Six Flags CEO wants more parades, fireworks

first_img “If you have a theme park, about every two years, you have to put in a new ride. You have to find land,” he said. “Parades are a lot easier to tweak. Just change the light bulbs and the costumes.” Under Shapiro, the company also moved headquarters from Oklahoma City to New York, and is selling two of its Oklahoma theme parks to pay down debt. Also, it has bolstered park cleanup and better enforced a smoking ban. To carry out the plan, the company plans to hire more personnel, including 300 new seasonal and full-time positions for Magic Mountain’s staff of 2,200. The park has about 3 million visitors a year. Shapiro said the initiatives are intended to strengthen the Six Flags brand as a family entertainment destination. “If you’re 10 years old, you can’t get on Tatsu – you’re not tall enough,” he said, referring to Magic Mountain’s new coaster slated to open in April. “So what are you doing to keep them here?” Kyser agreed the focus on families could help the park grow. “You still have the thrill rides,” he said. “But if you can extend your coverage to a broader part of the market, you can grow your business. “For a lot of families, going down to either Knott’s Berry Farm or Disneyland, it may be a little daunting,” he said, referring to traffic. “You’re carving off a family attraction in and of its own in a major metropolitan area. “The market will vote and the market may like this. Maybe they can get their floats made by the Acme Company.” “ESPN was about brand building,” Shapiro said. “That’s what we’re going to do with Six Flags. There’s no telling what area the brand can go into if it is strong.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – For Six Flags chief executive officer Mark Shapiro, the future of the theme park giant known for teenage thrill rides lies in parades, fireworks and other attractions to offer well-rounded family experience. It almost sounds like a visit to a certain Anaheim theme park. “We’re ramping up our Main Street USA strategy,” Shapiro said Tuesday during a visit to Six Flags California Magic Mountain, a park now building its 17th roller coaster. “At the same time, we’re not abandoning our teenage roots. … (but) it’s going to be more oriented for the family this year.” A former ESPN programming executive, Shapiro, 35, was placed in Six Flags Inc.’s top job in December. He is in the midst of touring the 45-year-old company’s theme park properties he’s charged to revitalize. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Shares of Six Flags were down 59 cents at $10.27 on the New York Stock Exchange. Six Flags has been struggling in recent years in the competition for entertainment dollars while saddled with some $2.1 billion in long-term debt – including years of capital and coaster investment. Shapiro was brought in after shareholders led by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder ousted top management. “The industry has gotten a bit drunk on roller coasters,” Shapiro said. “You need to get a return on your investment.” That means a shift away from the mechanical thrill rides to lure more families. Daily parades and fireworks shows and a Chinese acrobat show are slated to join Magic Mountain’s repertoire of coasters and other attractions this year. Jack Kyser, chief economist at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., understood the company’s needs to hold down costs. last_img read more