And he wants your best ideas for the new Six Flags company, after the Cedar Fair merger. What do you tell him?
Richard, here's the thing: your parks need to be about much more than the rides. Pay attention to the details of the entire guest experience. Pay attention to your customer service, employee training (are they being trained to make your guests' experience memorable?), food quality, entertainment, usefulness of your park app - EVERY aspect of your guests' experience. Do that and your parks will do much better. OK Richard, I hope this advice helps. Uh no, I don't want to buy a discounted season pass. Buh-bye.
(We had an unpleasant day at KBF in August. My first visit in over 20 years. What a major disappointment - unhelpful and clueless employees, many rides closed unexpectedly including Ghost Rider, no background music, no energy, a park app with a useless map. We won't be going back anytime soon. As someone in our group said: "Disney energizes you. Knott's drains you.")
Many of the attractions have been left in disrepair for years and years. At least in SFOT, many of the indoor lines do not have operational AC. They used to have fun things like Looney Tunes cartoons that played in the queues, but that is long gone. They need to spruce everything up. Several attractions like Justice League have never had any upkeep and is awful. Screen so dim you cannot see anything. And the Cave attraction must go in the masterclass of how to built a terrible attraction. It is Springtime for Hitler bad.
So what to do? They all have really good coasters. How about putting in actually good dark rides? When they do it, don’t go halfway or cheap. They all could have room for a river attraction like Jungle Cruise/Pirates type attraction. They could do a high end funhouse type attraction like Grandpaws Mansion at Silver Dollar City. How about a decent haunted house? They could even go the humorous route and model if after haunted houses from Looney Tunes; Witch Hazel, Tweety Bird as Mr. Hyde, and the hocus cadabra vampire all running around loose.
But probably fixing it all up is primary. It is like buying an old mansion. They all have a good foundation, but they have been left in disrepair for a long, long time, and it will take significant capital to put it right.
Richard, you now own over 3 dozen parks, many of them that have been neglected by the past SF management. All successful business enterprises have a maintenance fund, but Six Flags sure doesn't appear to, so invest in the parks in terms of cleaning, painting, beautifying, and fixing up these large capital investments that you now own. (I'd say slap some paint on them, but SF literally did slap paint at SFGA on a number of rides without drop clothes, and the splatters look ridiculous.) Many of these parks were beautiful and well maintained until the last decade, and your customers notice. The previous regime of the SF parks wanted to start charging premium prices for an inferior product. If you tell people the park experience is only worth $50 per season, they will believe you. But, if you show them that the park experience is only worth $50 per season due to broken TV monitors in the lines, sloppy paint jobs, broken effects, neglected landscaping, run down buildings, awful food options, etc.. they will REALLY believe you.
Big, new, shiny rides are nice, but so are clean parks with well trained and courteous staff. I remember when your SF parks had actual, real entertainment options. If Holiday World can have shows (actual, real, and multiple shows), so can SFGA. Your food options are a joke, and need to be addressed immediately. The food operations at SF parks are beyond slow and are designed in the least efficient and user friendly way possible. Your ride operations are abhorrent and cause unnecessary aggravation. There is no reason for Maxx Force to only run one train and Goliath and Raging Bull to only ever run two trains. Stop investing in new rides in the water parks, if it means that you will have to close multiple other rides due to staffing issues, even on the busiest of weekend days! It's also a joke that your newest water rides are closed even on the weekends. Stop the days of "investing" in off the shelf flat rides that have no business in an amusement park...I am looking at your Larson Loops! Please, please, please...do something about all of the closed rides that are decaying in plain sight: Buccaneer Battle and Condor at SFGA for example. And, for the love of all that is holy...open up more than one water ride on weekends when the temperatures are in the 90's!
You have a honeymoon period, take advantage of it. Make these parks cleaner, friendlier, and better. It really won't take much money or effort because lord knows the parks could not possibly get much worse. How much would it cost to replace all of the broken, out of date TVs in a park? It's something that everyone sees, and it is something that everyone notices!