One of Six Flags' international parks gets canceled

February 7, 2019, 11:53 AM · When Dubai Parks & Resorts opened in December 2016, it featured three theme parks in what was to be a four-park resort: Motiongate, Bollywood Parks, and Legoland. The fourth gate? The region's first Six Flags theme park — an all-star collection of thrill rides with lands themed to Six Flags' top parks across the United States.

But the other three parks failed to draw anywhere near their projected attendance, and parent company DXB Entertainments look larger than expected losses on the project. So DXB Entertainments last year put the Six Flags park "under review."

Today, the company announced the results of that review. And to the surprise (likely) of no one, the company has decided not to proceed with building the Six Flags theme park "at this time."

Here is the company's statement:

In August 2018 the Board of DXB Entertainments PJSC (“DXBE”) mandated a strategic review of its future development plans and capital deployment, including the development of Six Flags Dubai.

In the intervening period, actions, including formal notification by Six Flags, resulted in funders’ concerns being raised specifically in relation to the revised projections for the Six Flags Dubai Project. As a result, the syndicated finance facility intended for utilisation as part of the development of the Six Flags branded theme park is no longer available, and the Six Flags Dubai project cannot proceed at this time.

Consequently, the scope of the strategic review will be adjusted and an update will be provided in due course.

Translated from legal/finance/PR-speak: no one could make a case that adding a Six Flags park suddenly would make all four parks wildly profitable, so no one wanted to front the money to go ahead and build it.

Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have become top global tourism destinations, attracting tens of millions of visitors a year from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Theme park development in the region has been intense, with IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi also building parks in the past decade, bringing a total of six parks to market.

However, none of those parks yet have broken the 1.48 million annual attendance mark that would place them in the TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report for top 20 parks in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region. Three UAE water parks made the Theme Index's Top 10 for that region, however, with Dubai's Aquaventure topping that list with 1.35 million annual attendance. (To be fair, though, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi just opened last summer, so we won't have a full-year attendance report for that park until spring of 2020.)

Dubai is hosting a world's fair in 2020 that is expected to further boost tourism, though whether that event will end up bringing people to the area's theme parks or taking visitors away from them remains to be seen.

Elsewhere in Asia, Six Flags is proceeding with licensed projects for multiple theme parks in China, including several using the same "all star" concept as planned in Dubai.

Replies (9)

February 7, 2019 at 1:14 PM

A little over 10 years ago the first Six Flags Dubai was cancelled, maybe in 2030 third time will be the charm?

February 7, 2019 at 1:18 PM

No tears were shed in the making of this announcement.

February 7, 2019 at 2:14 PM

Six Flags, Sea World, Universal Studios, F1-X the list goes on and on about canceled projects and half backed results. It's a great place if you like to visit malls, tall buildings and sand, for theme parks go elsewhere.

February 7, 2019 at 2:16 PM

UAE could stand for "Usually Attractions Empty."

February 7, 2019 at 2:49 PM

Just think of an Emirates flight to Dubai as a really high-end paid Fastpass/FlashPass/FastLane/etc. No waits when you get there!

February 7, 2019 at 3:57 PM

Likewise on Etihad to Abu Dhabi, Robert! The UAE likes to count all these passengers at those two hubs as part of their visitor count when the majority don't stop over for long, if at all. The plans to add a second, larger indoor theme park at IMG in Dubai have been mostly dormant for months. The only signs of expansion life are for SeaWorld Abu Dhabi on Yas Island where "Yas" often means "You're Always Solo." In Dubai, one of the proverbial "Six Flags" is a white flag for surrender.

February 7, 2019 at 3:33 PM

Dubai is in the news here in the UK as someone was arrested in Dubai for wearing a Qatar football jersey - it's now illegal in the UAE to "promote" Qatar following the recent spat in the middle east about Qatar.

Its "Party Town" reputation might just be at risk.

February 7, 2019 at 4:03 PM

I can't say I'm one bit surprised. From what I've seen, Dubai Parks & Resorts looks to be a moderate failure, so adding a new park would likely sink the project completely. The resort needs to start turning a profit before any major expansion is attempted, and if that doesn't happen soon the resort may not survive much longer.

February 7, 2019 at 5:04 PM

And as Chad H has posted just this week a UK citizen is facing a 15 YEAR jail sentence in the UAE. His crime? Wearing a Qatari National team Football Shirt. This despite the fact that the UAE are supposedly hosting the World Cup in 2022.

And you wonder why people aren't flocking to these theme parks.....

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