Six Flags CEO Dan Snyder announced today that the amusement park chain will cut $60 million in spending this year to combat disappointing attendance over the past two years.
Six Flags will cut advertising by $30 million, running fewer radio and TV ads, though it will increase its spending on the Internet (yay, Internet!). The parks will also cut in-park staff positions and shut down some rides.
Six Flags has had capital problems for years, thanks to its former owners overpaying for too many parks in the 1990s, which led to Snyder's takeover of the firm. Snyder's tried to make the parks more family-friendly, but turning thrill parks into family parks takes money for new attractions, something that's hard to come by when attendance isn't growing and the company's already up to its eyeballs in debt. Cutting non-essential expenses is the next step. And here it is.
SF is another story. Can't really see a good way out these days without having to sell off a BIG park or two. It doesn't seem to me the best way to improve the place is to reduce ride availability, cut back on experienced management, and put in a few new super coasters, but what do I know?
Didn't the "new guys" say a few years ago that we would 'never see another big roller coaster' (or something like that?).
I've no real opinion on the main topic here, since my nearest Six Flags is one of the good ones.
Snyder's solution will, of course, lock the company into a downward spiral. Cutting advertising will lower attendance. Cutting staff and ride availability ensures that the people who do visit have a worse experience and less desire to return, again reducing attendance. Presumably when attendance drops again, SF will cut advertising, staff, and capital investment still more driving things even further into the dirt.
It's easy to cut expenses, but at some point management has to realize they have a revenue problem, not an expense problem. They need a plan to grow these theme parks to ensure long-term profitability.
But I don't see them becoming profitable any time soon. More likely they will file for bankruptcy in the coming years and the parks get sold off.
OK, so all y'all who know me know that I’d rather do the punch-drunk boogie with an unveiled Leah than get all biblical on you, but a little Matthew (24:6 - 8, for those of you following along at home) seems appropriate right about now:
" . . . See that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet.
"For nation shall rise against nation, and (magic) kingdom against kingdom . . .
"But all these things are the beginning of travail."
Aw, but this isn't simply Biblical travail (global floods, plagues of toads, and all of the eschatological frivolities that Universal does so well). No this is much worse: stockholders might get antsy! Dang!
So, here it is, as it is always: you (meaning, probably NOT you, but the bean trust as S. Flags, Inc.) want to rebrand yourself after years of slow decline. You (more than likely) didn't listen to those annoying little people on your payroll (the people who design, build, and run your parks) who tell you that yes, this plan is (here in the new age of the 21st-or-so century) a good (probably the only) way to keep the lights on and the retail locations busy, but that this plan will take time, money, and the courage to see it through. You (again, hopefully not you) pay lip service to this tribunal of factors and OK it . . . and then, to engineer a classic example of "creating irony through half measures," don't have the courage to spend the money over time to give it all a satisfying trail.
The irony part: you cheap-out (and wimp-out) causing you to NOT do the things you know in your bean-counting heart-of-icy-hearts do, but do the opposite: less dough, fewer family-friendly attractions, and fewer in-park personnel to actually, you know, make the parks actually worth visiting by families. Or even the Six-packers, for that matter.
Well, heck, why bother? Valencia NEEDS more space for condominiums, anyway, as do Vallejo, St. Louis, Atlanta . . . dunno about Gurney. Theme parks are so much less profitable than cutting and running.
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