Shapiro faces uphill battle, analysts say it's a long-term project

Posted Saturday, July 8, 2006 11:18 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro painted a bleak picture in his conference call for a turn around, but fans and analysts feel it's a long-term project to turn around Six Flags.

Read more from The LA Times.

Saturday, July 8, 2006 9:24 PM

Although Six Flags' reputation varies from park to park, at Magic Mountain, "it's downright bad," said Jeff Putz, editor of Coasterbuzz.com, a website for amusement park enthusiasts.

"If you do show up at the park … half the rides are closed," Putz said. "The park is messy, trash is lying around, ride operators don't care, service at food stands is bad. It adds up to people not having a favorable impression of the park."


Have you even actually been to the park yourself, Jeff?

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Saturday, July 8, 2006 10:16 PM
That's a good headline. Fans of SFMM know that it will be a long term project that can't be achieved in less than 6 months.

My thoughts, SF, feel free to use.

1.) They own 260 acres. Sell off or lease part of the land to a hotel operator, like Great Wolf Lodge or Lowes. This of course requires careful planning of where to place the hotel on the property. The GWF in particular would be a great fit, as it gives SFMM something Disney doesn't have, an indoor waterpark.

2.) Develope a hotel/condo property. If they are so keen to sell the land to some developer to make generic housing, they would make more money long term by building a hotel/condo property on site that would generate revenue for SF for many years. It's all the rage in Las Vegas for very good reason, massive upside long term versus money from one time land sale.

With the "citywalk" light shopping center being built adjacent to the park, it makes sense for SF to not let another real estate developer cash in using their land assetts. It doesn't make much sense for SF to sell the land, and then watch someone else sell condo's for millions a pop when they could do the exact same thing.

3.) Lease storefronts within the park. Treat SFMM like a mall with some buildings/locations for lease to retailers. Upside is that SFMM employee payroll goes down for retail, move that money to where it's needed - ride ops for one example. Plus, the money generated from lease payments could be greater than the current retail sales they experience at the park.

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Saturday, July 8, 2006 10:18 PM
I go to Magic Mountain at least twice a year, and sometimes even more. I have yet to experience any problems like is described by the letter in the article, with the exception of a couple rides being closed. They even reopened the skytower this year, which has been closed since '00. My only complaint is the expensive food & parking.
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Sunday, July 9, 2006 12:55 AM
Shapiro just sounds like he's made up his mind to unload the park. He's pretty much stated that the problem with the Mountain is the coaster focus, while coming up short on family rides and flat rides. So why hasn't he done anything to diversify the attractions? I can't believe they're going to tear down all these coaster to build desert bound condos. What an incredible waste?!
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Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:06 AM
More power to Shapiro to turn SF around. When SF becomes better, so will everyone else. It improves the experiences of us park enthusiasts. It improves what we get for each dollar we spend. I get concerned though with consolidations, but if SF can give CF meaningful competition, it should balance out in some way.
- J
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Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:12 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

So why hasn't he done anything to diversify the attractions?

1. Remember he's only been at his post for 7 months.

2. CapEx was set in stone and spent long before he took that post.

3. The company he has control of is two billion dollars in debt. ($2,000,000,000)

Add to that the new focus on cutting spending (especially CapEx improvements) and increasing revenue and it becomes obvious that Magic Mountain is a lost cause as far the new Six Flags goes.

It makes no sense to hold onto the park. So, needing cash, you sell. Who will buy? Probably housing developers with deep pockets.

Who's fault is it that things must go this way - lots of people's. The funny thing is that of all the names attached to the situation, the one I don't put any blame on is Mark Shapiro.

I know you're passionate about the park thing, rc-madness. Believe it or not, I can appreciate that. But rather than questioning the clean-up guy, we should have been questioning the way things were handled the past 5 years. (oh wait, most on these forums were :) )

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Sunday, July 9, 2006 3:29 AM
...And it didn't help. So people stopped going, which sealed the park's fate. This is everyone BUT Shapiro's fault.
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Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:04 PM
While Shapiro isn't responsible for SFMM's rep, he is responsible for the following; 1.) the lack of an advertising campaign that focuses on families (during Tatsu's opening - he stood in front of it and talked about the family market...what? Shouldn't he have been in BBW? 2.) raising prices significantly across the board which had a direct effect on admissions and has limited the appeal of new programs like the overpriced Brunch With Bugs, 3.) the parent company still could approve additional repair work for SFMM at any time. He knows the park did fail at upkeep, and yet doesn't approve funding to fix those issues? Some of the work would cost very little in comparison to ride construction. 4.) Having management staff underneath him that can execute his new vision. 5.) Realizing that the WB characters are simply not as popular as Disney's, therefore to expect similar results is not logical. 6.) Some cap exp.'s, like kid's play areas like the recent SFMW or SFGADV additions, cost very little and can be put in at any time. Changing SFMM's focus in the year of a new coaster requires more than lip service to convince the public.

SFMM is not a "lost cause." It accounts for 10% of the entire chain's admissions and lose that, they lose all related spending permanently. The park already has a kid friendly focus, even more so this year. BBW happens to be the best looking, most completely themed section of the entire park. It's up to Shapiro and SFMM to change the park's reputation through advertising, promoting kid specific events, and programming.

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Monday, July 10, 2006 3:39 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

SFMM is not a "lost cause."

You're reading what you want to. You missed the half of the statement that qualifies the whole thing:

...as far the new Six Flags goes.

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