Six Flags considers selling more parks, eying big budget cuts

Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 6:50 PM | Contributed by supermandl

Amid speculation from some industry observers that the deeply indebted Six Flags could be headed for bankruptcy, company executives have filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission a plan that calls for huge spending cuts and the possible sale of more parks.

Read more from The St. Louis Business Journal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 7:24 AM
It seems to me that if they had 60 million to cut they should have done it before now.

The question is are they talking about slashing a couple of overpaid levels of upper management or are they talking about cutting the number of seasonals by thousands or slashing the benefits of lower level full timers?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 8:59 AM
Or maybe even all of the above. 30 mil in staff wages is a LOT.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:25 AM
Looks like they overspent on advertising last year.

"Early last year he announced plans to significantly increase ad spending and invest in new rides as part of an ongoing effort to try and steadily grow park attendance and revenues.

In a March 27, 2007, presentation to Lehman Bros., Shapiro outlined an aggressive plan that included a hefty increase in marketing dollars -- from $59 million in 2006 to more than $84 million for 2007.

Despite Shapiro's spirited efforts and the increased ad spending, Six Flags' experienced only a slight bump in attendance last year"

Now, if they kept their add spending at $59 million for 2007, and instead focused on new attractions - which has been proven time and time again to increase attendance, they possibly could have experienced a better 2007. As it is, it's pretty clear they did not spend the money where they needed to in 2007 to make a significant difference.*** This post was edited by DBJ 1/29/2008 9:26:19 AM ***

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 10:18 AM
Now if only he hadn't killed off Six Flags most effective marketing add ever. Shapiro learned lots of stupid tricks from Dan Snyder. No wonder the Redskins and Six Flags are getting worse by the year.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 5:23 PM
^^ The old regime spent it all on new attractions for years and ended up $2B in debt, so I don't think that will work out very well.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 5:52 PM
They spent it on the wrong type of attractions, focusing only on thrill rides and not on rides that can attract a new customer base, while at the same time neglecting the general condition of the parks. You can increase attendance with new attractions but you must build the correct attractions to begin with! Building 5 new B&M roller coasters is not building the correct attractions they only appeal to a certain customer base. Sure that customer base will come back but it wont draw in anybody new.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:25 PM
I think Dollywood is a good example of expansion without breaking the budget. Legoland in CA as well with their new Sally dark ride shooter. Dollywood's new raft "river battle" attraction is what 5 million and change? SF could have cloned that 5 times into different parks and provided an actual draw, and still spend $60 million on ads like they did in 2006. The difference is now they would have an attraction to promote, instead of what most patrons discovered at their home parks: same park, higher prices, same problems.

Their 2007 plan was flawed, hopefully 2008 shows some signs of improvement. The Dark Knight coaster concept is one very promising sign that they might "get it".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 6:47 AM

Six Flags officials, who want to cut loose one of the company's three advertising agencies, plan to reduce radio spending and concentrate more on Internet-driven opportunities that will attract more teens.

Right. That would be the demographic that Snyder said he didn't want a couple of years ago, right?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:48 AM
RideMan, you took the words RIGHT out of my mouth.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:51 AM
Flip Floppers!!! ;)
Wednesday, January 30, 2008 2:27 PM

That would be the demographic that Snyder said he didn't want a couple of years ago, right?

Did he really ever say that? I honestly don't remember.

I do believe it was said along the lines that a more of a focus on familes with different attractions made sense as families were more likely to spend than teens.

But that's not the same as saying you don't want teens, is it?

Face it, once you rope in the family demographic - it only makes sense to go back to attracting another demo. And Shapiro was just quoted a few weeks ago as saying this year is put-up-or-shut-up for the company as far as attendance goes.

It all starts to add up.

Friday, February 1, 2008 2:12 PM
Large budget cuts usually mean a decline in customer service. What happened to the theory of spending more to make more that Shapiro was harping about (characters, parades, staffing, etc.)? All the stuff that was supposed to attract families.

Now, they want to attract teens. Not by installing roller coasters, which are still bad in Shapiro's book (probably because he can't afford them), but with Internet marketing. Large numbers of teens is exactly the type of environment he said kept families away and didn't make money because teens don't spend as much. But why not go back to teens? They are probably cutting all the things they thought would attract families and increase customer satisfaction.

Sell more parks? I wonder who will buy them? Maybe they will close the parks and sell off the land. Good plan in today's thriving real estate market. If they do manage to sell parks, the money would probably go to continuing operations, not to pay down debt. Similar to the previous sale.

I really think these guys are clowns who talk a good talk but don't really have a clue. Also, SIX's balance sheet is probably too messed up for them to handle. We could be seeing more parks closing and a general significant shrinking of the amusement industry. I don't see a good outcome for SIX.

Sunday, February 3, 2008 12:34 PM

When you think about it, these guys really did not know anything about this industry and it definately is evident to the shareholders now. Most people posting on this website could have done a hell of a better job than this new blood.

They really need to start with the basics of customer service and satisfaction, working with the parks and attractions that they've got. For example, why hasn't ultra twister been reassembled in SFA after all these years? Why trash two perfectly good family water rides at SFGAdv that had no apparent operational problems? Why put in a wiggles world in Great Escape when the place is already too kiddieland heavy from it's original storybookland days?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008 3:36 AM
Is SF doing focus groups on the parks right now to figure out what's wrong? I think it's clear where SF is in its history right now. This is the great "Steel Burnout".

At SF, there must have been some defining "Batman moment" that started it all, when they discovered that "If you clone it, they will come," because they really ran with that... and ran and ran and ran long after it stopped making sense.

They spent millions on dozens of clones, but they didn't stop. They kept going and going, B&M after B&M, Giavanola after Giavanola, Medusa, Medea, MyGodah! "Hey, crowds aren't coming any more for the mega steel coasters, so let's build another one, SCREAM at SFMM! It's so different than all the other brightly colored steel mega coasters that it will really draw them in."

Honest to God, I think SF is at a major turning point in ride development. At least I hope so. SF went "steel" crazy for the last 5 years, and I think it has affected the image and profit picture for the SF chain.

SFMM is choked with expensive cloned mega-steel, and the ride queues are mostly empty. Batman, Riddler's Revenge, Scream, Goliath, X, V2 and the new darling Tatsu. One brightly colored, multi-million dollar, cold, roaring behemoth after another, flying over empty midways.

I think the steel party is over, and after millions were spent, the hangover is hitting.

Where are the re-rideable attractions? Why aren't people lining up for these coasters any more?


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