Six Flags Over Texas closes gates on record crowds

Posted Monday, March 24, 2008 10:16 AM | Contributed by Benjamin Polson

Six Flags Over Texas had to turn people away at the gate and stay open an hour later than usual, then open 30 minutes early Friday. The dense crowds extended past the full parking lots to clog traffic on Texas 360. Great weather, discounted tickets and Christian youth events brought in record crowds.

Read more from The Star-Telegram.

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Monday, March 24, 2008 4:44 PM
You are certainly allowed to disagree, that's what makes this board interesting. I don't think you have the right, nor do I like it when you dismiss opinions that disagree with yours as just ramblings of enthusiasts and complaints du jour. It pretty much borders on personal attacks and name calling which I thought were not allowed on this board.
Monday, March 24, 2008 5:41 PM

I don't know where you are getting your facts but according to the Six Flags Inc. report to stockholders, attendance dropped significantly in 2006.

Because of the parks the company sold that year, they reported a final number that did not include the sold parks even though they owned and operated then throught the entire year. It wasn't on a same-park basis. Look a litle closer.

On a same-park basis they were within 100,000 guests.

I do stand corrected in that the numbers did not go up from 2005 to 2006, on a same-park basis they dropped about 1/2 of a percent between those years. As I mentioned the loss was around 100,000 people. For the record, that's the gain they made from 2006 to 2007 - so after two seasons the attendance is roughly even.

But considering they gained that loss back in one season with less parks and even fewer operating days is a positive sign.

I don't think you have the right, nor do I like it when you dismiss opinions that disagree with yours as just ramblings of enthusiasts and complaints du jour.

Sorry you feel that way. It's not directed right at you. It's commentary on the countless complaints and claims that various people have made at times over the past couple of years since Red Zone took control of SF. It always seems like there's a new "complaint of the day" - something that someone doesn't like so they think that obviously everyone won't like it and in turn it will hurt the company in some significant way.

All the things I mentioned have been the complaint du jour at one time or another - prices, service, virtual queue, paying for lockers, the no re-entry rumors, Shapiro's ridiculous bonus, reduced hours, poor operations, increased character presence, thrillleaders, in-park advertising - you name it and someone has claimed it'd be the beginning of the end for Six Flags.

So far it just isn't true.

I spout my opinion as much as anyone and I'm probably as wrong as anyone just as much. But the numbers don't lie. The company has increased revenue and maintained attendance since Snyder got his claws on things and put Shapiro in charge. The sky hasn't fallen.

The biggest threat to the company at this point isn't the hole the current leaders dug - it's the hole the previous company leaders dug that these guys jumped into.

The bottom line is that all of these little things that one person or another or a whole bunch don't like isn't affecting the company...if the year-end reports are the judge, these actually seem to be helping.

It's not a personal attack. It's an attack on the latest 'sky is falling' claim to pass through these forums. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the one to be right?

Monday, March 24, 2008 8:18 PM

No, I wouldn't be inclined to drop prices.

Then again I don't get paid 7 figures to run an amusement park chain and this can't exactly be hurting things.

The marketing departmet lives and dies by the turnstyle numbers. So promotions (the early season discounts or coupons), group sales (the Christain group events) folks do whatever they can to get admission numbers up.

So with a park that's had luke warm attendance over the last 10 years or so there will be a ton of programs in place to boost those numbers. If the spring numbers came up soft they can say well we had x, y, and z promotions in place so we're doing what we can. If the ticket prices were jacked up to and the numbers came in soft and they only had x promotion in place then director of marketing has a lot of explaining to do.

Getting huge numbers like this early in the season is marketing greatness so they'll do whatever it takes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 1:33 AM
A company that is run properly and has a good product doesnt have to give away the gate with cheap prices to inflate attendance.
Does anyone think the other parks open this week over Easter break, like the Disney/Universal/Busch parks had to reduce admission prices to get people to come to the park??

And doesnt it seem odd that the decision to close the park is done by the boss looking at crowds and wait times he is told about, rather than by attendance turnstiles telling them how many people are in the park and how many people can you handle in a safe manner??

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 4:29 AM
Disney/Universal/Busch aren't recovering from several years of piss poor management and serious brand damage.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 10:27 AM
Exactly. You can't look at Six Flags' situation in a vacuum. Cedar Fair did that with Geauga Lake, and look where it got them. There's a lot of history and years of mistakes to deal undo.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11:05 AM
Gonch said:

I dunno. Each year people aren't supposed to come back for some reason or another - prices, policies, flashpass, service - whatever the complaint du jour is.

I think what I've found to be the case is that some people (a considerable portion) will come back for the rides, shows, attractions regardless of how they feel about their previous experiences. They may not be "addicted" like some of us here (we know who we are, LOL), but they'll make their yearly trek to their local megapark as long as Johnny and Susie are willing to be around their parents for a stretch of 6-8 hours.

Here's where it gets less...scientific-y. IMO, etc. Many others won't return, either for a few years or forever, due to ONE "complaint" - that of really poor customer service. To overcome that, SF needs to keep drawing in NEW people. Well, the country is growing, and is mobile, so markets turn over pretty frequently - and you get a shot at "new" people all the time. So, just maybe, alienating customers takes longer to show adverse effects than it might have 20-60-100 years ago?

I'd still rather see less people paying more.

That is a mixed bag that always runs us down the road of social justice. Mostly, we all know where we stand on THAT end of the argument. And, even thought it kinda pains me to admit it, that model IS the only way to really *fix* the problems that SF has created for itself. No matter how many lower-middle-class people you get in through the gates, their spending habits are apparently sufficient to only pay off the INTEREST from the overwhelming debt SF shoulders...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11:11 AM
So what good does it do to reduce prices so much, that the park is so busy no one can have a good time, or enjoy many attractions, or when you get to the park you are told to leave???
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11:19 AM

So what good does it do to reduce prices so much, that the park is so busy no one can have a good time, or enjoy many attractions, or when you get to the park you are told to leave???

I dunno, but it hasn't seemed to hurt Disney's Orlando business - especially during the holidays. :)

Seriously though, I think Cropsey nailed it. This year is about showing some attendance growth - even if it is a meaningless stat because of reduced admission prices and other things. I think at the end of the 2008 they want the books to show some serious attendance movement.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 11:40 AM
Yah, but I think a crowded Disneyland (OK...NOT Orlando, but same class) is 10 times more fun than a crowded Six Flags park. So much eye candy!

Anyway, if the prices caused the jump ion attendance, and they are more concerned about attendance than anything else, do you think we'll see parents paying kids prices all year?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 1:12 PM

So what good does it do to reduce prices so much, that the park is so busy no one can have a good time, or enjoy many attractions, or when you get to the park you are told to leave???

This clearly illustrates the fact that Six Flags can never win with some people. "Hey look attendance are down they still suck!" "Look there's too many people at the park to have any fun, they still suck!" "I saw a cup in front of Shockwave on Sunday, Shapiro is a LIAR!!"

Starting with the season pass online blue light special, this looks to be a pull out all the stops for attendance growth season. If you're trying to ride Shockwave ten times in a row with no line up then it sucks. But for a newish management team trying desperately to prove themselves after two years unwhelming business growth, it makes perfect sense.

Thursday, March 27, 2008 10:44 AM
^^ If you're trying to ride Shockwave ten times in a row, you'd better put on a helmet. It's in the middle of retracking and is missing a turn. ;)
Thursday, March 27, 2008 3:42 PM
The other way to look at this is in terms of revenue generated by that in-park advertising. If more people are seeing the advertising, then the companies that advertise in-park will see an increase in their revenue. If the companies see an increase in revenue generated by advertising, they are more likely to continue to advertise in-park, generating more revenue for SF. It's a mutual symbiosis that cannot be ignored.


Thursday, March 27, 2008 5:30 PM
I doubt the increased advertising makes back the money lost on discounted gate.
Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:22 PM
Closing the gate due to excessive crowds partially attributed to discounted gate promotion is not considered money lost.
Sunday, March 30, 2008 9:12 AM
The money lost at the gate will be made up. All those people need to eat, their kids will want toys, teens will play games, etc. Tickets are normally $47 and the promotional tickets are $30. $17 is less than the price of a meal for two. I'm pretty sure they made back that money lost at the gate, or very close to it. And hopefully they'll see this attendance continue, after all this is a good start to a season. I mean. how many times have a regional U.S. park had to close its gates this early in the season due to attendance?

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