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Six Flags offering deep discounts on Play Passes to open 2010

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Published: January 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM

I'm on a conference call with Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro right now, and he's making the point that Six Flags is offering deeply discounted Play Passes for many of its theme parks early this year, in an effort to hold on to market share in a tough U.S. economy.

At Six Flags Magic Mountain, for example, visitors can buy a Play Pass, which admits them to the park every day it's open in 2010, for $54.99 - the same price as a one-day ticket. (The Play Pass differs from Six Flags' annual pass at some parks, though not at Magic Mountain, in that it does not include the coupon book, free tickets or other perks of the SP. Both the Play Passes and the Season Passes include admission to all other Six Flags parks.)

But Shapiro said that the discounts will not last through the season, and the Six Flags anticipates raising ticket prices by as much as $20 as the summer progresses. Shapiro did offer some wiggle room, saying that if the economy did not improve and the market did not support increases, Six Flags would stay put.

But he encouraged visitors to buy now to lock in the discounted prices, which makes sense for a company trying to hold on to market share. Get those folks to buy now - instead of giving them any reason to wait, when they might decided not to buy.

Thoughts?

Update: FWIW, Shapiro said that Six Flags has a deal to bring Mrs. Fields into the parks this year. More calories! :-) He continued that he'd like to add more outdoor cooking options, like those offered at Dollywood, but that local restrictions at some parks preclude that. But they will add where they can, in the future.

He also said in response to my question that he doesn't anticipate creating an in-house attraction design team, a la Disney's Imagineers and Universal Creative, at any time in the near future, though he paid them great credit for what they do.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on January 13, 2010 at 2:40 PM
Well it is $65 at SFGA and $65 to park with a $10 Amazon Gift Card if renewing (I did)

Now thats more than the one day pass, but not by much!

From Derek Potter on January 13, 2010 at 6:22 PM
I wish this company the best, I really do. It can't be easy to dig out of a giant financial hole and stay competitive with new rides and such. I haven't been to a Six Flags park in a long time....mostly because I haven't had much opportunity. I really believe that they can pull it together with some time and an entertainers approach instead of a profit maximizing approach.

Great roller coasters are going up and will continue to to be built around the country in many parks, but I think that the time is now for all coaster rich parks to take a different angle in growing their business by improving the quality of what's around the coasters. Case in point...if Six Flags Magic Mountain would spend the same kind of money on flat/dark/childrens rides, shows, food, and scenery as they do on some of those coasters, they would have a lot more success. The same goes for the rest of the Six Flags parks and also the Cedar Fair parks. Kings Dominion and it's coaster collection would be a real threat to Busch Gardens attendance if they were to heavily invest in "non-coaster" entertainment, food, and shows.

That parking thing kills me Anthony. I know it's the big city and all, but $65 to park for the season still seems high. Either there is a mighty parking/admission tax, or Six Flags just wants your money. I guess I'm just used to my Cedar Fair pass including free parking.

Good luck Six Flags. I hope you can right the ship and see some success. The potential is there for sure.

From 24.90.249.214 on January 13, 2010 at 6:42 PM
SFGA is not cheap. That pass is not cheap their. what is a general admission for 1day in the park. Also what is stopping you from buying it at Magicmountain where it is cheaper and using it at Greatadventure. Also does this playpass pay for other attractions like the Daredevil dive at greatadventure.
From Robert Niles on January 13, 2010 at 7:06 PM
The best deal on the Play Pass is at Kentucky Kingdom - $29.99. But you have to go to Louisville to get it. A nice option, though, if you'll be in the area.
From Joshua Counsil on January 13, 2010 at 7:08 PM
Agreed, Derek. I applaud Mark Shapiro. I feel so bad that he came into power when things looked down for the company. I can tell he really is trying to turn it around, and cares deeply about succeeding (why else would he be on TPI so often?).

If I lived anywhere near a worthwhile Six Flags, I'd take up that offer pronto. However, the only Six Flags relatively close to me is Six Flags La Ronde, which is a bit of a letdown.

From Anthony Murphy on January 13, 2010 at 7:45 PM
SFGA Parking:

Front lot: $25
Back Lot:$15

Parking pass gets you into the front lot so three times pays off including going for Coasters after Dark and spending zilch except for gas.

From Robert Niles on January 14, 2010 at 9:49 PM
Mark said La Ronde is getting a new coaster this year, but wouldn't give up a name or manufacturer Oh, duh. This is the Vekoma "Mind Eraser" formerly known as Serial Thriller from Great Escape and AstroWorld.
From Joshua Counsil on January 14, 2010 at 9:19 PM
Thanks, Robert, but a new coaster probably won't get me out there. A professional staff, better theming, and diverse array of attractions would.
From David Sutter on January 15, 2010 at 6:58 AM
I have to agree with everyone..Over the years Six Flags,has taken and become very generic. And the parks
once had great shows..many of those venues now sit
dark. Landscaping has bcome at best just grass. Now I like the loney Tunes just as much as the next guy..But I dont need them all over the place. Now as everyone knows Iam a big fan of Great Adventure..But in reality its sits as
a ghost to its orignial self. I understand budget cuts, and all. But there are things that a theme park needs to keep it seperate from an Amusment Park...As for prices New Jersey has the most strictest ride safety laws and very high insurance rates for anyone operating rides in the state. ANd some of the cost is taken up by trying to run 1,500 arces. And a Major drive thru safari park. Which I dont think is going away...Its sanctioned by the wild life conservation group. And has had success with breeding in captivity. But I run amuck here. It may be a high ticket price but once you put it all in place its still a great value. COnsidering a trip the shore to ride attractions would cost you a ton more. And most pass holders live within a 2 hr drive of it. And many spend a lotta time there ..buy your pass and parking. Thene your on to one Geat Road trip as much as you like fill the tank take 20.00 bucks for a snack and drinks and BAMM cheep day.
From 66.134.101.43 on January 15, 2010 at 8:39 AM
I also feel that if Six Flags as Cedar Fair as well would start investing in quality shows as the parks did back in the 80's, that they would find it would help out. They have to get back the older guests and show them a good time. Today these parks have little for this age group. The parks years back had large numbers of older guests. Now you still see this with Busch Gardens and Dollywood but the other chains have lost this group. Its money they are just saying that they do not care about when they run with nothing but thril rides and poor quality shows.

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