10-K 1 form10-k_123117.htm FORM 10-K Document

 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
FORM 10-K
 
ý
 
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 or
o
 
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the transition period from                        to                       
Commission File Number: 1-13703
 
sflogo.jpg
SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
 
Delaware
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
 
13-3995059
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
 
 
 
924 Avenue J East
Grand Prairie, Texas
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
75050
(Zip Code)
Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (972) 595-5000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.025 per share
 
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
 
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act of 1993. Yes ý    No o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Yes o    No ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ý    No o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ý    No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ý
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See definition of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company" and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ý
 
Accelerated filer
o
 
Non-accelerated filer o
 (Do not check if a
smaller reporting company)
 
Smaller reporting  company
o
Emerging growth company
o
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes o    No ý
On the last business day of the registrant's most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the common stock of the registrant held by non-affiliates was approximately $4,259.9 million based on the closing price ($59.61) of the common stock on The New York Stock Exchange on such date. Shares of common stock beneficially held by each executive officer and director and one major stockholder have been excluded from this computation because these persons may be deemed to be affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for any other purposes.
On February 15, 2018, there were 84,551,519 shares of common stock, par value $0.025, of the registrant issued and outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the information required in Part III by Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 are incorporated by reference to the registrant's proxy statement for the 2018 annual meeting of stockholders, which will be filed by the registrant within 120 days after the close of its 2017 fiscal year.
 



TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
Page No.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 89

i


CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (the "Annual Report") and the documents incorporated herein by reference contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical facts and can be identified by words such as "anticipates," "intends," "plans," "seeks," "believes," "estimates," "expects," "may," "should," "could" and variations of such words or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions regarding our business, the economy and other future conditions. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are, by their nature, subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict. Our actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Therefore, we caution you that you should not rely on any of these forward-looking statements as statements of historical fact or as guarantees or assurances of future performance. These statements may involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, statements we make regarding: (i) the adequacy of cash flows from operations, available cash and available amounts under our credit facilities to meet our future liquidity needs, (ii) our ability to roll out our capital enhancements in a timely and cost effective manner, (iii) our ability to improve operating results by implementing strategic cost reductions and organizational and personnel changes without adversely affecting our business, and (iv) our operations and results of operations. Additional important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include regional, national or global political, economic, business, competitive, market and regulatory conditions and include, but are not limited to, the following:
factors impacting attendance, such as local conditions, natural disasters, contagious diseases, events, disturbances and terrorist activities;
recall of food, toys and other retail products sold at our parks;
accidents occurring at our parks or other parks in the industry and adverse publicity concerning our parks or other parks in the industry;
inability to achieve desired improvements and our aspirational financial performance goals;
adverse weather conditions such as excess heat or cold, rain and storms;
general financial and credit market conditions;
economic conditions (including customer spending patterns);
changes in public and consumer tastes;
construction delays in capital improvements or ride downtime;
competition with other theme parks and entertainment alternatives;
dependence on a seasonal workforce;
unionization activities and labor disputes;
laws and regulations affecting labor and employee benefit costs, including increases in state and federally mandated minimum wages, and healthcare reform;
pending, threatened or future legal proceedings and the significant expenses associated with litigation;
cyber security risks; and
other factors described in "Item 1A. Risk Factors" included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
A more complete discussion of these factors and other risks applicable to our business is contained in "Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors" included elsewhere in this Annual Report. All forward-looking statements in this report, or that are made on our behalf by our directors, officers or employees related to the information contained herein, apply only as of the date of this report or as of the date they were made. While we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will be realized and actual results could vary materially. Factors or events that could cause our actual results to differ may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of them. We undertake no obligation, except as required by applicable law, to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
*        *        *        *        *
As used in this Annual Report, unless the context requires otherwise, the terms "we," "our," "Six Flags," "the Company" and "SFEC" refer collectively to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries, and "Holdings" refers only to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, without regard to its consolidated subsidiaries.
Looney Tunes characters, names and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman and all related characters, names and indicia are copyrights and trademarks of DC Comics. Six Flags and all related indicia are registered trademarks of Six Flags Theme Parks Inc.

ii


PART I
ITEM 1.
BUSINESS
Introduction
We are the largest regional theme park operator in the world based on the number of parks we operate. Of our 20 regional theme and waterparks, 17 are located in the United States, two are located in Mexico and one is located in Montreal, Canada. Our U.S. theme parks serve each of the top 10 designated market areas, as determined by a survey of television households within designated market areas published by A.C. Nielsen Media Research in September 2017. Our diversified portfolio of North American theme parks serves an aggregate population of approximately 100 million people and 175 million people within a radius of 50 miles and 100 miles, respectively, with some of the highest per capita gross domestic product in the U.S.
Our parks occupy approximately 4,600 acres of land, and we own approximately 800 acres of other potentially developable land. Our parks are located in geographically diverse markets across North America. Our parks generally offer a broad selection of state-of-the-art and traditional thrill rides, water attractions, themed areas, concerts and shows, restaurants, game venues and retail outlets, and thereby provide a complete family-oriented entertainment experience. In the aggregate, during 2017, our parks offered approximately 850 rides, including over 140 roller coasters, making us the leading provider of "thrill rides" in the industry.
In 1998, we acquired the former Six Flags Entertainment Corporation ("Former SFEC", a corporation that has been merged out of existence and that had always been a separate corporation from Holdings), which had operated regional theme parks under the Six Flags name for nearly forty years and established an internationally recognized brand name. We own the "Six Flags" brand name in the U.S. and foreign countries throughout the world. To capitalize on this name recognition, 17 of our parks are branded as "Six Flags" parks and, in 2014, we also began the development, with third-party partners, of Six Flags-branded theme parks outside of North America.
We hold exclusive long-term licenses for theme park usage of certain Warner Bros. and DC Comics characters throughout the U.S. (except the Las Vegas metropolitan area), Canada, Mexico and other countries. These characters include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam, Batman, Superman, The Joker, Wonder Woman and others. We use these characters to market our parks and to provide an enhanced family entertainment experience. Our licenses include the right to sell merchandise featuring the characters at the parks, and to use the characters in our advertising, as walk-around characters and in theming for rides, attractions and retail outlets. We believe using these characters promotes increased attendance, supports higher ticket prices, increases lengths-of-stay and enhances in-park sales.
We believe that our parks benefit from limited direct theme park competition. A limited supply of real estate appropriate for theme park development, substantial initial capital investment requirements, long development lead-time, and zoning restrictions provide each of our parks with a significant degree of protection from competitive new theme park openings. Based on our knowledge of the development of our own and other regional theme parks, we estimate it would cost $400 million to $600 million and would take a minimum of three years to construct a new regional theme park comparable to one of our major Six Flags-branded theme parks.
Description of Parks and Segment Information
Our parks provide similar products and services through a similar process to the same class of customer through a consistent method. We also believe that our parks share common economic characteristics. Based on these factors, we have only one reportable segment—theme parks. The following chart summarizes key business and geographical information about our parks.

1


Name of Park and Location
 
Description
 
Designated
Market Area and Rank*
 
Population Within
Radius from
Park Location
 
External Park Competition / Location /
Approximate Distance
Six Flags America 
Largo, MD
 
515 acres—combination theme and waterpark and approximately 300 acres of potentially developable land
 
Washington, D.C. (6)
Baltimore (26)
 
8.4 million—50 miles
14.1 million—100 miles
 
Kings Dominion /
Doswell, VA (near Richmond) / 120 miles

Hershey Park /
Hershey, PA / 125 miles

Busch Gardens /
Williamsburg, VA / 175 miles
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom /
Waterworld California
Vallejo, CA
 
159 acres— separately gated theme park with marine and land animal exhibits, and waterpark on 135 acres and 24 acres, respectively
 
San Francisco / Oakland (8)
Sacramento (20)
 
6.5 million—50 miles
12.2 million—100 miles
 
Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39 /
San Francisco, CA / 30 miles

Academy of Science Center /
San Francisco, CA / 30 miles

California Great America /
Santa Clara, CA / 60 miles

Gilroy Gardens /
Gilroy, CA / 100 miles

Outer Bay at Monterey Bay Aquarium /
Monterey, CA / 130 miles
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
San Antonio, TX
 
220 acres—combination theme and waterpark
 
Houston (7)
San Antonio (31)
Austin (39)
 
2.6 million—50 miles
4.8 million—100 miles
 
Sea World of Texas /
San Antonio, TX / 15 miles

Schlitterbahn /
New Braunfels, TX / 33 miles
Six Flags Great Adventure &
Safari /
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Jackson, NJ
 
2,200 acres—separately gated theme park/safari and waterpark and approximately 456 acres of potentially developable land
 
New York City (1)
Philadelphia (4)
 
13.8 million—50 miles
29.7 million—100 miles
 
Hershey Park /
Hershey, PA / 150 miles

Dorney Park /
Allentown, PA / 75 miles

Morey's Piers Wildwood /
Wildwood, NJ / 97 miles

Coney Island /
Brooklyn, NY / 77 miles

Great Wolf Lodge /
         Scotrun, PA / 125 miles

Aquatopia /
         Tannersville, PA / 125 miles
Six Flags Great America
Gurnee, IL
 
304 acres—combination theme and waterpark and approximately 30 acres of potentially developable land
 
Chicago (3)
Milwaukee (36)
 
8.8 million—50 miles
13.9 million—100 miles
 
Kings Island /
Cincinnati, OH / 350 miles

Cedar Point /
Sandusky, OH / 340 miles

Several waterparks /
Wisconsin Dells Area / 170 miles
Six Flags St. Louis
Eureka, MO
 
320 acres—combination theme and waterpark and approximately 17 acres of potentially developable land
 
St. Louis (21)
 
2.8 million—50 miles
4.0 million—100 miles
 
Worlds of Fun /
Kansas City, MO / 250 miles

Silver Dollar City /
Branson, MO / 250 miles

Holiday World /
Santa Claus, IN / 150 miles




2


Name of Park and Location
 
Description
 
Designated
Market Area and Rank*
 
Population Within
Radius from
Park Location
 
External Park Competition / Location /
Approximate Distance
Six Flags Magic Mountain /
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Valencia, CA
 
262 acres—separately gated theme park and waterpark on 250 acres and 12 acres, respectively
 
Los Angeles (2)
 
10.5 million—50 miles
19.0 million—100 miles
 
Disneyland Resort /
Anaheim, CA / 60 miles

Universal Studios Hollywood /
Universal City, CA / 20 miles

Knott's Berry Farm /
Buena Park, CA / 50 miles

Sea World of California /
San Diego, CA / 150 miles

Legoland /
Carlsbad, CA / 130 miles

Soak City USA /
Buena Park, CA / 50 miles

Raging Waters /
San Dimas, CA / 50 miles
Six Flags Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico
 
110 acres—theme park
 
N/A
 
24.5 million—50 miles
33.0 million—100 miles
 
Mexico City Zoo /
Mexico City, Mexico / 14 miles

La Feria /
Mexico City, Mexico / 11 miles
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Oaxtepec, Mexico
 
67 acres—waterpark
 
N/A
 
21.4 million—50 miles
30.7 million—100 miles
 
El Rollo /
Tlaquiltenango, Mexico / 23 miles

Parque Acuatico Ojo de Agua /
Temixco, Mexico / 18 miles

Ixtapan Aquatic Park /
Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico / 46 miles

Six Flags New England
Agawam, MA
 
262 acres—combination theme and waterpark
 
Boston (10)
Hartford / New Haven (32)
Providence (52)
Springfield (116)
 
3.4 million—50 miles
16.6 million—100 miles
 
Lake Compounce /
Bristol, CT / 50 miles

Canobie Lake Park /
Salem, New Hampshire / 140 miles
Six Flags Over Georgia
Austell, GA

Six Flags White Water Atlanta
Marietta, GA
 
352 acres—separately gated theme and waterpark on 283 acres and waterpark on 69 acres, respectively
 
Atlanta (9)
 
5.8 million—50 miles
9.0 million—100 miles
 
Georgia Aquarium /
Atlanta, GA / 20 miles

Carowinds /
Charlotte, NC / 250 miles

Alabama Splash Adventures /
Birmingham, AL / 160 miles

Dollywood and Splash Country /
Pigeon Forge, TN / 200 miles

Wild Adventures /
Valdosta, GA / 240 miles
Six Flags Over Texas /
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor
Arlington, TX
 
264 acres—separately gated theme park and waterpark on 217 and 47 acres, respectively
 
Dallas/Fort Worth (5)
 
7.1 million—50 miles
8.4 million—100 miles
 
Sea World of Texas /
San Antonio, TX / 285 miles

NRH2O Waterpark /
North Richland Hills, TX / 13 miles

The Great Wolf Lodge /
Grapevine, TX / 17 miles

Hawaiian Falls Waterparks /
Multiple Locations / 15 - 35 miles
La Ronde
Montreal, Canada
 
146 acres—theme park
 
N/A
 
4.7 million—50 miles
6.1 million—100 miles
 
Quebec City Waterpark /
Quebec City, Canada / 130 miles

Canada's Wonderland /
Vaughan, Ontario / 370 miles
The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom /
Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark
Queensbury, NY
 
345 acres—combination theme and waterpark, plus 200 room hotel and 38,000 square foot indoor waterpark
 
Albany (60)
 
1.1 million—50 miles
3.1 million—100 miles
 
Darien Lake /
Darien Center, NY / 311 miles
________________________________________
*
Based on a September 23, 2017 survey of television households within designated market areas published by A.C. Nielsen Media Research.

3


Partnership Park Arrangements
In connection with our 1998 acquisition of Former SFEC, we guaranteed certain obligations relating to Six Flags Over Texas ("SFOT") and Six Flags Over Georgia, including Six Flags White Water Atlanta ("SFOG", and together with SFOT, the "Partnership Parks"). These obligations continue until 2027, in the case of SFOG, and 2028, in the case of SFOT. Such obligations include (i) minimum annual distributions (including rent) of approximately $71.1 million in 2018 (subject to cost of living adjustments in subsequent years) to the limited partners in the Partnerships Parks (based on our ownership of units as of December 31, 2017, our share of the distribution will be approximately $31.1 million) and (ii) minimum capital expenditures at each park during rolling five-year periods based generally on 6% of Partnership Park revenues. Cash flow from operations at the Partnership Parks is used to satisfy these requirements first, before any funds are required from us. We also guaranteed the obligation of our subsidiaries to annually purchase all outstanding limited partnership units to the extent tendered by the unit holders (the "Partnership Park Put").
After payment of the minimum distribution, we are entitled to a management fee equal to 3% of prior year gross revenues and, thereafter, any additional cash will be distributed first to management fee in arrears, then repayment of any interest and principal on intercompany loans, with any additional cash being distributed 95% to us, in the case of SFOG, and 92.5% to us, in the case of SFOT.
The agreed price for units tendered in the Partnership Park Put is based on a valuation of each of the respective Partnership Parks (the "Specified Price") that is the greater of (i) a valuation for each of the respective Partnership Parks derived by multiplying such park's weighted average four year EBITDA (as defined in the agreements that govern the partnerships) by a specified multiple (8.0 in the case of SFOG and 8.5 in the case of SFOT) and (ii) a valuation derived from the highest prices previously paid for the units of the Partnership Parks by certain entities.  Pursuant to the valuation methodologies described in the preceding sentence, the Specified Price for the Partnership Parks, if determined as of December 31, 2017, is $387.0 million in the case of SFOG and $485.2 million in the case of SFOT. As of December 31, 2017, we owned approximately 31.0% and 53.1% of the Georgia limited partner interests and Texas limited partner interests, respectively. The remaining redeemable units of approximately 69.0% and 46.9% of the Georgia limited partner and Texas limited partner, respectively, represent a current redemption value for the limited partnership units of approximately $494.4 million.
Pursuant to the 2017 annual offer, we did not purchase any units from the Georgia partnership and we purchased 0.0708 units from the Texas partnership for approximately $0.1 million in May 2017. With respect to the 2017 "put" obligations, no borrowing occurred. The $350 million accordion feature on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility (as defined in "Management's Discussion and Analysis - Liquidity and Capital Resources of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in Item 7 of this Annual Report) is available for borrowing for future "put" obligations if necessary.
In connection with our acquisition of the Former SFEC, we entered into the Subordinated Indemnity Agreement with certain of the Company's entities, Time Warner and an affiliate of Time Warner, pursuant to which, among other things, we transferred to Time Warner (which has guaranteed all of our obligations under the Partnership Park arrangements) record title to the corporations which own the entities that have purchased and will purchase limited partnership units of the Partnership Parks, we received an assignment from Time Warner of all cash flow received on such limited partnership units, and we otherwise control such entities. In addition, we issued preferred stock of the managing partner of the partnerships to Time Warner. In the event of a default by us under the Subordinated Indemnity Agreement or of our obligations to our partners in the Partnership Parks, these arrangements would permit Time Warner to take full control of both the entities that own limited partnership units and the managing partner. If we satisfy all such obligations, Time Warner is required to transfer to us the entire equity interests of these entities.
We incurred $24.7 million of capital expenditures at these parks during the 2017 season and intend to incur approximately $15.6 million of capital expenditures at these parks for the 2018 season, an amount in excess of the minimum required expenditure. Cash flows from operations at the Partnership Parks will be used to satisfy the annual distribution and capital expenditure requirements before any funds are required from us. The two partnerships generated approximately $77.3 million of cash in 2017 from operating activities after deduction of capital expenditures and excluding the impact of short-term intercompany advances from or payments to Holdings, as the case may be. As of December 31, 2017 and 2016, we had total loans receivable outstanding of $239.3 million from the partnerships that own the Partnership Parks. The proceeds from these loans were primarily used to fund the acquisition of Six Flags White Water Atlanta and to make capital improvements and distributions to the limited partners in prior years.

4


Marketing and Promotion
We attract visitors through multi-media marketing and promotional programs for each of our parks. The programs are designed to attract guests and enhance the Six Flags brand name, and are tailored to address the different characteristics of our various markets and to maximize the impact of specific park attractions and product introductions. All marketing and promotional programs are updated or completely changed each year to address new developments. These initiatives are supervised by our Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales, with the assistance of our senior management and advertising and promotion agencies.
We also develop alliance, sponsorship and co-marketing relationships with well-known national, regional and local consumer goods companies and retailers to supplement our advertising efforts and to provide attendance incentives in the form of discounts. We also arrange for popular local radio and television programs to be filmed or broadcast live from our parks.
During 2013, we launched a monthly membership program. Season pass and membership sales establish an attendance base in advance of the season, reducing exposure to inclement weather and providing other benefits. In general, a season pass holder or member contributes higher aggregate revenue and profitability to the Company over the course of a year compared to a single day ticket guest because a season pass holder or member pays a higher ticket price and contributes to in-park guest spending over multiple visits. Additionally, guests enrolled in our membership program and season pass holders often bring paying guests and generate "word-of-mouth" advertising for the parks. During the 2017, 2016 and 2015 seasons, season pass and membership attendance constituted approximately 63%, 60% and 56%, respectively, of the total attendance at our parks.
At times we offer discounts on season passes, multi-visit tickets, tickets for specific dates and tickets to affiliated groups such as businesses, schools and religious, fraternal and similar organizations.
We also implement promotional programs as a means of targeting specific market segments and locations not generally reached through group or retail sales efforts. The promotional programs utilize coupons, sweepstakes, reward incentives and rebates to attract additional visitors. These programs are implemented through online promotions, direct mail, telemarketing, direct-response media, sponsorship marketing and targeted multi-media programs. The special promotional offers are usually for a limited time and offer a reduced admission price or provide some additional incentive to purchase a ticket.
Licenses
We have the exclusive right on a long-term basis to theme park usage of the Warner Bros. and DC Comics animated characters throughout the U.S. (except for the Las Vegas metropolitan area), Canada, Mexico and certain other countries. In particular, our license agreements entitle us to use, subject to customary approval rights of Warner Bros. and, in limited circumstances, approval rights of certain third parties, all animated, cartoon and comic book characters that Warner Bros. and DC Comics have the right to license, including Batman, The Joker, Superman, Wonder Woman, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam, and include the right to sell merchandise using the characters. In addition to annual license fees, we are required to pay a royalty fee on merchandise manufactured by or for us and sold that uses the licensed characters. Warner Bros. has the right to terminate the license agreements under certain circumstances, including if any persons involved in the movie or television industries obtain control of us or, in the case of Warner Bros., upon a default under the Subordinated Indemnity Agreement.
Park Operations
We currently operate in geographically diverse markets in North America. The parks are generally managed by a park president who reports to a senior vice president of the Company. The park presidents are responsible for all operations and management of the individual parks. Local advertising, ticket sales, community relations and hiring and training of personnel are the responsibility of individual park management in coordination with corporate support teams.
Each park president directs a full-time, on-site management team. Each management team includes senior personnel responsible for operations and maintenance; in-park food, beverage, merchandising and games; marketing and promotion; sponsorships; human resources and finance. Finance directors at our parks report to a corporate senior vice president of the Company, and, with their support staff, provide financial services to their respective parks and park management teams. Park management compensation structures are designed to provide financial incentives for individual park managers to execute our strategy and to maximize revenue and free cash flow.
Our parks are generally open daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. In addition, most of our parks are open weekends prior to and following their daily seasons, often in conjunction with themed events such as Fright Fest® and Holiday in the Park®. Due to their location, certain parks have longer operating seasons. Typically the parks charge a basic daily admission price that allows unlimited use of all rides and attractions, although in certain cases special rides and attractions require the payment of an additional fee. Beginning in January 2018, our Six Flags Magic Mountain park operates 365 days a year.

5


See Note 16 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for information concerning revenues and long-lived assets by domestic and international categories.
Capital Improvements and Other Initiatives
We regularly make capital investments, primarily for new rides and attractions in our parks, that total approximately 9% of revenues annually. We purchase both new and used rides and attractions. On occasion we also relocate rides among parks to provide fresh attractions. We believe that the selective introduction of new rides and attractions, including family entertainment attractions, is an important factor in promoting each of the parks to draw higher attendance and encourage longer visits, which can lead to higher in-park sales.
During 2017, we (i) added a 3D interactive dark ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA), Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, NJ), and Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, GA); (ii) added a 4D free fly coaster at Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, TX), Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, IL) and Six Flags New England (Agawam, MA); (iii) added a twenty-four story extreme swing ride at Six Flags America (outside Washington, D.C.); (iv) added a massive pendulum-shaped thrill ride at La Ronde (Montreal, Canada) and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, CA); (v) introduced North America’s first rocket blast water coaster and a new Mardi Gras® Festival special event at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, TX); (vi) introduced a five story spinning flat ride at Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, MO); (vii) added dueling water body slides at The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom (Queensbury, NY); (viii) added a multi-dimensional virtual reality roller coaster as well as a new Mardi Gras® Festival special event to Six Flags Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico); and (ix) introduced our nineteenth and twentieth parks, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Oaxtepec (Oaxtepec, Mexico) and Waterworld California (Concord, California).
Planned initiatives for 2018 include (i) adding the world’s first single rail coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, TX); (ii) adding the world’s tallest pendulum ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, CA); (iii) adding a first-of-its-kind in North America, triple box spinning ride at Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, NJ) and Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, TX); (iv) debuting Twisted Cyclone, a hybrid roller coaster at Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, GA); (v) adding a 70 miles-per-hour pendulum ride at Six Flags New England (Agawam, MA); (vi) adding a 4D Free Fly Coaster at Six Flags Mexico (Mexico City); (vii) debuting an adventure river at Six Flags America (Largo, MD); (viii) adding the world’s first-of-its-kind inverted coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, CA); (ix) adding the world’s largest loop coaster at Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, IL); (x) adding a hybrid, zero-gravity slide complex at Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, MO); (xi) adding a classic spinning attraction at The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom (Queensbury, NY); (xii) adding a new family thrill ride at La Ronde (Montreal, Canada); and (xiii) debuting a new family interactive water play attraction at Waterworld (Concord, CA).
In addition to new rides and attractions, we make other capital improvements. We generally make capital investments in the food, retail, games and other in-park areas to increase per capita guest spending. We also make annual enhancements in the theming and landscaping of our parks in order to provide a more complete family-oriented entertainment experience. Each year we invest in our information technology infrastructure, which helps enhance our operational efficiencies. Maintenance capital expenditures are planned on an annual basis with most expenditures made during the off-season. Repairs and maintenance costs for materials and services associated with maintaining assets, such as painting and inspecting existing rides, are expensed as incurred and are not included in capital expenditures.
Also during 2018, we plan to continue (i) our targeted marketing strategies to attract guests, including focusing on our breadth of product and value offerings; (ii) improving and expanding upon our branded product offerings and guest-focused initiatives to continue driving guest spending growth, including new membership programs, as well as our all season dining pass program, which enables season pass holders and members to eat meals and snacks any day they visit the park for one upfront payment; and (iii) growing sponsorship and international revenue opportunities.
International Licensing
We have signed agreements to assist third parties in the development and management of Six Flags-branded theme parks outside of North America. As compensation for exclusivity, brand licensing rights, and design, development and management services, we receive fees during the design and development period as well as ongoing remuneration after the parks open to the public. The agreements do not require us to make any capital investments in the parks. We currently have agreements to develop Six Flags-branded parks in Dubai and China.
Maintenance and Inspection
Rides are inspected at various levels and frequencies in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Our rides are inspected daily during the operating season by our maintenance personnel. These inspections include safety checks, as well as regular maintenance, and are made through both visual inspection and test operations of the rides. Our senior management and the individual park personnel evaluate the risk aspects of each park's operations. Potential risks to employees and staff as well as to the public are evaluated. In addition, contingency response plans for potential emergency situations have been developed

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for each facility. During the off-season, maintenance personnel examine the rides and repair, refurbish and rebuild them where necessary. This process includes x-raying and magnafluxing (a further examination for minute cracks and defects) steel portions of certain rides at high-stress points. A large portion of our full-time workforce devote substantially all of their time to maintaining the parks and our rides and attractions. We use a computerized maintenance-management system across all of our domestic parks to assist us in executing our maintenance programs.
In addition to the performance of our internal maintenance and inspection procedures, third-party consultants are retained by us or our insurance carriers to perform an annual inspection of each park and all attractions and related maintenance procedures. The results of these inspections are reported in written evaluation and inspection reports and include suggestions on various aspects of park operations. In certain states, state inspectors conduct additional annual ride inspections before the beginning of each season. Other portions of each park are subject to inspections by local fire marshals and health and building department officials. Furthermore, we use Ellis & Associates as water safety consultants at all of our waterparks to train lifeguards and audit safety procedures.
Insurance
We maintain insurance of the types and in amounts that we believe are commercially reasonable and that are available to businesses in our industry. We maintain multi-layered general liability policies that provide for excess liability coverage of up to $100.0 million per occurrence. For incidents arising after November 15, 2003 but prior to December 31, 2008, our self-insured retention is $2.5 million per occurrence ($2.0 million per occurrence for the twelve months ended November 15, 2003 and $1.0 million per occurrence for the twelve months ended November 15, 2002) for our domestic parks and a nominal amount per occurrence for our international parks. For incidents arising after November 1, 2004 but prior to December 31, 2008, we have a one-time additional $0.5 million self-insured retention, in the aggregate, applicable to all claims in the policy year. For incidents arising on or after December 31, 2008, our self-insured retention is $2.0 million, followed by a $0.5 million deductible per occurrence applicable to all claims in the policy year for our domestic parks and our park in Canada and a nominal amount per occurrence for our parks in Mexico. Defense costs are in addition to these retentions. Our general liability policies cover the cost of punitive damages only in certain jurisdictions. Based upon reported claims and an estimate for incurred, but not reported claims, we accrue a liability for our self-insured retention contingencies. For workers' compensation claims arising after November 15, 2003, our deductible is $0.75 million ($0.5 million deductible for the period from November 15, 2001 to November 15, 2003). We also maintain fire and extended coverage, business interruption, terrorism and other forms of insurance typical to businesses in this industry. The all peril property coverage policies insure our real and personal properties (other than land) against physical damage resulting from a variety of hazards. Additionally, we maintain information security and privacy liability insurance in the amount of $10.0 million with a $0.25 million self-insured retention per event.
We generally renegotiate our insurance policies on an annual basis. The majority of our current insurance policies expire on December 31, 2018. We cannot predict the level of the premiums that we may be required to pay for subsequent insurance coverage, the level of any self-insurance retention applicable thereto, the level of aggregate coverage available or the availability of coverage for specific risks.
Competition
Our parks compete directly with other theme parks, water and amusement parks and indirectly with all other types of recreational facilities and forms of entertainment within their market areas, including movies, sporting events, home entertainment options, restaurants and vacation travel. Accordingly, our business is and will continue to be subject to factors affecting the recreation and leisure time industries generally, such as general economic conditions and changes in discretionary consumer spending habits. See "Item 1A. Risk Factors." Within each park's regional market area, the principal factors affecting direct theme park competition include location, price, the uniqueness and perceived safety and quality of the rides and attractions in a particular park, the atmosphere and cleanliness of a park and the quality of its food and entertainment.
Seasonality
Our operations are highly seasonal, with approximately 75% of park attendance and revenues occurring in the second and third calendar quarters of each year, with the most significant period falling between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Environmental and Other Regulations
Our operations are subject to federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations including laws and regulations governing water and sewer discharges, air emissions, soil and groundwater contamination, the maintenance of underground and aboveground storage tanks and the disposal of waste and hazardous materials. In addition, our operations are subject to other local, state and federal governmental regulations including, without limitation, labor, health, safety, zoning and land use and minimum wage regulations applicable to theme park operations, and local and state regulations applicable to restaurant

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operations at each park. Finally, certain of our facilities are subject to laws and regulations relating to the care of animals. We believe that we are in substantial compliance with applicable environmental and other laws and regulations and, although no assurance can be given, we do not foresee the need for any significant expenditures in this area in the near future.
Portions of the undeveloped areas at certain of our parks are classified as wetlands. Accordingly, we may need to obtain governmental permits and other approvals prior to conducting development activities that affect these areas and future development may be prohibited in some or all of these areas. Additionally, the presence of wetlands in portions of our undeveloped land could adversely affect our ability to dispose of such land and/or the price we receive in any such disposition.
Philanthropy and Community Relations
We believe it is important to support the communities in which our parks are located. We partner with charitable organizations throughout North America whose mission aligns with our goal of bringing joy and thrills to families and children. Through our Read to Succeed program, we support academic achievement and seek to improve literacy by encouraging students to engage in recreational reading, and award free admission to eligible participants in the program. Most of our full-time employees spend at least an entire day each year volunteering on projects in their local communities to help others including distributing food to those in need, improving community centers and building or repairing homes. In addition, we sponsor toy drives, book drives, food drives and blood donation drives at our parks, and are committed to honoring the service of the U.S. military personnel and their families by offering complimentary and/or discounted admission to our parks. We also maintain a program in which we make a concerted effort to interview and hire U.S. military veterans. We also host special events to support various philanthropies whose mission focuses on improving health or supporting those affected by natural disasters.
Employees
As of December 31, 2017, we employed approximately 2,000 full-time employees, and over the course of the 2017 operating season we employed approximately 46,000 seasonal employees. In this regard, we compete with other local employers for qualified students and other candidates on a season-by-season basis. As part of the seasonal employment program, we employ a significant number of teenagers, which subjects us to child labor laws.
Approximately 17% of our full-time and approximately 10% of our seasonal employees are subject to labor agreements with local chapters of national unions. These labor agreements expire in December 2019 (Six Flags Over Georgia), December 2020 (Six Flags Magic Mountain), January 2021 (Six Flags Over Texas), and December 2021 (Six Flags Great Adventure). The labor agreements for La Ronde expire in various years ranging from December 2017 (currently under negotiation) through December 2022. We consider our employee relations to be good.
Executive Officers and Certain Significant Employees
The following table sets forth the name of the members of the Company's senior leadership team, the position held by such officer and the age of such officer as of the date of this report. The officers of the Company are generally elected each year at the organizational meeting of Holdings' Board of Directors, which follows the annual meeting of stockholders, and at other Board of Directors meetings, as appropriate.
Name
 
Age
 
Title
James Reid-Anderson*
 
58
 
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Lance C. Balk*
 
60
 
General Counsel
Marshall Barber*
 
54
 
Chief Financial Officer
Kathy Aslin*
 
42
 
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
David Austin
 
56
 
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Danielle J. Bernthal
 
40
 
Senior Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Mario Centola*
 
47
 
Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer
Tom Iven
 
59
 
Senior Vice President, U.S. Park Operations
David McKillips
 
46
 
Senior Vice President, International Park Operations
Brett Petit*
 
54
 
Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales
Stephen R. Purtell
 
51
 
Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer
Leonard A. Russ
 
44
 
Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Analysis
Bonnie Sherman Weber
 
53
 
Senior Vice President, In-Park Services
________________________________________

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*
Executive Officers
James Reid-Anderson was named Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags in July 2017. From February 2016 to July 2017 he served as Executive Chairman of Six Flags and from August 2010 to February 2016, Mr. Reid-Anderson served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags. Under his leadership Six Flags set a new strategic direction and achieved all-time high guest and employee satisfaction ratings, significant operational improvements and a ten-times return on investment for Six Flags' shareholders. Mr. Reid-Anderson had previously served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dade Behring Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of medical diagnostics equipment and supplies, where he drove a tenfold increase in Six Flags' share price along with significant employee morale improvements and customer satisfaction increases, all achieving record levels. Mr. Reid-Anderson negotiated the sale of Dade Behring to Siemens in 2007 and subsequently assumed various roles including becoming a member of Siemens AG’s managing board and Chief Executive Officer of Siemens’ $20 billion Healthcare Sector. Earlier in his career Mr. Reid-Anderson held roles of increasing responsibility at PepsiCo, Diageo and Mobil, and as adviser to Apollo Management L.P., a private equity firm. Mr. Reid-Anderson is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, U.K. and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Birmingham University, U.K.
Lance C. Balk was named General Counsel of Six Flags in September 2010. Mr. Balk previously served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics from November 2007 to January 2010. Prior to Dade Behring's acquisition by Siemens AG, he served in the same capacity at Dade Behring from May 2006 to November 2007. In these roles Mr. Balk was responsible for global legal matters. Before joining Dade Behring, Mr. Balk was a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where he co-founded the firm's New York corporate and securities practices. Mr. Balk holds a J.D. and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Northwestern University.
Marshall Barber was named Chief Financial Officer of Six Flags in February 2016 and is responsible for the finance and information technology functions at Six Flags. Mr. Barber previously served as Vice President of Business Planning for Six Flags from July 2006 to February 2016. He also held various other park-level and corporate-level financial positions since joining Six Flags in October 1996. Prior to joining Six Flags, Mr. Barber held financial positions at FoxMeyer Drug and G. D. Searle from 1994 to 1996 and with Electrocom Automation from 1989 to 1994. Mr. Barber holds a B.B.A. degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Arlington and an M.B.A. from Texas Christian University.
Kathy Aslin was named Senior Vice President, Human Resources of Six Flags in January 2017 and is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to support Six Flags' overall human resources vision including organizational design, leadership development, employee training and education, compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, and employee relations. Ms. Aslin began her career at Six Flags in 1998 as a seasonal summer intern and over the years held a number of management positions in Admissions, Guest Relations, Finance, Human Resources, In-Park Services, Corporate Marketing and Human Resources. Ms. Aslin holds a B.B.A degree from St. Gregory’s University and an M.B.A. from the University of Texas at Dallas.
David Austin was named Senior Vice President, Information Systems & Chief Information Officer for Six Flags in December 2017. Mr. Austin had previously served as Chief Technology Officer at Berkshire Hathaway Automotive from December 2014 to December 2017, where he had operational responsibility for all technology across 100 business units, technology development, and leadership of the IT team. Prior to that, from May 2007 to December 2014, he served as the Vice President of Information Technology at Larry H. Miller Group, a company with many businesses that included The Utah Jazz and associated arena businesses, large mega-plex cinemas, a 500-acre racetrack complex, and a large automotive business, where he led the IT team. Mr. Austin majored in Speech Communication at Fresno State University.
Danielle J. Bernthal was named Senior Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Six Flags in January 2017. Ms. Bernthal previously served as Vice President, Assistant General Counsel of Six Flags from June 2006 to January 2017. Prior to joining Six Flags, Ms. Bernthal was an associate at the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in the corporate and financial services department. Ms. Bernthal holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, and a B.S. from Cornell University.
Mario Centola was named Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of Six Flags in February 2016 and is responsible for overseeing Six Flags' accounting function. Mr. Centola has held a number of financial management positions within Six Flags beginning in 2001 before being named Director of Planning and Analysis in December 2008. Mr. Centola has also worked for SeaWorld and Herschend Family Entertainment. Mr. Centola holds a B.S. degree in Finance from Miami University and a Masters degree in both Business Administration and Information Systems from The University of Akron.
Tom Iven was named Senior Vice President, U.S. Park Operations of Six Flags in April 2014 and is responsible for the management of all of Six Flags' parks in the U.S. Mr. Iven began his career at Six Flags in 1976 as a seasonal employee and became a full-time employee in 1981. He held a number of management positions within several parks including Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Over Texas before being named General Manager of Six Flags St. Louis in 1998. In 2001, Mr. Iven was promoted to Executive Vice President, Western Region, comprised of 17 parks, a post he held until 2006 when he

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was named Senior Vice President. From 2010 until 2014, Mr. Iven was the Senior Vice President, Park Operations and was responsible for the management of Six Flags' parks in the Western region as well as the oversight of engineering, maintenance and operating efficiency programs for all Six Flags parks. Mr. Iven holds a B.S. degree from Missouri State University.
David McKillips was named Senior Vice President, International Park Operations for Six Flags in January 2018 and is responsible for the development and management of all properties outside of the United States. Additionally, he oversees the corporate design, engineering and maintenance functions for all parks. Mr. McKillips had previously served as Senior Vice President, In-Park Services from January 2016 to January 2018 and Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances from September 2010 to January 2016. Mr. McKillips has over 20 years of experience in the entertainment and theme park industry, specializing in promotion, sponsorship and consumer product licensing sales. Prior to joining Six Flags, from November 1997 to April 2006, Mr. McKillips served as Vice President Advertising & Custom Publishing Sales for DC Comics, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment and home to some of the world’s most iconic superheroes, including Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. He started his career with Busch Entertainment, serving roles within the operations, entertainment, group sales and promotions departments at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida and then at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, as Manager of Promotions. Mr. McKillips holds a B.A. degree in Speech Communication from the University of Georgia.
Brett Petit was named Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales of Six Flags in June 2010 and is responsible for all aspects of Six Flags' marketing strategy, advertising, promotions, group sales, online marketing, corporate sponsorships, media networks and licensed promotions. Over the course of his more than 30 years of experience in the theme and waterpark industry, Mr. Petit has managed marketing strategy for more than 65 different theme parks, waterparks and family entertainment centers across the country. Prior to joining Six Flags, Mr. Petit served from March 2007 to June 2010 as Senior Vice President of Marketing & Sales for Palace Entertainment, an operator of theme parks and attractions with 38 locations hosting 14 million visitors. Before that, he worked 12 years as Senior Vice President of Marketing for Paramount Parks with over 12 million visitors and spent 13 years with Busch Entertainment Theme Parks as Marketing Vice President and Director of Sales. Mr. Petit holds a B.A. degree in Marketing from University of South Florida.
Stephen R. Purtell was named Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Treasurer of Six Flags in October 2016 and is responsible for investor relations and treasury. Mr. Purtell previously served as Vice President, Business Development and Treasurer for Six Flags from July 2012 to October 2016. Prior to joining Six Flags, Mr. Purtell served as VP, Sales Operations and Market Research for Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics after it acquired Dade Behring in 2007. Mr. Purtell joined Dade Behring in 2003 and held financial positions including Assistant Treasurer, VP Corporate Planning & Analysis, and Treasurer. Prior to joining Dade Behring, Mr. Purtell held financial and engineering positions at IMC Global and GATX Terminals Corporation, and was an officer in the U.S. Army. Mr. Purtell has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and is a CPA.
Leonard A. Russ was named Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning and Analysis of Six Flags in February 2016. Since October 2010 Mr. Russ was Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer of Six Flags where he was responsible for overseeing Six Flags' accounting function and the finance functions of the western region parks. Mr. Russ began his career at Six Flags in 1989 as a seasonal employee and became a full-time employee in 1995. He held a number of management positions within Six Flags before being named Director of Internal Audit in 2004. In 2005, Mr. Russ was promoted to Controller, a position he held until being promoted to Chief Accounting Officer. Mr. Russ holds a B.B.A. degree in Accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Bonnie Sherman Weber was named Senior Vice President, In-Park Services, of Six Flags in January 2018 and is responsible for culinary, retail, games, rentals, parking and other services offered throughout Six Flags' 20 parks. Ms. Weber had previously served as Park President of Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor since August 2010. Ms. Weber began her career at Six Flags Magic Mountain in 1985 as a food service employee. Throughout her years at Six Flags, she has assumed the role of Park Publicist, Manager of Advertising and Promotions, and Director of Marketing. She previously worked at The Walt Disney Company and was also the Director of Worldwide Marketing at Warner Bros. for four years. A Southern California native, Ms. Weber holds a B.S. in Marketing from California State Northridge.
Available Information
Copies of our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to those reports, are available free of charge through our website at www.investors.sixflags.com. References to our website in this Annual Report are provided as a convenience and do not constitute an incorporation by reference of the information contained on, or accessible through, the website. Therefore, such information should not be considered part of this Annual Report. These reports, and any amendments to these reports, are made available on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file such reports with, or furnish them to, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"). Copies are also available, without charge, by sending a written request to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, 924 Avenue J East, Grand Prairie, TX 75050, Attn: Investor Relations.

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Our website, www.investors.sixflags.com, also includes items related to corporate governance matters, including the charters of our Audit Committee, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Compensation Committee, our Corporate Governance Guidelines, our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and our Code of Ethics for Senior Management. Copies of these materials are also available, without charge, by sending a written request to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, 924 Avenue J East, Grand Prairie, TX 75050, Attn: Investor Relations.
ITEM 1A.
RISK FACTORS
Set forth below are the principal risks that we believe are material to our business and should be considered by our security holders. We operate in a continually changing business environment and, therefore, new risks emerge from time to time. This section contains forward-looking statements. For an explanation of the qualifications and limitations on forward-looking statements, see "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements."
Risks Relating to Our Business
General economic conditions throughout the world may have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our success depends to a large extent on discretionary consumer spending, which is heavily influenced by general economic conditions and the availability of discretionary income. Difficult economic conditions and recessionary periods may have an adverse impact on our business and our financial condition. Negative economic conditions, coupled with high volatility and uncertainty as to the future global economic landscape, have at times had a negative effect on consumers' discretionary income and consumer confidence and similar impacts can be expected should such conditions recur. A decrease in discretionary spending due to decreases in consumer confidence in the economy or us, or a continued economic slowdown or deterioration in the economy, could adversely affect the frequency with which guests choose to visit our parks and the amount that our guests spend when they visit. The actual or perceived weakness in the economy could also lead to decreased spending by our guests. Both attendance and guest spending at our parks are key drivers of our revenue and profitability, and reductions in either could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Additionally, difficult economic conditions throughout the world could impact our ability to obtain supplies, services and credit as well as the ability of third parties to meet their obligations to us, including, for example, payment of claims by our insurance carriers, the funding of our lines of credit, or payment by our international licensing partners. Changes in exchange rates for foreign currencies could reduce international demand for our products, increase our labor and supply costs in non-U.S. markets or reduce the U.S. dollar value of revenue we earn in other markets.
Our growth strategy may not achieve the anticipated results.
Our future success will depend on our ability to grow our business, including through capital investments to improve existing parks, rides, attractions and shows, as well as in-park services and product offerings. Our business strategy for growth may also include selective expansion, both domestically and internationally, through acquisitions of assets or other strategic initiatives, such as licensing arrangements, joint ventures and partnerships that allow us to profitably expand our business and leverage our brand. Our growth and innovation strategies require significant commitments of management resources and capital investments and may not grow our revenues at the rate we expect or at all. Our business strategy for growth also requires the other parties to our licensing arrangements, joint ventures and partnerships to perform their obligations. The success of any acquisitions also depends on effective integration of acquired businesses and assets into our operations, which is subject to risks and uncertainties, including realization of anticipated synergies and cost savings, the ability to retain and attract personnel, the diversion of management's attention from other business concerns, and undisclosed or potential legal liabilities of acquired businesses or assets. As a result, we may not be able to recover the costs incurred in developing our new projects and initiatives or to realize their intended or projected benefits, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We may not obtain the desired improvements in operational and financial performance established in our aspirational goals, including those related to Project 600 and Project 750.
From time to time we establish aspirational goals for our operational and financial performance, including the "Project 600" goal established in 2014 to achieve Modified EBITDA of $600 million by 2017 and the "Project 750" goal established in 2016 to achieve Modified EBITDA of $750 million by 2020. We may seek to reach our aspirational goals through programs targeted at our key revenue drivers, marketing programs, pricing programs, operational changes and process improvements that are intended to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve our operational and financial performance. There is no assurance that these programs, changes and improvements will be successful or that we will achieve our aspirational goals in the timeframe in which we seek to achieve them or at all. Due to the adverse weather and natural disasters experienced during the

11


summer months of 2017, the Company did not achieve the Project 600 goal. The Company believes late achievement of the Project 600 goal in 2018 is probable.
Bad or extreme weather conditions and forecasts of bad or mixed weather conditions can adversely impact attendance at our parks.
Because most of the attractions at our parks are outdoors, attendance at our parks is adversely affected by bad or extreme weather conditions and forecasts of bad or mixed weather conditions, which negatively affects our revenues. The effects of bad weather on attendance can be more pronounced at our waterparks. We believe that our operating results in certain years were adversely affected by abnormally hot, cold and/or wet weather in a number of our major U.S. markets. In addition, since a number of our parks are geographically concentrated in the eastern portion of the United States, a weather pattern that affects that area could adversely affect a number of our parks and disproportionately impact our results of operations. In addition, bad weather and forecasts of bad weather on weekends, holidays or other peak periods will typically have a greater negative impact on our revenues and could disproportionately impact our results of operations.
Natural disasters could adversely impact attendance at our parks and result in decreased revenues.
A severe natural disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane, forest fire, flood or landslide, could interrupt our operations, damage our properties and reduce the number of guests who visit our parks in affected areas. Damage to our properties could take a long time to repair and there is no guarantee that we would have adequate insurance to cover the costs of repair or the expense of the interruption to our business. Furthermore, such a disaster may interrupt or impede access to our affected properties or require evacuations and may cause visits to our affected properties to decrease for an indefinite period. For example, our waterpark in Oaxtepec, Mexico was closed for several weeks during the fall of 2017 following the earthquakes in central Mexico. The occurrence of such natural disasters could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Local events and terrorist activities can adversely impact park attendance.
Lower attendance at our parks may be caused by various local activities that we may not be able to adequately anticipate or respond to. For example, terrorist alerts and threats of future terrorist activities may adversely affect attendance at our parks. In addition, since some of our parks are near major urban areas and appeal to teenagers and young adults, there may be disturbances at one or more parks that could negatively affect our image. This may result in a decrease in attendance at the affected parks and could adversely impact our results of operations. We cannot predict the frequency or severity of these activities and the effect that they may have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
A significant disruption in our computer systems and our inability to adequately maintain and update those systems could adversely affect our operations and our ability to maintain guest confidence.
We rely extensively on our computer systems to manage and maintain the privacy of guest data and our financial and business data, summarize and analyze results, and manage and account for inventory. We require continued and unimpeded access to the Internet to use these computer systems. Our systems are subject to damage or interruption from power outages, telecommunications failures, computer viruses, malicious attacks, security breaches and catastrophic events. If our systems are damaged or fail to function properly or reliably, we may incur substantial repair or replacement costs, experience data loss or theft and impediments to our ability to manage inventories, engage in additional promotional activities to retain our guests, or encounter lost guest confidence, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations. 
If our efforts to protect the security of information about our guests and employees and our internal data are unsuccessful, we may face costly litigation and our revenue and our reputation could suffer.
An important component of our business involves the receipt and storage of information about our guests as well as maintaining our internal business data.  We have, and require certain of our vendors to have, programs in place to detect, contain and respond to data security incidents. However, because the techniques used to obtain unauthorized access, disable or degrade service, or sabotage systems change frequently and may be difficult to detect for long periods of time, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or implement adequate preventive measures. In addition, hardware, software, or applications we develop or procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture or other problems that could unexpectedly compromise information security. Unauthorized parties may also attempt to gain access to our systems or facilities, or those of third parties with whom we do business, through fraud, trickery, or other forms of deceiving our employees, contractors, and vendors.  Like many other companies, from time to time, both we and our vendors have experienced data security incidents; however, to date, these incidents have not been material to our business, financial condition

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or results of operations. If we or our vendors experience significant data security breaches or fail to detect and appropriately respond to significant data security breaches, we could be exposed to litigation, fines or other costs, our operations could be disrupted, and our guests could lose confidence in our ability to protect their information, which could cause them to stop purchasing our tickets, season passes or memberships from us or visiting our parks altogether.
Our operations are seasonal.
Our operations are seasonal. Approximately 75% of our annual park attendance and revenue occurs during the second and third calendar quarters of each year. As a result, when conditions or events described in the above risk factors occur during the operating season, particularly during the peak months of July and August, there is only a limited period of time during which the impact of those conditions or events can be mitigated. Accordingly, such conditions or events may have a disproportionately adverse effect on our revenues and cash flow. In addition, most of our expenses for maintenance and costs of adding new attractions are incurred when the parks are closed in the mid to late autumn and winter months. For this reason, a sequential quarter-to-quarter comparison is not a good indication of our performance or of how we will perform in the future.
There is a risk of accidents occurring at our parks or competing parks which may reduce attendance and negatively impact our operations.
Our brand and our reputation are among our most important assets. Our ability to attract and retain customers depends, in part, upon the external perceptions of the Company, the quality and safety of our parks, services and rides, and our corporate and management integrity. While we carefully maintain the safety of our rides, there are inherent risks involved with these attractions. An accident or an injury (including water-borne illnesses at waterparks) at any of our parks or at parks operated by competitors, particularly an accident or injury involving the safety of guests and employees, that receives media attention, could negatively impact our brand or reputation, cause loss of consumer confidence in the Company, reduce attendance at our parks, and negatively impact our results of operations. The considerable expansion in the use of social media over recent years has compounded the impact of negative publicity. If any such incident occurs during a time of high seasonal demand, the effect could disproportionately impact our results of operations for the year.
We depend on a seasonal workforce, many of whom are paid at minimum wage.
Our park operations are dependent in part on a seasonal workforce, many of whom are paid at minimum wage. We seek to manage seasonal wages and the timing of the hiring process to ensure the appropriate workforce is in place for peak and low seasons, however, we may be unable to recruit and hire sufficient personnel to meet our business needs. In addition, we cannot guarantee that material increases in the cost of securing our seasonal workforce will not occur in the future. Increased state or federal minimum wage requirements, seasonal wages or an inadequate workforce could have an adverse impact on our results of operations. We anticipate that the recent increases to the minimum wage rates will increase our salary, wage and benefit expenses in 2018 and future years and further legislative changes could continue to increase these expenses in the future.
The theme park industry competes with numerous entertainment alternatives and such competition may have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our parks compete with other theme parks, waterparks and amusement parks and with other types of recreational facilities and forms of entertainment, including movies, home entertainment options, sporting events, restaurants and vacation travel. Our business is also subject to factors that affect the recreation and leisure time industries generally, such as general economic conditions, including relative fuel prices, and changes in consumer spending habits. The principal competitive factors of a park include location, price, the uniqueness and perceived quality of the rides and attractions, the atmosphere and cleanliness of the park and the quality of its food and entertainment. If we are unable to compete effectively against entertainment alternatives or on the basis of principal competitive factors of the park, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be adversely affected.
We could be adversely affected by changes in consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment and consumer products.
The success of our parks depends substantially on consumer tastes and preferences that can change in often unpredictable ways and on our ability to ensure that our parks meet the changing preferences of the broad consumer market. We conduct research and analysis before acquiring new parks or opening new rides or attractions and often invest substantial amounts before we learn the extent to which these new parks and new rides or attractions will earn consumer acceptance. If visitor volumes at our parks were to decline significantly or if new rides and entertainment offerings at our parks do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance, revenues and margins may decline. Our results of operations may also be adversely affected if we fail to retain long-term customer loyalty or provide satisfactory customer service.

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Our insurance coverage may not be adequate to cover all possible losses that we could suffer and our insurance costs may increase.
Although we maintain various safety and loss prevention programs and carry property and casualty insurance to cover certain risks, our insurance policies do not cover all types of losses and liabilities. Additionally, there can be no assurance that our insurance will be sufficient to cover the full extent of all losses or liabilities for which we are insured. The majority of our current insurance policies have annual terms and expire on December 31, 2018, and we cannot guarantee that we will be able to renew our current insurance policies on favorable terms, or at all. In addition, if we or other theme park operators sustain significant losses or make significant insurance claims, then our ability to obtain future insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates could be materially adversely affected. If our insurance coverage is not adequate, or we become subject to damages that cannot by law be insured against, such as punitive damages or certain intentional misconduct by our employees, this could adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.
If we are not able to fund capital expenditures and invest in future attractions and projects in our parks, our revenues could be negatively impacted.
Because a principal competitive factor for a theme park is the uniqueness and perceived quality of its rides and attractions, we need to make continued capital investments through maintenance and the regular addition of new rides and attractions. A key element for our revenue growth is strategic capital spending on such investments. Our ability to fund capital expenditures will depend on our ability to generate sufficient cash flow from operations and to raise capital from third parties. We cannot provide assurance that our operations will be able to generate sufficient cash flow to fund such costs, or that we will be able to obtain sufficient financing on adequate terms, or at all, which could cause us to delay or abandon certain projects or plans. In addition, any construction delays or ride downtime can adversely affect our attendance and our ability to realize revenue growth.
Product recalls, product liability claims and associated costs could adversely affect our reputation and our financial condition.
We sell food, toys and other retail products, the sale of which involves legal and other risks. We may need to recall food products if they become contaminated, and we may need to recall toys, games or other retail merchandise if there is a design or product defect. Even though we are resellers of food, toys and other retail products, we may be liable if the consumption or purchase of any of the products we sell causes illness or injury. A recall could result in losses due to the cost of the recall, the destruction of product and lost sales due to the unavailability of product for a period of time. A significant food or retail product recall could also result in adverse publicity, damage to our reputation and loss of consumer confidence in our parks, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We may be unable to purchase or contract with third parties to manufacture theme park rides and attractions.
We may be unable to purchase or contract with third parties to build high quality rides and attractions and to continue to service and maintain those rides and attractions at competitive or beneficial prices, or to provide the replacement parts needed to maintain the operation of such rides. In addition, if our third-party suppliers' financial condition deteriorates or they go out of business, we may not be able to obtain the full benefit of manufacturer warranties or indemnities typically contained in our contracts, or may need to incur greater costs for the maintenance, repair, replacement or insurance of these assets.
Adverse litigation judgments or settlements resulting from legal proceedings in which we may be involved in the normal course of our business could adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.
We are subject to allegations, claims and legal actions arising in the ordinary course of our business, which may include claims by third parties, including guests who visit our parks, our employees or regulators. The outcome of these proceedings cannot be predicted. If any of these proceedings is determined adversely to us, or if we receive a judgment, a fine or a settlement involving a payment of a material sum of money, or injunctive relief is issued against us, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. Litigation can also be expensive, lengthy and disruptive to normal business operations, including to our management due to the increased time and resources required to respond to and address the litigation.
Additionally, from time to time, animal activist and other third-party groups may make negative public statements about us or bring claims before government agencies or lawsuits against us. Such claims and lawsuits sometimes are based on allegations that we do not properly care for some of our featured animals. On other occasions, such claims and/or lawsuits are specifically designed to change existing law or enact new law in order to impede our ability to retain, exhibit, acquire or breed animals. While we seek to comply with all applicable federal and state laws and vigorously defend ourselves in any lawsuits,

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there are no assurances as to the outcome of future claims and lawsuits that could be brought against us. An unfavorable outcome in any legal proceeding could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, associated negative publicity could adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and results of operations.
Our leases contain default provisions that, if enforced or exercised by the landlord, could significantly impact our operations at those parks.
Certain of our leases permit the landlord to terminate the lease if there is a default under the lease, including, for example, our failure to pay rent, utilities and applicable taxes in a timely fashion or to maintain certain insurance. If a landlord were to terminate a lease, it would halt our operations at that park and, depending on the size of the park, could have a negative impact on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, any disputes that may result from such a termination may be expensive to pursue and may divert money and management's attention from our other operations and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Our intellectual property rights are valuable, and any inability to protect them could adversely affect our business.
Our intellectual property, including our trademarks and domain names and other proprietary rights, constitutes a significant part of our value. To protect our intellectual property rights, we rely upon a combination of trademark, trade secret and unfair competition laws of the United States and other countries, as well as contract provisions and third-party policies and procedures governing internet/domain name registrations. However, there can be no assurance that these measures will be successful in any given case, particularly in those countries where the laws do not protect our proprietary rights as fully as in the United States. We may be unable to prevent the misappropriation, infringement or violation of our intellectual property rights, breach of any contractual obligations to us, or independent development of intellectual property that is similar to ours, any of which could reduce or eliminate any competitive advantage we have developed, adversely affect our revenues or otherwise harm our business.
We may be subject to claims for infringing the intellectual property rights of others, which could be costly and result in the loss of intellectual property rights.
We cannot be certain that we do not and will not infringe the intellectual property rights of others. We have been in the past, and may be in the future, subject to litigation and other claims in the ordinary course of our business based on allegations of infringement or other violations of the intellectual property rights of others. Regardless of their merits, intellectual property claims can divert the efforts of our personnel and are often time-consuming and expensive to litigate or settle. In addition, to the extent claims against us are successful, we may have to pay substantial monetary damages or discontinue, modify, or rename certain products or services that are found to be in violation of another party's rights. We may have to seek a license (if available on acceptable terms, or at all) to continue offering products and services, which may increase our operating expenses.
Increased labor costs and employee health and welfare benefits may reduce our results of operations.
Labor is a primary component in the cost of operating our business. We devote significant resources to recruiting and training our managers and employees. Increased labor costs due to competition, increased minimum wage or employee benefit costs or otherwise, would adversely impact our operating expenses. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the amendments thereto contain provisions which will impact our future healthcare costs. We do not anticipate these changes will result in a material increase in our operating costs. Our results of operations are also substantially affected by costs of retirement, including as a result of macro-economic factors beyond our control, such as declines in investment returns on pension plan assets and changes in discount rates used to calculate pension and related liabilities.
Additionally, we contribute to multiple defined benefit multiemployer pension plans on behalf of our collectively bargained employees of Six Flags Great Adventure LLC. If we were to cease contributing to or otherwise incur a withdrawal from any such plans, we could be obligated to pay withdrawal liability assessments based on the underfunded status (if any) of such plans at the time of the withdrawal. The amount of any multiemployer pension plan underfunding can fluctuate from year to year, and thus there is a possibility that the amount of withdrawal liability that we could incur in the future could be material, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition.
Unionization activities or labor disputes may disrupt our operations and affect our profitability.
As of December 31, 2017, approximately 17% of our full-time and approximately 10% of our seasonal employees were subject to labor agreements with local chapters of national unions. We have collective bargaining agreements in place for certain employees at Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Over Texas, Six

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Flags St. Louis, and La Ronde. New unionization activity or a labor dispute involving our employees could disrupt our operations and reduce our revenues, and resolution of unionization activities or labor disputes could increase our costs. Litigation relating to employment and/or wage and hour disputes could also increase our operating expenses. Such disrupted operations, reduced revenues or increased costs could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our operations and our ownership of property subject us to environmental, health and safety and other regulations, which create uncertainty regarding future expenditures and liabilities.
Our operations involve wastewater and stormwater discharges and air emissions, and as a result are subject to environmental, health and safety laws, regulations and permitting requirements. These requirements are administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states and localities where our parks are located (and can also often be enforced through citizen suit provisions), and include the requirements of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Our operations also involve maintaining underground and aboveground storage tanks, and managing and disposing of hazardous substances, chemicals and materials and are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding the use, generation, manufacture, storage, handling and disposal of these substances, chemicals and materials, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"). A portion of our capital expenditures budget is intended to ensure continued compliance with environmental, health and safety laws, regulations and permitting requirements. In the event of contamination or injury as a result of a release of or exposure to regulated materials, we could be held liable for any resulting damages. For example, pursuant to CERCLA, past and current owners and operators of facilities and persons arranging for disposal of hazardous substances may be held strictly, jointly and severally liable for costs to remediate releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances. The costs of investigation, remediation or removal of regulated materials may be substantial, and the presence of those substances, or the failure to remediate property properly, may impair our ability to use, transfer or obtain financing regarding our property. Our activities may be affected by new legislation or changes in existing environmental, health and safety laws. For example, the state or federal government having jurisdiction over a given area may enact legislation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or applicable state entity may propose new regulations or change existing regulations that could require our parks to reduce certain emissions or discharges. Such action could require our parks to install costly equipment or increase operating expenses. We may be required to incur costs to remediate potential environmental hazards, mitigate environmental risks in the future, or comply with other environmental requirements.
We also are subject to federal and state laws, which prohibit discrimination and other laws regulating the design and operation of facilities, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act. Compliance with these laws and regulations can be costly and increase our exposure to litigation and governmental proceedings, and a failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws could result in negative publicity that could harm our reputation, which could adversely affect our business.
We may not be able to attract and retain key management and other key employees.
Our employees, particularly our key management, are vital to our success and difficult to replace. We may be unable to retain them or to attract other highly qualified employees, particularly if we do not offer employment terms competitive with the rest of the market. Failure to attract and retain highly qualified employees, or failure to develop and implement a viable succession plan, could result in inadequate depth of institutional knowledge or skill sets, adversely affecting our business.
We may not be able to realize the benefits of our international licensing agreements.
Various external factors, including difficult economic and political conditions throughout the world, could negatively affect the progress of our initiatives to develop new Six Flags-branded theme parks outside of North America. These initiatives could be delayed and the ultimate success of such parks may be uncertain. Some factors that will be important to the success of our international licensing initiatives are different than those affecting our existing parks. Tastes naturally vary by region, and consumers in new international markets into which we expand our brand may not embrace the parks’ offerings to the same extent as consumers in our existing markets. International licensing transactions are also subject to additional risks, including the performance of our partners and their ability to obtain financing; the impact of economic fluctuations in economies outside of the U.S.; difficulties and costs of staffing and managing foreign operations due to distance, language and cultural differences; changes or uncertainties in economic, legal, regulatory, social and political conditions; the enforceability of intellectual property and contract rights; and foreign currency exchange rate fluctuations, currency controls, and potentially adverse tax consequences of overseas operations. If we do not realize the benefits of such transactions, it could have an adverse effect on our financial performance.

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Risks Related to Our Indebtedness and Common Stock
A portion of our cash flow is required to be used to fund our substantial monetary obligations.
We must satisfy the following obligations with respect to the Partnership Parks:
We must make annual distributions to our partners in the Partnership Parks, which will amount to approximately $71.1 million in 2018 (based on our ownership of units as of December 31, 2017, our share of the distribution will be approximately $31.1 million), with similar amounts (adjusted for changes in cost of living) payable in future years.
We must spend a minimum of approximately 6% of each of the Partnership Parks' annual revenues over specified periods for capital expenditures.
Each year we must offer to purchase all outstanding limited partnership units from our partners in the Partnership Parks. The remaining redeemable units of the Georgia limited partner and Texas limited partner, respectively, represent a current redemption value for the limited partnership units of approximately $494.4 million as of December 31, 2017. As we purchase additional units, we are entitled to a proportionate increase in our share of the minimum annual distributions. In future years, we may need to incur indebtedness under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility to satisfy such unit purchase obligations.
We expect to use cash flow from the operations at the Partnership Parks to satisfy all or part of our annual distribution and capital expenditure obligations with respect to these parks before we use any of our other funds. The two partnerships generated approximately $77.3 million of cash in 2017 from operating activities after deduction of capital expenditures and excluding the impact of short-term intercompany advances from or repayments to us. As of December 31, 2017, we had loans outstanding of $239.3 million to the partnerships that own the Partnership Parks, primarily to fund the acquisition of Six Flags White Water Atlanta, working capital in prior years and capital improvements. The obligations relating to SFOG continue until 2027 and those relating to SFOT continue until 2028. In the event of a default by us under the Subordinated Indemnity Agreement or of our obligations to our partners in the Partnership Parks, these arrangements would permit Time Warner to take full control of both the entities that own limited partnership units and the managing partner, and we would lose control of the Partnership Parks. In addition, such a default could trigger an event of default under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility. For more information regarding the Subordinated Indemnity Agreement, see "Business—Partnership Park Arrangements."
The vast majority of our capital expenditures in 2018 and beyond will be made on a discretionary basis, although such expenditures are important to the parks' ability to sustain and grow revenues. We spent $134.7 million on capital expenditures, net of property insurance recoveries, for all of our continuing operations in the 2017 calendar year. Our business plan includes targeted annual capital spending of approximately 9% of revenues in 2018. We may not, however, achieve our targeted rate of capital spending, which may cause us to spend in excess of, or less than, our anticipated rate.
Our indebtedness under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and our other obligations could have material negative consequences to us and investors in our securities. The following could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations:
We may not be able to satisfy all of our obligations, including, but not limited to, our obligations under the instruments governing our outstanding debt, which may cause a cross-default or cross-acceleration on other debt we may have incurred.
We could have difficulties obtaining necessary financing in the future for working capital, capital expenditures, debt service requirements, refinancing or other purposes.
We could have difficulties obtaining additional financing to fund our annual Partnership Park obligations if the amount of the Amended and Restated Credit Facility is insufficient.
We would have to use a significant portion of our cash flow to make payments on our debt and to satisfy the other obligations set forth above, which may reduce the capital available for operations and expansion.
Adverse economic or industry conditions may have a more negative impact on us.
We cannot be sure that cash generated from our parks will be as high as we expect or that our expenses will not be higher than we expect. Because a portion of our expenses are fixed in any given year, our operating cash flows are highly dependent on revenues, which are largely driven by attendance levels, in-park sales, accommodations and sponsorship and licensing activity. A lower amount of cash generated from our parks or higher expenses than expected, when coupled with our debt obligations, could adversely affect our ability to fund our operations.

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The instruments governing our indebtedness include financial and other covenants that will impose restrictions on our financial and business operations.
The instruments governing our indebtedness restrict our ability to, among other things, incur additional indebtedness, incur liens, make investments, sell assets, pay dividends, repurchase stock or engage in transactions with affiliates. In addition, the Amended and Restated Credit Facility contains financial covenants that will require us to maintain a minimum interest coverage ratio and a maximum senior secured leverage ratio. These covenants may have a material impact on our operations. If we fail to comply with the covenants in the Amended and Restated Credit Facility or the indenture governing Holdings' $300.0 million of 4.875% senior unsecured notes due July 31, 2024 (the "2024 Notes"), $700.0 million of 4.875% senior unsecured notes due 2024 (the "2024 Notes Add-on"), and $500.0 million of 5.50% senior unsecured notes due 2027 (the "2027 Notes") and are unable to obtain a waiver or amendment, an event of default would result under the applicable debt instrument.
Events beyond our control, such as weather and economic, financial and industry conditions, may affect our ability to continue meeting our financial covenant ratios under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility. The need to comply with these financial covenants and restrictions could limit our ability to execute our strategy and expand our business or prevent us from borrowing more money when necessary.
The Amended and Restated Credit Facility and the indentures governing the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes also contain other events of default customary for financings of these types, including cross defaults to certain other indebtedness, cross acceleration to other indebtedness and certain change of control events. If an event of default were to occur, the lenders under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility could declare outstanding borrowings under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility immediately due and payable and the holders of the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes could elect to declare the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes to be due and payable, together with accrued and unpaid interest. We cannot provide assurance that we would have sufficient liquidity to repay or refinance such indebtedness if it was accelerated upon an event of default. In addition, an event of default or declaration of acceleration under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility could also result in an event of default under other indebtedness.
We can make no assurances that we will be able to comply with these restrictions in the future or that our compliance would not cause us to forego opportunities that might otherwise be beneficial to us.
We may be unable to service our indebtedness.
Our ability to make scheduled payments on and to refinance our debt, including the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes, depends on and is subject to our financial and operating performance, which in turn is affected by general and regional economic, financial, competitive, business and other factors beyond our control, including the availability of financing in the banking and capital markets. We cannot provide assurance that our business will generate sufficient cash flow from operations or that future borrowings will be available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to service our debt, to refinance our debt or to fund our other liquidity needs. If we are unable to meet our debt obligations or to fund our other liquidity needs, we may be forced to reduce or delay scheduled expansion and capital expenditures, sell material assets or operations, obtain additional capital or restructure our debt, which could cause us to default on our debt obligations and impair our liquidity. Any refinancing of our indebtedness could be at higher interest rates and may require us to comply with more onerous covenants, which could further restrict our business operations. If we are required to dispose of material assets or operations or restructure our debt to meet our debt service and other obligations, we cannot provide assurance that the terms of any such transaction will be satisfactory to us or if, or how soon, any such transaction could be completed.
The market price of Holdings' common stock may be volatile, which could cause the value of an investment in Holdings' common stock to decline.
We can give no assurances about future liquidity in the trading market for Holdings' common stock. If there is limited liquidity in the trading market for Holdings' common stock, a sale of a large number of shares of Holdings' common stock could be adversely disruptive to the market price of Holdings' common stock.
Numerous factors, including many over which we have no control, may have a significant impact on the market price of Holdings' common stock. These risks include those described or referred to in this "Risk Factors" section and in other documents incorporated herein by reference as well as, among other things:
Our operating and financial performance and prospects;
Our ability to repay our debt;
Our access to financial and capital markets to refinance our debt or replace the existing credit facilities;
Investor perceptions of us and the industry and markets in which we operate;

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Our dividend policy;
Our stock repurchase program;
Future sales of equity or equity-related securities;
Changes in earnings estimates or buy/sell recommendations by analysts; and
General financial, domestic, economic and other market conditions.
Changes in our credit ratings could adversely affect the price of Holdings' common stock.
We receive debt ratings from the major credit rating agencies in the United States. Factors that may impact our credit ratings include the sizable attendance and revenue generated from our portfolio of geographically diversified regional theme parks, vulnerability to cyclical discretionary consumer spending, and seasonality of our operations. In March 2017, in connection with the issuance of the 2027 Notes, Moody's assigned a B2 rating to the 2027 Notes, upgraded the 2024 Notes from B3 to B2, and reaffirmed our Ba1 rating on the credit facility and our B1 corporate family rating. In March 2017, Standard & Poor's assigned a BB- rating to the 2027 Notes, and reaffirmed our BB- rating on the 2024 Notes and our BB corporate credit rating. Both rating agencies have placed our ratings on "stable outlook." We cannot provide assurance that our ratings will remain the same. A negative change in our ratings or the perception that such a change might occur could adversely affect the market price of Holdings' common stock.
Various factors could affect Holdings' ability to sustain its dividend.
Holdings' ability to pay a dividend on its common stock or sustain it at current levels is subject to our ability to generate sufficient cash flow to pay dividends. In addition, our debt agreements contain certain limitations on the amount of cash we are permitted to distribute to our stockholders by way of dividend or stock repurchase.
Holdings is a holding company and is dependent on dividends and other distributions from its subsidiaries.
Holdings is a holding company and substantially all of its operations are conducted through direct and indirect subsidiaries. As a holding company, it has no significant assets other than its equity interests in its subsidiaries. Accordingly, Holdings is dependent on dividends and other distributions from its subsidiaries to meet its obligations including the obligations under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility, the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on, and the 2027 Notes, and to pay the dividend on Holdings' common stock. If these dividends and other distributions are not sufficient for Holdings to meets its financial obligations, or not available to Holdings due to restrictions in the instruments governing our indebtedness, it could cause Holdings to default on our debt obligations, which would impair our liquidity and adversely affect our financial condition and our business. We had $77.5 million of cash and cash equivalents on a consolidated basis at December 31, 2017, of which $18.0 million was held at Holdings.
Provisions in Holdings' corporate documents and the law of the State of Delaware as well as change of control provisions in certain of our debt and other agreements could delay or prevent a change of control, even if that change would be beneficial to stockholders or could have a materially negative impact on our business.
Certain provisions in Holdings' Restated Certificate of Incorporation, the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and the indentures governing the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes may have the effect of deterring transactions involving a change in control of us, including transactions in which stockholders might receive a premium for their shares.
Holdings' Certificate of Incorporation provides for the issuance of up to 5,000,000 shares of preferred stock with such designations, rights and preferences as may be determined from time to time by Holdings' Board of Directors. The authorization of preferred shares empowers Holdings' Board of Directors, without further stockholder approval, to issue preferred shares with dividend, liquidation, conversion, voting or other rights that could adversely affect the voting power or other rights of the holders of the common stock. If issued, the preferred stock could also dilute the holders of Holdings' common stock and could be used to discourage, delay or prevent a change of control of us.
Holdings is also subject to the anti-takeover provisions of the Delaware General Corporation Law, which could have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control in some circumstances. All of the foregoing factors could materially adversely affect the price of Holdings' common stock.
The Amended and Restated Credit Facility contains provisions pursuant to which it is an event of default if any "person" becomes the beneficial owner of more than 35% of the common stock. This could deter certain parties from seeking to acquire us and if any "person" were to become the beneficial owner of more than 35% of the common stock, we may not be able to repay such indebtedness.

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We have the exclusive right to use certain Warner Bros. and DC Comics characters in our theme parks in the U.S. (except in the Las Vegas metropolitan area), Canada, Mexico and certain other countries. Warner Bros. can terminate these licenses under certain circumstances, including the acquisition of us by persons engaged in the movie or television industries. This could deter certain parties from seeking to acquire us.
ITEM 1B.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
We have received no written comments regarding our periodic or current reports from the staff of the SEC that were issued 180 days or more preceding the end of our 2017 fiscal year and that remain unresolved.
ITEM 2.
PROPERTIES
Set forth below is a brief description of our material real estate as of December 31, 2017. See also "Business—Description of Parks."
Six Flags America, Largo, Maryland—515 acres (owned)
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo, California—135 acres (owned)
Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, Texas—220 acres (owned)
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari and Hurricane Harbor, Jackson, New Jersey—2,200 acres (owned)
Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois—304 acres (owned)
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Arlington, Texas—47 acres (owned)
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Valencia, California—12 acres (owned)
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Oaxtepec, Mexico—67 acres (leasehold interest)(1) 
Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California—250 acres (owned)
Six Flags Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico—110 acres (occupied pursuant to a permit agreement)(2) 
Six Flags New England, Agawam, Massachusetts—262 acres (substantially all owned)
Six Flags Over Georgia, Austell, Georgia—283 acres (leasehold interest)(3) 
Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington, Texas—217 acres (leasehold interest)(3) 
Six Flags St. Louis, Eureka, Missouri—323 acres (owned)
Six Flags White Water Atlanta, Marietta, Georgia—69 acres (owned)(4) 
La Ronde, Montreal, Canada—146 acres (leasehold interest)(5) 
The Great Escape, Queensbury, New York—345 acres (owned)
Waterworld Concord, Concord, California—24 acres (leasehold)(6) 
________________________________________
(1)
The site is leased from the Mexican Social Security Institute. The lease expires in 2036. The waterpark opened to the public in 2017.
(2)
The permit agreement is with the Federal District of Mexico City. The agreement expires in 2024.
(3)
Lessor is the limited partner of the partnership that owns the park. The SFOG and SFOT leases expire in 2027 and 2028, respectively, at which time we have the option to acquire all of the interests in the respective lessor that we have not previously acquired.
(4)
Owned by the Georgia partnership.
(5)
The site is leased from the City of Montreal. The lease expires in 2065.
(6)
The site is leased from EPR Parks, LLC pursuant to a sublease that expires in 2035 or the earlier expiration of the ground lease. We began operating the waterpark in 2017.
In addition to the foregoing, we also lease office space and a limited number of rides and attractions at our parks. See Note 15 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for a discussion of lease commitments. We consider our properties to be well maintained, in good condition and adequate for their present uses and business requirements. We have granted to our lenders under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility agreement, a mortgage on substantially all of our owned United States properties.
ITEM 3.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
The nature of the industry in which we operate tends to expose us to claims by guests, generally for injuries. Accordingly, we are party to various legal actions arising in the normal course of business, including the proceedings discussed below.
On January 7, 2016, a potential class action complaint was filed against Six Flags Entertainment Corporation in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois. On April 22, 2016, Great America, LLC was added as a defendant. The complaint asserts that we violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act ("BIPA") in connection with the admission of season pass holders and members through the finger scan program at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, and seeks statutory damages, attorneys' fees and an injunction. An aggrieved party under BIPA may recover (i) $1,000 if a company is found to have negligently violated BIPA or (ii) $5,000 if found to have intentionally or recklessly violated BIPA, plus reasonable

20


attorneys' fees in each case. The program commenced at the park in the 2014 operating season. The complaint does not allege that any information was misused or disseminated. On April 7, 2017, the court certified two questions for consideration by the Illinois Appellate Court of the Second District. On June 7, 2017, the Illinois Appellate Court granted our motion to appeal. Accordingly, two questions regarding the interpretation of BIPA were certified for consideration by the Appellate Court. On December 21, 2017, the Appellate Court found in our favor, holding that the plaintiff had to allege more than a technical violation of BIPA and had to be injured in some way. We expect that the plaintiff will be filing a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court by March 1, 2018. We intend to continue to vigorously defend ourselves against this litigation. Since this litigation is still in an early stage, the outcome is currently not determinable and a reasonable estimate of loss or range of loss in excess of the immaterial amount that we have recorded for this litigation cannot be made.

During 2017, four potential class action complaints were filed against Six Flags Entertainment Corporation or one of its subsidiaries. Complaints were filed on August 11, 2017 in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Illinois, on September 1, 2017 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, on September 11, 2017 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, and on November 30, 2017 in the Superior Court of Ocean County, New Jersey. The complaints allege that we, in violation of federal law, printed more than the last five digits of a credit or debit card number on customers’ receipts, and/or the expiration dates of those cards. A willful violation may subject a company to liability for actual damages or statutory damages between $100 and $1,000 per person, punitive damages in an amount determined by a court, and reasonable attorneys’ fees, all of which are sought by the plaintiffs. The complaints do not allege that any information was misused. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves against this litigation. Since this litigation is in an early stage, the outcome is currently not determinable and a reasonable estimate of loss or range of loss cannot be made.

We are party to various other legal actions, including intellectual property disputes and employment and/or wage and hour litigation, arising in the normal course of business. We do not expect to incur any material liability by reason of such actions.
ITEM 4.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.
PART II
ITEM 5.
MARKET FOR THE REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market Information
Holdings' common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "SIX."
On May 5, 2011 and May 8, 2013, Holdings' Board of Directors approved two-for-one stock splits of Holdings' common stock effective in the form of a stock dividend of one share of common stock for each outstanding share of common stock. The record dates for the stock splits were June 15, 2011 and June 12, 2013, respectively. The additional shares of common stock in connection with the stock splits were distributed on June 27, 2011 and June 26, 2013, respectively. In accordance with the provisions of our stock benefit plans and as determined by Holdings' Board of Directors, the number of shares available for issuance, the number of shares subject to outstanding equity awards and the exercise prices of outstanding stock option awards were adjusted to equitably reflect the effect of these two-for-one stock splits. All share and per share amounts presented in this Annual Report have been retroactively adjusted to reflect these stock splits.

21


The table below presents the high and low sales price of our common stock and the quarterly dividend paid per share of common stock during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016:
 
Sales Price
Per Share
 
Dividends Declared
Per Share
 
High
 
Low
 
2018
 
 
 
 
 
First Quarter (through February 15, 2018)
$
69.99

 
$
62.26

 
$
0.78

2017
 
 
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
$
67.94

 
$
58.76

 
$
0.70

Third Quarter
$
61.66

 
$
51.25

 
$
0.64

Second Quarter
$
65.19

 
$
57.01

 
$
0.64

First Quarter
$
62.63

 
$
57.05

 
$
0.64

2016
 
 
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
$
60.69

 
$
50.33

 
$
0.64

Third Quarter
$
60.28

 
$
47.61

 
$
0.58

Second Quarter
$
62.69

 
$
55.18

 
$
0.58

First Quarter
$
56.33

 
$
45.24

 
$
0.58

Holders of Record
As of February 15, 2018, there were approximately 52 stockholders of record of Holdings' common stock. This does not reflect holders who beneficially own common stock held in nominee or street name.
Quarterly Dividends
In November 2017, Holdings' Board of Directors increased the quarterly cash dividend from $0.64 per share of common stock to $0.70 per share of common stock. In February 2018, Holdings' Board of Directors increased the quarterly cash dividend from $0.70 per share of common stock to $0.78 per share of common stock.
The amount and timing of any future dividends payable on Holdings' common stock are within the sole discretion of Holdings' Board of Directors. Holdings' Board of Directors currently anticipates continuing to pay cash dividends on Holdings' common stock on a quarterly basis. However, the declaration and amount of any future dividends depend on various factors including the Company's earnings, cash flows, financial condition and other factors. Furthermore, the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and the indentures governing the 2024 Notes, the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes include certain limitations on Holdings' ability to pay dividends. For more information, see "Management's Discussion and Analysis — Liquidity and Capital Resources of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in Item 7 of this Annual Report and Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements in Item 8 of this Annual Report.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
On November 20, 2013, Holdings announced that its Board of Directors approved a new stock repurchase program that permitted Holdings to repurchase up to $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock over a four-year period (the "November 2013 Stock Repurchase Plan"). Holdings fully utilized the availability under the November 2013 Stock Repurchase Plan in August 2016. Throughout the program, Holdings repurchased 11,428,000 shares at a cumulative cost of approximately $500.0 million and an average price per share of $43.75.
On June 7, 2016, Holdings announced that its Board of Directors approved a new stock repurchase program that permits Holdings to repurchase an incremental $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock (the "June 2016 Stock Repurchase Plan"). Holdings fully utilized the availability under the June 2016 Stock Repurchase Plan by May 2017. Throughout the program, Holdings repurchased 8,392,000 shares at a cumulative cost of approximately $500.0 million and an average price per share of $59.58.
On March 30, 2017, Holdings announced that its Board of Directors approved a new stock repurchase plan that permitted Holdings to repurchase an incremental $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock (the "March 2017 Stock Repurchase Plan"). As of February 15, 2018, Holdings had repurchased 2,775,000 shares at a cumulative cost of approximately $157.2 million and an average price per share of $56.65 under the March 2017 Stock Repurchase Plan, leaving approximately $342.8 million available for permitted repurchases. We did not purchase additional Holdings' common stock under the June 2016 Stock Repurchase Plan during fourth quarter 2017.

22


Performance Graph
The following graph shows a comparison of the five-year cumulative total stockholder return on Holdings' common stock (assuming all dividends were reinvested), The Standard & Poor's ("S&P") 500 Stock Index, The S&P Midcap 400 Index and The S&P Entertainment Movies & Entertainment Index. The stock price performance shown in the graph is not necessarily indicative of future price performance.
COMPARISON OF FIVE-YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN*
Among Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, the S&P 500 Index, the S&P Midcap 400 Index,
and the S&P Movies & Entertainment Index
cumulativereturntable.jpg________________________________________
*
$100 invested on 12/31/12 in stock or index, including reinvestment of dividends.
Fiscal year ending December 31.
Copyright© 2017 S&P, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.
 
12/31/2012
 
12/31/2013
 
12/31/2014
 
12/31/2015
 
12/31/2016
 
12/31/2017
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
$
100.00

 
$
126.64

 
$
155.89

 
$
207.63

 
$
237.03

 
$
275.00

S&P 500
$
100.00

 
$
132.39

 
$
150.51

 
$
152.59

 
$
170.84

 
$
208.14

S&P Midcap 400
$
100.00

 
$
133.50

 
$
146.54

 
$
143.35

 
$
173.08

 
$
201.20

S&P Movies & Entertainment
$
100.00

 
$
155.57

 
$
183.29

 
$
166.34

 
$
183.60

 
$
192.81

ITEM 6.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following financial data is derived from our audited financial statements. You should review this information in conjunction with "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" in Item 7 of this Annual Report and the historical financial statements and related notes contained in this Annual Report.



23


 
Year Ended December 31,
(Amounts in thousands, except per share data)
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Statement of Operations Data:
 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Theme park admissions
$
741,275

 
$
715,413

 
$
687,819

 
$
641,535

 
$
602,204

Theme park food, merchandise and other
524,582

 
521,167

 
500,190

 
460,131

 
448,547

Sponsorship, licensing and other fees
78,096

 
66,329

 
59,133

 
57,250

 
42,179

Accommodations revenue
15,121

 
16,489

 
16,796

 
16,877

 
17,000

Total revenue
1,359,074

 
1,319,398

 
1,263,938

 
1,175,793

 
1,109,930

Operating expenses (excluding depreciation and amortization shown separately below)
509,123

 
489,407

 
465,219

 
437,431

 
417,482

Selling, general and administrative expenses (excluding depreciation and amortization shown separately below)
158,498

 
291,794

 
234,810

 
310,955

 
189,218

Costs of products sold
110,374

 
109,579

 
100,709

 
90,515

 
86,663

Depreciation and amortization
111,671

 
106,893

 
107,411

 
108,107

 
128,075

Loss on disposal of assets
3,959

 
1,968

 
9,882

 
5,860

 
8,579

Gain on sale of investee

 

 

 
(10,031
)
 

Interest expense, net
99,010

 
81,872

 
75,903

 
72,589

 
74,145

Loss on debt extinguishment, net
37,116

 
2,935

 
6,557

 

 
789

Other expense, net
271

 
1,684

 
223

 
356

 
1,054

Income from continuing operations before income taxes and discontinued operations
329,052

 
233,266

 
263,224

 
160,011

 
203,925

Income tax expense
16,026

 
76,539

 
70,369

 
46,522

 
47,601

Income from continuing operations before discontinued operations
313,026

 
156,727

 
192,855

 
113,489

 
156,324

Income from discontinued operations

 

 

 
545

 
549

Net income
313,026

 
156,727

 
192,855

 
114,034

 
156,873

Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(39,210
)
 
(38,425
)
 
(38,165
)
 
(38,012
)
 
(38,321
)
Net income attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
$
273,816

 
$
118,302

 
$
154,690

 
$
76,022

 
$
118,552

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Amounts attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation common stockholders:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
$
273,816

 
$
118,302

 
$
154,690

 
$
75,477

 
$
118,003

Income from discontinued operations

 

 

 
545

 
549

Net income
$
273,816

 
$
118,302

 
$
154,690

 
$
76,022

 
$
118,552

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted-average common shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted-average common shares outstanding—basic:
86,802

 
92,349

 
93,580

 
94,477

 
96,940

Weighted-average common shares outstanding—diluted:
88,494

 
94,398

 
97,981

 
98,139

 
100,371

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income per average common share outstanding—basic:
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
$
3.15

 
$
1.28

 
$
1.65

 
$
0.79

 
$
1.21

Income from discontinued operations

 

 

 
0.01

 
0.01

Net income
$
3.15

 
$
1.28

 
$
1.65

 
$
0.80

 
$
1.22

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income per average common share outstanding—diluted:
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
Income from continuing operations
$
3.09

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.58

 
$
0.76

 
$
1.17

Income from discontinued operations

 

 

 
0.01

 
0.01

Net income
$
3.09

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.58

 
$
0.77

 
$
1.18

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash dividends declared per common share
$
2.62

 
$
2.38

 
$
2.14

 
$
1.93

 
$
1.82


24


 
December 31,
(Amounts in thousands)
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Cash and cash equivalents (1)
$
77,496

 
$
137,385

 
$
99,760

 
$
73,884

 
$
169,310

Total assets
2,456,676

 
2,487,672

 
2,428,440

 
2,416,896

 
2,517,429

Deferred revenue
142,014

 
123,955

 
97,334

 
71,598

 
60,443

Total long-term debt (excluding current maturities)
2,021,178

 
1,624,486

 
1,498,022

 
1,373,605

 
1,375,710

Total debt, net
2,021,178

 
1,653,647

 
1,505,528

 
1,379,906

 
1,381,979

Redeemable noncontrolling interests
494,431

 
485,876

 
435,721

 
437,545

 
437,569

Stockholders' (deficit) equity
(505,112
)
 
(186,490
)
 
24,216

 
223,895

 
373,337

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
(Amounts in thousands)
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Other Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net cash provided by operating activities
$
445,067

 
$
463,235

 
$
473,761

 
$
392,323

 
$
368,682

Stock repurchases
(499,442
)
 
(211,751
)
 
(245,114
)
 
(195,353
)
 
(523,589
)
Payment of cash dividends
(227,101
)
 
(220,314
)
 
(200,957
)
 
(184,300
)
 
(176,171
)
________________________________________
(1)
Excludes restricted cash.

25


ITEM 7.
MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
Significant components of the Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations section include:
Overview.  The overview section provides a summary of Six Flags and the principal factors affecting our results of operations.
Critical Accounting Policies.  The critical accounting policies section provides detail with respect to accounting policies that are considered by management to require significant judgment and use of estimates and that could have a significant impact on our financial statements.
Recent Events.  The recent events section provides a brief description of recent events occurring in our business.
Results of Operations.  The results of operations section provides an analysis of our results for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 and a discussion of items affecting the comparability of our financial statements.
Liquidity, Capital Commitments and Resources.  The liquidity, capital commitments and resources section provides a discussion of our cash flows for the year ended December 31, 2017 and our outstanding debt and commitments existing as of December 31, 2017.
Market Risks and Security Analyses.  We are principally exposed to market risk related to interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates, which are described in the market risks and security analyses section.
Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements.  This section provides a discussion of recently issued accounting pronouncements applicable to Six Flags, including a discussion of the impact or potential impact of such standards on our financial statements when applicable.
The following discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements relating to future events or our future financial performance, which involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Please see the discussion regarding forward-looking statements included under the caption "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and "Item 1A. Risk Factors" for a discussion of some of the uncertainties, risks and assumptions associated with these statements.
The following discussion and analysis presents information that we believe is relevant to an assessment and understanding of our consolidated balance sheets and results of operations. This information should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Overview
We are the largest regional theme park operator in the world based on the number of parks we operate. Of our 20 regional theme and waterparks, 17 are located in the United States, two parks are located in Mexico and one is located in Montreal, Canada. Our parks are located in geographically diverse markets across North America and generally offer a broad selection of state-of-the-art and traditional thrill rides, water attractions, themed areas, concerts and shows, restaurants, game venues and retail outlets, thereby providing a complete family-oriented entertainment experience. We work continuously to improve our parks and our guests' experiences and to meet our guests' evolving needs and preferences.
Our revenue is derived from (i) the sale of tickets for entrance to our parks (which accounted for approximately 55% of total revenue during the year ended December 31, 2017, and 54% of total revenues during the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015), (ii) the sale of food and beverages, merchandise, games and attractions, parking and other services inside our parks, (iii) sponsorship, licensing and other fees, including revenue earned under international development contracts, and (iv) accommodations revenue. Revenues from ticket sales and in-park sales are primarily impacted by park attendance. Revenues from sponsorship, licensing and other fees can be impacted by the term, timing and extent of services and fees under these arrangements, which can result in fluctuations from year to year. During 2017, our earnings from park operations excluding the impact of interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and any other non-cash income or expenditures ("Park EBITDA") improved primarily as a result of revenue growth, partially offset by an increase in cash operating costs. The increase in revenue was primarily driven by a 1% increase in total guest spending per capita, which excludes sponsorship, licensing, accommodations and other fees, a 1% increase in attendance and an 18% increase in sponsorship and licensing revenue, including growth in revenue earned under international development contracts.

26


Our principal costs of operations include salaries and wages, employee benefits, advertising, third party services, repairs and maintenance, utilities and insurance. A large portion of our expenses is relatively fixed as our costs for full-time employees, maintenance, utilities, advertising and insurance do not vary significantly with attendance.
Critical Accounting Policies
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("U.S. GAAP") requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the disclosure of contingent liabilities as of the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses earned and incurred during the reporting period. Critical accounting estimates are fundamental to the portrayal of both our financial condition and results of operations and often require difficult, subjective and complex estimates and judgments. We evaluate our estimates and assumptions on an ongoing basis using historical experience and other factors, including the current economic environment, which we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. We adjust such estimates and assumptions when facts and circumstances dictate. As future events and their effects cannot be determined with precision, actual results could differ significantly from these estimates. Changes in these estimates resulting from the continuing changes in the economic environment will be reflected in the financial statements in future periods. The following discussion addresses the items we have identified as our critical accounting estimates. See Note 2 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion of these and other accounting policies.
Valuation of Long-Lived Assets
Goodwill and intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are tested for impairment annually, or more frequently if events or circumstances indicate that the assets may be impaired. We identify our reporting unit and determine the carrying value of the reporting unit by assigning the assets and liabilities, including the existing goodwill and intangible assets, to the reporting unit. We then determine the fair value of the reporting unit and compare it to the carrying amount of the reporting unit. All of our parks are operated in a similar manner and have comparable characteristics in that they produce and distribute similar services and products using similar processes, have similar types of customers, are subject to similar regulations and exhibit similar economic characteristics. As such, we are a single reporting unit. For each year, the fair value of the single reporting unit exceeded our carrying amount (provided that we have one reporting unit at the same level for which our Holdings' common stock is traded, we believe our market capitalization is the best indicator of our reporting unit's fair value). In September 2012, the FASB amended FASB ASC Topic 350, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other, which permits entities to perform a qualitative analysis on indefinite-lived intangible assets to determine if it is more likely than not that the fair value of the intangible asset was less than its carrying amount as a basis for determining whether it was necessary to perform a quantitative impairment test. We adopted this amendment in September 2012 and have performed a qualitative analysis on our indefinite-lived intangible assets during the fourth quarter of each year.
The fair value of indefinite-lived intangible assets is generally determined based on a discounted cash flow analysis. An impairment loss occurs to the extent that the carrying value exceeds the fair value. For goodwill, if the fair value of the reporting unit were to be less than the carrying amount, an impairment loss would be recognized to the extent that the carrying amount of the reporting unit exceeds its fair value.
We review long-lived assets, including finite-lived intangible assets subject to amortization, for impairment upon the occurrence of events or changes in circumstances that would indicate that the carrying value of an asset or groups of assets may not be recoverable. Recoverability of assets to be held and used is measured by a comparison of the carrying amount of an asset or group of assets to the future net cash flows expected to be generated by the asset or group of assets. If such assets are not considered to be fully recoverable, any impairment to be recognized is measured by the amount by which the carrying amount of the asset or group of assets exceeds its respective fair value. Assets to be disposed of are reported at the lower of the carrying amount or fair value less costs to sell.
Accounting for Income Taxes
As part of the process of preparing consolidated financial statements, we are required to estimate our income taxes in each of the jurisdictions in which we operate. This process involves us estimating our actual current tax exposure together with assessing temporary differences resulting from differing treatment of items, such as depreciation periods for our property and equipment and recognition of our deferred revenue, for tax and financial accounting purposes. These differences result in deferred tax assets and liabilities, which are included in our consolidated balance sheets. We must then assess the likelihood that our deferred tax assets (primarily net operating loss carryforwards) will be recovered by way of offset against taxable income. To the extent we believe that recovery is not likely, we must establish a valuation allowance. To the extent we establish a

27


valuation allowance or increase or decrease this allowance in a period, we must reflect such amount as income tax expense or benefit in the consolidated statements of operations.
A high degree of management judgment is required in determining our provision or benefit for income taxes, our deferred tax assets and liabilities and any valuation allowance recorded against our net deferred tax assets. Variables that will impact whether our deferred tax assets will be utilized prior to their expiration include, among other things, attendance, per capita spending and other revenues, capital expenditures, levels of debt, interest rates, operating expenses, sales of assets, and changes in state or federal tax laws. In determining the valuation allowance we do not consider, and under generally accepted accounting principles cannot consider, the possible changes in state or federal tax laws until the laws change. To the extent we reduce capital expenditures, our future accelerated tax deductions for our rides and equipment will be reduced, and our interest expense deductions could correspondingly decrease as cash flows that previously would have been utilized for capital expenditures could be utilized to lower our outstanding debt balances. Increases in capital expenditures without corresponding increases in net revenues would reduce short-term taxable income and increase the likelihood of additional valuation allowances being required as net operating loss carryforwards expire prior to their utilization. Conversely, increases in revenues in excess of operating expenses would reduce the likelihood of additional valuation allowances being required as the short-term taxable income would increase the utilization of net operating loss carryforwards prior to their expiration. See Note 2 and Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion.
Revenue Recognition
We recognize revenue upon admission into our parks, provision of our services or when products are delivered to our guests. Revenues are presented in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations net of sales taxes collected from our guests and remitted or payable to government taxing authorities. In contrast to our season pass and other multi-use offerings (such as our all-season dining pass program, which enables season pass holders and members to eat meals and snacks any day they visit the park for one upfront payment) that expire at the end of each operating season, the membership program continues on a month-to-month basis after the initial twelve-month membership term and can be canceled any time after the initial term pursuant to the terms of the membership program. Guests enrolled in the membership program can visit our parks an unlimited number of times anytime they are open as long as the guest remains enrolled in the membership program. For season passes, memberships in the initial twelve-month term and other multi-use admissions, we estimate a redemption rate based on historical experience and other factors and assumptions we believe to be customary and reasonable and recognize a pro-rata portion of the revenue as the guest attends our parks. We review the estimated redemption rate regularly and on an ongoing basis and revise it as necessary throughout the year. Amounts received for multi-use admissions in excess of redemptions are recognized in deferred revenue. For active memberships after the initial twelve-month term, we recognize revenue monthly as payments are received.
We have entered into multiple agreements to assist third parties in the planning, design, development and operation of Six Flags-branded theme parks outside of North America. Pursuant to these agreements, we provide exclusivity, brand licensing, and other services to assist in the design, development and project management of Six Flags-branded theme parks, as well as initial and ongoing management services. Each significant deliverable qualifies as a separate unit of accounting. We recognize revenue under these agreements over the relevant service period of each unit of accounting based on its relative selling price, as determined by our best estimate of selling price. Our best estimate of selling price is established consistent with our overall pricing strategy and includes, but is not limited to, consideration of current market conditions, various risk factors and our required return and profit objectives. We review the service period of each unit of accounting on an ongoing basis and revise it as necessary throughout the year. Revisions to the relevant service periods of the units of accounting may result in revisions to revenue in future periods and are recognized in the period in which the change is identified.
Recent Events
On February 21, 2017, we announced that we signed definitive agreements with our current partner in China to develop two additional Six Flags-branded parks in China. The theme park and waterpark will be located in Bishan, a district of Chongqing. The agreements do not require us to make any capital investments in the parks. As compensation for our design and management services, we will receive fees over the design and development period as well as ongoing remuneration once the parks open to the public.
On March 30, 2017, we announced that Holdings' Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase plan that allows us to repurchase an incremental $500.0 million of our common stock. The amount of shares of common stock authorized to be repurchased under the plan was in addition to the amount remaining under our existing stock repurchase plan on that date, which has since been fully utilized. We have repurchased just under $2.0 billion of Holdings' common stock at an average price of $39.60 since February 2011 and have approximately $342.8 million available for repurchases under our current plans.

28


On March 30, 2017, we also announced that we completed an analysis of the costs and benefits of pursuing a spin-off of our real estate assets into a Real Estate Investment Trust ("REIT") and determined that it would not be in the best interest of our stockholders to proceed with such a transaction at that time. The cost of the REIT transaction, the ongoing operational complexity, the limitations on future strategic flexibility and our significant future growth opportunities were the primary factors in making that determination. However, we could revisit the merits of pursuing such a transaction should circumstances change.
On April 13, 2017, we issued an additional $700.0 million of 4.875% Senior Notes due 2024 (the "2024 Notes Add-on") and $500.0 million of 5.50% Senior Notes due 2027 (the "2027 Notes"). A portion of the net proceeds from the issuance of these notes was used to redeem all of the outstanding 2021 Notes (as defined in Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report) and to satisfy and discharge the indenture governing the 2021 Notes. The remaining net proceeds were used to repurchase shares of our common stock.
On April 22, 2017, we announced the opening of a new 67-acre waterpark in Oaxtepec, Mexico, located about 50 miles southwest of Six Flags Mexico.
On April 27, 2017, we announced that we entered into an agreement with EPR Properties to operate Waterworld California, Northern California's largest waterpark, located 18 miles southeast of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
On April 28, 2017, we announced that we entered into an agreement to repurchase approximately five million shares of Holdings' common stock from H Partners and affiliated funds. H Partners acquired its shares in Holdings in 2010 and, prior to the repurchase, was Holdings' largest stockholder.
On June 21, 2017, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points through a reduction in the applicable margin from LIBOR plus 2.25% to LIBOR plus 2.00%.
On July 18, 2017, we announced that Holdings' Board of Directors appointed James Reid-Anderson, who had been serving as Executive Chairman of Holdings since February 2016, as Holdings' Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer effective July 18, 2017.  Mr. Reid-Anderson replaced John M. Duffey, who retired as Chief Executive Officer of Holdings and as a director.  Mr. Reid-Anderson formerly served as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Holdings from August 2010 through February 2016.
On September 20, 2017, we provided an update about our two parks in Mexico following the earthquakes that struck in the State of Puebla, south of Mexico City, which is about 50 miles from our new waterpark in Oaxtepec. Our theme park in Mexico City sustained minimal damage. Our new waterpark sustained damage to a number of structures and did not reopen until December 2017.
On October 26, 2017, we announced the addition of three more parks to be built in China. Six Flags Kids World—the first park of its kind and designed especially for families with young children—will be built adjacent to both Six Flags Zhejiang and Six Flags Chongqing. Additionally, the all-new Six Flags Adventure Park, offering high-energy outdoor thrills, will adjoin the Six Flags Chongqing complex. The agreements for these parks do not require us to make any capital investments in the parks. As compensation for our design and management services, Six Flags will receive fees during the design and development period as well as an ongoing remuneration once the parks open to the public.
On November 8, 2017, we announced that Holdings' Board of Directors declared a fourth quarter cash dividend of $0.70 per share of common stock payable December 11, 2017 to stockholders of record as of November 30, 2017. This dividend represented a 9% increase on an annualized basis. On February 7, 2018, we announced that Holdings' Board of Directors declared a first quarter 2018 cash dividend of $0.78 per share of common stock payable March 5, 2018 to stockholders of record as of February 19, 2018. This increase represents an additional 11% increase on an annualized basis from the $0.70 dividend paid in December 2017.
On February 20, 2018, we announced a new initiative in connection with Jones Lang LaSalle, Inc., a global professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management, to power two more of our parks – Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California and Six Flags Magic Mountain, near Los Angeles, California – almost entirely with solar power. A renewable energy independent power producer will build, own and operate the renewable energy systems in California. Separately, we recently announced that Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey will soon begin construction of a solar energy project.
While our international momentum remains strong, our partner is currently in arrears on payments due to us. While this is an unfortunate development, we remain in close working contact with our partner. All parties believe that opening a Six Flags park is key to the success of the overall complex in Dubai and that a satisfactory resolution will be achieved.

29


Results of Operations
The following table sets forth summary financial information for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
Percentage Changes
(Amounts in thousands, except per capita data) 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2017
vs
2016
 
2016
vs
2015
Total revenue
$
1,359,074

 
$
1,319,398

 
$
1,263,938

 
3
 %
 
4
 %
Operating expenses
509,123

 
489,407

 
465,219

 
4
 %
 
5
 %
Selling, general and administrative expenses
158,498

 
291,794

 
234,810

 
(46
)%
 
24
 %
Cost of products sold
110,374

 
109,579

 
100,709

 
1
 %
 
9
 %
Depreciation and amortization
111,671

 
106,893

 
107,411

 
4
 %
 
 %
Loss on disposal of assets
3,959

 
1,968

 
9,882

 
101
 %
 
(80
)%
Interest expense, net
99,010

 
81,872

 
75,903

 
21
 %
 
8
 %
Loss on debt extinguishment
37,116

 
2,935

 
6,557

 
N/M

 
(55
)%
Other expense, net
271

 
1,684

 
223

 
(84
)%
 
N/M

Income before income taxes
329,052

 
233,266

 
263,224

 
41
 %
 
(11
)%
Income tax expense
16,026

 
76,539

 
70,369

 
(79
)%
 
9
 %
Net income
313,026

 
156,727

 
192,855

 
100
 %
 
(19
)%
Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(39,210
)
 
(38,425
)
 
(38,165
)
 
2
 %
 
1
 %
Net income attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
$
273,816

 
$
118,302

 
$
154,690

 
131
 %
 
(24
)%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Attendance
30,421

 
30,108

 
28,557

 
1
 %
 
5
 %
Total revenue per capita
$
44.68

 
$
43.82

 
$
44.26

 
2
 %
 
(1
)%
Year Ended December 31, 2017 vs. Year Ended December 31, 2016
Revenue
Revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 totaled $1,359.1 million, a 3% increase compared to $1,319.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to a 1% increase in attendance driven by strong season pass and membership sales, and by a $0.86, or 2%, increase in total revenue per capita, calculated as total revenue divided by total attendance. Per capita guest spending, which excludes sponsorship, licensing, Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark accommodations and other fees, increased by $0.54, or 1%, to $41.61 during the year ended December 31, 2017 from $41.07 during the year ended December 31, 2016, primarily as a result of ticket price gains, partially offset by lower in-park spending per capita due to a higher mix of season pass holder and member attendance, which lowers per capita guest spending but increases overall guest spending over the course of the operating season.
Admissions revenue per capita increased $0.61, or 3%, during the year ended December 31, 2017 relative to the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase in admissions revenue per capita was primarily driven by modest price increases on all ticket types and membership revenue from active memberships past the initial twelve-month term, during which time members continue to pay their membership fees on a month-to-month basis, partially offset by the higher mix of season pass holder and member attendance. Non-admissions revenue per capita decreased $0.07, or less than 1%, during the year ended December 31, 2017 relative to the year ended December 31, 2016. The decrease in non-admissions per capita guest spending was driven by the higher percentage of season pass holder and member attendance, partially offset by the continued success of our all-season dining pass.
Operating expenses
Operating expenses for the year ended December 31, 2017 increased $19.7 million, or 4%, relative to the year ended December 31, 2016, primarily as a result of increases in statutory and market-based wage rate increases, an increase in seasonal labor resulting from the expansion of our Holiday in the Park® event at Six Flags New England, increases in rent and utility costs related to the operations of our new waterparks in Oaxtepec, Mexico and Concord, California, as well as an increase in credit card processing fees, operating supplies and other services related to the growth in attendance and revenue.
Selling, general and administrative expenses
Selling, general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2017 decreased $133.3 million, or 46%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2016, primarily as a result of a net decrease in incentive-based compensation

30


expense resulting from the 2017 Performance Award, for which we reduced incentive-based compensation during the year ended December 31, 2017 as late achievement of the 2017 Performance Award is not deemed probable to occur until 2018. This reduction was partially offset by increased costs related to insurance, legal and other professional services.
Cost of products sold
Cost of products sold for the year ended December 31, 2017 increased $0.8 million, or 1%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2016. Cost of products sold as a percentage of non-admission revenue for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was comparable for both periods.
Depreciation and amortization expense
Depreciation and amortization expense for the year ended December 31, 2017 increased $4.8 million, or 4.5%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2016. The increase in depreciation and amortization expense is primarily due to asset additions made in conjunction with our ongoing capital program.
Loss on disposal of assets
Loss on disposal of assets increased by $2.0 million, or 101%, for the year ended December 31, 2017 relative to the year ended December 31, 2016, primarily as a result of the disposal of more assets during the current period in conjunction with our ongoing capital program relative to the comparable period in the prior year as well as a gain recognized on the sale of underutilized assets in the prior year.
Interest expense, net
Interest expense, net increased $17.1 million, or 21%, for the year ended December 31, 2017 relative to the year ended December 31, 2016 as a result of the incremental interest incurred on a higher debt balance resulting from the issuance of the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes.
Loss on debt extinguishment
On April 13, 2017, Holdings issued $700.0 million of 4.875% senior unsecured notes due 2024, and $500.0 million of 5.50% senior unsecured notes due 2027. We used a portion of the proceeds from the issuance of the notes to redeem all of the outstanding 2021 Notes and to satisfy and discharge the indenture governing the 2021 Notes. In connection with the extinguishment of the 2021 Notes, we recognized a loss on debt extinguishment of $36.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2017.
On June 21, 2017, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points. In conjunction with this amendment, we recognized a loss on debt extinguishment of $0.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2017.
On September 29, 2017, we repaid all amounts outstanding under the Refinance Loan (as defined in Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report). In connection with the repayment of the Refinance Loan, we recognized a nominal amount as loss on debt extinguishment for the year ended December 31, 2017.
See Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion.
Income tax expense
Income tax expense was $16.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to $76.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The decrease in income tax expense is the result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) ("the Act") on December 22, 2017. The Act reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, resulting in a remeasurement of our deferred tax balances.
See Note 11 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion.
Year Ended December 31, 2016 vs. Year Ended December 31, 2015
Revenue
Revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016 totaled $1,319.4 million, a 4% increase compared to $1,263.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The increase in revenue was primarily attributable to a 5% increase in attendance driven by

31


strong season pass and membership sales, partially offset by a $0.44, or 1% decrease in total revenue per capita, calculated as total revenue divided by total attendance. Per capita guest spending, which excludes sponsorship, licensing, Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark accommodations and other fees, decreased $0.53, or 1%, to $41.07 during the year ended December 31, 2016 from $41.60 during the year ended December 31, 2015 primarily as a result of a substantially higher mix of season pass holder and member attendance, which lowers per capita guest spending but increases overall guest spending over the course of the operating season, and the continued weakening of the Mexican Peso and the Canadian Dollar. These adverse impacts were partially offset by the continued success of our all-season dining pass, modest price increases on all ticket types and ongoing payments received on active memberships after the initial twelve-month term.
Admissions revenue per capita decreased $0.32, or 1%, during the year ended December 31, 2016 relative to the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease in admissions revenue per capita was primarily driven by the substantially higher mix of season pass holder and member attendance and the negative impact of the weakened Mexican Peso and Canadian Dollar. These negative impacts were partially offset by modest price increases on all ticket types and membership revenue for active memberships past the initial twelve-month term during which time members continue to pay their membership fees on a month-to-month basis. On a constant currency basis, admissions revenue per capita decreased $0.10 or less than 1%. Non-admissions revenue per capita decreased $0.21, or 1%, during the year ended December 31, 2016 relative to the year ended December 31, 2015. The decrease in non-admissions per capita guest spending was also driven by the higher percentage of season pass holder and member attendance and the weakened Mexican Peso and Canadian Dollar previously discussed and was partially offset by the continued success of our all-season dining pass. On a constant currency basis, non-admissions revenue per capita increased $0.03, or less than 1%.
Operating expenses
Operating expenses for the year ended December 31, 2016 increased $24.2 million, or 5%, relative to the year ended December 31, 2015, primarily as a result of increases in statutory and market-based wage rates, an increase in seasonal labor resulting from the expansion of our Holiday in the Park® event at Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags America, as well as an increase in credit card processing fees, operating supplies and other services related to the growth in attendance and revenue. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in utility costs and the continued weakening of the Mexican Peso and Canadian Dollar, which favorably impacted expenses.
Selling, general and administrative expenses
Selling, general and administrative expenses for the year ended December 31, 2016 increased $57.0 million, or 24%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2015, primarily as a result of (i) a net increase in incentive-based compensation expense resulting from the 2017 Performance Award, which we began recognizing during the year ended December 31, 2016 as achievement of this award was deemed probable, and (ii) increased costs related to insurance, legal and other professional services. These increases were partially offset by the continued weakening of the Mexican Peso and Canadian Dollar.
Cost of products sold
Cost of products sold for the year ended December 31, 2016 increased $8.9 million, or 9%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2015. Cost of products sold as a percentage of non-admission revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016 increased slightly relative to the year ended December 31, 2015 primarily as a result of increased food and beverage sales associated with our all-season dining pass program, which results in an increase in food and beverage sales but at slightly lower margin.
Depreciation and amortization expense
Depreciation and amortization expense for the year ended December 31, 2016 decreased $0.5 million, or less than 1%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2015. The reduction in depreciation and amortization expense is primarily due to the impact of the weakened Mexican Peso and Canadian Dollar. On a constant currency basis, depreciation and amortization expense increased $0.5 million primarily as a result of asset additions made in conjunction with our ongoing capital program.
Loss on disposal of assets
Loss on disposal of assets decreased by $7.9 million, or 80%, for the year ended December 31, 2016 relative to the year ended December 31, 2015, as a result of the sale of excess land at Six Flags St. Louis in 2015.

32


Interest expense, net
Interest expense, net increased $6.0 million, or 8%, for the year ended December 31, 2016 relative to the year ended December 31, 2015 as a result of the incremental interest incurred on a higher debt balance resulting from the increased borrowings under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan and the issuance of the 2024 Notes in June 2016.
Loss on debt extinguishment
On June 16, 2016, Holdings issued $300.0 million of 4.875% senior unsecured notes. We used $150.0 million of the proceeds from the issuance of the notes to reduce our borrowings under the Amended and Restated Term Loan and we recognized a loss on debt extinguishment of $2.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.
On December 20, 2016, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points. In conjunction with this amendment, we recognized a loss on debt extinguishment of $0.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.
See Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion.
Income tax expense
Income tax expense was $76.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2016 compared to $70.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2015. The increase in income tax expense is the result of an increase in our effective tax rate primarily due to a discrete federal tax benefit recognized in the prior year resulting from a change in accounting method for federal income tax purposes related to recoverable bankruptcy costs as well as the release of state valuation allowances in several jurisdictions related to state tax law changes in the prior year.
Liquidity, Capital Commitments and Resources
General
Our principal sources of liquidity are cash generated from operations, funds from borrowings and existing cash on hand. Our principal uses of cash include the funding of working capital obligations, debt service, investments in parks (including capital projects), common stock dividends, payments to our partners in the Partnership Parks and common stock repurchases.
During the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, Holdings paid $227.1 million, $220.3 million and $201.0 million, respectively, in cash dividends on its common stock. One of our fundamental business goals is to generate superior returns for our stockholders over the long term. As part of our strategy to achieve this goal, we have declared and paid quarterly cash dividends each quarter beginning with the fourth quarter of 2010. Holdings' Board of Directors has since increased the quarterly cash dividend multiple times and in November 2017, Holdings' Board of Directors declared another increase in our ongoing quarterly cash dividend from $0.64 per share of common stock to $0.70 per share of common stock. Additionally, in February 2018, Holdings' Board of Directors increased the quarterly cash dividend from $0.70 per share of common stock to $0.78 per share of common stock. The amount and timing of any future dividends payable on Holdings' common stock are within the sole discretion of Holdings' Board of Directors. Based on (i) our current number of shares outstanding and (ii) estimates of share repurchases, restricted stock vesting and option exercises, we currently anticipate paying approximately $265 million in total cash dividends on our common stock during the 2018 calendar year.
In November 2013, Holdings' Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program that permitted Holdings to repurchase up to $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock over a four-year period (the "November 2013 Stock Repurchase Plan"). Holdings fully utilized the availability under the November 2013 Stock Repurchase Plan in August 2016. Throughout the program, Holdings repurchased 11,428,000 shares at a cumulative cost of approximately $500.0 million and an average price per share of $43.75.
On June 7, 2016, Holdings announced that its Board of Directors approved a new stock repurchase program that permitted Holdings to repurchase an incremental $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock (the "June 2016 Stock Repurchase Plan"). Holdings fully utilized the availability under the June 2016 Stock Repurchase Plan by May 2017. Throughout the program, Holdings repurchased 8,392,000 shares at a cumulative cost of approximately $500.0 million and an average price per share of $59.58.
On March 30, 2017, Holdings announced that its Board of Directors approved a new stock repurchase plan that permits Holdings to repurchase an incremental $500.0 million in shares of Holdings' common stock (the "March 2017 Stock Repurchase Plan"). As of February 15, 2018, Holdings had repurchased 2,775,000 shares at a cumulative cost of

33


approximately $157.2 million and an average price per share of $56.65 under the March 2017 Stock Repurchase Plan, leaving approximately $342.8 million available for permitted repurchases.
The repurchase of common stock and the payment of cash dividends is reflected as a reduction of stockholders' equity.
On June 30, 2015, we entered into the Amended and Restated Credit Facility, which is comprised of the $250.0 million Amended and Restated Revolving Loan and the $700.0 million Amended and Restated Term Loan B. In connection with entering into the Amended and Restated Credit Facility, we repaid the outstanding Term Loan B. The remaining proceeds from the Amended and Restated Credit Facility were primarily used for share repurchases.
On June 16, 2016, Holdings issued $300.0 million of 4.875% senior unsecured notes due July 31, 2024. We used $150.0 million of the proceeds from the issuance of the 2024 Notes to reduce our borrowings under the Amended and Restated Term Loan B. The remaining net proceeds were used for general corporate and working capital purposes, which primarily included repurchases of our common stock.
Also on June 16, 2016, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points through a reduction in the applicable margin from LIBOR plus 2.75% to LIBOR plus 2.50%. In addition to the rate reduction, the $150.0 million prepayment made with proceeds from the 2024 Notes discussed above eliminated all future quarterly amortization payments on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B until maturity in 2022.
On December 20, 2016, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that further reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points through a reduction in the applicable margin from LIBOR plus 2.50% to LIBOR plus 2.25%, with the elimination of the minimum LIBOR rate requirement.
On April 13, 2017, we issued the 2024 Notes Add-on and the 2027 Notes. A portion of the net proceeds from the issuance of these notes was used to redeem all of the outstanding 2021 Notes and to satisfy and discharge the indenture governing the 2021 Notes, including to pay accrued and unpaid interest to the redemption date and the related redemption premium on the 2021 Notes, and to pay related fees and expenses.

On June 21, 2017, we entered into an amendment to the Amended and Restated Credit Facility that reduced the overall borrowing rate on the Amended and Restated Term Loan B by 25 basis points through a reduction in the applicable margin from LIBOR plus 2.25% to LIBOR plus 2.00%.
Based on historical and anticipated operating results, we believe that cash flows from operations, available cash and amounts available under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility will be adequate to meet our liquidity needs, including any anticipated requirements for working capital, capital expenditures, common stock dividends, scheduled debt service, obligations under arrangements relating to the Partnership Parks and discretionary common stock repurchases. Additionally, we expect to be able to use our current federal net operating loss carryforwards to reduce our federal income tax liability until 2024. For the years 2018 through 2024, we have significant federal net operating loss carryforwards subject to an annual limitation that we expect will offset approximately $32.5 million of taxable income per year. We do, however, anticipate paying a low level of federal income taxes beginning in the next year or two and estimate a slow growth in federal income taxes payable in cash going forward.
Our current and future liquidity is greatly dependent upon our operating results, which are driven largely by overall economic conditions as well as the price and perceived quality of the entertainment experience at our parks. Our liquidity could also be adversely affected by a disruption in the availability of credit as well as unfavorable weather; natural disasters; contagious diseases, such as Ebola, Zika, or swine or avian flu; accidents or the occurrence of an event or condition at our parks, including terrorist acts or threats inside or outside of our parks; negative publicity; or significant local competitive events, which could significantly reduce paid attendance and revenue related to that attendance at any of our parks. While we work with local police authorities on security-related precautions to prevent certain types of disturbances, we can make no assurance that these precautions will be able to prevent these types of occurrences. However, we believe that our ownership of many parks in different geographic locations reduces the effects of adverse weather and these other types of occurrences on our consolidated results. If such an adverse event were to occur, we may be unable to borrow under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan or may be required to repay amounts outstanding under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and/or may need to seek additional financing. In addition, we expect that we may be required to refinance all or a significant portion of our existing debt on or prior to maturity, requiring us to potentially seek additional financing. The degree to which we are leveraged could adversely affect our ability to obtain any additional financing. See "Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" and "Item 1A. Risk Factors" included elsewhere in this Annual Report.

34


As of December 31, 2017, our total indebtedness, net of discount and deferred financing costs, was $2,021.2 million, which included $986.5 million of the 2024 Notes, $497.6 million of the 2027 Notes, and $537.1 million outstanding under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility. Based on (i) non-revolving credit debt outstanding on that date, (ii) anticipated levels of working capital revolving borrowings during 2018 and 2019, (iii) estimated interest rates for floating-rate debt and (iv) the 2024 Notes and the 2027 Notes, we anticipate annual cash interest payments of approximately $100 million during 2018 and 2019. Under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility, all remaining outstanding principal of the Amended and Restated Term Loan B is due and payable on June 30, 2022.
As of December 31, 2017, we had approximately $77.5 million of unrestricted cash and $231.3 million available for borrowing under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan. Our ability to borrow under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan is dependent upon compliance with certain conditions, including a maximum senior leverage maintenance covenant, a minimum interest coverage covenant and the absence of any material adverse change in our business or financial condition. If we were to become unable to borrow under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan, and we failed to meet our projected results from operations significantly, we might be unable to pay in full our off-season obligations. A default under the Amended and Restated Revolving Loan could permit the lenders under the Amended and Restated Credit Facility to accelerate the obligations thereunder. The Amended and Restated Revolving Loan expires on June 30, 2020. The terms and availability of the Amended and Restated Credit Facility and other indebtedness are not affected by changes in the ratings issued by rating agencies in respect of our indebtedness. For a more detailed description of our indebtedness, see Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
We currently plan on spending approximately 9% of annual revenues on capital expenditures during the 2018 calendar year.
During the year ended December 31, 2017, net cash provided by operating activities was $445.1 million. Net cash used in investing activities during the year ended December 31, 2017 was $130.2 million, consisting primarily of capital expenditures, partially offset by proceeds received from the disposal of assets. Net cash used in financing activities during the year ended December 31, 2017 was $376.9 million, primarily attributable to the payment of cash dividends, stock repurchases, distributions to our noncontrolling interests and the payment of debt issuance costs in connection with the issuance of the 2024 Notes Add-on and 2027 Notes. These uses of cash were partially offset by the proceeds from the 2024 Notes Add-on and 2027 Notes, a portion of which was used to retire our 2021 Notes, and proceeds from the exercise of stock options.
Since our business is both seasonal in nature and involves significant levels of cash transactions, our net operating cash flows are largely driven by attendance and per capita spending levels because most of our cash-based expenses are relatively fixed and do not vary significantly with either attendance or per capita spending. These cash-based operating expenses include salaries and wages, employee benefits, advertising, third party services, repairs and maintenance, utilities and insurance.
Partnership Park Obligations
We guarantee certain obligations relating to the Partnership Parks. These obligations include (i) minimum annual distributions (including rent) of approximately $71.1 million in 2018 (subject to cost of living adjustments in subsequent years) to the limited partners in the Partnerships Parks (based on our ownership of units as of December 31, 2017, our share of the distribution will be approximately $31.1 million), (ii) minimum capital expenditures at each of the Partnership Parks during rolling five-year periods, based generally on 6% of the Partnership Park's revenues, (iii) an annual offer to purchase all outstanding limited partnership units at the Specified Price to the extent tendered by the unit holders, which annual offer must remain open from March 31 through late April of each year, and any limited partnership interest tendered during such time period must be fully paid for no later than May 15th of that year, (iv) making annual ground lease payments, and (v) either (a) purchasing all of the outstanding limited partnership interests in the Partnership Parks through the exercise of a call option upon the earlier of the occurrence of certain specified events and the end of the term of the partnerships that hold the Partnership Parks in 2027 (in the case of Georgia) and 2028 (in the case of Texas), or (b) causing each of the partnerships that hold the Partnership Parks to have no indebtedness and to meet certain other financial tests as of the end of the term of such partnership. See Note 15 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for additional information.
After payment of the minimum distribution, we are entitled to a management fee equal to 3% of prior year gross revenues and, thereafter, any additional cash will be distributed first to management fee in arrears, repayment of any interest and principal on intercompany loans with any additional cash being distributed 95% to us, in the case of SFOG, and 92.5% to us, in the case of SFOT.

35


Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements
We had no off-balance sheet arrangements as of December 31, 2017.
Contractual Obligations
Set forth below is certain information regarding our debt, lease and purchase obligations as of December 31, 2017:
 
Payment Due by Period
(Amounts in thousands)
2018
 
2019 - 2020
 
2021 - 2022
 
2023 and beyond
 
Total
Long term debt — including current portion (1)
$

 
$

 
$
544,750

 
$
1,500,000

 
$
2,044,750

Interest on long-term debt (2)
95,850

 
191,064

 
179,969

 
221,250

 
688,133

Real estate and operating leases (3)
9,978

 
18,858

 
16,159

 
134,390

 
179,385

Purchase obligations (4)
154,028

 
8,500

 
9,000

 
4,500

 
176,028

Total
$
259,856

 
$
218,422

 
$
749,878

 
$
1,860,140

 
$
3,088,296

________________________________________
(1)
Payments are shown at principal amount. See Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion on long-term debt.
(2)
See Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion on long-term debt. Amounts shown reflect variable interest rates in effect at December 31, 2017.
(3)
Assumes future payments at 2017 revenue levels for lease payments based on a percentage of revenues. Also does not give effect to cost of living adjustments. Obligations not denominated in U.S. Dollars have been converted based on the exchange rates existing on December 31, 2017.
(4)
Represents obligations as of December 31, 2017 with respect to insurance, inventory, media and advertising commitments, computer systems and hardware, estimated annual license fees to Warner Bros. (through 2022) and new rides and attractions. Of the amount shown for 2018, approximately $83.6 million represents capital items. The amounts in respect of new rides and attractions were computed as of December 31, 2017 and include estimates by us of costs needed to complete such improvements that, in certain cases, were not legally committed at that date. Amounts shown do not include obligations to employees that cannot be quantified as of December 31, 2017, which are discussed below. Amounts shown also do not include purchase obligations existing at the individual park-level for supplies and other miscellaneous items, none of which are individually material.
Other Obligations
During each of the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, we made contributions to our defined benefit pension plan of $6.0 million. To control increases in costs, our pension plan was "frozen" effective March 31, 2006, pursuant to which most participants (excluding certain union employees whose benefits have subsequently been frozen) no longer continued to earn future pension benefits. Effective February 16, 2009, the remaining participants in the pension plan no longer earned future benefits. See Note 13 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for more information on our pension benefit plan.
We expect to make contributions of approximately $6.0 million in 2018 to our pension plan based on the 2017 actuarial valuation. We plan to make a contribution to our 401(k) plan in 2018, and our estimated expense for employee health insurance for 2018 is $17.7 million.
The vast majority of our capital expenditures in 2018 and beyond will be made on a discretionary basis. We plan on spending approximately 9% of annual revenues on capital expenditures during the 2018 calendar year.
We maintain insurance of the type and in amounts that we believe is commercially reasonable and that is available to businesses in our industry. See "Insurance" under "Item 1. Business." Our insurance premiums and self-insurance retention levels have remained relatively constant during the three-year period ending December 31, 2017. We cannot predict the level of the premiums that we may be required to pay for subsequent insurance coverage, the level of any self-insurance retention applicable thereto, the level of aggregate coverage available or the availability of coverage for specific risks.
We are party to various legal actions arising in the normal course of business. See "Legal Proceedings" and Note 15 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for information on certain significant litigation.
We may from time to time seek to retire our outstanding debt through cash purchases and/or exchanges for equity securities, in open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions or otherwise. Such repurchases or exchanges, if any, will depend on the prevailing market conditions, our liquidity requirements, contractual restrictions and other factors. The amounts involved may be material.
Market Risks and Sensitivity Analyses
Like other companies, we are exposed to market risks relating to fluctuations in interest rates and currency exchange rates. The objective of our financial risk management is to minimize the negative impact of interest rate and foreign currency

36


exchange rate fluctuations on our operations, cash flows and equity. We do not acquire market risk sensitive instruments for trading purposes.
In April 2014, we entered into three separate interest rate swap agreements (collectively, the "Interest Rate Swap Agreements") that we designated and documented as cash flow hedges. We entered into the Interest Rate Swap Agreements with a notional amount of $200.0 million to mitigate the risk of an increase in the LIBOR interest rate above the 0.75% minimum LIBOR rate in effect on the Term Loan B. The Interest Rate Swap Agreements expired in December 2017.
On March 31, 2017, the Interest Rate Swap Agreements were de-designated due to a change in the forecasted borrowings. The Interest Rate Swap Agreements continued to serve as economic hedges and provided protection against rising interest rates for the Amended and Restated Term Loan B (as defined in Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report) during the year ended December 31, 2017. Subsequent to the de-designation, the amounts recorded in accumulated other comprehensive loss have been amortized into earnings through the original December 2017 maturity date. As of the year ended December 31, 2017, the Interest Rate Swap Agreements have expired and all related amounts previously held as derivative assets and liabilities on our consolidated balance sheets and previously recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income ("AOCI") have been realized in earnings. See Note 6 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for further discussion.
The following is an analysis of the sensitivity of the market value, operations and cash flows of our market-risk financial instruments to hypothetical changes in interest rates as if these changes occurred as of December 31, 2017. The range of potential change in the market chosen for this analysis reflects our view of changes that are reasonably possible over a one-year period. Market values are the present values of projected future cash flows based on the interest rate assumptions. These forward-looking disclosures are selective in nature and only address the potential impacts from financial instruments. They do not include other potential effects which could impact our business as a result of these changes in interest and foreign currency exchange rates.
As of December 31, 2017, we had total debt of $2,021.2 million, of which $1,484.1 million represents fixed-rate debt. The remaining $537.1 million balance represents floating-rate debt. For fixed-rate debt, interest rate changes affect the fair market value but do not impact book value, operations or cash flows. Conversely, for floating-rate debt, interest rate changes generally do not affect the fair market value but do impact future operations and cash flows, assuming other factors remain constant.
Assuming other variables remain constant (such as foreign exchange rates and debt levels), the pre-tax operating and cash flow impact resulting from a one percentage point increase in interest rates would be approximately $5.4 million. See Note 7 to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for information on interest rates under our debt agreements.
Recently Issued Accounting Pronouncements
In May 2014, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers ("ASU 2014-09"). The amendments in ASU 2014-09 provide for a single, principles-based model for revenue recognition that replaces the existing revenue recognition guidance. In August 2015, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Updated 2015-14, Revenue from Contracts with Customers - Deferral of the Effective Date, to defer the effective date of ASU 2014-09 for one year. Therefore, the new guidance will be effective for annual and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2017 and will replace most existing revenue recognition guidance under U.S. GAAP when it becomes effective. In March and April 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-08 and No. 2016-10, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606) and Principal versus Agent Considerations and Identifying Performance Obligations and Licensing, respectively (together, “ASU 2016-08/10”). The amendments in ASU 2016-08/10 state that an entity should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. The effective date and transition requirements for the amendments in ASU 2016-08/10 are the same as the effective date and transition requirements in ASU 2015-14. It permits the use of either a retrospective or cumulative effect transition method and early adoption is permitted only as of annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016, including interim reporting periods within that reporting period. We have undertaken a review of the Company’s key revenue drivers as it relates to ASU 2014-9. The Company has adopted these standards as of January 1, 2018 and has selected a modified retrospective transition method for the adoption. Based on our evaluation of our revenue streams, the Company has determined that there will not be a material impact as of the date of adoption between the new revenue standard and how we previously recognized revenue, and will not have a material effect on our consolidated balance sheets, results of operations, and cash flows. The Company has finalized what additional information will be disclosed and determined the overall level of disclosure related to revenue recognition will increase.

37


In February 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) (“ASU 2016-02”). The main amendments in ASU 2016-02 require recognition on the balance sheet of lease assets and lease liabilities by lessees for those leases classified as operating leases. ASU 2016-02 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, including interim periods within those fiscal years, with early adoption permitted. An entity should apply ASU 2016-02 using a modified retrospective approach for leases that exist or are entered into after the beginning of the earliest comparative period in the financial statements, and early adoption is permitted; however, the FASB recently proposed an optional transition method for which entities would still adopt ASU 2016-02 using a modified retrospective transition method, but would recognize a cumulative-effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings in the period of adoption rather than in the earliest period presented. We note that with the adoption of the amendments in ASU 2016-02, operating leases related to certain of our land leases with durations greater than twelve months will require recognition in our consolidated balance sheet under ASU 2016-02. This could have a material effect on our consolidated balance sheets, but we do not anticipate this will have a material effect on our results of operations or cash flows.
In August 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-15, Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230): Classification of Certain Cash Receipts and Cash Payments ("ASU 2016-15"). The amendments in ASU 2016-15 address eight classification issues related to the statement of cash flows:
debt prepayment or debt extinguishment costs;
settlement of zero-coupon bonds;
contingent consideration payments made after a business combination;
proceeds from the settlement of insurance claims;
proceeds from the settlement of corporate-owned life insurance policies, including bank-owned life insurance policies;
distributions received from equity method investees;
beneficial interests in securitization transactions; and
separately identifiable cash flows and application of the predominance principle.
ASU 2016-15 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, and interim periods within those annual periods, with early adoption permitted. An entity should apply ASU 2016-15 using a retrospective transition method to each period presented. We do not anticipate that the adoption of this pronouncement will result in a material impact to the presentation of our statement of cash flows.
In November 2016, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-18, Statement of Cash Flows (Topic 230): Restricted Cash ("ASU 2016-18"). The amendments in ASU 2016-18 require that a statement of cash flows explain the change during the period in the total of cash, cash equivalents, and amounts generally described as restricted cash or restricted cash equivalents. Therefore, amounts generally described as restricted cash and restricted cash equivalents should be included with cash and cash equivalents when reconciling the beginning-of-period and end-of-period total amounts shown on the statement of cash flows. ASU 2016-18 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, and interim periods within those annual periods, with early adoption permitted. An entity should apply ASU 2016-18 using a retrospective transition method to each period presented. We do not anticipate that the adoption of this pronouncement will result in a material impact to the presentation of our statement of cash flows.
In March 2017, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2017-07, Compensation-Retirement Benefits (Topic 715): “Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost” ("ASU 2017-07"). The amendments in ASU 2017-07 require that an employer report the service cost component in the same line item or items as other compensation costs arising from services rendered by the pertinent employees during the period. The amendments in ASU 2017-07 also require that an employer disaggregate the service cost component from the other components of net benefit cost. ASU 2017-07 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, and interim periods within those annual periods. Early adoption is permitted as of the beginning of an annual period for which financial statements, interim or annual, have not been issued or made available for issuance. That is, early adoption should be within the first interim period if an employer issues interim financial statements. The amendments in ASU 2017-07 should be applied retrospectively for the presentation of the service cost component and the other components of net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit cost in the income statement and prospectively, on and after the effective date, for the capitalization of the service cost component of net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit in assets. We do not anticipate that the adoption of this pronouncement will result in a material impact to the presentation of our net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit cost.
In February 2018, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2018-02, Income Statement-Reporting Comprehensive Income (Topic 220): "Reclassification of Certain Tax Effects from Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income" ("ASU 2018-02"). The amendments in ASU 2018-02 allow entities to reclassify from accumulated other

38


comprehensive income (AOCI) to retained earnings "stranded" tax effects resulting from passage of the Act. An entity that elects to reclassify these amounts must reclassify stranded tax effects related to the change in federal tax rate for all items accounted for in other comprehensive income (e.g., employee benefits, cumulative translation adjustments). Entities may also elect to reclassify other stranded tax effects that relate to the Act but do not directly relate to the change in the federal rate (e.g., state taxes). However, because the amendments only relate to the reclassification of the income tax effects of the Act, the underlying guidance requiring the effect of a change in tax laws or rates be included in income from operations is not affected. Upon adoption of ASU 2018-02, entities will be required to disclose their policy for releasing the income tax effects from AOCI. Entities that elect to reclassify the income tax effects of the Act from AOCI to retained earnings must disclose that such an election was made, including a description of reclassified tax effects. ASU 2018-02 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, and interim periods within those fiscal years. Early adoption is permitted as of the beginning of an annual period for which financial statements, interim or annual, have not been issued or made available for issuance. The amendments in 2018-02 may be applied retrospectively to each period in which the effect of the Act is recognized or an entity may elect to apply the amendments in the period of adoption. The Company anticipates early adoption of these standards in first quarter of 2018, and has not selected an adoption method. We are still evaluating the effects of adopting ASU 2018-02, and this could have a material impact resulting from a reclassification from AOCI to retained earnings on our consolidated balance sheets, comprehensive income, and equity. However, we do not anticipate an impact to our consolidated statement of operations and cash flows.
ITEM 7A.
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
The information set forth under "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Market Risks and Sensitivity Analyses" of this Annual Report is incorporated by reference into this Item 7A.

39


ITEM 8.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS AND SUPPLEMENTARY DATA
SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Index to Consolidated Financial Statements

40


Management's Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
Our management is responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting, as such term is defined in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15(f). Under the supervision and with the participation of our management, including our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer, we conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting based on the framework in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission. Based on our evaluation under the framework in Internal Control—Integrated Framework (2013), our management concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2017.
The effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017 has been audited by KPMG LLP, the independent registered public accounting firm that audited our financial statements included herein, as stated in their report which is included herein.
 
/s/ JAMES REID-ANDERSON
 
James Reid-Anderson
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
 
 
 
/s/ MARSHALL BARBER
 
Marshall Barber
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
February 20, 2018

41


Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and Board of Directors
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation:
Opinions on the Consolidated Financial Statements and Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and subsidiaries (the “Company”) as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive income, equity (deficit), and cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2017, and the related notes (collectively, the “consolidated financial statements”). We also have audited the Company’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the years in the three-year period ended December 31, 2017, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Also in our opinion, the Company maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2017, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
Basis for Opinion
The Company’s management is responsible for these consolidated financial statements, for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting, and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting, included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s consolidated financial statements and an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (“PCAOB”) and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audits to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the consolidated financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud, and whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects.
Our audits of the consolidated financial statements included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the consolidated financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the consolidated financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the consolidated financial statements. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, and testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk. Our audits also included performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinions.
Definition and Limitations of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.

42


Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.



KPMG LLP

We have served as the Company's auditor since 1993.

Dallas, Texas
February 20, 2018



43

SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Consolidated Balance Sheets

 
December 31,
(Amounts in thousands, except share data)
2017
 
2016
ASSETS
 
 
 
Current assets:
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
77,496

 
$
137,385

Restricted-use investment securities

 
3,926

Accounts receivable, net
72,693

 
69,018

Inventories
24,960

 
24,156

Prepaid expenses and other current assets
45,923

 
44,306

Total current assets
221,072

 
278,791

Property and equipment, net:
 
 
 
Property and equipment, at cost
2,095,887

 
1,968,565

Accumulated depreciation
(857,930
)
 
(757,310
)
Total property and equipment, net
1,237,957

 
1,211,255

Other assets:
 
 
 
Debt issuance costs
2,991

 
4,188

Deposits and other assets
12,821

 
9,218

Goodwill
630,248

 
630,248

Intangible assets, net of accumulated amortization
351,587

 
353,972

Total other assets
997,647

 
997,626

Total assets
$
2,456,676

 
$
2,487,672

 
 
 
 
LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' DEFICIT
 
 
 
Current liabilities:
 
 
 
Accounts payable
$
28,998

 
$
26,209

Accrued compensation, payroll taxes and benefits
26,576

 
31,039

Accrued insurance reserves
39,347

 
42,443

Accrued interest payable
26,288

 
27,684

Other accrued liabilities
34,617

 
35,461

Deferred revenue
142,014

 
123,955

Current portion of long-term debt

 
29,161

Total current liabilities
297,840

 
315,952

Noncurrent Liabilities:
 
 
 
Long-term debt, net
2,021,178

 
1,624,486

Other long-term liabilities
41,488

 
48,568

Deferred income taxes
106,851

 
199,280

Total noncurrent liabilities
2,169,517

 
1,872,334

Total liabilities
2,467,357

 
2,188,286

 
 
 
 
Redeemable noncontrolling interests
494,431

 
485,876

 
 
 
 
Stockholders' deficit:
 
 
 
Preferred stock, $1.00 par value

 

Common stock, $0.025 par value, 140,000,000 shares authorized and 84,488,433 and 90,849,428 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2016, respectively
2,112

 
2,271

Capital in excess of par value
1,086,265

 
1,116,227

Accumulated deficit
(1,529,608
)
 
(1,237,804
)
Accumulated other comprehensive loss, net of tax
(63,881
)
 
(67,184
)
Total stockholders' deficit
(505,112
)
 
(186,490
)
Total liabilities and deficit
$
2,456,676

 
$
2,487,672

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

44

SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Consolidated Statements of Operations

 
Year Ended December 31,
(Amounts in thousands, except per share data)
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Theme park admissions
$
741,275

 
$
715,413

 
$
687,819

Theme park food, merchandise and other
524,582

 
521,167

 
500,190

Sponsorship, licensing and other fees
78,096

 
66,329

 
59,133

Accommodations revenue
15,121

 
16,489

 
16,796

Total revenue
1,359,074

 
1,319,398

 
1,263,938

Operating expenses (excluding depreciation and amortization shown separately below)
509,123

 
489,407

 
465,219

Selling, general and administrative expenses (including a reversal of stock-based compensation of $22,697 in 2017, and stock-based compensation of $116,339 and $56,233 in 2016 and 2015, respectively, and excluding depreciation and amortization shown separately below)
158,498

 
291,794

 
234,810

Costs of products sold
110,374

 
109,579

 
100,709

Depreciation
109,206

 
104,290

 
104,788

Amortization
2,465

 
2,603

 
2,623

Loss on disposal of assets
3,959

 
1,968

 
9,882

Interest expense
99,766

 
82,377

 
76,205

Interest income
(756
)
 
(505
)
 
(302
)
Loss on debt extinguishment
37,116

 
2,935

 
6,557

Other expense, net
271

 
1,684

 
223

Income before income taxes
329,052

 
233,266

 
263,224

Income tax expense
16,026

 
76,539

 
70,369

Net income
313,026

 
156,727

 
192,855

Less: Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(39,210
)
 
(38,425
)
 
(38,165
)
Net income attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
$
273,816

 
$
118,302

 
$
154,690

 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted-average common shares outstanding:
 
 
 
 
 
Basic:
86,802

 
92,349

 
93,580

Diluted:
88,494

 
94,398

 
97,981

 
 
 
 
 
 
Net income per average common share:
 

 
 

 
 

Basic:
$
3.15

 
$
1.28

 
$
1.65

Diluted:
$
3.09

 
$
1.25

 
$
1.58

 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash dividends declared per common share
$
2.62

 
$
2.38

 
$
2.14



See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

45

SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income

 
Years Ended December 31,
(Amounts in thousands) 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Net income
$
313,026

 
$
156,727

 
$
192,855

Other comprehensive income (loss), net of tax:
 
 
 
 
 
Foreign currency translation adjustment (1)
1,376

 
(4,639
)
 
(8,195
)
Defined benefit retirement plan (2)
1,402

 
3,543

 
1,769

Change in cash flow hedging (3)
525

 
470

 
(503
)
Other comprehensive income (loss), net of tax
3,303

 
(626
)
 
(6,929
)
Comprehensive income
316,329

 
156,101

 
185,926

Comprehensive income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(39,210
)
 
(38,425
)
 
(38,165
)
Comprehensive income attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation
$
277,119

 
$
117,676

 
$
147,761

________________________________________
(1)
Foreign currency translation adjustment is presented net of tax expense of $1.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, and net of tax benefit of $2.5 million and $4.4 million for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
(2)
Defined benefit retirement plan is presented net of tax expense of $0.6 million, $2.3 million, and $1.0 million for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
(3)
Change in cash flow hedging is presented net of tax expense of $0.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, and net of tax benefit of $0.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2015.

See accompanying notes to consolidated financial statements.

46

SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION
Consolidated Statements of Equity (Deficit)

 
Common stock
 
Capital in excess of par value
 
Accumulated deficit
 
Accumulated other comprehensive loss
 
Total Equity (Deficit)
(Amounts in thousands, except share data)
Shares issued
 
Amount
 
Balances at December 31, 2014
92,937,619

 
$
2,323

 
$
983,317

 
$
(702,116
)
 
$
(59,629
)
 
$
223,895

Issuance of common stock
3,737,155

 
94

 
38,925

 

 

 
39,019

Stock-based compensation

 

 
56,233

 

 

 
56,233

Dividends declared to common shareholders

 

 

 
(199,362
)
 

 
(199,362
)
Repurchase of common stock
(5,161,803
)
 
(129
)
 
(38,276
)
 
(206,709
)
 

 
(245,114
)
Employee stock purchase plan
37,880

 
1

 
1,511

 

 

 
1,512

Fresh start valuation adjustment for SFOG units purchased

 

 

 
272

 

 
272

Net income attributable to Six Flags Entertainment Corporation

 

 

 
154,690

 

 
154,690

Other comprehensive loss, net of tax

 

 

 

 
(6,929
)
 
(6,929
)
Balances at December 31, 2015
91,550,851

 
$
2,289

 
$
1,041,710