Six Flags profit down slightly on sliding per capita spending

Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:24 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags said attendance rose 9% to 8.9 million guests from a year earlier, while admissions per capita spending decreased 7%. Total guest spending per capita fell 5% to $41.55. Second quarter profit was down 1.2%.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:28 AM

That's a pretty serious drop in per caps... what's the cause? I haven't been to a Six Flags park in years, not because of any inherent dislike for them, they just aren't where I am.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:32 AM

"Six Flags' active pass base—representing those with a season pass or enrolled in the company's membership program—rose 32% from a year earlier."

... I don't know how they account for this in the numbers, but season passes certainly change my spending habits significantly.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:32 AM

My guess?

From the article:

"Six Flags' active pass base—representing those with a season pass or enrolled in the company's membership program—rose 32% from a year earlier."

That would explain both an increased attendance and a lower per cap.

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EDIT - Wow. We posted at practically the same moment.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:42 AM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:42 AM

I blame the weather.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:50 PM

It's because Michigan's Adventure still hasn't gotten a new coaster.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:55 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

"Six Flags' active pass base—representing those with a season pass or enrolled in the company's membership program—rose 32% from a year earlier."

That would explain both an increased attendance and a lower per cap.

What's interesting is that I haven't noticed a significant change in their pass structure/pricing, at least in this market. We got SFoT/HH combo passes for the price of regular passes, which is a pretty steep discount, but no better than previous years when they'd chop 30-40% off the face value if you bought earlier in the year. I wonder what's fueling the increase in pass sales and/or pass usage.

Actually, now that I think about it, since we got combo passes, we've probably made 2x visits to Six Flags properties this year over our already absurd number last year (prob. 30 so far this year). The HH add-on didn't increase our spending but dramatically increased our attendance. Maybe I answered my own question.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 1:30 PM

The change in product mix may kind of explain it, but if that's the driver, then it's definitely a failure if profit is down 1.2%. That's the strategy that they followed in the Burke days, and we know how that turned out. There's some cost associated with having a body in the park, and if the cost of their pass and their spending doesn't keep you at the margin you want, I think you need to make some corrections. That is, don't go back to giving away the gate.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 1:57 PM

I went to a Six Flags (Great Adventure) earlier this year for the very first time since there was one half an hour away in Aurora, OH.

I showed up as early as possible, paid for parking and admission I rode all of the rides (and was rather impressed with some of them), and then I left. I ate lunch there, and I looked for something that I would have worn elsewhere, and found nothing.

Now I feel bad for not throwing more money at them. Maybe if their Top Spin had been open, I'd have stayed longer. :(

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 2:31 PM

Jeff said:

That's the strategy that they followed in the Burke days, and we know how that turned out.

That was my initial thought as well. Six Flags' CEO James Reid-Anderson was on CNBC earlier today. He was asked something along the lines of what is the key to your industry and he said that it was to add something new every year to every park. That made me feel even more like they were going back down that same path. Sure, they aren't adding huge investments to every park yearly, but just that thought process is a bit worrisome.

He did mention later in the interview about trying to give guests an overall experience and that their customer service surveys are better than ever, but still the financial end seems awfully familiar.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 3:07 PM

ApolloAndy said:

I wonder what's fueling the increase in pass sales and/or pass usage.

Apparently, a desire to not blame the weather in these reports.

"The increase is in line with the company's strategy to upsell guests to multi-visit passes, a hedge against inclement weather, Six Flags said."

Is it really an 'upsell' when it doesn't cost (much) more than a day's admission.

Plus, they started selling "one park" passes good for just one park and not the entire chain.

"Upsell" the customer to the single-park pass and a dining plan and it's only $146.98 at St. Louis. You're at a $36.75 per cap at just four visits... Oh, I suppose that doesn't include parking.

Ok then, make it a gold (which includes parking, all park access and the usual perks) and you're at $167.98. At four visits the per cap on that is $41.99.

Ugh.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 4:16 PM

For what it's worth...

During my Very Short Visit to Six Flags Great America Saturday last. I noticed signs promoting a go-kart season pass and a shopping season pass ($16.99 for a season-long 20% discount on merchandise).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 5:26 PM

SFOT also offers the refillable sports bottle that's good for free refills for the day, another that's good for refills for the season, and a popcorn bucket good for 99 cent refills for the season. Not only are they back to giving away the gate, but they're giving away a lot once you're in the gate.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:20 PM

Would LOVE to know the impact of the season-long food programs.

I would never have considered doing anything like that....you might have convinced me to sell a pass for half-off food, but you'd NEVER convince me to feed the teenagers I'm already babysitting thanks to questionable SP pricing.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:39 PM

Because all the crap is so expensive in their parks. I might buy a drink if I'm really thirsty, that's all. Otherwise I bring my own food or eat before and after my visit.

Last edited by bjames, Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:39 PM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 6:51 PM

My season pass cost $50. A one day ticket to Great Adventure costs $69 at the gate. In what world does this pricing strategy make sense?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 8:35 PM

A season pass costs LESS than a one day ticket? That's messed up! My Cedar Fair platinum pass was $190 while a one day ticket is $62. I think Six Flags needs to fire the guy in charge of pricing.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:05 PM

Why the shock? They've been operating that way for most of the last decade. All but a year or two during the Shapiro/bankruptcy years.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:30 PM

Yeah, the year or two that they were actually successful.

I would call them the Walmart of amusement parks, but that's not even accurate anymore. They're the dollar store of amusement parks.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:26 PM

Can you imagine!?!

Get into the park? $1! Ride Goliath? $1! Have a burger? $1!

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