Mark Shapiro is out at Six Flags; Former Paramount Parks head Al Weber is in
So... it looks like Six Flags is making a big management change, after all.
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?
This is sad news. I think Shapiro really was a great CEO and had the right idea for the chain. In his short time, it seems like he made a lot of changes that set the parks in the right direction. It was also so refreshing to see a park head try to connect with the fans as much as he did. I haven't really ever seen that from any other national park chain. He will definitely be missed and I wish him all the best.
I would find it hard to believe that Shapiro's departure was voluntary on his part. If it were, he likely would have stayed on while the replacement was found. And we'd have heard from him in the release. No, I think it's clear that the new owners sacked him to find their own guy.
He may have made some good changes throughout the Six Flags parks, but he made some really bad choices as well. He doesn't care about the employees that actually run the park. He went through and made cuts where no cuts should ever take place (that affect the safety of the guests). He took away the employees moral and if you take that away - how are they suppose to go out there and greet the guest. He took everything he possible could away from the employees. I guess when you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth - and never wanted for anything, why should he care? He walked away with a $3 million dollar bonus...got this when the company went bankrupt?? The employees didn't even get their little 3% raise. I'm glad to see him GONE!
Shapiro did pump the rides and money into SFGA as well and its a better park than it was ten years ago too! Still, SFGA, has to harken back to the Marriot Days when it was closest thing to Walt Disney World.
It's very interesting how divergent the views are from outsiders vs. insiders of Six Flags. Everyone but the anonymous poster obviously is not aware of what has been going on inside Six Flags since Snyder and Shapiro took over. They were the primary reason the company went bankrupt. Hopefully, the rest of the worthless espn cronies will be out soon too.
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