Cedar Fair continues to reinvent itself under the leadership of Matt Ouimet

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the feature:

If Cedar Fair truly is writing a new book as Ouimet says, the preface was composed over the past couple seasons with all of these new initiatives and attractions.

“We were previously defined by how tall or how fast. We’ve now broadened our spectrum of innovation,” Ouimet says. “There are things we’ll do to make the guest experience better that may not market as easily as a new roller coaster, but the ultimate filter is: Do we think it’s going to be fun?”

“Our future is in our own hands to define,” adds Zimmerman. “Let’s go be who we are. If we do that, I think the future will be bright.”

Read the entire feature from IAAPA Funworld.

Should I be concerned that this headline comes directly in front of one saying that Disney is looking for a new CEO?

Matt spent considerable time with Disney and helped revamp Disneyland, if I recall correctly. I'd say he is cemented in his current position for some time, especially with the tremendous success his tenure has been so far.

Jeff's avatar

Disney is a huge, complicated business. Ouimet doesn't have the media experience, I don't think, but he definitely has the rest. I have no idea why he left Disney, with what I perceive to be a track record of success, but I wouldn't assume he'd want to go that big. This is completely anecdotal, and I may be reading into it, but a few years ago I was talking with him about leaving the contract job I was in, billing completely stupid rates, and he said, "Jeff, you can't stay in a job for the money." You could interpret that as just common sense advice, or maybe his world view based on experience. If it was the latter, would you want something as big as Disney when you're transforming a company with phenomenal success the way he is? Like I said, I'm probably projecting, but I have so much professional respect for the guy that I'd buy stock in rubber dog **** if he told me it was a good idea.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

I don't know him at all, but if ambition was his carrot then I'd see anyone in that field looking at Disney as the position to have. Then again, I think Jeff makes a good point about media and content experience and I suspect that will continue to be the driver at the Disney. Just the handling of Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel is a tremendous undertaking.

Big fish/small pond I suppose. Ouimet (and the team) is doing some incredible things right now...and I personally hope he is in for the long haul.

Jeff's avatar

I don't really "know" the guy either, I've just been lucky enough to spend some time with him. I just get a vibe that his perspective on the world is very well balanced. When I went to Batavia to shoot video of the GateKeeper fab, he met me at my car and offered to carry my tripod. That's unfortunately pretty atypical of people in his pay grade.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

Ouimet came to Dorney and was apparently very nice to a friend of mine as well and even gave some playful hints as to the future of the park. Seems like a genuinely cool person, and I hope he continues to lead Cedar Fair to big things.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Ouimet isn't a blip on the radar screen of the Disney board.

Staggs is gone because the board didn't have confidence in him partly due to lack of media, studio etc background and the major challenges on the horizon for ESPN, ABC, which Ouimet has none of. He leads a $1 billion domestic amusement park chain. Disney is a massive, diversified media and entertainment international conglomerate with $52 billion of revenue. Parks and resorts only makes up 30% of their revenue and 20% of their operating income.

Cutting Staggs loose was a risk. It's going to be tough following up Iger. My guess is Sheryl Sandberg.

wahoo skipper said:

Should I be concerned that this headline comes directly in front of one saying that Disney is looking for a new CEO?

I'm not. Others have mentioned this, but I see two main problems for Disney. First, Networks (aka ESPN) account for the bulk of the company's profit, and someone is going to have to shepherd the company through The Great Unbundling. Every cable and satellite subscriber in the US pays $6-$7/month for ESPN, whether they care about sports or not. In an a la carte world, it's going to be hard to recapture the same level of revenue.

The second challenge is how to keep the Studio churning out franchise hits that drive the rest of the business, particularly consumer products and (to a lesser extent) parks and resorts.

Ouimet has zero experience with either of those things.

janfrederick's avatar

Jeff said:

I have no idea why he left Disney,

Shanghai? ;)

All I can say is that we always have a great time at Knott's and our day at Great America last month was a lot of fun in spite of a few opening day kinks.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza

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