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Six Flags makes strong family play with character flood

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Published: February 15, 2006 at 4:20 PM

Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro has announced another change for the struggling amusement park chain: the addition of 1200 new costumed characters to Six Flags' theme parks.

For years, the only "rubberhead" one could find at a Six Flags park was an occasional glimpse of a tuxedoed Bugs Bunny. (Never mind that Bugs is the antithesis of a monkey-suited dandy.) This summer, visitors should expect to find many more Looney Tunes and Justice League characters roaming the parks.

Six Flags is also taking a cue from Disney and celebrating the 45th anniversary of its original park -- Six Flags Over Texas -- with a chain-wide, year-long marketing blitz.

Personally, I don't know how much promotional value Looney Tunes characters have with today's kids. Does Bugs appeal to anyone under age 20? It seems to me that kids love the Nick characters (Paramount, you will rue the day you sold these parks....) and anything from Pixar. Looney Tunes? Who are they?

The Justice League is a different story. My five-year-old son adores superheroes and now, for the first time ever, has a reason to visit a Six Flags park.

But will the family go this year? I doubt it. While my son would love the chance to meet Batman, the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, there remains little else for him to do at Magic Mountain, our local Six Flags park. At his age, extreme coasters are years out of reach. And Magic Mountain's collection of kiddie rides differs little from Knott's Berry Farm's, where a one-day kids' ticket is $15 cheaper and he can meet Snoopy, whom he still loves too.

But this certainly is a welcomed step in the right direction for Six Flags' effort to win back the family market.

Readers' Opinions

From Derek Potter on February 15, 2006 at 10:01 PM
Looney Tunes is a bit out of step with todays youth, but the superheroes aren't, thanks to a flood of superhero movies the last few years. Got to give credit though...if these changes really do go through, than they will be steps in the right direction. I also heard that another demand by Shapiro during his visit to the park was that all coasters start running at maximum capacity...another piece of good news. No Looney Tunes isn't in the best position, but it surely is better than nothing.

By the way Robert, you are right about Paramount. Nickelodeon is one of the most well known brands around...dare I say as much or even more popular today than Disney. Paramount is making a big mistake.

From Robert Niles on February 15, 2006 at 11:08 PM
If Shapiro gets the coasters running at capacity, then I promise never to say anything bad about 'ESPN Hollywood' again. ;-)
From Anthony Murphy on February 16, 2006 at 1:24 PM
I think Looney Toons still have somewhat of a chance, but they are no Mickey Mouse or Jimmy Neutron. I think it is good that Six Flags is trying to improve. Being the only park in my native Illinois, we have a love for Great America. Also, from what I have seen on this site, it is also one of the better (at least cleaner) of the Six Flags Parks. Though I love Disney World, there is always a place in my heart for Six Flags!
From George Jackson on February 17, 2006 at 6:18 PM
Look - I went to Six Flags Great America with a little kid once. Never again. They should just put a big sign out front - "Under 8? We've got two things for you to do at Six Flags. Jack and S***."

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