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Cedar Fair Corporate Development Discussion Thread (FUN)

P. 70: Cedar Fair unveils 2022 operating season plans

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I don't have the energy this, but a few quick things.

 

- As Sven20 said, nobody knows what the numbers mean for Six Flags. It's been about a year since they had a quarter that you could reasonably compare to a previous year. Q4 will always be up because they seem to add a winter event to a new park every year so they have way more operating dates year over yeaer. Q1 was up because Magic Mountain added tons of operating dates compared to last year. Q2 was up because for the last 2 weeks of Q2 they had 5 more parks which ends up giving them about 70 more operating dates. Q3, Q4, Q1 next year and Q2 next year will be up no matter what because they'll have these parks driving pass sales and giving them additional operating dates when compared to the previous year. Q4 will also have new operating dates from Frontier City (through December), Darien Lake (in October) and Holiday in the Park at Six Flags Great America. ...tl;dr: No sh*t Six Flags is up.

 

- Enthusiasts love to pretend that **insert thing they don't like about a park / chain here** explains everything bad that happens to them because they want it to be true. That said, nothing has changed in that regard for about a decade. It's totally nonsensical to attribute this sudden drop to something that's remained constant for years.

 

- Indications are that the biggest drops seem to be at Cedar Point and Kings Island, two parks that have built huge, awesome coasters in the last 2 years. There goes your " if you build it they will come" argument. Cedar Point built the ride that people have been clamoring for for years and they certainly did not come. Kings Dominion built their most amazing thrill ride in a decade and they weren't mentioned as a big success story with that either (though we don't know the numbers park by park so we're just going by what we could discern from the conference call).

 

Don't come in here making sense Bill!! Everyone knows that if Michigan's Adventure got a B&M Invert, they'd push over 1.5 million and if Valleyfair got that B&M Giga, they'd pull in the same number of attendees as Cedar Point. It's clear that if you build it, they will come!!

 

All jokes aside, you struck the nail right on the head. I do, however, like the direction Cedar Fair is going with their ideas and that does give some parks hope in the future. But, at this point, it is what it is. It's a strong portfolio and 2018 just isn't operating at a good pace. Hopefully Q3 & Q4 operate better!

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Bring back Ouimet!

Zimmerman creeps me out...

 

Bring back Dick Kinzel!! But did not mean for the this thread to escalade so quickly. I swear I read someone that 6flags attendance and earnings were up while cedar fair attendance and profits were down. If I am wrong I will happily go lay next to my bowl. Considering six flags removed half of there off seasons could easily explain everything.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cedar Fair definitely wants investors to forgot the past two months where the stock dropped twelve points from $65 - $53 leading to the disappointing 2nd Quarter Report. We usually don't see companies release monthly data. They released data for the month of August which was extremely strong. It doesn't make-up for the shortfall over the first 7 months of the year, but Cedar Fair is eager to get that positive news out there aggressively well ahead of the 3Q report expected in November.

 

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/cedar-fair-reports-record-revenues-080000598.html

 

Cedar Fair Reports Record Revenues In August

PR Newswire•September 6, 2018

 

- Strong performance in August driven by increases in attendance (+5%), guest spending (+1%) and out-of-park revenues (+7%).

 

- Company reiterates its commitment to 4% distribution growth.

 

SANDUSKY, Ohio, Sept. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced that preliminary results for the five weeks ended Monday, September 3, 2018, represented record revenues for the fiscal month of August.

 

For the five weeks, preliminary net revenues were $288 million, up 6%, or $17 million, when compared with the same period in 2017. This was the result of a 5%, or 255,000-visit, increase in attendance, a 1%, or $0.52, increase in average in-park per capita spending and a 7%, or $2 million, increase in out-of-park revenues, including resort accommodations.

 

"Over the past five weeks we have experienced strong growth across all aspects of our business, reaffirming our confidence in the resiliency of our business model and the outlook for growth in the business for the long term," said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's president and CEO. "During this time, we successfully executed on a number of initiatives designed to drive guest urgency while at the same time maintaining integrity in our pricing structure. These efforts resulted in a solid lift in attendance and increased guest spending inside our parks during the period. We also saw robust demand for our hotel and resort accommodations, an asset class we are actively developing in an effort to generate additional and attractive returns over the longer term. Looking ahead, we believe these strong results reflect the positive response from consumers for the compelling entertainment experiences we provide to our guests of all ages, and we expect that to continue for the balance of the year."

 

Year-to-date preliminary net revenues through Labor Day, September 3, 2018, were $1.04 billion, up slightly when compared with the similar period through Labor Day, September 4, 2017. The 2018 results compared with 2017 reflect increases of 1%, or $0.38, in average in-park per capita spending to $47.46 and 5%, or $5 million, in out-of-park revenues, including resort accommodations, to $120 million. These increases were offset by a 1%, or 225,000-visit, decrease in attendance to 20.0 million guest visits.

 

"For the remainder of the year, we are focused on building upon the momentum we have established over the past five weeks," continued Zimmerman. "Our near-term strategy includes fully maximizing the potential of our very popular seasonal celebrations including Halloween Haunt, The Great Pumpkin Fest and WinterFest. Our fourth quarter has become a meaningful period of operations, particularly as we leverage our highly popular fall events to jump-start sales of our 2019 season pass and all-season products, which are off to a strong start."

 

Zimmerman noted that the strong August results were not enough to entirely overcome the challenges the Company faced through the first seven months of the year. Based on the year-to-date results and outlook for the rest of the year, the Company now expects 2018 full-year net revenues to be in the range of $1.32 billion to $1.34 billion, and full-year Adjusted EBITDA1 to be in the range of $460 million to $470 million. Zimmerman also reiterated the Company's commitment to delivering a steady 4% annual increase in the cash distribution to unitholders while continuing to invest in the business at a responsible level.

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  • 5 months later...

Cedar Fair has released their numbers for 2018

 

Cedar Fair parks recover from slow first half, report attendance, spending growth for 2018

 

SANDUSKY, Ohio – Cedar Fair, which reported a disappointing 3 percent drop in attendance through the first half of 2018, ended the year with a bang: up in attendance, in-park spending and net revenue.

 

During a conference call with analysts Wednesday, Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman predicted a strong 2019, driven by an increasing number of can’t-miss special events designed to attract more people to the park, especially early in the season. Cedar Fair, headquartered in Sandusky, is the parent company of flagship park Cedar Point, 10 other amusement parks, three waterparks and four hotels.

 

Zimmerman also said that the company may stretch the time between major new rides opening at some parks. (He called it “stretching out the cadence of the more significant investments.”)

 

Citing Cedar Point’s record-breaking roller coaster Steel Vengeance, which debuted in 2018, and Carowinds’ acclaimed Fury 325, new in 2015, Zimmerman said: “We can continue to leverage those for many years in our marketing campaigns.”

 

Later on in the conversation, however, in response to a question about this new capital-spending strategy, Cedar Fair Executive Vice President Brian Witherow emphasized: “We are not walking away from those investments.”

 

He mentioned two new coasters coming in 2019, Yukon Striker at Canada’s Wonderland and Copperhead Strike at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

But, he said, any major capital expenditures will be coupled with bigger and better special events.

 

Company officials continue to blame the disappointing first half of the year on lousy weather, including heavy rains and flooding in the eastern United States. The drop in attendance, according to Witherow, was not “representative of a broader trend.”

 

Proof of that: 6 percent attendance growth from August through the end of the year, which, combined with the first six months, resulted in an overall 1 percent attendance growth across the company. Per capita spending was up 1 percent, as well, to a record $47.69. Cedar Fair does not release attendance figures for individual parks.

 

One way to mitigate the effects of weather and other outside factors, according to Zimmerman, is to offer more events that “create a sense of urgency.” Zimmerman said several announcements about new events would be coming in the next several weeks.

 

Zimmerman cited Knott’s Berry Farm, near Los Angeles, as a park that is thriving, despite not having a new roller coaster in 20 years (it finally got a new one, HangTime, in 2018). Popular events that attract repeat visitors include the annual Boysenberry Festival and Ghost Town Alive!

 

He added that some of the busiest days in all Cedar Fair parks are in October, when Halloween-themed events, including Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends, attract huge crowds. WinterFest, the company’s holiday-themed event, also has been a hit at select parks (debuting at Canada’s Wonderland in 2019).

 

Other interesting revelations from the call:

 

* Cedar Fair plans to test a new loyalty and rewards program for season passholders in 2019, with a broader rollout in 2020. Zimmerman provided few program details, other than to say passholders could earn and redeem rewards as they visited the park more often.

 

* Out-of-park revenue continues to increase, up 6 percent in 2018, thanks to higher occupancy levels at park hotels, and higher overnight rates. Cedar Fair continues to develop properties adjacent to its parks, adding a fifth hotel to its portfolio in 2019, a Springhill Suites adjacent to Carowinds. Also opening in 2019: a $28-million indoor sports center, part of the Cedar Point Sports Center, just east of the amusement park in Sandusky.

 

Cedar Point’s new attraction for 2019 is Forbidden Frontier on Adventure Island, on the land previously occupied by Dinosaurs Alive! The park has revealed few details about the interactive experience.

 

Zimmerman described it this way: “A real-life adventure where guests become part of the story, immersed in interactive encounters with island inhabitants and realistic experiences challenging their problem-solving skills, as the mystery of the island unfolds during the day.”

 

Cedar Point opens for the season May 11, with Forbidden Frontier debuting Memorial Day Weekend.

 

Cleveland.com

 

Make no mistake, the headline is that attendance is up 1% and revenue is up 2% but these numbers are um... not good.

 

First of all, the average inflation rate is about 2% and I don't believe that their 2% increase in revenues is adjusted for inflation (I might be wrong) so um... woohoo?

 

Second of all, let's just do a quick (very rough) estimate here...

 

Cedar Point has 136 operating days next year. They start daily operations earlier than most parks but they open for the season later and don't do a Christmas event so let's just bump that up a bit and say that the average Cedar Fair park has 150 operating days (this is very generous since we're including Knott's Soak City and Cedar Point Shores). I could figure out the exact number but I'm not that much of a dork.

 

So 150 days per park x 12 seasonal parks is 1800 operating days. Add 365 for Knott's and we're at 2,165 total operating days chain wide. It's an estimate but it's probably making Cedar Fair look better than the real numbers. 1% of that is 21 to 22 operating days and Kings Dominion added (get ready for it) 25 operating days with Winterfest. There's your "growth" right there.

 

Average daily attendance at the parks was (at best) flat and probably down in a year where the chain added 4 expensive coasters and tons of other expensive new rides. That's terrible.

 

FUN stock is down about 1% today.

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Zimmerman cited Knott’s Berry Farm, near Los Angeles, as a park that is thriving, despite not having a new roller coaster in 20 years (it finally got a new one, HangTime, in 2018). Popular events that attract repeat visitors include the annual Boysenberry Festival and Ghost Town Alive!

lolwut? Since Ghostrider opened in '98, Knott's has opened 5 new coasters besides Hangtime.

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I'd be interested to see the individual park figures (yes I know they don't release them), as I'd like to compare the parks that got big new additions with those that didn't. I'd also be interested in comparing other Easter park's numbers early in the year vs later in the year to see just how much of an excuse weather can be for initial poor performance.

 

A question for those who live near CP, KD, CGA, and KBF: How much advertising did you guys get for your new additions? A part of me wonders whether poor marketing could be partially responsible for disappointing numbers. Personally, I noticed that despite living 2-3 hours from Dorney and KD in either direction, I recieved little advertising for KD, and vitually none for Dorney (ok techincally I did get a lot of online Twisted Timbers ads, but that's probably just because of my search history). Meanwhile, I recieved regular ads from SFA and Hershey (which are significantly closer to me, but the proportions of advertising still seem quite off).

 

The potential marketing issues could easily just be me making things up, since I'm just a 16 year old who's never even had a paying job, but a part of me is curious to hear what you guys think.

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I'd be interested to see the individual park figures (yes I know they don't release them), as I'd like to compare the parks that got big new additions with those that didn't. I'd also be interested in comparing other Easter park's numbers early in the year vs later in the year to see just how much of an excuse weather can be for initial poor performance.

 

CP, CW, Carowinds, and KI were more than likely probably the biggest money makers, as well as the cali parks. And parks will always turn to poor weather as an excuse for bad attendance. I know dorney closed a lot this year for weather, more than the last few years. Knoebels and hershey both had the flooding issues. Parks will 100% of the time blame weather.

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I'd be interested to see the individual park figures (yes I know they don't release them), as I'd like to compare the parks that got big new additions with those that didn't. I'd also be interested in comparing other Easter park's numbers early in the year vs later in the year to see just how much of an excuse weather can be for initial poor performance.

 

CP, CW, Carowinds, and KI were more than likely probably the biggest money makers, as well as the cali parks. And parks will always turn to poor weather as an excuse for bad attendance. I know dorney closed a lot this year for weather, more than the last few years. Knoebels and hershey both had the flooding issues. Parks will 100% of the time blame weather.

 

That’s because weather is a legitimate problem for parks. Especially regional ones who are so heavily dependent upon locals who are not likely to leave their homes in crappy weather

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So 150 days per park x 12 seasonal parks is 1800 operating days. Add 365 for Knott's and we're at 2,165 total operating days chain wide. It's an estimate but it's probably making Cedar Fair look better than the real numbers. 1% of that is 21 to 22 operating days and Kings Dominion added (get ready for it) 25 operating days with Winterfest. There's your "growth" right there.

 

Winterfest weekends don't pull the same attendance that a typical summer weekend will. To say a 1% increase of operating days equates to 1% of attendance growth, when that 1% is a lower-than-normal attendance, would be incorrect. I can't speak for the other parks, but Carowinds lost many of their Winterfest days due to weather. Those would drive down their overall attendance, which would have been picked up on other days in the season.

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Maybe this past year was a one off regarding attendance cause normally a new coaster brings attendance up. Weather wise at CP any time I went this year, which was a lot, was mostly hot and humid. Unless that keeps people away I can't see weather the reason atleast for CP.

 

If it does end uo being that coasters don't draw in the GP anymore. I would like to know what it is that people want from these parks.

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Winterfest weekends don't pull the same attendance that a typical summer weekend will. To say a 1% increase of operating days equates to 1% of attendance growth, when that 1% is a lower-than-normal attendance, would be incorrect. I can't speak for the other parks, but Carowinds lost many of their Winterfest days due to weather. Those would drive down their overall attendance, which would have been picked up on other days in the season.

 

If you want to get technical let's not forget that I'm being overly generous by saying that the seasonal parks average 150 operating days. They don't... they're not even close. Cedar Point doesn't, Michigan's Adventure doesn't come close and Knott's Soak City and Cedar Point shores have even less operating days. I came up with a hilariously generous number so people wouldn't nitpick it. I wouldn't be surprised if the average is closer to 130. In that case, the numbers are even worse. Much worse.

 

Parks lose days for weather in the regular season too. It's probably true that *most* Winterfest days at Kings Dominion have slightly lower attendance than regular operating days but likely not by much and it probably still accounts for that extra 1%... especially when you consider how generous that 150 number is.

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The cliff notes version is this:

 

They extended the operating season by a little more than 1% and attendance went up about 1% which would be expected had they done absolutely nothing in terms of Capex. In reality they added 3 RMCs, a "dive coaster", new festivals and events and tons of other expensive additions and offered crazy deals to get people into the parks from August onward... all of which accounted for basically nothing. You can nitpick the numbers to find a quarter of a percent here or there if that's your prerogative but these numbers suck.

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The cliff notes version is this:

 

They extended the operating season by a little more than 1% and attendance went up about 1% which would be expected had they done absolutely nothing in terms of Capex. In reality they added 3 RMCs, a "dive coaster", new festivals and events and tons of other expensive additions and offered crazy deals to get people into the parks from August onward... all of which accounted for basically nothing. You can nitpick the numbers to find a quarter of a percent here or there if that's your prerogative but these numbers suck.

 

Stop trying to explain with logic and common sense. People only listen to facebook comment rants in this day and age

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The cliff notes version is this:

 

They extended the operating season by a little more than 1% and attendance went up about 1% which would be expected had they done absolutely nothing in terms of Capex. In reality they added 3 RMCs, a "dive coaster", new festivals and events and tons of other expensive additions and offered crazy deals to get people into the parks from August onward... all of which accounted for basically nothing. You can nitpick the numbers to find a quarter of a percent here or there if that's your prerogative but these numbers suck.

 

Bingo. All the general improvements we're lauding (and honestly most of them are really good) didn't have a net positive effect on the attendance or a huge increase in spend per person to make up for the lack of attendance increase.

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I don't quite think that the sky is falling for Cedar Point yet.

 

My gut tells me that this isn't a Cedar-Fair-specific problem. The economy as a whole was up for a long time and over the last year it plateaued (and showed some volatility). SIX and FUN are highly cyclical. Cyclical companies follow the market and FUN is following the market.

 

The sky is not falling but they still probably expected their huge new additions to help them outpace the market a bit and they didn't.

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I don't quite think that the sky is falling for Cedar Point yet.

 

My gut tells me that this isn't a Cedar-Fair-specific problem. The economy as a whole was up for a long time and over the last year it plateaued (and showed some volatility). SIX and FUN are highly cyclical. Cyclical companies follow the market and FUN is following the market.

 

The sky is not falling but they still probably expected their huge new additions to help them outpace the market a bit and they didn't.

 

Six Flags only seeing an attendance increase of 5% while expanding Holiday in the Park and adding a bunch of new facilities is also a pretty bad sign for them park vs. park. I think that they've seen the slowing in attendance growth has led them to open the purse strings a little inf 2019 and we'll see what effect that has.

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I completely agree on Six Flags. Six Flags is in a position now where it's impossible for us to know what the numbers actually mean (they know, but they won't tell us). Q1 and Q2 will be up no matter what because they've added tons of operating days (by acquiring new parks and making Fiesta Texas a year-round park) and in Q3 they'll have daily operation at a brand new waterpark. They'll probably be up all three quarters no matter what they do (especially Q2).

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I don't quite think that the sky is falling for Cedar Point yet.

 

My gut tells me that this isn't a Cedar-Fair-specific problem. The economy as a whole was up for a long time and over the last year it plateaued (and showed some volatility). SIX and FUN are highly cyclical. Cyclical companies follow the market and FUN is following the market.

 

The sky is not falling but they still probably expected their huge new additions to help them outpace the market a bit and they didn't.

 

I wonder if the new program they are starting for pass holders getting rewards for the amount they go to the park will help. I just think its odd that the year Cedar Point adds arguably the best roller coaster right now, they have a down year. I remember when they added Valravn the wait times seemed higher then Steel Vengeance on a lot of days.

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I wonder if the new program they are starting for pass holders getting rewards for the amount they go to the park will help.

 

It only helps if the revenue collected from the new passes exceeds the value of the giveaways. If they give away free games, drinks, fast passes, bring a friend, ride photos nominally priced food items they should be fine. Those items cost little to no money for the park to provide.

and

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A question for those who live near CP, KD, CGA, and KBF: How much advertising did you guys get for your new additions? A part of me wonders whether poor marketing could be partially responsible for disappointing numbers. Personally, I noticed that despite living 2-3 hours from Dorney and KD in either direction, I recieved little advertising for KD, and vitually none for Dorney (ok techincally I did get a lot of online Twisted Timbers ads, but that's probably just because of my search history). Meanwhile, I recieved regular ads from SFA and Hershey (which are significantly closer to me, but the proportions of advertising still seem quite off).

 

The potential marketing issues could easily just be me making things up, since I'm just a 16 year old who's never even had a paying job, but a part of me is curious to hear what you guys think.

 

Hangtime got decent advertising, as well as a lot of very positive press from local papers, TV media and online with coaster enthusiast sites. Is it bringing people to the park, or just keeping coaster fans happy, tho? I tend to think it's more the latter. a LOT of people who go to knott's are the Disney family park types and they are scared of Hangtime. The Ghostrider retrack is probably the only ride addition or mod that actually really affected attendance in recent years....largely because it's freakin' GHOSTRIDER. The Boysenberrry Festival is the big attendance draw now. Scary Farm is, of course, the heart and soul of Knott's. Merry Farm is an always popular attendance driver. Ghost Town Alive is popular with passholders. See where I'm going here? People can ride coasters at any park. The legendary ones, like GR, cand rive attendance, but really in 2019.....people are looking for an experience more than a 2 hour line followed by 2 minutes of fun.

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^I think you're right. The popularity of GhostRider is insane, and part of me thinks it will always remain the most popular coaster in the park no matter what they add in the future. Especially since the retrack, it appeals to so many people.

 

I've had days at Knott's where ever coaster is a walk-on, but GhostRider is still a 20-30 minute wait. Capacity is partly the reason, but HangTime and Xcelerator also have sub-par capacities and are much more frequently walk-ons than GR. The festivals and "discount Disney experience" is the real draw for Knott's, I think. They didn't add a major coaster between 2004 and 2018, and they saw huge attendance surges with the Boardwalk, Voyage to the Iron Reef, Ghost Town Alive, Berry Festival expansion, and more.

 

As for CGA, CP, and KD, I have no idea. But I do think Knott's is a "different animal" than those parks.

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Is it bringing people to the park, or just keeping coaster fans happy, tho?

 

What works for one market doesn't work for another sometimes. Kinzel learned that lesson pretty hard. I think they opted to replace a thrill ride with a thrill ride in the same space. Financially, that was probably the best move they had available. Maybe a $100 million dollar Snoopy trackless dark ride does better, but probably not enough to recoup costs now or ever, and with reasonable likelihood they just get compared negatively to Disney no matter what.

 

The legendary ones, like GR, cand rive attendance, but really in 2019.....people are looking for an experience more than a 2 hour line followed by 2 minutes of fun.

 

Some people certainly are. Some probably aren't. I'll be the first to be proven wrong if their reimagining of Ghost Town Alive is a hit at Cedar Point. There's no passholder base there that can really get into it because they're almost entirely built on day trips and the occasionally longer weekend style stay. There's no Disney competitor to try and draw away people from due to cost or crowds. Cedar Point is the regional 800 lb gorilla there.

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