Robert Niles at Theme Park Insider writes passionately about why it’s important not to stop attending your local theme park just because you read in the news that it is struggling financially. Robert is specifically talking about Six Flags, but it applies to all regional parks.
theme park fans aren’t helped themselves by pre-emptively “dumping” Six Flags and choosing to stay at home while the corporation fights for its financial life. If Six Flags’ parks are to have any future after bankruptcy, potential buyers and investors need to see signs of life. Right now.
The more people who go to Six Flags parks this spring and summer, and the more those visitors spend there, the more likely that a financially healthy investor will want to take a chance and buy into these parks, keeping them alive for years to come. If fans stay home now, that apathy will ensure the company’s failure, and the permanent closure of many of its parks.
This same topic was covered today in the New York Times.
Six Flags, the big theme park chain that is closely associated with the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, has a payment of nearly $300 million to holders of preferred stock due this year that it has no way of paying. So for several months now, the company, which is run by Mark S. Shapiro, and its advisers have been discussing a restructuring agreement with its bondholders that would keep the company out of bankruptcy court.
“We’re in active dialogue with our lenders to restructure our enormous debt load,” said Mr. Shapiro, the former head of programming and production at ESPN. “The debt load we inherited is stifling our growth.
If the credit market was any stronger, this really wouldn’t be a problem for Six Flags. But things being what they are, I wish them the best, and if you live close to a regional theme park, and can’t travel to Walt Disney World, I hope you’ll continue to give them your business, even if these down times.