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Six Flags files for bankruptcy protection

/ Source: The Associated Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It's a parent company restructuring issue and we continue to operate here," she said.

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

"We're having a terrific day," she said.