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Six Flags vs. Cedar Fair: The Business Model Edition

Talk about anything that has to do with the amusement park industry here.
Postby Jodon on April 26th, 2018, 12:38 pm
Through following ride additions and infrastructure updates and other capitol investments, it seems that SF and CF have different corporate strategies and business models. There are several differences between the two companies business models, but I'm going to focus on two.

The most clear difference is SF's commitment to adding a ride to every park each year, though typically a fairly low cost capitol investment which gets replicated in multiple parks, where CF doesn't. In fact some CF parks have been years without any addition.

Another difference is cost of season pass/memberships. The SF Gold Pass is significantly cheaper than the comparable CF Platinum Pass.

It also seems to me that CF has been spending significantly more money in recent history to improve the guest experience, i.e. replacing black top with concrete, staffing rides and food locations properly, etc.

Gone are the days of the Coaster Wars, which was seemingly great for the consumer/enthusiast, but put a significant strain on the parks, causing one of them to file for bankruptcy. As of now, it seems that both companies are happy with their current structure and business model they have chose, but in your opinion, which park chain has the better/more sustainable business model?

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Postby Ilovthevu' on April 26th, 2018, 5:26 pm
I'm not against the Cedar Fair model that every park doesn't get a new ride. Great America, Great Adventure, Magic Mountain, Cedar Point, Canada's Wonderland, and Kings Island don't really need anything of a LARGE investment for a long time. These parks are built up already. Their are so many smaller parks that need something.

So, yes Cedar Fair I feel is doing right by giving the other Great America something, but than I look at Carowinds, and I say what in the world, Cedar Fair are you doing? They just built Intimidator, and than they go and build a little bigger Intimidator. That park needs so many other different types of rides. People could love Fury all they want, but that park didn't need that ride when they just built Intimidator. They needed another design of a coaster instead such as a Large B&M Sitdown. On top of that, Intimidator I think was just their last NEW coaster.

Six Flags should build up Six Flags America, or just get rid of it. Six Flags should build up Six Flags St. Louis. Six Flags should build up Discovery Kingdom, etc. Cedar Fair should build up Dorney Park. Cedar Fair should build up Valleyfair, the other Great America, etc.

So, to me not every park needs a new ride every year. They easily could though (cheaper carnival used rides), and still do the Cedar Fair thing of just giving 3 parks LARGE investments, but they won't. They spend way too much on something like that Larson Looper. You could get the carnival version used for $400,000. They (Great America) probably spent $5 million on that stupid thing.
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Postby CoasterRiderSC on April 27th, 2018, 9:05 am
Personally I would rather Six Flags would have not gotten Joker or Hangover and just saved the money for something big! We could have kept King Chaos .
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Postby Goku1910 on May 2nd, 2018, 2:37 pm
I prefer CF's strategy. Although we see less parks getting something new they're usually great and unique additions. Mystic Timbers being one of the most recent addition to Kings Island that really caught my attention. So much that I'm actually tacking Kings Island to my Cedar Point trip this year.

As for Six Flags there are parks that are being neglected, SFA being the main one. I just recently visited St Louis and that place is a dump that has an awesome kids area.

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Postby [jonrev] on June 13th, 2018, 12:39 am
Having just come from Cedar Point, it's absolutely remarkable how the overall quality of that park has improved under Cedar Fair's investments in just six years.

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Postby SFGAMNUT9302 on June 13th, 2018, 12:47 pm
For the long run? Six Flags hands down!

The 9% cap that Six Flags has implemented is solid and stable, and revenue has been increasing year after year. If North American revenue hits $2 Billion by 2025, that would give Six Flags $180 Million a year for Capital expenditures.

Six Flags has successfully created a buzz at every single park, every single year, while keeping season passes cheap. Six Flags has also added capital accordingly based on clear growth potential patterns and common sense needs for each individual park.

Six Flags can easily change it's distribution strategy any given year, while staying well within the cap. For example in 2017 they spent $51 Million for 3 Joker clones and 3 Justice League dark rides..... They could easily change that and spend $25 Million on a major coaster, $10 Million for a Justice League and $8 Million for 4 Sky Warps and still end up sending $8 Million less than they did in 2017.

While I love Cedar Point and Cedar Fair in general. I think Six Flags has a much better long term strategy.

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Postby diggerg56 on June 28th, 2018, 6:04 pm
I wish Six Flags would adopt Cedar Fair's paid (29.99 for the season) Drink Plan Model where you can use the bottle (which you have to tote around) OR you can get a papercup. The cups are a little smaller than the small drink you pay for but you can get a refill every 15 minutes. I HATE carrying the bottles around. Yes, it's nice getting the bottle included with a membership at SF but I find it a pain to deal with.

Cedar Point in particular has a much better system for getting drinks. They have some stands where you pay the cashier (or have your pass swiped) and then you pour your own drink. They also have more than one soda dispenser at each location like that. Mauch more efficient than waiting in long lines constantly . The lines get long at Cedar Point also but they move much faster as a rule.
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Postby Dan The Coaster Man on July 12th, 2018, 8:14 pm
^ I agree about the drinks. I have not been to cedar fair for a couple years and even when I went I never got a drink cup. The idea of having a disposable cup is awesome though. I am not against carrying a cup, but there's been a few times I walk out the whole exit for viper and realize I forgot my cup. But universal has drinks down. I have never been more impressed by liquids than the drink system at Universal, and I have been to Niagara Falls. How expensive would it be to use a system like that at a park?

On a side note, with Knotts planning a 12 month year to date Season Pass, they will be losing some revenue I imagine. If it is rolled out to CF chain, they could be losing revenue that otherwise could have been there. It is a convivence to the guests yes, but money is money and they run a business. Hopefully it is worth it.
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