Did you guys hear this news?
Magic Mountain to remain a theme park
BY ALEX DOBUZINSKIS LA DAILY NEWS
Article Last Updated:12/12/2006 11:02:03 AM PST
VALENCIA - Magic Mountain isn't going away anytime soon, but a sale of the park from Six Flags to another operator could be announced before the end of the year.
With attendance at the thrill park down 25 percent since the potential sale was announced in June, company CEO Mark Shapiro made it a point Tuesday during a conference call with investors to emphasize that the park will not be paved over.
"We had inquiries and bids for parties to come in and close down Magic Mountain and operate it as a real estate venture," Shapiro said in an interview after the conference call.
"But we are dismissing those and solidly staying on a track that has this park open for 2007 and beyond," he said.
Six Flags Inc. looked to sell Magic Mountain and adjacent Hurricane Harbor, and seven other theme parks across the country, to reduce some $2 billion in debt.
The New York-based corporation had hoped to sell all the theme parks together as a package. But Shapiro told investors that approach could change, with Six Flags keeping some parks and selling others.
The company dismissed bids for Magic Mountain because it's worth more as a theme park than what was offered to redevelop it, Shapiro said.
It's just a matter of whether Six Flags or another company will run the park.
"I can't underscore this enough," Shapiro told investors, "Magic Mountain will be open for business in 2007 and will stay open for the foreseeable future, no matter who owns it."
In the company's mid-quarter report, Shapiro told investors to expect an announcement on what will happen with the nine parks for sale by the end of the year, or soon after.
Six Flags, which operates 30 amusement and water parks, is trying to attract more families, instead of the teen crowd that spends little on food and souvenirs.
The goal may fit awkwardly with the "thrill park" reputation of the 17-roller coaster Magic Mountain. But the property is still a big money generator for Six Flags, with about 3 million visitors last year.
"The housing slow-down has taken the steam out of the idea of selling it off and converting it to residential," said Jack Kyser, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
"Because you have a situation now (elsewhere) where developers have put down non-refundable deposits and they're walking away," he said.
Shapiro blamed Magic Mountain's 25 percent drop in attendance since June on uncertainty about a possible sale. But analysts said it's been a competitive year for Southern California theme parks, with Disneyland celebrating its 50th anniversary and other parks slashing prices.
Magic Mountain will have its own discount. Every season pass sold through the end of February will come with a free children's season pass.
"They're clearly targeting the family market there by doing that, but it's a smart move," said Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com. "As any parent knows, the real expense in the theme park market is your kid. ... They want the food, they want the drinks, they want the souvenirs."