Attendance Down, but Revenue Up at Six Flags

May 8, 2023, 9:19 AM · Attendance continues to slide at the Six Flags theme parks, with a five percent drop in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period in 2022. But increased spending by those who are visiting helped push the company to record first quarter revenue, Six Flags reported today.

The first three months of the year are typically lean ones for regional theme and amusement part operators, as only parks in warmer regions of the country are open for the period. A more accurate picture of a company's health comes from results in the second and third quarters, when all parks are operating. That said, Six Flags reported a five percent slide in attendance to 1.6 million guests for the three months ending April 2, 2023, compared to the same period a year before.

Those guests spent an average of $80.88 each, however, up seven percent from the year prior. That increase was driven by a three percent rise in in-park spending and a 10% jump in admission spending per capita, as Six Flags continues its policy of reducing its once-plentiful discounted admission opportunities and pushing memberships.

Six Flags' Magic Mountain park in Southern California experiences the same wet weather that drove a 27% drop in attendance at rival Knott's Berry Farm's Cedar Fair theme parks in the quarter, so the results at Six Flags were not as discouraging relative to its competition as they have been in recent previous quarters.

"We are pleased to have delivered record first quarter revenue and the second-highest first quarter Adjusted EBITDA in our company’s history, which we believe are proof points that our new strategy and our new culture are beginning to take hold," Six Flags President and CEO Selim Bassoul said. "Looking ahead, our team is excited to launch numerous special events this summer, including Viva La Fiesta, Flavors of the World, Six Flags Fireworks Spectacular, and parades. These events, combined with exciting new rides and attractions and our focused investments in infrastructure, should help us deliver an enhanced guest experience this year. We are still in the early stages of our transformation, but with our season pass sales accelerating and our attendance improving, we are encouraged by our recent progress."

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Replies (2)

May 8, 2023 at 9:36 AM

Call me a skeptic on Six Flags' new strategy. They might be able to get people to buy it during the winter time when attendance is naturally suppressed, but I doubt they will be able to twist the number in their favor during Q2. FWIW, SF has been going beck to their discounting ways in recent months to drive season pass sales (though not quite as extreme as they've done in the past), so all this bluster about them trying to trade increased per-cap spending for reduced attendance may not come to fruition as guests on discounted passes start filling the parks when the weather warms up.

May 9, 2023 at 6:31 AM

Does anyone have information on how successful (or not) Six Flags’ Scream Break was? I am curious about attendee feedback on this event.

The last time I visited Discovery Kingdom (December ‘22), I was extremely disappointed at how stripped down the park was, both in the animal experiences and rides in operation/still standing. The lack of crowds made sense since there was so little to do. It would not surprise me if this location announced a departure plan similar to California’s Great America.

My previous trip to Magic Mountain (Summer ‘22) also showed far less attendees than ever before, but at least all rides were up and going and the park looked good.

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