March 12, 2001
Oklahoma City, OK -- Six Flags, Inc., one of the most recognizable and popular theme park brands in the entertainment industry, announced plans to add a second European theme park near Brussels, Belgium.
The company is transforming its Walibi Wavre theme park into a Six Flags theme park. The park will be called Six Flags Belgium and will undergo a transformation with the addition of more than 15 new rides, shows and attractions before opening this spring. The expansion, which includes two major new roller coasters, will ensure the newest international Six Flags park offers the entertainment scale and scope as well as thrill varieties associated with the brand, particularly in the United States.
"The strong response and operational success of our application of the Six Flags brand in two international markets last year attest to the universal appeal of the brand. Six Flags Holland and Six Flags Mexico experienced terrific inaugural seasons," noted Kieran Burke, Six Flags Chairman and CEO.
Six Flags Holland and Six Flags Mexico opened as Six Flags parks in early 2000 after undergoing extensive product expansion and facility upgrades. Major thrill rides, new family sections and the integration of the popular Looney Tunes and DC Comics characters occurred as part of the overall conversion to the Six Flags brand.
"Both of our new international Six Flags parks enjoyed great years, attracting guests from a wider geographical area" said Burke. "We were especially pleased with how the re-energized parks delivered a broad product with the type of diversified appeal needed to entertain families with kids of all ages. Our confidence in the global potential of our brand received a strong boost from witnessing the universal language of thrills in action in Mexico and Holland."
The announcement of the brand extension of Six Flags in Europe draws attention to the 40th anniversary of the brand this year. The first Six Flags park opened in 1961 as Six Flags Over Texas between Dallas and Fort Worth. Today the company boasts 25 Six Flags branded parks in four countries.
"The Six Flags Belgium announcement is the first major event of our 40th Anniversary Celebration and signifies our intent to bring this proven regional concept known for leading-edge thrill rides, spectacular shows, creative theme presentations and family entertainment to more and more people around the world this year," said Burke.
Expansion of the Six Flags Belgium theme park has already commenced with the pouring of piers for the new high-powered thrill coasters. Work begins this month on an entirely new section of the Park geared toward young kids and their families. The children's section will feature theme presentations based on the world-famous Looney Tunes cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Taz. A licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Comics allows Six Flags to use the popular characters in theme presentations and live shows at its Six Flags branded parks.
"We are careful to preserve the integrity of the Six Flags brand and experience," noted Burke. "The brand will be applied only after it is determined a Park can offer the breath of entertainment product and can meet the operational and guest standards commanded by Six Flags."
"No ride more defines the thrill experience of the Six Flags brand than world caliber roller coasters. Six Flags always is at the forefront bringing the world the latest and greatest in extreme thrill coasters," Burke noted. Headlining the new coasters for 2001 at Six Flags Belgium is an impressive 30-meter tall wooden coaster, the first in Belgium that promises to dramatically alter the growing skyline of the Park. This brand new thriller will take riders over ten hills, around seven curves and reach speeds of 80 kph.
A new generation steel boomerang "forward and backward" roller coaster featuring a unique combination double spiral and loop track will bring the coaster count at Six Flags Belgium to a total of seven.
The expansion also includes a number of family oriented rides and attractions with varying degrees of thrill intensity ranging from the mild to the wild. "The conversion of the Park and subsequent expansion have been carefully planned to maintain the charm of the existing park with its beautifully landscaped vistas," Burke said.
Six Flags presence in Europe continues to expand with today's announcement. The company entered the European market with the Walibi acquisition in 1998, which gave the company regional parks in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. The company purchased the Warner Bros. Movie World Park in Germany in 1999 and introduced Six Flags Holland last year. The company is overseeing the development of the new $400 million Warner Bros. Movie World Park outside of Madrid, Spain. Six Flags will manage that Park when it opens in 2002.
"We are well positioned geographically with our European properties to take advantage of the foreseeable growth in the regional theme park industry in this area of the world. Our resources are focused on product development and delivery with an aim toward making sure our guest experience is first- rate," Burke concluded.