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  1. #61

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    The rides themselves both once you left the station were essentially just concrete and steel creations, but the queue line theming was (when they opened) on par with a lot of the queue line theming nearly anywhere else -- including Disney.
    I agree with all of your points, except this one. The themed lines were nice, but were nowhere near "Disney" quality when they do it right (Indy, Jungle Cruise, MK's Pirates, etc).


  2. #62

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by Coheteboy View Post
    While I disagree that the theme was ever comparable to Disney, your post taught me a whole lot more than I ever got from riding those rides all those many times years ago.
    Time Warner seemed to understand the value of theming more than any other owner of the chain -- before that point, the chain was relatively unthemed, and for all the crap that Scream at Magic Mountain gets, in '88 the same sort of installation happened at Six Flags Great America, and it never got covered up until 2003 (ironically, the same year that Scream moved in at Magic Mountain) so it isn't like even Time Warner was perfect.

    Also, the Time Warner era of theming was much more implied than in your face. To really understand the themes, you had to really pay attention to everything going on around as well as know the characters and settings before getting there. Since they were tied to movies (not comics during Time Warner) that didn't often have the longevity of, say, Disney movies, especially today when the themes have degraded they are much less recognizable.

    I personally really appreciated the subtle way everything was done, and the plethora of details that if you were really into the movies you could find in the queues for those rides. I still think that some of them (especially the first and second Batman: The Ride queues before they really expanded the queues) rank up there with the best queue line themes of all time. However, unlike Disney where the theming would be kept up forever, the theming in these queue lines has mostly been stripped out and only token bits remain, which is really too bad.

    Paramont also did themes in their parks which were quite impressive, but seemed to do even less upkeep for them than the Six Flags chain did, as most of the coolest thematic elements became boarded up or non-functioning even the year they were released.

    The big difference, and the reason that Disney is so known for their theming, is that Disney upkeeps it on a regular basis. Paramont basically lost theirs after a year or two on each ride, and Six Flags took probably five or six, but other than the new rides which Six Flags is making some decent attempts on -- I thought the Dark Knight was a move in the right direction, although thematically it has some huge issues, both of these chains simply have rides with nothing in them.

    The rides to watch to see how Six Flags will move forward with theming (if they are successful remaining in business beyond this year) I think is Superman at New England and whatever they are doing with Medusa at Great Adventure. If you haven't already, check out their viral campaign here:

    Clawshun Industries

    Click around. There is a surprising amount of stuff, and if the rides hold up half to how this viral marketing campaign has been treated, I'll be finding a way to head to both of those parks next year.

  3. #63

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by sir clinksalot View Post
    I agree with all of your points, except this one. The themed lines were nice, but were nowhere near "Disney" quality when they do it right (Indy, Jungle Cruise, MK's Pirates, etc).
    I wouldn't say that they were better than *all* of the Disney theming, but offhand I think that they were better themed than the queue part (Disneyland versions all) of the Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, HISTA, BLAB, Rocket Rods and Autopia, and probably equally well themed as Space Mountain.

    The rides themselves though, clearly, Disney wins on theme, and for the most part Six Flags wins on thrills.

    Disney also does a *much* better job connecting their themes from area to area, where even Time Warner Six Flags liked to plop everything, well, everywhere with little regard to a flowing guest experience, which most definitely does detract from them.

  4. #64

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    I was quoting the themes that people had stated. I'm not going to spend all day finding and quoting exact quotes.
    Heh, looks like you did this time around, thanks.


    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    You said, and I quote, "Their model should be Cedar Point - essentially no theming whatsoever, amazing coasters, and a staff that cares."
    I'm not suggesting that these parks load up their coaster arsenals - in fact, most parks already have more coasters then they need. I suggest the CP model more in terms of staff, operations, maintenance, etc. You don't need theme for success.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    I've been to both as a coaster rider, and I find the designs at Cedar Point utterly boring, while the rides at Magic Mountain are actually extreme rides that are much more intense to ride.
    "Utterly boring"? I can see having a preference to SFMM, but extolling SFMM's coaster virtues while debasing CP, on what are actually quite comparable coasters ,seems very odd to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    Six Flags *did* use Cedar Point as a goal between 2000-2003, and it dang near ran them right out of business. Most people who have really watched the chain during that time agree that the large coasters they were installing were big mistakes, and rides to draw in families would have worked better in almost all of their properties -- excluding Magic Mountain, as mentioned.
    Again, SF parks don't need more coasters - they need what they have to be run well. Forget the rides for a second. It's about the staff, the maintenance, operations (as I've mentioned) - these are the things that succeed at the best non-theme parks, and would succeed st SF. We can probably agree that SF isn't going to get you on immersion, and that's ok - they have impressive thrill rides. But the parks still have to get you to WANT to be there.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    Okay, using your examples, Evil Knevial is a spectacular family type ride which while having a rather weak theme still has a theme. And is is rideable by everyone. Tony Hawk's Big Spins are the same sort of thing. Yeah, the theme isn't super deep, but it's there.
    Haha, not "super deep"?? "Themed immerse mice coasters"?? Are you joking? The theme of the ride is the NAME. It's a joke. There is literally a cardboard cutout of Tony Hawk attached to the top of a pole. That is your immersion. You may call this serious improvement, I call it business as usual.

    BTW - I was referring to Goliath at SFOG. Remember how we were told "No more Goliaths"? Then what about Behemoth? Say one thing, do another. Business as usual.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    From what I've seen from the parks that I have been in, the new management is trying to balance the parks and make them into destinations that the whole family can enjoy, while still understanding that coasters did make them popular, so they aren't totally stopping building them -- just making them family friendly and cheaper to install, both big positives.
    If this is truly their goal, then I applaud them. In my experience, I haven't seen anything worth crowing about. I've also spent way too much time in way too many SF parks over many years to give them the benefit of the doubt. My experiences over the past 2-4 seasons have shown me only token improvements, but still a guest experience that is by far the worst in the industry.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    turning a profit the (really) second year of the new management is a *huge* accomplishment, and is *extremely* important if Six Flags wants to be able to add more themed and detailed experiences in the future.
    I certainly agree that it's important, but I'm not sure which themed and detailed experiences you're referring to.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    See above. The parks are also definitely cleaner then they were a few years ago, they are painting rides a lot more to make things look good, and things like the bathrooms are completely cleaner than they were.
    Even with these modest improvements, these parks are still the dirtier and more run down than almost anyone else. Clean bathrooms? Riiight.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    It's a tough industry, and if their claims of making money this past year are true, a swing of $275 million plus in revenue is a *huge* step in the right direction.
    You see it as a step in the right direction, I see it merely as a slow-down in heading the wrong direction. There is much more to be done, and unless the effort is followed through, it's worth nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    Superman (insert ride here) that were painted red, blue and yellow but featured no noticeable theme beyond that. It seems that new management is experimenting with fixing that, as I'm *really* curious to see what they do with the Superman ride in New England.
    Strange, you use Superman as an example of poor theming, and yet think Tony Hawk is immersive? No question the theming is more evident on Superman. (Most have several cardboard cutouts listing the various villains). Based on these examples, the theming and immersion have taken a step backward.

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    What didn't you like about SFDK? That is probably one of my favorite Six Flags parks overall as the animal experiences that are there are quite good, and although the coasters are all unthemed, I enjoy just going to that park and not even bothering to ride the coasters, Medusa excepted. This is probably the most family park in the entire Six Flags chain.
    Good animal experiences? Chain linked fences? Animals dying in a fire? Yes, the shows are nice, and there is a good variety of animals, but the place barely compares to almost any moderate zoo. It's definitely a nice diversion from what is a lackluster ride collection, though.

    My main concern, as is with the entirety of the chain, is the employees. Nothing about their appearance, demeanor, or attitude gives any indication that they want me to have a good time. Some are rude, many are bored, most probably just want to go home. I understand not wanting to be at work, but this is the customer service business, and these people are the front line. It's embarrassing.

    Here's a quick example. While loading for Matterhorn, one cast member remarked to another that she was annoyed by the recent shift schedule that she just got. That's right, she was complaining about her job in front of a guest. This was actually a big surprise, and it's probably why I remember it. My financee (who had probably been to all of 5 parks in her life at the time) also noticed, and she said, "Where are we, Six Flags?"

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    Amongst those who don't believe that parks "owe" them a large coaster every year, the new management team at Six Flags has been a big hit.

    And, although I can't say my investment in them has done well at all, I really do believe it will improve, which is the other very important thing. I guess we'll have to see what happens!
    I'm certainly not someone who feels owed a new big coaster every year, but I've seen little that qualifies anything they've done as a "big hit". Time will tell, as it is wont to do, but as I've mentioned, I'd seen so many of these "turn around" efforts flame out with no lasting change to the overall guest experience.

    Consider me unimpressed.
    Last edited by sarki7; 02-13-2009 at 10:53 AM.
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  5. #65

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    DL and all of the Disney parks exist to further the company profits in movies and TV. If they were sold at their perceived financial value (i.e., much higher because of the tie-ins to all things Disney), then they would eventually lose money as well for its new owner. Actually, what Disney Stores did to Children's Place.

    Time Warner screwed the pooch in thinking that it should be analyzed as a stand-alone division, instead of an integral part of "brand" creation, and deciding it was better off selling than assimilating the parks into the Time-Warner Borg cube.
    (NERD ALERT!!)
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  6. #66

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Theme parks CAN make money. They just need to know their local communities and serve them well. Real mistakes can be made when a park thinks that it has national or regional appeal when it really only has a local audience.

    Disneyland - National Appeal
    WDW - Worldwide Appeal
    Cedar Point - Regional
    Sea World - Regional
    Six Flags - Local (for the most part)

    All parks will get some casual travelers who just happen to be in town and want to check out the local park, but how many parks cause people to specifically travel to a city specifically to visit the park (and from what distance do that draw).

    I think that it is true that when a park loses its branding or sponsor, it can lose a lot of its reach. But that doesn't mean that it can't still make money.
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  7. #67

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Cutting and pasting just relevant parts:

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    "Utterly boring"? I can see having a preference to SFMM, but extolling SFMM's coaster virtues while debasing CP on what are actually quite comparable coasters seems very odd to me.
    It's an opinion thing. I like my coasters unpredictable and intense (generally smaller and turnier), which describes Ninja, X2, Batman, Tatsu, Scream, and Riddlers. The Cedar Fair equivalents are usually very tall, but they have more drawn out elements so I always know exactly what sort of feeling is coming, which I just personally don't find interesting in the least.

    My favorite coaster at Cedar Fair is Disaster Transport, which says something, and my favorite ride is Demon Drop. Admittedly, I haven't rode Maverick, which would probably take it's place. To each his or her own.

    Again, SF parks don't need more coasters - they need what they have to be run well. Forget the rides for a second. It's about the staff, the maintenance, operations (as I've mentioned) - these are the things that succeed at the best non-theme parks, and would succeed st SF. We can probably agree that SF isn't going to get you on immersion, and that's ok - they have impressive thrill rides. But the parks still have to get you to WANT to be there.
    And with my visits, they have made great strides in improving that. The fact I was dragged to Kentucky Kingdom last year and actually had a blast (a park I vowed I would never return to) and everything about it looked improved was a huge difference. The same story has repeated for every Six Flags park that I've visited in the last two years, which is probably about half the chain.

    Haha, "not super deep"?? "Themed immerse mice coasters"?? Are you joking? The theme of the ride is the NAME. It's a joke. There is literally a cardboard cutout of Tony Hawk attached to the top of a pole. That is you immersion. You may call this serious improvement, I call it business as usual.
    By your statement, you obviously didn't ride either of the Dark Knight Coasters, which had a Universal-esque pre-show (filmed with Aaron Eckhart just for the ride) and was a totally enclosed mouse that you went flying past scenes from the movie.

    The Tony Hawk coasters have more than a cardboard cut out. They have skateboard park-like structures that the track goes over, as well as films of skaters in the queue line before it. It definitely isn't as immersive as the Dark Knight Coasters were, but it was more of an attempt than just cut outs, which was the Premier way of doing business.

    BTW - I was referring to Goliath at SFOG. Remember how we were told "No more Goliaths"? Then what about Behemoth. Say one thing, do another. Business as usual.
    Goliath in SFOG was a Premier installation (rides get contracts signed far in advance of their opening dates, Tatsu at SFMM also opened in 2006, but was a Premier installation).

    As for Behemoth, that's a Cedar Fair park, not Six Flags. Since the new management has come on board at Six Flags, the only semi-major coaster installation has been Evil Kneviel, and soon to be this year's Terminator Salvation thing at Magic Mountain, both much more family friendly than extreme.

    If this is truly their goal, then I applaud them. But I've spent way too much time in way too many SF parks over many years to give them the benefit of the doubt. My experiences over the past 2-4 seasons have shown me token improvements, but still a guest experience that is by far the worst in the industry.
    Depends on how many parks you go to, I guess. I've had much, much, much worse experiences at other places.

    I certainly agree that it's [turning a profit] important, but I'm not sure which themed and detailed experiences you're referring to.
    I'm referring to anything that they wish to do. Theming costs a bundle. If they can get by adding a few rides that are sort of themed now and they start making money, they can start reinvesting some of that money in more immersive theming in the future. As I've pointed out, the Superman / Medusa stuff looks like a fascinating peek into the (potential) future for the chain, but only if they make more money next year.

    You see it as a step in the right direction, I see it merely as a slow-down in heading the wrong direction. There is much more to be done.
    So, since nothing they have done so far has been correct in your opinion, what could they have done to make the parks both make money and improve the guest experience to this high level in your opinion? The parks have gotten in my experiences cleaner and friendlier, the ride installations make more sense, and they actually made money.

    If they can manage to keep that up, they can afford to invest more money into the guest experience and the ride installations in the future. But right now, I can't imagine a different strategy not resulting in another year of losses, and had that been the case I fully expect they would have been out of business now, not in a couple years.

    Strange, you use Superman as an example of poor theming, and yet think Tony Hawk is immersive? No question the theming is more evident on Superman. (Most have several cardboard cutouts listing the various villains). Based on these examples, the theming and immersion have taken a step backward.
    Tony Hawk is a skate boarder. A skate boarding theme is *much* easier to pull off than a theme based around a super hero. If you got to see Superman at Magic Mountain's theming near when it opened (Time Warner days) it was the type of thing I would expect out of a Superman ride. The Tony Hawk theming is what I would expect out of a Tony Hawk ride.

    And I'm not saying Tony Hawk is totally immersive, just that it makes sense for what they have. I pointed to the Dark Knight Coasters as their attempt at being immersive, which they are.

    Good animal experiences? Chain linked fences? Animals dying in a fire? Yes, the shows are nice, and there is a good variety of animals, but the place barely compares to almost any moderate zoo. It's definitely a nice diversion from what is a lackluster ride collection, though.
    Do you go to many zoos? As well at theme parks, I've been to tons of zoos throughout the country, and Discovery Kingdom actually matches up rather well to them. As for the animals dying in a fire, unfortunately things like that could happen anywhere, and I don't blame Six Flags for it. It isn't like they knew it would happen and left them there -- I'm sure the trainers were absolutely devastated.

    My main concern, as is with the entirety of the chain, is the employees. Nothing about their appearance, demeanor, or attitude gives any indication that they want me to have a good time. Some are rude, many are bored, most probably just want to go home. I understand not wanting to be at work, but this is the customer service business, and these are the front line. It's embarrassing.

    Here's a quick example. While loading for Matterhorn, one cast member remarked to another that she was annoyed by the recent shift schedule that she just got. That's right, she was complaining about her job in front of a guest. This was actually a big surprise, and it's probably why I remember it. My financee (who had probably been to all of 5 parks in her life at the time) also noticed, and she said, "Where are we, Six Flags?"
    While I understand what you're saying, you can't compare a seasonal business to a year round one. Disney can hire and retain employees better than Six Flags can because they are open all the time, so Disney can weed out the ones that aren't as good easier. Six Flags hires their employees for a main block of "from Memorial Day until Labor Day" as they say in all their financial reports. So you have to expect that the level of an employee who is going to work for you for only a few months tops simply won't match a location where they could work for 20 years if they chose too.

    And while I have seen the behaviour you've mentioned in some of my visits to Six Flags, it has become a much, much rarer occurance in the last two or three years.

    I'm certainly not someone who feels owed a new big coaster every year, but I've seem little that qualifies anything they've done as a "big hit". Time will tell, as it is wont to do, but as I've mentioned, I'd seen so many of these "turn around" efforts flame out with little change to the overall guest experience.

    Consider me unimpressed.
    ...but it's the theme / amusement park industry, and true 'big hits' don't come around very often that transform places overnight for lots of reasons. To use DCA as an example, TSMM is supposed to be pretty amazing, yet it isn't a 'big hit' that suddenly makes DCA a perfectly rounded park. Disney is pouring how much money into that park to try to fix it?

    The Six Flags properties all need help like DCA does, yet the ability for the chain to spend a billion dollars or more on upgrades simply isn't there like it is for Disney, so the turnaround will most certainly take more time.

    Also, I don't know what you're talking about with so many of these turn arounds. The Time Warner era for Six Flags was spectacular, with themed shows, themed costumes, themed major rides added to the parks regularly, and a spectacularly fun time. It wasn't until about 2000 that the chain started a nose dive under the Premier Parks management. And Premier admitted nothing wrong until 2005 when Dan Synder started overthrowing them, at which point they started talking about how they were going to target families.

    The current management came on board and actually did that. So, as far as I can tell, in the past 15 or so years there has been a set of good management, a set of horrid management, and a set of management trying to clean up from the horrid management. One turnaround.

    Finally, the theme park industry automatically takes longer to turn around than most normal businesses, as if you have a bad experience at a Six Flags park (as I'm sure countless people did from 2000-2005), you maybe don't return for a year or ten. It isn't like McDonalds, where if you have a bad experience you have a much better chance of stopping at one again either because they are the only place open or you're with someone who wants to go.

    This attempt at a turnaround is the correct direction to go -- basically, back toward the Time Warner-ish days of the park, but baby step by baby step back since one misstep and the entire chain goes belly up. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and hopefully I'll be visiting the parks I didn't get to visit in the last couple years this summer

  8. #68

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    I think that it is true that when a park loses its branding or sponsor, it can lose a lot of its reach. But that doesn't mean that it can't still make money.
    You might be right, but I'm looking for recent evidence.
    SF and CF suffer for their decision to cater (actually, to compete against one another) to ardant coaster fans by lowering admission prices for them. This strategy only works only if those fans are willing to buy lots of other stuff in the parks. But that market is mostly teenagers with more on their mind than plush and food.

    That is why Disney's similar decision doesn't harm it as much, since Disney's ardant fans skew more toward families.
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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    Time Warner screwed the pooch in thinking that it should be analyzed as a stand-alone division, instead of an integral part of "brand" creation, and deciding it was better off selling than assimilating the parks into the Time-Warner Borg cube.
    (NERD ALERT!!)
    I totally agree, but when Time Warner merged with AOL and started hemorrhaging money, that's when they decided to let the chain go. Before that point, from what I can tell from their financial records, Time Warner was perfectly happy to run them at a loss to increase the awareness of their brands.

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment View Post
    You might be right, but I'm looking for recent evidence.
    SF and CF suffer for their decision to cater (actually, to compete against one another) to ardant coaster fans by lowering admission prices for them. This strategy only works only if those fans are willing to buy lots of other stuff in the parks. But that market is mostly teenagers with more on their mind than plush and food.
    But it isn't *just* that they need to lower prices to attract those customers, it is also that coaster installations to keep those customers coming back are ridiculously expensive. The last two big Six Flags coasters (installed under Premier) were Goliath and Tatsu, which were a combined $41,000,000. So you need to lower prices to get them to come, and you need to make HUGE expenditures to keep them happy.

    To contrast this, the two Dark Knight Coaster things they installed last year each cost $7,500,000, or $15,000,000 between them. Not just were these cheaper, but they also were family rides (well, theoretically -- the preshow was a little too intense in my opinion) and would have attracted families to go and spend money, which would have been a higher amount of spending.

    There is a place for big coasters once in a while, but not the yearly installation of them that Six Flags used to do. (Not to mention the parks where they would install three or four in a year!!

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    im just going to add my 2 cents in here real quick

    honestly i would hate to work at SFMM, having to deal with teenagers all day, now thinking about it i can see why why there customer service is a little less happier. the way that some of the teenager act on top of that having to deal with that all day long would not make me a happy camper. that is all

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    It's an opinion thing. I like my coasters unpredictable and intense (generally smaller and turnier), which describes Ninja, X2, Batman, Tatsu, Scream, and Riddlers. The Cedar Fair equivalents are usually very tall, but they have more drawn out elements so I always know exactly what sort of feeling is coming, which I just personally don't find interesting in the least.


    I see Batman and X as more intense than most of what CP has, but Scream and Riddler? Heck, Riddler is just a bigger version of Mantis, and Scream is one of the least intense coasters you'll find there (As far as B&Ms go, you can't get any more predictable). Having personal preferences is one thing, but saying that SFMM coasters are objectively more intense doesn't fly with me.


    And with my visits, they have made great strides in improving that. The fact I was dragged to
    KentuckyKingdom last year and actually had a blast (a park I vowed I would never return to) and everything about it looked improved was a huge difference. The same story has repeated for every Six Flags park that I've visited in the last two years, which is probably about half the chain.


    Guess we're looking at the same parks through a different pair of glasses. My visits over the past two years have shown, as I've mentioned, little to no improvement.

    By your statement, you obviously didn't ride either of the Dark Knight Coasters,


    No, I was referring to the Tony Hawks.

    The Tony Hawk coasters have more than a cardboard cut out.


    How about you come on up to SFDK and show me all that cool invisible themeing?

    It definitely isn't as immersive as the Dark Knight Coasters were, but it was more of an attempt than just cut outs, which was the Premier way of doing business.


    A-hem, that’s all that is there. Yup, business as usual.

    Goliath in SFOG was a Premier installation (rides get contracts signed far in advance of their opening dates, Tatsu at SFMM also opened in 2006, but was a Premier installation).


    I'm well aware that these deals were made in advance of the new management. I don't see why that would be an excuse for these rides to completely lack any attempt at a theme, storyline, or immersion. The coasters might be decided on way in advance, but the folks in charge can certainly make every effort to add to the experience. Yea, not so much with any of these "premier installations".

    Terminator Salvation thing at
    MagicMountain, both much more family friendly than extreme.


    I'm not one to comment on ride experience before something is built, but I've pretty much been on the gamut of GCI coasters, and there is no doubt in my mind that Scream is less intense/extreme than Gwazi, Roar, or even the best of the bunch, Thunderhead. No, there are no intimidating inversions, but calling this a "family" ride seems pretty arbitrary.

    Depends on how many parks you go to, I guess. I've had much, much, much worse experiences at other places.


    Heh, I go to a lot of parks. It may be more about WHEN you go then where, anyway. Regardless, even if SF has improved and CF has declined, that doesn't mean that SF has even caught up. Headed in that direction, perhaps, but based on my experiences they are still the worst in the industry at customer service. I’ll think you’ll find that a popular opinion.


    I'm referring to anything that they wish to do.


    Nono, you said "more" immersive experiences - besides the Dark Knights, I'm not sure if there were any others you were referring to.

    So, since nothing they have done so far has been correct in your opinion, what could they have done to make the parks both make money and improve the guest experience to this high level in your opinion? The parks have gotten in my experiences cleaner and friendlier, the ride installations make more sense, and they actually made money.


    Take a closer look at my comments, I don't feel like quoting each instance where I say that this modest effort may be having a marginal impact, but needs to be consistent both across all the parks and in the years to come for their awful (yet earned) reputation to improve. THAT is what will start making some money.

    Maybe more of this WOULD turn things around in time. But as I keep saying, these efforts have come and gone time and time again, and I see no reason to be optimistic.

    Tony Hawk is a skate boarder. A skate boarding theme is *much* easier to pull off than a theme based around a super hero.


    Haha, right, because if Disney and Universal have taught us anything, it's that theming fantasy is so much harder than theming things that exist in real life! :P

    And I'm not saying Tony Hawk is totally immersive, just that it makes sense for what they have. I pointed to the Dark Knight Coasters as their attempt at being immersive, which they are.


    Same year, opposite ends of the immersive spectrum. Seems to me like there are holes in the execution of this effort.

    As for the animals dying in a fire, unfortunately things like that could happen anywhere, and I don't blame Six Flags for it.


    Please tell me that is a sick joke. The fire was caused by a malfunctioning electrical outlet! Who WOULD you blame? Yes, I realize bad things can happen anywhere, but it doesn't change the fact that THIS bad thing happened HERE.

    It isn't like they knew it would happen and left them there -- I'm sure the trainers were absolutely devastated.


    Ugh, I'm not implying that it was intentional - but let's not pretend that even as an accident it wasn't preventable! Goodness. A sad day for sure, and a serious disgrace to any organization charged with caring for animals.

    While I understand what you're saying, you can't compare a seasonal business to a year round one.


    Why in the world can't I? What a horrible reason to excuse shoddy customer service. You’re saying these employees are surly because they’re seasonal? Disney has PLENTY of seasonal employees. No, they’re surly because they don’t take pride in their job, and that is the direct fault of the entire organization.

    And while I have seen the behaviour you've mentioned in some of my visits to Six Flags, it has become a much, much rarer occurance in the last two or three years.


    Hmm, again, we must be looking in different places. It's been all but the same in my experience - unacceptable.

    Disney is pouring how much money into that park to try to fix it?

    The Six Flags properties all need help like DCA does, yet the ability for the chain to spend a billion dollars or more on upgrades simply isn't there like it is for Disney, so the turnaround will most certainly take more time.


    I don't think this example really makes sense. The improvements most Six Flags parks need is way, way below the level of this huge financial investment - really the most basic. Make your park look nice, get your employees to be nice, allow your guests to feel safe and cared for. The only reason DCA even remotely "needs" this attention is because it's sitting next to Disneyland. Can you imagine any of these "improved" Six Flags parks in DCA's spot? It doesn't compare.

    Also, I don't know what you're talking about with so many of these turn arounds. The Time Warner era for Six Flags was spectacular, with themed shows, themed costumes, themed major rides added to the parks regularly, and a spectacularly fun time. It wasn't until about 2000 that the chain started a nose dive under the Premier Parks management. And Premier admitted nothing wrong until 2005 when Dan Synder started overthrowing them, at which point they started talking about how they were going to target families.


    My assessment has the dive taking place a few years before that, starting when Fiesta Texas was taken over and hitting the bottom when Riverside was done in. As for all these turn arounds - every year or so there's a big media blitz, tons of PR, and the SF exec's talking up some big new effort to make SF worth your time. Great Adventure getting a new flat ride collection - boom, most of the rides gone within two seasons. SFOG getting new employee training to improve customer service - they were back to being rude by June. SFMW becoming SFDK to reflect a whole new spirit of adventure and focus on fun - the same rides, the same animals, the same experience, nothing but a new marquis out front.

    The current management came on board and actually did that. So, as far as I can tell, in the past 15 or so years there has been a set of good management, a set of horrid management, and a set of management trying to clean up from the horrid management. One turnaround.


    You really glossed over a lot of ups and downs in 15 years. I see it a little more finely than that.

    Finally, the theme park industry automatically takes longer to turn around than most normal businesses, as if you have a bad experience at a Six Flags park (as I'm sure countless people did from 2000-2005), you maybe don't return for a year or ten.


    Agreed, and I agree that a focus on family is not unimportant. We're basically hoping for the same thing, though I'm just not as optimistic about it, and have seen nothing over the past few years that would have me give them the benefit of the doubt.
    Last edited by sarki7; 02-13-2009 at 12:34 PM.
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  13. #73

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    I see Batman and X as more intense than most of what CP has, but Scream and Riddler? Heck, Riddler is just a bigger version of Mantis, and Scream is one of the least intense coasters you'll find there (As far as B&Ms go, you can't get any more predicatable). Having personal preferences is one thing, but saying that SFMM coasters are objectively more intense doesn't fly with me.
    What about adding in Deja Vu and Tatsu to the list of intense rides?

    Mantis may be intense, but the (stupid) brake on the first drop takes nearly all of it out of it. I used to love Mantis before that drop brake thing, but Riddler's gets quite the bump because of that.

    I like the Batman rides MUCH more than Raptor, although I understand the arguments the other way.

    Cedar Point has Top Thrill Dragster which is sort of similar to Superman (TTD is more intense), Millenium Force which is tall but a rather non-intense speed coaster (yet fun), and Magnum XL200 is fun but much rougher than it used to be. Goliath balances out your choice of Millenium or Magnum. Ninja is better than Iron Dragon. Corkscrew equals Revolution. The mine trains equal one another.

    Scream is the B&M standard design, but it actually has some pretty serious G forces, unlike most of the recent B&M coasters.

    So anyway, yeah, it's a personal opinion thing, but I'll take the Magic coaster in almost all cases above the comprable CP coaster. I am disappointed Magic took down their freefall tower though, as I truly do love the old ones more than the new ones.

    How about you come on up to SFDK and show me all that cool invisible themeing?
    I haven't been to SFDK since it opened there, but the other three that I have seen have had bits of theming here and there.

    A-hem, business as ususal
    No, as pointed out, the theme fits the level of theming, at least in the other versions I've seen (SFFT, SFOT, SFStL). The Premier versions were a complex theme with just the cut outs.

    And seriously, the Dark Knight Coasters are where I expect the chain to head more toward. If you get a chance, you should check out what I mean. It's *far* above the Tony Hawk ride theming attempt, and are relatively appropriate for their theme.

    I'm well aware that these deals were made in advance of the new management. I don't see why that would be an excuse for these rides to completely lack any attempt at a theme, storyline, or immersion. The coasters might be decided on way in advance, but the folks in charge can certainly make every effort to add to the experience. Yea, not so much with any of these "premier installations".
    If you ever work in a big business, and I assume that Six Flags runs the same way, often times the money for expansion projects is set far in advance. Even if new management wanted to add a bunch of theming, they probably couldn't untie their hands to spend more money.

    The cutting of theming (which happened with Premier from what I understand it in 1999) could happen since they were spending less.

    I'm not one to comment on ride experience before something is built, but I've pretty much been on the gammut of GCI coasters, and there is no doubt in my mind that Scream is less intense/extreme than Gwazi, Roar, or even the best of the bunch, Thunderhead. No, there are no intimidating inversions, but calling this a "family" ride seems pretty random.
    In general, family rides are the type of thing that don't loop and aren't completely imposing. Scream, say what you want (and truth be told, my rides on Medusa a while ago I thought were dull as heck, but in my most recent visit were quite the different experience... these things do change depending on when you hit them) looks much more imposing than a traditional wooden coaster.

    Wooden coasters, whether they are more intense or not, have the public perception of not being as intense.

    By the way, if you like Thunderhead that much, you owe it to yourself to ride Evil Kneivel. It's spectacular.

    Heh, I go to a lot of parks. It may be more about WHEN you go then where, anyway. Regardless, even if SF has improved and CF has declined, that doesn't mean that SF has even caught up. Headed in that direction, perhaps, but based on my experiences they are they worst in the industry at customer service.
    A lot of local parks that aren't named Knoebels, Kennywood, Dollywood or Holiday World have *much* worse customer service.

    And it does depend on when you hit them in many cases. Generally, the earlier in the year you visit a Six Flags park, the better the experience in my opinion, although they seem to 'reboot' right before Fright Fest, and some of their Fright Fests are also spectacular.

    Nono, you said "more" immersive experiences - besides the Dark Knights, I'm not sure if there were any others you were referring to.
    *sigh* That's my point. The Dark Knight Coasters are a step in the right direction in the way of theming and doing a full ride experience. If the chain starts making money, I would expect to see more of these -- not that they have been installed already.

    As noted, I'm eagerly watching the Superman / Medusa makeovers, and the web site(s) for those so far have been amazing and really make me wonder what will happen. Also, I'm guessing Terminator Salvation will have more of a theme than just a wooden coaster (which doesn't make sense as a standalone theme) so I'm expecting something there.

    Only possible if they are making money. Otherwise, theming which is so costly will get cut.

    Haha, right, because if Disney and Universal have taught us anything, it's that themeing fantasy is so much harder than theming things that exist in real life! :P
    Actually, I'd mostly agree with this if you're being serious. The initial theming of something realistic is easier. Keeping it relevant is not. Fantasy is *always* relevant. Realistic stuff is not.

    Same year, opposite ends of the immersive spectrum. Seems to me like there are holes in the execution of this effort.
    Again, theming something to a skateboarder is rather simple. Theming something to the Dark Knight movies is much more detailed and tougher. I think they pulled off both fine with the examples I have seen.

    Please tell me that is a sick joke. The fire was caused by a malfunctioning electrical outlet! Who WOULD you blame? Yes, I realize bad things can happen anywhere, but it doesn't changed the fact that THIS bad thing happened HERE.

    Ugh, I'm not implying that it was intentional - but let's not pretend that even as an accident it wasn't preventable! Goodness.
    And Big Thunder killed people. I'm quite certain that if either park had seen the problems *before* they became disasters, they would have fixed them. No one wants to go through something like that.

    Why in the world can't I? What a horrible reason to excuse shoddy customer service.
    Because in a year round business you can attract people and hold them in their positions longer to make training stick better? Because those working for years are more likely to fully understand the job than people that only work a few months out of the year and can't work their year round and live?

    I'm not "excusing" shoddy customer service, but I am stating that Six Flags faces a completely different problem with hiring their employees that means it is harder for them to invest enough training to make them the same level as a year round park. It's a problem, and there is no easy way to address it.

    I don't think this example really makes sense. The improvements most Six Flags parks need is way, way below the level of this hugh financial investment - really the most basic. Make your park look nice, get your employees to be nice, allow your guests to feel safe and cared for. The only reason DCA even remotely "needs" this attention is because it's sitting next to Disneyland. Can you imagine any of these "improved" Six Flags parks in DCA's spot? It doesn't compare.
    But how can you get the money to make the park look nice (which is more than just sweeping the streets, but a full infastructure upgrade in many cases which they have been doing piece by piece), and how can you make people feel safer? The parks (all parks) are extremely safe, although as I've argued in other posts, Six Flags parks have the issue of having more extreme / dangerous feeling rides so the perception level of guests is different.

    This is a whole 'nother thread (which I've already posted somewhere on these boards I think), but the Six Flags parks are equal in safety to Disney.

    My assessment has the dive taking place a few years before that, starting when Fiesta Texas was taken over and hitting the bottom when Riverside was done in. As for all these turn arounds - every year or so there's a big media blitz, tons of PR, and the SF exec's talking up some big new effort to make SF worth your time. Great Adventure getting a new flat ride collection - boom, most of the rides gone within two seasons. SFOG getting new employee training to improve customer service - they were back to being rude by June. SFMW becoming SFDK to reflect a whole new spirit of adventure and focus on fun - the same rides, the same animals, nothing but a new marquis out front.
    Fiesta Texas didn't really have anything happen with it until Premier took it over. Great Adventure's flat ride collection was (I believe) signed under Time Warner, and then cut out by Premier. Riverside was a Premier acquisition (in the late 90s) that became a Six Flags park in 2000 under Premier management. All bad Premier moves.

    Although most would argue that Superman at New England was one of the best Six Flags moves...

    Discovery Kingdom I agree that the name change was really about it, however I would argue it does reflect the park better. I was really surprised my first visit there that "Marine" World had so many land animals.

    You really glossed over a lot of ups and downs in 15 years. I see it a little more finely than that.
    But every down that you have given here has been directly related to Premier management, and you haven't given an example of current management going back on their word about building big rides. The amuseument park industry as a whole is all about gradual changes, not tons of little ups and downs.

    Agreed, and I agree that a focus on family is not unimportant. We're basically hoping for the same thing, though I'm just not as optimistic about it, and have seen nothing over the past few years that would have me give them the benefit of the doubt.
    Well, it seems from the people that I've talked with that a good number of people do see the changes, and are optimistic that this is the right direction. Magic Mountain seems to be one of the parks going through the largest rejuvination lately, although it will always remain the 'teen' geared park.

    As for the rest of the chain, just one example -- I visited Kentucky Kingdom three times between 2001-2002. Every visit to the park, the staff was rude, the rides had large rust stains or pieces of paint falling off them, the park was nearly empty, and I hated my visits there. In 2008 I got dragged to the park when I was in town, and I couldn't believe the changes that had occurred there. Things were clean, the staff was (with one notable exception) very friendly, the rides looked spectacular and the park was truly fun. I'd most definitely go back again.

    It's happening, it's just going to take time to get them up to your standards.

  14. #74

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by goatdan View Post
    And seriously, the Dark Knight Coasters are where I expect the chain to head more toward. If you get a chance, you should check out what I mean. It's *far* above the Tony Hawk ride theming attempt, and are relatively appropriate for their theme.

    I can't comment of the Dark Knights, nor on the other Tony Hawks. I can, however, say that the SFDK installation of the latter is a sad excuse for themeing, and on its own shows no regard for the efforts you're describing. On the whole, it shows that some parks are perhaps getting this treatment and others aren't, which isn't especially great either.

    If you ever work in a big business, and I assume that Six Flags runs the same way, often times the money for expansion projects is set far in advance. Even if new management wanted to add a bunch of theming, they probably couldn't untie their hands to spend more money.

    I do happen to work in one of the biggest businesses out there, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that financial investment in the product is only half the equation - an employee culture and professional attitude has a huge impact on success. No, it's not something that changes overnight, but it's also not something that you can/need to throw a ton of cash at. So, the excuse of not having funds for big investments doesn't really apply - I sincerely think it's less about money than people realize.

    Also, I'm guessing Terminator Salvation will have more of a theme than just a wooden coaster (which doesn't make sense as a standalone theme) so I'm expecting something there.

    This is a terrific example - how in the world does a movie about technology and the future fit with a wooden coaster? This is the same half-assed, ill-formed attempts we've been seeing all along. Fine, yes, TDK coasters are immersive. But this is a joke. One step forward, one step back.

    Again, theming something to a skateboarder is rather simple. Theming something to the Dark Knight movies is much more detailed and tougher. I think they pulled off both fine with the examples I have seen.

    Like I said, c'mon up here. Nothing "fine" about it. It's pathetic.

    And Big Thunder killed people. I'm quite certain that if either park had seen the problems *before* they became disasters, they would have fixed them. No one wants to go through something like that.

    Uh, WHAT? How is that even relevant? Both deserve to be held to task for their egregious behavior. Do you think because Disney did something wrong, I'll excuse their negligence??

    Because those working for years are more likely to fully understand the job than people that only work a few months out of the year

    Give me a break - these people aren't running nuclear submarines. You don't need a year-round job to understand the basics of customer service. You need an employer who expects and enforces it.

    All bad Premier moves.

    Hey, you asked for examples of bad moves, I gave. Most guests have NO CLUE about the management changes, and when it comes to the perception of a brand as big as Six Flags, it might as well be reality. Can this new management change this? Perhaps, in time. Are investments like TDK, Tony Hawk going to do it? No, in my opinion. As has been the case with Six Flags for the past 10-15 years, it's not the rides that are the problems. It's what you have to go through to get on them.

    DiscoveryKingdom I agree that the name change was really about it, however I would argue it does reflect the park better.
    A more fitting name is not a drop in the bucket when you talk about improving the guest experience. Forgive me if I expect more.

    But every down that you have given here has been directly related to Premier management, and you haven't given an example of current management going back on their word about building big rides.

    You may not consider major, $10+ million coasters like EK or Terminator to be "big rides". I do.

    Well, it seems from the people that I've talked with that a good number of people do see the changes, and are optimistic that this is the right direction.
    MagicMountain seems to be one of the parks going through the largest rejuvination lately, although it will always remain the 'teen' geared park.
    Haha, if MM is the best example of improvement you have, I shouldn’t waste either of our time with this anymore.

    It's happening, it's just going to take time to get them up to your standards.

    Maybe, and that's pretty sad. My standards aren't all that high. If they were, I just wouldn't go to these parks.
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  15. #75

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    Re: Six Flags in more trouble???

    Quote Originally Posted by sarki7 View Post
    I can't comment of the Dark Knights, nor on the other Tony Hawks. I can, however, say that the SFDK installation of the latter is a sad excuse for themeing, and on its own shows no regard for the efforts you're describing. On the whole, it shows that some parks are perhaps getting this treatment and others aren't, which isn't especially great either.
    I actually just went and looked at pictures, and you're right about that installation. It looks portable. Weird. Here's the type of stuff I was comparing it to at the other Six Flags parks:

    Tony Hawk's Big Spin (Six Flags St. Louis)

    So, in this point, I have to agree, and wonder what happened with that particular one.

    I do happen to work in one of the biggest businesses out there, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that financial investment in the product is only half the equation - an employee culture and professional attitude has a huge impact on success. No, it's not something that changes overnight, but it's also not something that you can/need to throw a ton of cash at. So, the excuse of not having funds for big investments doesn't really apply - I sincerely think it's less about money than people realize.
    I know what you're saying, but an investment in the employees needs to happen in one way or another for the culture to change quickly. Whether that is through extended training or _____ is a great question, and how you can then retain that is also interesting.

    There isn't a golden bullet to fix that problem, but from what I've seen it has been changing -- like a few years ago when they switched all supervisors into ties. It's small, but it's a start.

    This is a terrific example - how in the world does a movie about technology and the future fit with a wooden coaster? This is the same half-assed, ill-formed attempts we've been seeing all along. Fine, yes, TDK coasters are immersive. But this is a joke. One step forward, one step back.
    Actually, I think it can work with a wooden coaster. Remember, the Terminator world is about a post-apocalyptic world. It's easier to distress (via paint) a wooden coaster to look like a post-apocalyptic world than it is to make a steel coaster look like anything other than a weird creation. It *could* work, and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until I see otherwise.

    Like I said, c'mon up here. Nothing "fine" about it [Tony Hawk theming]. It's pathetic.
    I'll agree with the DK example. Tell me if the picture is fine with you. For the record, I think St Louis's is the best of the three I've seen (I won't ride them, I hate spinning) but the others have elements of the theming throughout.

    Uh, WHAT? How is that even relevant? Both deserve to be held to task for their egregious behavior. Do you think because Disney did something wrong, I'll excuse their negligence??
    It was a faulty electrical outlet. I don't know how you can blame that on a systematic problem? To me, it's something that happens and it sucks that it wasn't found beforehand. And it wasn't the first time something like that happened, the Philadelphia Zoo had nearly their entire primate population die in a fire in the mid-90s.

    Hey, you asked for examples of bad moves, I gave. Most guests have NO CLUE about the management changes, and when it comes to the perception of a brand as big as Six Flags, it might as well be reality. Can this new management change this? Perhaps, in time. Are investments like TDK, Tony Hawk going to do it? No, in my opinion. As has been the case with Six Flags for the past 10-15 years, it's not the rides that are the problems. It's what you have to go through to get on them.
    No, I said that the new management has been doing a good job, and you said it's been up and down for the past 15 years. All of the bad moves that you have named fall on the shoulders of the previous management team. And your examples bear that out.

    You're right that most guests don't know nor care who is running the chain, but it *has* been better under the current group.

    A more fitting name is not a drop in the bucket when you talk about improving the guest experience. Forgive me if I expect more.


    You named it as an example of "bad" decisions the chain has made, but you just said yourself it is more fitting, so I would still argue it isn't a "bad" decision.

    You may not consider major, $10+ million coasters like EK or Terminator to be "big rides". I do.
    Evel was $7 million. Cheaper than the Dark Knight Coasters. Terminator is $10 flat. Compared to the last coaster installation at Magic Mountain, you could have bought both Evel and Terminator and had $4 million left over, so I wouldn't consider it going back on their word by a long shot.

    Haha, if MM is the best example of improvement you have, I shouldn’t waste either of our time with this anymore.
    Most of the rest of the parks don't have as long to go to improve.

    And I tell you what, since it seems we're the only two in here posting any more, unless someone else replies, let's take this to private messege unless anyone posts to say we should continue here. I'm still interested to talk about this topic (obviously) and it seems you are too, so that might be better for everyone

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