Shapiro opens Six Flags New England with new focus

Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 8:51 AM | Contributed by JDB

Six Flags chief Mark Shapiro said at Six Flags New England's opening day that it's time to renew focus on making parks a family destination. Costumed characters marketing are a part of that plan. He says that he doesn't believe a $20 million roller coaster ever pays for itself.

Read more from The Boston Herald.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 9:24 AM
Ever seems like a pretty strong stance to take. I'm sure it would surprise Disney that Space Mountain never paid for itself! I can only hope that his intent was that a single coaster by itself cannot carry a whole park and needs to be surrounded by other high budget attractions. But was Six Flags ever in a financial position to create such attractions? I'll be interested to see what they plan in 2007 to bring in the new market they are chasing.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:18 AM
beast7369's avatar I would like to see him try to tell that to Dick Kinzel of Cedar Fair. Typically most of the coaster installations that they put in seem to pay for themselves in a reasonable ammount of time.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 11:14 AM
Interesting.... SFA is in Dan Snyder's back yard. Not on Redskins player made an appearance at SFA on opening day.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 12:53 PM
Jeff's avatar For a big park in a big market, they do pay for themselves, but only if you have the per capita spending and the right ticket pricing. And if you have hotel rooms to fill, even better. That's why $25 million rides like Millennium Force and Dragster were good business decisions.

Even less expensive rides like Superman at SFNE most certainly helped boost or sustain attendance over the years. You'd think by what he was saying that no one over the age of 20 rides these things.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 1:50 PM
LOL... Perhaps he'll soon realize (if he hasn't already), that coasters don't need to cost 20+ million to thrill riders. The two coasters most are looking foward to this year cost less than half of that. And how much are those Vekoma motorbike coasters? Also, with Six Flags you have to think big picture. When your talking about adding these types of coasters to 6 or 7 of your parks annually, then he's right, your NEVER going to see much of a return on that. That's an easy $140 million per year, and that's just for the big stuff.

*** This post was edited by DWeaver 4/18/2006 2:12:55 PM ***

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 2:22 PM
So i guess disney must be nuts to add Expedition to Animal King because if a 20 mill coaster wont pay for itself, how will a attraction that costs much more ever pay for itself??
So he thinks medicore parades & shows and higher admission/parking prices and bad Papa Johns pizza will get the turnstiles overwhelmed with guests.
Maybe he should look to Cedar Fair which has reduced some prices or Holiday World which doesnt gouge you for eveything in the park as roles models to increase attendance and fatten the bottom line.
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 2:24 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar But I think that's exactly what he's saying, DWeaver:

“I love rollercoasters. But they target such a niche,” he said. “I don’t believe a $20 million rollercoaster, which is how this company got into trouble, ever pays for itself.”

Seems to me that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see coasters in the future, it means we won't see stupidly high-priced coasters or coasters in mass quantity in the future. At the very least, it's clear that Shapiro doesn't want the parks to live and die based on their coasters - looks like he sees it as just another part of the big puzzle.

On the same note, this is the closest he's come to totally missing the boat. I still think he has too much 'Disney' in his sight. Those parks thrive with a minimal amount of coasters and he's said in the past he wants SF to become an alternative to the Disney vacation. Unless your park is a major international tourist destination or a least near a major international tourist destination, that just isn't going to fly.

On the flip side of the same point, I've always thought too much emphasis is put on adding new attractions to draw a crowd. I don't think most of the SF parks really need a new marquee attraction every year or other year or even every third year. Sometimes offering a good product and riding the status quo works just fine. If these guys get the parks up to where they're promising, make small changes and additions year-to-year and keep it going, I think they could get away with adding a moderately priced coaster at a rate of one every 4 or 5 years and be in great shape.

But even still, you can't write off the coaster as a 'niche ride' so easily. That's dangerously close to, "You really just don't get it, do you Skippy?"

(because if your name was Skippy Shapiro - you'd be the coolest guy on the planet :) )

*** This post was edited by Lord Gonchar 4/18/2006 3:16:05 PM ***

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 4:05 PM
According to the SF website, they have 33 million visitors per year. I'm not sure how that qualifies as niche. If the average admission is 30 bucks to reflect discounts, even at 1/2 of 33 million visitors they hit 495 million! Even 9 million people brings in 270 million. Capital expansion at 125 million, leaves quite a chunk of change left over. It's actually pretty clear that the prior management was just bad at running a corporation. For the new management to single out roller coasters as the sole reason for the chain's financial problems reads more like an easy answer to feed the media.
*** This post was edited by DBJ 4/18/2006 4:06:14 PM ***
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 5:33 PM
Actually He was at Media day and I got to meet him and tour the park with him and Mark Kane GM. I also went to a press conference and he answered alot of questions. He did not say that SF was not going to build coasters he said why pay 20mil for a coaster when we can put in a 10mil one and put more money into park maintence and employees. Full coverage of media day including videos can be seen at www.themeparkpage.com
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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 6:25 PM
"For the new management to single out roller coasters as the sole reason for the chain's financial problems reads more like an easy answer to feed the media".

...And so what if it is?

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 10:03 PM

So i guess disney must be nuts to add Expedition to Animal King because if a 20 mill coaster wont pay for itself, how will a attraction that costs much more ever pay for itself??

Disney and Six Flags are totally different parks. Animal Kingdom brings more than twice as many people through the gate as any Six Flags park in the country. Additionally, Animal Kingdom is a destination park and not a local market park (meaning a "new attraction" has a much broader base for AK than for a Six Flags park).


If the average admission is 30 bucks to reflect discounts, even at 1/2 of 33 million visitors they hit 495 million!

Yeah, because Six Flags has no expenses to cover beyond capital expansion. If only it were that easy...

-Nate

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 11:16 PM
rollergator's avatar Jeff said: And if you have hotel rooms to fill, even better. That's why $25 million rides like Millennium Force and Dragster were good business decisions.

Which is why I'm still BAFFLED that *the* park in the chain that would have had NO trouble filling hotel rooms didn't get a previously-planned hotel...one that woulda recouped the investment faster than EVEN waterpark expansions. Within view of Ka, Nitro, and Toro... ;)

Oh, and Everest ROCKS... :)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 12:06 AM
Jeff's avatar Yeah, that is a head scratcher. I can't think of any park in the chain that would be better suited to get into the hotel business. Heck, even if you're surrounded by hotels it's apparently a good idea. It was for Cedar Point.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 9:29 AM
Too bad Burke and Co. could not have held on for one more year, the hotel would have gotten built along with maybe a few other coasters, and I wouldn't mind the new guys so much. Coasters are a "niche market"!?! I don't think so. Coasters are the foundation to the amusement/ride park, which is what Six Flags is, and dare I say always will be. I wasn't at SFNE and I didn't talk to Mr. Shapiro, but from what he is quoted as saying, it seems like he doesn't have a clue. I think he needs to go upside down a few times on "the Batman", it might clear his head.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 1:30 PM
If you compare the percentage of people who truly enjoy the intensity of today's extreme roller coasters to the percentage of people who like going to parks offering a variety of attractions, the shift in Six Flags focus seems pretty obvious. Six Flags has a reputation of offering one type of ride experience. Why should they limit them selves? This has more to do with becoming a more rounded amusement destination like most of SF's competitors.*** This post was edited by rc-madness 4/19/2006 1:31:50 PM ***
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