Increased attendance at Six Flags theme parks helped to curtail the Great Escape parent company’s first-quarter loss in 2013, the company reported Monday, while work is underway locally to ready the park for the start of its 2013 season.
Six Flags reported a net $62.5 million loss, which equates to $1.23 per share, for the first three months of 2013, compared with a net $115.1 million loss, or $2.11 per share, for the same time period in 2012.
Meanwhile, the company reported a “solid quarter” in terms of attendance, Six Flags Chief Financial Officer John Duffey said Monday on an earnings conference call with investors.
Attendance in the first quarter, a traditionally slower time for the amusement parks, grew by 41 percent or 525,000 guests from the previous year, to 1.8 million guests.
About half of the attendance gain is attributed to earlier spring breaks for schools in some areas, coming in March, versus in April in 2012.
Six Flags’ first-quarter revenue grew to nearly $88 million in 2013, a 32 percent increase over the previous year.
The theme park company credited the year-over-year revenue growth to increased attendance, marketing initiatives and the continued emphasis on season pass sales.
“We’re seeing growth in every single park,” Six Flags CEO Jim Reid-Anderson said of season ticket sales during the conference call with investors. “There’s nowhere we’re not seeing tremendous improvement. It’s broad-based across the board.”
Six Flags is introducing something new at every park this year, Reid-Anderson said.
At Great Escape, which is introducing the new ride Screamin’ Eagles this season, employees are preparing for the park’s 59th season. Foundation has been laid for the new ride, and the equipment will be installed soon, park President Eric Gilbert said.
Changes are also underway for three of the park’s existing rides: Both the Blizzard ride and the bumper cars, which are currently outside, will be enclosed. When patrons enter the new Blizzard ride, it will be like walking into an igloo, Gilbert said.
The ride was introduced at the park in 1971, and was inside then. The park relies on guest feedback, and returning that feature inside, the way customers remember it, was an adjustment made based on the guest feedback, Gilbert said.
Bumper cars have in the past shut down every time it rained, so they’re now being moved to an enclosed location in the park. As a popular ride, it’s important they’re operating all the time, Great Escape spokeswoman Rebecca Close said.
The Balloon Race ride will also be moved — it wasn’t seeing the ridership park officials hoped for, so it will be moved to the former Blizzard outdoor location, Gilbert said.
The Great Escape and other Six Flags properties will introduce a new season dining pass this year, for $69.99. The dining pass is available to customers who already have a season pass for park admission and is good for one dinner and one lunch every time the customer visits the park.
Great Escape will open May 18 for its 59th season. The park will be open weekends and select weekdays through June 13, when daily operations begin. Splashwater Kingdom, the outdoor water park, is scheduled to open May 25.