Six Flags CEO says parks have become 'cheap daycare center' for teens, will see price increases

Selim Bassoul said he wants the parks to 'migrate' from serving the 'Walmart' customer to the 'Target customer.'

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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Six Flags is looking to make changes and raise prices after seeing a decrease in both attendance and revenue this year.

Six Flags is looking to make changes and raise prices after seeing a decrease in both attendance and revenue this year.

Last week, the amusement park reported quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street's estimates and said attendance fell sharply from a year earlier.

During that earnings call, CEO and President Selim A. Bassoul said the parks have become "a cheap daycare center for teenagers during breaks and the summers."

Bassoul later addressed the company's customers and the demographics when it comes to those who visit its parks, saying "our objective is not to become a park that's not affordable to everyone." He said the company wants to target "middle income" and those who earn "what I call the average income of the U.S."

Still, he went on to say the company is migrating "a little bit from what I call the Kmart, Walmart, to maybe the Target customer."

Year-to-date park attendance through July dropped approximately 35% compared to 2018-2019, according to the earnings call transcript.

According to a recent study, traditional family outings like baseball games, movie theaters and theme parks "increased in cost at 2-3x the rate of inflation."

In addition, the study -- which compared family outings in 1960 to today -- concluded that "American families have to work up to [twice] as many hours as they did 60 years ago."

In the earnings call, Bassoul acknowledged inflation's role in deterring potential park-goers.

"I think many of our customers, even if you kept the pricing the same as last year, their disposable income has been hit pretty hard ... They suffered with gasoline prices. They suffered with their utilities at home. They suffered with their pricing at the supermarket. Those people were not able to come. And hopefully, when inflation comes back to normal, I'm hoping that some of those people come back to our parks and enjoy the new premiumization and beautification," he said.

This news comes days after three people, including a 17-year-old, were injured during a shooting in a Chicago-area Six Flags parking lot.