Cedar Fair Continues Comeback With Strong 2022 Results

February 16, 2023, 12:51 PM · The Cedar Fair theme parks have completed their financial recovery from the pandemic, with the company posting record revenue and earnings in 2022.

Cedar Fair this morning posted a record net revenues of $1.8 billion in 2022, up nearly 36% from $1.3 billion the year before and up 23% from 2019, the year before the pandemic closed parks around the world. That drove the company to a record Adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] of $552 million for the year, up 70% from 2021 and up over 9% from 2019.

Attendance in 2022 remained slightly below 2019's mark, with 26.9 million visitors last year compared with 27.9 million in 2019. But 2022's number was up 38% from 2021, as Cedar Fair's parks were open for the entire season this year.

A big increase in per capita guest spending helped Cedar Fair's financial recovery, with guests in 2022 spending $61.65 on average in the park, compared with $48.32 in 2019. The 2022 number was down less than 1% from 2021's $62.03 average, but Cedar Fair's fourth-quarter performance on average in-park guest spending was up to $63.33 - up over 3% from the same three-month period that closed 2021.

"The pace of recovery and our record results this past year reflect the strong consumer demand for our parks and resort properties, as well as for the special events programming and the immersive entertainment our parks offer," Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman said. "We maintained the strong momentum we built in the peak summer months throughout a record fourth quarter, underscoring the continued strength of consumer demand and capping off an outstanding second half of the year."

Zimmerman also reported that Cedar Fair sold 3.2 million season passes in 2022, which together with all-season dining and beverage add-ons, generated $450 million in revenue for the company. Overall, Cedar Fair's food and beverage revenues were up $144 million in 2022, Zimmerman said, due to both "increased transaction volumes and higher average transaction values."

In other words, people paid higher prices but also ordered more stuff.

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Replies (6)

February 16, 2023 at 1:37 PM

I can't speak for other cedar fair parks, but knott's berry farm in particular has leaned into the /food festival that also has rides/ mentality that I think is the future for many theme parks.

February 16, 2023 at 9:55 PM

Hard to believe we live in a time where food has become a bigger draw than rides at a theme park.

February 17, 2023 at 8:25 AM

@James - I think parks have looked at the success of EPCOT (a park that survived over 25+ years without a true thrill ride) and how guests flocked because of the high quality and diversity of food offerings. The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival has become a template for every seasonal food festival around the country, and it has led to increased attendance and guest spending throughout the year, and particularly during months with generally lower attendance.

I think the key for these parks is to continue to offer high quality, reasonably priced food that is constantly changing to encourage repeat visits. The EPCOT Festival have made the "off-season" as busy as the summer in the Orlando park, and regional parks are applying the same thinking to get guests to visit theme parks during times they might not want to ride a high speed thrill ride or even bother visiting a theme park.

February 17, 2023 at 11:26 AM

Higher quality food attracts customers that have more money to spend. The upper class like food that is "presented well". Social media is also big with such food. Think about all the vacations that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and whatever other social media sites there are) friend have taken where they post what they are eating multiple times a day.

February 17, 2023 at 11:42 AM

I think to Russell's point, it's also just a lot of fun to hang out with your friends at a familiar theme park while eating junk food and drinking beer. It's not that the rides have been devalued by the food offerings, it's that the theme parks are finding additional ways to be the place groups hang out on the weekends without building new attractions that increasingly come with long waits. I get it.

February 17, 2023 at 11:22 PM

Financially, it seems that they've recovered nicely. From a guest experience perspective, though, not so much. Perhaps it's the festival focused mentality or perhaps it's difficulty adapting to the current labor and supply markets, but my experiences at Cedar Fair properties over the past couple years just have not been good and next year is the first in over a decade that I won't have a season pass to at least my home park in the chain (Knott's). Hopefully they can get that side of things figured out or they might find difficulty keeping customers year after year.

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