THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
SANDUSKY — With the major portion of its season now concluded and its 17th Halloween season set to open Friday, Cedar Fair LP announced that it had a very successful summer season that has the company on track for record financial results for a fourth consecutive year.
Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky was once again named “Best Amusement Park in the World” by industry trade publication Amusement Today, which presented the park with the honor on Sunday night during its annual Golden Ticket Awards presentation, held this year in Santa Cruz, Calif.
The Golden Ticket Awards were begun 16 years ago, and Cedar Point has won the “best park” award every year. Amusement Today bases its awards on an international poll it conducts through a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans worldwide. The fans are asked to rate the “bests” in 25 categories.
The publication named Cedar Point’s Millennium Force roller coaster as the “Best Steel Roller Coaster in the World” and named Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati as having the “Best Kids Area” for the 13th consecutive year. Cedar Point and Kings Island are owned by Sandusky’s Cedar Fair LP.
Another Cedar Fair Park, Knott’s Berry Farm near Los Angeles, received a special “Publisher’s Pick Turnstile Award” from Amusement Today for its makeover of its 50-year-old Timber Mountain Log Ride.
Cedar Fair parks did not win any additional first place awards, but Cedar Point’s new $26 million GateKeeper roller coaster finished third in the “Best New Ride” category. Knott’s Halloween Haunt, which began the trend of Halloween-themed activities at amusement parks, finished second in the “Best Halloween Event” category, while Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends finished fifth in the category.
The Sandusky-based entertainment company, which owns 11 amusement parks including Cedar Point, five water parks, and five hotels, said that as of Sept. 1 its revenues were $927 million, up $51 million or 6 percent from the same period the year before when revenues were $876 million.
Cedar Fair attributed the increase in revenues to a 5 percent rise in in-park spending by its guests, who spent an average $44.10 once past the front gate. The company also experienced a 7 percent increase in spending at its hotels to about $100 million.
Cedar Fair said attendance totaled 19.3 million customer visits, which was about the same as last year. But excluding figures from Knott’s Soak City-San Diego, a water park that Cedar Fair sold in November, 2012, attendance for 2013 was actually up 1 percent, or about 181,000 visits, the company said.
“We are pleased with our strong performance across all aspects of our business,” Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair president and chief executive officer, said. “Our continued focus on providing our guests with the ‘Best Day of Summer’ experience each and every time they visit our parks has led to increases in attendance and average in-park guest per capita spending, as well as higher revenues at our resort properties.”
Mr. Ouimet said the company hopes to continue its revenue success with its HalloWeekends, which run through the end of October, and Cedar Fair will test a new premium feature during the events at two of its parks that could generate additional revenues.
“Skeleton Key,” which will debut at Cedar Fair’s Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles and at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo., will allow those buying the premium feature to go farther into the parks’ mazes and open up secret rooms that will provide additional frights and back stories. It will also allow customers to bypass the regular lines.
THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Mr. Ouimet said, based onnine-month revenues, the company now expects its full-year revenues will fall between $1.1 billion and $1.125 billion, and that its adjusted Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) will be between $415 million and $425 million. Ebitda is an important financial category because it eliminates the effects of a company’s debt financing or its accounting practices. Cedar Fair had estimated its full-year revenues would end up between $1.09 billion and $1.115 billion, and that its Ebitda would be between $400 million and $410 million.
— Jon Chavez