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.