2009 in review: The year of the theme park deal
No, I'm not talking about discounts for customers, though those certainly were available in 2009. This was the year that all five of the top U.S. theme and amusement park chains were involved in a major financial deal.The Walt Disney Company bought Marvel Comics, creating a potentially sticky situation for Universal, which has hosted the Marvel characters in its Islands of Adventure theme park, a deal that Universal says would keep those Marvel characters out of Walt Disney World.Vivendi sold its stake in NBC Universal, clearing the way for Comcast to buy controlling interest in the owner of the Universal Studios theme parks.Six Flags filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, which it is now trying to emerge from by ceding much of the ownership of the company to its debt holders.Anheuser-Busch InBev sold the Busch Entertainment Corp. theme parks to Blackstone Group, which then renamed the chain SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.Finally, Cedar Fair, owner of Knott's Berry Farm, Cedar Point, Kings Island and other parks, found a white knight in Apollo Management LP, which agreed to buy the debt-strapped amusement park chain.
So, which was the biggest deal of the year?
Let's hear your thoughts about these stories, in the comments.
I voted for the sale of Cedar Fair mostly because... well because here is how I viewed each of these deals:
I'm looking at which story will affect the greatest change in the parks.
I think the Marvel Deal is the biggest due to it still not being completely finished. The other news stories are open and shut deals where everybody knows where they are. Disney buying Marvel seems to me to be an uncomplete deal, especially on the theme park side.
The fact that Disney won't put in said Marvel attractions diminishes the story of them buying Marvel in the theme park realm. Comcast's purchase of Universal wasn't directly theme park related, although there are now more possibilities for the parks. We all knew where Six Flags was headed. It's no surprise that they filed for bankruptcy at all. The only surprise is that they didn't do it sooner. Busch's story is a good thing for the industry. A good company expanded itself by purchasing another good operation.
The reservations I have about calling the Disney-Marvel deal the most significant of the year is that it still seems extremely unlcear to what capacity they can use the characters. The most popular and well-known characters already have movie franchises that Disney can't touch (from my understanding) and due to Islands of Adventure, it seems uncertain that Disney will be able to use the characters in their parks.
There is always Disneyland...
Mr. Niles you wrote:
The Marvel deal is huge. It should win this poll in a walk!
In response to the anonymous post:
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