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Revenue, attendance down for Cedar Fair

  • NSVengeance26-20

    Riders enjoy the Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point. Through July 8, revenues at Cedar Fair amusement parks are down 2 percent.

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    Riders enjoy the Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

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  • NSVengeance26-21

    Riders enjoy the Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

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SANDUSKY — The parent firm of Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky said Wednesday that revenues and attendance in May and June at its 14 properties in the U.S. and Canada lagged slightly behind last year’s figures.

But Cedar Fair LP, which operates 11 amusement parks and three water parks, said reaction has been strong and positive to new roller coasters at its two primary parks, and the company all along has been working to boost attendance during the second half of 2018, especially in the peak vacation months of July and August.

NSVengeance26-18

Riders enjoy the Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

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Through July 8 — which represents about 40 percent of Cedar Fair’s 130-to-140-day operating seasons — the Sandusky-based company said its preliminary net revenues totaled $563 million, which was down 2 percent, or about $10 million, from the same period a year ago.

Attendance at its parks and water parks totaled 11.1 million guest visits, down about 3 percent, or roughly 314,000 guest visits. Average in-park per person spending averaged $45.87 per visit, which was slightly above last year, the company said.

Out-of-park spending, which was mainly stays at the company’s four hotels, totaled $70 million. That was a $2 million, or a 3 percent increase, from a year ago.

Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and chief executive officer, said the numbers aren’t what the company hoped for, but it is still on track to meet year-end goals of revenues between $1.34 billion and $1.38 billion, increase its annual dividend by 4 percent, and produce profits before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of $475 million to $495 million.

“We came into this year with a clear focus on enhancing the guest experience and a business plan designed to drive additional attendance, especially in the second half of the year which includes the peak vacation months of July and August and the expansion of our WinterFest events in November and December,” the CEO said.

“Although early-season attendance at our season parks through this past weekend has not met our expectations, we are encouraged by the positive guest response to our new rides and attractions, in particular our new coasters Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point and Hang Time at Knott’s Berry Farm [in Los Angeles].”

Mr. Zimmerman said the company also was pleased by the growth in guest spending in the parks, including food and merchandise purchases, and demand for attractions that require an extra charge.

Going forward, the company expects customer out-of-park spending to become even stronger, Mr. Zimmerman said. Cedar Fair just opened a new 158-room tower wing at the Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point, and it is building new hotels in Charlotte and Toronto.

Cedar Fair will release its second quarter earnings on Aug. 1. In trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, the company’s stock fell $5.13 to close at $59.38 a share.

Contact Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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