• From: "lkgeo1" <lkgeo1@xxxxxxx>
• Date: 26 Jun 2006 14:20:15 −0700
Park News − (6/26/06) Even now, going into the Monday news update, I
can't hide the fact that I'm still in shock over the very idea that
Six Flags would even think about selling Magic Mountain. Over the
weekend I had some time to think about it, and the only logical
conclusion I've been able to come up with is... perhaps Shapiro and
crew are bluffing.
Here me out here... Synder is a ruthless business man and one shark
knows another which is why Shapiro is calling the shots right now.
Shapiro has past history with Disney and their management, so he's
seen first hand how the master theme park spin doctors work and has
made no secret of trying of the fact that he wants Six Flags to start
going after Disney's audience, which is family groups.
Six Flags Magic Mountain, which has marketed itself over the last
several years as the planet's top Xtreme Thrill Park has had abit of
a problem. Goliath, which opened for the 2000 season, was perhaps the
park's last big success story. The park would build a new coaster at
least every other year and attendance would soar and things. In 2001,
things changed. The park promised too much that year when they
announced Deja Vu and X. Deja Vu was the first to open, but from the
start was plaged with technical problems and low throughput numbers
that still plague the ride even today. X, the highlight of the year,
failed to even open until January of 2002, and then was hit with it's
own technical and throughput issues as well. In short, a lot of people
were burned by the park those years on top of the 9/11 crisis that made
it harder to attract tourists from far away, leaving the park to focus
entirely on the drive−in market. In 2003, they wanted something more
reliable and went back to B&M for Scream, but the crowds never came.
After this, no major new thrill rides were added to the park for 2004
or 2005 while attendance continued to dwindle.
This year, Magic Mountain has opened one of their most impressive rides
to date... Tatsu, the world's biggest flying coaster. However, it's
too early to know what the overall effect is going to be on attendance,
but I'm going to guess that they are still failing to bring in the
family groups that the new management is seeking. This is
understandable though, given the fact that Disney is still flooding the
local market with the second summer's worth of their big 50th
Anniversary celebration. So management had to be asking themselves what
they could do to bring these guests back to the park again, including
the many of which were perhaps burned by bad experiences in previous
Park News: 1
years. If big new rides weren't enough, in typical SFMM style,
perhaps they needed to try something a little more Xtreme. Thinking
back to Disney's history a bit... one of Disneyland's biggest
marketing successes was promoting the demise of the Main Street
Electrical Parade. A parade so old that everyone had ceased caring
about it and Disney really had stopped marketing it in favor of their
new big nighttime show, Fantasmic. But once Disneyland started their
ads about how the Main Street Electrical Parade was "glowing away
forever" at the end of the year, the local SoCal public went
completely nuts. It seemed as if everyone you knew had to get back to
the park and see the parade one last time... to relive those childhood
memories one last time before they were gone forever. Of course it
ended up as a giant marketing ploy while they sent the parade to Walt
Disney World for a few years. The parade came back to Disneyland a few
years later, though across the walkway at California Adventure instead,
but the year it left Disneyland, they had one of the top 2−3 all time
attendance years as a result of a remarkable marketing campaign that
pulled on just the right strings.
So, as sneaky as it is, I've got to wonder if Six Flags' management
may just be attempting a similar bluff on the public to get everyone to
do whatever it takes to visit the park again, just in case the park
closes for good. Even in articles with the press, they mention
specifically that they may just reinvest in Magic Mountain and keep it,
but they're just not sure.
Why? Just because I still can't fathom them really going through with
closing the park. Sure the park has a ton of rides, but most aren't
worth selling or moving. Most of the flat rides are so old, that you
can find them at just about any carnival. The flume rides have been
custom built to the mountain terrain of the park itself and really
can't fit in anywhere else, and you'll find the same problems with
most of the park's coasters. I can only see four of the park's
coasters being saved or sold: Batman, Riddler, Deja Vu and Scream. The
rest would all end up as scrap because they have been custom made to
fit the park's unique terrain or they are just not anything that
would likely sell on the marketplace (ie: Flashback, Psyclone, Viper,
Maybe I'm crazy and it really will just all comes down to simple
greed and knowing just how much they can sell the land under SFMM for.
The land is just so high priced right now that no other amusement park
operator could even attempt to compete in a bidding war against land
developers. But that isn't the reason the park was build years ago...
it was build out in the middle of nowhere as a theme park, not as a
placeholder until the land value rose to an insane cost.
I've got a few wild ideas as to how they can really fix the park to
bring it back in line with their new company focus, but I'll save
that one for a future article.
Park News: 2