Destinations

Six Flags Isn’t Confirming a New Park in Saudi Arabia, But Its International Ambitions Are Growing

Skift Take

Six Flags may not be ready to formally announce a park in Saudi Arabia, but we would not be surprised if plans are in the works.

— Hannah Sampson

Six Flags Entertainment, known for its thrill rides, waterslides and kid-sized activities across North America, has an eye on the rest of the world.

The Texas-based theme park operator has deals in place with partners to bring Six Flags parks to Dubai, Vietnam, and China. And earlier this week, one other destination seemed to be on the agenda: Saudi Arabia, which is trying to diversify its oil-based economy.

After executive chairman Jim Reid-Anderson and CEO John Duffey met with Saudi deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman during a U.S. trip, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Monday that the company had entered an agreement to provide “entertainment facilities” to the kingdom.

Reuters, USA Today, and other publications ran with the news, while some weighed in with takes on the challenge of mixing American-style entertainment with the cultural norms of Saudi Arabia.

Those stories appear to have been premature: A Six Flags spokeswoman said that while executives were “honored to be invited to informally meet,” there was no agreement in place with Saudi Arabia.

During an investor conference Tuesday, Six Flags vice president of investor relations and corporate communications Nancy Krejsa used some interesting language: “We have not entered into a firm partnership with them.”

She added that the company has an exclusive relationship in the Gulf states “at this point in time” with Dubai Parks and Resorts

Will that change in the near future? Six Flags doesn’t sound like it’s ruling anything out.

“We feel that there is a significant growth opportunity for us long-term in many markets around the world where there is a void of entertainment such as Six Flags thrills,” Krejsa said. She said the Middle East, Asia, and South America are all promising growth areas.

During the planning phase, which can take three to four years, Six Flags expects to earn $5-10 million per year per park for design and development work for overseas projects. Once parks open, the company anticipates $10-20 million in earnings a year — with all of the investment coming from partners.

“It’s longer term, but it’s a v significant growth opportunity for us,” Krejsa said.

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