Six Flags to lose money for fifth straight year in 2003

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2003 5:26 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags, Inc. is expected to lose money for the fifth straight year in 2003. It lost $122 million in the first six months alone as attendance fell 7.2% from a year earlier, the company said last week. Already saddled with debt, Six Flags was hurt further by the sluggish economy, weak consumer confidence and lousy spring weather in the Midwest and East.

Read more from The LA Times.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003 5:29 AM
I'll wait one more quarter... maybe then I'll buy. I agree that it probably can't get much worse, but I need to see something more encouraging than "positive cash flow."

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
DELETED! What time does the water show start?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 5:41 AM
They forgot to mention that their crappy service and $97 Hot Dog prices kept people away, too.

Okay, they are not "That" bad, but I couldn't resist.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 5:45 AM
If they sell 467,479,675 shares of stock they can pay off all there debt. Excluding the cost of issuing those shares.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:08 AM
Why can't they just sell off some of the "underperforming" parks, and try to decrease some debt that way?
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:20 AM
Because the "underperforming" parks still bring in some money with little capital investment. Selling off the park is a one time shot of cash. Once it's gone, it's gone. No more income from that park. And, besides, with debt like that, what good would it do them to try and peck away at it by selling parks that aren't worth all that much anyway?
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:23 AM
^I guess that SF bought so many smaller Parks because the former owners wanted to get rid of them. Lots of those parks didnĀ“t do too well in the first place.

What will happen if you buy a poorly maintained park back from SF? The whole Warner/Looney Tunes theming has to go. This leaves you with a park full of expensive to maintain rides, no atmosphere and worst of all, a bad reputation.

I guess that only another corporate company could cope with such a task. Who would seriously want to do that. I highly doubt that CF or Paramount will to it.

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YEN! Not ZEN!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:27 AM
Sounds like they are not charging enough for parking ;)
There was a news article a while back about how SF Inc said that next year they are going turn the ship around and make a profit and pay off their debt. Good luck SF Inc.

Jim Wolgamuth

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:36 AM
The land is what is worth the money. Selling the land would bring in the addition cash. For example, SFA sits in a prime residential area with $400,000 homes surrounding it. IF SF was to sell the park to developers they could easily get a mucho dollars for it.

I liked this quote:

"Our challenge for 2004 is to arrest the attendance decline of the past two seasons," Burke told the analysts, adding that "we are not simply shrugging this off as, well, it was just a tough year with weather and the economy."

Are we going to start with the poor service and replacing consistently inoperable rides at some of the parks? Iron Eage at SFA hasn't worked for weeks.
*** This post was edited by coasterguts 8/26/2003 10:37:52 AM ***

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 6:44 AM
guts, assuming en arguendo that what you say about SFA is true, it *still* wouldn't make sense for SFI to sell that park off. Even though it gets run through the wringer by so-called enthusiasts, SFA is one of the parks that has performed well (i.e. proffitable). That is not a feat that should be shrugged off lightly. Remember, SFA has big time competition in the North (HersheyPark) and the South (PKD) with SFGAdv and BGW not too far either.

People on these (and other) boards may think the park sucks, but the attendance numbers show that SFA is still attracting visitors......who actually spend money (on what I have no idea :))

lata, jeremy

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My current favorite home video game!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:07 AM
How about cutting ticket prices and food prices? I haven't attended a Six Flags park because of the high cost of the tickets. If it was reasonable prices try around $35 then I would go more often and offer 2 day pass for around $40. I remember when I was growing up and you could get a two day pass for under $30. That was in the mid 70's.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:15 AM
Well SFA's certainly gonna have it's share of competition from HP with it's new rocket coaster so if they don't do something major in 04(ie major coaster/flat ride)then they're certainly not gonna be able to maintain their high attendance figures.

SFA doesn't compete with SFGRADV,they only ompete with PKD,BGW & HP. Either way SFI needs to start fixing up the smaller parks because that's where they're losing money.

I mean why is it that they can't figure it out that if they put forth more capital investment in these parks that they can make a bit more in the way of overall profits than they are now? it seems that their plans of spoiling the big 4 backfired on them ,because even with new coasters added to 3 of the big 4 parks it still didn't do much to help grow attendance this season.

Does anyone know if,or believe the rumors of SFI not adding any rides to any parks in 04? that would seem like a form of financial suicide on SFI's part when they've got their competion putting up new rides next year like there's no tomorrow.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:21 AM
There is no one thing that will "quick fix" a chain the size of Six Flags. While I defend Six Flags on many points, I will admit when it comes to customer service and a sence of urgency when it comes to taking care of problems, Six Flags is sub-par.

Declining attendance would indicate that people who usually go to their local Six Flags once a year are no longer doing so. Lack of repeat business will cripple them in the longrun, and its already showing.

Judging from reports, many peeps will walk away mad if there was no service or numerous ride closures, then not come back. Of course most of those reports came from enthusiasts. I wish I could TR's from the average non-enthusiast after a frustrating day. Just to see if they will see or complain about the things we all see when we go to a park.

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SCREAM with me... in 2003!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:28 AM

How about cutting ticket prices...? I haven't attended a Six Flags park because of the high cost of the tickets.

Really? Six Flags parks are notorious for giving their gate away. Anyone paying full price is a chump. There are coupons in fast food places, buy one get one free soft drink cans, etc. You can easily attend a Six Flags park for less than $25.

I can think of many reasons not to attend, but the gate price isn't one of them.

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Rejection is one thing, but rejection from a fool is cruel!
-Morrissey

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 8:38 AM
I believe they should raise season pass prices and offer more perks with them to make them seem more valuable. Perks cost the parks very little money, but give them a better rep.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 9:32 AM
2Hostyl:

I used SFA as an example of the land value, didn't want to give the impression that SFI would sell that property, your absolutely correct in saying the park is performing well and it would be a bad move to sell that park.

TNCoaster:

I think SF is one of a better value amusement park, call it the Wal-Mart version of amusement parks. I went to HP recently and payed $3.25 for a bottle of water vs. $2.75 at SFA. Food was more expensive at HP than SFA, T-shirts etc.. were cheaper at SFA all around and the price for entrance to SFA this season was $36.00, cheapest in the Maryland/VA/D.C. area. Don't forget amusement taxes are usually fiqured into the price of a ticket and their may be additional taxes figured into the price of parking. As for cutting ticket prices, you can't cut much more than the $10-$15.00 discount coupons that SF was handing out this year. Not to mention savings of 50% if you go to the park after 4:00 and purchase your ticket online (at least were the discounts being offered by SFA).

john peck:

If you don't mind paying for the few extra perks, purchase a premium pass if your park offers them. At my home park, I got a premium this season and last season, primarily for two things, the 20% discount on food and the bring-a-friend for free coupons. The 20% discount brought the cost of a bottle of water $2.25 for me this year and I got discounts on grilled chicken meals and pizzas. Not to mention SFFT gave me a discount when I visited as well.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 9:39 AM
Well, one of the many reasons is custumer service. But when I went to sfgam last week, the park was packed and people were spending money. One thing that made me wonder was why they closed the gift shops at the front gate 5 min after the park closed. The park was still packed, and people wanted to buy suvenears(sp) but were turned away........there is one of the many reasons that sf is in the hole.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 9:48 AM
Pricing is not the issue. Cap ex is not the issue. People go to parks that are more expensive and have more expensive season passes and less cap ex.

So what do you suppose that leaves?

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
DELETED! What time does the water show start?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 10:06 AM
Why do the Disney Parks continue to succeed as they do year after year? (Because they own the world?...no..)
What can the SF learn from their success?
The Value of Quality.

Disney doesn't build the most thrilling parks, but you know you are getting high quality for your dollar.

I visited SFGA with a friend 2 weeks ago and didn't mind overpaying for lunch, but when the paper thin chicken sandwich was also cold, it added to that bad taste already in my mouth. (I do realize that people don't come for the chicken, but does this reflect the value of experience across the board?)

Was it that or the overflowing garbage cans, or the not so hospitable staff that made me consider that being my last visit to a SF park no matter the thrills?

There are lots of parks out there....what separates them when the thrills are all neck and neck?

Last weekend, I visited Lake Compounce for the sake of Boulder Dash. The staff was having as much fun as we were. (at least successfully pretending to) The energy was great. You could feel it in the guests. (less park=more fun...how did that happen?)

(And the chicken sandwich wasn't bad either :)

Hmmmm.

Good luck Six Flags, I would hate to see a park close

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003 10:19 AM
I dont think it is the price of admission, now food prices are another matter.
I think it gets down to customer service/how clean the parks are/quality of guests in the park/family atmosphere. And in all of these catagories SF does medicore to awful!!!
What SF needs to do is get away from hiring inhouse executives fo high level positions and hire people from parks like BGW/Holiday World/disney where the parks excel in the catagories i mentioned. If the parks can become customer friendly/provide a good family atmosphere and dont have guests who frequently use profane language/parks are clean i think you will get more guests/more families who spend alot more money than people who make repeated visits on season passes who spend little money. I know personally due to how the parks are run i try to spend as little money at SF parks because while i enjoy the rides the rest of the experience isnt usually positive.
Which is different from how i spend money at parks where i have a much better experience where i dont exit to buy food and look for souvenirs.
As an aside for money why doesnt SF sell something as simple as pins which make other parks alot of money or change their t-shirts etc. When i visit parks i rarely see people wearing SF shirts/hats but its hard to go to a SF park and not see people wearing t-shirts/hats from other parks like wdw or even Holiday World which seems to sell Legend/Raven shirts in numoeurs different syles.
This is all money that SF is leaving on the table which could help the bottom line, while they perfer to gouge people with fastlane passes or premium parking scams which may give them short term money but upsets far more guests in the long term IMHO.
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