Dick Kinzel reflects on 39 years at Cedar Fair

Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2011 3:26 PM | Contributed by Jeff

For Cedar Point, its parent firm, Cedar Fair LP, and especially for Dick Kinzel, things will change again in a very large way on Jan. 3 when the 71-year-old chief executive officer retires after 39 years with the Sandusky-based amusement park company -- 25 years as its top executive.

Read more from The Toledo Blade.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 3:37 PM

Interesting that there's no mention of Geauga Lake. How could he not acknowledge that as his biggest disaster? Paramount Parks comes in a close second because of the over-payment for it, and all of the drama that caused the last few years.

He deserves all kinds of credit for everything leading up to 2004, but at that point, I think it was time to hand the company over to someone else. He should have retired the first time he planned to, and gone out like Michael Jordan.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011 4:09 PM

Indeed. How does one attraction misfire trump what happened with GL? Now, he likely would counter that the GL mess wasn't entirely his fault. I would agree on one hand because Six Flags really left a mess. But, I would also say he didn't do his due diligence. I think he regretted so much NOT buying it the first time he had a chance that he simply wouldn't let it go again, and as a result they weren't prepared for the troubles they walked into.

For that matter, how about the failed sale of the company they cost them a lot of money and goodwill? That was no blip on the radar either. Or, say, letting his 2nd in command go as a result of stubborness? (Though, that mistake may prove to be criticial in the future success of the company.)

I think some of his other mistakes might be corrected in a very public way over the next year or two.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011 10:24 PM

I find it funny that in the comments, they automatically replace "Dick" with ****.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 1:18 AM

Censorship fail! lol

I mean, Dick is a very common name. It's not like his name is "Penis Kenzel". :p

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 1:43 AM

Not retaining Jack Falfas is huge in this transition. I had the pleasure to speak to Jack at IAAPA for about 20 minutes, and well, I still feel he was the huge piece of the pie that made the west coaste operations work, and continued the success of Knott's. I enjoyed Knott's last January, and I proudly told him so. I worked for Jack in 1990, and I don't think he has aged a bit.

Dick Kinzel took the company beyond what the boys ever dreamed of in the late 50's, and what Munger could have forseen. Cedar Point is about as solid as a park/resort can be, with the hotel investments paying off in leaps and bounds.

2 issues I still have an 'issue' with, and they have been discussed, the Geauga Lake fiasco, and poor food quality and service of their counter/quick service operations. Just my opinion.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 2:49 AM

Agreed, but they still need something for adults to do late night at the resorts to make it a complete experience. The bar at TGIFridays, although nice, is not nearly enough. Hopefully Oiumet, with his background will see that and add some things.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 8:16 AM

Most people speak very kindly of Falfas, and I'm sure the respect people have for him is genuine, but he didn't run the Disneyland resort. As screwed up as that situation was, I think the end result was probably better for the company in the long run.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 9:20 AM

Maybe GL wasn't talked about because folks in Toledo don't care? Just a guess.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 12:04 PM

But the Paramount acquisition is a burning concern? It wasn't talked about because it was a catastrophic failure.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 12:32 PM

I believe Kinzel was interviewed in Kirmes & Park Review Magazine not too long ago where he did say that the Geauga Lake takeover was one of his biggest disapointments. Unfortunately I can't find that online anywhere.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011 10:40 PM

I think it will be 5-10 years before the Paramount acquisition can be truly evaluated. It got them into regions of the country that are growing. The value of that is yet to be seen.

Falfas for Ouimet trade at this point looks like a win for Cedar Fair. Though it may be tough to evaluate that one even with the passage of some time.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:30 PM

I think it's funny that anyone would think this article should have read like an itemization of bad decisions. I probably wouldn't acknowledge in the media an issue that sparked as much controversy as GL did, either. To me that's common sense, especially for an article that was meant to highlight my entire career.

He's retiring, folks, and like him or not, collectively he is leaving the company better than he found it. Maybe it's time to let go of his perceived mistakes and let him have his moment. Just look to the future.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:32 PM

I think we're being more critical of the "journalism" than we are Kinzel. It's like talking about Bill Clinton and leaving out Lewinsky.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:42 PM

I don't know that I agree, though. I'm not a journalist of course, but if I thought including a detail in a 39-year reflection piece might fuel readers to fixate on that instead of the overall 39-year review, I might leave it out, too. Just my take, though.

(And I think there are still folks here judging Kinzel. At least that's how I read the posts. :) )

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 2:31 PM

Well, if you're truly being a journalist, and I realize that the profession has seen better days, you present the facts as they are and let the reader decide what's important. The journalist's judgment has to decide what's newsworthy, sure, but I think buying a property that fails outright is pretty newsworthy.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 3:08 PM

But was the article meant to be serious journalism or more of a fluff piece? Seems to me it was more of a victory lap type article which as noted, is expected to cover the good/positive and ignore the bad/negative.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 4:05 PM

That's my point. If it was a fluff piece, shame on The Blade.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 4:19 PM

Why shame on the Blade? Much of the news at this point is fluff. Its what a lot of people want apparently.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012 4:28 PM

That's like me asking you if it's OK for ambulance chasers to bring down the reputation and professional reputation of your profession.

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