While projections for this summer are optimistic, it
appears even the biggest names in waterparks and recreation
business are feeling the impact of the economic
Before the end of the summer, Six Flags Inc. may be
forced to file for Chapter 11 under the U.S. Bankruptcy
Code. Though the New York company reported revenues of $1
billion in 2008, it also reported a net loss of $207
million, and company stock value fell so low it was
delisted by the New York Stock Exchange recently. According
to reports, the company is carrying significant debt.
The story is similar at MGM Mirage, based in Las Vegas;
Universal Orlando in Florida; Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.,
Sandusky, Ohio; and Busch Entertainment, currently owned by
A-B InBev, headquartered in Leuven, Belgium.
“Even the big players are not immune to the
downturn,” said George Van Horn, a senior analyst
at IBIS World, a Los Angeles industry intelligence firm
The Magic Kingdom bears that out as well. Last month,
Burbank, Calif.-based Walt Disney Co. — which
operates Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and
Disney’s Blizzard Beach waterparks, in
Orlando — announced a 46 percent decline in
profits for the second quarter of 2009, compared with the
same period last year. In March, the entertainment giant
laid off nearly 2,000 employees in its theme parks,
according to reports.
“We are being extremely realistic about the
global economy and the challenges we face,” Robert
Iger, Walt Disney Co. CEO, said at the March annual
shareholder meeting in Oakland, Calif.
And with industry experts forecasting a continuation of
the “staycation” trend this summer,
Disney and other destination attraction operators may be
forced to cut back even more.
Despite the uncertainty, operators anticipate this
summer will be the same as always as far as the guest
experience goes.On the back of heavy promotions, news
reports stated that Orlando theme parks, including both of
Disney’s waterparks, reached capacity during the
“Our parent company is looking into some
options regarding the restructuring of our debt, but this
has no bearing on Six Flags White Water’s
day-to-day operations, or any of our parks for that
matter,” said Hela Sheath, spokesperson for Six
Flags White Water, located in Marietta, Ga.
“It’s business as usual as we are
gearing up for another great season at both of our