"Six Flags: A Ripoff"

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 12:37 PM
The problem with your movie example is that Six Flags markets itself as family friendly. His experience was anything but.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 1:29 PM
The movie example still works if the movie states that it is a 'romantic comedy', which it is doing. Romantic comedies are good for everyone usually, right?

Professional sports also position themselves as family friendly entertainment. You still can pay well over $100 a seat, $25+ to park, $40+ for food and so on. Is the NFL, NBA or MLB in danger of going out of business because this costs more than a high school game? Can your kids really see and do more at the pro game then they can at the high school? I think that the high school wins in every way, yet I don't know of a high school football team which is drawing 40,000+ plus to their games.

Having unrealistic expectations does not make the business a bad one, it makes the consumer a bad one. If I were to write an article that stated that Disney is a bad business because they haven't built a park in my backyard, give me free food when I was there, made sure there were no lines the entire time and charge me only $10.00 to enter, I would think that most would say that it was unrealistic.

What does the writer ask for? Six Flags to have a park with really cheap prices on everything, yet no lines. You can't argue both sides of the coin at the same time.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 1:44 PM
Football games only last 3 hours, and not a whole day. Thus, you are kinda of forced to eat good food not from home in the amusement park unless there are places outside to eat.

I like to eat outside of the park. The reason is because you get away for awhile, and it's enjoyable. How many sitdown restaurants does Six Flags really have in which a waitress will serve you? I'm talking like the Rainforest Cafe on Disney property. You get to rest for awhile, and than come back fresh. When I was at SFMM eating, it felt weird.

I only did it because the park was only open till 6:00 pm, and it was my vacation. But not getting away isn't too fun. I like that pause in my day. It's realistically a long day, and eating at a sitdown restaurant (not fast food) is a good thing. It could be a 12 hour day for me if I am there all day!! Of course, the park doesn't always close till 10 pm. When it closes at 6:00 pm (not SFMM), I will just eat right after the park closes.

I eat before I get to the park, and right after. Of course, I eat enough before I get in the park. When I'm riding rides though, I just feel like I don't care about food too much. Now, when I get out of the park, I'm ready to eat! Typically, any other day, I feel I need to eat, but rides make me lose my hunger.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 2:37 PM

thecoasterguy said:
NO. It means that someone who is doing a bad job of being a consumer is complaining that the world doesn't center around him. Bash corporate parks all that you want, but they obviously serve a section of consumers who do want to go there or they wouldn't exist.

Your argument would work better if Six Flags were a thriving company and this guy was just in the very small, whiny minority. I have no doubt SF as a whole is getting better, really, I'm sure of it, but putting all of the blame on the consumer when they have a crappy time is again just playing into these wildly lowered expectations enthusiasts have for certain parks.

Even if this guy DID do a little research on SFNE, what would he have found? The official site shows a nice selection of family rides and attractions. Based on that I'm not sure why it's unreasonable for a consumer to think SFNE is a very nice place to take your family with young children but obviously, based on his personal experience he learned differently.

It's a pattern that happens over and over again here. If an enthusiast had written a similar negative trip report about SFNE it would have mostly been chalked up to "same old same old" SF trip reports. When a member of the GP writes a negative trip report it's a matter of the guy not doing his homework and not being smart enough to dumb down his expectations.

I mean, blame the consumer all you want but "This guy should have known better" doesn't put more $$$ in SF's bank account. "SFNE should have been better" does.

Of course, the best part is now he DOES know better from first hand experience. And I'll wager SF won't get a second chance, at least not from him.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 2:42 PM

thecoasterguy said:
The movie example still works if the movie states that it is a 'romantic comedy', which it is doing. Romantic comedies are good for everyone usually, right?

By the way, The Heartbreak Kid is Rated R. Taking your kid to a Rated R movie and expecting it to be age appropriate isn't a good comparison for what happened with his experience. SFNE is by all accounts marketed as a place that is very much geared towards families with small children and by this individual's expectations the place didn't add up.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 3:15 PM

matt. said:
Even if this guy DID do a little research on SFNE, what would he have found? The official site shows a nice selection of family rides and attractions. Based on that I'm not sure why it's unreasonable for a consumer to think SFNE is a very nice place to take your family with young children but obviously, based on his personal experience he learned differently.

If he had done any research, he would also have found the prices that the park charges for things, and could have made a decision if it was worth the money to go there or not. He obviously went in completely blind to the idea about what to expect (like going to a rated R movie and then being surprised by inappropriate scenes in it), and then the park was unable to hit his unrealistic expectations.

He wants the park to be cheaper and he wants the park to have fast to no lines. If the park was cheaper, wouldn't more people have been in line, making his day even more miserable by his own account? If the park had a "team" of three people running each kiddie ride or whatever, don't you think that it would cost a little more to get into the park?

If anyone can name me one park which has the number of rides that SFNE has or more, which charges less for entrance and does not have lines at any of their rides, tell us what it is. I've never been to a park like that. If those parks exist though and are making money hand over fist, I'll agree that the author of this article is correct and Six Flags (and Cedar Fair, Disney, Busch and Universal for that matter) have no clue what they are doing. Until then, I think the market clearly continues to bear a different story.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 4:55 PM
I notice the emphasis is on prices. For me, it is the experience that should be debated. Prices are always easy to bitch about...and that part of the argument is weak.

Where he is spot on...is his description of one person operating all the rides. It is such a simple concept...yet here we are a full 2 years into the Shapiro reign talking about the same crappy service.

What is so difficult for the parks to understand...? People are willing to cut some slack if they see rides running at full capcity and workers busting their ass. When the parks take care of this chronic problem, then there would be less discussion of prices as guests would fell like they are getting what they paid for (see Disney).

I have not been to a Six Flags in 2 years for the very reason this guy describes. My friends and family feel the same. We are people that could have easily helped the bottom line and $6 (?) stock price if they would just understand the simple concept of staffing rides appropriatley and keeping them moving!

I read all the time about Six Flags improving...but I call BS. If Six Flags actually "got it"...there would be zero operating days with one-person-staffed rides and the worker shuffling along at turtle speed. This guys experience mirrors the vast majority of days I've had at all the Six Flags parks...and his was after the great savior supposedly changed things. The culture of laziness, coruption and piss poor customer service is all over that company (and in Cedar Fair to a lessor extent too).

Enthusiasts have every right to defend and enjoy this little hobby of theirs. They don't have the right to tell the general public how they should percieve piss poor operations! Not everybody loves individual rides enough to endure the BS regional themers have been shoving down our throat the past decade.

I hope every paper in the country gives an honest general public viewpoint of a day at the average theme park. They would look just like this guys article. Parks and enthusiasts may think average Joe does not recognize this stuff...they are dead wrong.

All a person has to do is look at the declining attendances and stock prices coupled with massive park closings to see which side holds the majority of blind fools. It is not the general public mourning the closing of next years park! ;)

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 5:02 PM

Jeffrey R Smith said:
What is so difficult for the parks to understand...? People are willing to cut some slack if they see rides running at full capcity and workers busting their ass. When the parks take care of this chronic problem, then there would be less discussion of prices as guests would fell like they are getting what they paid for (see Disney).

*Applauds*

A "ripoff" isn't when you paid too much, it's when you got too little for what you paid. ;)

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Thursday, October 4, 2007 1:47 AM

Spinout said:
The people I feel sorry for is the people near SFGAdv. I hear there's nothing near the park to eat out at.

That would be completely incorrect. If you're looking to save money, there's WaWa's, McDonalds, and Burger King that you pass on the right side right before the entrance. If you're looking for a sit-down, get-waited-on type of deal, then I don't know if that exits close by.

I think the solution to staffing issues at this time of the year would be to have fewer midway games open, but I assume there's too much money to be made from it.

I totally agree with the guy that there should be more people working on some of the rides, but this is obviously a very bad time of year to get or retain your summer employees--not that it makes it right in his eyes.

Jeffrey R Smith, while I get what you're going saying, that still doesn't make the lack of money in my wallet feel any better after eating even employees are moving at a high rate of speed, rides are operated at full capacity, employees are cheerful etc.

I had really good times at Six Flags Great Adventure, Cedar Point, and King's Island where I did see those things in practice. But, it felt horrible pulling out the wallet for food.

The one place where I felt that the food prices where okay (and my friend disagreed who went on a separate trip) was Busch Gardens Europe. Of course, my friend may have disagreed because he had two meals, instead of my one.

And that's what I find saddest of all, is that I find myself eating only once in a lot of corporate parks (and some independents) because food is so damn expensive.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007 10:24 AM
Prices for any entity are always open to criticism. Short of free, there is always a minority of examples paraded to the masses about the unfairness of it all. This is true in amusement parks, health care, television sets, milk, etc. You can always find somebody who cannot afford it. This is a debate that cannot be won.

Piss poor service demonstrated by one-person-staffed rides does not seem to be in debate at all. It is almost universally accepted as something that sucks. This is the real POINT of my participation in this thread.

This guy got in free...and still felt cheated by the practice. You could not pay me $10/hour at this point in my life to go to a typical regional themer and watch one person slowly operate the Scrambler. It is simply not fun. I would rather sit on the couch and do nothing than expose myself to such torture.

While there are a minority of enthusiasts who do not feel the same as me...I'm confident that my views are much more in line with the general public. this article only confirms what I have felt for the past 5-6 years.

Until regional theme parks are fun again...nothing else matters. All the new rides, parades, paint jobs, 25 cent cotton candy, tweety birds, etc...mean nothing when a customer is forced to wait for painfully slow ride cycles...absent reasonable effort from the park to reduce such torture.

Staffing shops while leaving rides wilting is a kick in the nuts. Most of the general public have tired of such treatment. Hence the massive debt, shrinking attendance, and faltering stock prices...for your favorite SIX park (same could be said for Cedar Fair too).

While I still hold a soft spot in my heart for the structures (rides, etc) at these regional themers. I really could give two craps if every single one of them went the way of GL. The disdain that park operators have shown for their guests the past decade...certainly deserves a little karma in return.

Count me in the camp that prefers Canobie Lake or a day getting kicked in the knees...to a day at Wally World!

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Thursday, October 4, 2007 6:13 PM
Funny nobody remarked on the next to last paragraph about the financials.

"The company, currently valued at $325 million is saddled with over $2 billion in debt and will lose over $2.50 a share this year. Cash flow from operations, after they pay their dividend, is a sweet negative $14 million. This is where you have to look at the financials. Six Flags does not pay a dividend on the common but pays out $20 million a year in dividends, probably on preferred shares owner Daniel Snyder (who owns and has ruined the Redskins) has."

Probably not just to Snyder, but the rest of the Red Zone crew, along with a few other big guns who own mucho shares in the company. Think of that next time you sip your $4 soda and chomp on your $6 hotdog. I'm sure they'll taste even better.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007 8:59 PM
Jeffrey, I totally agree that they could add fifteen new rides at a park, but if the rides aren't adequately staffed, or are painfully slow to load, then it doesn't feel like fun anymore.

I think one of the big problems we have today is that the majority of the people being hired to operate these rides are kids, and they don't have the maturity (yet) or the concern about how much you paid to get in. They just want the paycheck so they can buy the latest $60 videogame for their $350 console.

You know, one of the guys complaints was about how claustrophobic he felt and how his kids got brushed up against (or something to that effect). I'd love to take him and his family to Hersheypark on a really busy day and observe him.

With all the families with strollers (including the many double-wides) on too tight of midways in an overdeveloped park with steep inclines and declines, I think the guy would just lose it, by the time he went to pay for food. I think that would be fairly entertaining in a sadistic kind of way.

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