Attendance, Revenue Continue to Drop at Six Flags

March 2, 2023, 11:53 AM · Six Flags' attendance and revenue slide continued in the fourth quarter of 2022, as the company posted a 26% percent drop in attendance last year over 2021.

Six Flags' revenue dropped 9% for the year, to $1.358 billion, despite a 22% increase in average guest spending. That number rose from $52.40 per guest in 2021 to $63.93 per guest in 2022, driven by both higher admission and in-park spending per capita.

Yet higher prices and fewer discounts kept away so many potential Six Flags visitors that the spending increases could not make up for the massive drop in attendance - from 27.7 million visitors to 20.4 million - leading to drops in revenue, net income, earnings per share, and Adjusted EBITDA in 2022.

Six Flags did note a 5% increase in Adjusted EBITDA in the final three months of 2022, to a fourth-quarter record of $99 million. That earnings increase came from lower employee headcount and hours worked, plus lower advertising spending, rather than an increase in revenue, which dropped 12%, to $280 million in the quarter. Attendance plunged 30%, to just 4.1 million visitors, for the three-month period ending January 1, 2023.

In addition to higher admission costs, Six Flags blamed the fourth quarter attendance drop on fewer operating days, noting that six parks that stayed open in the fourth quarter for Holiday in the Park in 2021 did not in 2022. Yet that accounted for just over a quarter million of the 1.7 million-visitor attendance drop for the quarter.

"We are pleased to have delivered record fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA, which provides evidence that our new strategy and our new culture are beginning to take hold," Six Flags President and CEO Selim Bassoul said. "I'm proud of our team’s commitment to elevating the guest experience. In the fourth quarter, we launched three new events and amplified our largest event of the year, Fright Fest, which drove improved attendance trends and guest satisfaction. Our team is hard at work developing an exciting lineup of new events, rides and attractions for 2023, as we look to build on our success in the fourth quarter."

Six Flags' stock price jumped nearly 5% after the earnings report, though it remains down nearly 35% from the same date last year.

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Replies (4)

March 2, 2023 at 12:51 PM

I think a big chunk of revenue loss that's not detailed is that SF dramatically changed and raised the prices for their Season Pass program in 4Q, which is a time of the year when the chain has historically racked up massive revenues from renewals and new pass sales. For many parks, SF has added new tiers to their season pass program that not only places water park admission into a more expensive pass but also chain-wide admission on a top tier pass that was 3-5x the cost of the previous year.

While some of those prices have come down, I have no doubt SF didn't generate as much 4Q revenue from season pass sales that they have historically. The chain also skipped their annual Roller Coaster Day promotion that was traditionally used to promote season pass renewals and upcoming attractions. Obviously the chain didn't do the promotion last year because they really don't have much to promote, but that end of summer event was traditionally used to kick off the chain's pass renewal efforts.

That means in addition to cutting themselves off at the knees by cutting Holiday in the Park events around the country, they gave up a big chunk of 4Q revenue by not promoting season pass renewals.

March 2, 2023 at 9:08 PM

IIRC, they were selling Diamond passes for $250 last fall, and the Diamond pass was the only pass that gave you access to other parks in the chain.
I must not have been the only one to think that was too expensive, given the dismal Q4 numbers. That said, Six Flags America in DC has dropped the Diamond pass price to $125...

March 3, 2023 at 7:18 PM

I received several emails promoting pass renewal and did renew my pass because a gold pass with parking is cheap.Agree with 164Trekker that the cost of a Diamond pass is excessive. I used to make annual visits to SFGadv, SFOT, SFFT and SFNE for what I'm now paying for admission to my home park, as a gold pass previously included admission to all parks in the chain. Six Flags isn't offering enough novelties or amenities to justify the price hike.

March 5, 2023 at 8:55 AM

I have to believe that in addition to some of the obvious price raises keeping people away, just as much blame has to be placed for having so many rides closed (at least, as far as SFMM is concerned). I can't tell you how many people I heard complaining about how nearly over half the rides were closed on any given day. Would you want to return to a park like that? Compound that with the fact that nothing new has been announced, and you're not really giving anyone a reason to visit, and negative word of mouth is spreading.

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