Six Flags reports decrease of attendance and revenue compared to 2019 with massive increase in per capita spending

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, today reported attendance of 8.5 million and revenue of $460 million for second quarter 2021. Results for second quarter 2021 are not directly comparable to the same prior-year period due to the COVID-19-related suspension of operations and operating restrictions that began in mid-March 2020. Therefore, the company believes it is most relevant to compare its results in the second quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2019.

As expected, due to the continuing effects of the pandemic, the company reported lower attendance for second quarter 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. As of May 29, the company had opened all its parks, and, as of June 15, none of the parks were subject to mandated capacity constraints, with the exception of the theme park in Montreal and the two parks in Mexico.

Year-to-date through July 25, which includes the July 4th holiday period in both 2021 and 2019, average attendance at the company’s parks during the periods they were open in 2021 was approximately 82% compared to the same periods in 2019.1 Attendance through this time of year historically includes a significant contribution from pre-booked groups, inclusive of school groups who typically book in advance. Pre-booked group attendance has been significantly diminished due to the pandemic. Excluding pre-booked groups, attendance at the company’s open parks year-to-date through July 25 was approximately 89% compared to the same period in 2019 at those same parks.1 Pre-booked groups historically comprise a smaller proportion of attendance during the remainder of the year.

“Our results this quarter are due to the dedication of our team members, who really pulled together to safely reopen our parks,” said Mike Spanos, President and CEO. “While the operating environment continues to be challenging, we are encouraged by the initial progress on our transformation plan, which contributed to our improving revenue and guest spending per capita trends. Our goal is to delight both our guests and our shareholders by providing classic Six Flags thrills, enhanced with modern technology, while keeping a careful eye on costs.”


Results of first half 2021 compared to first half 2019

The decrease in attendance was due to the temporary pandemic-related limitations on park operations at several of the company’s parks in 2021, and capacity restrictions at some of the parks that were open, partially offset by the change to the company’s reporting calendar.

The $64 million decrease in revenue was driven by a $34 million reduction in sponsorship, international agreements, and accommodations revenue, primarily related to the termination of the company’s contracts in China and Dubai in 2020 and 2019, respectively; and a reduction in sponsorship revenue and accommodations revenue due to the pandemic. Excluding sponsorship, international agreements, and accommodations revenue, total revenue declined by $30 million or 5%. The decrease was a result of lower attendance, net of the attendance increase related to the fiscal quarter reporting change, partially offset by higher guest spending per capita.

The company partially offset the decrease in revenue with lower operating costs. The reduction in operating costs reflected cost savings measures during the first six months driven by the company’s transformation plan, lower advertising costs, a benefit from the proceeds received in connection with one of its terminated international development agreements in China, and lower salaries, wages and benefits due to the fact that several of the company’s parks that were operating in first quarter 2019 were not operating in first quarter 2021. In the second quarter, wage rate increases and higher incentive costs to attract and retain team members were partially offset by fewer total employee hours worked due to the tight labor market.

Total guest spending per capita in first half 2021 increased 21% compared to first half 2019. Applying the pro forma allocation from Admissions spending to In-park spending in 2019, Admissions spending per capita increased 22% and In-park spending per capita increased 20%. The increase in Admissions spending per capita was driven by the company’s revenue management initiatives and a shorter average season for 2021 season passes versus 2019. Most 2021 season passes have been sold later in the season than in 2019, resulting in season pass revenue being recognized over a shorter time frame and higher Admissions spending per capita. The increase in In-park spending per capita was due to early progress on several of the company’s transformation initiatives and strong consumer spending trends.

Read the whole press release on Business Wire.

Jeff's avatar

There is a lot of give and take in these results, and even the comparison to 2019 doesn't seem like an apples comparison. If anything feels particularly positive, it's the astounding increase in per capita spending, which is a pretty big change for them. (Disclaimer: I'm long on a few shares of SIX.)

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

One has to take into account the absolute poor quality of a Six Flags experience. Their lower attendance is also affected by poor operations and poorly maintained parks.

21% increase in the per cap? Curious to know what that is attributed to.

Jeff's avatar

I saw some pretty ridiculous food prices on FB somewhere, so that might be part of it. People gotta eat.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

Yeah, those are the kinds of price increases that generate crazy increases in per-caps today, offset by lower attendance numbers next season. Cedar Point played that game for a while and it bit them pretty hard.

But it seems that at least part of that increase in per-caps is also because they are dividing season pass purchase revenue over fewer visits per pass due to late purchases, so there are probably some offsets to ridiculous pricing.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

It would seem that SF has some lofty new goals indeed. SFFT just announced their new for 2022 addition - a B&M Dive Coaster!!

Last edited by Texas Thrillseeker #1,
Fun's avatar

Everyone in the industry is repeating the same the same refrain: people are eager to spend money. I suspect other operators will show a similar increase in per capita spending. The real question is whether it’s a temporary correction, considering people had fewer places to use discretionary money in 2020.

I've been to a 5 six flags parks and can't say I like any of them.

How can they possibly have higher per cap spending when it takes an act of God to find an open food outlet?

between dining pass sales and reduced locations, (and the crappiest mobile ordering process I’ve ever encountered) I’m gobsmacked at those numbers. The guest experience at SFMM has really sucked this year. Good for them if they’ve been able to make money at it.

Disclaimer: I thought I was long SIX once, but was told I was average.

Last edited by CreditWh0re,

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