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  • Six Flags in more trouble???

    According to Yahoo, and the "15 companies that might not survive 2009", Six Flags is listed along with companies like Rite Aid, Chrysler, Sbarro and Blockbuster.

    15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009 - Yahoo! Finance

    With consumers shutting their wallets and corporate revenues plunging, the business landscape may start to resemble a graveyard in 2009. Household names like Circuit City and Linens 'n Things have already perished. And chances are, those bankruptcies were just an early warning sign of a much broader epidemic.

    Moody's Investors Service, for instance, predicts that the default rate on corporate bonds - which foretells bankruptcies - will be three times higher in 2009 than in 2008, and 15 times higher than in 2007. That could equate to 25 significant bankruptcies per month.

    We examined ratings from Moody's and data from other sources to develop a short list of potential victims that ought to be familiar to most consumers. Many of these firms are in industries directly hit by the slowdown in consumer spending, such as retail, automotive, housing and entertainment.
    Six Flags. (SIX; about 30,000 employees; stock down 84%). This theme-park operator has been losing money for several years, and selling off properties to try to pay down debt and get back into the black. But the ride may end prematurely. Moody's expects cash flow to be negative in 2009, and if consumers aren't spending during the peak summer season, that could imperil the company's ability to pay debts coming due later this year and in 2010.


  • #2
    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    I've been wondering about Six Flags and Cedar Fair. The bad economy can't be helping their debt problems. And a lack of funds and ability to borrow will keep them from making a lot of the big changes they need to lure in the bigger spending family market. Both companies have suffered from focusing on Teens and extreme attractions for too long at the expense of families, and now that they are trying to address those concerns, they may not have the time they need to make sufficient changes.

    For the sake of the amusement industry, I hope Six Flags doesn't fail. But I think they may very well be on a path to derailment without sufficient brakes to stop the speeding train.

    The only positive is that the company could possibly break back up into regional parks with individual parks being sold to local investors. Many of the parks in the Six Flags and Cedar Fair chains were quite popular before they were taken over and in many cases ruined by their new owners.
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    • #3
      Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

      I dunno, with people not traveling I'm not sure if Six Flags won't see more "Local" people. Of course, as the influx of Disneyland AP's has shown us, an increase in attendance due to locals with Season or Annual Passes doesn't always equal more income when it comes to food and merchandising.

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      • #4
        Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

        But focusing on "Families" does. Teens have a more limited income and don't spend as much on merchandise and food. Families come in larger groups and spend a significant amount on food and merchandise. Six Flags may have cornered the extreme coaster market, but at what cost to its bottom line? They turned a beloved family park into a gang hangout in LA. And ruined other local parks around the country.
        Last edited by Dustysage; 02-09-2009, 11:42 AM.
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        • #5
          Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

          That's a shame. I never had the chance to visit a Six Flags park, but do want to one day. I hope they can stay in business.

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          • #6
            Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

            Yes, Six Flags have been in deep straits since a couple of years ago. However, they have been steadily improving since the coming of new management. They turned a profit for the first time in a while last year, if I remember correctly.

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            • #7
              Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

              A profit for the year, yes - but still not enough to pay down the interest on their multi-billion dollar debt. They continue to circle the drain, and while I hope of a day when local operators can buy parks back one-by-one, I fear too many will suffer the fate of Astroworld.

              Originally posted by Dustysage View Post
              Many of the parks in the Six Flags and Cedar Fair chains were quite popular before they were taken over and in many cases ruined by their new owners.
              I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable lumping in Cedar Fair with the likes of Six Flags. Obviously the CF chain has more in common with SF than Disney, but there is still a noticable difference (i.e., improvement) in the overall guest experience.

              Until they went all Premier Parks and bought up the former Paramount Parks, that is. We shall see.
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              • #8
                Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                This is too bad, they definitely did this to themselves in many respects, but it's too bad that just as they are starting to turn things around the economy had to go so sour. I don't know if they could have got themselves out of trouble even in a good economy, but at least they could have probably gotten a better price on assets they'll have to sale and possibly more credit at better rates. This will only make Disney more likely to rest of their laurals not having much real competition.
                The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
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                • #9
                  Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                  Originally posted by sarki7 View Post
                  I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable lumping in Cedar Fair with the likes of Six Flags. Obviously the CF chain has more in common with SF than Disney, but there is still a noticable difference (i.e., improvement) in the overall guest experience.
                  You obviously never visited Knott's before and after CF bought the park. I'd MUCH rather spend a day at Magic Mountain than Knott's these days.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                    Likely scenario is that they get bought at a deep discount (from previous sale) by an investment group that thinks they know how to run park, but will also fall to the same poor business strategy that has been causing the poor financials for, oh, about 14 years now. We can blame Pressler for the killing of SFMM and Knott's, in a roundabout way.
                    Last edited by sediment; 02-10-2009, 09:02 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                      Originally posted by sir clinksalot View Post
                      You obviously never visited Knott's before and after CF bought the park. I'd MUCH rather spend a day at Magic Mountain than Knott's these days.
                      No, my first visit to Knott's was in 2004.

                      I would also prefer to spend a day at SFMM than Knott's -but that has nothing to do with park operations and guest experience and everything to do with the coaster collection. But that's just me.

                      Besides, I wasn't saying that the CF parks are better as CF parks than they were when they were independent. I was saying the current CF parks are generally better than the current SF parks.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                        Originally posted by sarki7 View Post
                        No, my first visit to Knott's was in 2004.

                        I would also prefer to spend a day at SFMM than Knott's -but that has nothing to do with park operations and guest experience and everything to do with the coaster collection. But that's just me.

                        Besides, I wasn't saying that the CF parks are better as CF parks than they were when they were independent. I was saying the current CF parks are generally better than the current SF parks.
                        Hmmm, that's a tough one for me.

                        The only CF parks I've been to are Knott's, Dorney and Great America. I'd take at least 4 or 5 Six Flags parks over those.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                          Originally posted by sir clinksalot View Post
                          Hmmm, that's a tough one for me.

                          The only CF parks I've been to are Knott's, Dorney and Great America. I'd take at least 4 or 5 Six Flags parks over those.
                          I will readily admit the CF chain has been heading downhill as of late - which seems to have coincided with every new park they've taken on.

                          It's just hard for me to say they've sunken as low as Six Flags. Any chain that operates a park like Cedar Point is certainly doing something right. The top parks in the SF chain - probably SFGAdv and SFGAm really pale in comparison. And I'm not just walking coaster-wise.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                            Teens have a more limited income and don't spend as much on merchandise and food. Families come in larger groups and spend a significant amount on food and merchandise. Six Flags may have cornered the extreme coaster market, but at what cost to its bottom line? They turned a beloved family park into a gang hangout in LA. And ruined other local parks around the country.
                            Well said, Dustysage.

                            Six Flags is paying for years of bad decisions. Magic Mountain decided to ditch the family image and build one roller coaster after another. It's a shame, too. When I was a kid my family rotated between Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm. As a father, I would think twice before taking my family to Magic Mountain now days.

                            Magic Mountain changed a lot between the mid-90's and mid 00's. Dustysage kind of stole my thunder but I will reiterate it. Unless you are a teenager or a gang banger, there's not much reason to be there. Very sad.

                            The same goes for Six Flags Marine World/Discovery Kingdom. It's really a shame to see what has happened to that place. You can barely even move around inside the park. It is absolutely flooded with troubled locals who paid their $69.95 for an annual pass and, by golly, they are going to get their money's worth!

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                            • #15
                              Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                              Originally posted by sarki7 View Post
                              I will readily admit the CF chain has been heading downhill as of late - which seems to have coincided with every new park they've taken on.

                              It's just hard for me to say they've sunken as low as Six Flags. Any chain that operates a park like Cedar Point is certainly doing something right. The top parks in the SF chain - probably SFGAdv and SFGAm really pale in comparison. And I'm not just walking coaster-wise.
                              Maybe it's because I haven't been to Cedar Point yet.

                              But I LOVE SFGAdv, SFFT and SFOG.

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                              • #16
                                Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                                Originally posted by sarki7 View Post
                                I will readily admit the CF chain has been heading downhill as of late - which seems to have coincided with every new park they've taken on.
                                They absolutely ruined the park I grew up in - Worlds Of Fun in Kansas City. They took a beautiful park with a rich - Around the World in 80 Days - theme and ripped out the theme. Now they just plop rides anywhere they want. It is so sad. I went back a couple of years ago with a younger sibling and was so depressed. The park that I knew and loved was essentially gone. And it is suffering the same fate as the other Cedar Fair parks and Six Flags parks. Gone are the families, teens roam the park creating drama, the rides are too extreme even for me. Yuck! Both of these chains deserve to go under. Perhaps the people who buy them will do a better job of serving the local communities.
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                                • #17
                                  Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                                  Hmm, that's a bit extreme for me - I like to think Cedarfair still has a shot. Actually, I just hope the parks themselves survive to see a better day.

                                  Originally posted by sir clinksalot View Post
                                  Maybe it's because I haven't been to Cedar Point yet.

                                  But I LOVE SFGAdv, SFFT and SFOG.
                                  I think a visit to CP will soften some peoples' opinions of the chain, though it is only the one link.

                                  SFGAdv is my favorite of the SF chain, and is really the only park that has shown signs of actual improvement. It is STILL a Six Flags park overall, but it's gotten better.

                                  SFOG, however, has gotten worse. Goliath was a great addition, and it's easily the most naturally beautiful SF park I've been to - but based on the high standards we all have, it still fails dismally. Rude employees, poor operations, shoddy appearance, unclean. Ugh.

                                  Originally posted by SafariRob View Post
                                  Well said, Dustysage.

                                  Six Flags is paying for years of bad decisions. Magic Mountain decided to ditch the family image and build one roller coaster after another. It's a shame, too. When I was a kid my family rotated between Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm. As a father, I would think twice before taking my family to Magic Mountain now days.

                                  Magic Mountain changed a lot between the mid-90's and mid 00's. Dustysage kind of stole my thunder but I will reiterate it. Unless you are a teenager or a gang banger, there's not much reason to be there. Very sad.

                                  The same goes for Six Flags Marine World/Discovery Kingdom. It's really a shame to see what has happened to that place. You can barely even move around inside the park. It is absolutely flooded with troubled locals who paid their $69.95 for an annual pass and, by golly, they are going to get their money's worth!
                                  Interesting points, but don't blame the roller coasters! There ARE parks out there that offer an impressive coaster lineup and still cater to families with a multitude of children areas. It's not so much that SFMM built coasters, it's that they didn't build anything ELSE!

                                  I definitely agree with you on the state of disrepair of SFMM, though another frequent guest is the coaster enthusiast that is willing to climb through a landfill and get harassed by employees for some pretty impressive coasters.

                                  I'd say SFDK is still a good notch below SFMM on the god-awful scale. At least there is a fair amount of activities for kids in families there, especially all the animal stuff. Granted, the employees, operations, and guest experience is still abhorrent - but I don't find myself fearing for my life nearly as much there as when I'm at SFMM.
                                  Last edited by sarki7; 02-09-2009, 03:58 PM.
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                                  • #18
                                    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                                    Originally posted by Dustysage View Post
                                    They absolutely ruined the park I grew up in - Worlds Of Fun in Kansas City. They took a beautiful park with a rich - Around the World in 80 Days - theme and ripped out the theme. Now they just plop rides anywhere they want. It is so sad. I went back a couple of years ago with a younger sibling and was so depressed. The park that I knew and loved was essentially gone. And it is suffering the same fate as the other Cedar Fair parks and Six Flags parks. Gone are the families, teens roam the park creating drama, the rides are too extreme even for me. Yuck! Both of these chains deserve to go under. Perhaps the people who buy them will do a better job of serving the local communities.
                                    That's exactly how many of us SoCal natives feel about Knott's.

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                                      Sorry to hear about Knott's it was on my list of must see's but sounds like it's getting demoted. We had a similar experience when Six Flags took over WildWorld down in Largo MD, what used to be a family friendly water park with one good coaster went downhill fast with cookie cutter rides being slapped in anywhere they would fit. Hven't bothered since they where bought out and why would I with Hershey park, Kings Dominion, and Bush Gardens Williamsburg all being day trips as well. (There's also Sesame Street Place but my daughters a bit old for that... and Dorney park is not really that far either but I digress)

                                      Six flags has a fatal flaw in that they buy up parks and then try to make them all as similar as possible. Mostly I think they do it to try to maintain lower operations costs by pooling parts and R&D costs but as Dusty and others have mentioned it's not a good long term strategy to survive in what's going to be a more competitive market this season. In retail there's always the issue of having stores too close to each other (density) and too similar (lack of uniqueness). If you have too many stores and they are all the same your saturating the market and each store's income will suffer from it, just like bacteria on an augar plate when they become too dense they all die out due to lack of nutirents. Same thing with theme parks but more so as they have a much larger territory than a retail store. Six flags really needs to consider shutting some of the parks down and making the remaining one's a bit less cookie cutter to have a chance at drawing in more patrons.

                                      That and getting rid of marketing offers like they had a year or so ago of go to the park on opening day and get a free annual pass... No one pays retail for local parks in the Baltimore/DC area there are coupons or bring a coke can in get 1/2 off everywhere but free Ap's is just insane. I'm not at all surprised that they are in trouble even with the travel downturn people will take vacations, they just may skip the six flags this year, do something locally, and plan a big trip to Disney next season.
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                                      • #20
                                        Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

                                        Originally posted by SafariRob View Post
                                        Unless you are a teenager or a gang banger, there's not much reason to be there. Very sad.

                                        That is absolutely untrue, although I do understand where you come from. Magic Mountain is slowly but surely turning into a family destination, with the addition of Thomas Town and its efforts to boost a family-friendly image.

                                        Yes, it'll take time to shed their previous image. And that image, too, was underserved-the last 'gang activity' there was in the 80's.

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