SIX FLAGS over FRESNO?!
Six Flags Theme Parks
Project News - (7/17/21) A bizarre rumor has been making the rounds this month based on a project development filing for something called ‘Six Flags over Fresno’.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Six Flags… over... Fresno? I’m assuming the majority of you reading those words are making a ‘WTF?’ face right now, and I’m right there with you. The initial speculation by fans dug back to try and tie this development into an older rumor claiming that Six Flags might be considering pulling out of Vallejo and how they could move their Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park to a new location. That rumor also kinda started earlier this year, even then claiming that the park might be sniffing around Fresno after being unhappy with the nearby “Fairgrounds 360 Project” to be built across from the park. The rumor got back enough in January 2021 that the city of Vallejo issued a statement that there was no truth to the rumor that Six Flags was planning on leaving.
I’ve kept quiet on these rumors, because I’ve been trying to make some sense of it all, as quite honestly, something just doesn’t seem right about all this. At the time, my only comment in private to a few readers was that I felt this may be some kind of private developer doing all this on their own to drum up possible interest in something they’ve got brewing in Frenso.
Now it seems that my suspicion may be partially correct, as the latest news articles have now confirmed that the Frenso project is the work of developer, Robert Sonnenblick, who claims to be working with Six Flags to scout possible locations in Fresno and Clovis. Sonnenblick’s development company is known for working on luxury hotels, retail malls and office complex projects around the country and back in March he also announced his company was looking to develop hotels on property near Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Great Adventure and the Six Flags parks in Texas.
Regarding the interest in Fresno, Sonnenblick described the project as including a hotel, retail space, an amusement park and water park, with a total investment of around $300 million. Apparently he was also involved with a proposal to build a Six Flags waterpark / hotel combo project in Solano County on land next to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom that was denied. I believe this was intended for the Fairgrounds site we previously mentioned. According to Sonnenblick, “Vallejo and Solano County screwed up that wonderful piece of land. It will sit empty for decades”.
So now they’re looking to Fresno as a nearby market that is not currently services by a theme park, though it looks like the city does have two existing waterparks. While I have not seen any plans for what they have in store, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are proposing something more like the indoor waterpark & lodge next to Six Flags’ The Great Escape theme park in upstate New York, that could mix in a retail location along with a very small collection of upcharge rides and experiences, rather than a full Six Flags theme park experience.
This could also be a possible new attempt to build new small mini Six Flags park concepts they previously had in development for their Chinese properties before those efforts collapsed. The idea was to build these new Six Flags branded mini-attraction concepts that would be bigger than your typical Family Entertainment Center, but much smaller than a full sized theme park, so somewhere between 25 to 75 acres in size.
One concept was called the Six Flags Adventure Park, which would have focused more on the current trend of building action park style attractions full of ropes courses, zip lines, rock climb walls, and mixing in some newer concepts such as off-road style go-karts courses and other real-world adventure attraction concepts.
A second concept being developed would have focused entirely on the younger Kids market, using the kid friendly IPs available to the chain to build something that would appeal to the Chuck E Cheese kid-friendly market, but with small rides and attractions, and in some locations it might also offer kid-friendly waterpark style additions into the mix, such as a giant mega water fortress attraction that would feature a few slides and plenty of interactive water gadgets and sprayers, all with a focus on shallow water kid-safe fun.
No matter what form it takes in Fresno, this project has a long ways to go before it becomes reality, so take everything you hear with a grain of salt until the contracts are signed and the ground has been broken. Hopefully we’ll have more of an idea of just how solid of a project this is by the end of the year.