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Published: 5/19/2006

Cedar Fair shareholders protest free-ticket change

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER
CEO Dick Kinzel said dropping some prices at Cedar Point is a response to the economy. CEO Dick Kinzel said dropping some prices at Cedar Point is a response to the economy.
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SANDUSKY - Even as executives hope lowered prices at Cedar Point will boost attendance, shareholders of Cedar Fair LP were more concerned yesterday about a perk than the firm's financial performance.

Among an unusually large crowd of 175 at the company's annual meeting, several shareholders questioned Chief Executive Dick Kinzel about why a stockholder perk of a buy-one-get-one free admission ticket to Cedar Point was changed this year to buy one night at Castaway Bay indoor water park and get a second night free.

One shareholder said he bought additional shares so that he could get more of the 2-for-1 admissions for his family.

"I'm too old for the [water] slides," he said. Many in the audience applauded.

Another shareholder shouted out: "You heard us."

Several shareholders also collared Mr. Kinzel after the meeting to implore him to restore the admission discount for shareholders.

The park admission ticket is worth less than $40, whereas the Castaway Bay extra night is worth $230 minimum.

Mr. Kinzel told the shareholders that the firm wanted to introduce its Sandusky water park to stockholders. Later, in an interview, he said the discount on the water park is better for shareholders generally.

But the chairman of the company that owns seven amusement parks and five water parks nationwide said the decision to drop the admission price and some food prices at Cedar Point is a response to the struggling Ohio and Michigan economies, where many park visitors live.

The company sliced $5 off the entrance price for its flagship park on the shores of Lake Erie, bringing the cost to $39.95 this year. It hopes it will stem its drop in visitors last year, a decline of 2 percent to 3.1 million.

The CEO also said he hopes the $9.95 admission price for seniors and children, along with lower prices on some food, will "generate a lot of excitement" and help boost attendance and revenue.

After the meeting, Mr. Kinzel revealed Cedar Fair is considering buying Kings Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati that was put up for sale by its owner, CBS Corp. That park is one of five in CBS' Paramount Parks division.

Contact Homer Brickey at:

homerbrickey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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