Six Flags has dismal quarter as revenue, attendance and per cap take hits

Posted Monday, August 3, 2009 10:07 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Total revenues of $302.1 million decreased 13% from the prior-year quarter's total of $345.7 million, primarily reflecting reduced attendance and guest spending. Attendance for the quarter was 8.0 million, down 8% from 8.6 million in the second quarter of 2008. The attendance reduction was driven by a decline in group sales, reflecting cutbacks in outings by companies, schools and other organizations, as well as reduced complimentary and free promotional tickets. Mitigating the attendance loss for the quarter was the timing of Easter, which fell in April of this year and in March of last year.

Guest spending per capita of $36.70 for the quarter was down 4% from the prior-year quarter's per capita guest spending of $38.34, reflecting decreases in admissions, food and beverages, games and merchandise. Included in the reduced guest spending is the impact of a weaker Mexican peso and Canadian dollar in the current-year quarter, affecting U.S. dollar translated results for the parks in Mexico City and Montreal. Exchange rates accounted for approximately one percentage point, or $0.54, of the guest spending per capita decline for the quarter compared to the prior year quarter.

Read the entire press release from Six Flags.

Monday, August 3, 2009 10:53 PM
Olsor's avatar

Ooooooh... ouch. I'm curious what the results look like on a park-by-park basis.

But at least corporate's excuses have changed from the blanket "bad weather" claim to now, "negative macroeconomic environment" and "pandemic." It's like going from "my dog ate my homework" to "my dog bit my leg, then I got gangrene, then our family went bankrupt from the medical bills."

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Monday, August 3, 2009 11:39 PM
Jeff's avatar

No one is going to have great results, so this doesn't come as a shock.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:05 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

So much for the "staycation" - meanwhile Disney is still running >90% occupancy in their hotels.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:16 AM
kpjb's avatar

Well, to be fair, that was before they raised the gate today. I heard the place is now a ghost town.


Hi

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:38 AM

Gonch: wouldn't you say though that alot of those guests filling the hotels and going to the Disney parks are from over the pond? Especially with the exchange rate favoring foreign countries?


My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 1:42 AM
Jeff's avatar

Didn't we have a story recently that said UK travel to the states was down?


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 2:12 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I have no idea.

Regardless of where the visitors are coming from, the Disney news from a couple of days ago mentions that attendance is flat at Disney World.

Unless there was a big drop in American visitors (like SF's 8% dip) that just happened to be evened out by overseas visitors (which is possible, I suppose), it says to me that Disney at discounted prices is a much better value proposition to people at a much higher total cost than the el-cheapo "staycation" that Six Flags was hoping people would opt for this year.

Kind of an all or nothing thing.

More an observation of people's choices and the "staycation" than commentary on Disney or Six Flags.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 8:22 AM

Travel costs aside, is a day at Six Flags really cheaper than a day at Disney? Without using any discounts and factoring in all of the expenses including admission, parking, q-bots, food, and games I would think Six Flags to be just as or even more expensive than a day at Disney.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 8:36 AM

Maybe in Florida Gonch, but definitely not in California. The hotels at DLR are only about 60% occupied this summer, even though the parks are busy.

Knott's has been a ghost town this summer, apart from Saturday, so I don't expect much good news from CF today, unless the other parks performed well.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:35 AM
The Mole's avatar

kpjb said:
Well, to be fair, that was before they raised the gate today. I heard the place is now a ghost town.

Because nobody buys multi-day passes in advance of the day they visit...

Jazma said:
Maybe in Florida Gonch, but definitely not in California. The hotels at DLR are only about 60% occupied this summer, even though the parks are busy.

DL, despite what TDA has tried to do, has never become the resort that WDW is. There are around 800,000 AP holders alone in the LA area.

Last edited by The Mole, Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:39 AM
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 9:53 AM

The other problem is that the DLR hotels charge "Disney" prices, but they don't have the same location/exclusivity advantage that the WDW hotels do, with the possible exception of the Grand Californian. In Orlando, there's a very big (perceived) gap between "onsite" and "offsite". In Anaheim, there are plenty of places that are shorter walks to the front gates at 1/2-1/3 the price of DLH/PP.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:17 AM
Jeff's avatar

Mole: kpjb was making a funny, I'm pretty sure.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 10:34 AM

The report mentions a 9% attendance drop and a 14% drop in revenue in the first 6 months of the year. From following the Six Flags saga for a few years now I can't help but wonder if they've passed the tipping point on the whole "value" thing? Gonch always points out (and correctly so) that if they were charging to much people wouldn't go and wouldn't spend money in the park. Or if they don't go, the margins on who does go should make up for it.

Well, given that attendance and per cap spending has dropped, could it be that they've priced themselves out of the market? You have to wonder since the claim that they've given away less promotional discounts/freebies and seen a drop in per cap revenue. Surely those two things don't go together.

As an aside, I like how they mention the effect the value of the $ had on per cap spending. Its down 4%, 1% of which is attributed to the exchange rate, so that leaves a 3% decline, which to me is a far more significant number than the 1% the company went to great lengths to explain.


Joz - Power, in tune with nature!
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:11 PM

Amnesiac said:
Travel costs aside, is a day at Six Flags really cheaper than a day at Disney? Without using any discounts and factoring in all of the expenses including admission, parking, q-bots, food, and games I would think Six Flags to be just as or even more expensive than a day at Disney.

I suppose this is true, BUT, who in their right mind actually pays 100% full price for anything at Six Flags? Six Flags (my Great America trip a couple months ago) has been one of the best deals I have ever seen for what I got, maybe even one of the cheapest overall. The food, all of the coasters, the atmosphere of the park etc. On a single trip Indiana Beach has come to close to costing as much as our day at SF, and our trip to Holiday World might even cost MORE .Add in a second day SF would destroy with their $19.99 deal (which made kiddieland's price seem silly in comparison hence we never walked in the gate) and just more to see and do then those 2 parks IMO. I would like to see this broken down on a park-by-park as well. I also must get lucky going to some parks, as I've never experienced extremely long lines, so a q-bot at Great America was definitely not needed. We have even thought of switching up Holiday World for just another visit to Great America, but I really want to check out Holiday World since I am out here if I can afford it.

Last edited by P18, Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:16 PM
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 12:41 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jazma said:
Maybe in Florida Gonch, but definitely not in California. The hotels at DLR are only about 60% occupied this summer, even though the parks are busy.

According to this the Anaheim properties are down 8%. But they're still running 83% occupancy. The parks are up 10% in attendance in CA.

joz said:
From following the Six Flags saga for a few years now I can't help but wonder if they've passed the tipping point on the whole "value" thing?

Well, given that attendance and per cap spending has dropped, could it be that they've priced themselves out of the market? You have to wonder since the claim that they've given away less promotional discounts/freebies and seen a drop in per cap revenue. Surely those two things don't go together.

Had the economy not gone to crap, then I'd have said you hit the nail on the head. With CF posting similar quarterly results, I'm left to believe trips to the large regional parks are one of the first things people drop.

I'd love to know how the smaller, local parks are doing, because I suspect it isn't as poorly as the regionals.

Amnesiac said:
Travel costs aside, is a day at Six Flags really cheaper than a day at Disney? Without using any discounts and factoring in all of the expenses including admission, parking, q-bots, food, and games I would think Six Flags to be just as or even more expensive than a day at Disney.

1. I don't think you can just ignore travel costs - it's part of the cost of visiting.

2. I'm with P18 - SF trips can be among the cheapest day trips out there.

3. You'd think the $40 and $50 along would keep attendance afloat. I'm not surprised that per caps dropped in this economy. $4 don't fly as well when 1 in 10 people doesn't have a job. But the attendance drop is the interesting stat to me. People just aren't going in the first place. That's weird given SF approach of giving away the season passes.


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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 3:40 PM

Irrespective of what that article states, coming from someone who works in the resort hotels, one of the properties is averaging 50% to 75% occupancy, depending on the night, which is much worse than it had been in prior years, including last summer. Makes sense, on one level, as the economy has worsened.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:28 PM

Jazma said:
Maybe in Florida Gonch, but definitely not in California. The hotels at DLR are only about 60% occupied this summer, even though the parks are busy.

Knott's has been a ghost town this summer, apart from Saturday, so I don't expect much good news from CF today, unless the other parks performed well.

I would echo that sentiment. The Disneyland resort attendance is where it is due to the sale of 3 Day Park Hoppers for $99 for SoCal residents. Compare that to a one day park hopper that just jumped to $97, two-day is $151, and a three day regular park hopper is now $204. You can see why the resorts are busy, but the hotels aren't.

it's all locals. Knott's just started 4 one-day tickets for $99 for peak summer. Do the math on that one.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:36 PM

Lord Gonchar said:


Jazma said:
Maybe in Florida Gonch, but definitely not in California. The hotels at DLR are only about 60% occupied this summer, even though the parks are busy.

According to this the Anaheim properties are down 8%. But they're still running 83% occupancy. The parks are up 10% in attendance in CA.

That article referenced the DISNEY hotels in Anaheim, not the larger population of other hotels in the Anaheim Resort District. Those hotels, are off to the extent mentioned by the other commenter. Also business travel is off a TON, and business travelers don't often stay at the Disney hotels. Thus the local hotels which might often host a mix of business and leisure travellers, are out of luck on the business traveler this summer.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:39 PM
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 4:51 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

CreditWh0re said:
That article referenced the DISNEY hotels in Anaheim, not the larger population of other hotels in the Anaheim Resort District.

I understood that fact when I posted.

My point is that Disney park attendance is flat (Orlando) or up (Anaheim) and their hotels are running 91% and 83% occupancy respectively while big regional parks like SF and CF struggle.

That's interesting to me. The regionals can't get people to spend a little money staying close to home with a 'staycation' (what they were really hoping for/banking on this year), but the destination parks can get people to come out and spend a lot more by offering some clever discounts.


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