Six Flags: One Last Time?

Photo courtesy of
‘Twisted Metal’, courtesy of ‘Anthroscribe’

Enjoy Six Flags America in Maryland this summer. It may be the last one they’re open.

Despite concerns the amusement park chain may drop into Chapter 11, the park over in Largo is still planning on opening on April 4. The company’s still struggling with a $300M debt-load from its former owners. However, PR Manager Julia Filz contacted me in order to make it clear to our readers that “the restructuring, while serious business, in no way affects our daily operations. Six Flags America is planning for an exciting season, with more concerts than ever, a new family train ride, a bigger daily show package than ever before, a new Johnny Rockets, a new Cold Stone Creamery, and a new three-point basketball challenge game.”

According to park officials, Six Flags will be hiring hundreds more people than in previous years, which is good news to many teens and college students looking for “fun summer work” in this tough economy.

ABC 7 News has a breakdown of the park’s debt problems, and there’s a piece in the New York Times to help put the whole situation in context. But for those of you who don’t care, better make your plans to enjoy the park this year. It may not be around after August.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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10 thoughts on “Six Flags: One Last Time?

  1. Pingback: We Love DC » Blog Archive » Six Flags: One Last Time?

  2. Hopefully, with the forecast that a lot of people will be traveling close to home, people who live in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Delaware will consider visiting Six Flags in Maryland.

  3. Hopefully, with the forecast that a lot of people will be traveling close to home, people who live in Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Delaware will consider visiting Six Flags in Maryland. Also, the picture of the coaster displayed is named the Joker’s Jinx. It is a LIM Catapult Coaster which features Premier Rides’ cutting-edge technology launch system that uses LIMs to catapult trains out of the queue house in an extraordinary burst of speed. An intense electromagnetic wave rockets riders to speeds of 60 mph in just over three seconds. The LIM launch creates enough energy to propel the trains through the 500-ton steel maze including 30 vertical curves, 25 horizontal curves and four upside-down loops. Premier Rides is located in Maryland and is wishing Six Flags a succesful 2009!

  4. You obviously do not have an understanding of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A filing would not mean the company would go out of business, rather it will give them the chance to restructure the debt that has been crushing them for several years.

    Six Flags has demonstrated positive financial results since Dan Snyder’s management team took over. It is a successful operating company, but when 17 cents of every dollar spent at their parks goes to pay interest on their debt, they start out in a pretty deep hole.

    Six Flags America is a solid property, or else they would have sold a couple of years ago when they unloaded their weaker facilities. With people looking to economize this summer, Six Flags is well positioned. I can say with certainty it WILL be around past August, and most likely for many more years.

  5. Jim, it’s obvious you do not have an understanding of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A filing does not mean the company won’t go out of business, rather it may give them a chance to restructure their debt.

    Oh I’m sorry, did that sound snotty? Hmm.

    Not everyone emerges from Chap 11, and recent changes in the governing statutes require some restructurings to happen faster than they used to. I don’t know if Six Flags owns the property they’re on but if they don’t it potentially makes reorg much more challenging.

    Discussion before congress, both for an against the 2005 changes, can be found here.

  6. Actually, I just went and looked at Six Flags’ 2007 annual report (the 2008 report isn’t file yet AFAIK) and on page 45 of the PDF you can see their operations finances.

    You can ignore their interest entirely and this is a sheet of a company with an issue. Wave a magic wand and make the debt go away – which Chap 11 will NOT do – and you still can see a company that had revenues just shy of a billion and still only had a net profit of 33M.

    They spend 939M to earn 972M, a profit of 3.5%. Look at page 31 and there’s discussion about why operating costs went up in 2007. One of those items was utility costs, and if you think the 2007 increase hurt, Six Flags, you should check out what 2008 was like and what 2009 is gonna be.

    You’re certainly right that their interest expenses are going to be crushing; the projected rise detailed in the 2007 report is unbelievable. But debt restructuring isn’t going to save a business with other troubles and Six Flags had flat attendance from 2005 to 2007. There’s only so much labor and other expenses they can cut, and I would think they’re getting close to the bone.

    Unless their 2008 and 2009 numbers show improved attendance I’m skeptical they’re going to manage to be a going concern in the form they are now. Perhaps if they shed some more parks, starting with the ones with the shortest seasons and worst attendance.

  7. While I don’t profess to know about Six Flags’ financial status, I DO know that this kind of “journalism” is highly suspect and more than a little biased. While you did include a statement from Six Flags’ spokesperson, which was good, you also have several factual errors in the posting. Six Flags America DOES NOT plan on ending its season until well after August, and I don’t know who would think the movie you so responsibly linked to is a clear reflection of theme park work. Seriously, Ben, if you’re going to post something, make sure you know what you’re talking about.

  8. Never said they were planning on ending their season. I said “may not”, “may be the last”, etc. That’s subjective language. And as Don has so eloquently pointed out, not every company survives a Chapter 11 filing. My whole point of this post was to simply say that Six Flags is opening, and due to their financial issues, this may be the last season. So go while you can, if you want.

    And the blog I linked to? It’s a hilarious AND sobering look at the now-defunct Action Park in New Jersey, AKA “The Theme Park of Death.” It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek – which, surprise surprise! – is usually the type of tone I post with.

    If you’re expecting die-hard factual unbiased journalism on this blogsite, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. ALL our authors post with their brand of personal bias, humor and perspective. This is DC, through our collective vision. My apologies if it’s not to your taste.

  9. Maybe you should read the linked WJLA article, Katie. Ben mentions August because that’s when this huge debt matures. It has nothing to do with when their season ends…. unless it’s what forces it to end.

  10. You love DC, we Love DC. We also love Six Flags. It’s a real shame that the park in the area (Six Flags America) is in such a precarious situation. My family has had season passes for years and we enjoy the rides, the characters, and the Water Park the most.

    Like the people in the WJLA story say, Six Flags in the DC area is an asset to young people. I hope it will remain open and thrive through this difficult period.