Six Flags news: Amusement park CEO Selim A. Bassoul says parks have become ‘cheap daycare centers for teenagers’


Six Flags is looking to make changes and raise prices after seeing declining attendance and revenue this year.

Last week, the amusement park announced quarterly results that were below Wall Street estimates and said attendance fell sharply from a year earlier.

During this earnings callCEO and Chairman Selim A. Bassoul said the parks have become “cheap daycare for teenagers during vacations and summers.”

Bassoul then addressed the company’s customers and demographics with regards to those who visit its parks, saying “our goal is not to become a park that is not affordable for everyone” . He said the company wants to target “middle incomes” and those earning “what I call middle income in the United States.”

Still, he went on to say that the business was migrating “a bit of what I call the Kmart, Walmart, to maybe the target customer.”

Park attendance year-to-date through July was down about 35% from 2018-19, according to the earnings call transcript.

According to a recent studytraditional family outings like baseball games, movie theaters and theme parks “have gone up 2-3 times the rate of inflation.”

Additionally, the study – which compared family outings in 1960 to today – concluded that “American families must work until [twice] as many hours as 60 years ago.”

During the earnings call, Bassoul acknowledged the role of inflation in deterring would-be park-goers.

“I think a lot of our customers, even though you’ve kept prices the same as last year, their disposable income has been hit pretty hard… They’ve suffered with gas prices. They’ve suffered with their utilities back home. They suffered with their prices. at the supermarket. Those people couldn’t come. And I hope when inflation comes back to normal, I hope some of those people come back in our parks and will benefit from the new premiumization and beautification,” he said.

This news comes days after three people, including a 17-year-old, were injured in a shooting in the parking lot of Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois. The company responded by promising “layers of preventive measures inside and outside the park”.

Video posted to social media showed sheer panic as people fled the gunfire and people could be seen hugging each other inside the park.

“As we walked past the gate, they started escorting people forward,” witness Olga Davil said. “The cops had already surrounded the place. There were two individuals who were shot and we saw blood at the entrance.

“They’ve done a great job on their end to keep everyone safe,” said Amy Perez, of Holland, Michigan. “It’s just sad. It’s sad that it keeps happening.”

Park security and Gurnee Police Department substation officers on scene responded immediately, park officials said.

Police believe the shooting stemmed from an argument that appears to have started elsewhere and spread inside the Six Flags parking lot.

“Based on the initial investigation, a white sedan pulled into the Six Flags parking lot and headed toward the park’s main entrance,” Gurnee Police spokesman Shawn Gaylor said. “The suspects exited the vehicle and began shooting at another individual in the parking lot. The suspects got back into the white sedan and quickly left the area.”

Police said while the shooting appeared to be targeted, the two injured people were not together and it was unclear whether either of them was the intended target of the shooting.

Still, the incident prompted out-of-town visitors to cancel their plans for the park.

“We were a little hesitant, especially with the kids,” said Susie Sirianni of Streator. “But I feel like they have good security here, so we feel safe.”

“Our family goes to different amusement parks every summer as a family trip and this is one we haven’t been to yet,” Perez said. “We always wanted to get down and make the most of it and enjoy the day.”

Six Flags released a statement saying, “Six Flags devotes our greatest amount of time, talent and resources to safety and security.” Layers of preventative measures inside and outside the park are in place for the protection of guests and team members. We continue to review and improve our protocol daily to ensure that we provide the highest level of security. “Cameras placed in the parking lot and inside the park, uniformed and plainclothes patrols throughout the property, and advanced screening technology allow us to respond quickly and provide important information. The park security team is joined by the Gurnee Police Department, which operates a substation in the park.

KABC and WLS contributed to this post.

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