Cedar Fair reports record preliminary results through Labor Day

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today reported that year-to-date preliminary net revenues through Monday, Sept. 5, 2022, totaled a record $1.37 billion, driven by record levels of in-park per capita spending ($61.11) and out-of-park revenues ($163 million). Through Labor Day 2022, the Company’s 15 parks have entertained a total of 20.5 million guests.

“We are very pleased with our record results and expect continued outperformance driven by our extremely popular Halloween celebrations, which are set to debut in just a few short weeks,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Zimmerman. “Despite weather challenges in several key markets, particularly over this past weekend, our operating trends have been consistently strong throughout the peak summer months, with performance during the critically important period between the Fourth of July and Labor Day in line with our expectations. As attendance channels recover to pre-pandemic levels, record in-park per capita spending and out-of-park revenues are driving double-digit top-line growth as planned.”

For the five-week period ended Sept. 5, 2022, the Company entertained 5.1 million guests and generated preliminary net revenues of $343 million, representing an increase of $74 million, or 27%, when compared to the five-week period ended Sept. 9, 2019. Compared to the five-week period ended Sept. 6, 2021, net revenues in the recently ended five-week period were up 13%, or $40 million, driven in large part by an increase of 15%, or 660,000 visits, in attendance. Over this same period, in-park per capita spending totaled $62.17, down 2% from comparable 2021 levels, and out-of-park revenues totaled $39 million, up $7 million, or 21%, from the same five-week period in 2021.

Operating days for the five-week period ended Sept. 5, 2022, totaled 463, compared with 422 operating days for the five-week period ended Sept. 6, 2021. On a per operating day basis, net revenues in the recently ended five-week period averaged approximately $740,000, representing a 3% increase compared to the same five-week period last year. This year-over-year increase was driven largely by strong attendance trends, as well as record levels of out-of-park revenues. During the five-week period ended Sept. 5, 2022, the Company’s parks entertained an average of approximately 10,900 guests per day, representing a 5% increase in average daily attendance compared to the same period in 2021.

“Our record results reflect the successful strategic investments we have made over the past several years to expand our entertainment offerings and enhance the guest experience,” continued Zimmerman. “Consumer demand for our parks and resort properties is very strong, and we are excited about the growth opportunities ahead of us for the remainder of the 2022 season and longer term. Our recent results, combined with the robust demand for 2023 season pass products, the strength of reservations at our resort properties, and improving trends around group event bookings demonstrate that consumers continue to prioritize experiences over possessions. We are encouraged by these trends and are confident that Cedar Fair is well positioned to continue to capitalize on growth opportunities, further enhance financial performance, and deliver superior returns for our unitholders.”

Honestly, I find this very interesting. I'd be curious to see a similar analysis from Six Flags, especially given how empty the parks felt to me heading into August.

Also find this interesting. Six Flags financial report in August was bad and resulted in layoffs of some old school theme park GMs. I've not been to a Six Flags park in a long time but wonder what they're doing differently than Cedar Fair parks? It always seemed more or less the same to me in the past.

I went to Canada's Wonderland on a Tuesday in August and it was rammed. Pretty much every coaster was an hour wait. Noticed on my wait for Behemoth they had staff stationed to monitor line jumpers, they also had staff cleaning. Having extra people on hand for stuff like that in late August is incredibly rare, so they're doing something right there.

Le Monster:
I've not been to a Six Flags park in a long time but wonder what they're doing differently than Cedar Fair parks?

This is not a perfect example by any means, but honestly, the difference I saw on vacation with the family was that Cedar Fair seemed to care about the customers. On a visit to Kings Island, it was hot - temps in the mid 90's. Been to parks on hotter days, but by no means perfect weather for going to the park. Almost every ride op was encouraging everyone to stay hydrated and highlighting the fact that you could easily go to any food or drink stand and get a free cup of ice water. This, as well as ample drinking fountains in the park, made the heat bearable. There was a similar vibe at Dollywood when we were there later in the week. But at the end of the week at Six Flags, nothing. And finding an open drink stand was difficult. And finding a working drinking fountain a tremendous challenge.

The Cedar Fair parks are too far for me to routinely go to, and the same is true of Dollywood. But if I was closer, I'd definitely be back routinely. The Six Flags park. Other than the fact we used our membership from our home park, we really don't have a strong desire to return because of the experience.

Honestly, I think the answer really lies in employee morale. There is a stark difference between the overall morale of staff at a Cedar Fair Park, versus a Six Flags Park.

Cedar Fair knows how to keep their staff motivated & positive by means of holding fun events for staff members, bonuses, increased wages, travel incentives, housing incentives… it makes a huge difference in the level of commitment an employee has to a company, and Cedar Fair got very crafty at this in recent years. I really think it has been to their benefit; A risk with a loss-leader that has been paying off.

Happy staff create happy guests.
Happy guests spent more money & return more frequently.

Last edited by Gaga Tatt Monster,
Schwarzkopf76's avatar

When I worked at CP in the 90s for 3 summers, the standards were VERY high for everything... safety, ride efficiency, professionalism, etc.. Plus, you had to work very hard to move anywhere, it was competitive. You had better hit those hourly ride numbers, or you needed to go somewhere else. You were always being watched in some way. In other words, you were expected to do a good job at whatever you did. I still see this at every CF park I visit.

Then I worked for SF in 95 as an intern. It was night and day. They were in fact much nicer to me, but it was way laid back compared to CP. We weren't expected to hustle as much and it was perfectly fine to jump across coaster tracks anytime, etc. There was also next to no training or responsibility comparatively; they didn't give or expect much from us. It's gone way downhill since, so...

It's the same type of difference that I have heard about from Orlando friends I've known over the years that have worked for both Disney/Universal and SeaWorld/BGT. The ride-op/food service/main entrance/guest services jobs are all virtually, at the core, the same. But everything else is a night and day difference.

Schwarzkopf76:

Then I worked for SF in 95 as an intern. It was night and day

That's a really interesting comparison. I've never worked for Cedar Fair. I was with Six Flags in the deep pockets Time Warner era and through the Premier Parks transition until the early 2000s. TW Six Flags was much more relaxed and comfortable and things dramatically shifted when PP came in. The focus went from providing a solid theme park experience and was even marketed as a family alternative to Disney, to pinching budgets making the parks barely functional which made it incredibly stressful. Remember in the early 2000s there was a website called Six Flags sucks dot com that had all the pictures of closed rides and overflowing trash cans.

I heard it got much better after the shareholders pushed management out and brought back some of the older management that had left. Hearing it's not so good now again.

I think Zimmerman & Co finally realizing the profit potential in Food & Resorts is really paying off, also slowly but surely the retheming and general improvement to entrances and logistics is also helping the guest experience. They have finally realized how much margin they can get out of good food, when you have a captive audience. I mean surely Ouimet started it cause I would love to see just how much of Disney Parks profit is F&B.

Obv this is only most apparent at the flagships, but hopefully, Dorney, MA, and WoF, VF can get the love Carowinds has gotten.

I think management from both cultures (the Kinzel era Cedar Fair, and the Paramount Era) are finally getting a shot to fix things they can't believe went on for so long)

SF doesn't even have the foundation CF had to build upon, they have decades of neglect, poor staffing, and poor food, you cant change people perceptions with a price hike alone.

Jeff's avatar

It's interesting, right? The industry as a whole has people dying to work in it, favoring the business over the labor pool. And yet, outside of Disney and Universal, most of it fails to really retain top-tier talent. Certainly the recent Six Flags flip to micromanagement is one explanation. Cedar Fair over the last decade or so has been a mixed bag. A lot of great people who were already there were able to shine when given a little autonomy post-Kinzel. But I also think that the leadership has to an extent preferred to push its own ideas sometimes not taking into consideration the opinions of middle managers and people on the ground in markets that the leadership didn't have previous experience in. Fortunately it's not Zuckerberg-bad, where the leaders completely live in their own little world and don't listen to anyone, but the decline in operations seems like a pretty good example of not getting it right and not acknowledging the deficiency.


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

I think the operations blip really was the pandemic gap, a lot of ride managers are people who excelled the year before on the ride or operations and they offer them a pay bump, and to be head of the ride, they also understand how to cycle and schedule. When you have a year and a half gap with uncertainty, your low-level operations experience is gone. From what I understand at least at KI and CP by late July & Aug things got a lot better. Also, who knows how many area managers finished college or didn't even go back to college?

I'm also sure with profits and margins like these, they can afford to bring back a lucrative bonus structure and maybe a better base as well.

Sharpel007:
From what I understand at least at KI and CP by late July & Aug things got a lot better.

I can't vouch for all of Cedar Fair, but at least on our visit to Kings Island, operations was pretty much what I would expect from the past (i.e. quite efficient). Certain rides were slightly better than others, but overall, lines kept moving and there was not a huge amount of stacking on anything. The only thing I noticed from a staffing standpoint is there did seem to be a lack of shops open in certain parts and maybe fewer people in the food services area, but again, nothing terrible.

Kings Island has absolutely taken over from Cedar Point as the crown jewel of operations for Cedar Fair.

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