Six Flags uses real-time data to improve visitor experience and keep guests coming back for more.


18 to 1

Data centers consolidated

Six Flags

Theme park turns data into smiles.

“The most important thing to all of us at Six Flags is entertaining our guests,” explains Six Flags CIO Michael Israel. For the world’s largest regional theme park corporation, creating the perfect guest experience means having the right people and products available at the right time—from rides and roller coasters to games, food, beverages, and souvenirs. Anticipating and reacting to the needs of 26 million visitors each year requires massive amounts of data on factors both inside and outside the park.

When Israel joined Six Flags in 2006, each of the company’s 18 facilities was running as an independent unit with its own local equipment. Every park had different systems for email, ticketing, point of sale, and other park functions. Data was locked in silos and sent to a third party for analysis. By the time reports returned a week later, Six Flags had lost the opportunity to use that data when it was needed most. “As a result, a lot of decisions were based on years of experience and not necessarily true data,” explains Israel. “One of the key challenges we had in restructuring IT operations was bringing everything together.”

Soon after joining the company, Israel led his organization in an ambitious effort to standardize hardware and operations across its 18 data centers and consolidate backup operations to a central data center in Dallas, Texas. Data from each park would be fed in real time to the Dallas data center, where it could be instantly analyzed and used to make up-to-the-minute decisions.

With Six Flags’ new infrastructure, IT plays an integral role in supporting the mission of the company by providing rapid, reliable access to data about park operations and visitor activities. Analysis that used to take a week now happens in an instant. Instantaneous information access alerts staff to changing conditions, such as long lines, dwindling merchandise inventory, and fluctuations in weather. Parks can now quickly adapt to meet the needs of their guests by shifting products and staff to the locations with the greatest demand.

Since consolidating and standardizing on NetApp technology, Six Flags has reached new heights of profitability, with the best guest satisfaction ratings in the company’s history. In the never-ending competition for guests’ time and patronage, Six Flags is using every possible tool to create an unforgettable experience. “As Six Flags grows, the needs of both our internal customers and our guests are going to change. NetApp technologies allow us to react quickly, flexibly, and reliably to both of those needs,” says Israel. “The future, from an IT and innovation perspective, is as thrilling as one of our biggest coasters.”

About this Customer

Six Flags

The first Six Flags park opened in 1961 in Texas under founder Angus Wynne, who aspired to create a network of conveniently located and affordable theme parks. More than 50 years later, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. has grown to become the world’s largest regional theme park company. Headquartered in Grand Prairie, Texas, the company now has 18 properties across North America and employs more than 39,000 people every year.

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