Friday, January 18, 2008

Theme Park Revamp Brings More People To Six Flags

Theme Park Revamp Brings More People To Six Flags
Changes Made To Park With 2007 Rebranding
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 01/18/2008

It's been a year since Six Flags Marine World became Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, and park officials say the rebranding is paying off in increased attendance.
"Our policy is to not release attendance numbers, but attendance was up significantly over last year," park spokeswoman Nancy Chan said.

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of the name change to the 135-acre wildlife and theme park that came to Vallejo in 1986. The park had spent the previous 17 years in Redwood City.

The name was only one aspect of the park that changed a year ago. At that time, the park underwent a physical transformation, and a philosophical adjustment was made to how the facility operates, Chan said. The main focus became making the park a clean, safe and family friendly environment, she said. Park officials adopted a much stricter cleanliness policy than had been in place, she said. "Dividing the park into themed areas - land, sea and sky - helped people orient themselves better to how the park is laid out," she said.

As part of a new commitment to providing guests a "world-class experience," a strict Guest Code of Conduct was instituted - meaning misbehaving visitors could be ejected, Chan said. The park adopted a stricter conduct policy this year, she added. Offensive language is now strongly discouraged and guests must dress appropriately. And anyone smoking outside designated areas is warned and thereafter ejected, Chan said.

Chan said she's unsure exactly how many people have been booted from the park since the new rules kicked in, but it's "a good number."

It's cut down on problems and improved the entire Discovery Kingdom experience, she said. The park is also cleaner now, she said.

At least one local park visitor says she welcomes the improvements.

"I think (the stricter code of conduct) is a great idea," said Cherita Dilley of Vallejo. "It's a family park and it should be a place that's safe for families with small children."

George Gianulias was involved in helping former Vallejo mayor Terry Curtola bring Marine World to the city in 1986. "I think they're probably doing the right thing. I support improving the atmosphere for people who want to enjoy it as a family function," Gianulias said.

Not every new idea worked out, however, Chan said. An animal parade, for instance, was short-lived, she said.

But other new elements have succeeded, she said.

"The Kingdom Stage, for instance, where guests are greeted by various animals with their trainers - people are enjoying that," Chan said.

This spring, the park plans to introduce Tony Hawk's Big Spin, the first new roller coaster in five years, Chan said. The 2008 season starts March 8.

• E-mail Rachel Raskin- Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

More than just a name
Some of the changes initiated with the 2007 rebranding of the former Six Flags Marine World included:
• The introduction of the character Captain Lee, chief explorer and park ambassador.
• Guests can follow veteran trainer Lee Munro as he participates in various wildlife shows throughout the park.
• The new Thomas Town play area, based on the Thomas the Tank Engine books and television show.
• New shows for Shouka, the killer whale.
• Merlin's Island Party opens in Merlin's Dolphin Harbor.
• The park extends season into early January, debuting Holiday in the Park event.

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