The Six Flags chain reported that 12 million guests visited its parks in the three-month period ending October 3.  

The total attendance represented a 14 percent drop from the third quarter in 2019 — but from the perspective of whether business is returning to normal, the 12 million figure is 92 percent of 2019 Q3 attendance levels. In fact, Six Flags said attendance reached 97 percent of 2019 levels in July, before dropping to 89 percent in August and 86 percent in September.

Six Flags chief financial officer Sandeep Reddy said during the third quarter earnings call Wednesday that the company is optimistic about future attendance, but it all depends on the trajectory of the pandemic. You saw what happened with the delta variant in the third quarter,” he said. “We’re looking good in July, and then we had an August, September blip in terms of a slowdown. So we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”

Year-to-date attendance at Six Flags parks stands at 21.9 million visitors, down 18 percent from the first nine months of 2019. President and CEO Mike Spanos said he doesn’t see any particular demographic on which the chain needs to focus to bring attendance back to 2019 levels. 

“They just want togetherness and memories in a place that’s thrilling, safe and fun, and that’s who we are at Six Flags,” Spanos said. 

Other financials showed some mixed results. Guest spending per capita increased by 23 percent compared to Q3 2019, but the company only reported net income of $157 million — a 13 percent drop — partially due to extra costs related to wage increases needed to attract enough employees. 

“We’ve got to deal with the current tight labor market and wage rates by operating more efficiently through process redesign, automation and technology in order to reduce cost as a percent of revenue, and we want to do that while we still enhance the guest experience,” Spanos said.

Six Flags executives did not make any comments about new attractions or other additions coming to the chain in 2022, but some new coasters have already been announced. Six Flags Fiesta Texas will be opening a new dive coaster, Dr. Diabolical’s Cliffhanger, while Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California will debut a new single-rail coaster, Wonder Woman Flight of Courage.