Six Flags, Disney Post Opposite Theme Park Results

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This is not the type of Giant Drop that Six Flags wants to be known for. On Thursday, the amusement park chain posted disappointing returns in its second-quarter earnings call.

But don’t draw too many conclusions on the economics of roller coasters. On Wednesday, Disney’s quarterly results featured park returns that were Space Mountain-level dizzying.

Race to the Splash Mountaintop

In an attempt to improve the guest experience (read: cutback on the hours wasted waiting for the good rides), Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul said his parks have intentionally pursued a strategy over the past year of reducing overall park attendance. The problem? It worked too well, with attendance plummeting 35% below 2019 levels so far this year, compared with the targeted 10% to 15% reduction goal.

The House of Mouse, meanwhile, has figured out a way to have its funnel cake and eat it too. Disney’s parks saw overall attendance increase in the latest quarter even as it upgraded the guest experience with Genie+, the premium ticket add-on that allows users to skip lines and reserve time slots for certain attractions. The difference in strategy has sent both companies’ businesses in opposite directions like competing bumper cars:

  • Disney’s parks, experiences, and products divisions, which also includes its cruise lines, saw revenue leap an eye-popping 72% year-over-year to $7.4 billion. Roughly 50% of guests now pay the extra $15 for Genie+, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said.
  • It’s a small world, in comparison, for Six Flags, which saw quarterly revenue fall 5% year-over-year to just $435 million. On the plus side, guest spending increased 23% to nearly $64 — because even churros can’t escape inflation.

Making a Splash: Also posting quarterly results this week: SeaWorld and Cedar Fair, the parent company of the massive Cedar Park in Sandusky, Ohio as well as 11 other locations. Both companies posted all-time record revenues, with attendance falling just 3% and 8% below 2019 levels, respectively. Both parks, it seems, have made the full loop-the-loop from pandemic-era lows.