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Report: SeaWorld Makes $3.4 Billion Takeover Bid for Cedar Fair

Update: Cedar Fair confirms SeaWorld's proposal for review

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One thing I keep seeing online is that Cedar Fair treats their pass holders better than SEAS. I have only had my SEAS Platinum Pass for 10 months but I have been very impressed with their pass program. For around $100 more than a CF Platinum Pass I get 6 free guest tickets, plus all the extra bring a friend free tickets in addition to those 6 tickets. For both December and January, there were rewards of an extra ticket for BGT and  for SWO each month so that's 4 more tickets.  There was 1 for Aquatica for either November or December and 1 for Busch Gardens in August, Sea World in September. In total I have brought family members with me using 10 free tickets and I still have 1 of my 6 free tickets left.

Then there are all the giveaways, A free food item at Bier Fest at BGT in the fall,  free ornaments in December, magnets in January, $10 Busch Bucks and Sea World Bucks every few months. There is 50% off almost all merchandise and the free single rider Quick Queue per visit.

 

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This has to be some sort of shady business deal that is ultimately not good for either brand. Seems like a leveraged buyout attempt where the ultimate goal is bankrupt the company so whomever is orchestrating this can take the pieces they want and sell the rest for scrap 

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6 hours ago, Jew said:

This has to be some sort of shady business deal that is ultimately not good for either brand. Seems like a leveraged buyout attempt where the ultimate goal is bankrupt the company so whomever is orchestrating this can take the pieces they want and sell the rest for scrap 

Which would mean some parks closing.

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I am going to say this happening is as likely as that new Six Flags they are building in Orlando. Or that new theme park going up near I Drive. Or....

Basically not going to happen.

Why?

Sea World could BARELY pay for its coasters, 3 of which have yet to open.

They are notorious for having mass layoffs every year. Doesn't sound like a company that can take on a LOT of debt.

PLUS Six Flags offered Cedar Fair $4 BILLION last year that they rejected. WHY would the chain even entertain a lower offer?

 

The news made both of their stocks rise. Maybe that was their intention all along.

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I've worked for both companies for many years (not just a seasonal employee.)

Busch USED to be amazing. When the Busch family owned the parks, there was a level and quality and service unmatched elsewhere. Once they sold to Blackstone, things went downhill fast.

This past summer, Cedar Point celebrated its 150th with tons of show including a MASSIVE one with a cast of over 70 people.  This past Christmas, Sea World could not be bothered to bring back "Oh Wondrous Night," their award winning Christmas show and instead got groups to fill in on weekends. It was lackluster and cheap and showed how different these two parks are in their commitment to entertainment.

There is just no comparison between the companies and their two philosophies. Cedar Fair has been around for 150+ years and is an ENTERTAINMENT company. Sea World is owned by Blackstone, an investment firm. They just see the parks as money makers and way to make dividends off of their stocks. 

And until Sea World Orlando can retain a president for more than one year, they are in no business to be buying other properties. 

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They have money.

The reason that this is unlikely is simply that it requires a 2/3 vote from shareholders and failing to vote would have the same impact as voting against it. They need near-unanimous yes votes and an exceptionally high voter turnout. The’ll send a letter like this to shareholders begging for votes, but this is a nearly-insurmountable hurdle.

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13 minutes ago, pianojohn said:

I've worked for both companies for many years (not just a seasonal employee.)

Busch USED to be amazing. When the Busch family owned the parks, there was a level and quality and service unmatched elsewhere. Once they sold to Blackstone, things went downhill fast.

This past summer, Cedar Point celebrated its 150th with tons of show including a MASSIVE one with a cast of over 70 people.  This past Christmas, Sea World could not be bothered to bring back "Oh Wondrous Night," their award winning Christmas show and instead got groups to fill in on weekends. It was lackluster and cheap and showed how different these two parks are in their commitment to entertainment.

There is just no comparison between the companies and their two philosophies. Cedar Fair has been around for 150+ years and is an ENTERTAINMENT company. Sea World is owned by Blackstone, an investment firm. They just see the parks as money makers and way to make dividends off of their stocks. 

And until Sea World Orlando can retain a president for more than one year, they are in no business to be buying other properties. 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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23 minutes ago, coasterbill said:

They sent a letter to shareholders begging for votes, but this is a nearly-insurmountable hurdle.

Impressive, but from 2010 -- maybe you meant this as an example?

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I did, but worded it poorly. I edited it.

Interesting fact: It looks like the highest voter turnout they’ve ever had was in the 70% range, and I’m sure that those people didn’t all vote the same way.

A 2/3 yes vote when every absent vote is a no vote is going to be nearly impossible. This can’t be overstated.

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Man I never realized so many people were so critical of SW parks. I mean, I'm not as well traveled as some here but last year went to Carowinds for a weekend and SW/BGT multiple times and the overall experience at both chain's parks was pretty similar, really couldn't tell you which one was "better". 

I mean I've never had a bad day at SeaWorld in the last like 3 years, operations are efficient, it's always clean, looks great, it's pretty quick and easy to get some food (which wasn't the case at Carowinds), and the kids have fun. I  see PianoJohn's point about the entertainment not being what it was once and that's a fair criticism, but at Carowinds this year on a Saturday in the middle of the summer I don't remember any entertainment.

I don't really think the sale will go through, but don't really see one chain as being superior to another by any means.

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Agreed. I used to feel like SeaWorld was a step above Cedar Fair but I feel like lately they're trending in the wrong direction. That said, I feel the same way about Disney, Six Flags, Cedar Fair and basically the majority of the industry and at this point it seems like they're comparable.

To me, I also feel like it's impossible to say which chain is better because they have such a diverse collection of parks (especially Cedar Fair) and I can't really fathom how anyone could do that. The top-tier Cedar Fair parks can go toe-to-toe with the Busch parks and I could see the argument either way. Michigan's Adventure / Dorney / Valleyfair / Worlds of Fun though? Ehhh... I'm not so sure. That said. SeaWorld San Antonio is also a huge step down from the rest of that chain and you can make the same argument in reverse.

Sesame Place also exists, but I'll ignore that one for now. It's kind-of it's own thing. Or how about Soak City (or whatever) vs Discovery Cove?

Operationally... same thing. Cedar Point's ops are amazing in the summer, but Michigan's Adventure runs 800 cars on a Wild Mouse and sends one around at a time. Busch Gardens Williamsburg's ops are fine, but SeaWorld routinely runs one train on Mako on weekdays regardless of crowd level.

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My only real complaint about the SW parks is when they changed their tier level of memberships a handful of years ago and then immediately changed them the year after which caused confusion when I was dealing with some staff. Like I have  "premier" membership which gets me into all of their parks but they changed it the next year to "platinum" so while I still get access to all of the parks and the perks that go with it some of the staff get confused when they see premier on my passes but when they scan it then it still works. 

If this actually somehow goes through I'm curious to see if they keep the season passes separate or make an ultimate platinum premier pass to attend all the parks and what that price point would be. 

I've kept our SW parks premier/platinum passes because they are locked in at $20 a month but I've dropped our Cedar Fair park platinum passes for this year cause I simply don't see us getting to any of their parks since Dorney is the closest and Dorney alone isn't worth renewing it, especially with the lack of real benefits in terms of renewing. That has more to do with our travel plans for the year than the state of the parks though. 

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I’m not a fan of Cedar Fair’s polices and operations in general.

At the water parks, SEAS generally uses a red light, green light system and the lines move fast. At Dorney, the platform is chained off and only 1 group can slide at a time. If there are 4 slides and all 4 want the same slide, they typically let them all slide which takes a few minutes while the other 3 slides are empty. 
 

Their height restrictions both for minimum and maximum are bad too. When they bought Carowjnds the mine train went from 36” to 48”. Years ago at Dorney, 2 family members wanted to go on rides at Camp Snoopy. Both were barely over 54” tall at the time. They had to ride in separate rows on some rides because only 1 person over 54” per row despite the 1 of the exact same ride at Great Adventure, Morey’s, Gillian’s and Dutch Wonderland not having that policy.

There is also the no re-ride policy at many (most?) CF parks even sometimes during enthusiast events.

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Doubt the offer would be accepted but would be interesting to see what happens if it did.  Would they take the best of both companies and make them both better? Or would one management philosophy dominate the other company?  Personally with VF as my home park I may even welcome it. The park maybe could get cinnamon bread or some real investment from Herschend for a change. Maybe they would even bring back the Skipper and Dolly dolphin show from the 70's/80's. 🤣 But the park could also be sold off to another buyer after the merger or even shut down so it would be interesting to say the least. 

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On 2/1/2022 at 9:55 PM, YoshiFan said:

I have only had my SEAS Platinum Pass for 10 months but I have been very impressed with their pass program. For around $100 more than a CF Platinum Pass I get 6 free guest tickets, plus all the extra bring a friend free tickets in addition to those 6 tickets. For both December and January, there were rewards of an extra ticket for BGT and  for SWO each month so that's 4 more tickets.  There was 1 for Aquatica for either November or December and 1 for Busch Gardens in August, Sea World in September. In total I have brought family members with me using 10 free tickets and I still have 1 of my 6 free tickets left.

Then there are all the giveaways, A free food item at Bier Fest at BGT in the fall,  free ornaments in December, magnets in January, $10 Busch Bucks and Sea World Bucks every few months. There is 50% off almost all merchandise and the free single rider Quick Queue per visit.

 

Big deal. Six Flags gave that away annually for $40, or just eight easy monthly payments of $5.

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If this was true- how could we stop it? SEAS- please leave Cedar Fair alone. Or, better yet hire them to run your Parks- it would be a great improvement over what you offer now.

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31 minutes ago, SF3582 said:

If this was true- how could we stop it? SEAS- please leave Cedar Fair alone. Or, better yet hire them to run your Parks- it would be a great improvement over what you offer now.

if you attended WOF, VF, MIA, Dor or CGAM often you may think different. I have only been to Sea World Orlando and BGT in the seas chain but both experiences were great!

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7 hours ago, SF3582 said:

Or, better yet hire them to run your Parks- it would be a great improvement over what you offer now.

Yeah, like Cedar Fair's food service everyone raves about!

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^ With maybe (at least) one exception....Knott's Berry Farm?

Or are you just talking about "staff service" vs. actual food offered? Or both?

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I mostly base my opinion on my visits to SWSA..... 2 of the worst visits that I have ever paid for was experienced at SWSA. Our last visit 2 months ago or so was better- but it's never been whole lot better than CF, but better than SF. The food under Busch was pretty good. It's a long story on what happened on those days.... maybe a "one off"?

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