Monday, June 14, 2004

Six Blogs Great America blog.

Last Friday, we went to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, east and somewhat north of where we live. SFGA is part of the amusement park empire founded in north Texas the year I was born. Until I looked things up on the company’s web site, I didn’t realize just how large that empire is. The following material is from the web site -- mostly from its media page, which gives basic facts and also offers that rarified form of writing known as press releases.

“For more than 40 years, Six Flags has given children and adults the freedom to discover captivating settings and thrilling adventures. Its legacy began with a single property in Texas and grew to transform the way families vacation. Six Flags is the world's largest and most diverse regional theme park company, delivering fun-filled experiences to visitors at 31 parks.” [Not even Walt Disney could have dreamed of so many parks under one banner (six banners?), I think. But Disney, for all his faults, focused on quality. Six Flags focuses on quantity. Which isn’t to say that SFGA was a bad experience. But its roots are clearly in small-town carnies, the kind that Disney hated and wanted to transcend.]

“Six Flags' unique form of entertainment was born in the imagination of Texas oil barren [sic] Angus Wynne, the father of the modern-day theme park. Mr. Wynne set out to create a destination that would capture the excitement and wonder of the imagination. With Angus' vision and the support of the Texas community, Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961.” [ ‘Hell, if Disney can build his park there in California, we sure can build one right here, in Dallas.’ You have to like an oil baron named Angus.]

“The first Six Flags park took its name from the six countries whose flags had flown over Texas throughout the state's extraordinary history. Six Flags Over Texas featured six sections reflecting the spirited cultures of those nations -- and offered guests a vibrant experience straight out of their dreams. [Namely, Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the CSA and the USA. There’s no hint of this in SFGA, except the name itself.]

A press release about Six Flag’s new, and annoying, commercials tells us this: “Six Flags is the solution to consumer's overwhelming need for relaxation and escape," said [a spokesman]. "Our new campaign shares the excitement of a day at Six Flags, giving everyone, parents included, the freedom to let loose and enjoy the benefits of playtime." [Six Flags was entertaining enough, but if you have small children, it is not -- cannot be -- will never be -- relaxing.]

“Six Flags' brand strategy is to provide consumers with the ‘ultimate release’ - a release from busy schedules, economic pressures and the ongoing responsibilities of work, school and home. The over-committed nature of today's world is the exact reason families need a day of pure fun.” [It’s too easy to mock press releases. But I have to. Ultimate release?!? Who dreamed up that nonsense? As for economic pressures, there’s no place like an amusement park to make you feel economic pressure. The ubiquitous food, souvenirs and carnie games are all overpriced.]

“The surprisingly spry, bald-headed character featured in the television spots travels in a colorful retro style bus bringing his signature music -- "We Like to Party" by the Vengaboys -- and an irresistible invitation to leave the boredom, stress and pressures of everyday life behind, to families across America. He quickly has Dad dropping the rake, Mom putting down the garden hose, and Junior abandoning the lawn mower in an easy decision to take the short trip to Six Flags and a day filled with sheer enjoyment.” [I was wondering what that song was. It’s a catchy techno number, actually. If you hear it a time or two. But at SFGA, I found that it oozes out of speakers near the ground. It isn’t the only song you hear walking along, but by the end of the day I’d heard it often enough to react this way: Not that damn thing again…]


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