Cedar Fair's theme parks welcomed 19.498 million guests in 2021, the company reported today. That's a step forward in the company's recovery, but still leaves Cedar Fair quite a way to go to return to its pre-pandemic levels.
Cedar Fair's parks operated for a total of 1,765 days in 2021 compared with 2,224 operating days in 2019, when the company welcomed 27.938 million guests. The decline in large part was due to Knott's Berry Farm missing most of the first four months of the year, followed by a delayed start of the season at Canada's Wonderland. Those traditionally are Cedar Fair's two largest parks in terms of annual attendance.
Even discounting the decrease in operating days, however, Cedar Fair's average daily attendance was down 12% from 2019, in part reflecting capacity limits at Knott's and Canada's Wonderland early in their 2021 seasons. Cedar Fair posted $1.338 billion in net revenue in 2021, down from 9.3% from $1.475 million in 2019.
But costs and expenses were up 2% to $1.19 billion in 2021, leaving Cedar Fair with operating income of $148 million for the year. After subtracting interest expenses, however, Cedar Fair was left with a $48.5 million net loss for the year. While that's a huge improvement over the $590 million that Cedar Fair lost in 2020, it's far short of the $172 million in income that the company posted in 2019, before the pandemic.
On adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), Cedar Fair ended 2021 up $324.6 million, up sharply from 2020's loss of $302 million, but down nearly 36% from 2019's earnings of $504.6 million.
"We are focused on continuing to advance our strategic initiatives in 2022, including investing more than $200 million in new attractions and entertainment offerings, as well as the completion of several resort renovation projects that were delayed over the last two years," Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman said. "With a strong balance sheet, we also maintain the flexibility to continue to expand our park offerings and develop new revenue centers, and technology enhancements, such as cashless parks, touch-free transactions, and labor management tools, all aimed at improving the guest experience and creating a more nimble, efficient, and cost-effective operating model. We are confident that we have a strong foundation for the future and are well positioned to deliver exceptional performance for our team, guests and unit-holders in 2022."
In addition to Knott's and Canada's Wonderland, other Cedar Fair parks include Cedar Point, Kings Island, Kings Dominion, and Carowinds. Cedar Point recently rejected a $3.4 billion takeover offer from SeaWorld Entertainment, after spurning a more lucrative offer from Six Flags in 2019.
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