Attendance, spending, revenue down at Cedar Fair and Six Flags theme parks*
Written by Robert Niles
Cedar Fair, the company that owns Cedar Point, Kings Island and Knott's Berry Farm, among other theme parks, is going into cash conservation mode next year, as guest attendance and spending continues to decline across the chain.Tweet
Cedar Fair announced that it will not pay cash distributions to its limited partner units next year, as it seeks to conserve cash to pay down its debt. (Cedar Fair paid $1.2 billion to buy Paramount Parks in 2006.)
Cash distributions to limited partner units are roughly the equivalent of a corporation paying dividends to its stockholders. Cedar Fair is a limited partnership (hence, "Cedar Fair, L.P."), and the holders of its limited partnership units are typically paid a proportionate share of the business's income each quarter.
That amount worked out to $1.10 per unit for the first nine months of 2009, compared with $1.12 per unit for the same period in 2008.
According to the company's press release (here is the version from the SEC, complete with spreadsheet for you number-crunchers), attendance at the company's parks was down from 20 million in the first nine months of 2008 to 18.8 million during the same period this year. (That's not counting the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, which the company closed late last year.) In-park guest spending was down from $40.28 to $39.73.
"The decrease in attendance was the result of a sharp decline in group sales business, which continues to be negatively affected by the poor economy and spending cuts at many businesses, schools and organizations," Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel said in the statement. "Our attendance figures were also negatively impacted by a decrease in season pass visits resulting from a decline in total pass sales, and by poor weather, particularly cooler than normal temperatures throughout much of the season at our northern and southern region parks."
* Update: And here are the results for Six Flags:
Six Flags also blamed the drop in attendance to lower group sales and fewer free tickets, but did say that sales of single-day and individual season pass tickets were up from 2008. That's a good sign for the company, at least.
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