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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Monday, February 24, 2020 1:14 PM

GoBucks89 said:

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.

I don't think it's even an "auto-renew." You simply agree to pay a specific monthly amount, and continue paying it until you cancel. You also can't cancel within 12 months of starting.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020 2:19 PM
Fun's avatar

I've heard the term subscription fatigue thrown around quite a bit lately, and I think there is merit to it.

With many businesses shifting their revenue model to pay by the month, naturally, people are going to make comparisons on what subscriptions deliver the best value. We've seen the extent to which Netflix and others have invested in new content to fight churn, and I'm not convinced Six Flags has done enough to reinvest, nor do I believe they are a slam-dunk in percieved value amongst all memberships. Parks aren't open year-round, and yet you pay for it. That's not the case for your gym or streaming service membership.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020 3:20 PM

I wouldn't call the 45-day cancellation "unethical," unless this wasn't made obvious at the time you signed up. Many services have a notification period in canceling, but they all make it known in the original paperwork. The difficulty in canceling certainly is, though. There should be an obvious way to do so, without any unnecessary burden on the consumer.

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Friday, February 28, 2020 2:11 PM
Schwarzkopf76's avatar

The real problem is that it's difficult to cancel even after you have followed the rules. Anyone at the park is going to give you a different answer on it; it's apparently hard to do on the website (huge surprise). It's all very confusing, especially to the people that work there (similar to the park closing time, where the restrooms are, etc.) It's just a junk service at a junk chain.

But they got them awesome rides.

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Friday, February 28, 2020 10:24 PM
OhioStater's avatar

Maybe it's because we still live in NE Ohio, where access to our home park (take a guess) is obviously seasonal, but I still can't wrap my head around the appeal or advantage in using the word "subscription" and applying it to a season pass.

I get a subscription to a media outlet, or a cable service, or an internet provider. Back in the day I got a subscription to Columbia House.

But to a theme park?

I don't get it. And I don't want it.

Am I missing something?

Last edited by OhioStater, Friday, February 28, 2020 10:46 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Friday, February 28, 2020 11:01 PM

If a season pass is $99, it would be $8.25/month. If the park allows someone to pay $8.25/month, they are providing 0% financing. If they charge you $9/month, you are paying a finance charge but it allows you to pay over time. May allow someone who couldn't come up with the full $99 to get a pass.

In year two, you can cancel if you want and not pay the full $99 (or whatever the cost is with the finance charge).

My insurance company allows me to pay my car insurance every 3 months (rather than every 6 months) for a few dollar fee. I understand other insurance companies allow people to pay monthly. Presumably for more of a fee. Presumably there are people who pay the fee to spread out payments on a more even basis or they wouldn't offer the option.

People have their utilities on budgets so they pay the same amount each year. Some people always lease cars because they view a car payment like a utility: I will always have one.

Not necessarily for everyone but not sure more options is harmful. Parks that offer memberships/subscriptions still offer single pay seasons passes, right?

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 4:48 AM

I deleted my previous post by accident.

These parks are going t memberships for this reason IMO. With a typical season pass you are locked into one season. With a membership you are locked into one season spread over 12 months plus they hope you will just keep going. Or worse yet forget to cancel.

in the case of six flags they have taken the unethical approach and made it hard to cancel, plus they require a 45 day notice even if you have met your year. You can’t get anyone on the phone to help you and they make you jump through hoops on the website in order to cancel. It’s a few extra dollars in their pocket in the short run but they upset people in the long run and lose customers

It should also be noted the Busch Gardens let you cancel the day your 12 months is up and they have customer service on the phone that will help you cancel

Cedar Fair will let you spread your payments over something like nine months. But there is no continuation You don’t have to remember to cancel anything. This is the best way to treat customers

Last edited by super7*, Sunday, March 1, 2020 10:33 PM
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Saturday, February 29, 2020 8:01 AM

I figured other people went through the misery we did with the membership cancellation process. I feel bad for anyone that had to endure that pain. We even had a problem with the dining plan when we added it to our passes.

Because we originally bought our passes from Six Flags New England, but added the dining plan on our visit to Great Adventure. It wouldn't work for us that day. I ended having to go to customer service and they gave my wife and I two meal tickets each to use for the day and were told that we had to call SFNE to fix.

When I finally got in touch with customer service at SFNE(took patience. Reminded me of calling Comcast,) I was told that they needed to credit the dining plan we bought at great Adventure back and buy the dining plan from SFNE.

The two bonuses for all the headache is that the dining plan was $5 cheaper from SFNE, and we were able to use the meal options on our passes along with the meal tickets they'd already given us, so we got an extra 2 entrees that day. ;-)

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 10:02 AM
Jeff's avatar

The subscription model is absolutely a retention tactic. Every known business that uses it has a significant number of customers who don't use the service but pay for it. Someone brought up insurance, the average auto policy ends up being renewed for six years, in part because people don't take the time to shop around, as it's easier to just renew.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 12:58 PM
OhioStater's avatar

I think my brain rejects the word subscription because of 1) Cedar Point being open only 6 months out of the year, and 2) I can't subscribe to something I'm not currently using. Also not a fan of spreading payments out for things I don't have to. I just want to pay for it and be done with it (hell, we even did this with our kids' braces). Not to mention it just sounds grammatically odd to say "I am subscribing to an amusement park".

If it was a year-round park, it makes more sense. I totally get that, and I also get that it's nothing more than a retention tactic.

I would absolutely be one of those who would forget to cancel. I think my tendencies I wrote above have to do with how many unwanted CDs I got from Columbia House in the early 90's.

Last edited by OhioStater, Saturday, February 29, 2020 1:05 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 1:39 PM
Jeff's avatar

Am I the only one who bought their required 3 CD's immediately and cancelled in college?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 1:55 PM
OhioStater's avatar

Yes.


Promoter of fog.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 3:38 PM

Its obvious why the parks are going with the subscription/membership option. I thought the question was why it would appeal to customers. Payment plans aren't limited to amusement parks. From what I have seen, the more money you make and/or the older you are, the less appealing payment plans will be.

You guys are young. I bought cassette tapes from Columbia House (want to say it was 12 for a penny but cannot recall for sure). Didn't cancel immediately but it was soon thereafter.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 5:08 PM

I bought vinyl and 45’s.

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Saturday, February 29, 2020 11:36 PM
Jeff's avatar

RCMAC said:

I bought vinyl and 45’s.

What's old is new again... hipsters love vinyl.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Sunday, March 1, 2020 12:16 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Jeff said:

Am I the only one who bought their required 3 CD's immediately and cancelled in college?

I think I did at last 4 different membership to BMG and referred myself. Started a nice little CD collection that way. Never paid for more than the bare minimum.


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."

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Sunday, March 1, 2020 12:54 AM
Jeff's avatar

I never did BMG because they were able to manufacture their own stuff and often didn't have the full liner notes.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Sunday, March 1, 2020 4:21 PM
OhioStater's avatar

Just for fun I plucked out as many of the "10 for a penny" Cd's I could remember from my memory.

REM: Out of Time

Toad the Wet Sprocket: Fear

Pearl Jam: Vs.

Arrested Development: 3 years, 5 months...

Cinderella: Heartbreak Station

The Cure: Wish

PM Dawn: The Bliss Album

Tesla: Psychotic Supper

Nirvana: In Utero

It's slightly bugging me that I can't remember the last 1, but slightly proud of myself for remembering 9 of them. I remember how psyched I was to get a CD player for the first time; a smallish Magnavox home stereo that had a funky "3-cds at once" holder.

EDIT: Of course: it was Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill.

I like the taste that early-90's me had.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, March 1, 2020 4:28 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Sunday, March 1, 2020 6:16 PM
Jeff's avatar

I was going to congratulate you on your taste in music until you listed Cinderella. 🤮 Tesla is questionable as well. Fear might have been the best album of 1991, closely followed by Ten.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Sunday, March 1, 2020 10:25 PM
OhioStater's avatar

My 16-year-old-self appreciates the compliment.

Out of Time and Automatic FTP solidified REM in by brain as my favorite band back then, but man did Toad come in a very close second. Followed them for a long time.


Promoter of fog.

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