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What will the future hold for Six Flags' new owners?

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Published: May 4, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Amusement park chain Six Flags yesterday emerged from bankruptcy, with new owners, some new cash and soon... a new board chairman.

Current chairman Dan Snyder (known to sports fans as the owner of the Washington, DC NFL franchise), who lead the takeover of Six Flags from the former Premier Parks management team in 2005, will no longer hold a seat on the company's board of directors, according to a bankruptcy court filing.

Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro will remain on the board and in his current job, suggesting that the bondholders who've gained control of the company aren't planning day-to-day operational changes at the company or its parks.

Shapiro says that emerging from bankruptcy will free up money for the parks to spend on improvements going forward. But higher attendance, and increased guest spending, would help even more to make that happen.

What do you think about the future of Six Flags, both as a company and as a theme park chain?

Readers' Opinions

From Lucas Lee on May 4, 2010 at 3:51 PM
haha. there's more nos than yeses.
From Anthony Murphy on May 4, 2010 at 3:54 PM
Already did and will be writing a trip report tomorrow!

Good news!

From James Rao on May 4, 2010 at 6:00 PM
Heading back to SFStL in June to re-evaluate the place. At $49 for an all-park season pass (1/3 the price of a Cedar Fair Platinum pass), I felt it was worth the money. We'll see.
From steve lee on May 4, 2010 at 6:33 PM
Is this the thread where people who've been to one Six Flags park and had a lousy time denounce the entire chain as filthy, overpriced, and poorly maintained?

I love those threads.

/loves Six Flags Over Georgia
//thinks Six Flags St Louis is better than James thinks.

From Anthony Murphy on May 4, 2010 at 6:38 PM
Ironically, I love the one I have been to and feel that the rest of the chain is great. However, I think I have been to one of the nicer ones. I hope people explain why they said no and which park stinks. Great America, in my opinion is a great deal!
From David L. on May 4, 2010 at 7:11 PM
Six flags parks can be gotten into for a good price and you get a big amount of return(for most parks ex: sfmm, sfgadv, sfgamerica, sfot, sfog, sfdk, and maybe sfne and sfsl). Many sixflags parks have themed rides good and bad from the dark night coaster to the monster mansion. I hope that within 10 years all 6flags parks gain more theme and get better in general.
From James Rao on May 4, 2010 at 8:09 PM
I am a big fan of Shapiro and what he is trying to do. I hope SFStL has indeed stepped it up like some folks say it has... and I hope Six Flags continues to improve and thrive. I have nothing against the chain at all, I just remember my 2008 visit to SFStL was quite possibly the worst theme park experience I have ever had. Perhaps my 2010 visit will erase that memory. And heck, with my $49 pass and a bring a friend ticket or two, it is so close to free I have no choice but to play along!

Back to packing... beginning my WDW Adventure on the morrow!

From Stephen Tuday on May 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM
The Six Flags chain is far from perfect, but its getting better every day. Sure, I could rattle off a litany of things I WISH Six Flags would add or improve, but Rome was not built in a day either. One aspect I have noticed a huge difference in lately is the park employees seem much, MUCH friendlier, from ride ops to food service. For a chain that has had to re-invent itself these past few years, my season pass is still an incredible value.

With the chain emerging from bankruptcy and their big corporate 50th anniversary coming in the 2011 season, I cannot help but believe bigger and better things are on the horizon.

From David Kirby on May 4, 2010 at 11:36 PM
I really really like Shapiro. He seems to really understand the parks and comprehend that cleaning up the parks and making them more family friendly and improving the overall quality is a better move than just building thrill machine after thrill machine every year (not that I don't like thrill machines.) He seems to really care a lot about the fan base and my overall impressions of Six Flags has improved greatly since this man took over. It's really great they've emerged from bankruptcy and I really hope the chain continues to grow and improve. Looking forward to even better years ahead for their parks!
From Wok Creative on May 4, 2010 at 11:59 PM
It seems that they have already been trying to turn things around and this will help them out quite a bit.
Magic Mountain continued to improve, clean up... through all of this. New management there seems to really get it.
Can't keep my kids away from there anyway! It also helps to be able to visit other Six Flags parks with the pass.

(the votes are not all in yet, either. kinda silly to comment before very many have been able to read, vote and comment on their own first.) I have a feeling that their attendance numbers will be up this year, too.

From Scott B on May 5, 2010 at 4:56 AM
My only Six Flags experience is with Six Flags New England. And I am sort of "meh" on that park. I have been there three times and have yet to ride Superman, oh excuse me.....BIZARRO! It has been broken every....single....time!!
From steve lee on May 5, 2010 at 5:46 AM
The only thing that really annoys me about Six Flags is the grossly inflated parking prices. I understand why they did it, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. I don't go to my nearest Six Flags park often enough to bother getting the season parking pass, but I think even that is a bit of a jerk move on their part (the parking pass is tied to a season pass. Now for me, that's not a big deal. For a family, however, that can really suck. If the parking is on dad's pass, for example, then mom can't take the kids without paying and vice versa. I liked it better when there were decals you could put in your car that could be switched out).

Of course, I think they should have parking included in the season pass like darn near every other chain even if it means jacking up the price of the season pass by $20 a pop (for the adult passes. Leave the kids alone). But maybe that's part of their problem - they've had the lowest seasonal passes for so long people may go berzerk if the price moves too much even if there's additional value involved.

From Mike Bianucci on May 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM
I have always had a good time at the six flags parks and hope they turn this around. The season's passes are a great deal, probably too cheap for their own good. The parks usually have healthy attendance, I just wonder if most of the people are season ticket holders there for a multiple visit.
From Derek Potter on May 5, 2010 at 12:07 PM
Aside from the now closed Kentucky Kingdom, I haven't been to a Six Flags park in a while for a couple of reasons. One, I no longer live close to one (nearest one about 6 hours away), and two, I've since chosen to spend my money on better parks. Given that things appear to be turning around in some ways based on reports, I might make a stop at one this year, since there's been ample time to improve. It's been long enough for me to be able to set aside the memories of overflowing trash cans, dirty bathrooms, excessive amounts of line cutting, bad customer service,broken down rides, and the absence of decent food. New management is here and they've had time, so if I'm in the neighborhood (and I may very well be a few times this year), I'll now make a stop.


The sheer amount of people in Six Flags market areas gives the parks huge potential. Now that their debt is cut in half, perhaps they can spend a little to make some meaningful improvements and expansions that don't involve roller coaster track. The key to their success is in diversification of their attractions and in widening their appeal to non-thrillseekers. In other words, if they are going to spend 20 million on a park next year, don't spend it on a roller coaster..spend it on something else. That's my challenge to them. Most of the Six Flags already have great coasters. Spend the bulk of your park improvement budget for the next 3 years on developing real restaurants, shows, scenery, improvement of existing rides, new family/kids attractions, and other non coaster rides that have visual appeal and don't involve spinning or going upside down. I realize that some coaster projects are probably already set to go, but coasters aren't what is needed.

From Sylvain Comeau on May 5, 2010 at 3:39 PM
I said no in the survey, but then remembered that I have a six flags park in my backyard (La Ronde, here in Montreal). I will probably visit that in the fall.

As for getting rid of Snyder, sounds like a good move for the company. Seems like he ran the chain into the ground, in a similar overambitious, incompetent fashion that he "runs" the Washington Redskins.

From Joe Schwartz on May 6, 2010 at 12:40 PM
The company and their Park Management need to cut costs. Overpriced parking., Food & Beverage and Upcharges for everything possible needs to stop. Put a good, clean affordable park in place and people will support it.

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