Cedar Fair names Tim Fisher COO

Posted Monday, December 18, 2017 11:39 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Tim Fisher will join the company as chief operating officer, effective immediately. In this role, Fisher will oversee operations at all of the Company's parks and resort locations. He will report directly to incoming chief executive officer Richard Zimmerman.

"Tim is the right person at the right time to enhance the strength of our management team," said Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's president and incoming chief executive officer. "We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks. Tim's significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives. We are excited to welcome Tim to our Cedar Fair family and we look forward to his leadership and focus on taking the overall guest experience to new heights going forward."

Fisher, 57, joins Cedar Fair from Village Roadshow, one of the leading theme park operators in the world. Most recently, Fisher served as chief executive officer of Village Roadshow Theme Parks from January 2009 until March 2017 when he became the CEO of Village Roadshow Theme Parks International. During his time with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, Fisher was responsible for all of the theme park business operations in the United States and Australia, as well as development initiatives in Asia. Under Fisher's leadership as CEO, the theme park group achieved record attendance, revenue and EBITDA performance.

Prior to joining Village Roadshow, Fisher served more than 30 years in the theme park industry including serving as executive vice president of Paramount Parks and Viacom Recreation, where he was directly responsible for the management, operational and financial performance of all of the domestic and international theme parks.

"I am thrilled to join this successful leadership team," said Fisher. "Cedar Fair is an exceptional company – from the quality of its attractions to the talents of its people. Its properties are well-run and offer great family entertainment value. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and look forward to working with Richard and the entire team to build on Cedar Fair's already strong legacy of success."

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Monday, December 18, 2017 11:42 AM

I'm kind of impressed that they went outside the company for this. I have to wonder though... was he a part of the "Kinzel purge" at the time of the Paramount Parks acquisition? That would be wonderful irony.

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Monday, December 18, 2017 1:18 PM

Yes.

Al Weber was CEO, Tim was COO.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017 8:32 PM

Would love to know the full story behind this as well. COO is a very important position, in many ways more important than CEO (who is stuck pleasing shareholders instead of guests).

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:14 AM

I think that's a terrible generalization of what CEO's do.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:30 AM

Fair enough. Let me try again: the average theme park dork is going to be more interested in things hitting the COO's desk than the CEO's desk.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:24 PM

As an Australian I'll just say you can have him.

Not bad by any stretch, but his record with the Australian parks is mixed at best. Of the 3 park theme park chain he ran, one of the parks is stagnant, one is in steep decline and the other is doing alright. A 4th park opened a few years ago (Wet 'n' Wild Sydney, a pretty decent water park in a market of 5million with no competition) and is yet to turn a profit and is consistently slammed by visitors for how the park is run. His focus is cheap season passes and 'nickel and dime' the crap out of you once you're in. Great example aside from $2 locker hire for rides was a heap of interactive elements that were installed as part of the themeing package for a DC flatride, which required an extra charge to use so sat there quietly adding nothing. The upshot is you end up with crowded parks full of unhappy people.

His arrival in Australian parks also saw the end to employee Christmas parties (the established Australian parks are year round and open at Christmas), the abolition of alcohol from employee events. Employee events now are dinner, people sitting around drinking soft drinks while handing out ceetificates that say 'Award for excellence' on them. So doesn't exactly inveterate staff either.

His additions to the parks are reactive rather than pro-active. What I mean by that is rather than add a new ride, the company would see an old ride close, sit rotting away in front of guests for years at a time before eventually getting around to replacing it. At the time of his departure Sea World has a log flume that had been closed as the boatswere end of life, a massive water slide and kiddie pool that were shuttered, both of which in full view of guests with no plans for either. Wet 'n' Wild Gold Coast has a closed ugly zipline running up the middle of it that's been there for years, and Movie World had all the themeing removed from Scooby Doo, and it stayed like that for a year before his departure. He also installed Doomsday, a double hammer ride from Intamin, because they'd put the deposit down on something else and changed their mind, so instead just bought the cheapest thing they could.

He like Dinosaurs; he added Dinosaurs to 2 of the parks right as Cedar Fair was doing it (although didn't charge for it amazingly) and toyed with the idea of building a mini theme park based off Dinosaurs.

He was also CEO when Movie World ordered (and named) the MACK 'DC Rivals HyperCoaster'. Those of us who knew his background at Paramount joked that him adding a Hyper coaster to a studio park was just his way of sticking it up Cedar Fair. It's got the first Cedar Fair style dull queue in Australia too. Good news is though that ride is amazing and he would have a good relationship with MACK in his own right, so hopefully you get more of their rides at Cedar Fair parks. A couple of exceptions aside when new stuff was added it tended to be good.

Finally, he looks quite a bit like a younger Bill Murray.

Last edited by joz, Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:30 AM
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Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:08 PM

joz said:

His arrival in Australian parks also saw the end to employee Christmas parties (the established Australian parks are year round and open at Christmas), the abolition of alcohol from employee events. Employee events now are dinner, people sitting around drinking soft drinks while handing out ceetificates that say 'Award for excellence' on them.

He took away an Aussie's beer? Unconscionable!

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Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:25 PM

Just to put it into cultural perspective, that's like taking away an American's Chicken Nuggets.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017 11:04 PM

I doubt any significant portion of the American population considers McAnything actual food.

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Friday, December 22, 2017 12:30 AM

It has to be put in the perspective of fast food because there's no way Americans could possibly grasp the concept of liking beer. Amirite?

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Friday, December 22, 2017 3:33 PM

bigboy said:

It has to be put in the perspective of fast food because there's no way Americans could possibly grasp the concept of liking beer. Amirite?

Some of us have good beer culture (try http://www.wweek.com/beer-guide-2017/ for a guide to the 116 breweries nearby). B-)

But I am a bit concerned. Village Roadshow today announced a plan where they sold their parks' land in a lease-back deal. To me, it feels like a Wall Street-style high-finance looting of the company, one that the COO would have done the ground work on. I would rather keep those who even consider this type of chicanery at arm's length of any company I love. In his defense, that may have been the thing to make him look for other opportunities, but Joz's characture of him paints him as someone who might just appreciate such Kinzel-ian malarky.

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Friday, December 22, 2017 5:34 PM

While I'm certainly no Tim fan, that land deal I think came through after Tim's reign. Tim for his faults is a theme park man, I'd go so far as to say he 'gets it' too. Village want to build a hotel and they're currently building a Top Golf on that property, and the banks were rather keen on them to reduce the debt. Their theory is if the $100M lets them build stuff that'll net them $6M a year it'll be worth it.

The new CEO seems to not only get jt but actually seems really passionate about the industrt. He's implemented a whole heap of stuff to improve the customer experience as well as trying to restore the gate price to a point where people actually pay to get in. He also owns a winery just FYI

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Friday, December 22, 2017 5:52 PM

joz said:

His focus is cheap season passes and 'nickel and dime' the crap out of you once you're in.

Sounds very "Six Flags-ish" to me...

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