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Cedar Fair Corporate Development Discussion Thread (FUN)

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Lifetime season passes to any park chain would easily be the worst business decision they could ever possibly make. And that's all I have to say about that.


It's just a pricing exercise. The trick would be to make it obnoxiously expensive so that not many people would get it. But if a few lottery winning idiots want to write big checks, why not take their money? The thing is I can't see anyone other than Disney getting much interest in this sort of thing.

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^Legoland offers a lifetime pass for $2500.


I think that only works there though cause their demographic will out grow the park. So though you buy a life time pass, you really wont use it for a lifetime, and they made a lot more money then if you only came once a year till they outgrew the park.

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^Legoland offers a lifetime pass for $2500.


I think that only works there though cause their demographic will out grow the park. So though you buy a life time pass, you really wont use it for a lifetime, and they made a lot more money then if you only came once a year till they outgrew the park.


If I recall correctly, if you paid even more money, you could get a "Merlin For life" pass that had every single Merlin Operated Venture on it.

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  • 1 month later...

Cedar Fair adds two more to the management team.


SANDUSKY, Ohio, Oct. 3, 2011 -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that it has appointed Bob Wagner to the role of corporate vice president, strategic alliances and Scott Tanner to the role of corporate vice president, sales.


"I am particularly pleased to add Bob and Scott to the Cedar Fair leadership team," said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair's president. "The expansion of strategic alliances that will benefit both our guests and our unitholders is an important part of what will continue to make Cedar Fair parks the industry leaders that they are today. Bob has a strong professional history of creating mutually beneficial partnerships, the kind that last for years and become part of the fabric of the guest experience. Equally important to us is the relationship our sales teams have with our corporate customers and other sales distribution channels. I've personally witnessed the leadership qualities Scott possesses and the impact he drives in terms of creating highly effective sales teams. His experience in regional, domestic and international tourism will benefit all of our parks."


Bob Wagner, corporate vice president, strategic alliances, will be responsible for strengthening and expanding the Company's strategic partnerships, identifying industry-leading companies that share similar customers, values and goals. He brings 26 years of extensive experience in all phases of the entertainment industry, including marketing, sponsorship sales, ticket sales, merchandise, communications, social media and website development. Wagner most recently served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League and Honda Center in Anaheim, California. His successful background also includes four years as the vice president of sales and business development for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and nine years as director of sales and marketing for the California Angels.


Scott Tanner, corporate vice president, sales, will drive the development and execution of our sales strategies and talent management to expand the services we provide to corporate and group customers. He has more than 30 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry and his extensive background includes working with Fortune 500 firms on breakthrough partnerships and marketing events. Prior to joining Cedar Fair, Tanner served as director of sport development for USA Water Polo in Huntington Beach, California. He also spent 27 years with the Walt Disney Company, including the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, where he was directly involved in all aspects of the company's sales and marketing initiatives.


"Bob and Scott bring broad, diverse and relevant backgrounds in all aspects of sales and marketing, which will enable us to leverage the capabilities of the strong team we already have in place," added Ouimet. "Each of them has a strong record in identifying and delivering growth opportunities and I'm proud to have them as the latest additions to our talented executive team."





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  • 4 weeks later...



Official Press Release


SANDUSKY, Ohio, Oct. 25, 2011 -- Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, is pleased to announce that it has engaged accesso, a leading provider of commerce solutions, to utilize their premier online commerce and mobile technology across its renowned portfolio of parks.


Along with redesigned websites for each park, Cedar Fair will replace its current in-house e-commerce solution with accesso's fully hosted, dynamic online platform beginning in January 2012. Cedar Fair will also roll out accesso's integrated mobile platform with updated mobile websites along with iPhone and Android based apps including mobile ticketing.


"While 'Road Trip Cedar Point!' is a popular summer exclamation, the majority of our guests today reach for their keyboard before they reach for their car keys," said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair's president. "Our relationship with accesso helps ensure that all of the benefits of advance planning are readily available on our e-commerce platform. Whether it is a ticket for our guest, special food and beverage offerings or resort accommodations – they are easily purchased ahead of time, making their visit better before it even starts."


accesso's e-commerce technology, SHOPLAND 4.0, optimizes sales revenue through a highly-flexible, user-friendly design which seamlessly incorporates a wide range of features including product upsells and cross-sells, as well as flexibility to support a range of unique promotional concepts.


accesso MOBILE combines content and commerce into a fully-integrated solution which allows today's on-the-go consumer to purchase admission and scan their ticket directly from their mobile device for entry to the park.


"Industry-leading organizations like Cedar Fair understand the increasing power of online commerce and mobile technology," said Steve Brown, accesso's chief executive officer. "Our solutions are known for their easy-to-use designs with a focus on the user experience and sales results. We look forward to bringing our technology and unique service model to Cedar Fair and its customers in early 2012."


About Cedar Fair


Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and Toronto, Ontario. Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in California under a management contract. Cedar Fair's flagship park, Cedar Point, has been consistently voted the "Best Amusement Park in the World" in a prestigious annual poll conducted by Amusement Today newspaper.


About accesso


accesso delivers powerful ticketing and commerce solutions that help customers increase sales without adding expensive infrastructure costs. accesso products and services support top attractions across North America from theme parks and water parks to concerts, live events and sporting events. accesso's solutions are fully hosted and supported 24/7 to ensure continual focus on the user experience and sales results.


accesso's proprietary solutions are noted for streamlined, easy-to-use designs with seamlessly integrated revenue driving features. All accesso solutions are continually updated to provide speed to market for enhancements and to stay current with the latest advances in technology. accesso maintains Level 1 PCI Data Security Standard certification, the highest rank available from major credit card providers. For more information, visit www.accesso.com.

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Get ready for some fun! Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, has announced plans to invest $90 million in new thrill rides, family attractions and resort amenities at its 17 properties for the 2012 operating season.


In the last 15 years, Cedar Fair will have invested more than $1 billion in capital improvements across its arsenal of amusement parks, water parks and resorts. "We have a strong philosophy of reinvesting in our parks," says Matt Ouimet, president of Cedar Fair. "Our goal is to provide each and every guest who visits a Cedar Fair park with a best-day-of-the-year experience. We realize people have choices, and by adding new rides and attractions we are committed to keeping the parks relevant and remaining the first choice for family entertainment."


The signature attraction of Cedar Fair's 2012 expenditure program is one of the most anticipated and buzzed about roller coasters of the year: the $27 million Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland in Toronto. This incredible 306-foot-tall, 92-mph steel machine will be one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world and will set new standards in thrill-riding with 10 rousing elements, including an 80-degree first drop, barrel turns and high-speed curves. With the addition of Leviathan, Canada's Wonderland will have a new place on the coaster map, staking claim to an impressive tally of 16 scream machines, making it one of the "Top Three" destinations on Earth for coaster quantity. Roller coaster riders will be able to buckle up for their first Leviathan ride when Canada's Wonderland opens in May.


"If I had to choose only one roller coaster to ride in 2012, without a doubt, this would be it," says Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, an international newspaper that covers amusement industry news and trends. "Cedar Fair's reputation for delivering first-rate thrills is unwavering, and coaster enthusiasts the world over have Leviathan on their 'bucket lists' for the upcoming season. It's a 'must ride.'"


Riders at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania will be injected with a pure rush of adrenaline as they sit face-to-face with friends on the park's eighth roller coaster, Stinger. This 138-foot-tall inverted shuttle roller coaster resembles a scorpion ready to strike, as riders get flipped six times and race along overhead track both forward then backwards at speeds up to 55 mph.


At Kings Dominion near Richmond, Virginia. and Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, guests will get panoramic views while experiencing towering thrills on WindSeeker, an amazing 30-story swing and spinning ride. Riders will sit two across in 32-passenger swings with their legs dangling and will slowly begin to rotate in a circular motion as the swings climb the massive 301-foot-tall structure. At the top, the swings will reach speeds up to 30 mph while fanning out at nearly 45 degrees before its descent. Each WindSeeker ride is a $6.5 million investment.


Family fun in gigantic -- and prehistoric -- proportions will debut at several Cedar Fair parks in 2012, including Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and Kings Dominion. Families will roar way back in time with Dinosaur's Alive!, a world-class animatronic dinosaur collection showcasing the life-sized relics in an interactive exhibit. Dinosaurs Alive! will inspire, entertain and educate guests with the sounds and movements of each animatronic creature made to replicate nearly every feature of the dinosaurs; each piece is hand-carved and scientifically accurate based on the latest paleontological knowledge. Guests will walk through thematic scenes that tell compelling stories about each dinosaur and their primeval world.


For water lovers, Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio will make a big splash with its rebranded Soak City water park and offer plenty of new ways to get wet with a major $10 million expansion that will nearly double its size to 33 acres. The makeover will include a new wave pool surrounded by a large deck and lush greenery and a new action river featuring interactive areas and elements such as waterfalls, tipping buckets, spray hoses and rain curtains. A new entrance and plaza will greet guests to the waterpark; plus amenities including new family changing rooms, cabanas, sand volleyball court and additional lounging areas will be part of the renovation. Kings Island will also celebrate its 40th anniversary season in 2012.


Cedar Point's Soak City water park will also have a new look for 2012 with the edition of a new mat-racer complex that will offer racers a speedy ride through a series of dips and plateaus.


Additional investments across Cedar Fair's group of parks will feature new restaurants, entertainment offerings and resort upgrades.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I like how in the press releases that each park claims to have the most anticipated roller coaster coming in 2012!


It's the same thing as 20 movies saying they are the "best movie of 2011". It's all about getting people's attention, plus GP don't know much about new 2012 installations. If a commercial states that Stinger will be the best coaster of 2012, the GP will most likely agree with it.

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The Texas mutual fund that currently is the largest shareholder of Cedar Fair LP stock has announced that it intends to sharply decrease its holdings in the Sandusky amusement park company.


Q Investments, which owns 18.1 percent of the company that owns Cedar Point and other amusement and water parks nationwide, said in a regulatory filing that it would sell 3 million of its 10 million Cedar Fair shares over the next year, "depending on market conditions." The filing said it would make the divestment if the share price stays at or above its current $22.


The sale of the stock, the investment firm said, is in keeping with its portfolio guidelines of not having too much stock value in a given company. The Cedar Fair stock price has almost doubled in the past two years; when Q Investments initially bought into Cedar Fair, the share price was $11.45.


At 7 million shares, the sale would reduce Q Investments to Cedar Fair's second-biggest shareholder at 12.7 percent. Neuberger Berman Group LLC, an independent asset management firm that holds just over 8 million shares, or 14.6 percent of the company, would become the biggest shareholder.


Cedar Fair has had repeated battles with Q Investments, which sought reforms starting shortly after it acquired stock on Jan. 20, 2010.


The mutual fund, run by billionaire Texas banker Geoffrey Raynor, forced the company to have different people hold the chairman and chief executive titles, and its pressure led to granting shareholders the ability to nominate board members.


It sought higher dividends, too, which are now being paid.


Most of Q Investments' proposals for change were resisted by Cedar Fair management and board -- some resulted in litigation -- but were made with the stated motive of increasing the company's value.


Q Investment, which said it would have no additional comment on its decision, gave no timetable for the stock sale except "throughout the next year or so." Fund officials indicated that the sales would occur incrementally so as not to upset Cedar Fair's share price.


Whether its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission means Q Investments will be less active in seeking changes in the company is unclear.


But it said in the filing that it is "optimistic about the possibility for further price appreciation [of the stock] over the next few years."


Cedar Fair spokesman Stacy Frole said the company noted Q Investment's decision. "I think we pay attention to all of our unitholders," she said. "Q will continue to be one of our larger shareholders, as will Neuberger. But we will continue to communicate with both of them."

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As he walked the vacant midway of Cedar Point amusement park one day last week, a blustery and cold wind off Lake Erie swirling about him, Dick Kinzel suddenly turned and pointed to a boarded-up fast-food stand.


"See that place?" he said, staring at the two-story "Walking Tacos" stand. "That used to be my first office there up on the second floor. Things sure have changed."


For Cedar Point, its parent firm, Cedar Fair LP, and especially for Mr. Kinzel, things will change again in a very large way on Jan. 3 when the 71-year-old chief executive officer retires after 39 years with the Sandusky-based amusement park company -- 25 years as its top executive.


The former Toledoan, who was a vice president with the company and general manager of its Valleyfair park in Minneapolis from 1978 to to 1986, is among a handful of men to run the amusement park chain since its founding as Cedar Point amusement center in 1906.


But it was under Mr. Kinzel's stewardship, beginning when he became chief executive officer in 1986, that Cedar Point grew from a two-park mom-and-pop operation with revenues of $100 million into the current Cedar Fair LP conglomerate of 11 amusement parks, seven water parks and five hotels, which had revenues of $1.01 billion in 2010.


Last week, Mr. Kinzel, who lives on the Cedar Point island within walking distance of the amusement park, reflected on some of his triumphs and missteps, his best and most disappointing moments, and his impressions on the company and his industry over his almost 40 years at northwest Ohio's premiere entertainment destination.


Mr. Kinzel, who remains a ball of energy, said he'll most miss walking around Cedar Point on a crowded day and interacting with customers.


"It's been a way of life for a lot of years and I'm going to miss it, there's no doubt about it," he said. "I'll miss just coming in and walking the parks and being with the people, walking the park with [park general manager] John Hildebrandt or the general managers, and talking about what can we do to make them better."


As Mr. Kinzel departs, Cedar Fair is but a few years away from having changed from a limited partnership whose shareholders were mostly individuals concerned about its "distribution," or quarterly dividend, to one now dominated by institutional investors who care more about its daily share prices and quarterly earnings.


Over the last two years, Mr. Kinzel has been in several shareholder fights with the company's largest investor, Texas hedge funds Q Investments, over the direction of the company.


Q Investments led a shareholder fight that eventually stripped Mr. Kinzel of the title of company chairman, which he held from 2003 to 2011.


Mr. Kinzel said he won't miss dealing with Wall Street. "I much more prefer dealing with the retail base and having the shareholders in here. … we used to have shareholders just come in and say hello, and we sort of lost some of that," he said.


Nowadays, "You have to deal with the bankers more than you just deal with what you like to do. You have to figure that I went for 23 years and we never needed a financial banker in here because we paid for all our capital out of cash flow and we paid the distributions. And we were only leveraged about three times.


"It was smooth sailing for 23 years," he said.


But Mr. Kinzel admits that he is partly responsible for the de-emphasis of small investors -- prior to 2006, 80 percent of Cedar Fair's shares were held by individuals, but now 55 percent of its shares are held by large institutional investors -- because of the $1.2 billion acquisition of Paramount Parks that he engineered in 2006.


The deal added five amusement parks to Cedar Fair's portfolio and took its annual revenues from $569 million to $1 billion.


History, Mr. Kinzel said, is likely to prove the Paramount acquisition his biggest achievement as chairman and CEO.


"That's probably the thing I'm proudest of, making that acquisition," he said. "They put it up for bid for auction, and we bid on it. We paid a very high price … but we knew there were five great parks in five strategic geographic locations."


However, Cedar Fair struggled with a high debt load for three years after the acquisition, forcing it to consider being acquired by private equity group Apollo Global Management LLC of New York. The $2.4 billion deal eventually was called off after shareholders indicated they would not approve the sale.


Looking back, Mr. Kinzel said that if he could do one thing differently with the Paramount deal, "I wish we could have … done a public offering for the stock instead of trying to pay off the debt out of cash flow. That's what sort of got us in trouble with the banks, is when the recession hit and we couldn't come back," he said.


Trying to absorb the debt of the deal left the company weakened, and it was forced to suspend its dividend, a move dictated by loan agreements, but one that cost it goodwill with its smaller shareholders. Many small shareholders sold their stock as a result, and it was snapped up by institutional investors intently interested in the company's financial bottom line.


"In hindsight, I'd do it all again … but I certainly would do an offering for [new shares] to get that debt down," Mr. Kinzel said.


Mr. Kinzel's other strategic regret is letting the opportunity to buy Kings Island near Cincinnati get away in 2000. The company acquired Kings Island in 2006 in the Paramount deal, but Cedar Fair could have had it six years earlier at a lower price. A $40 million tax liability on top of the sale price killed the sale to Cedar Fair in 2000, he said.


"Kings Island, that was always my favorite park outside of the Cedar Fair system. It opened in 1972, the year I started at Cedar Point, so we knew the park, and I visited it just about every year just to see what they were doing," Mr. Kinzel said.


With retirement just days away, the CEO said he is "real proud" of Cedar Fair's financial position as he leaves. "If you look at our projections, our forecast for this year, we're going to leave the company with record projected revenues, record attendance, and projected record [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization]. So I'm real pleased. It's a nice way to go out."


A known name


Mr. Kinzel also is most proud of the fact that Cedar Fair went from a regional company to an international brand under his watch. One of the company's most successful parks now is its Canada's Wonderland in Toronto, and every year Cedar Point is visited by coaster enthusiasts from several continents eager to try its world-renowned collection of roller coasters.


"We put in the first 200-foot, 300-foot, and 400-foot coasters and I think our capital [expenditures] plan, our five-year plan for all these years has been good. It's kept attendance coming and revenues increasing every year," he said.


"It's sort of nice to be the trendsetter in some things, and certainly Cedar Point is known for the roller coasters. To be voted the No. 1 amusement park for the last 14 years, most of that is attributable to not only the cleanliness and our employees but also to putting in those major attractions," Mr. Kinzel said.


"You know, it's always been a surprise to me that when we put in the Magnum XL-200 [in 1989], no one followed through with a big coaster like that," he said. "Then we put in the 300-foot coaster. Then we put in a 400-foot coaster, and Six Flags did match us. They modeled theirs after that one, but other than that, no one's really modeled the success we've had with the big steel coasters."


While coaster enthusiasts view Mr. Kinzel as the main architect of Cedar Point's collection of 17 roller coasters, Mr. Kinzel said he didn't set out to make the park the "coaster capital."


"I was basically just doing my job -- you do what you do to draw attendance, to bring attendance into the park," he said. But building the Magnum in 1989 "just changed the whole environment of what Cedar Point was," Mr. Kinzel said.


"All of a sudden Cedar Point was the coaster capital of the world, and John Hildebrandt, who is now the general manager of Cedar Point, was vice president of marketing then, and he took that and ran with it and helped build the brand," he said.


Scariest moment


The launch of the Magnum XL-200 also gave Mr. Kinzel his most memorable -- albeit scariest -- moment in 39 years at Cedar Fair.


"When we opened the [310-foot high] Millennium Force in 2000, that thing, they ran it for a month before they'd let anybody on it," Mr. Kinzel said. "But with the Magnum XL-200, it was the Saturday before the park opened and we were on the platform. And they sent the first train around -- one time around! -- and somebody said, 'Let's go,' and we hopped in the front seat and we went up that crazy hill.


"Coming in, the brakes weren't on in the station. You know how you come around and you come back into that station and there's a set of brakes there? None of those brakes were hooked up and we didn't know it," Mr. Kinzel said.


"So we went screaming into the station. Nobody was hurt or anything but that was a real exciting day," Mr. Kinzel said, laughing at the memory. "You know what though? I knew we had the best ride in the world at that point. I got off that ride saying 'We got a winner' because … I had ridden all the coasters and there was nothing like Magnum XL-200 when that was put in. Needless to say, after that day, we run [coasters] for months before we'll let anyone on one," he added.


Another coaster, Cedar Point's Disaster Transport, a lightly regarded ride by coaster enthusiasts, gave Mr. Kinzel his worst moment over the decades.


Built as an outdoor "bobsled" coaster, the family-friendly attraction was later converted to an indoor space-themed ride by Mr. Kinzel. "The story I always tell about it is we had a dog ride and we took a dog ride and put a cover on it," he said.


"We had a board meeting on opening day and I had the board out there and some guy came right up to me with his little kid and said, 'You named that right. That's a disaster.' And he just walked away," Mr. Kinzel said. "What can you say?"


Attractive target


Over his 25 years as CEO, Mr. Kinzel has been involved in several major Cedar Fair acquisitions. But during his years with the company, Mr. Kinzel said, Cedar Fair itself often was an acquisition target, more so than is known.


"We've been courted -- while I've been at Cedar Point -- many times. By Taft Broadcasting, right after they built Kings Island, Marriott tried to buy us twice, and Anheuser-Busch wanted us. Up until we went public [in 1987] there were a lot of people courting us," Mr. Kinzel said.


"Marriott was going to build three parks with us, and they ultimately built two of them. They didn't buy us, but they hired a lot of our people. Thirty-two people from Cedar Point went to the Chicago [Great America] park alone," Mr. Kinzel said.


"That's when [former CEO Robert] Munger decided to promote from within and not go outside to rebuild his team. That's what gave me my big break. Well, actually, Marriott gave me my big break I guess," he said.


As he heads into retirement, Mr. Kinzel said he plans to see what people who don't work throughout a summer do. For starters, he bought golf clubs and plans to try the game.


"I've always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, and I hope I can go there in September. I'm going on a cruise in February, and I'm just going to do stuff where I don't have a calendar," he said.


"I've never had a Labor Day or a Fourth of July or a Memorial Day off in my life, or at least in the last 40 years," he said. "I've never had a summer vacation … but that's just part of our policy. You have to be here."


But now that his successor, former Disney Co. executive Matt Ouimet, will be the person walking the midway, Mr. Kinzel said he feels good about the future.


"I've been asked to be on a couple of projects from a civic standpoint but I've been telling everybody I just want to take six months to a year just to not do anything. I've been wound up tighter than a $2 clock and I just want to unwind a little bit for six months to a year," he said.

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^True, but without all the investor drama I have a feeling he would have pulled a Favre and kept pushing back his retirement. Dick has an ego, an ego that he was finally forced to check after the failed buyout. He's too old fashioned/technology challenged for today's business world.

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Am I the only one who remembers that Kinzel was going to retire in 2012 regardless? He was going to retire in 2007, then said he was going to stay on for 5 more years to see the Paramount acquisition through. So the only thing that was his "undoing" was his own plan to retire.




I remember having the old Plain Dealer article of Kinzel discussing his plans for the company and himself, but I couldn't find the hard copy anywhere in my house. He does mention how he promised to retire in January 2012 during the last few minutes of this video (from which said article was based upon). I don't know much about CF other than what's in that video, so I'll just leave it at that and let others discuss what went down with Paramount and the investors and whether it had any impact on the retirement.

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