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Six Flags CEO says parks have become 'cheap day care center for teenagers,' company looking to attract more 'affluent' customers

During a Q2 earnings call, the company said it saw a 22% decrease in attendance compared to this time last year.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Six Flags is looking to raise prices after seeing a decrease in both attendance and revenue in its second-quarter earnings report this year.

During an earnings call last week, Six Flags CFO Gary Mick revealed the company saw a 22% decrease in attendance compared to this time in 2021, along with a decrease of $24 million, or 5%, in revenue.

Mick attributed the attendance decrease to "the elimination of free tickets and low-margin product offerings, coupled with increased pricing into a market that had become accustomed to discounts."

Company officials said the amusement park giant is changing up its business model in order to keep revenue at a steady pace while dealing with attendance decreases.

In the call, CEO and President Selim A. Bassoul said the company has offered too many discounts and that "the philosophy of filling our parks was not the right strategy."

According to Bassoul, the strategy involves attracting customers who are willing to spend more money inside the parks.

"It was a cheap day care center for teenagers during breaks and the summers," Bassoul said. "... we had to start going after customers who wanted families, young adults who are willing to come and spend the money in our parks."

When asked about Six Flags' demographics, the CEO said, "Our objective has always been to be a part of the middle class and even lower middle class."

Bassoul said price increases and inflation have hit customers hard outside the amusement park and that some of those customers haven't been able to go back to Six Flags. 

"We believe... our demographic is what I call the average income of the U.S. That's who we are," Bassoul said. "... I'm migrating a little bit from what I call the Kmart, Walmart to maybe the Target customer."

Overall, the company said it's been able to offset the attendance decrease through a model of attracting more customers who will spend more and going after a different market.

"We're going to a broader market. We're going to what I call more affluent neighborhoods, where we would like to bring people from those neighborhoods to come to our parks who have not been targeted before," the Six Flags CEO said.

Bassoul said the company will be looking to offer new dining plans, a "bigger and better" Fright Fest and a new OktoberFest event in order to get more customers through the gates.

Back in May, the amusement park giant announced it would be eliminating its monthly meal plan due to users taking advantage of the program, which affected regular customers' experiences. Bassoul said the plan was "priced too low" and created "huge traffic jams" at food locations.

Bassoul said a new dining plan is in the works as the company looks to incorporate "technology to make sure that people are not abusing the system." This includes monitoring the meals purchased through the plan.


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