Six Flags adds a new park concept for international markets

April 16, 2019, 4:18 PM · Six Flags is now offering a new model of theme park to international developers.

The new design concept, which Six Flags is calling "Thrillseeker," fills a gap between family entertainment centers and full-sized theme or amusement parks. Planned for sites between 37 to 75 acres, Six Flags says that the park is designed to accommodate between 750,000 to 1.5 million visitors a year.

For context, Six Flags' most popular theme park, Six Flags Magic Mountain, drew neatly 3.4 million visitors in 2017, the latest year for which numbers are available from the TEA/AECOM Theme Index report. (By the way, sources inside the TEA say that the 2018 report is on the way and should drop soon.)

Six Flags is expanding rapidly in China, thanks to local development partners who are licensing Six Flags' brand and park plans. In addition to the traditional Six Flags theme and water park concepts, the company has developed two additional park concepts for the Chinese market: Six Flags Kids World (or Kidz Park) and Six Flags Adventure Park, which features action sports attractions including rock climbing, motorcross, and zip lines.

Six Flags Thrillseeker
Concept art courtesy Six Flags

As for the Thrillseeker design, Six Flags' email about the plan says that "three distinct themed areas are included in the master plan. Two areas are fully themed to Six Flags global brand standards while the third is dedicated for local customization. Thinking ahead, the park is designed with an additional expansion zone that can be a future Water Park, Adventure Park, or Kidz Park."

International licensing has become a huge source of revenue for theme park companies, as developers in the Middle East, China, and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim look to add attractions to service growing middle and upper classes with money to spend on entertainment and travel. Six Flags recently lost its project at Dubai Parks & Resorts, but it has another park under development in Saudi Arabia, as well as multiple parks under construction in China in partnership with Riverside Investment Group.

Replies (12)

April 16, 2019 at 4:36 PM

Is there any information available on what is included in this new template (beyond what's in the concept art above), or are they saving that for potential investors?

April 16, 2019 at 4:41 PM

I put in everything that Six Flags included in the email it just sent. Don't have any other information yet.

April 16, 2019 at 4:46 PM

So are they going to label the new parks under the 3-4 Flags brand?

April 16, 2019 at 4:47 PM

Nah, in China all six of the flags are red either way:)

April 16, 2019 at 4:48 PM

Not entirely sure what this is supposed to fill in the market... From my undestanding SF parks are at best regional parks - either attracting a local audience, or acting as "me too" parks that can be a secondary attraction in a tourism industry (ie- no a major attraction that will draw people in, but somewhere people will go and spend money when they come anyway). How is a cut-down version of that attractive?

April 16, 2019 at 4:49 PM

Maybe they can call this new concept their "Half Mast" brand!

April 16, 2019 at 11:01 PM

Maybe they will utilize a pay per ride model in these overseas markets. I can’t imagine spending a whole day in a 1/2 sized park. Heck, I don’t need a full day to visit one of Six Flags’ full sized parks!

April 17, 2019 at 8:01 AM

From that piece of concept art... I'd guess that a Six Flags executive has been playing Roller Coaster Tycoon on his phone...

April 17, 2019 at 8:15 AM

I really don't understand what Six Flags is doing here. Is there really that much demand for operators to license the Six Flags brand and utilize such a generic theme park design template? I realize there's some interest in places throughout Asia and maybe South America, but why would a developer pay for a Six Flags license and design when they could simply do it on their own (like Motiongate, WB Movie World, etc...)?

I can see the role of small theme parks like this around the world, but not sure why anyone would need to license this concept from Six Flags.

April 17, 2019 at 11:52 AM

No, there is no actual "need" in the industry- though there is a need within Six Flags Entertainment to generate overseas partners and clients. The company wants more partners like China's Riverside Group, especially to replace lost and dormant projects elsewhere. Dubai is not happening, Vietnam shows no progress and licensing is a source of revenue. Doesn't imply they get to use the IPs they are known for in their chain in North America- hence why no Warner-related DC Comics and Looney Tunes for Riverside's venues in China where they are getting "Garfield."

April 17, 2019 at 12:01 PM

But see, that's my point. Six Flags may want to establish overseas partners, but how does licensing a theme park concept/template accomplish that? If Six Flags is not gong to manage or operate these parks using their brand and designs, what makes them think that a developer is going to pay them for something that is so generic as a theme park template? 90% of Six Flags are comprised of off-the-shelf attractions and pre-existing (and copy-able) concepts with their greatest value being in the outside IP that they license (don't own). So exactly why would an international developer bother paying Six Flags for something they could just as easily do themselves and is not under any patent or copyright?

This looks like a wasted marketing effort from Six Flags trying to broaden their brand into a market that doesn't exist. If we were talking about Disney, Universal, or even Merlin, perhaps there might be some interest, but the Six Flags brand doesn't carry enough cache or value to warrant a straight licensing play that this concept proposes.

April 17, 2019 at 1:03 PM

Agree that their brand equity is empty without that licensed IP they have no actual claim to. Yet they've managed to profit from doing exactly that- licensing their corporate brand without the IP their existing guests associate with them to China and the Saudis and they did entice Dubai and Vietnam this way too. PT Barnum is still right anyway. Riverside acts like each of these gates are full fledged "theme parks" making four locations sound like twelve and since they're in it to promote adjacent mixed use real estate they're happy with it. Doubt China relates this much to Garfield- will these guests care about lasagna? But the folks back at Six Flags Entertainment corporate in Grand Prairie got them to sign anyway..

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