Mark Shapiro is out at Six Flags; Former Paramount Parks head Al Weber is in
Published: May 12, 2010 at 8:38 AM
The amusement park chain, which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month, has lost its CEO, Mark Shapiro. Six Flags said today that Shapiro is no longer with the company and that Al Weber Jr. - the former head of Paramount Parks - is now Six Flags' president and interim CEO.
Six Flags will seek a permanent CEO and has hired a search firm to help identify candidates.
Shapiro and former chairman Dan Snyder had the right idea for Six Flags - to convert the company's parks from teen hang-outs to family-friendly destinations. But the company lacked the multi-millions of dollars it needed at each park to build the type of attractions that would attract the family audience.
Six Flags' previous owners, the former Premier Parks, had positioned Six Flags exclusively as thrill parks, with no theming and minimal customer service. Perhaps if Snyder and Shapiro had gained control of the company earlier, when it could have sold parks for maximum real estate value, they could have raised the cash they needed for a massive capital conversion at Six Flags' remaining parks.
But by the time Shapiro's team had control of the company, the real estate bubble was beginning to burst and there was no market to buy theme parks at top dollar. So Six Flags added some relatively inexpensive kiddie lands (Thomas the Tank Engine, the Wiggles) and made do the best it could.
The improvements at many Six Flags parks have been substantial. My local park, Magic Mountain, is a joy to visit now, compared with a decade ago. So theme park fans owe Mark Shapiro their thanks for that.
But what will Al Weber and the new Six Flags owners do with the chain now?