SFNO has carried the chain this season!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003 10:51 PM
I have proof of this! Even with the bad weather, the New Orleans theme park is responsible for cutting SFI's attendance numbers in half(well 46%) Without SFNO in the chain, SFI's attendance would have been down 7.2%. With SFNO figured in, it's down 3.9%. The little theme park made a case for itself to become SFI's newest megapark. It managed to carry the whole chain, including the "big four." I personally am happy for SFNO because I knew that SFI would come in and do a great job and attract the people there!

There was a rumor a while back that SFNO had sold over 200,000 season passes before the month of June was over. Well, all I can say is it had to be at or near that figure with being the only park out 39 others to cut SFI's attendance figures in almost half! If SFI holds true to their word that parks get attraction based on performance and attendance, well SFNO is in store for some more massive expansion in 2004 and 2005!

Here's the story from sixflagsnews.com: La Ronde blames weather for attendance dip Monday, August 18, 2003

The weather has been enough of a headache. La Ronde could have done without the bouts of bad publicity that have also dogged the amusement park through the year.

Six Flags, the U.S. company that bought La Ronde from the city of Montreal in 2001, said this week that attendance at its 39 theme parks throughout North America and Europe dropped 3.9 per cent in the first six months of this year compared with last year. And if you delete the attendance from a New Orlean's theme park that it didn't own last year, the drop was 7.2 per cent.

The company won't provide attendance records for individual parks, but Anne-Marie Desautels, representing La Ronde, confirmed Montreal's park has seen "a small decrease since 2002, but we're still over what we did in 2001."

How could it be otherwise. It opened in May to lots of rain, headed into "a very, very hot June," she said, then "it rained almost all through the construction holiday" in July. Rain and intense heat are both a curse to outdoor theme parks with little means of shelter and no water attractions save the aging Pitoune log ride.

And even though the park draws the lion's share of its clientele from the local population, Pierre Bellerose, vice-president of research at Tourisme Montréal, said La Ronde is also feeling the pain of a 10-per-cent drop in tourism in Montreal since April - the result of a weak U.S. economy, fears about severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and a general reluctance to travel much. Read More From...

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 5:27 AM

I think you're misreading that article. It says that if you take all the SF parks last year and compare them so far this year, attendance is down 7.2%. Throw in SFNO, which is a whole new untapped resource, and attendance for the chain is down 3.2%. All that means is most of the people in the New Orleans and surrounding area didn't travel to a SF park last year but went to SFNO because it was close. Here's another analogy. The restaurant I work in (a large national chain with a big lobster on the sign) is opening another location in the area. It will hurt our sales and guest counts since there are people who travel a little distance to our restaurant (they'll now choose the new, closer store), but overall sales and guest counts will increase for the company because the new store will also attract new guests since its closer, guests that normally wouldn't make the trip to our store. In my own little mind that makes sense and I hope it makes sense in print too...
"You think you know me..."
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 5:31 AM
There are three kinds of lies...and the fourth is imaginative use of the third kind.

They're talking about the total number of visitors to all Six Flags parks there. Of course adding SFNO's attendance equals an increase--an increase from ZERO the year before. This doesn't mean SFNO is setting new records, meeting its own projected numbers or even paying off the investments made this season. As for massive expansion to any SF park, don't hold your breath. Next year's big project will be an attempt at profitability.

Don't get me wrong--I wish them well. I'm just clarifying what the numbers do and don't say.


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*** This post was edited by CoastaPlaya 8/20/2003 9:50:12 AM ***

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 5:40 AM
Playa is right on. Most companies that expand will likely report the results including the expansion and not including the expansion. This gives a true measure of performance.

If you have ever looked over an Annual Report you will see that this is the case. Cedar Fair reported revenue figures including and not including Knott's Berry Farm after the purchase. Come to think of it, I think that is still noted in the Annual Report.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 5:50 AM
To put some numbers on it (for example only, I'm making these numbers up, in no way do they reflect the real thing, for illustration only, did I mention these are coming out of my backside?)

Let's declare that last year, the chain-wide total attendance was 20 million people.

Now let's declare that the chain-wide total attendance for this year, not counting SFNO, is 18 million people. That means that the parks that existed last year, are down 10%.

Now, let's say that SFNO has drawn 1 million people. Adding them in means that the total attendance is 19 million, down 5% from last year. That's deceptive, though, because last year's numbers wouldn't have included SFNO, since Jazzland didn't exist AS "SFNO" yet.

--Greg, aka Oat Boy
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003 6:11 AM
It goes along the same lines as when you see companies refer to "same store sales".

Take for example, Sears. In their latest 10-Q (Quarterly Results) Filing. They point out that Sears Canada total sales increased 1.9% in the second quarter of 2003 despite a same stores sales decrease of 6.5%.

--George H
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003 6:39 AM
Heh heh...Did you used to be an accountant for Enron Lee?
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 6:58 AM
That sure sounds like Andersen math, Mike!

Olsor - former Arthur Andersen employee

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 8:08 AM
Better than Gator Math ;)

mOOSH [not attempting a hijacking...that isn't funny anymore and I come off looking like an @sshole]

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003 8:24 AM
Yes as previously pointed out last year's attendance report did NOT include Jazzland so naturally any addition would be an increase from previous year. However, the park has continued to impress Six Flags Inc in the way it handles its business and performs. The park is very well run and the management is top notch. It's virtually an untapped resource that still needs investment and thought to truely bring in the numbers. The park is very small and underdeveloped compared to other properties and its attendance is not bad compared to them. Although poor weather has hurt the park this summer (even moreso than other parts of the country), it continues to have great days with exceptional numbers.

I do have to congratulate Six Flags New Orleans for having the ability to keep the majority of their rides up and running as much as possible. They have a large number of flat rides (more than many larger parks) yet they usually have less down than parks with a smaller amount of rides. The maintenance department of Six Flags New Orleans definitely deserves a pat on the back. There have been days when they have had all rides running at one point or another.
*** This post was edited by Cameraman 8/20/2003 12:29:13 PM ***

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 9:16 AM
I too think this is good news for SFNO, but I don't think it's indicative that the entire chain is being subsidized. I am very happy to see the turnaround, though.
Rob - Jerk/Loser - Standing up for the unfunny and unattractive. - Click here for details
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 9:36 AM
Uhm... I don't mean to be rude or anything, but it's their *job* to keep rides running. They shouldn't be congratulated for doing their job. Next time I go to McDonalds I'll be sure to yell to the cook "HOLY CRAP! YOU COOKED MY BURGER! GOOD JOB!"

Also, all parks have their "great days with exceptional numbers" ... By your logic, I could say that Williams Grove had 500 people in it, it was a great day with exceptional attendance! (No disrespect to Williams Grove, I have no idea what their attendance is like outside Con 2001).

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure your park is a fairly nice park (when I go I don't care what you say, I'm NOT riding the Jukebox) and yes, it probably has some potential. Do you think it will come next year? With Six Flags announcing they're only spending $75 million in new capital next year, hardly. Do I think you'll get something? Yes, I don't think Six Flags wants to repeat Alfa's mistake. Do I know what? Not at all. And neither do you so please don't start that argument.

It's not about all about attendance, it's about per cap. I've said it before, and I will say it again... a theme park operator would rather have 5000 people in the park spending $20 each than 15000 spending $5.

In this slow economy and with their massive debt, it's going to be an extremely slow year for six flags next year. Most parks hope for a new attraction is the ride rotation program. Just don't get your hopes up, you'd be silly to do so. Sides, you might just wind up with shockwave from sfgam... its cheap.

Panther Modern
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003 10:04 AM
I mean they do a better job having 100% of their rides running unlike some parks that have about 15 of them down from time to time...coughSFGAdvcough

Quite a few of their rides had some big problems this year but they were all fixed promptly. One of Lex Luthor's Invertatron's motors blew out opening day they got a new one and installed it ASAP. Spillway Splashout's chain broke, they ordered a new one and installed it within a couple of days after they got it. Voodoo Volcano uhm..."erupted" and they also fixed that promptly. Lex Luthor's Invertatron was rumored to be down all season long due to a problem with the ride computer but they were able to get it running once again in a week's time.

My point is they have so many complex flat rides that can pose such a maintenance problem but they always get them up and running as soon as possible. I've seen so many other parks with less rides have several of them down for much more of an extended period of time.

I'm not kidding when I say great days with exceptional numbers. When they've had events (and even some days when they didn't have any events) they've seen attendance figures that were very high for a park its size.
*** This post was edited by Cameraman 8/20/2003 2:15:07 PM ***

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 10:10 AM
Let us not forget the reason why SFNO looks better this year than last year. The park was bankrupt and no one was visiting or buying season passes. Attendance at this park had no place to go but up.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:05 AM
Let me remind you that some six flags parks have flat rides down due to budget cuts and/or labor problems. Fiesta Texas, SFOT and SFMW (that I know of) each "soft open" different areas of the park to save labor costs. At SFAW, we rotate one week the train and one week the sky cars down to save labor costs. When corporate says "find us $1 million in savings" you do what you have to do to save costs any way you can.

They can't do that this year at SFNO.

Panther Modern
An Astroworld Tribute Site

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:13 AM
But PM.....are we as *consumers* supposed to give a rat's arse WHY a particular ride is down....when it's down, we can't ride it. On this board, WE have a lot of discussion about why ride X is down, or when it might be back up, and what the park is/is not doing to resolve said problem. Trust me, outisde of this board (and some others), nobody cares to hear the park's (lame) excuses....

SFNO, as the *new park on the block*, should expect a little better than average in terms of rides and maintenance....SFEV, same deal. Apologies to those with Frontier City as their home park, but SFI isn't going to start pouring money into a park with a small ROI....

SFNO holds *promise*....it can be a big money maker in the future...but even IF the park improved 1000%, it still wouldn't make too big of a dent in what happens to the chain...."the big four" DOMINATE the statistics (and the finances) of the chain...

bill, who can't help but wonder why it is that SF poured SO many millions into rides the past 5 years or so, but did NOTHING to improve staffing at most of their parks...
"The robot mafia is running numbers?"
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Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:25 AM
Gator, methinks their reasoning is that rides bring people, and staff don't (unless they look like Beyonce, Jessica Alba or Gabrielle Union) :)
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:27 AM
The staffing problem is not as simple to fix as one might think. And the problem isn't solely a Six Flags problem. All parks are experiencing staffing problems including Disney. The parks are failing to address the real reasons.

Money. I don't care what you say, for a kid/young adult, money is a huge deciding factor in a summer job. Amusement parks are not paying much, certainly compared to all other summer jobs. How much would it really cost for parks to address this? I did some calculations and it was far less then I thought it might be.

Training. Most of the park companies are still woeful when it comes to training. In many cases kids are put online on their first day without being properly trained. If they are trained in their specific job responsibilities the training falls far short in the area of customer service.

Oversight. With a few notable exceptions, many of the full-time managers at amusement parks I am familiar with are not getting out and seeing what is happening at a ride, food stand, game, etc. If I am wrong then they are just inept because they are missing some obvious signs of problems in their parks.

To me this is an industry wide problem. I see it at all of the chains and if it isn't addressed soon then they are in for some problems. You can't keep raising prices while not meeting or exceeding the guest expectations. Something is going to give.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003 11:37 AM
I've been very surprised to see so many parks advertising for help in mid-August. The Norfolk radio market was plastered with ads trying to drum up employees at BGW, and SFWOA's web site has a scrolling banner that HR is accepting applications. And all this in a year when CP staff were bitter about overstaffing and not getting enough hours!

Given the still-soft labor market, I am surprised that staffing has been this big of a problem this year.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003 12:06 PM
Cedar Fair hires a ton of foreign kids in the BUNAC program which was the reason for the overstaffing issue. If CP didn't have dorms they would be in worse shape than any other park.

The problem is that the park jobs aren't "coveted" like they once were. Kids can make $6.50 an hour doing a lot of different things. I pay my part time employees $9 an hour (to start) but I get what I pay for. Employees who are considerate and understand good guest service.


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