Six Flags CEO waves the signal flag for families

Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:27 AM | Contributed by coasterguts

Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro is charged with revitalizing an ailing regional theme park chain that has posted an annual loss since 1998 and earned a reputation as a rundown hangout for packs of teens. "Every day we find something wrong with this company," he says. "It's a total fix-up."

Read more from USA Today.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 10:11 AM

He has ordered that park restrooms have an attendant at all times and says he'll fire the person on the spot if he sees a restroom that's messy.

Haha, i love that quote. I work at Six Flags Darien Lake, word was that himself and a bunch of other vip people were going to be visiting us. I don't believe it happened. There were never any reports and I heard nothing at all from anyone about the weekend that he actually had showed up. I still believe he has yet to visit SFDL since the parks opening weekend. But back to the quote i find that funny, being that one of the top things guest's complain about is the bathrooms in our park.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 10:46 AM
I know Shapiro has been to Six Flags America, twice since February.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:47 AM
The more I hear from Mark Shapiro, the more I like him and like what he is doing. I think it may take a couple of years to get things straightened out, but in the end SF will be a much better company, and a much better experience for the park goer. With the stock down at $7 a share, it sounds like a steal.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 12:08 PM

Shapiro also put himself into the marketing mix with a newspaper ad that read: "Our President Is Doing Something About Gas Prices. He's giving you $15 off admission to Six Flags. 'Bring any gas receipt to our main gate and we'll give you $15 off admission.' Mark Shapiro, President/CEO, Six Flags."

In other words.. "Hey I'll let you park for free."

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 1:59 PM
After all this tough talk, I started actually believing that Six Flags was going somewhere. The fantasy died shortly after I paid $15 for parking, got searched to a metal detector, and walked around Great America to find out 3 roller coasters, the train, simulator, 3 water rides, and over half the flat rides were closed for the day. Family or non-family, I come for the rides and if they majority of them are not open, I'm not getting my $55 at the gate worth.

Rich

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:30 PM
"Every day we find something wrong with this company," he says. "It's a total fix-up."

Translation: "This is going to take some time folks."

"Shapiro leapfrogs from topic to topic, from character visibility to creating an 800-number system for customer complaints".

Translation: "Better start saving those monthy minutes on your cell phones".

I'm still giving this guy the benefit of the early doubts, but next week is the first week of summer. I'm tired of hearing the talk now, let's just see the action.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 2:57 PM
"I'm a big fan of wooden roller coasters. I love big drops, but I'm not a big upside-down guy. I'll do it, but I don't like it."

Almost word for word what he told me. This is encouraging, because wooden rollercoasters don't cost anywhere near $20 million, and you can design them for families without losing the teen thrill market. If more midsize wooden coasters and wile mice get built in the near future at these parks, they'll get more of my dollar. Most of the parks are maxed out on big, looping coasters.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 3:41 PM
I buy the usa today when i work early at work. So i was surprised to read the article. Obviously he has been to SFNE probably because he lives close to it. But i thought it was funny to show how he wants to be a family park. Prices are far exceeding family limits, if its not disney. In the article it states the gate price of SFGAdv at 59.99 hardly a place if i had kids i would spend that kinda dough. Lots of work needs to be done making it familty oriented, but price should always be first, not first purge the teenagers away with high prices, because its gonna be too much also for families.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:10 PM
Well, he is saying a lot of the right things. I hope he follows through with them.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:12 PM
Anyone that pays $59.99 to get into SFGadv isn't doing their homework.
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 4:13 PM
Just my two cents but if Shapiro really wants to see how to do things right he needs to stop visiting Six Flags parks and take trips to Orlando and Sandusky.

Six Flags is in a unique position to be the best of both worlds. It has the Licensing of DC and Warner Bros. to create imersive attractions on par with Disney and Universal and they have the thrill park factor to be like Cedar Point.

Take Geauga Lake for example of a way not to use the licensing. It only took CP a month to remove all licensing from that park. Now imagine having to completely remove Mickey from Disney or movie tie ins from Universal. They get the most bang for your buck out of their licensing.

As for Cedar point's influence, that park is full of rides, not just coasters. It also has its pay per experience rides outside the main park. Nothing pisses me off more at a park than to see a pay per experience ride standing where a free ride once stood. CP also has onsite lodging and resturants. I consider it a thrill ride version of Disney.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 5:04 PM
SF is damn if they do and damn if they don't. For years, I've heard some of you moan and groan about how bad Six Flags is (and you still do it). Others were complaining because they were giving the gate away. It's not going to be a fast turn around. I'm not pleased that SFA has taken the parking spaces closest to the gates and made them $25 premium parking, with no option for season parking passholders to upgrade to premium parking. However, I understand the financial and dire condition Six Flags is in. If I want to see better landscaping, more security, more costume characters, new rides and a friendlier staff, then I'm going to have to pay for it, upfront. Six Flags is $2 bil in debt folks. They can't afford to sink money into the parks and not have a return on the investment.

I think he is very familiar with Disney and could care less about what happens in Sandusky. His reoccuring theme is Diney, not Cedar Fair.

Like DWeaver said, if your paying $60 to get into SFGadv, then you haven't done your research and you deserve to pay it. Call anything over the web price for a general admission ticket it a convenience tax.

*** This post was edited by coasterguts 6/13/2006 5:36:46 PM ***

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:47 PM
I for one do not think someone should need to do research before going to an amusement park for a day of fun. Paying a few bucks extra for not doing research is one thing. Having a gate fee that is unreasonable without scouting out discounts is completely different. This convenience tax is a bunch of BS. That's purely excusing one rip off because other companies do it. Six Flags has to learn to level out the pricing. I got a free ticket for buying $20 in selected groceries. While this is a great deal, the only way they manage to do this is by sticking it to everyone who pays at the gate. I say it's time they limit the discounts and take down the gate prices. The family experience shouldn't mean going outside the park for a somewhat reasonable deal.

Rich

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:53 PM
If anyone is doubting that things are heading for the better, please go over to Trip Reports and find my trip report on Six Flags Great Adventure for Sunday June 11th. I was very happy with what I experienced. I saw things that could be improved. But I'm very eager for the Girls Day at the Park that I'm planning for mid-August with my girlfriends. I know we're going to have a blast of a time if in August the park is what it was two days ago. Plus, in August RT and ET will be up and running, and maybe even Chiller (though if it's not, we'll still have a great time - because there's more going on in the park that's good). Hey guys - the food at La Cocina is the best. I had the second best tacos of my life (my fiance makes the best).

SFGAdv is so good now, I'm going to be a *returning* *guest*. Keep the momentum going, Six Flags.

- J

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:42 PM
I am so happy to be living in an area where I dont have to go to a Six Flags to get my coaster fix (first summer in 13 years Im not setting foot inside one of their properties.) They still are the Wallmart of theme parks (the ever present, communitee killing, bare bones packaging parks) and it is going to take a lot to fix those things. We really need to give him 5+ years before we start complaining about results.
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 12:53 AM
"I for one do not think someone should need to do research before going to an amusement park for a day of fun".

In this day and age of instant info from the internet, your stupid if you don't, no offense. Even this weekend at Holiday World there is a warning on their site that crowds will be unusually heavy this weekend. If I didn't do research before going I'd have never known.

If your smart, you'll research the park your attending before going. That's the only way there are no surprises at the gate. It benefits everyone to find cheaper prices if their available. That's just common sense.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 1:27 AM

I am so happy to be living in an area where I dont have to go to a Six Flags to get my coaster fix (first summer in 13 years Im not setting foot inside one of their properties.) They still are the Wallmart of theme parks (the ever present, communitee killing, bare bones packaging parks) and it is going to take a lot to fix those things. We really need to give him 5+ years before we start complaining about results.

Ya sure ya aren't talking about Cedar Fair, LP? The company that ruined the charm and uniqueness of TWO parks I used to love [Knotts Berry Farm & Dorney Park]?

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 4:18 AM
"If your smart, you'll research the park your attending before going. That's the only way there are no surprises at the gate. It benefits everyone to find cheaper prices if their available. That's just common sense."I've consistantly done research before going to amusement parks because I want the best possible deal. That is not my point, however. I think it's time that Six Flags starts to balance out the price difference between their special offers and the price at the gate. I simply do not think it's fair that some people could get in the park for free and those who paid at the gate have to pay to wait behind the free-entry guests in line; Nor do I think it's fair that guests are at risk of being cut in front of in line by others who paid an additional fee at the gate for a fast pass. These things lower the overall value of the experience while Cedar Fair parks have reasonable prices to begin with. After getting my free ticket to Six Flags and hoping for improvement, I could honestly say I would have gotten a better experience paying at the gate and going to Cedar Point. If Six Flags really wants to cut down on the teenagers in the park, they need to stop the free ticket deals.If they want to build value, they need to have all their rides open. If they want customers to come back, they need to offer an admission price that is worth it before the discount. This is not a matter of price shopping. It's a matter of giving guests what they pay for.*** This post was edited by 6/14/2006 4:19:13 AM ***
*** This post was edited by 6/14/2006 4:20:49 AM ***
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 7:58 AM
I think some of you are forgetting some of these sponsorship deals (one that comes to mind is the Comcast Free Ticket) may be a multi year deal done before Shapiro ever showed up. Other free ticket deals, like SFA's turn in fireworks and you get ONE free ticket to SFA, are designed to get not only you but a few of your friends to come to the park while providing good publicity.*** This post was edited by coasterguts 6/14/2006 8:39:21 AM ***
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