Six Flags appoints Selim Bassoul as new CEO

Posted Monday, November 15, 2021 10:10 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, today announced that Selim Bassoul, formerly the Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of Six Flags. Effective immediately, Mr. Bassoul will replace Michael Spanos, who has stepped down after two years of service, as CEO, President and a member of the Board. Mr. Bassoul will continue to serve as a member of the Board, and Ben Baldanza, an independent director of Six Flags, and former CEO of Spirit Airlines, has been elected as the new Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.

“We are thrilled that Selim has agreed to help lead Six Flags into a new era of growth. His long and exceptional track record as a public company CEO, his experience, entrepreneurial spirit, and inspiring personality make Selim the perfect CEO for Six Flags at this moment in time. We are particularly excited about his proven ability to motivate teams, to delight customers, and to drive financial performance,” said Ben Baldanza, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. “In addition, the Board would like to thank Mike Spanos for his tireless efforts as he successfully shepherded Six Flags through an exceptionally challenging time through the COVID crisis, including the safe reopening of all our parks. As we indicated on our earnings call on October 27th, our fourth quarter attendance trends have accelerated compared to the third quarter, and we look forward to building on that momentum into 2022 and beyond.”

“I am honored to serve as the next CEO of Six Flags, and I am excited to bring the magic back to our parks. We are a company led by a purpose–to make a positive and meaningful impact on everyone Six Flags touches,” said Selim Bassoul. “I will do my best to enable our people to fulfill their passion to make a difference, and to harness their creativity to build on a shared vision for guest satisfaction and financial growth. I am passionate about empowering employees and serving our customers, and together with our team, I know we can set up Six Flags for a new level of success in the months and years ahead.”

About Selim Bassoul

Bassoul, 64, is the former President, CEO, and Chairman of Middleby Corporation. During Mr. Bassoul’s tenure, Middleby became the leading global manufacturer of industrial and high-end residential appliances, growing revenue from $100 million to $2.7 billion, Adjusted Operating Income from $12 million to $535 million, and market capitalization from $100 million to more than $6 billion. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut, and an M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management.

About Ben Baldanza

Baldanza, 59, is currently CEO of Diemacher LLC, an advisory firm helping businesses restructure, grow revenue, and reduce costs. He is the former CEO, President, and Director of Spirit Airlines, an ultra-low cost carrier. Under his leadership from 2006 to 2016, Spirit Airlines grew its revenue from $500 million to $2.1 billion, and transformed from an unprofitable business to the highest margin airline in the US. Prior to joining Spirit Airlines, Baldanza held positions of increasing responsibility in finance, marketing, and revenue management. He currently serves as a director of JetBlue Airways Corporation, and previously served on the boards of Frontier Airlines, Inc. and Spirit Airlines, Inc. He holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and an M.P.A. from Princeton University.

Read the entire press release from Six Flags.

Monday, November 15, 2021 12:08 PM

Clearly the former CEOs a kitchen appliance company and an airline famous for treating its customers like cattle are the best options for a leisure company. (In retrospect, the latter sounds about right.)

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, November 15, 2021 12:08 PM
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Tuesday, November 16, 2021 8:20 AM

If you were trying to design a company that was the perfect fusion of industrial appliances and a bottom-feeding airline, Six Flags is pretty much what you would end up with.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021 2:25 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

I have worked for Spirit Airlines for over 8 years.

From a purely financial standpoint, Baldanza did great things for Spirit. He got the ball rolling on turning them from an extremely small airline into the growth and profitability they have today. 8 years ago, under Baldanzas watch, there were 50 planes and today there are almost 170 and still growing. There were times when Spirit had shut off all of the hot water in their offices, that's how poorly they were doing. When he and Indigo Investments left Spirit they went to Frontier Airlines and grew them in the exact same manner.

From a customer service standpoint, he was horrible. There are multiple videos of him in Investment shows saying things like "nobody will care how bad we treat them, and we don't care how they feel anyways. They will continue to fly on us because we are so much cheaper." However, Spirit is no longer like this and is becoming more customer oriented. (It's a work in progress, obviously)

Personally, (and I know very little about financials) I think Baldanza knows how to make money by cutting costs, hiring the cheapest possible employees, and providing the lowest passible experience.

In other words, business as usual for Six Flags.

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Saturday, November 20, 2021 10:45 PM
Schwarzkopf76's avatar

Such a shame to see them staying the course, especially with all that extra money (?) they are getting from memberships. My friend foolishly thought he was being cute when he spent like $240 on a Diamond Elite level pass (after I told him get the basic pass only). He really wanted that funnel cake. So we waited... right there by Whizzer, for 45 minutes to get his free nasty ass funnel cake. And man it looked nasty.

I keep hoping Cedar Fair would get ahold of some of the Six Flags parks. Hopefully something will happen someday and Six Flags will take a good look at thier service (and lack of training, low standards, etc.).

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Sunday, November 21, 2021 10:42 AM

Schwarzkopf76 said:

I keep hoping Cedar Fair would get ahold of some of the Six Flags parks. Hopefully something will happen someday and Six Flags will take a good look at thier service (and lack of training, low standards, etc.).

Six Flags Worlds of Adventure would like a word on how that turned out...

But in all seriousness, I feel like the reports I have read (and the ones I trust) in the last 5 years or so paint a picture that several of the Six Flags parks have really made a sincere effort to improve the guest service experience. At the same time, it seems some Cedar Fair parks have struggled with delivering the overall guest experience when they have, historically, been a leader in that area.

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Sunday, November 21, 2021 10:54 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, it's not all bad across the chain, despite the corporate approach to pricing. The reputation definitely varies, and frankly it's the usual wins and losses.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, November 22, 2021 1:57 PM

SFFT remains a gem of a park and is by far my favorite SF park. SFoT and SFoG while not as good as SFFT are still tolerable and parks i could see myself returning to in the future. I still haven’t made it to SFGAdv, my last big SF park. The rest of the chain, zero desire to go to.


2020 Trips: Canceled by Corona

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Monday, November 22, 2021 3:11 PM
Schwarzkopf76's avatar

^I haven't been to Great Adventure since 2006; it was that horrible a visit, haven't been back. The other parks, especially Magic Mountain, Texas and Georgia used to be dream parks, but something totally different now. Perhaps I'm biased to my home SF park, Great America. It seems to have the widest variety of family rides, coasters, has what seems like the best operation in the chain... so I always think it stands above the rest in the chain.

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Monday, November 22, 2021 4:24 PM

I have had good experiences at Great Adventure the last two years, although I will qualify that by saying they were very lightly attended days (two days when the temps approached 100F, and a third on the day after Labor Day - seriously not sure why they were open that day.) But in general the crews were pleasant to enthusiastic, just about everything was running, and the park was clean.

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Monday, November 22, 2021 6:13 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I went to SFDK yesterday and it was not great. Quite a few rides down (V2, Medusa), quite a few rides on one train (Joker, Kong), and generally lethargic ops for the crowd size. If I had paid and cared, I would have been frustrated. As it was, we got a ride on the kiddie coaster, scrambler, and boomerang in 1:45 and that was "fine."


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Monday, November 22, 2021 10:21 PM

Schwarzkopf76 said:

^Perhaps I'm biased to my home SF park, Great America. It seems to have the widest variety of family rides, coasters, has what seems like the best operation in the chain... so I always think it stands above the rest in the chain.


SFGAm should be my home park, but much like Gonch’s block with KI, I just do not enjoy SFGAm. It’s not the coasters they are solid, the theming isn’t bad too, but the sum of all its parts is somehow less then it’s individual parts. Everytime I go I just feel like I should be having more fun then I am. So a lot of my coaster trips start with me waving to SFGAm from 94 as I drive to CP, or Dollywood, etc.


2020 Trips: Canceled by Corona

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Monday, November 22, 2021 10:36 PM

That is how I have felt about Busch Gardens Tampa forever. It's a little more than an hour door to door and I am closing in on nearly six years since I have visited. Meanwhile I have done plenty of trips out of state in that time frame.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021 12:14 PM

ApolloAndy- That was “fine”?!? Sounds like a waste of time to me, whether you paid or not.


But then again, what do I know?

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021 1:20 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Meh. I got to hang out with my kids and it was my 10 y.o.'s first ride on a boomerang. It is literally on the way to where we were going (same exit off the highway), so the only cost incurred was the (long-ass) walk from the parking lot to the front gate and back. For 3 rides, that's "fine."


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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