Cedar Fair will make $90 million in capital expenditures for 2012

Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2011 9:48 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, has announced plans to invest $90 million in new thrill rides, family attractions and resort amenities at its 17 properties for the 2012 operating season.

In the last 15 years, Cedar Fair will have invested more than $1 billion in capital improvements across its arsenal of amusement parks, water parks and resorts. "We have a strong philosophy of reinvesting in our parks," says Matt Ouimet, president of Cedar Fair. "Our goal is to provide each and every guest who visits a Cedar Fair park with a best-day-of-the-year experience. We realize people have choices, and by adding new rides and attractions we are committed to keeping the parks relevant and remaining the first choice for family entertainment.

The signature attraction of Cedar Fair's 2012 expenditure program is one of the most anticipated and buzzed about roller coasters of the year: the $27 million Leviathan at Canada's Wonderland in Toronto. This incredible 306-foot-tall, 92-mph steel machine will be one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world and will set new standards in thrill-riding with 10 rousing elements, including an 80-degree first drop, barrel turns and high-speed curves. With the addition of Leviathan, Canada's Wonderland will have a new place on the coaster map, staking claim to an impressive tally of 16 scream machines, making it one of the "Top Three" destinations on Earth for coaster quantity. Roller coaster riders will be able to buckle up for their first Leviathan ride when Canada's Wonderland opens in May.

"If I had to choose only one roller coaster to ride in 2012, without a doubt, this would be it," says Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, an international newspaper that covers amusement industry news and trends. "Cedar Fair's reputation for delivering first-rate thrills is unwavering, and coaster enthusiasts the world over have Leviathan on their 'bucket lists' for the upcoming season. It's a 'must ride.'"

Riders at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania will be injected with a pure rush of adrenaline as they sit face-to-face with friends on the park's eighth roller coaster, Stinger. This 138-foot-tall inverted shuttle roller coaster resembles a scorpion ready to strike, as riders get flipped six times and race along overhead track both forward then backwards at speeds up to 55 mph.

At Kings Dominion near Richmond, Virginia. and Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, guests will get panoramic views while experiencing towering thrills on WindSeeker, an amazing 30-story swing and spinning ride. Riders will sit two across in 32-passenger swings with their legs dangling and will slowly begin to rotate in a circular motion as the swings climb the massive 301-foot-tall structure. At the top, the swings will reach speeds up to 30 mph while fanning out at nearly 45 degrees before its descent. Each WindSeeker ride is a $6.5 million investment.

Family fun in gigantic -- and prehistoric -- proportions will debut at several Cedar Fair parks in 2012, including Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio and Kings Dominion. Families will roar way back in time with Dinosaur's Alive!, a world-class animatronic dinosaur collection showcasing the life-sized relics in an interactive exhibit. Dinosaurs Alive! will inspire, entertain and educate guests with the sounds and movements of each animatronic creature made to replicate nearly every feature of the dinosaurs; each piece is hand-carved and scientifically accurate based on the latest paleontological knowledge. Guests will walk through thematic scenes that tell compelling stories about each dinosaur and their primeval world.

For water lovers, Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio will make a big splash with its rebranded Soak City water park and offer plenty of new ways to get wet with a major $10 million expansion that will nearly double its size to 33 acres. The makeover will include a new wave pool surrounded by a large deck and lush greenery and a new action river featuring interactive areas and elements such as waterfalls, tipping buckets, spray hoses and rain curtains. A new entrance and plaza will greet guests to the waterpark; plus amenities including new family changing rooms, cabanas, sand volleyball court and additional lounging areas will be part of the renovation. Kings Island will also celebrate its 40th anniversary season in 2012.

Cedar Point's Soak City water park will also have a new look for 2012 with the edition of a new mat-racer complex that will offer racers a speedy ride through a series of dips and plateaus.

Additional investments across Cedar Fair's group of parks will feature new restaurants, entertainment offerings and resort upgrades.

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 10:08 AM
mlnem4s's avatar

Yet another year that Cedar Fair can't provide guests at Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora with a new water attraction to drive attendance and tourism in the area?! All the while residents have a monstrosity of a mess across the lake staring them in the face that is economically damaging to the community.

I am a Cedar Fair fan boy but I am also loyal to the community that I grew up in and it really is time for Cedar Fair to step up to the plate and make some decisions; sell the waterpark to someone who will invest in it if you aren't going to nurture it, clean up the massive mess left behind at Geauga Lake so it isn't a detriment to the community, or take a low-ball offer from any developer willing to take responsibility for the entire complex since CF corporate management clearly doesn't want to deal with it. It really is time to find an ending to this story, whatever that ending is to be.

Last edited by mlnem4s, Tuesday, November 1, 2011 10:09 AM
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 10:55 AM
bjames's avatar

Hm, I just I had two realizations. One was that the water park at Geauga Lake still exists as the above poster exasperatedly noted, and the other was that Canada's Wonderland has now the 3rd most coasters.


"The term is 'amusement park.' An old Earth name for a place where people could go to see and do all sorts of fascinating things." -Spock, Stardate 3025

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:31 AM
Jeff's avatar

If Geauga Lake needed something new to sustain its crowds, they would build it. Either that, or fill in your conspiracy here.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:35 AM
Rick_UK's avatar

I'm surprised they don't say they're making some 'improvements' to the parks where there is no ride, seems a little obvious to omit them altogether.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:29 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

If Geauga Lake could support a new slide, it would already be there?


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 12:57 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Using the theory of Jeff and ApolloAndy, none of the parks would receive anything new as attendance is stagnant, looking at it from a multiple year perspective, with exception for Carowinds and Wonderland.

I know for a fact that WWK in Aurora continues to make improvements, both in attendance and revenue, each year. It warrants something, maybe not a huge expenditure like a Master Blaster but certainly something in the $1 million range.

If nothing else, at minimum it would be nice for Cedar Fair to clean up their abandoned park a little which has a negative impact on the community as well as people going to visit WWK.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 1:32 PM

Nothing for Knotts?

/m


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 1:42 PM
Jeff's avatar

mlnem4s said:
Using the theory of Jeff and ApolloAndy, none of the parks would receive anything new as attendance is stagnant, looking at it from a multiple year perspective, with exception for Carowinds and Wonderland.

I know for a fact that WWK in Aurora continues to make improvements, both in attendance and revenue, each year.

You made my point for me. If attendance is on the rise and in line with expectations, why would you add something? CW has never reached its potential, while most of the parks need something new every couple of years to bring people back. Water parks can go decades without adding anything and still maintain attendance.

The point is, you have to be able to make a case that adding something will result in an increase in revenue, and I doubt any such case can be made for Geauga Lake, a place that years of investment brought no gains.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 2:56 PM

Jeff said:
If Geauga Lake needed something new to sustain its crowds, they would build it. Either that, or fill in your conspiracy here.

Wouldn't that same logic apply to a SFGA onsite hotel?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:09 PM
mlnem4s's avatar

Jeff said:
You made my point for me. If attendance is on the rise and in line with expectations, why would you add something? CW has never reached its potential, while most of the parks need something new every couple of years to bring people back. Water parks can go decades without adding anything and still maintain attendance.

The point is, you have to be able to make a case that adding something will result in an increase in revenue, and I doubt any such case can be made for Geauga Lake, a place that years of investment brought no gains.


Jeff, you use your analogy when it fits things you like and then you use it to fit things I assume you don't like or could care less about.

Prior to Premiere Parks ill-fated rebranding of Geauga Lake into Six Flags Worlds of Adventure the park did see gains. Prior to the ride side being shut down under Cedar Fair the park did see a gain in attendance. I was there, I know. Wildwater Kingdom is also seeing gains, even though it has been up against some of the worst adverse conditions any park has to face. That alone to me says a lot about its future potential.

Everyone knows the problem all along has been a communication issue of the brand and how it was marketed, the parks themselves were not the issue. Jeff, I have even seen you make comments on here that people still don't know Wildwater Kingdom is open or that Geauga Lake existed after Six Flags departed. This past summer the park finally has started to hit its stride with multiple events throughout the summer, radio station marketing days, etc.....all things that should have happened long ago but didn't because it was always an afterthought out of the offices in Sandusky. Hell, I can recall a day when the marketing folks at Cedar Point didn't even know the names of the attractions at WWK, that right there tells you EXACTLY where the problem starts and should end!

Last edited by mlnem4s, Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:15 PM
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:23 PM
Vater's avatar

billb7581 said:

Wouldn't that same logic apply to a SFGA onsite hotel?

Yes. But don't forget that the whole debate about that wasn't that a hotel is needed; rather that one could be successful.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:42 PM

I'm not much into conspiracy theories in general, and certainly not into amusement park conspiracy theories.

But, as a business, I think you are always looking for opportunities to grow. Cedar Fair was doing fine before the Paramount purchase...yet they pulled the trigger and nearly put themselves out of business in the process.

So, I do think it is fair to ask what the plan is at WWK. Of course, I suppose we should look at the other stand alone water parks (maybe the Knott's Soak City parks in San Diego and...wherever) to see how they operate from a capital point of view. I don't hear much about them and new attractions so maybe it is just the way CF handles waterparks.

I know Typhoon Lagoon at Disney went a LONG time before they got their Blaster slides. (Granted, they were already a pretty comprehensive water park.) And, looking at a place like Wet 'n Wild they don't do capital improvements very often.

I think the issue with WWK is that it still sits adjacent to a ghost. And, it is a sad, constant reminder of what once was. That probably weighs heavier on us who had a connection with the place than the general public. Particularly the general public in Northeast Ohio who is not unaccustomed to blight and stagnation.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 4:24 PM

You can't look at capital expenditures in a vacuum. The issue isn't just whether a given capital expenditure would produce positive returns (though that is important as a starting point). Companies don't have unlimited resources and need to create capital expenditure budgets (based on practicalities of what they can afford to spend and often times, what their credit documents will allow them to spend -- don't remember if CF's credit agreement places any limits on capital expenditures). They then prioritize what they think will produce the best returns within that budget. And thats as much an art as it is a science as its difficult to determine exactly what the returns are for a given investment when there are numerous moving parts that determine any given business's profits.

At this point, it appears that CF believes its capex dollars can be better spend elsewhere. They have a lot more info than we do so I would tend to defer to their judgment. And I expect that we will see more investments in parks in areas that are growing in terms of population as those will tend to make more sense economically.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 4:39 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think you're using analogies that fit things you like or something else that makes no sense to me. :)


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:31 PM
Fun's avatar

I think a good thing to keep in mind is capital expenditures at the Cedar Fair water parks aren't regular things. Come to think of it, Six Flags doesn't seem to regularly reinvest in their waterparks either. With that said, it wouldn't surprise me if they have to wait until the capital plans Kinzel set in motion a few years back play out.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 10:13 PM

Here's an interesting corollary question then, which I'm sure some person(s) here could answer readily enough. What kind of and how much capital investment has Cedar Fair made in each of its various waterparks over the last few years? If the answer is 'not much', then clearly their treatment of WWK is unremarkable.


My author website: mgrantroberts.com

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:05 PM

Dorney did the expansion at WWK a few seasons ago, which was sorely needed. And as I recall, CF made a big deal about what they did and how much they were spending. Then again, that's the only CF waterpark I would pay attention to.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011 11:39 PM
Jeff's avatar

Expanding capacity is the greatest incentive to add stuff in a water park, and if your capacity isn't being stretched, those dollars are probably better spent somewhere else. GL in particular had a bigger master plan, but had they followed through on it, I think you'd have a lot of empty stuff.


Jeff - Webmaster/Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Twitter - Video

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