Smaller Six Flags Part, Detrimental to the Six Flags Brand Name?

Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:37 PM
Around a few years ago, Premier Parks aquired many smaller to medium sized parks. Eventually they would go on to aquire all the Six Flag Parks in the chain and become Six Flags Inc, which is what exist today.

However during that recent expansion and buying, they decided to brand some of the smaller or medium sized parks with the Six Flags name. Parks such as Elitch Gardens, Riverside Park (Six Flags New England), Kentucky Kingdom, Darien Lake, Geauga Lake, among others. They would typically add a major new roller coaster or expansion, and give it the Six Flags name. For example in 2000, geauga Lake added 4 new roller coasters, including Batman Knight Flight and Villain, and had a name change to Six Flags Ohio. Darien Lake also received similar treatment when they were branded after adding Superman Ride of Steel.

However the question is, was this model a success? The goal or so it seems was for the medium size parks, to experience significant growth from the expansion, but more importantly from being a Six Flags park. They wanted the original and well respected Six Flags parks such as Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags Over Texas, to give the developing parks a lift from having the name and the cartoon characters.

In my opinion this plan was not successful, and only made sense at a few of the parks. Six Flags Ohio, expanded to quickly and a lack of emphasis on service and guest experience led to a drop in attendence of more than 50 percent. Also the buying of the Sea World side and the overall poor performance led to them selling the park to Cedar Fair. So that was definately a losted opportunity, and a huge financial loss

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, really never should have been given the six flags brand. The size of the park lends itself more to a regional audiance, and the waterpark is what draws in the guest there.

Other parks had more success, like Six Flags America. They are in a bigger market being near D.C and had more room to expand. However I still think overall the idea was a mistake and they expanded to quickly.

Perhaps the biggest negavite of branding the parks Six Flags, is the reputation of the Six Flags name. Before they did this, Six Flags was considered to have great parks regardless of what park you went to, and was one of North Americans top theme park chiains. What exist now is a whole range of Six Flags Parks, varying in quality, number of roller coasters, park size, and price.

Not every park in a chain of course is going to have the same quality, that is unreasonable. However going to Six Flags Great America, is a completely different experience then going to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. Six Flags Great America is one of the best parks in the midwest, with great coasters, rides, employees, and overall atmosphere. I even saw a ride operator on crutches working on the floor helping out and doing the controls, in 90 degree heat no less. That shows you the amount of pride the employees there have to work through injuries. Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is a different story, and is not suited for the Six Flags name.

The problem with this situation is when someone goes to a lesser Six Flags park, and has such a bad experience that they associate it with other Six Flags parks. I am not talking about an enthusiast, who knows what Six Flags parks are worth going to, and which ones are not. Just your typical guest, who visits a park every once in a while. If he happens to be near another Six Flags park, I have a feeling the bad experience will convince him to spend money else where.

The solution is not so simple though. I am not sure if you could just rename all the Six Flags Parks that don't deserve the title. That would be really hard to market. However the company is not in the best financial shape, so perhaps that type of drastic move is necessary. Also selling some parks that don't make a profit has and probably should continue. They were too big for their own good at one time, and probably should still lose some more parks.

Cedar Fair and Paramount Parks have been doing well the last few years, and they have parks all across the U.S. It is not the weather, it is the overall lack of quality in the product with some of the parks they own. It is time for Six Flags to realize their business model is not working, and a change is needed.

Does anyone else agree? *** Edited 7/22/2005 12:41:57 AM UTC by Beast Fan***

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:51 PM
Beast Fan,

Hey, Just to let you know Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is one of the few Six Flags parks that makes money.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 8:59 PM
Hey Beast Fan, who are you to say SFKK should have never been branded? That park actually sustains itself. The water park is not the main draw. Please, it might be a big help but if it were the main draw for the park it would have gone under a while ago. Have you forgotten about Splashin' Safari? And also, SFKK will have land to expand on when they are ready. Have you seen the backside of the park. There is room. And to make this post more "too the topic," No I don't agree. :)
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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:13 PM
I have been lead to believe that Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has broken even or had small losses for much of its seasons with the Six Flags names. I also have noticed that they have not received many new roller coasters and their latest new attraction is in the waterpark.

So, it is not like I have their financial information right in front of me. I do however read the latest on their company when they report their quarterly results. I also remember Shaggy describing what it was like to work at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. He also mentioned that it strived to break even, and was in the red most years. So that is what I am basing my information on.

Also how can you not say the quality of the smaller Six Flags Parks is substantial compared to the established ones? That is not to say that any of smaller Six Flags Parks are not good. Quite a few are good, and I had a good time at the park.

However I had a good time at Indiana Beach, Holiday World, and Knobles. Yet if something crazy happens and Six Flags unfortunately aquires one of those parks, I would not want the six flags label on any of them. Those parks are great, but completely different in size and scope of what Six Flags Parks were about.

It would be like Paramount or Cedar Fair aquiring Wyandot Lake from them and making it a member of a chain. Sure Wyandot Lake is a nice small park, but like certain parks Six Flags aquired and branded, not suited for the brand name. At least Six Flags realizes that, or we probably would have seen Six Flags Columbus.

NABOY:

If Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom makes a profit, I would be interested on where you read this. Not that I don't believe it, but it interest me. I never had any one else mention that the park makes a profit. I assume your refering to them making a profit when you say making money. I would hope every park has some type of revenue and earnings, the question however is it enough to overcome the cost to operate and other losses to make a profit.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:15 PM
Mudinthevayne, THANK YOU!!!!

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:24 PM
The last coaster was Greezed Lightnin' in 2003. Also in 2000 they added RRE. We haven't gotten one in 2 seasons. The trend seems to be every 3-4 years. Even though it was relocated, and the one before it was a family coaster, we seem to get coasters more often than some parks (i.e. Darien Lake) so something is going right. But what does adding coasters have to do with how good a park is doing anyways? Not all parks have to chug out a multi million dollar coaster every couple of years to bring people to the gates. *** Edited 7/22/2005 1:25:37 AM UTC by mudinthevayne***
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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:38 PM
I think cloning rides really hurts Six Flags. Having the exact same ride at many locations like Batman keeps the regional parks from expanding and drawing guests from across the country. Cedar Fair has the right idea by building hypers and inverts at many parks but changing the layouts and giving them different names and color schemes. Also, most guests do't know that WoF or Knott's and MiA are part of the chain. So if they have a bad experience they won't boycott the chain, just the park because they don't know any better. Paramount has the brand name but their parks have variety like Cedar Fair.
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Thursday, July 21, 2005 9:42 PM
^Unless you get the catalog things lol. But I agree with your post. If you couldn't find many of the same rides at different Six Flags, it might have an affect on attendence a little bit.
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Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:33 PM
This is the second or third time now I've heard somebody say that the only draw SFKK has is it's waterpark. I hope not, because it's waterpark is pretty lifeless. I've been there 7-8 times now and have never has any real desire to go to the waterpark.

Even with the "Tornado" being added this season it's still not enough to make it competitive. It's going to take more. And to me, if they were going to push the waterpark as the main reason for coming to SFKK, you'd see it prominently advertised. Plus, I'd also think they'd be dropping new attractions in to it every season, (like they do at HW where the billing between both parks is pretty equal).

They need new/newer rides for the amusement park side. Everytime I go it seems there are several flats out of commission. And one of the more regulars there is the "Breakdancer". It's been closed for about half of my visits, and also the drag racing attraction and Penguin's Blizzard River seem to be broken down a lot.

And just a question. Does the outdoor arena behind T2 ever get used anymore? Do they just use it for concerts, wrestling, other special events? *** Edited 7/22/2005 2:33:48 AM UTC by Floorless Fan***

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 10:48 PM
I haven't been this season(due to the fact that I'm not a Hurricane bay fan) but before, during the summer they do wrestling events and such.I'm not sure about this season but it seems that every season since they got rid of the stunt show they use it for that.
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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:41 PM
I don't really think any of these were bad mistakes but being small, they sorta give Six Flags a bad name.

Alot of people I know, who aren't coaster enthusiasts, go to Darien Lake and say that it's ok but it's not that big.

Most people don't know about the other parks and how some are huge compared to SFDl but from going to SFDL it makes the chain as a whole look bad, which could affect people's decision to visit other parks. If people go to Darien Lake and think it's too small and the operations are poor than they're unlikely to go to another Six Flags park.

My dad, who barely tolerates going to Darien Lake because he thinks it's over priced and poorly run, has the opinion about all Six Flags parks. He doesn't want to SfGadv because Darien Lake is gone. Although I know that there are 10+ coasters at some Six Flags parks, he has gotten the idea stuck in his head that each one will be like Darien Lake.

Now we go to Cedar Point and he loves it there because he thinks they do a great job running the rides at full capacity and adding new things so therefore he believes that all there other parks are good too even though he's never been there, but would definately consider going to Dorney.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:49 PM
I always thought it was something of a mistake for Six Flags to brand so many parks with the Six Flags name.

One of the key ingredients of a brand is consistency: for example, you can walk into a McDonald's on Michigan Avenue here in Chicago, or in the Ginza in Tokyo, Japan, and you know exactly what you're going to get when you order a Big Mac and fries. (For the record, I would not recommend the teriyaki burger they sell at Japanese McDonald's...)

Geauga Lake, Kentucky Kingdom, Elitch's... these are all fine parks, and they are all very different parks. Applying the Six Flags name to such disparate parks ultimately undermined the quality of the Six Flags brand.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:52 PM
The percentage of the average family travelling great distances to go to another SF park is pretty slim. It's not something the chain is geared toward. They have always claimed to be regional parks.

Sure, the occasional out of towner might visit a park in that area, but it's not the bulk of these parks business.

Regardless what Enthusiasts think of most SF parks, the name Six Flags is probably just as known in this country as the name Disney.

So since a park with less than 10 coasters gets the Six Flags name attached to it, is automatically a bad thing? I don't understand that logic.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:11 AM
To enhance Chitown's point about Six Flags being regional- I live in central PA, whenever people reference GAdv, it's always "Have you been to Six Flags?" When asked that, I usually say "Great Adventure?" Then they get this puzzled look on their face and I just ask if they mean the one in New Jersey. This usually leads to them asking what other Six Flags parks there are, which leads the conversation to end with an "I never knew there was more than one."
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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:26 AM
If they are going for a regional feel then I don't know why they brand them all Six Flags. I like how Cedar Fair doesn't make it known that they are a chain. All of their parks have stuck with their original charm and added more. Elitch Gardens and Geauga Lake all have great names that sound regional and very welcoming. Six Flags buys them and makes Six Flags the main part of the name and changes the park. I prefer Cedar Fair because of the atmosphere they create. Geauga Lake is back to its old charm. The name is better and the park is better. Six Flags thinks that big rides=fun. Big rides only work if the rest of the park is fun.
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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:36 AM

NABOY said:
H
ey, Just to let you know Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom is one of the few Six Flags parks that makes money.

Hey, just to let you know, they ALL make money.

Even SFKK, which is the lowest-attended Six Flags park.

-Nate

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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:40 AM
coasterdude318, thanks but its not lowest attended Six Flags park buddy.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:42 AM
Six Flags goes for the regional feel the same way CF and Paramount do. Only difference is CF doesn't put their name on their parks while SF and Paramount do.

Seriously though, a name is a name. It's the operations and overall customer satisfaction that is important.

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Friday, July 22, 2005 12:43 AM
Yes your right
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Friday, July 22, 2005 9:27 AM

I think cloning rides really hurts Six Flags. Having the exact same ride at many locations like Batman keeps the regional parks from expanding and drawing guests from across the country.

I'm sorry, but that's just nuts. The set of people in the universe that travel out of their own area to visit anything other than the big "destination parks" is pretty small. If I'm building a business, I don't want to let a very small segment of my market dictate my cap-ex plans. If you have an attraction that is a success in one of your markets, why not translate that success to another one rather than roll the dice on something new, that may not pan out?

Even the destination parks have overlap. Can you imagine a Disney castle park without Space Mountain? Neither can I. There are a few nutcases, like me, who have been to more than one, but largely if someone lives East of the Mississippi, they go to WDW; West of it, DLR. It is unlikely that the average US Disney visitor even knows that DLP, TDL, or HKDL exist.

More concretely, let's consider the two rides that enthusiasts love to hate: the SLC and the Boomerang. Nearly every medium-sized park in existance has one or both of these. Guest what? They get good ridership, they occupy medium-to-small footprints, and they aren't expensive.

The irony of this is that the example you picked as the one that "hurts" is probably the most successful clone ever!

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