Six Flags continues to plummet
Published: August 3, 2006 at 8:45 PM
I caught this article skimming the Post this afternoon and was startled by the continued slide of the Six Flags chain. It seems that Dan Snyder and Mark Shapiro still have not found a winning combination in the theme park business as the regional park chain operated in the 2nd quarter 2006 with a $39.6 million loss in addition to having their corporate outlook downgraded from "stable" to "negative" by Moody's Investors Service. To make matters worse, the 14% decrease in attendance doesn't even include the three parks that Six Flags is in the process of selling, which includes the former "flagship" park, Six Flags Magic Mountain.
While I have noticed many of the changes that Snyder's group has made to the parks, most notably the $15 parking and stronger character presence in the parks, it seems to not have dramatcally changed the profitability of the parks. After criticizing Cedar Fair for blaming lower than expected profits on weather, Shapiro now turns to heat waves in the Midwest and torrential rain in the East for the surprising downturn in attendance. However, Shapiro also notes that customer satisfaction is up, and in-park spending is also higher than last year.
What Snyder and Shapiro don't understand is that when guests begin to realize that a season pass is probably going to cost twice as much for 2007 (Snyder had not taken control of the parks in time to change pass prices for 2006), Six Flags will lose its core audience, and have millions of dollars of rides and attractions that will not be geared to the day-trip guests that will likely frequent the park in coming years.
If Dan Snyder thinks he can change this franchise overnight, this financial report should prove to him that turning around a loser of a theme park chain is much more difficult than running an NFL franchise.