- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

NEW YORK — The amusement park company Six Flags is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying it needs to reorganize and shed $1.8 billion of debt.

Mark Shapiro, the New York-based company’s chief executive officer, says the move won’t affect the operation of its 20 theme parks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

Six Flags says it actually had a great year in 2008. It saw 25 million visitors and posted record revenues. But executives are trying to lighten a $2.4 billion debt load that they say is unsustainable.

Saturday’s bankruptcy filing came after an earlier plan to negotiate an out-of-court deal with creditors failed.

Six Flags shares have traded below $1 since September. They closed at 26 cents on Friday.

The company has three Texas parks: Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, both in Arlington, between Dallas and Fort Worth, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.

There’s a Six Flags Great America near the Wisconsin border, in Gurnee, Ill.

Sydne Purvis, communications manager at the San Antonio park, said Saturday the bankruptcy filing was having no impact.

“It’s a parent company restructuring issue and we continue to operate here,” she said.

She said regular bookings were continuing, a new show just opened at the park and a new children’s area recently was added.

“We’re having a terrific day,” she said.

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