Attendance and revenue keep growing at Cedar Fair

February 19, 2020, 12:48 PM · Cedar Fair today reported record attendance at its theme parks in 2019.

"We are extremely pleased with our 2019 season, which was the most successful year in Cedar Fair's history," Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman told investors in a conference call this morning. "The success of our core operations, combined with many long-term initiatives now coming online, and the opportunities that acquisitions like Schlitterbahn present, give us great confidence in our ability to continue these record-setting trends for years to come."

The owner of Cedar Point, Knott's Berry Farm, Kings Island, Canada's Wonderland and other regional amusement parks around North America also added two Schlitterbahn water parks to its portfolio last year. That makes top-line year-to-year comparisons a bit tricky, but Cedar Fair reported that attendance at its parks was up 5 percent in 2019, and up 8 percent to a record 27.9 million guests if you throw in the two Schlitterbahn parks.

In-park per capita spending was up 1 percent to a record $48.32, and out-of-park revenues (from hotels, etc.) were up 11 percent to a record $169 million. Cedar Fair also noted that season pass programs accounted for 53 percent of its attendance and that through December 31, 2019, sales of its 2020 season passes and related all-season products were up more than 40 percent from the same time in the previous year.

Company officials credited the expansion on Winterfest to Canada's Wonderland for driving an increase in fourth quarter attendance. Looking ahead to 2020, company officials expressed optimism over the new Orion giga coaster at Kings Island as well as the 150th anniversary at Cedar Point and 100th at Knott's Berry Farm.

CFO Brian Witherow also pointed to the expansion of Cedar Fair's Pass Perks loyalty rewards program, which the company tested in four parks in 2019.

"That's being rolled out broadly across the system - sans the Schlitterbahn parks for 2020, those parts will come on in 2021, most likely," he said. "The big part of the Pass Perks program is not only to retention of Season Pass holders, but also to encourage and drive more visitation, so having that tool in the tool belt for our park marketing teams will go a long way towards hopefully pushing those visitation numbers up going forward."

Replies (3)

February 20, 2020 at 11:42 AM

Disneyland's loss in 2019, and Galaxy's Edge, was Knott's gain. Knott's feels like Disneyland used to be before the slick, polished, corporate feeling of today. People, especially annual passholders, like a place that's nice to hang out, and Knott's fills that bill. Add in family friendly offerings like Summer Nights entertainment and games, and comfort food (unlike Disney's trendy foodie offerings) plus cheap season passes, and respecting the past (Calico Mine Train, Timber Mountain Log Ride) it's no wonder that Knott's is doing well.

February 20, 2020 at 1:56 PM

Do we know that Knott's increased its attendance in 2019? Cedar Fair attributes the overall increases to Winter Fest in Canada and the acquisition of Schlitterbahn, while banking on anniversaries and few capital projects to drive growth in 2020. I'd hold off claiming that Knott's sucked attendance away from DL until the 2019 AECOM/TEA Report is released.

Knott's certainly makes a different proposition to guests than DL does these days, but one is not necessarily better than the other. You could argue that Knott's is doing well simply because there's a strong market for theme parks in SoCal, especially ones that are more economically priced in a region where disposable income is a rapidly shrinking commodity.

February 21, 2020 at 1:19 PM

Disneyland is still the premier theme park in So Cal, I'm just making the argument that Knott's is doing a lot of things right to attract visitors. Here's an article in the OC Register that says that Knott's reports record attendance after Disneyland opens Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Article dated November 6, 2019:
"In spite of the May debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Knott’s Berry Farm is once again on pace to have a record attendance year, according to officials at Cedar Fair, the parent company of the Buena Park theme park."

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Visitors guides

Weekly newsletter