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Zachary

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Weird things are happening at Six Flags currently. Within the last 12 hours Park Journey posted and then removed a tweet claiming that the park presidents of...
  • Six Flags New England
  • Six Flags Great Adventure
  • Six Flags America
  • Six Flags Over Georgia
  • Six Flags St. Louis
... had all been removed. Park Journey then deleted that tweet stating that they had been asked to remove it, but didn't retract the claim.



Then, within the last few hours, Great Adventure's park president officially announced his retirement effective September 1st. So 1/5th of that story is checking out thus far.

Then, just a few minutes ago, Sarah of Coaster Studios tweeted out that Six Flags just fired friends of theirs in public relations management.



Combined, these two stories start to look pretty damn shocking.
 
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Gavin

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This came out of nowhere honesty
I took the below with a grain of salt when Screamscape posted this late last week...

Six Flags - (8/5/22) I’m not sure how true this is just yet, but rumor has it that Six Flags may have started a new round of layoffs that will affect positions throughout the chain. With the Q2 2022 earnings call set to take place next week on August 11th, a round of layoffs in addition to guests reporting cut-backs in operational hours at many parks, this doesn’t bode well for good news from the Q2 report.
 
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Kind of makes you wonder how they thought they were in a position to purchase Cedar Fair a couple of years ago.
 
Nov 30, 2018
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They are trying to make a major cultural and vision shift for the company. It’s not surprising that would be contentious and may involve changing out previously successful personnel who aren’t a good fit with the new strategy.

Not ever employee who is good at running a low cost operation is going to be good at running a higher end one, if that’s the ultimate direction.
 
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Zachary

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Andrew Hyde posted a lengthy Twitter thread addressing the background on the Six Flags situation. Not much new here if you actually read the earnings calls conducted by the new CEO, but if you haven't, you SHOULD read this.

 

b.mac

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Not ever employee who is good at running a low cost operation is going to be good at running a higher end one, if that’s the ultimate direction.

The whole problem is the current CEO has also told the parks to stop any extraneous spending as well. Spanos was the one asking them to invest in appearance, experiences, and other new and exciting things the parks haven't really done since the bankruptcy.


Current dude seems content with doing what Six Flags has been doing for the past 10 or so years while simultaneously charging more for the experience.


The new direction doesn't make sense, is what I'm saying.
 

Zachary

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It just seems like the cart is being put before the horse. Six Flags has been super underpriced, overpacked, and flooded with people that represent little to no value to the business for many years now. Those problems should be fixed through higher prices, reduction in free admission, and removal of free food.

That said, when you do all of that, you have to also give people a reason to actually come and pay more than before for the experience you're offering by improving it. SeaWorld Parks pulled off this transition because they had Cap-Ex to funnel into their properties. As long as there's new shit, people seem to be willing to spend A LOT on SEAS parks. SIX just doesn't seem to have the budget for new shit anymore.

This all leads me to believe that the correct path for Six Flags out of their current hole is to either sell off poorly positioned parks to fund cap-ex at the parks they actually want to improve or to transition slowly park-by-park or region-by-region—possibly paired with rebranding efforts at those premium-ized properties.
 
Nov 30, 2018
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The whole problem is the current CEO has also told the parks to stop any extraneous spending as well. Spanos was the one asking them to invest in appearance, experiences, and other new and exciting things the parks haven't really done since the bankruptcy.


Current dude seems content with doing what Six Flags has been doing for the past 10 or so years while simultaneously charging more for the experience.


The new direction doesn't make sense, is what I'm saying.
This could likely be due to working capital issues from Covid and prior accounting shenanigans that limit investment opportunities.

That being said, pricing out low value customers who are simply draining resources from the parks without adding value isn’t the dumbest of moves. Their less price sensitive customers who value the park experience will like the less busy parks and may visit/spend more due to a less stressful experience.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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This could likely be due to working capital issues from Covid and prior accounting shenanigans that limit investment opportunities.

That being said, pricing out low value customers who are simply draining resources from the parks without adding value isn’t the dumbest of moves. Their less price sensitive customers who value the park experience will like the less busy parks and may visit/spend more due to a less stressful experience.
If you read the thread @Zachary posted, the shift is one of push away from membership to daily passes as they spend more. So these changes are about pricing out low value customers as well as increase daily fee sales. The conclusion (I take) is that SIX tried to do too much too fast and it hurt them more than expected.
 
Apr 22, 2019
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SFA has been making park improvements. Though only the one new ride recently. But they've added lots of benches and trash cans, and are (supposedly) adding more shade and other stuff, though I haven't been since earlier this summer, so not sure if that shade has happened (yet?). Not saying it's even remotely enough, but that kind of thing seemed like a step in the right direction, at least. And they did seem to be operating well when we went. Including a full team on Batwing even with short lines, which made that go relatively quick.
 
Mar 18, 2017
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Seems like they should dropped the dining plan or raised prices but not both. See if low entry and fully paying for food could work. However, the smaller crowds, for whatever reason, is surely a huge improvement in the experience.
 
Nov 30, 2018
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Seems like they should dropped the dining plan or raised prices but not both. See if low entry and fully paying for food could work. However, the smaller crowds, for whatever reason, is surely a huge improvement in the experience.
I’d imagine a major target of those changes was to get rid of the customers who were using the parks as a daycare for their kids. Dropping the dining plan deters the daycare use quite a bit, but raising pass prices complements that.
 
Mar 8, 2022
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Kind of makes you wonder how they thought they were in a position to purchase Cedar Fair a couple of years ago.
At that point in time I think they actually were in a position to do so (even though it was the last thing I wanted to see). Six Flags is the chain that a year or so ago I thought had the most potential out of any of the chains and then this takeover happened and it's just flushed the entire chain down the toilet. They are pulling a SEAS without even doing the few positive things that SEAS is doing.

SFA has been making park improvements. Though only the one new ride recently. But they've added lots of benches and trash cans, and are (supposedly) adding more shade and other stuff, though I haven't been since earlier this summer, so not sure if that shade has happened (yet?). Not saying it's even remotely enough, but that kind of thing seemed like a step in the right direction, at least. And they did seem to be operating well when we went. Including a full team on Batwing even with short lines, which made that go relatively quick.
Part of this is Selim's plan but some of it is likely stuff in progress before him as well. SFA is making great improvements and becoming a far better enviornment but it's not the type of thing that people are really going to pay more for. Basically, you can't charge more money for suddenly starting to do the things that you should have been doing all along. Spanos knew that but also knew how important those things were and he set out in the right path to course correct.
 

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Mushroom

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I think people might be too quick to villainize Selim. It seems to me that, if theme parks were grocery stores, Selim wants the Six Flags parks to be less like Food Lion and more like Whole Foods. The problem is that such a transformation will take a long time, and Selim started charging Whole Foods prices while the parks are still offering more of a Food Lion experience.

It might’ve been a strategic error, but it doesn’t strike me as some evil plan to purge the company of its employees and its traditions just because. Hell, I’d argue that an over-eager attempt to rebrand the parks as higher quality while jumping the gun on the execution is still better than Scott Ross and SEAS’ approach, which is the opposite — coasting on a brand’s historic quality and charging top dollar for it without making any attempt to sustain that quality.
 
Mar 8, 2022
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It might’ve been a strategic error, but it doesn’t strike me as some evil plan to purge the company of its employees and its traditions just because. Hell, I’d argue that an over-eager attempt to rebrand the parks as higher quality while jumping the gun on the execution is still better than Scott Ross and SEAS’ approach, which is the opposite — coasting on a brand’s historic quality and charging top dollar for it without making any attempt to sustain that quality.
I think both approaches are horrible and lead to heartache. The main difference right now is the Scott is showing shareholders money while, IMHO, not really having the ability to maintain that, where Selim is the kind of the same thing except backwards where he isn't showing them any money but has a plan that theoretically maintains a positive trajectory. At the end of the day I think both chains are pricing too many people out.
 
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