Six Flags: It's Fly or Die

Monday, January 31, 2005 11:14 AM
Normally I'd submit this to News but since it's an editorial opinion piece about the Snyder vs. Six Flags saga that's already two weeks old I figured I would post it here.

So, what do you think? Was it wrong for Daniel Snyder to bail or should he have teamed up with Bill Gates' Cascade group and gone for a hostile takeover to implement some of his park changes?

Monday, January 31, 2005 11:41 AM
While I hate to defend the Six Flags board, Snyder had perhaps even less of a clue. If you compare Six Flags to the other park chains, the problems are not about capital expenditures or marketing, the problems are about stupid pricing and insanely bad customer service. Beyond those problem areas, Six Flags does the same thing that the Cedar Fair and Paramount Parks do in terms of cap ex and marketing.
Monday, January 31, 2005 12:18 PM
Jeff, I agree completely. But Snyder wasn't complaining about the fact that money was being spent in capital expenditures or marketing -- only that it was misplaced.

I tend to agree with that. Mr. Six was/is a brilliant ad campaign but the company overpaid by taking it national. I saw the ad a countless number of times in Miami when the nearest Six Flags park is 500-600 miles away. I believe that's what Snyder is referring to when he calls it "expensive" because it would have made more time to cherry pick regional markets.

As far as cap ex, I think we both agree that when the company went cheap in 2004 that it ultimately hurt them. The solution isn't to cut back on park offerings, obviously. Yet, again, Snyder used the word "misplaced" as in it could have been put to better use elsewhere -- for instance, building up the chain's customer service. If Snyder ever claimed otherwise (like saying waterpark additions are a bad idea) then I'll take a step back and line up right behind you in the "Snyder doesn't have a clue" camp. All I saw from him was the park needed change and management was resistant to change.

Stupid pricing? Absolutely. In my opinion that's why the company is in the customer service funk. Folks pay $40-50 for a season pass and if they go 10 times over the summer it drops the admission price per entrance to just a few bucks and it's easy for customer service to take on an attitude that folks should be complaining or treated as park guests when they are paying less for a day at the park than they would at the local multiplex. It's stinking thinking, yet the park is relying on the locals so badly that if it does hike prices (higher season passes -- perhaps lower day guest passes) the parks would be even more barren.

Monday, January 31, 2005 12:31 PM
Well at least CF & Paramount handle their cap ex budgets a tad bit more wisely & strive to provide rides for each park in their respective chains.

SF on the other hand has just thrown in maybe three major rides per year at their higher tiered parks & doesn't do much in the way of additions for any of the others,that is just one of their many problems as of lately coupled with the poor guest services experienced at most of the parks.

At most maybe Snyder could've effected SF more by getting the shareholders behind him demanding SF fix the problems or they all decide to sell out,I'm suprised that we havn't heard anything from Gates walking out yet.

Monday, January 31, 2005 12:45 PM
Here's a previous article regarding Snyder's ideas:

He also did say that the cap ex was in recent years was too high, but I can't find where he said that.

Monday, January 31, 2005 7:33 PM
Batwing Fan, CF hasn't added a lot of Major stuff to every single park either. Thats why we have MIA fanboys complaining about waterparks.

But regardless, CF and Paramount have a lot less to worry about, as neither have even 10 parks, much less almost 20 to worry about.

The problem is not that 'this park gets this and that gets nothing', the problem is no customer service at most parks and giving away the gate.

And stop complaining, Every park is getting something this year for cryin out loud!

Monday, January 31, 2005 7:46 PM
Teckno, I guess You missed SFNO,We were supposably getting a waterpark, then a new addition for 2005 which was to be an upcharge Go Kart ride and as of yet no new construction or any announcements.. we are probably the only park not getting anything,,Oh I forgot we are getting New Shows..Wow ,,we had this already on a smaller scale ..I better get in line now to beat the crowd ..LOL Sorry about the Sarcasm but tired of the Bull fed us from our home park just trying to keep the scuttlebut to a minimum until the park reopens
Monday, January 31, 2005 9:23 PM

You are kidding right? Where was Jazzland heading if someone like SF didn't come in and take over the park? And if memory serves me right, the initial year SF took over, you received 3 coasters, some flats, and some Gotham City theming and shows.

I guess all that doesn't matter though, huh?

Monday, January 31, 2005 9:51 PM
Yeah the new shows you're getting along with SFMM & SFOT will keep the lines down on all the coasters.

Just because 05 is an off year for SFNO doesn't mean you won't see something good possibly by 06 so just hang in there til then.

Monday, January 31, 2005 10:04 PM
Chitown, even though SFNO did add coasters and more, don't forget that one was a Vekoma and the B&M was used, proof that Six Flags is going out of its way to sink the park as fast as humanly possible.

The SFNO whining got old even quicker than SFA and SFDL whining.

Monday, January 31, 2005 10:12 PM
BullGuy. At least put a smiley after your first sentence. For a second there I thought you were being serious. :)
Tuesday, February 1, 2005 6:52 AM
And its official, SFAW is getting Paint this year on Serial Thrill and Ultratwister (I know it got paint last year but it didn't stick so they are trying again)

SFNO got Jokers Revenge from SFFT, where it was a real liability with lawyers passing out cards at the exit.

Six Flags is at least putting in a Tornado in Splashtown, a waterpark north of Houston.

It seems to me from reading this board that it is easy to call people "Whiners" when they complain about not getting something new. Funny, the people screaming "Whiners!" have SFGAM or other parks that get major capital at least every other year as a home park. When was the last year SFGAM didn't get anything? Not this century! I bet someone here would have a stroke if SFGAM got passed over one year.

(Just to go on record, SFGAM is one of my favorite Six Flags parks, I loved my one visit there in 2000)

Try having a home park that gets new attractions only every 3 to 5 years. Or watch the number of coasters in your park start going down. You learn patience, thats for sure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 8:18 AM

You learn patience

Evidently, many don't.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 11:41 PM
It's the same five or six people that constantly ram the lack of attention their SF park is getting into every possible thread that leads people to see them as whiners. After it's mentioned and discussed once, there's not much anyone on this site can do about adding a coaster to Six Flags park X.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005 1:13 AM
It's a little off topic! Here's what I think the problem is with six-Flags is!

1. I don;t think that Six - Flags has a real plan for there parks. I have read in a few finical statments that CF and others have at least a five year plan or maybe even longer. The point is simple, if you don't have plans or goals in improving your parks, the parks aren't going to get any better. They might have a plan for SFMM, SFGA, SFGAdv, but thats basicly it. I don't think SF truly cares about SFKK, SFA, SFDL, and many others. Yes they are going to add water slides, but slides won't correct whats wrong with these parks.

2. Maintain your parks. CF, Paramount, Universal, BG and many others maitain there parks wonderfully. Keep the parks looking good. Take care of what you have. Keep the parks clean, bathrooms clean, cans empty. Even go the distance and try to have all coasters open, particular during the mid summer. I rember going to SFGAdv and 3 or 4 coasters were closed during a Sunday in the middle of July.

3. Staff the rides correctly with decent help. Nothing worse than haveing a couple of people goofing off while you are waiting in line. Also if possible try to run your coasters with multiple trains. I know that it will require extra work to put thoses trains on the track but it will help out. At the smaller parks a multiple train operation is un heard of most of the time.

4. Raise the price off season tickets and lower the price on food. Nothing like droping $15+ for 4 tacos and two drinks.

5. Why not for the first time try to be creative at your parks. Try to go out of the way and do something that will make each park special. It's bad enough that you have all clones and that fine but each park is the same basicly, except, a few of the parks.

6. Whny don't you try selling stuff that has to do with your parks. Studies show that the average guest is to spending more on suverions. Look at SF, BG, HW, Paramount, and Universal, these parks sell tons of merchidanse that have to do with eac park. Wether it be shirts, pins, sweatshirts and anything else that could have to do with your parks. I understand that SF has a contract with WB but you can still sell WB bumake an attempt to sell other things. Now I admit some of the SF do but that is only a few. The average consumer is willing to spend but doesn't go to a park looking to buy something that they can buy in the malls.

These are my thoughts, let me know what you think

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 4:13 AM
Quick question in reference to mforcebob's last point above...

My home park, SFDL, has hardly any merchandise for SFDL. Sure, it SAYS Darien Lake, but the pictures are mostly of SFMM, SFOT, or SFGAdv. Even their photo booth has SFOT's Superman Tower of Power as a background choice. Is it like this at other SF parks, too? If so, that's disappointing. I like to get a souvenir or two when I visit a new park. Hey, I'd even buy a few each year from SFDL if they were authentic, instead of the generic crap they carry. Although I do laugh every time I wear my "Ride of Steel" boxers. I find them hilarious...

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 1:11 PM
You know what I find odd about SF's financial situation?

I find it odd that none of their shareholders have followed in Snyder's lead & demand that something be done to improve their profits or they're gonna take their cash & walk.

SF is kind of like a sinking ship right now & they've spent all their time & cash rearranging the deck chairs(SFMM,SFGRADV,SFGRAM) when in the end it hasn't seemed to do any good as far as producing a positive chainwide result,over the next few years they should focus on less expensive additions for their parks instead of one 30 million dollar coaster & a handful of tornado slides because that strategy just won't cut it for too much longer.

Perhaps putting in major,inexpensive flats($2 to $4 million a piece) might be able to turn the tide for a while,SFGRADV will have their bragging rights come this season & should be fine for a few years while they milk KK for all it's worth & the chain can provide decent, marketable rides for about the same price to ensure that no one park is left out & in a season or two begin adding coasters (of moderate size & cost) to the parks that need them.

The biggest problem with SF right now is that they don't budget the cap ex funding wisely,now instead of putting a major coaster at say SFGRADV or SFMM they could use their share of money to fix & maintain what they've got & above all else have their major rides up & running with enough trains to move the lines as fast as possible,as well as enough staff on hand to safely operate them.

There's my .02 cents on it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 1:21 PM

I find it odd that none of their shareholders have followed in Snyder's lead & demand that something be done to improve their profits or they're gonna take their cash & walk.

But they are! That's what a falling share price means...that there are more people who want to sell than want to buy.

Edit: Fun with graphs.

*** Edited 2/2/2005 6:23:26 PM UTC by Brian Noble***

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 2:01 PM

You know what I find odd about SF's financial situation?

they should focus on less expensive additions for their parks instead of one 30 million dollar coaster & a handful of tornado slides because that strategy just won't cut it for too much longer.

Won't work for who? Sure worked like a mutha-shut-yo-mouth for HW (who built the first one). So well, they haven't built another coaster since. Just more slides and wavepools and rides to try to keep up with their attendance jump.

...provide decent, marketable rides for about the same price to ensure that no one park is left out & in a season or two begin adding coasters (of moderate size & cost) to the parks that need them.

Coasters, you say? Coasters? Been there, done that, didn't work. Two coasters in one year, three coasters even four. Failure.

Coasters aren't just expensive to build, they're expensive to maintain. Tracks need to be x-rayed. Trains need to be overhauled. Cranes need to be rented. Rails need to be replaced. And to top it all off, they deliver much the same experience every time. To say nothing of snorting dweebs demanding a better one every year.

In the only market SF has ever effectively counterpunched a CF park, what did they add? A record-breaking, innovative stand-on-your-head coaster? Nope. A complimentary waterpark. WoF's numbers were never the same.

Tornadoes are tall, eye-catching, take little real estate and deliver a dynamic ride experience for a fraction of the maintenance or aggravation of a coaster. It's one of the smartest things they've done. Not to say CF isn't snapping Tornadoes up too.


*** Edited 2/2/2005 7:07:40 PM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 2:46 PM

You know what I find odd about SF's financial situation?

I find it odd that none of their shareholders have followed in Snyder's lead & demand that something be done to improve their profits or they're gonna take their cash & walk.

The thing is, your average stockholder probably doesn't know squat about the day to day operations of any company in which they own stock. I figure a lot of people were told by their brokers that entertainment would be a good field to invest in. But like every other field, there are good and bad companies, and they picked a dilly.

I think that a lot of investors are trying to avoid the "buy high-sell low" syndrome, figuring there's going to be some inevitable turnaround in the stock price. They figure there's more numbers higher than 4.30 (a share) than lower. Most people really don't like to sell stock at a loss except as a last resort. And I'm sure most people bought SF stock at a much higher price than it's going for now.

Of course, with Bill Gates an investor, he's probably not thinking of how to improve Six Flags better, but how to get rid of all the competition so they're the only game in town. Mediocre for sure, but in control of the market, like um, what's the name of the company... Micro-something?


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