SeaWorld Launches Takeover Bid for Cedar Fair

February 1, 2022, 12:42 PM · SeaWorld Entertainment has offered to buy Knott's Berry Farm and Cedar Point owner Cedar Fair for $60 per unit in cash. That would work out to a $3.4 billion deal for the theme and amusement park company. Bloomberg first reported the story.

Cedar Fair confirmed the "unsolicited non-binding proposal," saying that "the Cedar Fair Board of Directors will carefully review and consider the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and its unitholders."

SeaWorld, which also owns the Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks, drew 22.6 million visitors in 2019, placing it below Cedar Fair's parks, which together attracted 27.9 million visitors that year, according to the annual TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance report. If combined, the new company would have moved ahead of rival Six Flags and become the fifth largest in the world, trailing Disney Parks, Merlin Entertainments, Oct Parks China, and Universal Parks and Resorts.

SeaWorld's top parks in the North American top 20 for attendance are SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and SeaWorld San Diego. Cedar Fair's top parks include Knott's Berry Farm, Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Point, and Kings Island.

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Replies (14)

February 1, 2022 at 12:51 PM

Hey Robert i'll be happy to buy your house in California for $50.

What a joke of an offer, IMO this just further reinforces my comments over the years that Sea Worlds management has no idea what they're doing. Similar to Six Flags, they are just throwing a hail mary pass to make it look like they are doing something. There is no way Cedar Fair will an accept a $3.5 billion offer for all of their properties. If anything Sea World is a prime candidate to get bought out by Merlin.

February 1, 2022 at 12:54 PM

I have been told that Merlin's company policy does not allow it to own marine mammals, so that would stand in the way of a SeaWorld acquisition. But Merlin buying Cedar Fair might be an excellent fit, since I see Merlin's parks as pretty much the Cedar Fair of Europe.

February 1, 2022 at 1:05 PM

Looks like a desperate grasp for relevance.

February 1, 2022 at 1:12 PM

I'm almost relieved to hear this, not because I think that SeaWorld will buy Cedar Point/Cedar Fair, but because it will give people something to speculate about for the next 3 months other than "What do you think they'll put in where Wicked Twister use to be?"

February 1, 2022 at 1:26 PM

We knew there would be some sort of buyout or merger post-2020.

Does seem to be a lowball offer. Looks like Cedar Fair stock was $50 a share before the offer was made public, but immediately jumped to $55+. So at least speculators are anticipating a sale.

February 1, 2022 at 2:02 PM

The core of the problem is that [IMO] Sea World is too small to be a public company and they have no prospects of growth. They have been in an identity crises from a directional persepctive since big daddy AB moved on and merging with another company seems like the most logical solution.
That's what brings me to Merlin, as owners and operators of parks in Florida, California, and New York (near sesame place), as well as aquariums, it gives Sea World and Merlin the scale.

February 1, 2022 at 3:07 PM

"the Cedar Fair Board of Directors will carefully review and consider the proposal to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interest of the Company and its unitholders.

I'm guessing the "Course of action" will be to read it, pause then all burst out in hysterical laughter before throwing the offer out.

February 1, 2022 at 6:46 PM

Gutsy move by Sea World. I'll bet they pull it off.

February 2, 2022 at 5:58 AM

Wonder if the offer is intended to shutdown Cedar Point and resurrect Geauga Lake and SeaWorld of Ohio? Err, nevermind.

February 2, 2022 at 6:43 AM

Been better If Disney had acquired Seaworld, updated the parks and habitats - they already have captive land animals so it’s not like they weren’t in that game to begin with

February 2, 2022 at 10:01 AM

Tipton, only if you are okay with them shutting down Seaworld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa. Running a second and third park with animals along with Animal Kingdom doesn’t seem profitable.

February 2, 2022 at 12:49 PM

Wow so much hate for Sea World. I think they Overbid - the valuation of Cedar Fair was only $2.82 billion & they are not even open 12 months of the year. I am a huge fan of Carowinds & Kings Dominion as well as all of the SW Parks & hope this is a good move for both companies. Merlin has aquariums all over the world so the comment about animals above is not accurate. Disney does not take over other parks & Universal does not either both build from the ground-up

February 2, 2022 at 12:57 PM

It's well known in the industry that the main reason Merlin didn't buy Sea World right before they went public was because Nick Varney refused to have killer whales in captivity (a hunch that turned out to be correct). But I think SW's portfolio compliments Merlin's so well that either 1: Merlin buys Sea World right after he retires, or 2: now that the killer whale thing is fading away he will end up buying them anyway.

February 3, 2022 at 4:40 PM

A combination between SW and Cedar Fair would be great, as it would be a combination between Six Flags and Merlin. Any other combination between this 4 companies would hurt the customers.

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