SFGAdv locker policy backlash hits Consumerist.com

Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:19 PM
The problem with that line of argument is that the biggest drops seem to have come in the Burke era---the low-price/high-volume days. That period saw both shrinking attendance and dropping per-caps.

Shapiro's first year or two saw continued declines in attendance but a corresponding increase in per-caps, stemming the financial tide. If the 1Q numbers hold up, attendance is seeing a small recovery while per-caps continue to increase.

No one short of Disney during its Happiest Celebration/Year of a Million Dreams plugs has seen "massive gains" in attendance. Even that particular suit of armor has some chinks in it---word on the street is that advance bookings for fall in Lake Buena Vista have fallen off a cliff.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:34 PM
I had a slight change of heart about the locker policy after going to King's Dominion last week. It wasn't a crowded day at all, and Dominator had minimal waits.

However, I was getting slightly annoyed by the people walking over to the large storage bins (one for each train located on the exit side of the platform) which is quite far away..

They weren't doing all that well making dispatches with two trains, and you have to wonder if people dropping off all their loose stuff in the bins, and then walking back to their seats was the cause of it. Add a third train into the mix, and I could see lots of stacking happening.

On a side-note, I love how everyone keeps bringing up how wonderful Knoebels is in that forum, and I would agree that it does have some nice attributes. However, they have two wooden coasters that operate and a whole bunch of flats--many of which can be found at your local carnival.

Knoebels doesn't have four B&M's, three Intamin's (with emphasis on the latter two added), almost the entire Zamperla kiddie prouct line, and more, so of course they can keep things more moderately priced.

Lastly, The Dark Knight doesn't appear to be doing so well in the opinion polls, now does it?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008 11:43 PM

matt. said:
I believe it's a long-term trend that can be attributed to a number of things. In a previous thread someone mentioned SFStl's attendance, I think in the mid-90's compared to recent years and the change was quite dramatic. Of course, we'd have to look at the chain as a whole, not just one or two parks, but I'd guess if we looked at trends overall then attendance would generally be down.

But I thought this was about the little changes made since Red Zone came in. About Snyder. About Shapiro. About how high prices, flash pass, and lockers will kill the company. There's not many numbers to look at - they're only beginning their third season. But after three seasons attendance is basically flat and per caps are up.

Call it whatever you want, but so far the people aren't running away.


This is disingenuous and you know it. Where those parks rank in the top 20 is no indicator of *change* in attendance, and that ranking would also be affected by changes at parks that are not owned by SF. Even still, it's just two parks and we're not even considering the way things are complicated by the per caps numbers.

No, but we know there's been little change in attendance. And representing 10% of the top 20 most visited parks sure seems like you're holding your own in the industry....in the bigger picture.

I totally believe a stat like that represents their place in the industry and takes into consideration the state of things as a whole. If everyone is down, they hold their own. If just they are down, then it shows.

Besides we've been over the actual numbers a gazillion times. I'm trying to find new ways to deliver the same tired retort to the same tired claims. But if you want numbers...


Glass half empty/half full. We haven't seen a massive drop off in attendance lately but we aren't seeing gains, either. I'd reckon that pissed off customers who don't return the next year at these levels would simply contribute more to churn then attendance drops, anyway. Either way it's not a good sign but nobody here has the numbers and I wouldn't be shocked if SF didn't either.

Those numbers are readily available and always have been.

It's hard to make the 2005-to-2006 comparison as so many parks sold. I'm sure one could dig through the info and make a case, but I'm not right now.

In 2006 (Red Zone's first full season) the chain did 24.8 million with a 38.07 per cap.

In 2007 they did 24.9 million with a 39.06 per cap.

In comparison, the old guys had a 33.35 per cap in 2005.

Upward movement. People are still coming. People are paying what they're asking.

Will it continue? We'll see, I guess.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:14 AM
So for the people who are upset about the policy, is it simply the fact that Six Flags is charging $1 for the lockers instead of providing them for free, or is the policy itself bothersome? Are we really grousing over $1? I mean, they're charging $15 to park out near I-94 at SFGAm. That's an outrage, and yet it doesn't get a story at Consumerist. It's the $1 lockers.

Six Flags is under an enormous amount of debt, so I fully expect them to charge (or overcharge) to the greatest extent possible until it begins to have a negative impact on the bottom line. As Gonch points out, people keep coming, despite all of the price increases. Not only do they keep coming, they keep spending.

And Intamin Fan makes a great point about Six Flags having top-notch attractions. People have never seemed to mind throwing down coin to go to Disney, because they feel they're getting their money's worth. Perhaps people feel similarly about Six Flags and understand that, in many places, the local carnival is the only competition for thrill rides, and it can't compete with Six Flags' menagerie of multi-million dollar rides.

I'm not sure why people feel entitled to bring a sack of crap with them everywhere they go. As everyone keeps mentioning... there have always been lockers in the front of the park.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:23 AM

Olsor said:
And Intamin Fan makes a great point about Six Flags having top-notch attractions. People have never seemed to mind throwing down coin to go to Disney, because they feel they're getting their money's worth. Perhaps people feel similarly about Six Flags and understand that, in many places, the local carnival is the only competition for thrill rides, and it can't compete with Six Flags' menagerie of multi-million dollar rides.

Agreed. Because regardless of prices, capacity or even customer service to some extent - the rides are the product the park is selling to Joe Sixpack.

All those little things can sway the feel of your day, but a park that was free, had no lines and where the employees literally kissed your ass wouldn't be much of an amusement park without any rides.

Sometimes I think we can't see the forest for the trees when we get into stuff like this.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:25 AM
Haven't been to a SF since '05. Since then I've been to KI many times, Carowinds, Kennywood, Hershey, Cedar Point (worked there too!), and even Geauga Lake. This year I've already been to Kings island once and going a few more times, and I am going to Myrtle Beach and Hard Rock, Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion, Holiday World, Dollywood, and if the plans don't fall through, another visit to Carowinds and Cedar Point!

Gonch, your long list is actually good reasons NOT to visit SF. Maybe my job here is to talk people out of going to a SF park just as your job is to get them to consider accepting customer hostile policies and attitudes as okay.

My long-winded point is that most people have a choice when it comes to Summer amusements. "People" who choose a SF park over a park who treats their customers with a little respect "are stupid", imho. lol.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:31 AM
The Disney pockets were good on some rides, but most of the time, I had to sling my purse around my neck and carry my water bottle somewhere else on my person because the pockets were stretched out and I didn't trust them to hold my stuff when we were going in loops on stuff like Rock N Roller Coaster. Actually, that ride really could have benefitted from cubbies.

The whole stupid people thing? Well, think about it: All day long there is a person announcing over the loud speaker that all loose articles must be placed in lockers before riding rides. The attendant at the beginning of each line pulled people aside and told them to put their bags and shoes in lockers. Signs are posted on each ride that you must put your bags and phones and whatnot IN THE LOCKERS, yet there were always those that chose to ignore ALL the signs and announcements and security guards and ride attendants and still attempt to ride the rides with their bags on the loading platform. Are people in general stupid? No, but there are definitely a few IQ challenged people walking around in amusement parks. On a whole, I actually find thrill ride fans to be VERY intelligent, but there's always the "dim bulbs"....hehehehehe...

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:38 AM

LostKause said:
Haven't been to a SF since '05. Since then I've been to KI many times, Carowinds, Kennywood, Hershey, Cedar Point (worked there too!)...

My long-winded point is that most people have a choice when it comes to Summer amusements. "People" who choose a SF park over a park who treats their customers with a little respect "are stupid", imho. lol.


I've been to at least one SF park every year since 2001 and each of the past few years I've seen little improvements that show me they're moving in the right direction.

The parks today are a VAST improvement over the Six Flags chain of 6 or 7 years ago.

I guess I'm willing to pay more (higher gate, parking, etc) for a better experience. I'd much rather get milked for a few bucks for a better time than have a free bad time.

Again, forest for the trees, man. You're missing the big picture (enjoying some of the best coaster lineups around) because of the details (business decisions that you think are "disrespectful")

Stupid is as stupid does. :)

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Friday, June 13, 2008 1:06 AM

Olsor said:
...Are we really grousing over $1?...

How many rides do you go on in a day at your local SF park, Olsor? 10-15 I would guess, and at least twice that if you had a FlashPass. Add $10-$30 to your admission price, not just $1.



...I fully expect them to charge (or overcharge) to the greatest extent possible until it begins to have a negative impact on the bottom line...Not only do they keep coming, they keep spending.

"People are stupid". That's why they keep going back to get raped over and over again.



...Six Flags having top-notch attractions... multi-million dollar rides.

Maybe that's the reason stupid people are willing to pay up. I say it's "smoke and mirrors". I wonder if people realize that by the end of the day, they spent $15 to park, $60 to get in, $30 to be able to not stand in stalled-out lines, $30 for 30 One time use lockers, and $30 for a Pizza and drink? Mesmerize them with a bunch of Multi-Million Dollar high-tech rides so they don't realize that even after they have dropped over $160, they're still treated like crap.



I'm not sure why people feel entitled to bring a sack of crap with them everywhere they go. As everyone keeps mentioning... there have always been lockers in the front of the park.

You are correct. There HAVE always been lockers. There hasn't always been "Locker Nazis". There hasn't always been mandatory one-time-use-per-ride paid lockers located at every ride. And, some people NEED to being their swimsuit, a change of socks for after they go on the Rapids ride, or a jacket for the morning and evening chill. Everyone has different needs. Why judge them for that?

Are people "stupid" enough to pay an additional ride fee of $1 instead of getting an all day locker, or are they just not being made aware of the options?

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Friday, June 13, 2008 1:25 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
Again, forest for the trees, man. You're missing the big picture...

You have a very good argument there, but it is my choice to not visit. I've been burned so many times by SF that I gave up on them. I almost gave them another chance with the new-to-me park SFKK, but that was right around the time of the tower accident. What little confidence I had in SF went even lower than before.

Plenty of other parks for me to get my kicks with awesome coaster lineups as well. Same thing with Restaurants. Awesome food and horrible service a good restaurant does not make. I'll go where the food is good AND the service is good.

...But I get what you are saying. You don't mind being treated like crap to some degree because of the reward of access to big coasters. I can't stand being treated like crap to any degree by any business, and nothing can make it worth it. No one philosophy is more right or wrong than the other, they are different for different people.

you are the SF cheerleader and I am the SF goth kid.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 1:55 AM

LostKause said:
But I get what you are saying. You don't mind being treated like crap to some degree because of the reward of access to big coasters.

To a degree I suppose that is what I'm saying. But I suppose everyone has their own definition. One man's crap is another man's gold. (gold q-bot that is...badum ching! I'm here all week folks.)

Truthfully, I find that the SF experience is far from bad. Not sure how I'm being treated like crap?

I haven't had to buy a q-bot since '05 and haven't waited for a coaster or major ride at a SF park for more than 20 minutes since then. I have no need for mandatory lockers. I don't find $15 parking offensive as I've paid more for less in real-life. Ditto on $30 for food. The last in-park meal I got at a SF park was Mooseburger at SFStL and I feel it was entirely worth the $30 to feed four of us similar in quality and quantity to the food I pay $30 at any chain restaurant. I also like the souvenir drink refills that are under $1 with a season pass.


you are the SF cheerleader and I am the SF goth kid.

Ummm. Sure. But from my side you just look like a guy who equates high prices and additional fees with a ripoff regardless of what it buys you.

Dude, don't be the goth kid. :)
(can I start calling you Azrael?)


LostKause said:
Maybe that's the reason stupid people are willing to pay up. I say it's "smoke and mirrors".

No more so than telling people their drinks are free.


I wonder if people realize that by the end of the day, they spent $15 to park, $60 to get in, $30 to be able to not stand in stalled-out lines, $30 for 30 One time use lockers, and $30 for a Pizza and drink?

I'm sure people realize how much they're spending and the cost involved.


Mesmerize them with a bunch of Multi-Million Dollar high-tech rides so they don't realize that even after they have dropped over $160, they're still treated like crap.

Heh. I have to admit this made me laugh a little.

You do realize that the point of an amusement park or theme park is the attractions...the amusements, right?

I mean, I talk the business side probably more than anyone, but the business is the amusement industry. I would think the goal is first and foremost to provide amusement attractions to your customers. That's what people are coming for. The rest is details.

Like I said above, a free park with no lines and the best customer service in the world wouldn't be much of an amusement park without rides and attractions.

The goal without a doubt is to mesmerize with the rides and attractions and use that as incentive for your customers to spend...that's the point!

It's the goal and purpose of EVERY park that exists.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 10:23 AM

Lord Gonchar said:


In 2006 (Red Zone's first full season) the chain did 24.8 million with a 38.07 per cap.

In 2007 they did 24.9 million with a 39.06 per cap.

In comparison, the old guys had a 33.35 per cap in 2005.

Upward movement. People are still coming. People are paying what they're asking.

Will it continue? We'll see, I guess.


I like how you didn't say the attendance for 2005. Six Flags was hit with much lower attendance chainwide when Red Zone took over. Yes, they are getting more cap, but they lost some numbers of people when they took over.]

In 2005, attendance was only at 33.7 million. *** Edited 6/13/2008 2:44:48 PM UTC by Spinout***

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Friday, June 13, 2008 10:40 AM
I am one of the people who has to drag a load of crap with me whenever I go to a park. I have a kid with a disabililty and I just need the stuff. At first I was really annoyed about the dollar lockers. But I can't complain the more I think about it. My season pass was $59, I got season pass parking. We eat at Mc Donalds before we go in the park. I use my refill cups for a buck. I will actually spend more money this summer visiting Knoebels than I will going to Six Flags. I love both parks for very different reasons.

My point is I see the dollar lockers for what they are. Probably a chance to make an extra few bucks. I can choose to use them or I can choose to not bring my crap. I choose to use them and I'm not gonna bitch about it. It's just not that important to me.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 11:46 AM

LostKause said:
Haven't been to a SF since '05.

Thought it was '06? :)


LostKause said:
How many rides do you go on in a day at your local SF park, Olsor? 10-15 I would guess, and at least twice that if you had a FlashPass. Add $10-$30 to your admission price, not just $1.

If your paying for a locker on every ride your just not a very smart person and you deserve to pay that much. Besides, who gets on 15 coasters at a Six Flags park in one day? :) I was at SFGAdv earlier this year and paid for one locker all day long, it was for Superman cause I didn't want to loose my phone.


Lord Gonchar said:
You do realize that the point of an amusement park or theme park is the attractions...the amusements, right?

Some will argue this point and we all know who they are. For them a day at an amusement park is a day to "escape" or "enjoy a day with friends".

But for most people a trip to a large park is about getting on some fun and crazy rides while enjoying time with friends.

I will drive three hours to ride Millenium Force when I have Phantom's Revenge in my backyard. My friends and I went to SFGAdv to Ride El Torro when we were nearby for a bachelor party. Why? Because they are big and crazy rides you can't get at home.

As long as Six Flags keeps delivering that experience customers will return. Its when they deliver on the customer experience AND the ride experience that people return a lot more.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 11:54 AM
All this amounts to is a sneaky, underhanded way to charge $1 a ride for the rollercoasters after you have just paid $40ish for park admission which supposedly includes all the rides. For years, parks have been replacing real rides with ugly, expensive to ride upcharge attractions. But this takes the cake.

Fine if you want everything in lockers. But to charge? Why support a place that would do this when there are much better alternatives.

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:00 PM
Why think of it as $1 extra to ride each ride when you don't have to use them unless you carry a bunch of crap into the park?
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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:08 PM
I spend about two or three bucks on the lockers all day and ride twenty to thirty rides. I use one locker by Toro and ride everything on that side of the park and then go back and get my stuff. Then one by Nitro and ride over there. I'd rather have a free locker sure but for the price I pay getting in with my season pass which I will use at least ten times this year, I don't feel like I'm being screwed at all.
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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:11 PM
Gonch said: "Something about attendance and per caps going up"

So what about this price slash across the board this year? They must not be getting the numbers they want, right? Is it because of the economy? Price of gas? Or are bad policies finally catching up with them?

And how long does it take for bad policies to catch up? I assume most people don't go every season (just from overhearing GP conversations) so there may still be people coming in this year that have never seen flashpass or $15 parking...And then how long does it take for those policies to become "the norm" as they inevitably do...

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:17 PM

ApolloAndy said:
So what about this price slash across the board this year? They must not be getting the numbers they want, right? Is it because of the economy? Price of gas? Or are bad policies finally catching up with them?

I think they are just trying to scream to people to come even though it might cost a lot to drive. I doubt it has to do with early number cause the parks have barely been open for the season.

Its more a reaction to all the negative press telling people its going to cost them a fortune to drive this summer.

Just my opinion...

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Friday, June 13, 2008 12:36 PM
We've left our stuff in the locker for a lot longer than two hours and didn't have any problem at Great Adventure. Maybe if I did I would have a different attitude.

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