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Comparing Disney to Six Flags makes zero sense

DVCscott

Member
Original Poster
Greetings. Long time lurker here who would like to share an opinion piece on something that frequents many theme park discussions, and I too have been guilty of in the past, which is comparing Disney and other major destinations to regional Six Flags parks. Whenever Disney, Universal, or any major theme park destination does something that seems subpar or disappointing, people are quick to compare the mistake with the quality of Six Flags or more regional offerings. It makes no sense at all, and here is my opinion piece as to why.

Would you compare that fancy, expensive, special occasion restaurant where you would go to propose to your significant other, where you had to reserve a table days, weeks, in advance, where you go very seldom but it is always a special reason... to a local burger joint where you swing by in a hurry for a quick meal? No you most likely would not. Why would you? Yes both are in the same business of serving you food, but for completely different reason. Just as Six Flags, Disney, and Universal Studio are all in the same industry of amusement and entertainment, yet you go to for different reasons as well.

I take my family to Six Flags for a fun day outing, or at best a weekend getaway. We don't take vacation time from our jobs, plan a week's worth of activities, and save and plan and set it as a major family memory that we may experience a handful of times at best. Disney is the latter. It is the destination we plan for, we take vacation days for, we save and save for, and we cherish as something truly special. Six Flags was never designed to be that. It should never try to be that. It should be what it is, a place to spend a Saturday with the kids and enjoy some rides.

Yet on the internet in many discussion we often throw the two into the same bag when they are completely different. Six Flags does not invest the money like Disney or Universal does. Even a place like Cedar Point or Dollyworld or Busch Garden, while regional entertainment much like Six Flags, are actually destination parks more like Disney due to being more rare and less regional. I would consider a trip to Cedar Point a vacation, not a weekend retreat.

So whose fault is this that Six Flags is somehow thrown into the grownups table when it is not in the same quality tier or purpose as hot spot destinations like Disney? Well, I believe it is Six Flags own fault. Back in the nineties they started running ad campaign saying close to home than Disneyland, and some much better. They never should have thrown their name into the big ring. They should have marketed as what they truly were, a local spot for a day or weekend of fun. Not a major vacation spot. But when they decided to go head to head with Dis, the gloves came off and people started comparing how Six Flags fell short to the big boys. Understandably. Six Flags should have marketed their strong points and been true to themselves as regional.

Long rant almost over, but we should not compare Six Flags to Disney any more than we would that fancy special occasion expensive restaurant to a fast food drive thru. Yes both serve food but for different reasons. Just my opinion.
 

raven24

Well-Known Member
Some people don’t take vacation time to visit Disney theme parks (such as myself), while some people will actually include a Six Flags amusement park in their vacation plans. My uncle is one of those people.

I understand you were specifically referring to your family and I understand your overall point, but I just wanted to point that out.
 

Club Cooloholic

Well-Known Member
People have always compared the two types of parks. The comparison can cut both ways as you will find people that think WDW doesn't have enough coasters and thrill rides compared to their local amusement park.
 

UNCgolf

Well-Known Member
I think someone would compare a fancy restaurant to the local burger joint if the food at the fancy restaurant was roughly the same as what you got at the burger joint for a much higher price -- that's the only time I've really seen the Disney/Universal and Six Flags comparisons.

If Disney or Universal builds something that looks like it could fit in at a Six Flags, that's a problem for the reasons you mentioned. They have much higher budgets (and costs to the guest) and so should be building something more impressive. I don't take it as a knock on Six Flags, which, as you said, isn't really playing in the same field.
 

JustAFan

Well-Known Member
I mostly agree with your point. There's not much comparison between the two at a granular level. However, using your restaurant analogy, family wants to eat (aka have fun, ride rides, etc.). Dad wants steak, Mom wants chicken, son wants burger, daughter wants nachos. Do we go to Chili's or do we go upscale and visit a nice restaurant? Both will satisfy what we're seeking. Chili's (Six Flags) meets a desire. Fancy steakhouse (Disney World) meets same desire, just does so much differently.
 

ppete1975

Well-Known Member
i would if the costs were the same ;) I dont see burger king charging the same as a nice restaurant then offering a ton of coupons lol. Which if you look at quick service parking and a single day ticket not that much different. Of course six flags does that to make you buy a season pass, but the qs food isnt much diff.
 

kap91

Well-Known Member
The first 3 original six flags parks were actually pretty good THEME parks easily on par with Busch Gardens or Dollywood. However, along the way six flags decided it would be easiest to compete on pure thrills and cost and to hell with the mission of being a theme park.
To people who grew up with more themed, unique, beautiful local parks that six flags turned into generic, cookie-cutter, one step above carnival, Doritos ads on the sides of the ride vehicle experiences - I can see where they would be upset about that, and long for six flags to aim higher.

Theme park fans criticize six flags for not being a theme park. And yeah that's not exactly fair, but I think theme park fans would say that all amusement parks should aim to take cues from theme parks. That's my bias certainly. I think landscaping, quality food, basic theming, general beautification, and a variety of attractions make for a better experience anywhere.
Even amusement park fans that understand that six flags is not trying to be a theme park, might still criticize it for the reasons people criticize McDonald's and Walmart...shooting for the lowest common denominator, focused on price over quality, genericism, not particularly caring about the guest or employee experience, etc. These criticisms are all the stronger from theme park fans that are particularly Disney fans which for decades espoused values directly counter to the entire model six flags operates on.

To be completely honest though I think theme park fans generally use six flags as an easy shorthand insult at companies like Disney and universal, for not living up to high expectations. I don't see as much discourse actually expecting or suggesting six flags should change, but perhaps I don't hang out in the right places.
 

MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
Would you compare that fancy, expensive, special occasion restaurant where you would go to propose to your significant other, where you had to reserve a table days, weeks, in advance, where you go very seldom but it is always a special reason... to a local burger joint where you swing by in a hurry for a quick meal?
Yes.
Why would you? Yes both are in the same business of serving you food, but for completely different reason. Just as Six Flags, Disney, and Universal Studio are all in the same industry of amusement and entertainment, yet you go to for different reasons as well.
I visit all of them for the same reason.

I would also like to refer you to The Themed Entertainment Index (www.aecom.com). The industry itself compares them in their rankings. in 2020: #1=Disney, #2= Merlin Entertainment (UK, Italy, etc), #4= Universal, #7=Six Flags, #7 = Cedar Fair, and #9=Sea World.

Beyond that they all their products from the same ride manufacturing companies. They include Vekoma, Intamin, and Zamperla. Perhaps a little more research would help you better understand the relationships these entertainment companies have. A fun website is the roller-coaster database.

I'm certain, all the themed entertainment companies all carefully watch each others' annual performance. They all have something to learn from each other in terms of the type of investment each company makes and how that pays out in attendance.

Similarly, any restaurant that wants to stay in business needs to pay attention to their competitors. Near me, the very fancy old restaurant saw a drop when the exciting new place opened up nearby. The new exciting place offers better quality food at a fraction of the price! The fancy old place wasn't willing to change, and now they are gone.

Some years ago, the established Swiss mechanical watch makers nearly went out of business because they assumed they didn't need to pay attention to the Japanese digital watch makers. They dismissed quartz digital technology until it was nearly too late.
 
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ppete1975

Well-Known Member
Yes.

I visit all of them for the same reason.

I would also like to refer you to The Themed Entertainment Index (www.aecom.com). The industry itself compares them in their rankings. in 2020: #1=Disney, #2= Merlin Entertainment (UK, Italy, etc), #4= Universal, #7=Six Flags, #7 = Cedar Fair, and #9=Sea World.

Beyond that they all their products from the same ride manufacturing companies. They include Vekoma, Intamin, and Zamperla. Perhaps a little more research would help you better understand the relationships these entertainment companies have. A fun website is the roller-coaster database.
doesnt that just look at how many people attend a park... that would explain disney vs universal as they have more parks, i am asking because i was curious about the list you provided and not sure if this is it. If its just attendance not sure that really means much.
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jloucks

Well-Known Member
Ok I'll bite.

I get your point tho, they are significantly different.

Buuuuut, that is like saying you cannot compare a Prius to a Ferrari. I could argue you can absolutely compare a Prius to a Ferrari.

Both cars get you there

Both cars have heat and ac

Both cars have headed seats

Both cars have... well.. the list goes on and on.

But, just like WDW vs Six Flags, Six Flags is "better" overall. How so? My example is a big hint... price!

While I love my occasional trips to Disney, I could not afford to go nearly as much as I go to Six Flags. I enjoy WDW more, but I have logged 10x the number of hours at Six Flags. Soooo, IF time spent in a park indicates which is overall better, I rest my case.

So, you have to define "better" better I guess. Better what? Bang for buck? Better coasters? Better travel time? Six Flags is superior to WDW in these categories. WDW wins in quality, ambiance, staffing, and variety. But so too does Rolls Royce over Honda.



This is all devils advocate perspective, I can totally debate the other direction too. :p
 

Poseidon Quest

Well-Known Member
This is a ridiculous argument. People are comparing Disney to Six Flags because they're building Six Flags level attractions. WEB-Slingers, the cheap Marvel shows and the various Toy Story Lands are very much in the vein of Six Flags budgets and theming.

If you're going to spend a week at a resort, you might as well start planning for Six Flags instead if you can't see the difference, because that gap is closing.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
I agree that it can be seen unfair to make comparisons between the Disney parks and others. But when comparisons are generally made they are all about the thrill a parks attraction provides thats missing from Disney. Its about the way upkeep and maintenance is delivered to keep them running that Disney has slacked off on. Its the guest services and policies that once were unique to Disney that gets changed that has not or cannot be justified. All of these are not contingent upon a parks size or location.
I personally dont look at Disney in the same way I see Six Flags or the others and hold off on making comparisons others often do.
 

MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
doesnt that just look at how many people attend a park... that would explain disney vs universal as they have more parks, i am asking because i was curious about the list you provided and not sure if this is it. If its just attendance not sure that really means much.
View attachment 562397
I added more to my post, which explains the connection a little more thoroughly. The 2020 AECOM/TEA report is 102 pages long. The list is important, but the report is more than just that list. And well, I think that report is just a small view into the way all of these companies pay attention to each other, or should.

That's why it is interesting the OP specifically mentioned dining. The restaurant industry has experienced a fairly radical paradigm shift in recent years called fast casual. Fast casual not only changed the way food is served, but also how it is sourced.
 

mharrington

Well-Known Member
I think another comparison between the two may be that one has Disney characters, while the other has access to Looney Tunes from Warner Bros., long Disney's main competitor in terms of cartoon shorts.

What bothers me is, why do people mention Six Flags only and not, say, Cedar Fair or Anheuser-Busch parks or something?
 

MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
Ok I'll bite.

I get your point tho, they are significantly different.

Buuuuut, that is like saying you cannot compare a Prius to a Ferrari. I could argue you can absolutely compare a Prius to a Ferrari.

Both cars get you there

Both cars have heat and ac

Both cars have headed seats

Both cars have... well.. the list goes on and on.

But, just like WDW vs Six Flags, Six Flags is "better" overall. How so? My example is a big hint... price!

While I love my occasional trips to Disney, I could not afford to go nearly as much as I go to Six Flags. I enjoy WDW more, but I have logged 10x the number of hours at Six Flags. Soooo, IF time spent in a park indicates which is overall better, I rest my case.

So, you have to define "better" better I guess. Better what? Bang for buck? Better coasters? Better travel time? Six Flags is superior to WDW in these categories. WDW wins in quality, ambiance, staffing, and variety. But so too does Rolls Royce over Honda.



This is all devils advocate perspective, I can totally debate the other direction too. :p
We have a running joke in our extended family. I'm not sure it will translate here, but it started when someone said "Hey!"

So there's a corny cliché response to that, "Do I look like a horse?" (Imagine this as maybe something an elementary school teacher might say.)
According to the cliché, the obvious (student/child) answer is supposed to be, "No."
Well, we say, "YES! you DO look a bit like a horse. A horse has eyes, a nose, and ears."
 

MickeyLuv'r

Well-Known Member
I think another comparison between the two may be that one has Disney characters, while the other has access to Looney Tunes from Warner Bros., long Disney's main competitor in terms of cartoon shorts.

What bothers me is, why do people mention Six Flags only and not, say, Cedar Fair or Anheuser-Busch parks or something?
I have seen all of them referenced a great many times on these forums.
 

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