Six Flags takes a beating after posting loss

Posted Friday, February 21, 2020 9:06 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags posted a net loss of $11.16 million, or 13 cents a share, after a profit of $79.4 million, or 93 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue fell to $261.0 million from $269.5 million, but topped the FactSet consensus of $260.1 million, as attendance declined 3%. Admissions spending per capita fell 2% and in-park spending per capita rose 3%.

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Friday, February 21, 2020 9:08 AM
Jeff's avatar

“Our park teams have worked hard to offset cost headwinds from minimum and competitive wage increases through other cost savings,” he told analysts, according to a FactSet transcript. “However, this has had an adverse effect on the guest experience and created downward pressure in certain areas of our guest satisfaction scores.”

I think this encapsulates why you have to keep your gate up. Weather and labor factors are volatile, and you literally have to account for a rainy day. A volume strategy of season passes and loyalty programs don't work in that situation. (Are you listening, Cedar Fair?)

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Friday, February 21, 2020 2:26 PM

I think the problem they have with "Guest Experience" Has to do with not having good well trained employees that enjoy what they are doing and have a path to move upward in the organization. Hiring most of your workforce as seasonal employees makes it hard to keep good employees year after year. The big parks ie. Universal ,Seaworld and Disney train employees to treat the guests very well .It seems to not be a priority at Six Flags Some smaller parks do it well also ie.Holiday World .Maybe Six Flags needs to poach some Managers and HR people from the well run parks .Little things make you feel that they don't just want your money like employees offering to take pictures of your whole family with your cell phone or when a kids drops an ice cream or soda in front of them they are encouraged (and allowed) to get them a free replacement.

I know it can be a rough job to be Happy and smiling on a hot day when brain dead guests (why can't i bring a bowling ball on the roller coaster)are doing stupid stuff.


P.S. signature is from when I started Coaster riding at 38 I am now 55

Friday, February 21, 2020 3:34 PM

Basically "We had to pay people more money to work here, but that didn't translate into happier experiences for our guests."

Combination of:

(1) Just because minimum wage went up didn't mean employee's attitudes did.

(2) Higher minimum wage means we hired less people and one call-off causes us to close a ride for the day.

(3) Higher labor costs means less money to other line items, leading to lower quality to guest expectations.

Saturday, February 22, 2020 5:50 PM

Six Flags should raise the prices of passes to enable them to pay employees to give a crap. A lower minimum wage gets you what you pay for.

Saturday, February 22, 2020 9:19 PM

I cancelled my Diamond Membership last month. I recently moved for a new job and now live 40 minutes away from SFGAm. I didn't like the park much. It was dirty, I thought the layout sucked, I thought the theming sucked, I thought the food sucked. While Raging Bull ops generally ran well, everywhere else it seemed no matter how light the crowd was it was always a long wait in line. I think I'm not the only person that has this opinion of six flags. I'd rather drive to Holiday World, Cedar Point, or Kings Island.

Last edited by PointMan, Saturday, February 22, 2020 9:20 PM
Saturday, February 22, 2020 11:04 PM
Schwarzkopf76's avatar

^I'm at the point with Six Flags where I just can't take it anymore. Living 45 minutes from SFGAmerica, I'm ready to make a drive to where I know I'll get good service.

I actually don't mind the layout of the park, it works. Sure, a passage through the middle from one side to the other would be nice, but oh well. The service is atrocious. Lots of good people who do care work at Six Flags parks, but they aren't given much in the way of training.

My last visit was for Fright Fest. The parking lot was a mess; I've never seen so much gridlock. I live in Chicago. After being stuck in that parking lot for about 30 minutes, I got the hell out of there. No last ride on Whizzer for the year.

I never thought I would have said this a decade ago, but I wish SF parks ran like Cedar Fair does. You rarely have to be concerned about organization/efficiency/communications, etc. at CF parks.

After that I tried to cancel my Gold (or whatever the highest is; they had a free upgrade) but was told the earliest would be May. They really have a lot to work on.

The world's longest exit queues - designed as such; almost all of them have bottlenecks. Ask 4 different employees how late the park is open, get 4 different answers. Park not busy? Closed early. It's always something. All that acting-out and fighting inside the parks in the lots. In their own ways, Six Flags has catered/marketed to that kind of crowd.

Magic Mountain and Great America could be dream parks on the scale of Cedar Point if they ran nicely. It you treat your guests right, they will come back. And spend their money.

Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:39 AM

PointMan said:

I cancelled my Diamond Membership last month. I recently moved for a new job and now live 40 minutes away from SFGAm. I didn't like the park much. It was dirty, I thought the layout sucked, I thought the theming sucked, I thought the food sucked. While Raging Bull ops generally ran well, everywhere else it seemed no matter how light the crowd was it was always a long wait in line. I think I'm not the only person that has this opinion of six flags. I'd rather drive to Holiday World, Cedar Point, or Kings Island.

That park is a fine example of how crappy Six Flags is. It was once well themed and immaculate. Slowly but surely it became everything Six Flags is infamous for.

Total focus on thrill rides, no good live entertainment, poor operations, neglected landscaping, overuse of superhero naming, jammed up lines because of Flash Pass. One feels a little sleazy after visiting there.

The park actually has an excellent roller coaster collection. But unfortunately that’s not enough to override all the negative factors about the place.

And good luck getting a live voice on the phone if you want to cancel your pass Or speak to them about any other question or issue! They make you go through a ridiculous process online where are you need to find your original confirmation number just to cancel plus they require a 45 day notice! Like I said sleazy.

Cedar Fair parks always have live customer service when you call To help you with any issue to help you with any issue

Last edited by super7*, Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:45 AM
Sunday, February 23, 2020 12:46 AM

I live in Wisconsin, I own a CF platinum pass and got to CP and KI multiple times a year, I haven’t been back to SFGAm since before Goliath opened. Outside of the Texas parks and Georgia the best days I’ve had at any other Six Flags parks do not compare to what CF offers (let alone the premium and high end chains like Disney, Universal, Sea World or Herchunds.) I literally drive by SFGAm and drive 5 hours past it to go to parks.

SF is getting another chance this summer, I am finally going to the last major park in the chain I haven’t visited the other SFGA. I’ll be getting a flash pass and living it up, let’s see if SF can deliver.

2020 Trips: Canceled by Corona

Sunday, February 23, 2020 3:15 AM
GooDFeLLoW's avatar

Yeah I think SF could do much more in terms of training and hiring. I've posted before some of my horror stories from SFDK, the worst-run park of all of history. Then a few short hours away is CGA, where the minimum wage is much higher (now at $15.40) but they don't suffer any of the major problems that SFDK faces (constant ride closures due to low staffing; poor employee attitude; poor appearance and maintenance).

I recently worked at a job fair for my company (hiring for a major pharmacy chain), and Cedar Fair was there as well trying to hire college students (SJSU, SCU) for seasonal jobs at CGA. I doubt SFDK does aggressive quality hiring practices like this.

Sunday, February 23, 2020 1:03 PM

This all is a huge confirmation why you can’t give away the gate...Zoug- Raise the prices on passes? Easier said than done. Pass sales are already down this year. Raise the price, watch them drop even further. One of the big problems with long term deep discounts is that’s what people come to expect. Remember when cars were first sold at “employee pricing” plus 0% interest? They sold cars like crazy until the promotion ended. Then they had a hard time moving cars until they brought the promotion back. Giving away the gate is kinda like that. And I admit I’m guilty of it... I missed the Flash Sale at Six Flags this year, and really debated whether to renew at the next sale because I wouldn’t get drunk bottles and passes were ~$10 more.

Last edited by ShaneDenmark, Sunday, February 23, 2020 8:17 PM

But then again, what do I know?

Sunday, February 23, 2020 3:05 PM

So THATS what those bottles are for.

Sunday, February 23, 2020 10:22 PM

China is under lockdown. Austria has stopped rail service to and from Italy. There's talk of other countries closing their borders. The corona virus could make this year hell for six flags.

Sunday, February 23, 2020 10:54 PM
bjames's avatar

Guest experience is where they think the problem is? They would be correct. I went to SFOT and SFGAdv last summer, as well as Carowinds. The first two were dirty-ass parks with over priced food and nowhere to relax and get out of the heat. Carowinds was extremely clean, and the food was overpriced too but at least you had a nice show to watch in a/c while eating it at Harmony Hall. SF continues to suck while CF continues killing it.

"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

Sunday, February 23, 2020 11:50 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I don’t know if I’m doing something different, but I’ve been to SFoT and SFDK countless times in the past 5 years and SFMM, SFFT, and, SFStL once each and I’ve never had an atrocious visit. Most visits have been good or at worst very crowded, but aside from the occasional clueless staffer or late opening ride, I haven’t found much to complain about.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Monday, February 24, 2020 5:49 AM

We let our Diamond passes go two seasons ago for Six Flags. We had a bad experience trying to cancel those on their web site, because we were told that was the only way we could cancel them. It was the worst, but luckily our credit card company got it fixed for us.

Last season we didn't worry about stepping foot in any Six Flags park. When Great Adventure announced Jersey Devil I knew we had to go and ride that. We also still need to ride the Stand up that was converted to a floorless at Six Flags America, so I bought a special pass for SFA that was $70 and includes parking at all Six Flags parks.

When I originally bought our first season passes back around 1997 or 1998 they were $59, but we had to pay for parking at each park. That made the passes more expensive than the ones I just bought for us. Doesn't make sense to me

Monday, February 24, 2020 9:59 AM
Jeff's avatar

Wait, so passes auto-renew by credit card? That's a pretty scummy way to retain customers. Disney and Universal make me renew deliberately.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

Monday, February 24, 2020 11:02 AM

I thought they had moved the passes to more of a subscription basis which would mean auto renew. Never had a SF pass but that is what I understood.

Monday, February 24, 2020 11:03 AM

Yup, that’s how they do it. In addition, the cancellation process is confusing to many and once you do get it right they hard sell you on renewing

Monday, February 24, 2020 11:08 AM

Universal auto renews monthly plans. Sea World too, but I don’t complain about that one since the honor your monthly price in perpetuity once you have it.

2020 Trips: Canceled by Corona


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