US: Six Flags looking to emulate Disney

US theme park operator aiming to build up character and story areas of its business.
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The chief executive of US theme park operator Six Flags has said he wants it to build up its own-brand characters like Disney has done to become more of an entertainment company.

Mark Shapiro was speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters last week, according to the International Herald Tribune.

He said that Six Flags' previous strategy was based on 'roller-coaster hardware', but the firm would now focus on building anticipation to its rides through stories and characters, as well as upgrading the attractions.

The IHT said the strategy was to "build the characters, build the story around it, build the emotion, the drama... as opposed to just putting rides up on cement".

Shapiro became chief executive in December 2005, and since then the company has invested $100m in revamping the business model of Six Flags. Last year it bought half of Dick Clark Productions, producer of such events as the Golden Globes.

Its archived footage will be used to promote the park and entertain guests while they wait for rides and food, while giving advertisers a vehicle. Ad revenues and licensing deals abroad are expected to add $50m in new revenue this season.

Six Flags operates 21 parks in North America and Mexico, while it is also planning to enter the Dubai market.

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