Blooloop just released an article mentioning that the chain is looking to purchase some properties in the US close to their existing parks, to create synergy and a stronger local base. The goal is not only to increase revenue and attendance for the chain, but mainly to increase membership rates, which will provide a more stable revenue source for the chain.
This news is coming off another great year for the company, as they have reached record numbers yet again. Gone are the days of financial woes. Six Flags has worked their way back up to a fierce competitor in the industry. They are expanding overseas again, and seem to be much better off than in the mid-2000s.
So what parks could they possibly acquire? I'm going to use Waterworld in Concord, CA as an example. Six Flags recently entered an agreement with the park to lease and operate it. They rebranded it to Hurricane Harbor, and control the day-to-day operations more so than financials. So Six Flags makes the revenue, and basically just rents out the park rather than dealing with ownership. They may target smaller parks around the country to do the same.
Six Flags would essentially come in, run the parks to make profit for themselves and the owner, and not have to deal with shelling out huge money to own the land. At this point, I don't see the chain spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy mid-large size parks, but they definitely can use leasing as an attractive option.
Others have also pointed to the chain reacquiring parks formerly owned by the chain, but sold due to financial problems. This includes parks like Darien Lake, Elitch Gardens, and Wild Waves. While the parks' demographics do fit the chain's targets, all of these parks (besides Elitch, owned separately) just entered new ownership with EPR Properties, and a long-term lease with Premier Parks. So it would take a lot of money and convincing to break those deals.
So all in all, I wouldn't expect to see Six Flags acquiring the Busch Parks or similar big box parks. But if it means acquiring a smaller park or water park close to a major property, that is definitely a possibility to try and increase membership rates. It's just really hard to think of many examples of this right now...
Along with the announcement of Crazanity for Magic Mountain's 2018 addition, Six Flags made the shocking announcement that the park would also be going to 365 day operation for the first time this year.
While we are only 2 months into the year, the move seems like a mistake so far, due to the lack of attendance during the weekdays, when the park would usually be closed. Was this too big of a jump too fast? Is there just not enough interest or demand for a Six Flags park being open all year compared to powerhouses like Disney and Universal?
If you search for pictures of Magic Mountain's queues during the week so far, you will see results with baron, empty station houses, with nobody in them besides the park staff for the most part. With many of the likely visitors being season pass or membership holders, the park is more likely than not losing money by keeping rides open. Not only does the operational cost come into play, but maintenance and cycling the rides for only a few guests does as well.
With Six Flags' track record of maintenance and budgets, it is almost a scary thought to see what happens when rides begin to need extensive maintenance, new vehicles, or rehab. Will the company just cut their losses, and begin mass removing older rides that require more attention due to extra cycles and wear? At least to this point, it would've been smarter for Six Flags to roll out the program slowly, and at a smaller scale than offering the full park.
It costs a lot to staff different attractions hourly, especially with short queues and no riders to cycle. Utility costs also come into play just to keep the ride system running on standby. A potential solution that I came up with was a rotation schedule for certain rides or areas of the park. Especially on slower days, certain rides would only be open during a certain time frame, which would minimize the amount of staff needed to operate. This way, more capacity and volume is driven towards those few options, and rides with nearly no demand would not have to sit idle.
As expected demand and capacity changes, more options could become available. This also helps preserve the ride maintenance and costs, as you are not cycling trains for 2-3 guests at a time. With this move, the park could go longer without having to purchase or manufacture specific parts for upkeep. The older rides would especially see a lightened load, as their total lifespan could be increased.
Along with this model, during slow times of the year, major attractions could be closed altogether for a few weeks or a couple of months to perform that annual rehab and maintenance. Disney is very successful at this model on major attractions so that they run smoothly during peak demand. If implemented right, only 1 or 2 of these major rides or roller coasters would be down at a time during the average visit.
Considering tourism to the region, and the large pull that theme parks have with families, I believe that the new operating schedule is a step in the right direction, but the park's operations and staffing needs to be addressed so that most days do not end up being a total loss.
Six Flags should look not to cut this program altogether if things do not turn around by the end of the year, rather the specifics of it should definitely be tweaked to become more profitable.
Elitch Gardens may be removing Ghost Blasters
This is an UNCONFIRMED rumor at this point, but word has been going around that the Sally Dark Ride "Ghost Blasters" may be removed at Elitch Gardens. Reports say that the ride building has been gutted, an will be removed or reused for a 2018 attraction.
Ghost Blasters is only 10 years old this year after a major overhaul in 2008. Although the same or similar storyline is present in many models of Sally rides, namely "Boo Blasters" at Cedar Fair parks, this is a quality dark ride for a small regional park.
For what it's worth, the ride is still listed on Elitch's website, and no mention of a 2018 attraction has been made over social media. Considering the shocking close of Busch Garden's Darkastle dark ride, anything is possible, despite ride age.
Dark rides are among the most expensive to maintain the effects, especially for a smaller scale park like Elitch's. We will keep you updated on any more developments from the park. Elitch Gardens is scheduled to open on April 28th.
Six Flags Dubai interested in Mack Hyper Coaster (2019-2020)
Currently still in development and construction phases, Six Flags Dubai will reportedly scrap the idea of a "Goliath-like clone" RMC wooden coaster for a Mack hyper coaster. The ride may be similar to the DC Rivals coaster over in Australia.
This will be the third rendition of the ride site, as plans changed from an Intamin Prefab coaster, to the RMC Topper Track model, now to this. No specific information has been released in regards to the official opening lineup of the park.
If plans had to be changed, it could be due to the fact that RMC may already be booked for those years. I have heard that the plans of eventually opening an RMC ride have not been completely scrapped. This would become the first major project from Mack that Six Flags has installed in quite some time, and may lead to a future relationship between the companies.
2018 Will not be Kings Dominion's Big Year
This is just a rumor that popped up on Screamscape today, but I am going to debunk it for now. Screamscape proposed that 2018 could be Kings Dominion's year for a coaster, and it may come in the form of a B&M Flyer. Specifically, the first ever launched B&M Flyer.
Usually, Screamscape has become a lot better with their rumors, and only posts them if they have a little bit of credibility. But with Kings Dominion for the last three seasons, it has been a shot in the dark for them. Ever since the 2015 season, Screamscape has proposed a giant coaster for the park, and have been wrong three times now. It seems like that they keep on pushing that date back, as now they have predicted the same thing for 2018. That's the first red flag why I'm taking this rumor with a grain of salt.
Next, a flying coaster has never been attempted before by Cedar Fair, let alone a launched model. Flying coasters have been some of the highest criticized coasters built by B&M, and usually the least favorite of riders. Why not bank on the more successful models added by the chain, such as a wing, inverted, or hyper design? I'm sure if CF ever tests out a flying coaster, it would be a pretty basic layout, in case it does not work so well.
Finally, Canada's Wonderland has already been in the rumor mill for a while. They have been clearing land, and being the highest seasonally attended park, are in need of another new coaster. People have been calling for an invert for a long time, and 2018 could definitely be THEIR year, instead of KD.
I wouldn't get excited about this rumor yet. Once again Screamscape is just shooting in the dark, and hoping that they can finally get it right.
Six Flags Dubai may be looking to create World's Largest Coaster
The Six Flags project in Dubai is supposedly moving full speed ahead, and from the recent renderings that we have seen, will include many modern, state of the art, designs. The coasters visible in the portrait are:
- Mack Power Splash
- RMC Goliath Clone
- 4D Free Spin
- Possibly a Premier Sky Rocket
- Possibly a Grestlauer Eurofighter
That's already a solid collection of modern coasters, but something is missing. A true hyper/gigs/strata coaster to rule over the park. Where's the BIG coaster that's considered the star attraction? It may be currently being worked on behind the scenes.
There have been some rumors stating that Six Flags wants to build the world's tallest freestanding coaster at the park. While not in the renderings, it could possibly be located in the back of the park on the large unused plot of land. The coaster would beat Kingda Ka's height record, and could possibly challenge Formula Rossa for the speed record as well.
Of course, this would be both revolutionary and expensive for Six Flags. They have not built a coaster over 200 feet since Goliath at Six Flags over Georgia in 2006. They haven't also worked with Intamin, the likely ride manufacturer, since 2011. But seeing that this is a new park, in a different market, they might be willing to do something this large once again.
The last Strata Coaster to be built was Kingda Ka in 2005. However, Formula Rossa opened in 2012, with the world's most powerful launch at 149 mph, and Ferrari Land in Spain will open a 367 foot coaster in 2017, that will mimic the layout of a strata. That coaster, however will utilize LSM technology. But as long as there is a buyer, Intamin is willing to build huge coasters.
We will keep an eye on this project because although not many people are excited for this park, this could be a major project for Six flags and the industry.
Kentucky Kingdom 2017 Rumor
Sticking to their current expansion of the property, Kentucky Kingdom is likely to add a flat ride or rides to their collection for next year. 2018 is scheduled to be a big season for them, but next year expect at least one family ride from them. The name "Zamperla Disko" has been thrown around, but no credible sources have confirmed it yet.
I other news, the park still has the Greezed Lightning trains, and nobody seems to know what is going on with them. The park tried to save the Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop upon reopening, but it was too costly and had to be sacrificed. Could the park be looking to build a similar attraction for 2018, or will it be something that is once again spectacular?
With Six Flags adding many of the "cookie cutter" attractions to their properties for this upcoming season, 4D Free Spins, Justice League, Sky Screamers, and DC Super Friends may be popping up at a park near you. But what happens when most, if not all properties receive these attractions? Six Flags may need to look at new options for rides.
One of those "new" rides could be the Mack Power Splash. This attraction debuted in 2016 at Walibi Belgium as "Pulsar." It stands nearly 150 feet tall, features a 62 mph LSM launch, and has a splash track to soak riders at the end. Like some other shuttle coasters, the cars are launched forwards and backwards up both spikes until they reach top speed. After reaching maximum height, a splash basin fills with water and the boat goes into a splash finale.
Altogether, it's a very unique and exciting ride. Despite water coasters being successful before, this is a very intense one, and does so in a very small footprint. At a cost less than most RMC hybrids, B&M coasters, and dark rides, it is a very viable attraction for most parks.
The Six Flags Dubai project has shown renderings that apparently include this model. So we know that Six Flags is interested. There are also rumors that one could pop up as soon as next season, with Six Flags Fiesta Texas showing rumors of a water ride or coaster.
Many SF parks have been removing shoot-the-chute rides over the past few years, and this could be an excellent replacement. Also, with a capacity of 950 pph, it is not too shabby and beats most shuttle or single train coasters. We know how conservative SF has been lately with the coaster additions, but this could be a very feasible and successful model for them.