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Cedar Fair Corporate Development Discussion Thread (FUN)

P. 70: Cedar Fair unveils 2022 operating season plans

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CEDAR FAIR NAMES FORMER DISNEY EXECUTIVE MATTHEW A. OUIMET PRESIDENT OF THE COMPANY

SANDUSKY, OHIO, June 20, 2011 – Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN) today announced that Matthew A. Ouimet has been named president of the Company, effective immediately. Ouimet, 53, will succeed Dick Kinzel, 70, as chief executive officer, who will retire upon the expiration of his contract on January 3, 2012. Today’s action is in line with Cedar Fair’s previously announced CEO succession planning process.

 

Ouimet is a 20 year veteran of the amusement park and hospitality industry, of which 17 years were spent with the Walt Disney Company (“Disney”). During his tenure with the global entertainment conglomerate, he had the opportunity to work in a wide range of business lines with increasing levels of responsibility. Highlights of his tenure at Disney include serving as:

 

- Senior vice president, finance and business development, and chief financial officer of the Disney Development Company, in which he was responsible for the financial management of Disney’s resort, theme park and corporate real estate projects in California, Florida and France;

- Executive general manager of Disney Vacation Club, where, through expanded marketing and sales initiatives, Disney established itself as a major competitor in the timeshare industry;

- President of Disney Cruise Line, where his team built the most successful family cruise product in the industry;

- President of the Disneyland Resort, where he and his team developed and implemented a comprehensive strategic plan that resulted in significantly improved and sustained performance for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and beyond.

 

In 2006, Ouimet was recruited to serve as the President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing 900 owned, managed and franchised hotel properties in 95 countries. In this capacity, in support of brand-driven pricing premiums, he drove an operational focus on delivering a guest experience consistent with the characteristics of each of Starwood’s hotel brands, including St Regis, Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels and five other brands. In 2008, Ouimet joined Corinthian Colleges, a $2 billion, publicly-held, post-secondary education company which operates in the U.S. and Canada. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Ouimet championed executive talent development and the expansion of management and systems infrastructure to support rapid growth in the student population and expanded regulatory complexity.

 

“Without question, Matt is the right leader to join Cedar Fair now as it builds momentum on its renewed path of sustained, profitable growth in 2011 and beyond,” said C. Thomas (“Tom”) Harvie, independent chairman. “Throughout his career, Matt has proven to be a critical thinker and effective business strategist with an enviable track record for identifying growth opportunities within existing businesses in the amusement park and resort industry. His broad and diverse background in resort development, finance, marketing and operations will allow him to integrate quickly into Cedar Fair.

 

“While our thorough search process with the assistance of the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International enabled us to meet with and consider many extremely qualified candidates, the Board agreed that Matt stood out from the rest due to his strategic business mindset and his natural and engaging leadership style,” said Harvie.

 

“Matt is an impressive business and operational executive whose character and values will be a great complement to the strong Cedar Fair culture,” said Dick Kinzel, chief executive officer. “I look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a seamless leadership transition.”

 

Ouimet currently serves on the Board of Collective Brands, Inc., a $3.4 billion global enterprise encompassing the internationally recognized footwear brands of Payless, Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Saucony, where he serves as a financial expert on the audit and finance committee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in accounting from State University of New York at Binghamton.

 

“I am thrilled to join this successful Cedar Fair leadership team. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Dick Kinzel and to continue to build on his legacy in years to come,” said Matt Ouimet. “Cedar Fair is a wonderful company – its properties are vibrant and extremely well-run, its reputation is superb, and the record-setting 2010 performance has put us on a path to deliver the positive financial results Cedar Fair has long been known for. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and sincerely thank the Board for entrusting me with this critical leadership role at this pivotal point in Cedar Fair’s evolution.”

 

“On behalf of the Board, the management team and all of our colleagues past and present, I would like to thank Dick Kinzel for his unparalleled vision, passion and selfless dedication to Cedar Fair over the years,” said Harvie. “Without Dick, Cedar Fair would not have the opportunities or the growth potential it has today. He has been the heart and soul of this organization for many, many years and, while he can be succeeded, he can never be replaced. We wish Dick and his wonderful family all the very best as he moves into his well-deserved retirement at the end of the year.”

 

Kinzel began his career in the amusement park industry at Cedar Point in 1972. In 1986, he was named president and chief executive officer of Cedar Fair, L.P., the parent company of the parks, which was listed on The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FUN) in 1987. Kinzel also served as chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2010.

Source

 

 

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Edited by jedimaster1227
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Matt did some FANTASTIC things at Disneyland when he was there. The 50th wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful without Matt, and that trend has continued since.

 

Matt being raised in SoCal knows what Knott's used to be and how awesome it once was. Hopefully he will bring some of the parks former glory back.

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Matt did some FANTASTIC things at Disneyland when he was there. The 50th wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful without Matt, and that trend has continued since.

 

Matt being raised in SoCal knows what Knott's used to be and how awesome it once was. Hopefully he will bring some of the parks former glory back.

 

Matt changed the DLR. Previously you had Pressler and Harris who pushed through DCA, let the resort fall to pieces, lower standards in ALL categories, and pretty much make a shit sandwich while staying in the TDA offices doing endless powerpoints on "If it's good enough for Six Flags". Then Matt came around, walked the parks, talked to guests and CMs, pushed plans for an ACTUAL 50th Anniversary Celebration, added attractions, and improved quality.

 

As long as CF allows this guy to do what he does best this is GREAT news for the company.

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After realizing all the great things he did, I'm really excitied for Ouimet and what he will be able to do for Cedar Fair. He knew what he was doing at Disney, hopefully this will be the same. This is great news.

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Wow! I think this is a very exciting announcement, not merely because of the Disney connection, but because Mr. Ouimet brings a fresh, outsider's perspective to Cedar Fair (yet one that remains deeply rooted in the theme park industry). His vast experience at a successful parks outside of Cedar Fair's chain, combined with his general commitment to the entertainment industry, might be exactly what Cedar Fair needs to re-energize the company and breathe some life back into its various parks.

 

I'd also be willing to bet that we may see some significant changes under Mr. Ouimet's leadership, and I'll be interested to see what exactly those changes are. In any event, his tenure at Disneyland suggests that he isn't want to simply maintain the status-quo if he feels like there is room for improvement and growth. Can anyone give some specific examples of what he did for the Disneyland resort? I'm not entirely sure what was involved with the whole 50th Anniversary celebration.

 

I'll be interested to see how Mr. Ouimet reacts to the general Cedar Fair culture (i.e. it's more about the rides than anything else). Will he continue with this trend, or might he begin to focus more on other elements of Cedar Fair properties like the resorts, themeing, etc?

 

In any event, I think these next few months (and years) should be very interesting to watch.

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Some of the things Matt did at Disneyland during his tenure (granted, most of this had "something" to do with the 50th, but I digress):

 

- Improved Maintenance. If you will remember the early 00's, a lot of Disneyland was getting kind of run down, maintenance wasn't really a top priority (see closures of Space Mtn and Big Thunder). Matt really turned this all around and helped to make Disneyland the sparkling jewel it needs to be. And those things he implemented are still being done today. All anybody has to do is look at all of the refurbs going on throughout the park constantly.

 

- Space Mountain: If you will recall, Space Mtn wasn't scheduled to "re-open" until very late in the Disneyland 50th celebration. I even want to say it was October 2005? Matt wasn't afraid to ask for/allocate the extra $$ to get the ride open early. If I'm not mistaken it "officially" reopened July 17, 2005, but I believe it was open earlier.

 

- 50th Fireworks: From what I recall, there were really no dedicated entertainment offerings for the 50th, and the fireworks was something Matt wanted to do. This has spawned pretty much every fireworks show that has come since at Disneyland.

 

- Culture Shift: Prior to Matt, the CM culture at Disneyland was HORRID. There was a HUGE disconnect between the front line CM's and TDA and Matt really worked hard to fix this. IMO, this was the BIGGEST thing he did at Disney and is probably what is most needed at CF.

 

I'm sure some others can share some other things (and there were many) but that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

 

I'm actually excited to see what he can do being "The Man" and not having to deal with the huge corporate entity that is Disney. Not saying CF isn't a corporate entity, but he's not going to have to fight for $$ from the studios, television, etc divisions like he had to with Disney.

 

I also don't think just throwing $$ at the parks is going to solve everything.

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I think one thing that is being overlooked is his non-theme park experience. He did wonders for Disneyland but I'm more excited about his other accomplishments. Sure he can fix and improve operations and ride experiences but I see him brought in as the person that will grow the company. Kinzel bought more and more parks whereas I think Matt will grow the parks into resorts. Lets be honest the hotels at Cedar Point for the most part (heck when compared dollar to dollar with Disney resorts) suck - Matt has experience with Starwood. Add in his Disney Vacation Club and Disney Cruise Line experience and this guy knows how to turn a park into a destination.

 

I think most of the Cedar Fair parks have reached their attendance limits at their current stage - take Cedar Point for example no matter what new or big ride they add the attendance doesn't drastically go up or down - it has remained the same for almost 20 years. How do you grow a park like that? You turn it into a destination. Those who travel around the world always comment how nearly every park has a resort - I wouldn't be surprised to see more of that happen with Cedar Fair. Like I said I think Matt was brought in more for his abilities to manage resort than just a theme park destinations.

 

- Will the headquarters remain in Sandusky? I could never really think of a good reason why the headquarters is in Sandusky - but I bet it has a lot to do with where Kinzel lives. (On a side note you have to wonder if Cedar Fair has a hard time attracting top talent or losing some - like Peter Crage - because of the location.)

 

- How much will management change? This is the first real outsider brought in since well... forever (not counting the Paramount Parks)? It always seemed that if the only people considered for the GM/VP roles were those who worked in the company for 20+ years (or your dad is the CEO...).

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Wow! I think this is a very exciting announcement, not merely because of the Disney connection, but because Mr. Ouimet brings a fresh, outsider's perspective to Cedar Fair (yet one that remains deeply rooted in the theme park industry). His vast experience at a successful parks outside of Cedar Fair's chain, combined with his general commitment to the entertainment industry, might be exactly what Cedar Fair needs to re-energize the company and breathe some life back into its various parks.

 

I'd also be willing to bet that we may see some significant changes under Mr. Ouimet's leadership, and I'll be interested to see what exactly those changes are. In any event, his tenure at Disneyland suggests that he isn't want to simply maintain the status-quo if he feels like there is room for improvement and growth. Can anyone give some specific examples of what he did for the Disneyland resort? I'm not entirely sure what was involved with the whole 50th Anniversary celebration.

 

I'll be interested to see how Mr. Ouimet reacts to the general Cedar Fair culture (i.e. it's more about the rides than anything else). Will he continue with this trend, or might he begin to focus more on other elements of Cedar Fair properties like the resorts, themeing, etc?

 

In any event, I think these next few months (and years) should be very interesting to watch.

 

With his background in the Disney parks as opposed to the CF/SF type theme parks I have a feeling that we'll be saying so long to the "coaster wars" that Kinzel helped to kick start.Instead I think the new guy may take an SF style approach & add new kiddie/family rides over thrills at most,if not all of the parks as it's cost effective & does bring in the families.

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Matt did some FANTASTIC things at Disneyland when he was there. The 50th wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful without Matt, and that trend has continued since.

 

Matt being raised in SoCal knows what Knott's used to be and how awesome it once was. Hopefully he will bring some of the parks former glory back.

 

Just wait until he gets to enjoy the Sandusky winters. He'll be begging to get back to So Cal.

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^ CGA has the opportunity to be a FANTASTIC park. But they need a couple of new Coasters to do it.

 

Whereas other parks are coaster heavy (SFMM), CGA is honestly flat ride heavy. They do have one of the best selections of flat/water/family rides of any "thrill" park that I've seen, but they haven't gotten a new coaster in 10 years. If they would put in an Intamin Mega Lite or something along the lines of Maverick it would work WONDERS for that park.

 

Give Grizzly the Rocky Mtn. Treatment while they are at it.

 

But in reality, what they need to do with CGA is shit or get off the pot.

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I'd like to say that I'm happy that it's an outsider taking over who will not only bring in some fresh ideas into a tired, old company but will also help bring CF into the 21st century. My hope is that he will bring back some of the luster to the parks (CP and especially KI - I"m talking to you).

 

I may be proved wrong but I don't see a lot of big rides being added to the parks but that's fine with me.

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