In Friday’s New York Times, an article about the financial problems facing the Six Flags theme park company discussed the company’s attempts to avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It mentioned some complicated financial information detailing the company’s $300 million debt payment coming due.
For parks like Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, the story presents a new challenge — convincing customers to visit the park as if everything’s A-OK. The story’s opening sentence sumarizes the worrisome part: “Will parents let their children ride a roller coaster owned by a bankrupt company?
In Louisville, park spokesperson Carolyn McLean says the Six Flags financial restructuring will have no effect on the local park — it has hired 1,000 summer workers, added a concert series and it is all set to open April 25. They’re even bringing back that annoying mascot, Mr. Six.
But unlike most years, the park hasn’t added a real new attraction this year. Families aren’t spending money the way they used to. One analyst predicts a national 3.5 percent decline in attendance for 2009, and that’s IF the company doesn’t have the taint of a bankruptcy filing.
Let’s be optimistic, though. Who else has hired 1,000 workers for the summer? Six Flags enters the season with a $200 million operating budget for its 20 parks. It ought to be an interesting ride.
The company is holding a conference call this morning, so there may be further news. We’ll keep you posted.