Just when you thought that Dubai had brokered way too many deals to import stateside amusement park concepts into the United Arab Emirates, along comes Six Flags Dubailand.
Dubai Holding's Tatweer is forming a strategic alliance with Six Flags
The Dubailand project is starting to turn into a haven for theme-park lovers. Universal Studios and DreamWorks Animation
Just last week, Anheuser-Busch
Six reasons to wave six flags
The Dubailand project promises to be breathtaking. It's not just the American properties that are getting an Arabian spin. The venture features things like an indoor snow dome and an enclosed park that features life-sized replicas of the seven wonders of the world.
Six Flags will have company in targeting the tourism bucks, but there are several reasons to get excited about this park.
Many of the parks will parallel their sister parks closer to home, but Six Flags Dubailand may prove to be even more ambitious. A debt-laden Six Flags won't have to appease its creditors in mapping out the Dubai project. It will simply collect royalties after it conceptualizes and oversees the attraction, leaving Tatweer to bankroll the actual construction. In other words, this will be the gray matter canvas that CEO Mark Shapiro and his associates always wanted. They're dreaming on someone else's dollar, so it won't be a matter of simply slapping a Tony Hawk theme on a spinning mouse coaster.
The strategic alliance with Tatweer will also seek to expand the concept beyond Dubai, including branded restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets. In short, the park in Dubai may be what the rest of the Six Flags chain aspires to become. It's more than just found money. It's an incubator that pays for itself.
If you build it, they will sum
With $2 billion in debt, Six Flags rarely gets the chance to dream out loud. Rivals like Disney
Six Flags opened Great Escape Lodge, complete with an indoor waterpark for resort guests two years ago, next to its amusement park in upstate New York. It could have been the start of something special. Lord knows that the company's popular Great Adventure is dying for an adjacent resort given the lack of nearby hotels. Magic Mountain in California is surrounded by hotels, but none of them company-owned.
However, Great Escape Lodge proved to be the old regime's last hurrah. It was one of the few things that the old brass at Six Flags did right before Shapiro and Dan Snyder succeeded in shooing them out the door. The lodge pointed the company in the upscale family-friendly direction that Shapiro is championing, but it remains a stand-alone venture.
Six Flags never became the next incarnation of Great Wolf Resorts
The line starts here
Six Flags Dubailand is awesome, but it isn't a near-term solution. The royalty streams won't begin trickling in for several more years. The overseas brand-building will have a positive impact, especially as Six Flags continues to build out its entertainment division, but the company is going to have to master its cash flow demons between now and then just to get to that pot of gold.
It's a long and bumpy rainbow until then. Let's hope that Six Flags is tall enough to ride.
Disney, Marvel, and DreamWorks Animation have been recommended to Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers. Anheuser-Busch is an Inside Value stock pick. Cedar Fair is an Income Investor selection. Take a ride on any of the stock research services with a free ticket good for 30 days.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys taking his family on coaster treks over the summer. He owns shares in Disney, DreamWorks Animation, and Six Flags, and units in Cedar Fair. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.