Happy Monday everybody, and welcome to the first article on this side of the tracks in quite awhile. Usually we'd do something like a video of this, but this one is due for some words, maybe some well thought ones, about where we are with Six Flags, and just what the hell went wrong in 2022.
So let's just dive right in.
Written by Gregg Condon
Topic One: THAT comment ...
There's been a lot of talk about Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul's comment about the chain being the "K-mart/Walmart" chain, and that they don't want to be that any more.
I'll just start with this. I don't actually have a problem with the comment itself. He's not entirely wrong.
But it's what the chain has been for a very long time, and what the Memberships were for.
THAT SAID ...
If he wants the chain to move to the "Target" level, they have to move to the Target Level FIRST, before they start moving to the Target (or some would say Macy's) pricing level.
What do I mean by that?
Six Flags has increased prices TREMENDOUSLY for 2022, and the decrease in attendance backs this up. I've seen reports of 5-10 minute waits for most major attractions at Magic Mountain. On Saturday's. In July and August. Can you imagine what this is going to look like when all schools start? At a park that's open 365 days per year?
More than that, the improvements that I discussed with the CEO and his leadership team in late January simply have not materialized in a way that justifies the current price increases.
You have to give everybody a little taste of what's to come before you price them out.
Let me repeat that ...
YOU HAVE TO GIVE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN PATRONIZING YOUR PARKS FOR DECADES, AND HAVE SEEN THE ISSUES IN THE PARKS, A GLIMPSE AT WHAT'S TO COME IN ORDER TO GET THEM ON-BOARD WITH THE NEW STRATEGY AND PRICING.
You almost have to wonder if the parks are being intentionally run into the ground, and if the other park chains are staking out what part of Six Flags they want.
Topic Two: Nobody is buying the new passes
Right now, at least here in Southern California, Six Flags is the third most expensive Annual Pass, only behind the Universal Platinum Pass and Disneyland. Let that sink in. And that should tell you exactly why the new passes are not selling.
(click images below to see larger version)
And this is exactly what I told them would happen in January. And honestly, it seemed they were listening, at least that was the impression I got. But apparently they already had their set formula and they are sticking with it, to the detriment of the parks, and all who work there.
Last Saturday I saw a picture from the Magic Mountain parking booths. I was disgusted when I saw that it was $40 to park there. For general parking. In, quite frankly, that piece of $*** parking lot. There is zero justification for that other than gouging your customer.
If I was a one-day ticket holder and saw that, I probably would have turned around.
Topic Three: You still aren't promoting your parks
One of the other big things I touched on with them in January was social media, and the promotion of their parks.
I'm just going to say one thing that's going to probably get me in trouble with some people, but here goes anyway.
SIX FLAGS FIESTA TEXAS IS NOT THE FLAGSHIP PARK OF THE SIX FLAGS CHAIN.
Phew, that feels better.
But seriously, I love that Jeffrey Siebert loves the park he heads, and that he's so out there on social media with some truly amazing park updates. He should love his job.
But the rest of the chain, nary a social media post to be seen. Only when they're promoting the new (disgusting) coke flavor (where all parks used the same picture of SFMM), or some National Roller Coaster Day posts. That's it.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Great Adventure, Great America, even Over Texas are the flagship parks of this chain. Yet you hardly ever see anything about these parks on social media. Why?
Topic Four: Are the improvements REALLY happening?
If they are making all of these improvements to the park, why are we not seeing them? Why are you relying on bloggers to do all of this for you? And to notice what's different from their last visit? This isn't a solid business model.
Could it be that the improvements just haven't been happening? When I rode Wonder Woman on opening day, paint was already chipping off of the walls, people were already tagging it up. Remember the locker issues?
And the new store in DC Universe STILL isn't open.
So I guess if your improvements aren't happening there's nothing to show on social media?
Speaking of promoting the parks, it's sad to see one of the better PR departments in the chain get absolutely gutted. Great Adventure had an amazing PR staff. They spent their lives in dedication to that park, and the chain. Instead of losing all of that amazing passion, their roles should have been expanded. Take what they know, spread it to the other parks in the chain, show them how it's done.
One of the other questions we've been getting a lot are about 2023 announcements. Honestly, don't expect anything. Traditionally they would be next week. We haven't heard a peep. Other than the twice (or more) delayed attraction at Six Flags Over Texas, park improvements are going to be what we get.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just too bad nobody is going to have passes to see them.
Once again Disneyland has increased ticket prices, and once again, the internet is freaking out about said price increases.
Honestly, the fact that they held out this long after reopening should be the only surprising thing about all of this.
Of course, not surprising is that the blame has predictably fallen on Bob Chapek, and not fan-favorite Josh D'Amaro even though he's directly over the parks.
In this post we'll outline the price increases, and as we also like to do when this happens, we'll try to explain that in the grand scheme of entertainment offerings, the prices at Disney are still not up to the level of some things.
Written by Gregg Condon
So here are the current prices for Disneyland. We're not going to sit here and tell you this isn't a lot of money, because it is. And when you start adding in the upcoming Disney Genie, the increase in parking, the fact that there are STILL attractions not open and restaurants not serving full menus, it makes it even less cost effective for consumers.
1-Day 1 Park Tickets
Park Hopper Tickets
So when you break down the prices, everything adds up to about a $15-$20 increase on average. With only park hoppers increasing by $25. A 5-day park hopper ticket is still only $20 more than a 4-day park hopper ticket.
As always, it's up to each of us to make the decision if it's "worth it" for us. But judging from the crowds during our last visit to the parks, it's worth it to A LOT of people. The same people who were "done" with Disney just a few months ago.
Disneyland is still pretending they're in a "phased reopening"
In addition to these increases, the "Dream Key" Magic Key pass is now SOLD OUT. This is obviously a direct reaction to the lack of reservation dates. We would anticipate seeing some of the lower tiers selling out at some point.
Once again, Disney has painted themselves into this corner by offering very inexpensive, pay-per-month passes, even with the need for reservations. There was hope that this trend would not continue with the Magic Key passes, but it has.
But before we overreact to these prices, let's take a look at some other offerings.
First, let's look at Ski Lift tickets. This is ONLY to get you up the hill. Never mind having to purchase or rent ski's or winter clothes. You'll see below if you need to add those things, it's much higher.
Note: This is for Mountain High, who's season varies greatly on the amount of snow that is dropped on the mountains of southern California.
Also to note, daily tickets gave a 404 error on their website, so they may not even be available at this time. Only Season Passes.
Next lets look at some NFL tickets, on a Sunday vs. one of the (if not THE worst team in the NFL). Two tickets, a half way decent view will set you back $314.35 for 3 hours of football. This does not include parking.
Next up is a concert, in the same stadium. The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2022. To be fair I did not select "resale" tickets, which are much higher. These are the best tickets available through Ticketmaster. And 2 tickets will cost you $351.10.
Oh, and if you want to park at this event, it will cost you another $71.50.
Good luck taking public transportation in Southern California.
So as you can see, when compared to other events, Disneyland can still seem like a pretty good deal.
But what if you don't ski, don't like sports and don't like music. You obviously like theme parks, otherwise why are you reading this? =)
What else could you possibly do with all that money you're not going to give Disney because you don't like Bob Chapek or whatever?
How about visiting some other theme parks in Southern California, if you dare!
Let's look at some of the 1-day tickets for Southern California theme parks. I'm going to look at an "average" day, so in this case the prices are for an adult ticket for November 6th, a Saturday.
But let's also look at the Season/Annual Passes for these parks, because that's where the benefit is really seen.
Most of these options also include monthly payment plans, add-ons for parking and much more.
For $759.99 you can get Season/Annual passes to all other major parks in Southern California, or 4 1-day tier 4 park hopper tickets at Disneyland.
So if Disneyland is suddenly out of your price range, as we've suggested for YEARS, you can move your money over to one or several other parks. But somehow, as happens every single year, nobody wants to actually do that.
If you really do think Disney is being greedy, if you really do hate Bob Chapek THAT MUCH, there really is only one solution. And that's to not tweet out how angry you are, but let your bank account do the talking.
Written by Gregg Condon
It's a new month, which means there's new complaints about Disney.
Last month it was about Boo Bash, and that it's a "lesser event" than Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was, but also more expensive.
And then what happened? Tickets went on sale, and there was a multi-hour wait to purchase them.
Before that it was the cost of 1-day Disneyland tickets.
And then what happened? There was a multi-hour wait to get tickets the first day they were available. And since, Disneyland has been able to bring in crowds without popular Annual Passes.
And this week, the newest Disney Villain is up charged Fastpasses at Disneyland Paris, and the fear that they may make their way to the states.
And what will happen if they do? People will still go, they will pay the money, and still complain about it.
I know I may sound like a broken record here, but if something you supposedly love makes you THIS unhappy, why are you still spending your hard earned money going there?
There are plenty of other theme parks that will take your money, that are a supposed better deal than Disney. Oh, but wait, those parks aren't worthy of your money, right?
I would have a LOT more respect, and listen to the voices of the people crying on Twitter about this latest Disney slight if they had changed their visiting and spending habits at Disney because of all this supposed "evil corporate" stuff. But they haven't. And they won't. And Disney knows it.
Disney doesn't care about what you say on Twitter, on your Blog (especially this Blog), or on YouTube. They care about the $$ you spend in the parks. They're a corporation. And the OVERWHELMING majority of people who visit their parks have no idea what a "DisTwitter" is, or what 99% of Disney Blogs are.
In 2012 we had Disneyland AP's. We had them every year from 1998 to then. In 2012 we had 2 kids in High School, with all of those extra-curricular activities that came with it. And we just didn't have the time to go to Disneyland, and thus couldn't justify the cost of the parks.
From Jan 2012 to Dec 2019 we went to Disneyland 4 times. Generally once every 18 months or so. And guess what, we absolutely LOVED it. Each visit was special.
In Dec 2019 my wife and I got the FlexPass. And we used them 4 times prior to the parks shutting down. And guess what, we absolutely LOVED it. Each visit was special.
Maybe some people need a Disney break. Maybe they need to remember why they love Disney so much. To be reminded of what they're so angry about all the time.
Disney isn't supposed to make you angry, it's supposed to make you happy. And if the Disney corporation is continually doing things that make you angry then there is a solution for that. And it starts not by yelling on Twitter, but by closing your wallet.
That's the only language corporations understand.
As for the "up charged Fastpasses". If and when they do come to the US parks, I will use them. Because my time is valuable, my leisure time even more so.
I've used similar type systems at Six Flags Parks, Cedar Fair Parks, Universal Parks, MaxPass at Disneyland and at Countless Halloween events.
Yet I don't see anybody complaining about any of those. Why is Disney so different?
For me, I'm going to continue to visit, because I don't let these things impact me. It's not "rose colored glasses" or "blind devotion". For me it's simply remembering why I love Disney, and the amazing times I've had there, and the amazing times to come.
Just watch the Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters POV below. It's a silly ride. Listen to how much fun we had on it.
I go to theme parks to escape the world for a bit. It's my hobby. I started this blog as an extension of that hobby. If us being "not negative" means that we're accused of being blind to what's really going on with the corporation, so be it.