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Cedar Fair Buys Six Flags World of Adventure

Cedar Fair, L.P. gets the park for a reported $145 million and will return its former name, Geauga Lake.

From Derek Potter
Posted March 10, 2004 at 6:00 PM
Cedar Fair announced today that it has have reached a deal to purchase the mediocre Worlds of Adventure from Six Flags. The deal was reported to be worth about 145 million dollars. Cedar Fair elected not to purchase the animals from the park and will not continue to operate the wildlife park, saying that this "wasn't their area of expertise". They will instead focus on the amusement park side and will rechristen the park with it's former name, Geauga Lake.

To some it may seem strange or stupid that Cedar Fair would elect to buy and operate a park that is about 60 miles away from the mother ship Cedar Point, but 145 million is a heck of a deal considering the assets they acquired. They got the coaster happy park and all its rides and attractions, as well as the adjacent
hotel and campgrounds. The park plans to open May 1, with no trace of Six Flags to be found. Rides will be renamed, and the characters will be gone, although I'm sure that the Peanuts will be making their way there soon. The only downside is that Cedar Fair season passholders will not be able to use them at Geauga Lake this year. SFWOA season passholders (is there such a thing?) can redeem their passes for Geauga Lake passes. Combo deals for Cedar Point and Geauga Lake are assumed to be in the works, although no details have yet been released.

The underlying issue with this particular Six Flags park was not necessarily its attractions, (although there are some bad ones) Most people thought that the big problems with the park were issues of maintenance, cleanliness, and subpar park staff (sounds familiar eh?). Kinzel and the board are trimming the fat in this beast by closing the animal park, saying that they plan to operate this place as a "traditional family park". They will be "evaluating" the full time staff. (we all know what that means), and plan to keep all the rides and attractions open pending inspection.

This brings another question. What's up with Six Flags? In addition to selling SFWOA, they sold all their European assets to a private firm. I for one, think that getting rid of two of it's biggest deadbeats is a smart business move. Six Flags cut a lot of spending on rides this year and chose to focus more on maintenance issues, which basically means that they are broke. The question is how many more parks will they sell, and if they do, is there anyone better to buy them than Cedar Fair?


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From JP parking Guy
Posted March 10, 2004 at 6:40 PM
I think this is a good move for both companies. However they are so close together

From Robert OGrosky
Posted March 10, 2004 at 7:33 PM
I have my doubts that this will be good for Cedar Point/Cedar Fair. I think it is a big negative to have the parks so close together and it will take alot of time/money to mesh these together and wonder if doing so will make either park enough money to justify the expenses involved.

From Andrew Swanson
Posted March 10, 2004 at 8:08 PM
Why can't Cedar Fair season pass holders use their passes at Geuaga Lake?

From Nick Boeing
Posted March 10, 2004 at 8:26 PM
I think it is a good move. This summer I visited this park almost every week with my season pass. The quality of the park is not that great but I think with cedar fair operating it it will be a much better park. It was a good move for both companys because cedar fairs got a new park and six flags got some of their debt payed off!

From Russell Meyer
Posted March 10, 2004 at 8:50 PM
I don't think this is that great of a move for Cedar Fair. It's a good move for Six Flags, because what better way to pay down dept than to liquidate assets. However, Cedar Fair is inheriting an underperforming park that is within 1 hour of its flagship park. Cedar Fair also did not purchase the animals, something that made SFWoA a different experience from other parks in Ohio. The loss of the old Sea World Ohio, which was for the most part preserved when Six Flags purchased the park, will be great, especially for employees who's sole job was to train and take care of the animals. I have a cousin who used to work for the park, and I'm sure the entire zoology staff will be scrambling to try to find any openings at the highly competitive Columbus Zoo.

Cedar Fair also inherits a park that has been expanding with no master plan under the guidance of Six Flags, and a park that has little organization. The press release states that the park will open for the 2004 season, but I think Cedar Fair should take a step back, and a year off to assess the strengths and weaknesses of this park, and how it will compliment what Cedar Point already offers.

From Jason Herrera
Posted March 10, 2004 at 9:20 PM
Six Flags will use the money obtained from this deal to finally buy Marine World. A small park in Vallejo, California.

From Derek Potter
Posted March 10, 2004 at 10:59 PM
I think that when Cedar Fair says that this will be a family park, they mean that it won't be competing with Cedar Point. At this point in time, Geauga Lake is a second rate thrill park, but I'm sure that CF has a plan to make the park compliment Cedar Point. I also wonder about their decision to not go with the animal park. It helped give the park a different niche. The only drawback about the animal park was that it made SFWOA as a whole way too big and expensive to operate.

Believe it or not, WOA has actually made money the last few years, averaging about 16 million dollars, but they made it at the expense of guest happiness, satisfaction, and cleanliness. Cedar Fair's management will surely be able to turn those things around. As for the animal park, it's too bad, but Cedar Fair is not a company known for taking big risks financially. If they don't know animals, then they won't go for them. They know that they can produce a moneymaker that has top notch customer satisfaction and quality, so they go for it. I say let them buy it all up. Better to have them run it than Six Flags at this point.

From Jason Herrera
Posted March 10, 2004 at 11:03 PM
Mr. Meyer, I highly value your amusement industry knowledge and would like to ask for your expert opinion on this question...

Do you think within 5 years Cedar Fair removes rides from this park and moves them into Worlds of Fun, Valleyfair, Michigans Adventure as 'new' attractions?

Would make sense...a New Floorless roller coaster at Worlds of Fun...imagine the possiblities.

Again I'd like your expert opinion, Mr Meyer.

Thanks a lot!

From Kevin Baxter
Posted March 11, 2004 at 12:55 AM
I think this is Cedar Fair's attempt to enter a sort of "resort" market. With all the Cedar Pointyheads out there, all they have to do is add a couple MORE hypercoasters over at WoA and they can hike up the price of a Season Pass.

I don't know if it will work, but I think it was a good move on Six Flags' side. Other SF parks suffered because of all the focus WoA was getting. Okay, it may not have seemed like much, but compared to parks like AstroWorld it sure was.

I think many of the animals will go to SFMW. Probably all the tigers, since they came from SFMW. But I don't think there is enough room for all the animals, especially the tank animals like the dolphins. If SF was truly smart, they would spend the money not only to buy SFMW from Vallejo, but to encourage Vallejo to build the County Fairgrounds elsewhere, so SFMW could expand, which it desperately needs. DESPERATELY! They could then take care of the animals in Ohio until they are ready to move to Vallejo.

From Russell Meyer
Posted March 11, 2004 at 7:11 AM
Jason,

I'm really not sure what Cedar Fair is going to do with this park, other then they're planning on open it on May 1st. It's pretty clear that they're going to close the back half of the park, and possibly move the flats and the simulators either to the front section of the park or to another park. What may be a good idea is to focus on the waterpark, and turn the park's focus to the waterpark, and compliment it with a few thrill rides. I wouldn't be surprised to see X-Flight moving to another park as it's already in an "out-of-the-way" section of the park, and could be easily transported to say Michigan, California, or Pennsylvania. Batman may be more difficult to move, as it is a more custom design, unless Cedar Fair was planning so far in advance that Batman is the custom Floorless coaster planned to replace Hercules at Dorney Park. Superman is a copy of an attraction that is already at a number of Cedar Fair parks. I could see it going to California, but Knotts already has new attraction plans for the next year with a new flat coming soon and Silver Bullet coming in December.

It's going to be tricky for Cedar Fair to try to market this park and find a niche where it can survive. What season pass holder is going to go to Geouga Lake when they can go another hour to Cedar Point with the same pass? Let's see what they do, especailly what names they come up with for the rides that are named after properties not owned by Cedar Fair.

From Robert OGrosky
Posted March 11, 2004 at 11:57 AM
If the new park is going to be a "amusement park" and not a theme park like Cedar Point. wont that affect how much they can charge for admission??? And whjat are they going to do to make it more family friendly, escepcially since the animals are gone??? Though nothing was mentioned i would assume they would put Snoopy and Gang in the park.
I just think it makes little sense to own two large properties so close to each other vying for the same population base. And if passholders get into both parks they wont make any extra money unless they really increase the cost of the season passes which may upset their old base of supporters.

From Nick Boeing
Posted March 11, 2004 at 4:08 PM
Ok... I hope that Cedar Fair does not move such as the X-Flight and Batman to other parks. I think that those two ride are the key rollercoaster to keeping the park running. I think that moving the X-Flight to a different location in the park would make sense since it is taking a large amount of parking space. I certainly hope they don't turn the park into a water park because the rides are fun too. Also I think that it is a good move to take out the animals unless cedar fair would take good care of them, and they said that animals aren't there are of expertise. If the animals are just going to be neglected then they should not even be in the park.

From Derek Potter
Posted March 11, 2004 at 8:56 PM
As far as the parks competing with each other, I think that it's safe to say that SFWOA had little effect on Cedar Point's attendance. Even with CF managing, WOA is no Cedar Point. As far as ride moving, I wouldn't be surprised to see that happen either. In the past, CF has moved smaller rides around, but they haven't really moved coasters. I can't see any of these coasters going to CP or Knotts. A move to Michigan's Adventure seems more likely. A logical solution for the proximity of CP and Geauga Lake is to reduce admission prices to Geauga. By closing the animal park, they will probably be able to do this. In addition, I would look for CF passholders as well as others to get good deals on combo passes since season passes are unusable at this time.

From Shawn Hayes
Posted March 11, 2004 at 10:53 PM
I have been to WOA and considered it disgusting. I beleive cedar fairs can turn this park around even with the proximity to Cedar Point, however I find that the traffic issue getting to the park an even greater problem. I don't know if this can be eliminated this soon. When I went to SFWOA, I spent 2 hours to get there and another 2 hours going down 1 road, which in turn; we didn't get to the park as early as we had planned. I also beleive there is plenty of room to expand, and beleive Cedar Fairs will make the appropiate changes.

From Philip Curds
Posted March 12, 2004 at 1:54 AM
It makes economic sense, Six Flags has in the past, neglected to leverage its massive property portfolio to its benefit on its profit and loss account. By selling the European division, allows the private investment group to sell of remaining land at the edges of its parks, streamlining existing rides/attractions to a smaller, and therefore cost-efficient location. If I am correct to believe the news, it seems likely that this private investment group would endevour to sell off parts of the European division, presumably the loss-making French divisions, but to whom would purchase, it is not known. Bidders in Europe must be happy, its far more likely you could buy a park from a private investment group than Six Flags. Look for decisions relating to Six Flags Holland, to gather any information of the investment groups desire to actually re-invest into these parks.

As for Six Flags World's of Adventure, it is interesting to see that the 'wild' section, i.e. the animals, will be under the control of Six Flags. It seems likely that Six Flags will move these to other existing properties, most likely Marine Parks. This is a wise move by Cedar Fair, as animals are expensive and not really a cost-effective solution to themeparks at this juncture. Cedar Fair will presumably begin a dual-season pass, between the two parks, separate from the existing all Cedar Fair parks pass, this would allow further specialisation on the pricing strategy. SFWOA is likely to be changed quite substantially, the 'wild' side, I believe should be sold off, it makes little economic sense, and the costs are too high to continue this portion of the operation, especially those ridiculous long bridges. I would gather, Cedar Fair would sell off this land to a property company to build homes, like those further down the road towards Aurora. The waterpark and rides section, will need vast improvement, especially when it comes to staff morale and management decisions such as that. Investment will be needed in updating the layout, tweaking existing rides, and cleaning the place up for the next season. Cedar Fair will presumably want to make Gueaga Lake, separate from Cedar Point. Cedar Point, focusing on thrills and two-day adventures, whilst Gueaga Lake focusing on low-cost family entertainment, It'll be unlikely they will invest in any new 'thrill' rides, like that of X-Flight, there is little point, kids rides will be the focus for the next (at least) 5 years.

From Ben Mills
Posted March 12, 2004 at 9:47 AM
Six Flags parks up for sale at the same time that Tussauds are searching for their next European thrill venture?

Something smells good...

From Erin Dennison
Posted March 12, 2004 at 9:35 AM
These posts make me so sad. This park was more than a business to many many people. Sure, it had only half of the attendance of Cedar Point, but that is 1.5 Million People. 1.5 Million people looking to have fun with their friends and family. When given the choice to go to Cedar Point or Six Flags, we went to Six Flags. Sure, it is smaller, but there are alot less people to bump into. When I used to go to Cedar Point, to stand in line for 2 hours was no big thing. I never stood in line over an hour at Six Flags, and usually it was 5 mins to a half an hour. There was so much for children to do. I was looking forward to my children being old enough to take them, and now it is gone. Six Flags did so much for that park. My family throughly enjoyed going there several times each season. And it is bad enough that they are changing it all, you guys are talking about taking our coasters away. Get your own. Geez. The animals leaving is bad enough. Im sorry, but they may not have experience with animals, but their trainers and managers do. Sea World has been there for sooo long, and now they are just throwing it away. A zoo is nothing like Sea World. My family went through the Entire Cleveland Zoo in two hours. When I was a child we went to Sea World all day and never even got through it all. This is all just so terrible and everyone thinks it is great. Of course, that is how this world works. Who cares about the little people. Lets just force them to drive even longer and pay more money to stand in longer lines. I suppose that since Six Flags decided to do this, they must have had a good business reason. But that doesnt mean it is a good thing for everybody, or even anybody else.

From Ben Mills
Posted March 12, 2004 at 10:26 AM
Ha... Cedar Fair trades as "FUN" on the NYSE. Never noticed that before

From Jet Nitro
Posted March 12, 2004 at 10:49 AM
FINALLY!! Six Flags got smart and sold off this dump, as well as spinning off the euro parks. I think the rocket scientist at corporate are finally realizing that running too many parks with the SF name can be detrimental to the company as a whole. I certanily hope that SF sells off all the smaller regionals they own and put their focus back into making the core parks the best products out there.

From Craig Perrin
Posted March 12, 2004 at 8:04 PM
Thank goodness Cedar Fair doesn't own any animals and isn't taking the SFWoA animals. I can invest in them with a clear conscience.

I appreciate why people like to take their kids to see animals, my kid loves to see the animals too, but it's really hard on the animals to live in that kind of environment. The people who take care of the animals do a great job (and are great whistleblowers when the animal care goes bad), but it's very hard to build an adequate "enclosure" for animals that swim or run 100 miles a day or more.

I wish Cedar Fair great luck in its venture and I hope one day SF gets wise on the animals and does the right thing by retiring them to sanctuaries.

From Andrew Wells
Posted March 15, 2004 at 8:53 PM
I think it is a tragedy that Six Flags has given up. I can't believe tht the Ohio Government would allow Cedar Fair to eliminate it's competion in this manner. Wehn six flags came in they brought decent pricing this in turn forced Cedar Point to lower it's season pass and keep it's Daily rates competitive. Now what is going to keep them from hiking rates? Also a side notes for those of us in the Columbus area one of the perks for having a Wyandot Lake season pass was tht it was good at Six Flags, now that is gone unless you plan on travelling. My wife is very upset about the animals leaving s are most people I have talked to, it is a shame although I understand the expense involved, but then why did Six Flags not just close the animal part down? Seems like it would have made more sense since they were not losing that much money except for this past year. Ah well nobody of any power really cares what we think anyway so lets all go and enjoy the 2 hour waits at Cedar Point.

From Stephanie Szabo
Posted March 21, 2004 at 8:09 AM
I went to SFWoA this past summer, and the service was terrible. I have been going there for my entire life and never was so disappointed. Mid-August, and they closed at 6:00 PM. What is up with that? I pay $40 to get in, I want to get my $40 worth. The park was filthy and the employees were rude. New management is what this park needs.

From Dan Ardale
Posted April 4, 2004 at 3:04 PM
Wow I think whoever says get rid of the roller coasters is just plain stupid. Ive been goin to that park my whole life and without the roller coasters Geauga Lake wont last. Cedar Fair has something up there sleve and are waiting to reveil it to the public. Getting RID of the wild life park was a perfect idea for them to make. Hopefully now they put way more rides and attractions over there. They need to keep all the roller coasters and just keep adding on so they will dominate like Cedar Point. GOT IT...

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