Shapiro wants to emphasize "family experience"

Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:06 PM | Contributed by coasterguts

Six Flags chief Mark Shapiro wants to remake the company's image, from an operator of roller coasters to a provider of family entertainment. For now, those plans rely in part on exploiting the Looney Tunes and DC Comics cartoon characters Six Flags has licensed from Time Warner's Warner Bros.

Read more from TheStreet.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:40 PM
Can't see why anyone would complain about his vision in this article. It's all positive.
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Thursday, January 12, 2006 1:11 PM
It's certainly less marketing driven, and that's a good thing. I think that perhaps Shapiro can have his own voice now while Snyder backs off and lets him do his job.
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Thursday, January 12, 2006 4:35 PM
He's starting to win me over. He makes the changes sound so exciting!

It's strange, but I don't feel bad that the focus is no longer on a new coaster every year or so. Today I learned that I am really an "Amusement Park Enthusiast".

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Thursday, January 12, 2006 5:54 PM
Just don't get any ideas about leaving the park to go to your family mini-van, or you'll have a whole new kind of "experience."
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Thursday, January 12, 2006 6:25 PM
There is not too much meat and potatoes there. ...more lighting and landscaping...not a word about customer service...time will tell!
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Thursday, January 12, 2006 7:59 PM
So does this mean Six Flags may be going the [backward] way of Paramount? Instead of big-movie company with amusement parks, we may see an amusement park company that makes movies?
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Thursday, January 12, 2006 8:38 PM
With so many SF parks for me to visit yet, a lack of coasters is not a problem for me yet. But finding more parks that offer a "family experience" would be nice to me. Lighting and landscaping are important to me too though. It's a big selling point to me in why I keep making the trek to BGW, HW, and DW. They are eye-catching, and give me the feeling that this is a park that cares about the product it provides.

I agree that customer service, and cleanliness are two areas they are going to have face sooner, or later though. It's seems to be an ongoing experience many people go through.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:02 PM
The non-emphasis on coasters has most likely sent shivers down the spines of B&M, Vekoma, Intamin, etc. There were many issues with prior management, but the former SF was very good for coaster designers.

Also, there is an example of what happens when a park focuses too much on shows and not rides, and that park is DCA. Or, why is T-Land at Disneyland considered stale - two movie based attractions that haven't changed in over a decade. And consider the disasters of the Aladdin show at DCA and Snow White at DL. Both family oriented shows that cost $$$$ but failed to pull in big numbers over a long period of time.

I don't know how well this direction will work for SF of they completely go anti-coaster. A balance between the two would seem to be the better choice of action, and also to take into consideration the local market of each park.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006 11:24 PM
RGB, I agree with that, but I really do not think that even SF is stupid enough to keep the new no re-entery policy for long. It will change once they see how long the line to Guest Services is due to complaints. That's one thing I am not excited about.

I will rephrase that all of the changes, except for the no re-entery policy of which I expect not to last, sounds exciting.

BUT...If SFGAdv is still way too crowded to enjoy without a Q-Bot, if I can't find a good ticket price, if guest service does not improve, and the only good thing to happen to the park is that they will have Elmer Fudd walking around and some more flowers, than no, I will not visit any more than I do now, which is only once every 3 or 4 years.

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Friday, January 13, 2006 12:13 AM
Could "exploiting" the Looney Toons and DC Comics characters mean (hopefully) something more than merchandising?

Shapiwo, you wascawwy wabbit!

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Friday, January 13, 2006 5:17 AM
The no, re-entry policy wont last. You know it, I know it, he knows it, and she knows it.

And Jeffrey R. Smith: Shapiro did in the recent past state that customer service would be a top priority. While I haven't had this problem with SFGAm, I hope it gets passed on to other SF parks in need of it.

The fact that they have a Hollywood guru on the board is a positive thing to me. The possibilities are endless in that category. Family friendly thinking is what the SF parks need. I say give them time and a chance to turn things around.

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Friday, January 13, 2006 8:55 AM
I really am starting to like Shapiro. He seems to say everythign right. Now if he can only follwo through on those words, SF might actually be in a good position in about 5-10 years.

Making a better family experience is what parks like Disney and Universal do, and we all know how well they do with attendance and repeat business. I would expect to see more movie tie ins on the rides and also see more cartoon characters like bugs and daffy and tweety etc in the park. Look for lots of things like interactive dark rides and boat rides with animatronic cartoon characters in them to start showing up in the next few years at SF parks. Also, he talks about landscaping, which only makes the park look nicer and more inviting.

It really sounds like Shapiro is on the right track. Just not the coaster track. In the end, SF should be a better company from this new management. The stockholders have to be excited, the stock is at a 52 week high, and it only looks like it will continue on that trend. Matter of fact, I'm thinking abot investing in SF myself. I never would have touched it before, but it now has peaked my interest.

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Friday, January 13, 2006 2:16 PM
it's funny how a little PR can change opinions. this chain still has every single problem it had six months ago. crushing debt, weather-dependence, bad service, long lines, high prices, an irrelevant warner brothers stable of characters and nothing to offer but big coasters. i agree, the new management is saying all the right things. but i've heard no specifics. putting new entertainment into 29 parks all season that is of a quality and appeal to bring people through the doors for 20% higher prices is a lot harder than developing original programming for an already popular network. i'd buy the stock now and be ready to dump it after the disappointing 3rd quarter announcements next October.
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Friday, January 13, 2006 4:16 PM
In all the announcements, they have yet to mention one new family attraction being planned for 2006 or 2007. But, maybe too early.

The only changes made and announcements so far are:

1.) Increase in ticket prices
2.) Hired new executives, created a whole new dept. based in New York thus raising operational expenses.
3.) The questionable hiring of a movie producer, Weinstein, who ran Miramax into the ground.
4.) Instituted a questionable no-entry policy at select parks. Even when it's killed, you have to wonder how such a policy made it past the board room.
5.)Didn't really explain how to improve the Batman Begins stunt show, beyond selling overpriced concessions in the stands.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but the new boards initial series of moves is questionable.

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Friday, January 13, 2006 6:10 PM
I'm confused Weinstein ran Miramax into the ground? Hmmm....I don't remember it happening like that.
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Friday, January 13, 2006 7:26 PM
As head of Miramax, Harvey was directly responsible for the content Miramax put out. Those movies failed, and failed hard. The last few releases coming from Miramax were so bad, they are directly blamed for helping drag down Disney's film division in 2005.

So now Six Flags hires a board member with a history of questionable taste and being out of touch with film audiences, as is the case with newest bomb "The Libertine."

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Sunday, January 15, 2006 8:58 PM
I personally do not think (and hope) what Shapiro said that they were going ot move the focus of of rollercoasters, I do not think he meant forever. He said that he needs to spend most of the capitol on making the parks better. Because rollercoasters cost $22 million. They need to decide between rollercoasters or park improvements. I do think alot of Six Flags parks do need better entertainment, better food and more family and kiddie sections. And thats what they need to shift their focus on. But I am sure they will add rollercoasters when needed.

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