Six Flags Over Texas debuts package of family rides

Posted Friday, April 28, 2006 3:27 PM | Contributed by bigboy

A renewed focus on family-friendly fun is already bringing more people through the gates of Six Flags theme parks, Chief Executive Mark Shapiro said. On Thursday, Shapiro was at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington as the park unveiled 10 family-oriented rides. Shapiro called the rides an example of what the company plans to do over the next several years.

Read more from The Star-Telegram.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 3:43 PM
How come every one of these articles contains just one quote that makes Shapiro look like a total tool?

This time?

"Nobody goes to Disneyland for the rides," Shapiro said, mentioning the Disney characters and Main Street USA attraction. "We need more of that at Six Flags."

Other than that, like the last article, I generally like what I'm seeing.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 4:08 PM
What an idiot. Shapiro needs a real good kick in the ass for making dumb comments like that. So right Disney just builds $50-$100 million attractions for the hell of it, and people just pay the entrance fee to walk around and look at the exterior of the expensive rides. Then they book the hotel rooms for the week so they can go back the rest of the week and walk around some more.

There's a family who I work with who got to go to Disneyworld for the first time recently, and I can tell you that they didn't come back telling me how exciting the mountain looked on Everest. No, the first thing out of Jeff's mouth (the father) was "Hey Rob, we rode Everest. It was awesome! We loved the part where it went backwards." So for Mr. Shapiro, this should be your prime audience--A Christain, home-schooled family with three kids under 11. When I asked Alex, the 10-year-old, what was your favorite ride? It wasn't "It's a Small World." No, it was "Space Mountain Mr. Rob!"

Can I just say it one more time--"What an idiot!"

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Friday, April 28, 2006 4:42 PM
Weren't the additions for SFOT planned before Shapiro took office? It reads like he is taking credit for someone else's plans. Brilliant.

Also, incredibly stupid to make the Disneyland reference when you are at the opening of a park debuting new rides to the public! And more importantly, SFOT is one of the major dreaded coaster parks of the chain! Next stop, a trip to Georgia to convince people they are not there for Goliath. Then off to CA telling people that Tatsu is no comparison to a brunch with Bugs Bunny.

How about at least one common sense quote where his goal is that the chain needs to strike a balance between coasters & expensive family attractions? What's really wrong is that he thinks that the family carnival attractions are going to keep attendance levels up for several years. Wrong.

SF better start shopping for a new CEO.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 5:01 PM
I think what shapiro was getting at was that it is the atmosphere that draws everyone to Disney, not gigantic rollercoasters.

I would just about imagine that quote was taken out of context pretty bad.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 5:10 PM
I think that Sharpiro knows what he is doing but not what he is saying ;)
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Friday, April 28, 2006 5:16 PM

Then off to CA telling people that Tatsu is no comparison to a brunch with Bugs Bunny.

As an enthusiast who travels with a wife and two kids (ages 8 &4) - that holds true.


...he thinks that the family carnival attractions are going to keep attendance levels up for several years. Wrong.

Not really. He seems to think atmosphere will bring 'em back. I don't think that's too far off - have a good time and you'll come back. Contrary to what enthusiast think, that doesn't mean 'roller coasters' to everyone. I really think the industry is moving past the "build a big coaster and draw the crowds" mentality.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 6:22 PM
As new as he may be to the amusement industry, I agree with others in saying that he was referring to the overall atmosphere. Think outside the enthusiasts world for moment. We aren't the majority when it comes to annual park attendance. A 300 ft. coaster isn;t going to attract everyone attention. It'll work for some, but not all. Shapiro knew what he was saying.

And like Pat was mentioning, I too travel with young children, (ages 2 & 5), and when we go to the parks they naturally drift toward the characters and childrens rides...not toward Power Tower or Millie.

I love coasters, if I didn't I wouldn't be here. But I also go for the whole park atmosphere. I love BGW because of the whole package, (from the rides and food right down to the theming and landscaping).

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Friday, April 28, 2006 7:07 PM

What an idiot. Shapiro needs a real good kick in the ass for making dumb comments like that. So right Disney just builds $50-$100 million attractions for the hell of it, and people just pay the entrance fee to walk around and look at the exterior of the expensive rides.
I disagree. I don't go to Disney for the rides, I go for the experience. I realize that the difference is subtle, but it's there. If you take the theme off of the rides at Disney, they wouldn't be that great. The escapism offered by "real" theme parks comes from the whole package, especially the part about being treated like a guest. That's something Six Flags has sucked at for years.
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Friday, April 28, 2006 8:31 PM
Well no doubt Disney offers a great experience. I've been to Disneyworld three times with my last time being when I was 18 (I've now 35). The point I was trying to make is that I just didn't walk around all day taking in the scenery. If you want to talk about the level of the rides, than sure you're right that there wasn't a high level of sophistication to some of them (especially in the Magic Kingdom). A lot of what DW offeres are basically glorified darkrides, but so what? I enjoyed them.

And it's also true that he's attacking Disneyland and not Disneyworld. I don't know if he would make the same comments about the 'empire' down south. If you look at what Disneyworld offered back then in spring 88', there weren't a whole lot of thrill rides. At DW there was Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At Epcot, there was--that's right--there weren't any thrill rides (we missed the opening of Norway by about a week or two). Compare that to now and there are a lot more thrillrides spread throughout the four parks, plus the two waterparks that didn't exist back then either.

But someone got it right above when it was pointed out that Shapiro is taking credit for something started before he was onboard. On top of that, let me point out that Six Flags Great Adventure also had another flat ride (the Breakdance) kidnapped from its' park. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

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Friday, April 28, 2006 11:10 PM
Maybe I'm reading the article differently than some of the rest of you, but it sounded to me like he's referencing SFOT expansion as an example of what he wants to do across the chain. That's not really taking credit for anything.

And I think the Disneyland comment is being taken a little out of context. As has been said, he's pointing out that it's about the experience. He wants to keep people in the parks longer and adding experiences above and beyond the rides will help do so.*** This post was edited by bigboy 4/28/2006 11:10:59 PM ***

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Saturday, April 29, 2006 1:11 AM
I don't disagree that adding an "experience" will help people to stay longer, but, at the end of the day it's not what's going to get people to keep returning. Parades and streetmosphere and nicer employees are great, but sooner or later you've got to add something to bring people back the following years. I'm not saying it has to be anything big like a hypercoaster as that market is pretty much tapped out. Let's face it, my homepark SFA has lost a lot of people over the years due to bad experiences, and lack of exciting new attractions. Thank goodness they finally upgraded to Hurricane Harbor last year, even in my opinion, they didn't take it far enough (I thought they should've added more slides and redone the activity area/lazy river).

But what I'm talking about is adding things like Dollywood did this year with a Topple Tower (which according to their podcast cost them $6.5 million) and the whole family can ride together. At Six Flags America, we've now lost three flat rides (the imposter Enterprise, the Chaos and the Rotoshaker). It would be great to see a Topple Tower or a Frisbee/Revolution etc. next year fill one of those slots. If the Screaming Swings prove to be popular, that gives you more options.

How about a family coaster such as a minetrain, mouse (of any kind), or junior coaster (Great Chase doesn't count)? All of these things are missing from the SFA lineup. What about expanding Hurricane Harbor more next year? These are the kind of things that will need to be added to keep people's attention. When PKD is adding big attractions every year and HP is adding big stuff almost every year, it makes it harder for you to fight for the consumer who is between the two parks.

Finally, I'm glad to see SFOT get so many new (and used) rides at once, but does anyone remember the Great Adventure disaster when they added the 25 new rides? How many are left of the kind that adults can ride? Besides Medusa, two. Houdini's Great Escape and Twister (Topspin). Everything else was removed or kidnapped and sent to another park. That list includes Evolution (SFStl), Frisbee (SFGam), and Rodeo [breakdance] (SFOT). In the "Whatever happend to?" category we have Jumping Jack Flash (Jump), Polyp, and Time Warp (double Chance Inverter). I'm betting the Chaos was removed this year as well. So I'm wishing SFOT well, but I'm hoping this management team doesn't repeat history down the road.
*** This post was edited by Intamin Fan 4/29/2006 1:25:42 AM ***

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Saturday, April 29, 2006 10:05 AM
Ok, after reading the article, I have only one problem with his plan. A rebranding of Fright Fest to "Family Fright Fest". I'm sorry, but Fright Fest was one of the few things Six Flags actually did great with! Fright Fest was my favorite time to go to the parks, because I loved the atmosphere of a creepy park, with actors jumping out at you at any given time. I'm going to be majorly disappointed if this goes away. At least do something like Cedar Point and SFGAm do and contain the actors to a section of the park. Just by the very nature of the name, Fright Fest is supposed to be scary, not catering to 2 year olds, but to the thrills of being scared.
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Saturday, April 29, 2006 1:48 PM
I also agree that when it comes to a disney theme park, and i would even include a park like BGW that it is the total expereince one gets when they visit there parks. And that involves the park being extremely clean,walking down main street and seeing the castle, seeing the characters interact with the guests and also enjoying excellant shows and immersive rides, top notch parades and the end of the day shows like Illumnations/Fantasmic/Sorcery in the Sky etc. And not parks that are used as babysitting centers for teenagers using foul language.

And while SF looks like they are trying to improve there product by cleaning the parks more etc, ,they still are failing so bad as to not even be compared with a disney park. And when you are going to charge $15 to park and charge almost as much to get in the park as disney does, then they need to spend alot more money than installing rides that can be found in some carnivals. Now if SF would add some excellant dark rides(as a example) the whole family can enjoy, a exciting show to cap off a great day and implement policies so large groups of teenagers arent running amok, then maybe they can talk about being family friendly.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006 4:59 PM
I think that they mis-quoted him. You know how journalists are!
Heck, I work for a newspaper and see mistakes all the time.

Perhaps I should go play "Journalists who lie" by Morrisssey, now.

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Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:35 AM
I agree with Bob O. Simply installing a bunch of carnival rides and slapping on a family ride label isn't going to cut it. "We're no longer family unfriendly" is not a slogan that is that is going to draw people in. Symbolic window dressing isn't going to change anyone's mind about Six Flags and their reputation of just offering roller coasters for entertainment. Bold statements like Tomb Raider at Kings Island, or DarKastle at BGE makes a statement they can advertise across the country- which is their parks offers all sorts of rides, a variety of family attractions, not just roller coasters. And like it or not, families dig the themes.

Shapiro is right about the family focus, but he is wrong to think big attractions don’t draw in the crowds. Now more then ever they need a big family ride to get their family focus message across. They need to build a Haunted Mansion, or a Splash Mountain, or a Jungle River Cruise, or a Pirates of the Carribean, or a Tower of Terror. Nearly all of Disney’s rides are big family attractions that draw people in from around the world in the millions.

Sure, Disney has the capitol to go big, and so they get big returns. Is anyone suggesting Six Flags can’t afford to build a big family attraction like Disney? Isn’t SF bigger than Disney theme parks? SF needs to decide if they are going to step into Disney’s arena of big family attractions, or is this just too impossible of a feat for SFs? Just because Six Flags isn’t familiar with big themed family rides only increases the impact of such attractions. If Six Flags built a huge themed family ride at SFMM imagen how such a bold statement would shift people's perception on what the park offers.

Yes, SF is billions dept, so spending a lot of capitol on big attractions seems counter intuitive. But its like Churchhill said, "If you find your self in hell, keep going!" They got into hell by cutting corners while spending tons on big coasters. They can only get out by spending big on the family demographic which they spent the last ten years running out of their parks. It's good they are beginning to understand how they won't end up saving money by skimping on customer service. Now they need to clue into the fact that half-assed gestures aren't now going to bring the families back any time soon.
*** This post was edited by rc-madness 4/30/2006 7:06:51 PM ***

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Sunday, April 30, 2006 12:08 PM
Too bad he already said there will not be anymore Goliaths. He could have taken credit for SFOG's recent success.

The rides are just a part of Disney's appeal. SF already has the rides now they need to fill the void that makes up the rest of Disney. That is what Shapiro is getting at I'm sure.

I beleive it is going to take several years to get people to return to SF. Especially those who have had particularly horrible experiences. I do think that his plans will eventually work.

*** This post was edited by Wabash Cannonball 4/30/2006 9:56:26 PM ***

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