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Six Flags seeks Chapter 11

Magic Mountain president says filing won’t impact park operations

Posted: June 13, 2009 8:41 p.m.
Updated: June 14, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Six Flags is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the New York-based amusement park company looks to reorganize and shed $1.8 billion of its $2.4 billion debt.

Six Flags Magic Mountain President Jay Thomas said Saturday that the filing will be a ‘back-of-the-house issue” with the park’s parent company.

“We at Six Flags (Magic Mountain) are open for daily operation now. We’ll continue to be through the year and many more years to come,” he said. “We recently opened Terminator: Salvation the Ride in conjunction with the major motion picture.”

In addition, Thomas confirmed Six Flags filing for bankruptcy protection will not affect the local park’s employment numbers.

“We even had a hiring day today where we had 50 people in for orientation,” he said. “Our numbers for employment are up substantially over last year. So it has not had an impact on us this year.”

Thomas said guests do not seem troubled by the news about Six Flags debt issues.

“We’re having a busy day today. Guests are just coming out and enjoying themselves,” he said. “I’m happy our guests realize this is something that’s not going to have an impact on the day-to-day operation of the park.”

Mark Shapiro, the company’s CEO, said the move won’t affect the operation of its 20 theme parks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, either.

Six Flags actually had a great year in 2008, Shapiro said. It saw 25 million visitors and posted record revenues. But executives are trying to lighten a $2.4 billion debt load that they say is unsustainable.

Saturday’s bankruptcy filing came after an earlier plan to negotiate an out-of-court deal with creditors failed.

Six Flags shares have traded below $1 since September. They closed at 26 cents on Friday.

Thomas said plans are already under way to celebrate the Six Flags’ 50th anniversary in 2011 at the local park.

“The great thing about this restructuring is Six Flags has been around for 50 years, and thanks to this restructuring will continue to be around for many more to come,” he said.

At its summer peak, Magic Mountain employs more than 3,000 people, making it one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s largest employers.



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