"Six Flags CEO Faces Tough Climb to Put Theme Parks Back on Track"

Friday, July 7, 2006 6:11 PM
Seems like he is on the right track, but is having a hard time doing so. I have noticed SEVERAL improvements with SFA which is my home park, and this park was in major need of some work. I haven't been able to visit any of the other Six Flags parks but I am hearing good things about them as well.

I am hoping good things for the park chain, however, I think it would be a big mistake if they sold SFMM

Just my two cents :-)

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Friday, July 7, 2006 8:22 PM
While his ideas are solid, the article does point out that it's the operations of the parks that is undoing the good intentions. Trash in the queques, the one train ops, closed rides, employees being unmotivated, the chipped paint (on X's q - pretty bad), long food lines, etc., pretty much come to down to day to day operations of the park.

The improvement he seeks to make in the parks comes pretty much from the operations side of the park. The rides are great to solid for the most part, for most age groups.

Although it doesn't help that he seems unable to manipulate the media. Just having that letter from 2004 being in the LA Times article makes it a connection to the brand image of SF. Disney World has had more deaths at their property in recent years (on rides no less) than the entire SF chain, yet the image remains pretty much pristine. If he wants that higher end family consumer , he better learn how to frame (or higher advertisers that can) the parks in that way.

Any indication that he has given up, as in the previous article where is he quoted as saying that he can't get "mom back" is a media mistake. Anyone reading that will view SFMM as not having improved and continue to avoid it.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 11:00 PM
I've liked his strategy and his candor all along, but he may still ultimately fail to right the Six Flags ship. Based on the trip reports we've been seeing, some parks are indeed doing better, while some are just as bad as ever. The chain just has too much debt, and if Shapiro is to make a dent in it, he has to do drastic things. And those things might not be good for the park-going public. Then again, that's not to say a park like SFMM wouldn't have run itself into the ground anyway. I think Shapiro is aware that he has already lost "Mom" in a lot of markets. Big markets.

It was clearly a mistake for the old regime of Six Flags to dump so many millions of dollars into rides for parks that weren't growing in attendance. Unless you're actually going to turn SFGAdv or SFMM into destination parks like Disney or Universal, you won't keep increasing your attendance. Six Flags' specialty has always been the anti-Disney... the regional park that 80% of the country can visit within a day's drive.

Meanwhile, regional parks like BGE and Kings Island built major rides at a glacial pace... and their attendance stayed strong. What was the old Six Flags regime's plan? Did they actually believe pouring millions of dollars into rides would magically turn up crowds that weren't there before (translating to millions of dollars in profit)?

Anyway, I digress. Like I said, I like Shapiro, and I admire his attempts to save Six Flags. But things will probably get worse before they get better. This is a lot like the dot-com boom and bust. Six Flags is going to have to readjust to the reality of the business.

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Friday, July 7, 2006 11:10 PM
I have a silly little question I just need to get off my chest. WTF does Del Holland and the supervisors under him STILL HAVE JOBS?????

Someone please explain that to me...;)

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Friday, July 7, 2006 11:42 PM
Why fire the man when he and everyone else will be out of a job at the end of the year? ;)
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Saturday, July 8, 2006 9:36 AM
I've always rooted for the underdog, so they've got my vote for a better future.

Maybe they need a new theme:

Six Flags: Survivor! Which parks well stay and which will be voted off?

Expedition: Shapiro Force! Climbing to amzing heights!

:)

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Saturday, July 8, 2006 10:49 AM
To be clear, I told the reporter that I personally have never been to SFMM, and that the things I mentioned were generally the impressions that people in this community had of the park.
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Saturday, July 8, 2006 11:03 AM
Good Point Moosh! ;)
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Saturday, July 8, 2006 11:13 AM
^ You two!....;)

For clarity, that's referring to Moosh and DW... :)


DWeaver said:I have a silly little question I just need to get off my chest. WTF does Del Holland and the supervisors under him STILL HAVE JOBS?????

If they HAD listened to our asking that same question way back around the turn of the century, SFMM could possibly be one of the parks that we're identifying as "SAFE" from the corporate axe...

*** Edited 7/8/2006 3:14:19 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Saturday, July 8, 2006 11:37 AM
Good Point Gator! ;)
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Saturday, July 8, 2006 9:50 PM
The LA Times article also is a bit disturbing the lack of fact checking by the journalist. They use the quote from Jeff, out of context, and never bother to verify if any of it was true with SFMM less than 1/2 hour away. When did the print media turn to the internet for sources of information and not verify the info? Talk about a lazy reporter. It should have been a clue to the reporter if someone says that 1/2 of SFMM's attractions are closed, that number might seem kind of high (over 20!) and actually seek comment from the park.

Also, SF PR team is asleep at the wheel to get more negative messages into LA's largest paper without some kind of positive info on why it's worth it for families to make the trip.

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Saturday, July 8, 2006 11:37 PM
Hold on... what's lazy about it? Short of doing a comprehensive survey of park guests, what is it you want her to verify?

Kimi has been on the amusement park beat for years.

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Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:10 AM
Just ask 1 person to who has been to SFMM and seen the changes, and what unfortunately stayed the same, is not too much to ask. *** Edited 7/9/2006 5:11:21 AM UTC by DBJ***
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Sunday, July 9, 2006 1:15 AM
One train ops? Trash in the queues?

Hardly. I am not Six Flags Fan Boy... far from it... In the past few years I detested Six Flags for their operations... but in three visits to three six flags parks this year (SFA, SFKK, SFStL), I have found all to be clean, well staffed, and (with the exception of the idiots who were running Screaming Eagle at SFStL) the ops seemed to be doing a good job. Also, at each of those parks, every coaster that could run two trains (i.e. not any shuttle type coasters) were running two trains, even though in my opinion the crowds did not really call for two trains.

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Sunday, July 9, 2006 10:33 AM
But the quote was about MM, not SFA, SFKK or SFStL
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Monday, July 10, 2006 4:45 PM
^ And SFMM has definitely been at fault, at least on the crappy operations side. When I was there on a Tuesday in June this year, the following full-circuit, non-kiddie coasters were running 1 train:

--Batman The Ride
--Goliath (later upgraded to 2)
--X
--Revolution
--Psyclone
--Ninja

To me, this is unacceptible for a park like SFMM. It just reinforces part of the lousy rep. that this place has gotten.

Why wasn't Del Holland one of the managers to get the axe this year? Shapiro definitely axed some of the others, but somehow Del avoided this. Maybe Shapiro was looking at unloading the Mountain further back than what we thought.

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Monday, July 10, 2006 4:51 PM
The direct quote may have been about SFMM... but everyone seems to be talking about righting the Six Flags ship... not just the SFMM ship. Can't speak for SFMM... but for the SF parks I have visited, things seem to be running much better than my past experience with the chain.
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Monday, July 10, 2006 5:28 PM
I am glad, though, that Mark Shapiro has and does take notice of lousy operations and wants to do something about it. Too long has Six Flags (in general) gotten away with this garbage, and it's time that they fix it.

Heck, as much as I like Holiday World, I wasn't happy when they were only running 1 train on Raven and Legend opening day--and the other trains were right there on the transfer. 1 train operation tends to bother me, at least when it's on major coasters at major amusement parks.

And at SFMM, apathy seems to be a key word for describing a bunch of the employees there.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006 10:31 AM
You also have to keep in mind much of the 2006 seasons money and budget was already placed before they could change it.

This season wont be that much different then last seasons.

2007 will be the season to start seeing some major changes. 2007 is when they will be able to control where the money gets spent.

I think they are doing a great job with the little money they where able to allocate to use.

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