Unlike past seasons, there won't be any new expensive, teen-targeted, high-thrill roller coasters awaiting Six Flags guests in 2007. In fact, the company is trimming its capital expenses outlay by $70 million as compared to 2006 and will focus on shows, rides for young kids, and festivals. Instead, it is redirecting budget dollars to advertising and marketing in the hopes of attracting more moms, dads, and tweens to its parks (and shoring up its bottom line).
Among the highlights for Six Flags' 2007 season:
- To help relieve its debt, the new management team had previously announced that it was considering selling Six Flags California, which includes Magic Mountain and the Hurricane Harbor water park; Six Flags Waterworld Concord in California; Six Flags Darien Lake, near Buffalo; Six Flags Elitch Gardens in Denver; Wild Waves and Enchanted Village near Seattle; and Six Flags Splashtown in Houston. (It had already decided to jettison Six Flags Waterworld Sacramento in California, Wyandot Lake in Ohio, and two Oklahoma properties, the Frontier City theme park and the White Water Bay water park.) While no final decisions had been made, Shapiro said that there would be an announcement regarding the parks' fates by the end of this year. He stressed, however, that if sold, the parks would continue operating through 2007--and the foreseeable future. Shapiro said that the parks' operational values exceed their real estate values.
- Two modest, family-friendly spinning coasters, themed to popular skateboarder Tony Hawk, will debut at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and another park to be announced.
- Two to three undisclosed parks will build Thomas & Friends playlands with toddler-geared rides and attractions featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and other characters from the TV show and books. Also targeted to toddlers, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey and two other parks to be announced will be getting new areas with rides, shows, restaurants, and characters themed to the Disney Channel (!) program, "Wiggle's World." (In a related announcement, Six Flags' ousted Mr. Six will dance up a storm alongside the dolls in the Disney parks' It's a Small World rides. Just kidding.)
- Also at Six Flags Great Adventure, visitors at the separately gated drive-through safari will be able to get out of their cars at the end of the experience and interact with animals in the new Wild Safari Exploration Station.
- Six Flags Over Texas, near Dallas, will feature Cirque Dreams Coobrila, a high-energy show modeled after Cirque du Soleil. The nonsense word "Coobrila" is a combination of the words cooler, brighter, and later. The park will offer late-night presentations of the new pyrotechnics-heavy show and will remain open later than past seasons. Six Flags Great America, near Chicago, will present Operation SpyGirl, a new, original stunt show created by the folks behind the TV show, "24."
- Montreal's La Ronde and Six Flags Over Georgia will both celebrate their 40th anniversaries with special season-long events and attractions. Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Marine World, near San Francisco, will join Six Flags Over Texas in staying open through December of 2007 and presenting Holiday in the Park.
- Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom will get a major makeover of its water park. The newly named Splashwater Kingdom will include a cutting-edge water ride (no further details were announced). The water park at The Great Escape in Lake George, New York will get a Tornado funnel ride.
To learn more about the unique water park rides, see my review and photos of High Anxiety.