Worlds of Fun is the latest amusement park to go on the block
Cedar Fair announced today in a press release
that it is putting two more of its amusement parks up for sale: Kansas City's Worlds of Fun
and Minnesota's ValleyFair.
The amusement park chain previously had put Santa Clara's California's Great America up for sale (it has been trying to sell the park to the San Francisco 49ers for land for a new stadium, though that deal is going nowhere). The chain's also been trying to sell the old Geauga Lake amusement park.
Cedar Fair blew its cash and took on a huge debt burden when it bought the former Paramount Parks from CBS for $1.24 billion in 2006. Like Six Flags before it, Cedar Fair's learning that taking on debt to expand in boom times comes back to haunt you when the economy goes bad.
Cedar Fair has discussed selling WoF before, and nothing has come of it. I will work my contacts and see if I can find out anything else. No one is probably talking at this point. But why spend $8 mil on a new coaster if you are just going to unload the property?
I think buyers along the lines of the start-up that bought Hard Rock are far more likely than big chains such as Six Flags, James. The big kids just don't have the capital to expand to new parks while sustaining their existing ones.
Everything I have ever read tells me WoF is a profitable venture. I know it is not doing gangbusters (having missed the 1 million visitors mark each year since CF has owned the place), but the place holds a veritable monopoly in the area (Silver Dollar City is over 3.5 hours away, SFSTL is 4 hours), and receives favorable tax cuts from the city. Plus the addition of the Prowler makes no sense that I can understand for a dying park.
Incidentally, Cedar Fair bought Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for about $40 mil in 1995, and say they have invested about $70 mil in the parks to date (including the $8 mil on The Prowler).
The one thing that I do know about this sale is this. They aren't in a big hurry to sell. They will accept offers, but they won't lose out on this deal, so who knows how long the Cedar Fair flag will fly. The big park companies who do have the money will likely throw their money at the A-B parks sweepstakes first.
You got it, Derek! I spent my $500 on five Gold Passes for the family. I am doing my part. WoF may not be much, but it is my home park, and I'll be damned if I will let it go without a fight! ;)
The smartest move for CF would be to dump the smaller regional parks to people who would want to own them and improve them accordingly. Then, focus on your big draw parks (Knotts, Cedar Point, Kings Island/Dominion, ect..) by improving quality of service and, in some cases, rides offered.
Thanks for the explanation, Robert....and it makes a lot of sense, but why add The Prowler? That is the part of this whole scenario that just doesn't make sense. Unless the parent company does not have total control over the spending of the local branch? I confess, I just don't know how it all works.
James, sometimes people invest new things somewhere to sell the whole package. Think about it-- this will attrack a lot more people, and if they sell it, it will probably sell way beyond the profit of Prowler.
I have it on good authority that Cedar Fair would sell off just about any of their properties for the right amount, and that they are just putting out "feelers" right now to gauge interest. For the right price, sure they will sell, but that price would be a premium, I am told.
Worlds of Fun may not be the biggest and most visited amusement park but it is the only near one in the area. The others are Silver Dollar City which has nothing on WOF. and Six Flags but that's across the entire state!! who wants to drive at least 4 hours to go Six Flags St. Louis??? who can tell me that? Also Worlds of Fun has great potential!! this is my home park and if this park closes the whole metro area of Kansas City and neighboring state will be furious. Lamar Hunt's family should definitely save this park.They made the park so if they take it back I know for damn sure WOF will grow and take it to new heights and use the money more wisely!! Cedar Fair goes up on their prices way to much. Also if they would stop putting roller coasters in Cedar Point and use the money more wisely!! its almost every year they get another world break coaster! did they ever think of giving those kind of coasters to Worlds of Fun??? Kansas City is so easy to get to from everywhere. Its the Midwest!! it don't make any sense to sell a park when they just got a new coaster. Worlds of Fun is going to make so much money this year!! It will come back on top!! If Lamar Hunts family sees this please take action. I am 16 years old and i have been going to worlds of fun every single year since i was 3 years old and i love the park. Dont let them take it away!!!
Worlds of Fun is not going anywhere. Even if Cedar Fair sells the park (doubtful) it will still be open and operational. Keep in mind, the park is profitable. Most people don't just close profitable businesses these days.
I just don't think Cedar Fair is dying to sell WoF. If they are that cash strapped, why would they bring an 8 million dollar investment into the park and at the same time put it up for sale? It doesn't make sense to do that. It makes sense if they are expecting a return on their investment and will hold out for the right price, but they have to know that people are buying at a discounted rate right now.
'Nuff said! ;)
Excerpt from a posting on the Official Worlds of Fun website:
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