Cedar Fair acquires Sawmill Creek resort near Cedar Point, closes on California's Great America land and Texas Schlitterbahn

Posted Wednesday, July 3, 2019 3:35 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Announced July 3, in a press release.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced it has acquired Sawmill Creek Resort located in Huron, Ohio. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Commenting on the acquisition, Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmermann said, “We are excited about the opportunity to add Sawmill Creek to our growing portfolio of resort properties serving Cedar Point, Cedar Point Shores Waterpark and the Cedar Point Sports Center, which is currently being expanded to include an indoor sports facility. Along with Hotel Breakers, Cedar Point’s Express Hotel, Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark Resort and Lighthouse Point, Sawmill Creek’s 236-room resort lodge strengthens both Cedar Point’s and the Sandusky area’s appeal as a unique and adventurous vacation destination.”

Zimmerman added that Cedar Fair plans to make the necessary investment in Sawmill Creek to upgrade and modernize its guest rooms, resort facilities and infrastructure. Improvements are projected to be completed over the next two years.

Sawmill Creek spans a total of 235 acres, including 28 acres of premium Lake Erie waterfront with a marina, a half-mile beach and 50 acres of undeveloped land. Amenities at the resort include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, three restaurants, a conference center, an 18-hole, Tom Fazio-designed golf course and club, and The Shops at Sawmill Creek. In addition to golf and swimming, guests can choose from a variety of on and off-premise activities ranging from watersport rentals and fishing charters, to a sunset cruise on the legendary Sawmill Explorer.

Cedar Fair had previously announced the development of new hotels adjacent to two of its other amusement parks including a SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a Hyatt-branded hotel on the site of its Canada's Wonderland amusement park near Toronto in Vaughan, Ontario. With the addition of the 236 guestrooms at Sawmill Creek Resort, Cedar Fair will operate more than 2,300 hotel rooms companywide.

On July 1, the company closed on the Texas Schlitterbahn parks:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, announced today it has completed the acquisition of two iconic water parks and one resort in Texas – Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston – for a cash purchase price of $261 million. The acquisition advances Cedar Fair’s strategy to increase its presence in growing and attractive markets, further diversifying its portfolio of parks and leveraging its management expertise.

“Starting today, Cedar Fair is officially Texas proud,” said President and CEO Richard Zimmerman. “The completion of this acquisition is great news, and we are extremely pleased to be adding to our portfolio of entertainment properties two of the nation’s most treasured and award-winning water parks. For the employees and guests of those parks, I want to extend a warm welcome to the Cedar Fair family.

“Our company, whose heritage at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, dates back to 1870, has a rich history of acquiring and investing in strong regional brands in attractive markets,” continued Zimmerman. “The quality of the Schlitterbahn brand and the offerings of these parks are consistent with that strategy. Our plans are to update and refresh areas of both parks, yet retain the valued hospitality and genuine spirit of the Schlitterbahn brand that guests have come to appreciate over the years.”

In 2018, the acquired properties entertained 1.2 million guests and generated annual revenues of approximately $68 million. Cedar Fair expects the two Texas locations to achieve Adjusted EBITDA margins in line with comparable Cedar Fair park-level results as management implements a number of growth and operational initiatives over the next two years, reflecting an accretive EBITDA multiple post synergies.

With completion of the transaction, Cedar Fair’s portfolio now consists of 11 amusement parks, four outdoor water parks, an indoor water park and resort accommodations totaling more than 2,000 rooms and more than 600 luxury RV sites. Combined, the 15 parks and resorts will entertain more than 27 million guests annually.

In conjunction with the closing of the Texas water parks acquisition, Cedar Fair recently completed the issuance of $500 million of 5.250% senior unsecured notes, due 2029. Cedar Fair used the net proceeds from the notes offering for the acquisition of the two Schlitterbahn water parks in Texas, the purchase of the land upon which California’s Great America amusement park is located, the payment of fees and expenses related to those transactions and the offering, repayment of a portion of the Company’s senior secured revolving credit facility and for general corporate purposes. Further details regarding terms of the notes offering were outlined in Cedar Fair’s Form 8-K filed on June 18, 2019, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On June 28, Cedar Fair completed acquisition of the land beneath California's Great America:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, announced today it has completed the purchase of land upon which its California’s Great America amusement park is located, for approximately $150 million. Cedar Fair purchased the land, totaling 112 acres, from the City of Santa Clara, California, which has leased the land since the founding of the park in 1976.

Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman said, “Our purchase of the land on which the park operates underscores Cedar Fair’s long-term commitment to California’s Great America, a unique, family-friendly entertainment destination serving those who call Northern California home. I want to thank the City of Santa Clara for being a valuable partner since our acquisition of the park in 2006, and we look forward to building upon that relationship as we continue to focus on the development of California’s Great America.”

In conjunction with the closing of the acquisition of the California property, Cedar Fair recently completed the issuance of $500 million of 5.250% senior unsecured notes, due 2029. In addition to the acquisition of the California’s Great America land, Cedar Fair will use the net proceeds from the notes offering to fund the acquisition of two iconic water parks in Texas, the payment of fees and expenses related to the transactions and the offering, repayment of a portion of the Company’s senior secured revolving credit facility and for general corporate purposes. Further details regarding terms of the notes offering were outlined in Cedar Fair’s Form 8-K filed on June 18, 2019, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019 3:47 PM

I stayed at Sawmill in grade school, 30-something years ago, and I remember it being nice, but can't say that I know a single person who has been there since. I somehow get the impression that it might be more of a fixer-upper these days. Still, having a golf course in the area seems like a solid addition.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019 7:18 PM

I agree. And yes, it used to be dee-lux.

Someone stopped by today and took pictures to post to a Facebook page. It seems time has really taken its toll. I won’t go so far as to use the word “neglect” but maybe “dated” is more apt.

I think this is a smart move, and it will help move CP property into more of a year-round destination. It could appeal not only to park goers, Sports Park people, boaters, shoppers, conventions, and golfers. It’s a fixer-upper, all right, but so was that Radisson down the road.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019 1:24 AM

No sense fixing it up. They probably bought all that stuff just to close it.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019 10:39 AM

I had stayed at Sawmill Creek during a conference back in the 1980's, and about all I remember about it is that I wasn't overly impressed with the place.

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Thursday, July 4, 2019 11:48 AM

I stayed at the Knotts hotel a few weeks ago and it was not in good shape. The rooms were dated, there were zero outlets to be found, and the linens had seen better days. This was shocking to me because both Breakers and Express are almost immaculate. I was very surprised to see that Ouimet’s hotel push had seemingly passed over his old stomping grounds. (Yes, I know he came from Disneyland, but surely he had checked out his competition down the road...)

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Friday, July 5, 2019 8:26 AM

Any word if they will be moving forward with the Kansas City park? Based on numerous articles news, it was my understanding that this would be a separate deal.

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Friday, July 5, 2019 10:19 AM

Mforcebob said:

Any word if they will be moving forward with the Kansas City park? Based on numerous articles news, it was my understanding that this would be a separate deal.

I got the impression that the old Schlitterbahn would be spending the cash from the Texas purchases to pay down debt on the KC park, then CF will purchase it. They could also be waiting for any legal issues the park still has (unsure if anything is still active on the park itself) to be resolved.

Then again, with right of first refusal available, they might just sit back and only purchase if another buyer comes along. I still think any sane company who knows the recent history of the park would be hesitant to take over the park.

Last edited by yawetag, Friday, July 5, 2019 10:19 AM
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Monday, July 8, 2019 12:51 PM

New for Dorney in 2020...

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Monday, July 8, 2019 1:10 PM

Renovations to take place over the next 2 years. I thought I heard that the ACE Con is at CP 2021 so that would line up and they've used Sawmill in the past for the headquarters.

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Monday, July 8, 2019 1:51 PM

Please tell me you’re kidding.

Last edited by bigboy, Monday, July 8, 2019 1:52 PM
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Monday, July 8, 2019 2:07 PM

About what?

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