Six Flags Looks to the Future after a Dismal Quarter

July 29, 2020, 1:38 PM · As expected, Six Flags reported dismal numbers for the second quarter of 2020, as most of the amusement park chain's properties were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But Six Flags President and CEO Mike Spanos sounded a hopeful note in presenting the company's quarterly financial report, citing the Six Flags' appeal to local visitors who don't need hotel rooms and airfare to visit, relative to other theme park and amusement park companies.

For the three months ending June 30, Six Flags welcomed just 433,000 guests and posted revenue of $19 million - both down 96 percent from the same period in 2019. Just six of the company's parks were open by the end of the quarter, and all reopened during the final month of the quarter.

Spanos noted that parks reopened at just 25 percent of capacity but that individual Six Flags parks can operate with positive cash flow at that attendance level. But with two of the park's most-visited theme parks - Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great America - still closed, with no sign of a reopening date, the company as a whole continues to operate at a loss.

"Based on the parks that are currently open, the company estimates that its net cash outflow through the end of 2020 will be, on average, $25-$30 million per month," Six Flags said in its report.

Spanos said that Six Flags is evaluating plans for running its Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park events later this year. Decisions will be made on a park-by-park basis, based on local public health rules and conditions, the ability to operate with positive cash flow and to operate in a way that will not damage the brand, he said. But he expressed optimism that events will happen in some form at parks that can be open.

"We are planning to have something out there that excites families and gets them to come out to the parks."

Looking forward, Spanos provided a broad outline for plans to return the company to profitability after the pandemic.

“Our team is taking actions that will allow us to emerge a stronger and more profitable company,” Spanos said. “We have initiated a fundamental review of our business model with the goal of becoming a more agile, consumer-centric, and technology-savvy organization.”

Spanos' plan will focus on recapturing more single-day visitors - potentially through ticket discounts and changes to food and beverage pricing, eliminating management redundancies between parks and corporate headquarters, and finding cost reductions by standardizing purchasing across the chain. Spanos also said that Six Flags would be working to improve diversity among its workforce and suppliers and said that the company may be evaluating branding and names within the parks to promote a welcoming environment.

He did not provide details, but Six Flags has made branding changes in the past. In 2017, Six Flags stopped displaying the Confederate flag in its original theme park, Six Flags Over Texas. The flag of the Confederate State of America was one of the "six flags" that have flown over the state of Texas - the inspiration for the park's and the chain's name. Six Flags now displays six American flags at the entrance to all of its US theme parks.

Replies (2)

July 29, 2020 at 3:53 PM

Right now in Illinois, Great America is still closed although the Hurricane Harbor water park is open. It's becoming more doubtful Great America ever opens this year as Illinois has been stricter handling this and at this point in the season, hard to see them even trying. Which sucks for the employees but then, that place isn't exactly known for great hygiene in a normal year....

July 30, 2020 at 9:11 AM

“Our team is taking actions that will allow us to emerge a stronger and more profitable company,” Spanos said. “We have initiated a fundamental review of our business model with the goal of becoming a more agile, consumer-centric, and technology-savvy organization.”

Sad how he can't just say L word.

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