Published: November 11, 2008 at 4:40 AM
When you are sitting at the bottom of the barrel, as is the case with Six Flags, then there is almost no where to go but up. However, as Derek wrote, this economic situation gives SF a great opportunity to strut their stuff and grow their business.
Sadly, at some Six Flags parks, they don't seem to be doing anything to build a long term following. For example, I made the short four hour trek from Kansas City to Eureka (near Saint Louis) to visit SF Saint Louis in October. While the park did stand out, it was in a NEGATIVE fashion (please feel free to view my trip report here). I will not be going back to SFSTL regardless of the economy in 2009. In fact, I do not plan on going back ever, unless they add some new ride that I just cannot resist.
Another example of a missed opportunity is the highly publicized Dark Knight Coaster, which was added to a couple SF parks in an attempt to add more theming and immersion to SF. However, the DK coaster is now one of the lowest rated attractions on this website, which cannot bode well for long-term customer satisfaction and repeat business.
So, while SF may be experiencing a Renaissance in a weak travel economy, their long term outlook, in my eyes anyway, seems bleak.
I should note that I did travel to Busch Gardens Europe earlier this year and thought it was an amazing park. BGE will be fine as long as it can maintain its high standards and survive the InBev take over.
I have no comment on Cedar Point (I am waiting until at least two of my three kids reach the 54" height cut off before making that trip again), although I will say my local Cedar Fair park, Worlds of Fun, was a much better destination than SFSTL.
Going forward, I have already canceled two planned non-Orlando trips for 2009 in order to save money for a big Orlando excursion in 2010. Once Harry Potter, Rip Ride Rockit, Manta, and the Space Mt refurb are complete, I must answer the call. I see the Orlando parks getting a big attendance boost in 2010. In the meantime, WDW, USF, and SWO will just have to weather the storm.