Six Flags' Shapiro discusses plans at hotel summit

Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 8:56 AM | Contributed by coasterguts

Six Flags is shifting capital spending away from high priced thrill rides as it seeks to lure more families to its theme parks and pay down debt, the company's new chief executive said on Tuesday. The company, which now carries $2.1 billion in long-term debt, plans to strengthen its balance sheet by selling off unwanted assets and by tapping more aggressively into the family market.

Read more from Reuters.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 10:53 AM
"The company is considering raising ticket prices to help pay for the improvements", he said.

Considering? How about already did... a lot.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:12 AM
Well, if your city's baseball team gets a new stadium with new food operations, a midway of stuff to do for the kids, new reatil areas, a cigar bar, lounges that host catered events that overlook the field and bla bla bla, you pay more to get in.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:21 AM
Nor necessarily. Wouldn't the baseball team want to fill all of the seats so that they have more retail sales?
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:32 AM
I would think it would make more sense to lower the ticket price a little for the beginning of this season, if not the whole year.

This way, people will have some sort of incentive to go back, and then the changes will be realized. If you just raise prices, it will scare more people away that maybe would have given the said SF park a try this season.

After a successful season at a new price, then ticket raises could be justified. They need to think carefully about this one.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 11:32 AM
If it were only as simple as 'higher prices mean less buyers and lower prices mean more buyers" then all these arguments would hold water.

The problem is it's not even close to that simple.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 12:02 PM
Bottom is line is that they have 'unmanagable debt'. It is growing as you read this. They only have SF Magic Mountian bringing in revenue. Yea, they get a split from the new waterpark, and some hotel operations, but no where near enough to support 30 other parks' payrolls, etc.

They need to take in MORE money during the 2nd and 3rd quarters just to meet expenses in the 4th and 1st quarters. The same amount of people will go to SF this year, as there are not enough smaller parks to fill the need. Yes, they will sell more season passes, but that will take away gate revenue in post-Labor Day operating days.

People are dumb, and feel obligated. They will go to SF, pay $15 to park, pay $40-60 to get in, curse, pout, and stamp there feet, and tell everyone they went and paid too much. Then they will go again before the park closes. You know that, I know that, and SF knows that.

How did Disney fix their books? They raised prices. How did Cedar Fair justify buying Knott's? They raised their prices. What was the first thing Kennywood did back in 1983 when they bough Idlewild Park? Raise their prices.

People have been disgusted at Elitch's Gardens, for years, but does Lakeside Park across town have any more people in the gate? NO. Everybody has a choice.

SF cannot borrow any more funds for capital dollars right now. If they could, they would be adding indoor waterparks, hotels, coasters, and anything else that brings in more people and year round revenue to every park.

It took Cedar Fair to post its first profitable 4th quarter in over 46 years of operations. Granted, they didn't own Knott's in 1959, but when you make a profit post Labor Day, its time to celebrate. SF has a long way to go before the belly up to the bar.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 2:03 PM
Agent johnson, your scenario might have merit if SF was going to make there parks new and add alot of amenties on top of what is already offered.

Alas they are going to spend alot less money on new attractions and instead start cleaning up the bathrooms(which always should ave been done) and adding some characters and maybe a medicore parade. And then bombard us with new tie-ins which will just mean more pr BS that most would not want to see. I want too see what they are going to do to theme parts of ther parks better.

Time will tell how the new management will do. but it seems to me they want to offer less, with a few comsetic changes and charge us more for it while giving us more advertising around the park which detracts from any attempt to theme a park.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006 2:15 PM
I definitely like the talk of heavily themeing areas. Obviously, for anyone who's been to Six Flags America, it's not the front half of the park that needs too much work (I still think Coyote Creek looks great), but Gotham City that is mostly barren. In the "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" department, I found a picture from a year before Penguin's Blizzard River was added looking towards Krypton Comet (Chaos). They planted a lot of small trees on the right side of the midway, so of course the next year they all came down for the new attraction. That was really stupid in my opinion and an obvious way of showing that the last management team didn't plan very well. In fact, in the whole picture set you can see more landscaping that didn't make it to 2003.

If Shapiro and team are really serious about aiming more towards families, than they need to add more family rides at SFA. Coasters may not have a high ROI, but discounting the little Zamperla coaster, we're still missing a mid-level ride. I'm talking anything from a Zamperla Roller Skater, to a Wild Mouse, a mine train, or a Poison Ivy's Twisted Train type of coaster. Basically, anything that doesn't require you to have a kid to ride it.

While I can't pass judgement on the Topple Tower yet until I get to Dollywood (fingers crossed for this year), they do look like a fun family ride and Huss is selling lots of them. It says a lot that Huss has already added it to their Classic line-up of rides. So I would definitely be cool on seeing some of those added next year.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006 3:19 AM
Horray- yes theming (is that a word? MS Word says no) needs to come back! Superman in New Orleans doesn't make much sense to me (SFGrAm). Darien Lake has historically had "country" names for most of its rides (the swings are (were?) the Lasso, the enterprise was either the Spinning Wheel or the Silver Bullet, and their odd paratrooper thing was they Hay Maker and had hay on the tops of the cars)- run with that- we could have Six Flags Country Kingdom or something like that.

Horray for entertainment. I was working at SFGrAm when Premier took over SF from Time Warner and my friends in the Entertainment Dept said they were worrided because Premier had declared "We're not a show park company, we're a ride park company." Nice to see some focus on shows come back. Seeing shows (good shows anyways) is a great way to break up a day, especially when its hot and the show is in an air-conditioned theatre.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006 12:21 AM
BrownStreak... They'll have to pay to get some good good Entertainment people back. My (limited) experience with the Entertainment people at SF has not been a very positive one (Except for one or two that got out and tried different parks)
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