Six Flags Reports Mixed Attendance, Guest Spending Results

October 27, 2021, 1:21 PM · Six Flags theme parks welcomed 12 million visitors in the three months ending October 3, a decrease of two million visitors from the comparable period before the pandemic, the company reported this morning.

Guest spending per capita was up 23% from the third quarter of 2019, rising to an average of $52.02 per visit. However, wage increases and other added expenses squeezed the company's bottom line. Six Flags reported $157 million net income for the third quarter of 2021, a 13% decrease from the same period in 2019.

"We are encouraged by the strong demand we are seeing at all our parks and by our early progress transforming our business, as shown by accelerating attendance trends, higher per capita spending, and a growing Active Pass Base," President and CEO Mike Spanos said. "Through a difficult operating environment, we have remained focused on our ultimate goal: to delight our guests with thrilling experiences that only Six Flags can offer."

For the year to date, Six Flags parks welcomed a total of 21.9 million visitors, a decrease of 18% from the first nine months of 2019. The company's Active Pass Base was up 3% from the end of the third quarter in 2019. However, the mix of the pass base shifted from members to traditional pass holders during the period.

"The Active Pass Base of 7.6 million included 2.2 million members as of the end of third quarter 2021, compared to approximately 1.9 million at the end of third quarter 2020 and 2.9 million members at end of third quarter 2019," the company reported. "The Active Pass Base also included 5.4 million traditional season pass holders compared to 1.9 million season pass holders at the end of third quarter 2020 and 4.5 million season pass holders at the end of third quarter 2019."

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Replies (7)

October 27, 2021 at 1:54 PM

The decrease in Memberships is probably why the chain has started reducing benefits on traditional Season Passes. FYI, a Six Flags Season Pass now restricts guests to unlimited visits to ONLY their home park(s). The ONLY products from Six Flags that allow guests entry to all of the chain's parks are Memberships. I'm not sure how many people used to buy season passes and then visited other SF parks around the country, but I have a suspicion it's not an insignificant number. Therefore, by eliminating unlimited access to other parks with a Season Pass, Six Flags will shift a pretty significant number of passholders over to Memberships (that's what me and my family will need to do it appears sometime early next year).

Personally, I found it odd that guests didn't have to pay extra for "park hopping" on their Season Passes, but it would have made more sense to create a higher, more expensive tier of season pass that included non-home park access instead of forcing guests into Memberships. I don't understand what SF gains from Memberships over passes aside from a steady stream of revenue versus 1-time up front payments, and even that could be remedied by selling Season Passes with installments. A Gold Membership is pretty comparable in price and benefits to a Season Pass, so it doesn't make sense that they're pushing so hard for Memberships. FWIW, Busch Gardens/Sea World is still pushing guests towards their Memberships too, but has discontinued most Season Passes, so if you didn't already have a renewable Season Pass, you're only choice is a Membership.

It does make you wonder that if per cap spending at Six Flags increased 23% from 3Q19, but income declined 13%, how much more is SF spending on labor? Of course the greater question of how much the push for higher wages in all sectors will eventually squeeze other businesses, thus leading to higher prices? Disney has not directly stated that their recent price increases and newfound revenue streams were brought about by higher labor costs, but it certainly could be interpreted that way.

We have been assured by officials and many economists that the recent uptick in inflation was only temporary and would eventually normalize, but financial reports like this seem to suggest that prices and other revenue generating mechanisms will need to be brought to fore to offset higher wage bills. While purchasing power right now is strong, prices and ancillary costs of buying goods/services are going up pretty dramatically, and will eventually outpace the gains made by the push for higher wages. Before long, we're right back to where we were 2 years ago, except now a job paying $15/hour is no longer considered a "living wage", and the process just starts over again.

October 27, 2021 at 2:35 PM

People forget to cancel subscriptions. That’s the business model for memberships.

October 27, 2021 at 3:06 PM

"People forget to cancel subscriptions."

Totally agree, which is why I despise companies that solely base their revenue on subscriptions. Businesses reap huge profits from forgetful customers, but when is the last time a customer got something from a business that forgot to deliver (or provided substandard) products or services that have been paid for on a subscription?

Subscriptions/memberships should require some level of periodic acknowledgement that they still want the subscription/membership.

October 27, 2021 at 4:14 PM

Diving into the numbers a bit, SIX does not break out labor costs, dumping them into operating expenses. But, especially for the nine months ending Oct. 3, SIX incurred additional expenses for interest payments (remember the millions they borrowed while closed) and stock-based compensation, in addition to the general operating expenses.

October 27, 2021 at 7:51 PM

I know I mentioned this in another thread, so I won't belabor the point -- but I agree with Russell. I picked up a Six Flags season pass (based out of Magic Mountain) and used it at a pair of parks this year -- something I've done in 2018 and 2019. I won't be renewing for 2022 because I'm not interested in a membership that is extremely difficult to cancel and I want to be able to use it chainwide. I'll just buy single-day tickets if I end up visiting other parks.

October 28, 2021 at 2:27 PM

Russell and Robert, great discussion, thank you.

October 29, 2021 at 8:41 AM

I went to Great America twice this season and my spending was down because every single concession stand had a 30+ min wait.

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