This decade has been a roller coaster for theme parks, but most of them seem to be rising back up. However, one company is on the decent: Six Flags.
At the end of 2022, Six Flags saw revenue fall 9% compared to 2021. Mind you, 2021 was still dealing with closures, capacity limitations, and mask mandates (which could impact sales of concessions). These regulations would gradually relax, but still, 2022 saw revenue fall.
It seems inconceivable that such a popular attraction could fail on such a grand level, but there’s a funny thing — Six Flags wanted this to happen. Parks sought to reduce wait times, attract high-spending guests, and discourage penny-pinchers from entering.
Well, one thing work: Many people have opted not to return to Six Flags, but the guest experience hasn’t changed enough to attract the high spenders. It seems Six Flags has lost its identity, and if it doesn’t make some drastic changes, the brand could lose its parks.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic took its toll on theme parks, but most have been recovering. Disney parks earned 73% more in 2022 than in 2021 and Universal saw a 50% increase over the same time period. Meanwhile, Six Flag saw revenue decline by 9%.
The turning point seems to have occurred during the pandemic era — but it’s not what you think. In late 2021, Selim Bassoul was named CEO.
What was his goal? Upon entering the position, Bassoul wanted to do a 360° by resetting the company’s culture and focusing on guests who are willing to pay for a premium experience. Certainly, it makes sense to try to attract big spenders, but what does “premium” look like at a theme park known to advertise itself with a dancing old man?
Well… nothing, really. Bassoul outright stated that he wanted to bring fewer guests into parks. This seems counterintuitive, but the idea of reducing wait times to increase spending (so people wouldn’t be stuck in huge lines) does have some merit to it.