Exclusive: Matt Ouimet interview

Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:16 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company's new CEO, Matt Ouimet, gives his first video for CoasterBuzz. The interview was shot on April 17, 2012, walking around the heavy pre-season construction at Cedar Point.

Watch the interview

For the latest on Cedar Point news, community and construction, visit PointBuzz.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:02 PM
Gromithere's avatar

Awesome interview and video Jeff.

I understand that there was obvious reason for Cedar Point emphasis, but I would have loved to have heard a bit more talk about other Cedar Fair parks as well.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:25 PM
CoasterDemon's avatar

He talks about the *pros* of fast lane in such an sweet tone, it actually makes some sense to me. (YAY for Cedar Point having good operations and trying to move forward on this - BOO for Six Flags having awful operations and capitalizing on it.) I wonder how that is going to go over with the discerning multi-visit Cedar Point guests.


Billy
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Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:35 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think it's probably natural for him to talk about Cedar Point since he's standing in it, but in our conversation off-camera, he's pretty clear about the way things are. I forget specifically what I asked him about, but he said, "I'm not sure, this is John's park," referring of course to John Hildebrandt, the GM. In fact, he won't even be at the park on opening day, which is just about as opposite to his predecessor as possible.


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

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:29 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Re: Fast Lane (verbatim from the interview)

"So why Do it?" is the fundamental question as you just said.

And the real answer is because consumers are asking for it.

------

He seems like a really decent guy.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:35 PM
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Thursday, April 26, 2012 6:37 PM
rollergator's avatar

Because I am who I am....in bullet-point (and in order of importance, IMO).

  • Ouimet comes off as a really good guy, relaxed, caring, genuine.
  • Employees are people - people who count. People who make or break your business. People who make loyal customers.
  • Need stuff for everyone in the family to do/enjoy.
  • Water parks.
  • BEACH!
  • Not going into hotel business.
  • "Proud."

And just in case I didn't emphasize it enough...employees. (Since it came up again in the Disney question - and since it's THAT big of a deal).

The guy just plain gets it. I'm sold.

...and he gives good interview. :~)

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:21 PM
Jeff's avatar

I was careful not to be a part of the interview, but the thing about people came up over and over. He constantly deflects achievement to others. And here's the weirdest thing... I visited some friends working there, and while the people are the same, it's like they all moved to a new company. That doesn't happen in any possible way unless it comes from the top.


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

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 8:07 PM
a_hoffman50's avatar

My opinions on this park chain have changed since seeing this interview. I think that this was a great move for Cedar Fair to get this guy on board to lead them and I think he will take them in a positive direction in such a way that I never thought I would see.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 8:32 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

Great job on this Jeff!

He seems like a completely genuine guy who knows exactly where he wants the company to be and even better, it sounds like he's going to value and encourage his staff to ensure that the company's vision works out for them.

I am expecting a lot from this guy and I'm almost completely convinced he's going to deliver.


Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 8:46 PM
OhioStater's avatar

Great job, Jeff...only strengthened an already positive impression. In fact, what he said about Cedar Point being "John's park" is so wonderful...I can't even imagine how giddy John is feeling...or perhaps liberated is a better word.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:04 PM
Jeff's avatar

A lot of people you talk to, at all the parks, but especially CP, feel pretty liberated. I think the folks in planning and design were probably enjoying some amount of freedom before, but now I think they're in an even better place. Everyone will be. It's an incredibly exciting time there.


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

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:55 PM
kpjb's avatar

The prevailing sense around our place when we were being purchased was "at least it's not Cedar Fair." Now... I don't think you'd see that attitude.


Hi

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:56 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

Talking about the campgrounds, I saw more promo at Carowinds on opening day at the SP Processing center for the campground than I recall seeing before.

I think that Matt is going to be great for CF, I loved seeing the video of the ferris wheel's new lighting. I think that the Starlight Spectacular was a great thing, and if any park needs more atmosphere at nite it is Carowinds. Since they started staying open later at nite, I hope that eventually he budgets some $$$ for atmosphere in the rest of that park, because it really lacks in great nighttime atmosphere outside of the one section for the Starlight Spectacular.

I'd like to at least see something along the lines of what they did at the MaxAir midway at CP over in the Hurler area at Carowinds. And some new lighting packages on the rides at the park would be great.


cebeavers.tumblr.com

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:13 PM
James Whitmore's avatar

I think this is the first time I've ever heard anyone at the parks even mention camping. +1 to Matt.


jameswhitmore.net

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Friday, April 27, 2012 12:22 AM
LostKause's avatar

Thanks for shooting that, Jeff. Sounds like Ouimet knows his stuff, and he seems very genuine and sincere with everything he says.

Perfect ending to the video too. Absolutely perfect. It emphasizes not only his sincerity, but his humanity as well. This is a real guy here, who cares about the company that he oversees. Bravo!


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Friday, April 27, 2012 1:18 AM
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, I told him when he said that it would be the last edit. That's probably editorializing a bit, but it's hard not to be completely charmed by him.


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

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Friday, April 27, 2012 4:56 AM

Excellent interview and I'm even more excited about all things Cedar Fair now. This guy seems to be exactly what was needed for the company. This is a huge shot of much needed new blood.

I noticed that the marketing that's rolled out for Canada's Wonderland this year is very different. The brutally irritating "Fun and Only" and "Ride Warrior" stuff is thankfully gone. The new commercials seem much more relevant and engaging. The marketing campaign could have been set before Ouimet was in place but it's great to feel like there's a fresh start on things.

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Friday, April 27, 2012 8:00 AM

"You can dream, create, design and build the most wonderful place in the world...but it requires people to make the dream a reality." -Walt Disney

Glad there is someone at the top at Cedar Fair who gets it. Extremely happy for those friends I know who hung on during the turbulent final years of Kinzel. I just hope Disney doesn't see what Matt does with CF and try to lure him back.

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Friday, April 27, 2012 9:26 AM
LostKause's avatar

Continuing in that direction, does anyone know why Ouimet left Disney? Did he leave Disney for Cedar Fair, or was he already not working for Disney when he got the offer to work for Cedar Fair?


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Friday, April 27, 2012 9:58 AM

All indications was that he left on his own terms in what was a bit of a surprise to the industry. He left to be the #1 at Starwood Hotels and Resorts so if I had to take an educated guess I'd say he had "CEO" on his to do list for some time and Starwood gave him the chance.

I think it is also safe to say that Disney was experiencing some turbulent times in '06 (when Ouimet left) and maybe he realized his talent could be better appreciated elsewhere. It sounds like, from his perspective, it seems to have been a wise choice.

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