Cedar Fair this morning reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2021 - a period in which the chain welcome no theme park guests nationwide.
Knott's Berry Farm is Cedar Fair's only year-round park and it remained closed as a theme park during the first three months of the year, due to California's pandemic restrictions. But the park did welcome guests for a variety of outdoor food festivals, allowing Cedar Fair to post $10 million in revenue for the quarter ended March 28. Still, that's a decline from $54 million for the same period in 2020, during which Knott's initially closed.
Overall, Cedar Fair reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $83.6 million in the quarter and cash on hand of $272 million, representing a first-quarter cash burn of approximately $35 million per month. However, the company reported that it expects all of its properties in the United States to be open by the end of the month, including Knott's Soak City water park, which will open May 29 following passholder previews on May 22 and May 23.
"Based on recent trends and consumer survey results, coupled with broad vaccination efforts underway across the nation, we anticipate strong pent-up consumer demand for closer-to-home, outdoor entertainment, particularly in the year’s second half," Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said. "We are pleased with the early leading indicators we have seen thus far, and our 2021 operating strategy is focused on maximizing performance during our seasonally weighted second half of the year. With our park openings right around the corner, we are once again seeing a lift in season pass sales, which are incremental to the more than 1.8 million active season passes already on the books and valid through the 2021 season."
Cedar Fair's Canada's Wonderland park in Toronto remains closed, however, with no opening date in sight at this point.
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I've got to give it to Knott's. As far as I'm aware, they were the first to come up with the food festival thing as a way to partially reopen and get some revenue coming in, and it was a genius move on their part. Disneyland followed suit, and Magic Mountain had their drive-through Christmas display. Knott's paved the way for parks to find creative ways to welcome guests while officially still being closed as theme parks. Even though they're both gone now, I imagine Walt Disney shaking Walter Knott's hand and saying "Good move, my friend."