Six Flags hits snag on debt deal; Last day for Tournament picks

March 16, 2009, 8:39 AM · In a conference call this morning, Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro said that one of the company's largest debt holders isn't returning calls, so it isn't negotiating a deal to help the company restructure its debt and avoid a court-ordered restructuring (i.e. bankruptcy).

I'll be talking with Shapiro later this Tuesday morning, so if you have questions for the Six Flags CEO, post 'em in the comments ASAP. [Okay, his people canceled/no-showed two days in a row, so no interview. Sorry.]

Also, today is the final day to enter the 'Best Ride in North America' tournament prediction contest. E-mail your prediction of which four rides will make the semi-finals, as well as your prediction for the winner, to contest[at] Entries are due by 8am PDT tomorrow, and the winner gets $100.

If we have a tie, we'll pick randomly from those who got the picks correct. If no one picks all five, I'll give the $100 to whoever has the most points on a one-point-for-semifinalist, three-points-for-the-winner scale. (Tie goes to random picks.)

Replies (22)

March 16, 2009 at 8:55 AM · I would ask him if there is a possibility that any parks would close down and if they do, what are they going to do with all the Season Pass Holders who bought their Season Passes between Fright Fest and now?
March 16, 2009 at 9:52 AM · How can we pick the final four if we don't know how they are seeded? :)
March 16, 2009 at 10:07 AM · Check your e-mail if you subscribe to the TPI e-mail newsletter. I just sent out the bracket to subscribers.
March 16, 2009 at 11:24 AM · I am sure he has more pressing concerns, but I would love to have Mr. Shapiro read my SFSTL Trip Report (and the subsequent TPI reader posts), then comment on how the third park to wear the Six Flags moniker could be allowed to become such a pit. I don't mean to be rude, but if Six Flags, Cedar Fair, and Herschend were doing their jobs, then I would never have to spend $5000 to take my family to Orlando. Between SFSTL, Worlds of Fun, and Silver Dollar City, I should be able to have all my theme park needs addressed right here in my home state. However, of the three, only SDC is holding up their end of the bargain, and SFSTL actually drags the state's rating down, imho.

I have always wished Mr. Shapiro the best in his lofty attempt to redefine the Six Flags brand, but the reality is that with SFSTL he is still dealing with a dirty, broken down, iron ride park, operated by self-centered teenagers with no concept of customer service. It is as if he and his team completely forgot about the Midwest in their quest to improve the brand....and missed a
huge money-making opportunity in the process.

(Robert, you might want to rephrase my rant into something a little more P.C., like, "So, Mr. Shapiro, presuming your company does not go bankrupt, do you have any plans for improving the condition of the Saint Louis operation?").

One other question: The Six Flags Thrilleaders....what was he thinking???? ;)

March 16, 2009 at 11:58 AM · Can't wait for that interview.

Although I can't participate in the tournament picks, here are my predictions for the F4:

Tower of Terror
Splash Mountain
The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
Indiana Jones Adventure

Yes, all Disney and Universal. Sad, but, let's face it - fan boys will come out in full force. I'd like to say Apollo's Chariot will sink Splash and that Millennium Force will trump Indy (I think Indy is overrated), but it's doubtful. Fan boys to the rescue.

March 16, 2009 at 12:35 PM · Sorry about that Robert. I did get the email and browsed through it quickly before deleting it and jumping over to the site assuming all the same information would be available here. Just call me a little "too" excited! :P
March 16, 2009 at 1:51 PM · It's a bit out of place to paint that picture James. I think that some of those parks are in fact doing their jobs. The problem is that you think they should be doing it differently. I'm sure that if any one of those companies had the money or corporate backing that Disney/Universal/Busch has (had anyway), they would build megadollar attractions with the detail and theme that you hold near to your heart... and then you wouldn't have to travel to Orlando because you were jonesing for some eye candy. You should write that letter of thanks to Anheuser Busch for offending Walt Disney at a meeting 40 years ago and losing Disney World for St Louis because they wanted AB brew served at the park.

That being said, I think that as a whole, Silver Dollar City is themed every bit as well as a Disney park. Not all of the rides are heavily themed, but the park is, and Herschend doesn't have the money to spend 5 million on a coaster track and 95 million on it's scenery. Perhaps if they raped their customer's wallets like certain theme parks do, then they could build such things. Of course it probably wouldn't hurt WOF's attendance if Cedar Fair invested in that park like they have in Cedar Point.

BTW, do me a favor and take a couple of spins on Prowler for me this year. I live in Ohio, one of the most coaster happy states in the country, and I still don't have a GCI wooden coaster to ride around here.

I didn't get the email for some reason, but I'll give you a final four off the top of my head because I'm pretty sure I know this website and the people who vote. If they are in separate brackets, here's how it probably will go.

Tower of Terror
Indiana Jones

That could be a bit off, but it will basically come down to insert Disney ride here, Universal ride there. It will be that way because the Disney and Universal fans will make the trip to this website to blindly vote for their rides, even though they likely have never ridden the usually good coaster from the regional park that will inevitably face them. The Busch coasters will get some play, even though they are really no better and no more themed than most Cedar Fair/Six Flags B&M coasters. Oh well, at least it will be fun talking some trash. Maybe I'll get the folks at the Kings Island and Cedar Point fansites to flood the tourney with votes and make it a fair fight.

March 16, 2009 at 2:59 PM · Hah, that is a funny complaint about no GCI coaster in Ohio, the place with some of thew greatest coasters. Living in Utah, my only woodie is a 60' 1921 John A. Miller that is so old, it almost falls off the tracks (but that adds to the fun!)

And, I would probably have a list of questions for Six Flags but I would absolutly have to ask:

What is your plan if you go bankrupt and what will you do if you survive.

March 16, 2009 at 3:18 PM · Just to briefly defend myself: I did give props to Silver Dollar City ("...only SDC is holding up their end of the bargain"), and I support Worlds of Fun as much as I can (5 season passes, all Gold, for the family this year) as they are doing a fairly decent job of treading water for a smaller amusement park getting little love from "the mothership". SFSTL, on the other hand, is just awful - and there is no defense or excuse because it has the largest population from which to draw...all lost revenue after one, disappointing visit.

But again, we are not talking Cedar Point + King's Island here in Missouri, and honestly, we should be. There isn't a lot of competition in the states round about, so the only reason the parks aren't bigger and better is because both the the financial investment and the long term vision are lacking.

I aim the previous accusation at all three parks discussed.

And I do blame Busch. For a lot of things! ;) Prowler review will be hitting the presses in about one month, April 18th/19th, weather permitting!

Back to the tournament...two dark horses: Toy Story Midway Mania, and The Simpsons. If they pull a few upsets, either one is capable of going all the way. However, I think most folks will take Pirates (especially the Disneyland version) over TSMM, and there are still a lot of Back to the Future fans upset over the Simpsons. We'll have to wait and see!

March 16, 2009 at 3:21 PM · That was my comment by the way James. Not sure why my name isn't on it.
March 16, 2009 at 4:21 PM · Figured it had to be....thought you and I worked out a deal for sending the Prowler + the Boomerang to Cedar Point for some looping coasters? What ever happened to that deal? I guess we neglected to inform Cedar Fair's President Kinzel.

BTW -> Mr. Niles now allows unregistered comments on the Blog Flume...when you are not logged in you get the IP instead. I use that mechanism when I want to pretend like I am Jake Rivers, which I will be doing a lot during this tournament!

March 16, 2009 at 5:43 PM · You pretend you're Jake Rivers, and I'll pretend I'm the soon-to-be-famous Cedar Point Strangler.
March 16, 2009 at 5:44 PM · Interesting...we'd be crossing over into SAW - The Ride territory then, wouldn't we?
March 16, 2009 at 5:47 PM · I figured as much when I saw all of these posts with no names on them. I wasn't logged in for some reason when I posted.

The deal is still on for me, although to tell you the truth, I think you would get the short end of it. The people will love Prowler. As for me, the closest GCI is about 5 hours away...although I suspect that it may be Cedar Point's turn for one soon.

March 16, 2009 at 6:40 PM · Dang, I almost missed a Jake Rivers reference. Sadly, I can't beat the "Cedar Point Strangler" retort.
March 16, 2009 at 7:17 PM · Robert, I just subscribed to it... can you send out the bracket again?

Oh, and Mr. Shapiro, from Six Flags America, in Largo, MD-- Do you have a clue if it's going to be sold? If not (and the park goes completely out of business), do you think some of the rides will be sold to other parks or to a fair or something? Thanks

March 16, 2009 at 7:56 PM · What happens to my shares in Six Flags?
March 16, 2009 at 8:42 PM · Hey, don't forget to ask when they're going to make the official announcement for that new park if Florida!

I'm bringing snarky back.

March 16, 2009 at 9:50 PM · Each share of Six Flags stock may be exchanged for one free one-day ticket to the new Six Flags Florida park.

It's snarky synergy!

(I swear, if this ends up being a real Internet rumor within the next month, I'm gonna scream.)

March 17, 2009 at 6:49 AM · This is a sweet day, indeed - St. Patrick's Day AND start of the tournament.

I'm going to my friend's house for a green eggs and ham (and, of course, beer) breakfast. By the looks of it, I'll be in no condition to vote later today (though I'm sure Tower won't need my help).

Thanks for settin' this up, Robert, and top of the mornin' to all ye!

March 17, 2009 at 7:56 AM · The number three bracket has some awfully interesting early pairings.
March 18, 2009 at 6:26 AM · I guess my questions about SFSTL scared Shapiro off....I would be scared of me too! Hell hath no fury like a Theme Park Insider scorned!

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