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Coming to a Six Flags near you: more ads

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Published: February 4, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Six Flags is spreading word within the media community of increased as sales opportunities within its parks.

Theme parks long have sold sponsorships of attractions and restaurants within their parks as a way to offset the massive cost of building these places. Walt Disney himself was a master at this; hustling sponsorships from TV networks and soda pop companies to get Disneyland built. So fans have gotten used to in-park branding; the question is, though, at what point does the in-park branding detract from the theming of the in-park experience.

Six Flags is promoting its new Six Flags Media Networks, which will sell in-park ad placement on signs, in-queue TVs, park maps, attraction ride units and through wireless networks.

The company's facing ongoing financial challenges, as it works to pay off debt while attracting more-lucrative family consumers to what had become teen-dominated thrill parks. And ads are one quick way to bring in more revenue. But will they drive away the visitors that Six Flags needs to attract?

Readers' Opinions

From David Graham on February 4, 2008 at 12:17 PM
I don't like to see any theme park fail, so if they have to do get outside ads for increased income, I think I can live with a little more ads here and there...
From Bradley Robertson on February 4, 2008 at 12:40 PM
I agree with David to an extent. I don't like to see parks fail. However, I also don't want to see the same advertisement 10 times during the queue for one ride. Even video presentations that are shown multiple times for a ride can be a bit much. I also question whether advertising will really help that much with the shortfalls they are experiencing.
From Bruce Lane on February 4, 2008 at 11:41 PM
Why am I not surprised? Disgusted, yes, but not surprised.

There was already prominent (and highly obnoxious) advertising starting about 10 minutes before the actual whale show, during my visit in 2005. More specifically, there were several video ads for Coca-Cola, and other tripe that I (thankfully) don't recall, splashed across a newly-installed large-screen monitor on the back wall of the stadium.

The ads presented clashed violently with the mood the park was trying to set with the pre-show music, and even with the actual show. I couldn't help but be reminded of Sea World, and in fact I wondered at the time if SFDK was doing their "Sea World Wannabe" impression. Thankfully, the show itself did not descend to such depths (no pun intended).

And now they want to do still more ads?

They've already made the worst possible impression on me by overdoing what ads they had in 2005. I suspect that this new approach will indeed have the opposite of the desired effect by driving still more people off.

Good job, Sick Flags. Just keep shooting yourselves in your collective feet.

From Greg Mills on February 5, 2008 at 7:22 AM
To the guy above me; I agree wholeheartedly. See, the thing is, I honestly have to wonder, how is it a theme park conglomerate this huge be so financially profitable for as long as it did...and then start descending into such constant red ink? How on earth is it that these parks go from success stories to cash incinerators that need advertising of all things to keep themselves in the green??

In any case, the minimal amount of advertising in the parks I visit [Cedar Point, King's Dominion, Busch Gardens VA] is bad enough. I have to deal with commercials enough as it is. The last place I wanna see a friggin' ad for T-Mobile is on a billboard that is posted right after the "Please stay in your seat" sign that is located a few moments from me plunging hundreds of feet towards the ground with nothing but a lap restraint keeping me from certain death. It certainly wouldn't be MY fav...

From Mike West on February 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM
I agree! The high cost of ticket should afford you a themed day of family fun. That's what we were supposed to be paying for in the first place. I mean, we should expect it now that there are even ads on PBS. I don't mind seeing the ads that fit the theming(even playing loony toons is an example of this). That coke comercial at SFDK was completely annoying though. I was shocked to see commercials. Also think about the ride stomping video they play on Survivor, boring after 2 or 3 times. Thank god PGA was sold to Cedar & they'll lose the Survivor & Top Gun theming rights.
From Larry Zimmerman on February 5, 2008 at 2:40 PM
I think it's a desperate ploy of a company in a death spiral. As they alienate more of their patrons, who will decide to go somewhere else to avoid being pummeled to death by commercial ads, they'll have to cut more corners and sell more ads. Wash, rinse, repeat until hair is gone.
From De Ramsey on February 5, 2008 at 7:23 PM
I understand that they need more visitors, but instead of marketing to death if they would just CLEAN up the park. 6Flags/Mid-AMerica is a dump. No wonder Disney has RETURN visitors.
From Derek Potter on February 5, 2008 at 9:55 PM
Somebody needs some money. This is one of the aspects of the park industry that can be controlled. Cost cutting (something they used to overdo) can only go so far to run an effective operation. They can't really reduce operating costs, nor can they really afford to understaff. They have to build up the customer service reputation that they lost a few years ago. Admission and in park costs really can't go much higher, lest they become unreasonably overpriced. What they can do is try and generate revenue through advertising. It could prove to be a big boost if presented properly in the parks, or it could further commercialize the park and alienate guests if done without taste. My take on corporate sponsorship has always been minimalist. I just don't think that the public wants to associate the same old tired corporate icons they see every day with the surreal world of theme/amusement parks.
From claudia maffei on February 6, 2008 at 9:14 AM
I think that that is a great idea. Whatever it takes to get the money and keep it going. ( Within reason of course). I think they should concentrate on family style things if they want to bring more families to their parks. I am not sure if this idea will really do that.

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