Cedar Fair Q3 Record Revenue & Records Continue into Oct(start of Q4)

0g said:

Why is Cedar Point selling the Gold pass with all the perks for less in absolute dollars, not even inflation adjusted, than the regular pass was three years ago?

I have two guesses. 1) Tim Fisher and 2) Richard Zimmerman - both former Paramount guys who just have a different mindset when it comes to the way to do things. Fisher also ran Village Roadshow in Australia and by many accounts, did the same thing there and it delivered big financial and attendance results for a year or two followed by decline. In his mind every park is just regional and everyone coming is local and should have a pass.

The "everyone needs a cheap pass" strategy might not even be a bad one at many of the parks in the chain. Michigan's Adventure, Valleyfair, Dorney, Worlds of Fun, etc are drawing mostly locals. MAYBE even KD, CW, CGA, KI, and Carowinds too since they probably don't have quite the longer distance drawing power of Cedar Point although I'd argue KI is too good of a park to be priced so cheaply. It might not even be a bad strategy at any park if they didn't also offer season long food and drink plans and they could reap the benefit of their elevated food offerings in terms of the bottom line. To me it just seems that they fail to realize how unique and different Cedar Point is. It's almost like they're overcompensating for the mistakes Kinzel made by trying to force the Cedar Point way onto the Paramount parks after that purchase. Now they are doing the opposite, but just as Kinzel was wrong back then, they are wrong now. During the Ouimet years, Breakers was upgraded, the waterpark was upgraded, the food was upgraded (this seems to be continuing), etc. Everything about his time as far as Cedar Point was concerned was about making the product higher end, more diversified, appealing to a wider group of people who would stay longer, spend more, etc. It seems to me that these guys have thrown that mostly out the window with the pricing of the Gold pass. Hildebrandt talked about how they tracked visitors by zip code. I'd be curious if that heat map for Cedar Point starts to compress inward in the next few years. It's a lot easier to take a 30 minute drive with your pass and find that the park is overcrowded than it is to drive half a day each way, book a couple nights in a hotel, take time off from work, etc to find that each of your 2-3 days were not very fun.

Maybe the strategy of marketing Cedar Point to a wider geographical area was not seen as a big success or at least not sustainable. Maybe they think it'd be better to save the advertising dollars, have cheap passes, not build super coasters and just concentrate more on Cleveland, Toledo, maybe Detroit, and Columbus. But then they have the resorts having just bought Sawmill, remodeling Castaway Bay, etc. So these two things seem at odds to me. I can say that if they were following this strategy in the 90s, I likely wouldn't have ever visited the place, worked there for three summers, or become a platinum passholder visiting 5-8 times a year for multiple days each time for the last 20 years. :-\

Last edited by MDOmnis,


Jeff's avatar

I agree with you, Matt. Kinzel tried to apply the CP model to the Paramount Parks, which famously backfired, now this leadership is doing the opposite. But even with the former PP's (heh heh), I think the reality is that some of them have had an undervalued gate for a long time. The directive from Viacom/CBS for those parks was more in the lane of "don't lose money" than it was to make a killing for the corporate parent. I don't think the same level of care and precision on right-pricing the gate is a thing anywhere in the company now. The cost for entertainment and vacation travel on the whole is way up as we emerge from the pandemic, so why go cheap? Even cruising is crazy expensive now (Disney cruises are almost double what they were just a few years ago).

I do worry about the attendance rush being temporary, because we've seen this movie before with Six Flags in the Burke days, as well as with Village Roadshow. These accounts of crazy busy parks don't make me want to rush back to Ohio for a visit, especially if the add-ons aren't meaningfully improving your wait times.

Jeff - Advocate of Great Great Tunnels™ - Co-Publisher - PointBuzz - CoasterBuzz - Blog - Music

On the third quarter earnings call they mentioned a few times about the "high guest satisfaction" with the parks this year so apparently they feel (or at least have rationalized away) that guests are okay with the overcrowded park experience. Presumably they are aware of how the product might be negatively impacted by the current pricing but you'd also think they will be able to see a decline coming through their guest surveys and that sort of thing.

"Thank the Phoenicians!"

^Cedar Fair, and to an extent Cedar Point, have always found a way to paint the guest experience as “overwhelmingly positive” despite some reports that say otherwise. So long as the “majority” of guest aren’t complaining, Cedar Point feels as though they’ve won the guests over. Note that there is a big difference between complaints and not receiving compliments. But CF doesn’t see the difference.

To Cedar Point's credit, the experience they were delivering in May and the experience they were delivering by July-August was not even remotely the same. Finding a higher price point for single day Fastlane was huge, because without any perceived value for Fastlane you are going to lose a lot of people who are willing to spend on extras.

The biggest thing they need to do operations wise is deliver the same experience in the months of May and June that they are able to deliver in the second half of the season. No other park has the opening day/early season growing pains that CP has, and even prior to COVID I feel like these issues were getting worse with each passing year. They either need to hold off and not open until the weekend prior to Memorial Day since they never seem to really be ready to go for the first or second weekend in May or find a way to do what all of their other parks do - have a mostly smooth first few weeks of operation.

MDOmnis said:

It's a lot easier to take a 30 minute drive with your pass and find that the park is overcrowded than it is to drive half a day each way

This is why I chose to skip closing day this year. I have been to every closing day for the past 17 years or so, and before this year, it took a global pandemic to keep me from closing out the park. This year, it was the gold pass. After being at the park to see just how crowded it was on Oct 14, it wouldn't be worth my time or gas money to drive to the park to find it that crowded, so I skipped closing day. For me, a day trip is certainly do-able, especially if I get to the park early and leave early. However, I need some assurance that the number of roller coasters I ride is larger than the number of hours I spend driving round trip, and I'm including all coasters in the park in that count, not just the most popular 4 or 5. When Magnum, being a bit less popular and probably still the highest capacity coaster in the park, has a wait of nearly an hour (posted at 45 minutes) it is just too crowded.

Last edited by 0g,

Nobody goes there anymore. Its too crowded.

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