New Six Flags CEO Puts ‘More Flags More Fun’ to the Test

By Keaton Beltmann, Current Staff

Normally during the fall, Six Flags Great America announces a new ride for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, that won’t happen this year.

Selim Bassoul became Six Flags’ new CEO in November 2021. Since then, his strategy has been different from past leaders, as he plans to increase prices, limit spending and add minor rather than major attractions. With Bassoul now in charge, it’s quite possible Maxx Force, a launch coaster installed in 2019, will be Great America’s last new roller coaster for some time.

In the second 2022 earning call that occurred in August, Bassoul talked about the park’s current status and revealed his thoughts about how the current pricing was attracting a less desirable demographic. Six Flags has spent more than a decade positioning itself as a “discount chain” alternative to parks run by competitors like Cedar Fair and Sea World, and Bassoul feels that has been a mistake.

“It was a cheap day care center for teenagers during breaks and the summers,” Bassoul said during the call.

His main idea to remedy this situation is to significantly increase pricing to attract higher-end visitors and families which he believes will provide a better guest experience. Those pricing changes have already gone into effect for season passes.

The previous CEO, Mike Spanos, oversaw the most recent changes at Six Flags Great America, including repainting the coaster Vertical Velocity and changing the Yankee Harbor section in the park to “DC Universe.”

Now that Bassoul is at the helm, he has stated the parks already have enough roller coasters and rides, so area fans are wondering about how much time will pass before Great America receives a new ride.

Meanwhile, the internet has expressed its disapproval of Bassoul’s management, believing he is not doing the things the parks need. There’s a petition asking for Bassoul to be replaced immediately.

A current Six Flags employee posted an open letter called “Step Down Selim” on the popular social website Reddit three months ago. In the document, the author fires at Bassoul, claiming he is killing the company. The employee cited lower guest attendance and demoralized staff, among other complaints.

Local fans at the West Bend High Schools are concerned that Bassoul’s policies will hurt more than help the brand.

“When it comes to the flagship parks like Magic Mountain, it might not affect them that much,” West sophomore Noah Mintie said. “But maybe with the smaller parks like St. Louis, maybe that’s not so great.”

Mintie, a regular visitor to Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, says that new rides are what matter most to him.

“A new shop I might walk into and buy something once, but when there’s a new ride, I can ride that over and over again,” he said.

East ninth grader Ethan Gutjahr calls the changes a “let down” and thinks the sales will go down at Great America.

Six Flags stock prices are trending down, and according to the most recent quarterly report, earnings missed the revenue target by 16.02%. The Q3 earnings report will be released Nov. 10.

(Image: The main entrance sign at Six Flags Great America in May 2022. Photo used with permission from Harobouri, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

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