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The Interpreter

SIX: Nine/THREE

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Not too surprised by the Justice League or Larson looping rides, though its refreshing to see Great Escape get some love.  The ride packages for the Texas parks, La Ronde, and SFoG looks nice, maybe SFMM could get something like that eventually.  Speaking of which, I imagine enthusiasts are pretty excited for Revolution getting some TLC.  I'm excited to see how much of its full potential they can get back.  Roar's RMC-ing was pretty obvious, and with NJFTP's addition, I'm a little surprised at the lack of coasters added.  Makes me glad SIX knows to focus on other areas.  

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There's some interesting stuff in here.  The highlights to me are:

  • The Joker at SFDK.  I've enjoyed the RMCs I've ridden thus far, and I'm looking forward to my first trip there next year.
  • Redesigned trains on Revolution at SFMM.  I've had a chance to ride this on multiple occasions and passed every time because I've heard how much the current trains suck.  It'll be nice to finally get this credit.
  • The conversion of Bizarro back to Superman at SFNE.  The announcement wasn't clear on this - are they redesigning the trains as well?  I certainly hope so because the current train configuration is, uh, less than comfortable.
  • Justice League is coming to SFGAm.  Of all of the Six Flags announcements I think this addition best fits a ride with a distinct need at its particular park.
  • The addition of the Gold Season Dining Plan which is now good at all parks.  There's a current "Flash Sale" which runs through Labor Day, and it looks like the price on the dining option at the park in St. Louis is $85.  At the same park the current season pass sale sets you back $62 per pass with a free Gold upgrade ($52 per pass if you buy 2 or more).  $147 all in?  Definitely intriguing.

Not much else on the list really does anything for me.  The best Six Flags additions recently have been the RMCs but they're going to start running out of coasters to re-do, so then what?  They're trying to spread capital so thin across all their parks that it ends up where very few parks get anything of real substance.  They've installed one (!!) new B&M coaster across all their parks since 2007.  Poor Six Flags St. Louis can't catch a break as they go yet another year without a decent steel coaster addition.  The announcement overall is....eh.  At least we know now.      

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Also, I meant to add this to my previous post, but it seems to make more sense to RMC the Roar at Six Flags America than SFDK. I mean, West Coast Roar seemed to be in pretty good condition and RMCing the East Coast Roar may have had a chance at improving Six Flags America's image. Yes, Wicked Cyclone is a few states away while the nearest Cali RMC is Twisted Colossus in SoCal, but I would rather a unique RMC be built at SFDK rather than what already happened (the removal of Roar for Joker). But, what's done is done, and we can't go back now...

EDIT: Watched another vid of it and I'm starting to warm up to the idea. At the same time, my above thoughts still ring true.

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Hmm, well, I guess I'll share my thoughts on this stuff.

 

Joker (RMC Roar): Yet another excellent-looking coaster from RMC. I'm honestly glad in recent years they realized you can use colors other than red for the track on these (via this and Twisted Colossos as examples) as IMO Red looks horrible next to brown wood.

 

Revolution Overhaul: YES. My favorite of all the announcements, I am hopeful this overhaul of the 1976 looping classic makes this ride great again.

 

Superman Returns @ SFNE: Bizarro has been defeated! This one was the most surprising to me...guess the Bizarro theme wasn't working for them.

 

Justice League Dark Ride @ SFGam: While we have seen this before, it is a welcome addition to SFGam.

 

Total Mayhem & Holiday in the Parks @ SFGadv: When I heard "massive land clearing" and stuff, I was expecting a B&M Wing Coaster or something else huge. But it was just another S&S Free Fly...I also am curious how this winter event will go for them. I don't see this challening El Toro, Kingda Ka, or Nitro for the park's top coaster at all but it is the park's 1st truly brand new coaster since Dark Knight in 2008.

 

Flat Rides: Wow, there are a LOT of these coming next year, and many of them look cool. A lot of Six Flags parks did need flat ride upgrades. However...

 

Larson Loopers: Is Six Flags not going to rest until one of these resides in every single one of their parks!?!? And they are going to call them all roller coasters too...
 

Backwards Vampire: Another year, another backwards Batman clone. I wonder how many are left to not get this now, and what'll happen after the last one closes for its season...will it go back to the first park again and start over?

 

And that's about all I can think of for now (or at least care to talk about). No huge all-new coasters this year but some decent flat ride additions and another solid-looking RMC. Again, IMO, Revolution getting some much-needed love is the highlight though...shows Six Flags does care at least a little about its historic attractions. Hopefully they realize this for their woodies and don't choose what's left of their historically significant ones for RMC conversions in the future...(more modern ones that just aren't running well and never really had a chance in the first place might be a different story though...)

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Glad to see SFGA getting Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. It will be a welcome addition to the park and is the closest Six Flags park to me. Thought the ride looked great when it premiered last year so was hoping it would get to Chicago within a few years, so defintiely glad to see it coming now. Haven't been to that park in years so lots of great new additions with it, X-flight, and Colossus to look forward to when I make a trip next year.

 

Also Joker looks like a great coaster. The RMC upgrades in the Six Flags parks have all looked great and this is no exception. Really like the dual colored rails for it as well.

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I understand why they chose to RMC Roar, it's popular right now, and things that are popular sell tickets. I just wish that parks that only have ONE wooden coaster don't get RMC's. I would find it to be a little bit better if they at least used Topper Track, a park without a wooden coaster just feels incomplete to me. 

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It's like they're not even trying anymore. No B & Ms no Intamins no GCIs. They're going to be back in the Mr. Six days again very soon if they keep this up.

*One interesting item is their brand of Winterfest. It makes me wonder if they have success with it if CF will follow suit.

Huh?

Mr. Six was part of an era of massive new capital investment and over-expansion that led to financial failure. See, for example, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. Coaster after coaster after coaster.

Also, as betwixt SIX and FUN, one is seeing larger increases in attendance overall than the other...

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It's like they're not even trying anymore. No B & Ms no Intamins no GCIs. They're going to be back in the Mr. Six days again very soon if they keep this up.

*One interesting item is their brand of Winterfest. It makes me wonder if they have success with it if CF will follow suit.

Huh?

Mr. Six was part of an era of massive new capital investment and over-expansion that led to financial failure. See, for example, Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. Coaster after coaster after coaster.

Also, as betwixt SIX and FUN, one is seeing larger increases in attendance overall than the other...

I was mostly referring to Mr. Six as a symbol of abject failure. Fair point, the Mr. Six era couldn't have been more different than this, but I think there's a happy medium that can be had in terms of investment.

Yes, it's much more than coasters, but I don't see many large SIX investments relative to CF. Perhaps the appearance of low chain  wide investment numbers  is an illusion caused by the Six Flags policy that everyone gets something new. Everyone gets something so the cash is stretched out.

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And yet, one is seeing larger increases in attendance than the other...

The purpose of capital investment is to get a return on that capital...

 

I agree with this.  Having said that, if the assumption is that the Six Flags capital outlay strategy has led directly larger attendance gains then I disagree on several levels.

 

1. I strongly believe that the Six Flags admission pricing strategy is a large driver of attendance right now.  I remember buying my first Six Flags pass back in 2008 (for the 2009 season) for $65.  That price did not include the chain-wide parking which was an additional $45, so that's $110 all in.  Gold passes right now can be had for as low as $50 right now, and at the park where I bought my original Six Flags pass (SFOG) a single Gold pass can be had for $67 right now (and even less if you buy in bulk).  I'm certainly not complaining about spending LESS money for the same product, but I'd imagine that's also true for all of Six Flags patrons right now!  The fact that you can have a family of four outlay as little as $200 for season-long entertainment is really hard to pass up.  A quick Google search shows that the same family of four - on average - would probably spend that same amount to go see one MLB game.  It's pretty easy to see where if a family had to choose between those two options on price alone that the Six Flags option is pretty enticing.  On a related note, about 50% of the guests who walk through a Six Flags gate own a season pass, a number that has climbed steadily in the past 4-5 years.  Season pass guests come in at around 40% at a Cedar Fair park.  Combine higher season pass numbers with lower pass prices and it's fairly easy to see why SIX attendance continues to climb. 

 

2. Six Flags parks are MUCH nicer now than when I first started visiting.  If you take a look at a lot of the reviews for Six Flags parks on Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. that there are a lot of very mediocre reviews for many of those Six Flags parks.  Most Six Flags parks currently have an average 3-star rating on Yelp.  A few have an average 3.5 star rating on Yelp (Great Adventure, Over Texas, St. Louis), but there are several Six Flags parks that have an average 2.5-star rating there.  For reference, NO Cedar Fair park has a 2.5-star rating.  Only a couple have 3-star ratings (Dorney, Great America in CA), the vast majority are 3.5-stars, and there are even two parks with 4-star average ratings (Canada's Wonderland and Cedar Point).  My point here is that Cedar Fair parks are already perceived as better parks by the general public (which I agree with).  Six Flags has greatly improved the in-park aesthetics the last few years.  I can't tell you how many patrons I've talked to at Six Flags that were there making their first visits in years.  Six Flags parks had a perception problem to overcome that many of the Cedar Fair parks did not, and the word is slowly trickling out that Six Flags parks are nicer places to visit.

 

There are two areas about Six Flags recent capital investments I have agreed with:

  • They're attempting to bring some semblance of balance back to the parks.  The best parks have something for everyone, which really wasn't true of many Six Flags parks five years ago.  They've decided to add some good family-friendly rides (the Skyscreamers, flyers and other kiddie flats, Justice League rides, etc.) in addition to their coaster installs.  Six Flags Great America even saved the Little Dipper!  They've started to take a much broader view as to what each park really needs, whether that's general spruce-up or any ride installations.
  • They've invested more in their waterparks.  Some of the waterparks they had up until recently were just sad, but they're spending money to try and improve them to bring them up to respectable levels.  It's not an accident that Great Adventure, Great America, St. Louis and Over Georgia have spent lots of money on their waterparks recently.  I would make an argument that a lot of the attendance gains at Six Flags parks are due to more people being drawn to their waterparks.

I think where some people worry about Six Flags moving forward is that they may allow the balance they're trying to achieve in the family-friendly direction to go too far.  I don't think we can reasonably debate that "adding a large steel/wood/RMC coaster" is making the park less family-friendly.  I think in many cases those large installs are actually adding some much needed balance.  The vast majority of people I've either talked to in person or seen online reviews for mention Diamondback and Banshee (in that order, along with The Beast) as their favorite rides at Kings Island.  Think about what Magnum, Raptor and Millennium Force did for Cedar Point's profile.  Come next season Dollywood will have added 3 new coasters in four years.  Carowinds didn't add two coasters - each north of $20 million in the past five years - just for kicks.  Does anyone believe that Holiday World is displeased with the addition of the $20 million Thunderbird?  I would argue that an excellent coaster additon at the right time has a far more reaching impact than anything else the park can do because the return on the right kind of investment can allow the park to address other areas of need.

 

Kings Island is going to get a B&M gigacoaster in the near future, not because the park "needs" it to fill some mythical hole in their lineup, but because it's a good business decision.  It's also just as likely that we're going to see rides on the other side of the balance beam - a dark ride, more waterpark additions, better live entertainment - to help keep the balance.  Six Flags right now is really teetering on a fine line right now.  RMC plopped into their lives at just the right time, as it gave them a way to re-brand crappy coasters into really nice attractions.  More importantly to Six Flags RMC helped them to do all of that at a much lower cost than a B&M or Intamin coaster install.  From a business standpoint it's great, but at some point the RMC well is going to dry up.  I'm VERY interested to see what post-RMC additions are made because it's going to tell you a lot about their strategy moving forward.       

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