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The Shock Wave Felt 'Round the Amusement Park Business

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Seems like the sound of fun no longer surrounds Six Flags, which, according to this front-page piece in this morning's Wall Street Journal, is "weighed down by $2.4 billion of debt, and faces a $288 million payment to preferred stockholders next August." The amusement park chain, founded in Arlington in 1961 by Angus G. Wynne Jr., is now based out of New York and owned, in part, by the likes of Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder (who's the company's chairman) and Microsoftie Bill Gates.

Attendance at the chain's 20 parks is down, and it only posted a profit during the second quarter of '08 following cost reductions and "a one-time accounting gain on the retirement of debt." Perhaps Snyder and CEO Mark Shapiro will take a note from the great Angus Wynne III, who last year noted on Unfair Park: "I sincerely hope that Dad's keen interest in making history fun will someday regain precedence over the total thrill-ride culture which has replaced it." Couldn't hurt. --Robert Wilonsky

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