a day at SFGrAdv turns from $48 admission (with tax) to either $78 or $98 depending on which Q-bot you get ($10 parking + $48 admission + $20 or $40 Q-bot).

Okay... I know this does not really make that much sense... just my frustration talking after a visit to this park last week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 9:55 AM
Dexter, I don't want to be rude, but I don't think you have a clue when it comes to Six Flags. You have all these "easy" solutions like fire bad employees and get good employees. It just doesn't work like that. They're "lucky" to get the people they have now. They're not going to build housing for employees when they can get local help who can drive there or get dropped off. The only people who get housing are the foreign employees, who stay in apartments. Believe it or not, employees do have rewards such as parties. I think the solution would be to hire more temporary workers to fill in the spring and fall, which they already do to an extent.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; working in an amusement park sucks. If it's not the extreme heat and high humidity, it's the extreme cold and/or rain. Try dealing with parents who insists their kids have gotten on a ride before that they're clearly not tall enough to ride. It's repetitive, and many days I had to work a double shift, further increasing the monotony. Why work in an amusement park when you can work at the mall down the road which has air conditioning and heat?

Then you mention ride breakdowns. Speaking from experience, the park I worked at had plenty of maintenance workers. The problem is with many of the rides themselves which are maintenance nightmares. Six Flags (and Premier Parks before that) has taken many risks on rides, and gotten burned in the process. So what do you do? Take out unreliable rides which are also popular, or try to keep them running? *** Edited 8/24/2004 2:04:07 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:58 AM
I could name quite a few professions that are much worse than working in a park. I think Dexter has the right idea. If it were impossible to get your employees in the right frame of mind, then we wouldn't even be having the discussion...Plenty of parks do get it right. I think his main point was that it seems strange that a multi-zillion dollar corporation can't get right what a few small places or other companies can.

I think he's saying that it sure seems like they're doing it on purpose. I could be wrong though.

Anyway, it seems to be the case with many companies where they lose sight of the long-term profitability and just try to make a quick buck. Greed and laziness.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:13 AM
Sure there are worse professions, but the sad fact of life is that those professsions probably pay twice what Six Flags does, have union representation, have benefits, and are year round. At many of the parks were things are better (such as BGW), they have college-age students working versus high-schoolers who have restrictions on the amount of hours they can work, and are likely to be more immature.

I think this thread beats the dead horse once again. It presents a theme of optimism were none will probably ever exist. Remember, you're the consumer and have the right to take your money elsewhere. *** Edited 8/24/2004 3:23:51 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:17 AM
Does anyone recall just how bad they were taken to the cleaners when they sold Geauga Lake? That was a steal for Cedar Fair, while Six Flags lost tens of millions after holding half the park only a couple of years.

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