• Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul angered consumers this week with what many are saying are classist remarks. 
  • Bassoul said heavy discounting turned the parks into "a day care center for teenagers." 
  • He also said the company is trying to turn its average guest from "the Kmart, Walmart to maybe the Target customers."

Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul is in hot water over what some are calling classist remarks. 

In a call with investors this week, Bassoul said the amusement park chain is seeking to transform its average guest from, "the Kmart, Walmart to maybe the Target customers," adding that heavy discounting in previous years had turned the parks into "a day care center for teenagers." 

"The philosophy of filling our parks was not the right strategy …. we only got the discounter or we became a day care center for teenagers," he said. "It was a cheap day care center for teenagers during breaks and the summers." 

Bassoul's comments quickly drew scorn from several Twitter users, who took to the platform to air their grievances the statements they described as "classist" and "just idiotic." 



Since taking over as top executive in November 2021, Bassoul has focused on "premium-ization strategy" dedicated to creating a more upscale experience at parks and hiking prices. In a previous earnings call, he referred to "restroom and restaurant upgrade and food upgrade in all our parks."

But the move ultimately has come at a cost to consumers, with higher admission prices and cuts to discounts and coupons, and it appears the strategy may not be working as well as intended: Guest attendance dropped by 22% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, the company reported. 

"Our attendance decrease was related to the elimination of free tickets and low-margin product offerings, coupled with increased pricing into a market that had become accustomed to discounts," Six Flags CFO Gary Mick said on the call. 

But Bassoul doubled down on Six Flags' pricing strategy, stating that while the company's aim "has always been to be a park for the middle-class and even lower middle-class," there was "no point" in trying to recapture lost customers struggling with record-high inflation

"They suffered with their utilities at home. They suffered with their pricing at the supermarket. Those people were not able to come," he said. "And hopefully, if the inflation comes back to normal, I'm hoping that some of those people come back to our parks, and enjoy the new premium-ization and beautification."

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