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Arthur Levine

Locked and Loaded- Take the Six Flags Mandatory Locker Policy Poll

By June 5, 2009

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Six Flags has been rolling out a new locker policy at its parks' more popular coasters. Rather than allowing guests to leave backpacks, the stuffed animals they won at midway games, or other loose items in the coasters' loading stations, the chain is requiring them to stow loose items in lockers located at the ride--for a fee. Other parks, such as Kings Island, are also enforcing mandatory locker rules on select rides, but Six Flags is aggressively expanding the concept. That plush animal you won at a Six Flags game booth will cost you an additional $1 each time you board a coaster, since the lockers at the head of the ride queues expire after a two-hour limit.

The park chain says that the locker policy helps speed up the loading and unloading process and cuts down on property theft. I say that it's mostly a money grab for Six Flags. Guests can make the decision, and assume the responsibility, whether to risk leaving anything valuable in loading stations. And if Six Flags' policy was focused solely on guests, the parks could offer complimentary lockers (as Universal Orlando does for some of its attractions). Instead it is nickel and dimeing its patrons and sacrificing goodwill in the process.

What do you think? Are you ticked off about Six Flags' locker policy? Do you think the company is getting loaded by requiring lockers and charging to use them? Or do you think the practice and the $1 fee is reasonable? Take the Mandatory Locker Policy poll, and join the conversation by clicking on "Comments" below.

Comments
June 7, 2009 at 9:37 am
(1) Edgar says:

From what I have heard Six Flags makes little to no money of the lockers themselves. Rather, the policy is in place to increase the value of advertisments placed within the queue line. Many advertisers were concerned that guests would be too distracted by their personal items to notice the ads.

Personally, I would use the lockers at the $1 price if not for the 2 hour limit. I think Six Flags should have done like Cedar Point in getting regular, less expensive lockers with keys with no time limit. In order to enforce the two hour limit Six Flags bought expensive electronic lockers and have to pay a designated employee to attend said lockers.

June 7, 2009 at 10:13 am
(2) sjhym3 says:

I don’t for a minute believe that this policy has anything to do with loading faster or theft prevention. This is purely a money making thing for a corporation who is losing money. If the company was truly watching out for its guests it would offer affordable lockers that were good all day. But if you do the math and assume that several hundred guests are paying a $1 each time they want to ride a coaster in the park, they are raking in the money.

SeaWorld in Orlando is doing the same thing at their new attraction Manta, though they will allow sandels, hats and glasses to be stored at unload. And dont get me started about the $12.00 parking fees at all the parks!

June 7, 2009 at 10:41 am
(3) Mike says:

I have worked lockers before and there is no easy solution. The money definetly doesn’t matter. They make plenty off the maingate lockers to not care and I believe the dollar goes to the vendor who owns and puts in the locker system anyway. The key system doesn’t work at parks with more than a million in attendance. You have to change about 30-50 a day to keep up with the lost or stolen ones very time consuming and considering at $1 a locker most people still leave there stuff off the ride with someone and you usually take in between $25-$100 per day per coaster with the lockers and they usually have abut a thousand riders on these. I’m glad they are there and they need to enforce the rules strictly because if they don’t the distraction to a ride operator or attendant could have serious repercutions if an accident occurs it allows for things to go smoothly in the ride area. Some parks have high crime rates in the nearby city and need to enforce these rules more strictly. A more rural resort park may not matter so much. There are much more important price issues to talk about than this.

June 7, 2009 at 3:49 pm
(4) Dan says:

Hate to brake it to you but has anyone realized how much debt SFI is in — nobody … ITS A LOT more money than we make in a living. Notice they give you 2hours to leave it in there. They are practiclly helping you make your day easier by saying “Don’t go to the other side of the park and come back an hour later to pay antoher dollar… just ride again”. Just think its 1 dollar for 3-5 rides in the park. You can buy a locker for the day,pay for a locker and use the whole 2 hour block,leave the stuff with a non-rider,bring it to your car and then go back to the park, or dont bring anythig big in. Remember people… it only going to add up to maybe 5 dollars, the equivalent of 2 ice cream cones. Its not gonig to kill you.

June 7, 2009 at 8:42 pm
(5) themeparkguy says:

I have worked for 3 major theme park companies in the 20 years I have been in the business-theft on an open loading dock isn’t that big of an issue and distracting the ride operator is not a real issue (the ride operators spend more time explaining the policy to upset guests than they do handling stuff). It’s a stupid, misguided policy that somebody thought might raise a few bucks. If a third party is managing the process-follow the money, there’s a good chance it’s somebody’s buddy. As far as advertisers complaining-THAT would be a real stretch!

June 8, 2009 at 4:25 pm
(6) Jeremy says:

They’ve actually been piloting this for a few years at their Northeast parks, and I’ve found that it cuts the time waiting in line at least in half. Think of how much time people spend putting their stuff in bins before getting in the car, and then going to get their stuff and blocking the way for the next group. It makes a huge difference, trust me. They needed to move the “30 minutes from this point” signs after they installed the lockers because they were no longer accurate.

The $1 fee for every ride is a bit much, but it’s something that a lot of other parks have started doing (King’s Dominion/Island, Busch Gardens, Cedar Point). I really don’t see a better way to do it, since so many people ride each coaster every day. I just plan to spend $5-10 for lockers when I go. If it saves me a half-hour wait at each coaster, it’s well worth the price.

June 13, 2009 at 4:41 pm
(7) DifrntDrmr says:

Universal Studios has the same policy for the Mummy coaster, but they provide the locker at no additional charge. That’s right, completely free. If Six Flags was truly interested in improving the guest experience this is what they would do too.

August 24, 2009 at 12:30 am
(8) Timo says:

As one of the people intimately involved in the process for the vendor that runs the locker operation, I can tell you, it is absolutely about the money. Making “a couple extra bucks” has nothing to do with it. The locker company, Smarte Carte, makes a substantial profit and pays somewhere around 40% of that in vendors fees. Six Flags makes anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 a month on this operation, while Smarte Carte takes in at least that much, and that’s at some of the smaller parks.
That said, it does cut down on ride times a little bit, but not as much as Jeremy previously stated. Theft is less of an issue, as now folks are figuring out how to steal from the lockers (it doesn’t take much, watch as folks dupe over-worked Locker Attendants into opening someone else’s locker by saying they lost their ticket.)
All in all, it’s been a great money-maker for everyone involved, but please don’t assume Six Flags has anything in mind here but they’re own bottom line.

May 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm
(9) Chris says:

they shouldn’t charge for it they should be free, Universal Studios Hollywood gives free lockers for 2 hours by the rides you can’t take stuff on with you.

August 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm
(10) Neil says:

I was at Six Flags MM on Aug 4, and I lost a $500 camera, “secured” in one of their $1 electronic lockers. The security people came down and talked to me, told me how it was “impossible” that someone could have jimmied the latch, or how someone could have forged a bar-code, or entered a code into the keypad to gain access to the locker. Nonetheless, my two companions saw me put my camera in the locker before the ride, we came out, and the camera was gone. All the “vendor” could offer in terms of any kind of compensation or assurance was a phone number, with an automated recording, where I could leave a message about making a claim. They didn’t even have any security video or anything that could identify what happened to my camera for the 30 minutes I was gone on the ride. These lockers are a scam. They’ll protect your souvenier cup and hats and sunglasses. But you put anything remotely of value in there, and obviously, the thieves know how to get in there and get at it.

September 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm
(11) George Featherbottom says:

Your frustration is totally agreeable. It is so frustrating when you have to fork over so much extra money to put your stuff in lockers.

Here is a possible solution:

1.Stop wasting your money on games where you win a stuffed prize.
2.Don’t bring a backpack full of useless items(if you need a bag for medical reasons, six flags gives you a sticker and you are allowed to leave it at the station of ANY ride)
3. Wear cargo shorts and fit your water bottle, camera(in a plastic baggie), power bars, sunglasses, wallet, phone, mini can of spray sunscreen inside.

Did I miss anything?

September 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm
(12) themeparks says:

George-
Thanks for writing. Good points. But Six Flags should not force guests to have to make these choices IMO.

-Arthur

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