The BLOGFlume—Slow Down

Daniel Snyder increases his ownership of Six Flags and Cedar Point caters to the VIPs.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: August 14, 2005 at 5:35 PM

Snyder Flags?
Screamscape 8/12/05 8/12/05

It looks like good ol’ Danny Boy is at it again. Much like his ownership of the Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder is never happy with his investment in Six Flags. He has recently added to his ownership stake of the regional theme park company, and is now up to an 11% stake in the company. While he has not made a public announcement, he is reportedly putting together a group of investors to take control of a company that is finally getting out of a deep hole that it dug itself in the late 90’s. There’s no word as to whether Bill Gates, another major player in the Six Flags ownership, will be part of Snyder’s group, but Snyder has made it very clear that he is not happy with the performance of the theme park giant. Snyder has stated that he would like to see Six Flags compete head to head with the king of all theme parks, Disney. While I admire his ambition, I think Snyder is setting his sights a little too high. A number of Six Flags parks have made small strides over the past few years, and the recent turnaround to profitability is very encouraging, but unlike Midas, everything Snyder touches does not necessarily turn to gold. His major investment, the Washington Redskins, have been far from successful on the football field, despite increasing in value from Snyder’s original purchase price. However, a number of recent moves by the P.R. staff at the Redskins have angered fans that could result in unsold tickets for the first time in team history if the team cannot at least reach the playoffs this season. I’m sure Snyder only wants to see the best from his investments, but as he has proved through the Redskins, his meddling can cause more harm than good. Six Flags is finally starting to see a minor upswing in its success, but if Daniel Snyder decides to go through this buyout of the company, nothing but red will be in the future.

Of course, for Six Flags to compete with Disney, it’s going to take a bit more than Daniel Snyder buying some more shares of stock. Six Flags’ overall quality is near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to theme parks. While their rides and attraction are far more thrilling than most of the ones offered by Disney, they fall short on total guest experience. I don’t think Daniel Snyder realizes what it takes to create a successful theme park, much like he doesn’t realize what it takes to create a successful football franchise. Throwing money at an investment has not made much headway when it comes to the NFL, and the same strategy will also not work for theme parks. A Snyder takeover of Six Flags could mean a huge influx of money into the parks, but could spell disaster to a company that is finally able to stretch its head above the water.

In another small piece of Six Flags news, it appears that rumors about Six Flags Over Georgia’s new attraction are true. While Six Flags has not formally announced it, the hoopla surrounding the removal of the Great Gasp and Looping Starship has brought more valid information about the new roller coaster. While it could just be slip by a local reporter- something that seems to happen all of the time- a Atlanta news station reported that the removal of the Great Gasp and Looping Starship were to make room for a new roller coaster called Starship. It’s definitely not the sexiest roller coaster name out there, and Rock and Roll fans still quake at the name of the group that disgraced Jefferson Airplane. However, the rumors point very strongly to a new roller coaster taking the place of the two flat rides, and this new coaster is going to be BIG. Survey markers show the coaster not only taking over the land occupied by the flat rides, but also the area near the entrance road to the park. Most rumors are still pointing to a B&M hyper-coaster, which would be the fourth in the United States, and third owned by Six Flags , joining Raging Bull and Nitro. All of the B&M hyper-coasters have been incredibly popular, and their unique layouts draw coaster fans from all over the world. An addition of one to Six Flags Over Georgia would be great for one of the “larger” Six Flags parks. It seems that Magic Mountain and Great Adventure have been receiving all of the attention recently, but Georgia, Texas, and Great America are also rather large parks that have not seem major additions in recent years.

Like a VIP
Point Buzz 8/14/05

At Disney and Universal, you can stay at on-site hotels. At Six Flags, you can pay a little extra for a pager. At Busch and Paramount, you can buy a special season pass. Cedar Point has now brought the concept of VIP treatment to Sandusky, Ohio. For $1,500, yes that’s fifteen hundred dollars, guests can gain admission for themselves and five of their friends to Cedar Point, VIP style. This new VIP program offers guests first class treatment, and front-of-the-line access. Not only that, but guests also receive special seating at Cedar Point’s shows, and call-ahead restaurant reservations. A number of local celebrities from LeBron James to Drew Carey have reportedly taken advantage of this VIP program. The price tag may seem a little steep, but for people who don’t want to be mobbed by fans while having fun at their favorite amusement park, price is not an option. Regular fans of the park have also taken advantage of this VIP program, but it’s probably something that is not terribly advantageous to the casual theme park fan. Front-of-the-line access, and the best seats for shows are important, but probably not $1,500 important to the average parkgoer, especially not at Cedar Point.

Readers' Opinions

From Mike K on August 14, 2005 at 7:15 PM
Today the VIP program was announced while today the popular FreeWay System at Cedar Point was permanently cut. Freeway was where you would receive a handstamp for a ride, and you would come back between a time period to ride. Apparently, the park has been making massive budget cuts.


From Robert Niles on August 14, 2005 at 8:04 PM
If you do the math, the VIP program comes out to $250 a person. Which, when you think about it, is not a totally outrageous figure for park admission, restaurant reservations and *no waits* on any rides. Especially at a place like Cedar Point, which regularly can run two-hour-plus waits on several popular coasters.

Universal Studios Hollywood, in comparison, sells a front-of-the-line pass for $100, for a park that doesn't have nearly as many rides, or as long lines, as CP.

Granted, this isn't something a person would do on any regular basis. But it's not an unreasonable price for a very special occasion. (Such as a very sweet, yet low-legal-risk bachelor party, for example.)

From Derek Potter on August 15, 2005 at 3:32 PM
$250 seems a bit high for a day at the park....even Cedar Point. I like the cut in front of line, show seating, and reservations when the park is busy, but there's a reason I go every year for 3 days at the end of's not busy at all then. The most I'll wait for a ride when I go here in a couple of weeks is probably about 30-45 minutes...with or without a freeway stamp. Here is what $250 bought me for my trip for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

2 nights at Breakers Express
2 starlight tickets- 4pm-close
2 1 day passes
2 free rounds of golf and go kart
2 Buy one get one free coupons for Soak City
$30 in "munch money" (food vouchers)

Granted I won't be able to cut to the front, but I get in an hour early, and use the north entrance. If I'm there when the park opens to resort guests, I'll have ridden the best Cedar Point has to offer, and by the time the normal guests arrive and ride a ride or two, I'll have pretty much walked on every major ride in the back of the park, and gotten a lot more for my $250. Most of the kids are back in school by then, and lines aren't even close to what they are in July.

I'm not sure I see the VIP thing taking off. Sure there will be some who take it, but most will probably ignore it. Discontinuing the freeway passes however, could be a mistake. CP has always been good at "people moving", and they've usually been able to keep lines moving fast even with freeway. My question is this....what cost are they cutting by discontinuing freeway? Are they saving on ink and rubber? These weren't computers that required tech support, electricity, and such. They were one person stamping hands for an hour or two. What I think they are doing is trying to make the VIP thing look more appealing by not giving out line cutting passes anymore. I guess they figure that they can sell a few more VIP's that way. My prediction, most guests...(especially those of the Ohio middle class persuasion) will still ignore the VIP, and guests will have just havebone less perk to take advantage of. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see freeway back sooner than later.

From Jason Herrera on August 18, 2005 at 2:51 PM
Derek Potter writes: Here is what $250 bought me for my trip for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I reply: See you there, man. We're going the same time! =)

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