Shapiro says significant change in store for Six Flags

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:41 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Mark Shapiro has been chief executive of Six Flags for a little over 24 hours, and already the ideas are flying. He's talking about collaborating with Microsoft on creating an Xbox "village." Maybe he'll ask "Nightmare on Elm Street" creator Wes Craven to design a haunted house for the chain's 29 theme parks.

Read more from The Washington Post and Bloomberg via The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The company also said that no formal bids for the company were made, and will therefore the board has decided not to sell the company.

Read more from Reuters.

Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:42 AM
Well isn't that fabulous. Going to Six Flags will be like watching TV sports. You'll be taking a dump in the restroom and see a sign on the back of the stall door that says, "This crap sponsored by X-Lax!"
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 11:53 AM
Instead of an Microsoft Village, how about a MIB/Buzz Lightyear clone based off of Halo?

Getting Gates Co. is a good idea, as Gates is a shareholder in SF, and MS recently has exploitable franchise characters due to their XBox division. Plus, MS has billions in the bank, they could easily sponsor the creation of a ride or themed area.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:04 PM
Whaaaa...

They haven't even done anything yet so lets all complain...

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:05 PM
What's interesting to me is that in one breath they say they want to appeal more to families and less to teenagers, then in the next breath they talk about tie-ins with concerts, X-Box video games and horror movies. It seems that these sort of things would appeal more to teens and young 20 something adults with no children than with families.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:05 PM
An "X-Box" village will certainly keep me away. The superhero theming was bad enough. One less person in line for the rest of you. I'll be at a small independent that doesn't subject me to a day-long commercial.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:07 PM
They already are littered with sponsorships. "Screamin' Eagle brought to you be AOL" It'sa miracle that thing hasn't crashed yet ;)
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:21 PM
Lets see.... cut back on rides, more cheap-to-produce shows and concerts. More merchandise tie-ins. Isn't that what Disney tried? Isn't that why "California Adventure" was/is a big faliure and why Paul Pressler and his crew were all asked to leave due to declining attendance and poor customer feed back?
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:35 PM
How about teaming up with Bill Gates to get computers that don't crash while trying to buy tickets.

These guys are clueless.......

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:44 PM
For those that are interesting in land values around the park, here is the SEC Filing mentioend in the Post Article:

http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1301723/000091412105002187/0000914121-05-002187.txt

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 12:54 PM
Disturbing that there is not one mention about increasing the level of customer service.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 1:00 PM
I guess they feel that the only way to make money is by turning the parks into big interactive billboards. If the only they can run a park is by subsidizing it with advertising revenue then maybe they shouldn't be running a park.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 1:04 PM
"Last month, Snyder submitted a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that identified unused and underused land worth a combined total of at least $262.1 million, with land around the park in Largo valued at between $104.5 million to $118 million."

Woah, I really didn't realize how much SFA land value was worth. I wouldn't want that land sold, but then again its for the better. They only said underused land, then again we could be seeing more than land going. How about s goodbye to Maryland's Only theme park.

SFGAdv can also say goodbye to some of their 1,565 of underused land also.*** This post was edited by SF Critic 12/15/2005 1:06:34 PM ***

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 1:13 PM
Interesting how the "families with children" they want to appeal to become "a captive audience" about four paragraphs down.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 1:36 PM
The question is at SFA is where is the underused land? I'm thinking it's going towards the power lines, and beyond the first helix of Superman. Why would you want to put housing closer to the amusement park? They've already got a ridiculously low 50db noise level at property lines. Get about 10-20 people talking and you've either reached 50db or exceeded it. I would make anyone who bought new housing to sign a statement that they'll will tolerate a higher db level (say like 70db).

As for some of the other ideas, nothing much is moving me yet. More concerts? They've already had plenty of concerts in the past. An XBox Village? Sorry folks but I don't go to an amusement park to play video games, unless it's DDR. A Wes Craven haunted house? Now that has the potential to be cool. Mark, why don't you come back when you've got something more concrete?

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 2:05 PM
You know how some movies are reviled by critics but still make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office? Just wait and see how the public responds to the "new" Six Flags. It might be a lot different from the despairing pictures enthusiasts are painting right now.

Devil's advocate speaking... anyone have any better ideas for reducing $2+ billion in debt without liquidating the entire chain?

As Peabody mentioned, rides already have sponsorships/advertising tie-ins. Why is rampant advertising acceptable in say, NASCAR, but not in amusement parks? Ballparks, football stadiums, basketball/hockey arenas, concert venues... all have advertising tie-ins. Kingda Ka isn't going to go any slower if it's Kingda Ka presented by ESPN/Microsoft.

If you read the whole story and try not to get hung up on the despairing notion that your park isn't going to get a coaster a year anymore, you'd see that the new head honchos at the very least have a plan. They need money, and they need it now. The articles even state how if Six Flags even got down to $1.6 billion in debt, that would free up more capital for spending.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005 2:05 PM
So basically, would it be correct to say that excess land around parks chain-wide could have been sold and possibly even had been more valuable than SFAW's property (from what we're hearing, isn't not going well at all)? If so, Burke really was a rat. Many would argue that the reuse of SFAW's rides is going to "revolutionize the chain" or something and have all the parks make tons and tons of money (what a load of bull...), but that still isn't the cold hard cash stockholders were promised the SFAW sale would make to pay off the debt. IMO, this proves how inept Kieran was, and I'm glad he's gone.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 2:40 PM
If you read the SEC filing, you'll see that acre-for-acre, the most valuable land is around SFMM and the HUGE amount of land around SFGAdv is worth very little at all. The SEC article also seems to indicate that the land around these parks that they have been trying to sell just isn't selling, with some plots being on the market several years now.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 2:45 PM
i think a haunted house is a pretty neat idea, but it doesn't seem "right" in a six flags park.
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Thursday, December 15, 2005 2:47 PM
Intamin Fan, even if new homeowners near any amusement park were to sign any type of wavier about noise, traffic, etc., you can bet it won't stop them from fighting the parks every inch of the way for any type of new attraction, ride or improvement to the park. Today's attitude is "not in my backyard" and there are plenty of lawyers more than happy to take these cases. I've seen it happen too many times. I think it's a good thing that no land around the parks has been sold off, simply because it provides for expansion room and/or buffer zone. I think that if some of the property around some of these parks is sold off to housing developers, you'll see restrictions on operating hours and complaints on noise, traffic and other concerns. I really don't like the idea of a home builder and former HUD director on the board.
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