"You Won't See Any More Goliaths"

Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:14 AM
Article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Some fun quotes:

"We've got to cut those lines," Shapiro said. "Get those four boats. Write that down. 'Thunder River.' "

Using the boats will increase labor costs a little, but Shapiro is rearranging spending priorities for the nation's largest chain of regional theme parks..."

The Six Flags park in Austell plans to start daily parades this spring and daily laser shows and fireworks in the summer. Roving costumed characters will increase from one or two a day to 30 every hour, Shapiro said.

The park is adding 150 garbage cans and stationing staff in every restroom.

One of his biggest moves, though, is to no longer rely on adding expensive thrill rides to juice up attendance. While the attractions hook teens, the attendance spike usually lasts just a year, Shapiro said. "They never pay for themselves."

Six Flags Over Georgia will unveil a mammoth ride this year: the $20 million Goliath, which was approved before Shapiro joined the company. He said flatly, "You won't see any more Goliaths."

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Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:19 AM
I think the park rounded itself out as far as coasters goes with Goliath, so I don't mind that at all. Physically, this is a perfect park and I've enjoyed it a lot overall in the past as well. The parade sounds like a good idea and the increase in costume characters should help family interest. For a park that was solid as is, I'm intrigued to see how much better it can be this year. I'll be down for Spring Fling.


Thursday, January 26, 2006 9:36 AM
"Theme parks are all about marketing."

Uhh.. wow. I thought they were all about rides, shows, and guest experience.

Shows what I know.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:06 AM
Overall some very good news. Hopefully new coasters don't become a thing of the past but I'd rather take a new coaster every five years and have other improvements made on a regular basis. Attendants in the restrooms? I'm surprised it took someone so long to figure out that was the answer. $8/hour isn't a bad price to keep a restroom clean,
Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:06 AM
For parks that are built-out, it makes sense to move away from trying to squeeze in huge coasters. However, by planning to not add new expensive attractions is a terrible idea. Or, they can at least replace the coaster duds in each park. There isn't a theme park in the world that can increase attendence year after year without at least the promise of new attractions. How do you market a theme park with no new attractions?

You would think they would learn from Disney, which is obviously the model they are attempting to follow with characters, parades, and fireworks. Even with all those things at Disney parks, the park performance does take a hit in the absence of any new attraction. That's why Disney is almost always adding something new somewhere across their resorts, usually of a pretty high quality as well.

I have a feeling the new board will not see the error of their ways until after 2008 when attendance drops like a rock after trying to market the 2007 parks with no reason for guests to return. It would be more promising to hear them mention at least one alternative to a $20 million coaster besides relying on parades, fireworks, laser shows of questionable quality.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:12 AM
Does everyone else know this already so I'm the only one nervous?

"He said the company also may sell some parks." *** Edited 1/26/2006 3:13:24 PM UTC by Erinys***

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:24 AM
No surprise there...if someone else picks up the parks AS parks, we'll be fine. Selling to developers for condos, etc.,that's the bummer part.

Never been there, but SFEG seems a little on the *urban* side as well...next candidate perhaps?

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:27 AM
You think Astroworld was a shocker? Just wait!
Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:28 AM
DBJ the improvement in 2007 will happen It just won't be a new Major coaster. What can I do to improve a park but not build a coaster?

1) Flat rides.
2) Theming.
3) Landscaping.
4) Staffing.
5) Kiddie Area.
6) Waterpark expansion.
7) Hotels.

All of the above could help draw people back to parks. As was said in other SF Threads, the focus is on families. Does a new coaster draw families? No. But all of the above will help the parks.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:51 AM
Does a new coaster draw families?

It can, if done properly. Look at a nice family coaster like Italian Job that went into PKI of PCWonderland and soon to be in PKD. Seriously it may not have been a huge family draw but it filled in a niche where most of the family can ride together. That is the kind of coaster we need more of right now. We got the thrills to tilt already. Why not just make it fun. I am sure that there will be coasters. But I wont expect 200 footers anymore for a while. If demographically it makes sense on ROI it will be built, if not it wont!

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:53 AM
The rides do pay for themselves if you know what the hell you're doing, even if the attendance gain is just a year or two. I mean Millennium Force paid for itself and a hotel.
Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:55 AM
"They never pay for themselves."

If that's the case, then why didn't they stop buying expensive B&M mega coasters after Raging Bull?

*** Edited 1/26/2006 3:55:29 PM UTC by UBRhino***

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:56 AM
How did Millennium Force pay for itself and a hotel? The coaster increased attendance and in-park spending that much since 2000, even when you take into consideration that Wicked Twister and TTD were built since?
Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:20 AM

DBJ said:
There isn't a theme park in the world that can increase attendence year after year without at least the promise of new attractions. How do you market a theme park with no new attractions?

While they had a down year this year, IOA seems to be doing just fine and has added practically nothing since they opened.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:24 AM
Everest in disney's Animal Kingdom is a Coaster on grand Scale with superb themeing designed with families in mind. It is built so that a 5 year old should be able to ride and has a speed range of over 50 mph to appeal to the more daring of riders. I think something like that would be great for the new mind set for Six Flags, but at the price of $100,000,000 is a little out of range. *** Edited 1/26/2006 4:26:28 PM UTC by Magicmike***
Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:25 AM
Granted, but Orlando is not a "normal" market. Usually, "something new" is needed to get people into the gates. But who says that "something new" always has to be a coaster?

Disney parks add shows all the time and that sometimes works to increase interest in a park. And look at Dollywood and Silver Dollar City- they are marketing clusters of new kiddie/family rides as new attractions and I'm sure they'll be very successful with that!

Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:26 AM

The concern is what is actually a marketable plan. He claims theme parks are all about marketing, but how do they re-sell the same rides year after year? A advertising campaign centered around landscaping, customer service, and adequate staffing is clearly not going to work.

Flat rides would be a nice addition, but Shapiro has said that they are not going after thrill seeking teenagers, so the odds of those flats being any better than what is typically available in a carnival is slim.

If they are concerned about the costs of a 20 million coaster not paying for itself, it doesn't seem like they would be willing to invest into a hotel properties. Of course, it would be a fantastic addition to the parks to have branded hotels at each of the larger parks. But, those guests spending the big bucks for hotels stay will want reasons to keep returning to the park year after year.

If we are talking fantasy additions that are family attractions that are popular every year, obvious candidates are dark rides (Pirates, Haunter Mansion), 4D Theater attractions (Mickey's Phill., T2, etc.), shooter rides like Buzz Lightyear as well. What all those have in common though are high price tags. So if Shapiro is freaking about a 20 million ride not paying for itself after 2 years, will they turn around and invest in more expensive "family" attractions that might take longer?

I think his corporate culture has made him expect quick results and the concept of creating qualtiy attractions that are draws for many years is lost on him.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:45 AM
I'd wager that when Shapiro says "You won't see any more Goliaths," he is marketing. People clearly don't see Six Flags parks as family-oriented experiences, and there's no better symbol of that than the $20 million thrill ride that appeals to the teenage demographic. Top to bottom, Six Flags is attempting to sell a new image. You don't have to buy into it, but they've got to sell their parks somehow. "Bigger, faster, closer" turns out not to have worked so well.
Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:48 AM
It would have but it was the cleanliness, reliability of rides, and customer service that killed that slogan.
Thursday, January 26, 2006 11:53 AM
I can't wait to see where the recruit all the additional staff members from and at what cost. Parades, costumed characters, additional cleaners. Not that it isn't needed but for crying out loud, even Disney is facing a bit of a recruitment crisis now and they staff year-round, benefit eligible positions.


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