Cedar Fair attendance and revenue up in first three quarters

Posted Thursday, November 6, 2008 9:25 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Net revenues for the nine months ended September 28, 2008, increased $5.5 million, to $877.0 million from $871.5 million a year ago. Net income for the first nine months of 2008 increased $58.0 million to $62.5 million, or $1.12 per diluted limited partner unit, versus net income of $4.5 million, or $0.08 per diluted limited partner unit, for the same period in 2007.

Adjusted EBITDA for the nine months ended September 28, 2008, which management believes is a meaningful measure of the company’s park-level operating results, increased $3.6 million to $334.6 million from $331.0 million for the same period a year ago. See the attached table for a reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA to net income.

“We are pleased with the performance of our parks during the peak vacation months of July and August,” said Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Through the end of the third quarter our parks entertained a record 20.0 million visitors, up 2% (402,000 visits) from this time last year. During this same period average in-park guest per capita spending was down less than one percent to $40.28 and out-of-park revenues were comparable to last year at $94.0 million.

Read the press release from Cedar Fair.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 10:13 AM

In my opinion, if the per cap is less than the rate of inflation, or in this case negative, that's a step backward, and exactly the thing I've been warning about for a long time regarding the ridiculous food pricing. These numbers tell me that people haven't become apprehensive about visiting, but they clearly aren't spending as much money there.

I paid five bucks for fries at Cedar Point. Then I remembered why I haven't spent much of anything there this year, and didn't do the closing weekend thing on-property.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 10:50 AM

Closing weekend we went to Midway Market and they wanted $15.99 per person for the buffet, which we thought was ridiculous. We reluctantly paid for the food and took our sweet time to consume $75 worth of food and service. The food wasn't all that grand and they needed to clean the bathrooms. If I'm paying that much I better get what I paid for, I can't be the only one who felt this way.

For all the visits to the park we made this year, this was the first time we actually sat down and ate at one of the restaurants. It's way overpriced!

~Rob Willi

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 11:23 AM

It's not just the food but their merch is laughable as well. A park like Cedar Point should have more than plastic trinkets and the same old shirts that every other park has.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:08 PM

Higher attendance and and the barely lower per caps make me wonder if they saw more people using discounted entry of some kind.

Even more interesting are the isolated October results:

"This was the result of an over 10%, or 205,000-visit, increase in attendance, offset somewhat by a 6% decrease in average in-park guest per capita spending."

I'd attribute that as much to lines as prices. I'm not sure how many people are willing to stand in line the 20 or 30 minutes I've seen at CF parks during Halloween events. I know I've skipped purchases just because of the wait if attendance is still going up, it was probably worse this year.

Maybe it's finally time to start getting some of that per cap back by raising the gate?

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 1:53 PM

if they saw more people using discounted entry of some kind.


Could be. My sense was that Cedar Point was a bit more aggressive in discounting the gate this year. For example, the Family Four Pack at $33/person, and the 2-day park-only ticket that was about $20 less than the 2-day park+soak city ticket. But, that's a relatively new phenomenon. My sense has been that the gate pricing was all in reaction to the evisceration of the upper Midwest's economy.

It's also interesting that '09 season pass prices were *lowered* for renewals compared to '08. And, '08's Platinum Pass was a better deal than '07's combo pass with parking. And, I assume I'm not the only one who got the "was your Pass a good value" survey...

Edited to add: one more thought. October in-park spending could be lines, or it could be because we spent the entire month being told the world economy was melting like a wicked witch under a running shower.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Thursday, November 6, 2008 1:55 PM
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Thursday, November 6, 2008 2:03 PM

Brian Noble said:
October in-park spending could be lines, or it could be because we spent the entire month being told the world economy was melting like a wicked witch under a running shower.

Yeah, I thought about that too. Not just for October but for much of the summer. I just didn't want to get into the fear thing.

And no, I didn't get the value survey. :(

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 2:51 PM

Cedar Point was also offering Free Admission when a new 2009 Season Pass was purchased during Halloweekends.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 4:48 PM

Wouldn't repeat visits by SPH dilute the per cap since they're counted as a "visit" but are going to spend much less than the one time visitor?

Another reason for spending to be down in October-- with a no re-entry policy, you couldn't take merchandise, stuffed animals, etc. out to your car and return. Who wants to walk around all night carrying bags of souvenirs, especially through haunted houses?

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 5:05 PM

^What no reentry policy? I went in and out of the park several times during halloweekends.

From Cedar Point's Trip Tips page

"Re-entering the park
If you leave the park and plan to return that day, please get your hand stamped before you exit.
"

Lord Gonchar said:
Maybe it's finally time to start getting some of that per cap back by raising the gate?

I can see justification for higher gate prices during halloweekends. During the past couple of seasons, that's when they took the opportunity to raise the gate by a buck. Then, the following season, they'd say how the prices were the same as the previous year. An interesting marketing gimmick. They did it again this year when on August 2nd, they raised the price from $42.95 to $43.99.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Thursday, November 6, 2008 5:08 PM
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Thursday, November 6, 2008 5:21 PM

Jason Hammond said:
^What no reentry policy? I went in and out of the park several times during halloweekends.

But we're talking Cedar Fair and several parks had a no re-entry policy for Halloween events.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008 11:00 PM

October retail numbers came out today:

Of the more than two dozen major retailers that reported on Thursday,most had sales declines at stores open at least a year, the majority ofthe decreases in double digits. Deep discounters like Wal-Mart and BJ’s Wholesale Club reported gains.

In light of that, a mere 6% drop on in-park spending sounds pretty good---especially considering a 10% increase in attendance for something that is purely discretionary.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Thursday, November 6, 2008 11:00 PM
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Friday, November 7, 2008 8:06 AM

^^My Bad. The other parks policies didn't even cross my mind. Who has no re-entry? Not a good message to give your patrons. You might as well put up a sign that says, "Go ahead and leave. We already have your money and we're not going to let you back in."

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Friday, November 7, 2008 9:03 AM

Yeah, but parks sell out during Halloween. Knott's, for example, is often at capacity. If someone leaves, that means someone else is allowed in. If the person who left wants to come back, they're over capacity.

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Friday, November 7, 2008 9:40 AM

From what I understand, the no re-entry thing is only when they have the special, extra cost Halloween events in the evening, not during normal park operation.

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Friday, November 7, 2008 12:59 PM

At Dorney, the no re-entry was after 6pm (when the Haunt activities officially started). They even had signs (or maybe it was the website? I forget) that said about planning your day and making any trips to your car before 6pm. It's a crowd-control thing since everyone who entered during Haunt was thoroughly searched with a portable metal detector, and as such the lines were quite long just for people coming in for the scary stuff. Imagine if they also had to contend with re-scanning everyone who left to take something to the car? And if you say just let re-entry people go through without getting scanned, that's a serious safety risk and makes the first scanning pointless. But when half your employees are scaring the creepies out of everyone, you need to take extra precaution for the reflexes of guests when frightened and keeping employees safe

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Saturday, November 8, 2008 12:18 AM

dannerman, you just reminded me of the entry spiel I heard at one of Cedar Point's haunted houses (in which my girlfriend learned the hard way why she shouldn't drag me through those things...): "The emergency exits are clearly marked. Being scared is not an emergency."

Cedar Point, however, still allowed re-entry, and still did not bother with me_al detectors or bag searches. That doesn't mean their police force wasn't busy, though...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008 10:37 AM

CP will always allow reentry because they have resorts. There is no quicker way to make your resort guests upset then taking away the main reason they booked a room at your resort (easy midday access to their room.) Besides that, CP's Halloween crowds do not skew as much to the teenagers/young adults as some of the other parks that are likely to cause trouble.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008 1:15 PM

I've never seen as many people bringing their own lunches or fast food lunches to CP as I did this year. I'm pretty sure people are realizing that just because they have to eat doesn't mean they have to eat overpriced food from CP.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008 11:32 PM

What if CP made re-entry a special perk for resort guests? That would be malicious.

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