Six Flags attendance down 4% in first half of year

Posted Friday, July 16, 2004 10:39 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags warned of a 4% drop in attendance for the first half of the year, coupled with a 1% increase in per capita spending.

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Friday, July 16, 2004 10:51 AM
This I don't even take with a grain of salt...yet. Report the numbers around mid Sept. then I might. If they used this same statments for GL it would seem that the old Chippewa Lake Park is getting more visitors than GL is right now. ;) Either way, all parks are coming into the main stream this month, and we'll see how everyone does with their marketing and "weather" :)
Friday, July 16, 2004 11:02 AM
The article mentions that National Security fears can empty out a parking lot. I'm sorry, but what National Security fears are we under right now that would keep someone from going to an amusement park? The last I've heard, no one is looking to blow up a Six Flags. Let's not make excuses. The dancing "old" guy may be cute, but if you're still not providing people with adequate capacity and customer service, then they won't come back. You can go out and buy (or download) the Vengaboys song and save yourself the aggravation.
Friday, July 16, 2004 11:37 AM
I agree, there is no such thing as national security fears when it involves an amusement park. I can understand fears of gonig overseas to other countries, but I sincerly doudt someone has decided to put off their trip due to "national securty reasons".

Gas isn't much of an excuse either, because research has already found just as many people are hitting the road as any other year, so gas certaintly is not an issue either. Only things that truly effect amusement parks is the economy in the area (which even that can be argued), and weather. The rest is up to how the park is managed by its owners.

Friday, July 16, 2004 11:56 AM
The spiel about national security issues may have worked in 2002, but it's been 3 years since 9/11, and frankly I think that all businesses, including theme and amusement parks...need to stop using that excuse for poor business. The gas prices have been an issue, but they aren't that big of an issue, at least not anymore. After all, how many people really decide not to take a vacation or day trip because gas prices are higher. Granted some of their operating costs may be a little higher, but they wouldn't even be an issue if Six Flags fixed the real problems with their operation. Early attendance figures really can't be the measure of the parks anyway. When the summer is over, then we will find out if the little old dude did some good.
Friday, July 16, 2004 12:10 PM
The problem isn't with people not driving with high gas prices, but people who would otherwise spend 2 days at a park would cut back to 1 due to the increased gas prices, or not go at all. People now are more likely to go and hit the road to go to a free beach or relatives than an amusement park.
Friday, July 16, 2004 12:30 PM
I think the Mole has a great point there. I think the biggest thing to blame is the $50 to get in the door per person, the $10 per person for food and drink, and the $20 souveniers. I realize they're all in this to make money, but I think offering different pricing structures for at least the gate (a-la Kennywood and other smaller PA parks with "General Admissions" and "Ride all Days" or whatever the derivative is) would help to get full families to go. If Grandma and the 3-year-old have to pay as much as the teenagers who ride everything, the beach is a much cheaper alternative ...
Friday, July 16, 2004 1:16 PM
Most Six Flags parks have discount tickets for seniors and free admission for 3 year olds and under.
Friday, July 16, 2004 1:36 PM
If Disney, a destination resort, says things are on the up and up, then I would expect regional attractions to already have been on the upswing. Come on... Paula said Holiday World was up double-digit growth for what, three years running?
Friday, July 16, 2004 2:04 PM
Ok then 4 year olds. But the point is the same. It takes some work to find those discounts (not much, but that's more than most people are willing to put in) and it's still a lot less expensive to go to the beach (as an example)
Friday, July 16, 2004 2:08 PM
Don't forget that Disney is beating the bushes to get all the locals to come, plust trying to get more schools and other organizations to come. Comparing regional parks to Disney isn't very fair due to that Disney has conference areas, wedding areas, and other facilities that affect attendence. If it wasn't for special events, I think Disney would have losses, like at Disneyland now.
*** This post was edited by The Mole 7/16/2004 2:20:05 PM ***
Friday, July 16, 2004 2:41 PM
So even with the dancing lout the attendance is still down? Wow!
Friday, July 16, 2004 5:47 PM
Jeff, you're talking about Holiday World though!

Now perhaps if they release news like this, they can drive the stock price down and buy low? Hmmmmm....fishy fishy fishy! ;)

Friday, July 16, 2004 8:02 PM
Perhaps then parks should be run more like Holiday World. Why is that so hard to figure out?
Friday, July 16, 2004 8:56 PM
Thats exactly it. Though when I visited SFKK earlier in the year, the service was far better than what we got in previous years. Looking at some of the trip reports on this site, it seems like the entire chain is improving their guest relations. Of course, years of bad customer service can't be erased in one half season.
Friday, July 16, 2004 9:26 PM
Exactly...don't use Disneyland as a comparison! They are down this year. While still busy at times, the midways are noticably less crowded and the lines shorter. I was discussing this with some people last night and the conclusion we came to was perhaps people are waiting for the 50th anniversary next year when Buzz and Space Mtn 2.0 will be open.
Friday, July 16, 2004 11:38 PM
BullGuy has hit the nail on the head.

Over the past few years, Six Flags has been actively pissing off their customers. Six Flags had made a science of giving away the gate, then showing customers a rotten time. Well, guess what? Pissed-off customers don't come back. Not even if you give away the gate.

Well, this year, Six Flags seems to have finally figured it out. Every report I have seen seems to indicate that they are at least trying to stop chasing customers away with a stick. I can't really tell myself, as the only Six Flags park I have visited this season is SFOG, which I had effectively never visited before. They still have a long way to go. Some of the 'dings' in a Six Flags park visit are outrageous ($10 to PARK?!) and are a lot better at pissing people off than at raising revenue. But they are working on their problems this year. They have finally figured out that they are in the customer service business, and they are starting to act like it.

Thing is, they didn't install new stuff to make people want to come back. So it should be no surprise that attendance is down. But if they get their operations under control AND THEN get back into the cap-ex business, they can turn the company around.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Friday, July 16, 2004 11:56 PM
I just got back from Six Flags St. Louis last night. We got there right as it opened and left around 5 pm.

Actually, I thought that this park in particular was MUCH more crowded than it typically is on a weekday. The parking lot was about 1/2 full.

I didn't really notice any differences in the way of Customer Service at the park. However, we first went on the Freeze and one of the girls that was checking restraints was veerrryyy sllloooww. The other guy on one side was done and she was only about half done with hers. She didn't look like she was feeling so well.

But, I got all the coasters rode with a few other rides like the log flume and the rapids ride. Watched two shows by 5 pm.

Usually at 7 hours at that park, you can ride all the coasters twice and see at least one show within that amount of time. They had one of those big blow-up things, called skydancers I believe, up at The Palace of the old fart.

But, I do think that Six Flags is WAY to high on things. For example, last year a 20 ounce bottle of pop was $2.50 from a machine. This year, it is $3. Not to mention, Holiday World sells their funnel cakes for about $2.50. Six Flags had them for almost $6.

Even the pay-to-ride rides had lines at them this day. The Dragon's Wing which is that ride that takes you up then swings you back and forth had a line of 20 or so people waiting. Then they had another ride called Sling Shot with people waiting.

But, Six Flags is still only after one thing; money. It was really funny becuase one of their shows they actors were singing about how money makes the world go round.

The only money I spent at Six Flags was $8 parking. I got my tickets free through my Six Flags Mastercard after spending $5,000 on it. Gas cost me about $10 from around the Springfield IL area. We went to Pizza Hut to eat since my girlfriend works at the one in our town and got us a 15% discount. I wasn't about to pay $10 each to have something to snooze our appetite at the park.

Saturday, July 17, 2004 12:44 AM
hmmm..Six Flags sold Worlds of Adventure after it posted 16 millions in profits in 3 years (underperforming, maybe, but not a lost cause)....Six Flags brought in 64 million thru Aurora Ohio in 3 years, and after paying their bills, they still made 16 million in profit to KEEP afterwards..there is a word for this GREED! I wish i was a poor amusement park company that can pocket 16 million dollars from a single park and cry for its mommy! Cedar Fair isn't do a better job, and raised prices at Geauga Lake, with less to offer (some family rides and all the animals are gone)....This is the reason GL is going to take many years to regain itself....The waterpark at GL is their biggest asset right now, but 1/4 of it is closed, and the kids area is rust-laden (many slides and waterways have chunks of paint missing and/or with rust adhesions that look like someone splattered them with a gallon of melted fudge...ewwww) I see GL as worse now than it's been in 10 years, so we'll have to wait and see what happens over the next several years.

For those that miss the animal park, I've created a website dedicated to SeaWorld Ohio and Six Flags Worlds of Adventure Wildlife.*** This post was edited by midwave 7/17/2004 12:54:18 AM ***

Saturday, July 17, 2004 9:27 AM
I finally went to SFNE two days ago. The weather seemed like it cant wait for rain, but, in the end, the sun showed up. The parking lot was about 40% full and all the rides had one car running and a lot of the smaller rides were closed for the day. The shows were canceled I think because the park was pretty much dead. But their prices are still an abomination: $10 for parking, $3 for bottled drinks and $12 for a philly cheesesteak, fries and a SMALL friggin' soda. For non-sesaon pass holders thats robbery. Customer service was satisfactory. I noticed on the way there they dont have any kind of billboard advertising. SFGadv and SFAW has their ads all over their area. For a moment me and friends thought we were lost. I think it would help if they increase their marketing budget and get the people around the area to come. That should help increase revenue. They are close enough to the Hartford, Boston and New York metro areas to make a good impact. They really have to step it up. If it was up to me, I'll get rid of all their top executives.

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