City Desk

Update: SIX Flagging

Dan Snyder's non-liquid theme park chain, Six Flags, has decided that if it's going to go down, it's going to go down tipsy.

In 2008, firms that were nowhere near as leveraged as Six Flags, which is anywhere from $2 billion to $3 billion-and-some-change in debt, tended to sign on for Chapter 11 protections or just go away.

But Six Flags, albeit with its stock still cratered (down from a Snyder-era high of $11.93 to just 16 cents a share a couple months ago) and its future bleaker than Levi Johnston's, made it through with no such filings.

And with the new year has come the first good news of Snyder's disastrous reign atop the corporation, which began with a stockholder coup he led in late 2005 amid promises he'd boost the stock price and make the parks more family friendly: A barrister in Texas on Friday ruled in favor of Six Flags after a nasty battle over the chain's request to be allowed to sell booze at two parks in the state.

From the Dallas Morning News:

The beer taps could be flowing soon at Six Flags Over Texas and its Hurricane Harbor water park after a yearlong licensing fight.

A state administrative law judge issued two nonbinding opinions Friday recommending that the parks be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages. Carolyn Beck, a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman, said the agency's administrator rarely rules against an administrative law judge.

After the ruling, Sharon Parker, a Six Flags spokesperson, said she "hopes that beer will be on sale" when the two parks open on Feb. 28.

Apparently, in Snyderland, nothing says "family friendly" like tapped kegs. By this standard, the grounds of FedExField must be the familiest friendliest acreage in this time zone. God love the Mayor...

Alas, not all the recent headlines have pulled Snyder's chain the right way.

Also last week, an animal rights group reaffirmed Six Flags' Vallejo, Calif., outpost as one of the "Ten Worst Zoos for Elephants" for 2008.

That's a list the park makes every year. But a Six Flags official named Nancy Chan told the Vallejo Times-Herald that the designation was "a little insulting" to the animal caretakers there.

How you think the elephants feel, Nance?

And Snyder's first run as overseer of a full-blown Golden Globes Awards show (the writers strike in Hollywood last year crippled last year's production) was a disaster.

Despite the presence of his former suite-mate Tom Cruise, the telecast, which was produced by the now-Snyder/Six Flags-owned Dick Clark Productions, garnered what Nielsen Media Research called "the smallest audience since the awards moved to network TV in 1994."

No wonder Snyder wants more booze.

Keep the dial right here for all the breaking news in Snyder's Six Flags soap opera.

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  • Dan

    ...There is beer served at EPCOT. That's a "family-friendly" place too, right?

  • Tim Baldwin

    Beer is served in virtually all amusement parks across the U.S. and around the world. It's so common, it isn't worth anyone's notice, no more than alcohol being served in your favorite family restaurant. It's a simple business decision.

    It's way too easy to let the media or a handful of over-reacting outcries to make much ado over nothing.

  • Gordon Alley

    The Six Flags parks in Arlington were just about the only ones without beer licenses. Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has sold alcoholic beverages for at least ten years (I'm a regular visitor), now including margaritas. And Six Flags Astroworld had sold alcoholic beverages long before it was sold a couple of years ago. Apparently there is a strong anti-alcohol mind set among the denizens of the Arlington area, so they made a big stink when the Arlington parks applied for a beer license.

  • The Mayor of FedEx Field

    Dave: I am trying to figure out if this is an insult or a compliment.