Cedar Fair answers questions about Geauga Lake acquisition

Posted Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:02 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Cedar Fair today announced the acquisition of Six Flags Worlds of Adventure, with the intention of opening it in May as Geauga Lake. A conference call today revealed some additional points beyond the issued press release.

In opening comments, Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel said that the company intends to operate Geauga Lake as a “traditional family park, not a theme park,” and added that the decision not to sustain the animal park came out of their belief that operating animal attractions is not in their expertise. He said there was a lot of history in the name and that it was the obvious choice.

The current vice president of operations at Cedar Point, Bill Spehn, will be Geauga Lake’s new general manager. The full-time staff will be “evaluated” and the seasonals this year will still draw from the local pool of teenagers and college students.

Marketing VP John Hidebrandt at Cedar Point explained that the park would have a more regional focus. Their long-term plan is to create synergies that encourage guests to visit both parks in terms of pricing and ticketing.

Current customers that have purchased season passes at Six Flags Worlds of Adventure may choose either a refund or to redeem those passes at Geauga Lake passes. Cedar Fair season passes from other parks, including Cedar Point, will not be valid at Geauga Lake. Specifics about combination deals between the two parks have not yet been determined.

The trademarks under license by Six Flags will not be used at the rebranded park, so many rides and attractions will be renamed. A decision on whether or not to use the licensed Peanuts characters at Geauga Lake has not been made.

CFO Bruce Jackson said on the call that this deal will not have any impact on quarterly distribution to Cedar Fair unit holders.

Cedar Fair expects to open the park on May 1. Kinzel said after a tour of the park today that they expect all rides to open with the park if they pass detailed inspection, the only question mark being the Enterprise ride.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:13 PM
DawgByte II's avatar During the first year of operation this year in 2004... I can definately see a major decrease in attendance from 2002 & 2003. This is due to the season passes from Six Flags other parks and/or Cedar Fair's other properties NOT being compatible with Geauga Lake, and vice versa. A lot of park guests at Worlds of Adventure probably came from other Six Flags properties and... despite the free admission, brought in a lot of other revenue due to parking, food, games... etc. Not too many people will be all that happy to learn that their Geauga Lake season pass is only good there, and nowhere else.

I'm a little disappointed in that on top of the loss of what was to have been a very optimistic wild-life side. I really enjoyed the penguins, reptiles, sharks, sea lions, and other mammals on the wild-life side, and to see them disappear will be a major blow. I don't know what their true intentions are, but it's going to be a tough pill to swallow when you see this park in a couple years.
If not for the animal attractions to help break up the diversity of the park, what is Cedar Fair getting at when they want to aim this as a "traditional family park"? Lots and lots of rides? That seems to be my initial guess.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:20 PM
I'm simply stunned. I had to manually pick up my jaw off the floor from awe. I see that CP season passes aren't valid at the new park but I wonder if down they might be? One can hope!
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:27 PM
Well, Frontier City is getting a major zoo area, due to the Okalhoma City Zoo adding in a major family area with lots of attrations. The Oklahoma City Zoo isn`t but just 2 miles from SFI, Frontier City, and it`ll sounds good for the park to add something like this to compete against them. We here in the area was just wondering why SFI had just bought alot of the land around the park the past year or so...Now we know why...*** This post was edited by ACEAND1 3/10/2004 3:29:57 PM ***
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:29 PM
I can't help but wonder... if CF will be re-focusing this park as a more traditional experience, does this mean that some coasters are going to be removed in an attempt to create that kind of atmosphere? The park has more coasters than Dorney Park and that park is unquestionably marketed as a theme park. Will coasters like Batman, Superman and X-Flight be removed instead of renamed? Batman could go to CP (its a coaster variety that they currently lack), X-Flight to WoF and Superman to Michigans Adventure as a Steel Venom coaster. I'm sure that CF purchased the park for the value of the facility as well as the value of its "parts", not all of which I can see remaining in Aurora.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:31 PM
Now I`m just wondering, whats going to come of the name "Worlds of Adventure" now?
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:37 PM
Did anyone hear my question about seasonal employees in the conference call? I skipped class today and called in for my School Newspaper... hehehe.*** This post was edited by Zero-G 3/10/2004 3:37:46 PM ***
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 3:38 PM
I had to check my calendar to make sure that the date on my watch wasn't off by three weeks...

WOW...uh...I am quite suprised by this turn of events....I never thought that something like this would happen.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:38 PM
BullGuy's avatar Right, "traditional family park" makes it sound like with time, certain "thrilling" rides could go elsewhere. That's just wild speculation of course. I don't know how it would make sense to strip the park of thrilling rides and expect to attract guests, but then again, removing rides may not have even crossed Mr. Kinzel's mind.

As for renaming the rides, I've thought about what would happen with my homepark (SFGAm) if they were to break off from SF. I'd assume CF won't want to confuse guests and keep names relatively similar. One such example of that is renaming Batman: Knight Flight to Knight Flight. Either way, I'm sure there will be those who continue to call it Batman, or call the impulse Superman even after a name change, jsut as there were people who continued to call the park Guega Lake after SF changed the name to SFO and WoA. *** This post was edited by BullGuy 3/10/2004 4:52:08 PM ***

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:50 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar Interesting move to not make passes valid at GL. I guess way too many people would switch between parks all the time if the passes were valid and that would lead to huge amounts of crowding at GL.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:50 PM
I'm shocked, someone help me here. This means my Six Flags tour each summer is ruined. I have to buy a new pass. My coasters could be leaving. Some coasters could be renamed. WHAT am I to make of all this if SFWoA is my homepark?!
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 5:00 PM
matt.'s avatar I'm happy to see the animals go. Keeping animals in a controlled environment is something completely different from operating roller coasters. At least CF is coming out and saying "Look, this isn't what we do." I'd much rather see the animals be put somewhere else than be kept by a company that is being very forthright in saying that its just not their thing.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 5:15 PM
Whoa!!! Who said anything about moving rides? That's been nothing but speculation on the meaning of "family park." It doesn't necessarily mean the park will be turned into Idewild. It's likely that the only name changes will come to rides that have licensed names, like the DC and Looney Tunes names. Perhaps the SF names like Mind Eraser.

It is sad that the wildlife will be going away, but it's days seemed numbered when Sea World went away. I don't know what will become of it, but I bet it will ultimately not be part of the park in the future.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 5:34 PM
I think they should do what SF does here in Atl with SFOG and White Water.Each park sells season passes,or if you want to visit both parks they have a combo pass.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 5:48 PM
And if you go to http://www.GeaugaLake.com, it takes it to the SFWoA site.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 5:58 PM
DawgByte II's avatar Didn't it used to take you to a porn site when they became Six Flags Ohio & Worlds of Adventure?
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 6:04 PM
It used to they must have changed it. That was definitely a porn site at one time.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 6:06 PM
So SFWOA sp's will be honored at GL only, or you may recieve a refund? Also GL is the only park you can't use other CF sp's at? Or have they just not announced a combo plan yet?*** This post was edited by Snap43 3/10/2004 6:12:42 PM ***
Wednesday, March 10, 2004 6:14 PM
RCT MAN says:

And if you go to http://www.GeaugaLake.com, it takes it to the SFWoA site.

Actually, it takes you to Six Flag's homepage.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 6:23 PM
From listinening to the call, it seemed clear that other CF passes would not be valid "this year", which leaves open the possibility that they will be "next year."

My suspicion is that CP will raise their season pass prices by a good chunk of change next year, and that GL's will be priced similarly, after which they will behave as all-CF-park access. Following this reasoning, they won't want to allow CP passes to work at GL under this year's prices, otherwise there is a "price increase" next year, not "more fun" (at a new price).

An alternative pricing scheme is to eliminate CP's park-only passes, selling only combo passes (good for CP, SC, and GL) a bit above the current CP combo price point, and sell park-only passes (that work at CP, GL, but not SC) at GL a bit above this year's CP park-only price point.


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