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, says the move won't affect the operation of its 20 theme parks in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Its parks include Magic Mountain in Valencia, one of Southern California's largest theme parks.
"We just debuted Terminator Salvation, a new roller coaster at Magic Mountain, and the park is running at full throttle," said Sandra Daniels, a Six Flags spokeswoman. "This will have no bearing on the park's operations or guest experience."
Six Flags says it had a great year in 2008. It saw 25 million visitors and posted record revenue. But executives are trying to lighten a $2.4-billion debt load that they say is unsustainable.
Saturday's bankruptcy filing came after an 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.