Theme Park Insider

Cedar Fair's Matt Ouimet to leave CEO post

October 4, 2017, 9:04 AM · Cedar Fair — the amusement park chain that owns Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm and several other major regional parks around the country — announced this morning that CEO Matt Ouimet would be leaving that job at the end of the year to assume a newly created position as executive chairman of the board.

Current Cedar Fair President Richard Zimmerman will succeed Ouimet as CEO, starting January 1, 2018. Zimmerman came to Cedar Fair from the Paramount Parks chain that Cedar Fair eventually acquired, where he worked as vice president and general manager at Kings Dominion.

Ouimet previously worked as the president of the Disneyland Resort, overseeing its popular 50th anniversary celebration before moving on to Starwood Hotels and later to Cedar Fair. Ouimet succeeded theme park industry Hall of Famer Dick Kinsel as Cedar Fair CEO in January 2012.

"I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Cedar Fair and I am proud of what our team has accomplished," Ouimet said in a statement released by the company. "The market value of Cedar Fair has increased by more than $2.6 billion during my time at the company. This performance provides us with a solid foundation to build upon and a positive outlook for the future. Richard is a perfect choice to succeed me as CEO and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as the executive chairman going forward."

Under Ouimet's leadership, Cedar Fair invested in improvements to classic dark rides at Knott's Berry Farm, repositioning the California park as a competitor for Disneyland's family crowd rather than aiming primarily at Six Flags' thrill-seeking audience, as it had begun to do in the recent past. At Disney, Ouimet is widely credited for reviving Disneyland Park after years of neglect in maintenance and show quality under previous administrations.

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Replies (4)

October 4, 2017 at 1:17 PM · I just hope they keep up the investments. The closest park to me, California's Great America has always been rather mediocre but that has started to change in the last few years.
October 4, 2017 at 2:03 PM · Do we know what the tangible difference will be in Matt's roles?
October 4, 2017 at 3:13 PM · Thank you for your years of service and the care and attention you have given to Knott's Berry Farm. It is now a perfect family alternative for families who have been priced out of Disneyland and the addition of more live entertainment has made it a favorite for many people. You are appreciated!
October 9, 2017 at 9:47 AM · Matt Ouimet did three major things for Cedar Fair:

1. Saved CGA. Before Kinzel retired he was saying in interviews that he was looking to sell CGA to developers for the 49ers stadium, and even started moving rides out of the park to other parks like they did with Geauga Lake.

2: Came up with a long term strategy for each park to exploit its market potential on park by park basis. He didn't just pave over things and add a bunch of rides to each park like the previous management did, each park had it's own 5 year plan based on its market demographics.

3: Modernized the parks revenue management to make more money from people willing to spend more. Added Fastlane, VIP tours, dining pass, food & wine festivals, etc.

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