Thursday, August 30, 2012

Six Flags 2013 Recap and Additional Announcements

Final Six Flags announcement post of the day! Phew, this has been quite the marathon of news coverage - but with so much being announced I couldn't sit idly by!

Six Flags also had a conference call today for media to go over the announcements and take questions, but we'll get to that in just a bit.  There's some other smaller additions that were announced today that I wanted to keep together:

The Great Escape will add the Screamin' Eagles to their lineup in 2013, what looks to be a set of Larson Flying Scooters.  Riders get to control their vehicles using their car's front wing, allowing a ride that's anywhere from mild to wild.  The new ride will be located in the park's Fest Area, near the Alice in Wonderland attraction.

Adjacent to the park is the Great Escape Lodge, which will add "an exciting new addition that is sure to take kids on a trip they will never forget."  Not much detail there, but more information is promised in the future.

What once was Six Flags Over Texas' is now Six Flags St. Louis' - at least in terms of their new attraction, Boomerang, for 2013.  The coaster is being moved from Texas to the St. Louis park, where it will receive a bright orange and lime green color scheme.

The Boomerang stands 125 feet tall and the train takes the course both forward and backward, each trip heading through three inversions.  Boomerang will be located in the Illinois section of Six Flags St. Louis.

La Ronde, the chain's Canadian park, will add Aqua Twist to the park next season.  A unique flat ride created by Mack Rides, Aqua Twist will be one of the ride manufacturer's "Twist'n'Splash" attractions.

If you're unfamiliar with the Twist'n'Splash, check out this video from Mack to understand more.  The ride is perfect for families and also allows guests to cool down on a Summer day by blasting both riders and guests near the ride with water guns!

The chain also announced that this fall Six Flags Mexico will feature Festival del Terror, the park's first Fright Fest style event.

Early today Six Flags also had a media conference call with Jim Reid-Anderson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Six Flags, and Al Weber, Chief Operating Officer.  It was great to get to hear them speak of the attractions being added for 2013, you can tell the genuine excitement in their voices.

Coming off a successful 2012 season, with the parks gathering the highest guest satisfaction ratings ever, both Mr. Reid-Anderson and Mr. Weber stressed that next year's additions are part of a carefully thought out five year plan for each property.

Unlike in past Six Flags management regimes, the current leaders allow the park to heavily influence what is added, instead of being told what would be built.  Each year Six Flags spends roughly 9 percent of their revenues on the parks, with 60-65 percent of that amount being for new rides and attractions.

Most of what was discussed was similar to that in the above video, but some additional details were revealed:

• Six Flags Discovery Kingdom will renovate Shouka's stadium and it will feature a new show, but for now those plans remain a secret.  The new Cirque Dreams production will go in the 2,500 seat Dolphin Harbor theater.

• Six Flags Great Adventure's Safari addition will be an immense project.  Providing a more intimate experience was one of the park's goals.  Some fencing in the area will be dropped so things look more natural, and the ride's path will use the existing course along with new off-road paths.  The attraction's 17 vehicles will seat 40 guests at a time, and they hope to dispatch one every two minutes from an all new area located beyond the Conestoga Wagon.

• The addition of Festival del Terror at Six Flags Mexico is already highly anticipated by park guests, and more details on the event will surface as early as next week.  There sounds to be more in store for the park, but again those plans are still a secret.

• Six Flags New England's request to build a 385 foot tall Star Flyer may have been a part of that park's five year plan, Mr. Reid-Anderson would only say there was more exciting news down the road for that park.

• They were asked if there was a reason that a ride similar to X-Flight wasn't added to any park in 2013, and again things turned back to the five year plan each park has.  It sounds like due to the big success of the ride at Great America this year we could see another one in the future, though.

• Six Flags Fiesta Texas' Iron Rattler just may be the highlight of the announcements today, and is being designed to "blow folks away" once they take a ride.  The trains will be similar to those on the New Texas Giant, though they will have unique theming.  Two trains will be used on the ride.

• I inquired as to if there was a story behind the fact that none of the additions feature any licensed characters, like Batman or Superman - but it seems that was just the way the cards fell this year.  The chain "likes their relationship" with both Warner Brothers and DC Comics, so it seems this is just an off year.

•  I also had to ask about how important theming is to the current management team when adding new rides, to which they responded that is is indeed important to them, though the rides are developed first, then "texture and context" are added to the rides and the areas around them.  Basically, the theming supports the ride, not the other way around.

• Some callers asked if specific styles of rides were being considered, from log flumes (yes please) to dark rides, and it sounds like nothing is off the list of a "maybe" for future instillation.  Well, I think $20 million plus coasters are a thing of the Six Flags past, though.

Okay, that wraps up today's mega-Six Flags coverage.  Gotta say it's pretty fun having so much announced at once, almost like Christmas for theme park nerds!