Six Flags attendance and revenue down in 2003

Posted Monday, March 8, 2004 8:18 AM | Contributed by Red Garter Rob

According to a press release issued last week, Six Flags revenues in 2003 were $1.24 billion, representing a 0.5% decrease from 2002 revenues. The decrease resulted from a 1.8% decline in attendance, offset by a 1.4% increase in total per capita revenues. On a same-park basis, excluding from both periods the results of the New Orleans park, which was acquired in late August 2002, revenues were down $28.8 million (2.3%) in 2003, with attendance down 3.8% and per capita revenues up 1.6%. Net loss for the year was $61.7 million. The company blames the decreases on the "persistent economic slowdown and very poor weather."

Read more from AP via or get the full press release from Six Flags.

Monday, March 8, 2004 8:32 AM
Are investors going to buy the excuses when everyone else with a regional park has been doing OK to fabulous? I would think no.
Monday, March 8, 2004 8:42 AM
True. For 2003, Six Flags has the advantage that MANY parks had a lousy year, and that the weather DID suck in certain key markets.

If we actually get summer in 2004, what excuse will they use if they don't improve?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Monday, March 8, 2004 8:57 AM
Well, at leat these articles are both pretty well layed out this time compared to the "World is going to End with Six Flags" other articles in past months.

I don't think they are buying excuses, they are however asking questions no doubtly. At least I would. But as an investor myself in other stocks and very little in Six Flags, I do a lot of homework and I buy products I believe in fully. With regional parks is kind of nice since you can go see everyone's product very easily talk to people and make an educated move on it.

I still stick by the side that said SFWoA had a HECK of a lot more people than Six Flags said they did (at least now the revenue numbers are out.) I'm kind of curious, did any other SF parks have BOGOF coupons out there?

On the bright side they are at least not building another 15 roller coasters this year. People (including myself) wanted them to address the small things and commone business sense tactics. Well, they are going to be doing that this year. A lot of SFWoA coaster lovers seemed to pleased with the changes and additions SFWoA is making again this year. Stragely enough it seems that most of the things are stuff guests and park management has been asking for :)

Fix The Problems and Keep Move Forward.

"The Future of Roller Coasters"

Monday, March 8, 2004 9:44 AM
Motley Fool's take...

I don't understand how you blame weather and the economy when everyone else in the industry had a good year. Even more suspect is the expectation that you're going to boost attendance 2% while spending $75 million in cap ex across the entire chain, very little of that, relatively speaking, on new attractions.

I personally wouldn't touch the stock until they show a real turn around a year from now.

Monday, March 8, 2004 12:18 PM
Off topic, and in reference to that Motley Fool article: the lack of a stock option plan at Berkshire Hathaway is perhaps the *least* interesting reason to buy a stock.
Monday, March 8, 2004 12:30 PM
If anyone actually believed SF, then they might think that the apocalypse is upon us. The weather is getting progressively worse each year.

Do they really think we are dumb enough to buy that excuse?!?!


Monday, March 8, 2004 12:51 PM
I'm pretty sure he was joking, but when you've attributed losses to weather for three straight years, that certainly implies that each year the weather is worse than the year before. The other chains, collectively, occupy the same markets or are near the same markets, and they did OK.

Besides, you can't blame having to service that much debt on the weather. That was a choice they made. Throwing capital at the parks was not a long-term solution to sustained growth.

Monday, March 8, 2004 12:57 PM
To be fair, not everyone in the industry did well (or even okay) this year. Waterparks, especially in the east, were hit hard by poor, rainy weather. Many parks were down across the board, regardless of parent ownership. There were Cedar Fair parks down, Paramount parks down, Busch parks down, Disney parks down, and Universal parks down. And while none of those chains saw every one of their parks down like SF did, "everyone did fine this year" is not really a fair assessment.


Monday, March 8, 2004 1:22 PM
The execs at SF got too hung up on the movie "Field of Dreams". "If you build it, they will come."

Way back when SF started pouring money into SFWoA I kept saying to anyone that would listen that it wasn't going to do the trick. There is no doubt that Geauga Lake was a small park but they still provided decent service and delivered a valuable day. Free waterpark, Turtle Beach was the best kids water area in the country back then, decent ride selection (even with only 4 coasters).

Then Premier comes in and built rides on top of each other in the first couple of years...all while continuing to buy other parks. We all wondered where that money was coming from and it appears the banks gave them an open line of credit. Debt began to pile up and I am sure the powers-that-be felt the attendance would grow as a result.

But, you need look no futher than down I-80 to the West to see a park that didn't build overnight. Cedar Fair put capital money into Cedar Point but they didn't do it all at once. They did it over time with a clear objective in mind: Return on Investment. I don't know how the accountants at Six Flags were calculating ROI on the capital in their parks plus the park buying spree they were going on. I suspect they weren't.

Monday, March 8, 2004 2:13 PM
rentzy - In terms of season pass sales, you are *by far* the exception rather than the rule. Especially with Six Flags and the way their parks are run, they are luck to get any repeat business from any customers. They also assume that once a guest is in the park, they'll buy all kinds of food and merchandise (which is, for the most part, a good bet). If they can get people to give them more than 1 days admission at the gate, and be in their parks a few times over the course of the season, they consider it a good move.

It doesn't cost them anything to have you come back into their parks over and over and most people wouldn't be willing to pay too much more to go to Great Escape 2 or 3 times a year.

Throwing all the benefits in with the pass (other parks, coupons, etc.) just encourages more people to give them more gate money.

Monday, March 8, 2004 5:57 PM

I noticed on a post the mentioning of SFWOA and their improvements this year. Does anyone by chance have any idea what they are actually adding this year? Are they putting in any new rides or anything? I drove by today and noticed some construction right next to 43 by the waterpark section of the park with these blue pieces to something. Any ideas?

Have a good day!

Matthew D. Zarzeczny, FINS

Monday, March 8, 2004 6:14 PM
I believe those are the extra supports being added to S:UE this year.
Monday, March 8, 2004 6:49 PM
.. 39 parks and only $75 mil being spent. I wouldn't count on anything big at ANY SF park.
Monday, March 8, 2004 7:05 PM
"Sweet! Look at those new supports! Awesome!" :)

Huh, I guess the weather wasn't bad enough to keep my FUN dividends to keep growing.

Monday, March 8, 2004 7:52 PM
I'd bet they are kicking themselves for some of the choices made at WoA.
Monday, March 8, 2004 9:05 PM
.. it's not only thier choices at WoA that is killing them. Alot of thier debt is carryover from before they even bought the park.
Monday, March 8, 2004 10:47 PM
From what I've gathered talking to Six Flags employees, the company truly is making an effort to address some of the customer service issues this year - cleanliness, ride capacity, etc. And based upon my impressions of the surprising attention to cosmetics Six Flags bestowed upon my home park this year (Astroworld, at which an unprecedented four coasters got a painting), it appears that the guys at the top are grudgingly accepting what we've been complaining about for several years now.
Monday, March 8, 2004 11:37 PM
Why would they give up on general improvements if they don't see increases? At this point, SF should be happy to keep the numbers steady this year instead of further decline.

I am curious to see how they market the new Mardi Gras area at SFGAm with the 5 new rides and shows. Hopefully they will start pumping out commercials this month to get people made aware of it.

Monday, March 8, 2004 11:39 PM
Red Garter Rob said:

.. 39 parks and only $75 mil being spent. I wouldn't count on anything big at ANY SF park.

SFGAm and SFOG seem to be the exception to this rule for 2004. :)


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