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Cedar Fair rings NYSE bell

Tom Jackson • Jul 3, 2014 at 5:38 PM


Whizzing through the air on Top Thrill Dragster or Millennium Force isn't the only thrill from Cedar Point.

There's also the thrill of owning a Cedar Fair unit that was $21.81 on Jan. 3, 2012, the day Matt Ouimet took over as Cedar Point's president and CEO, and closed at $52.63 on Wednesday.

The latter thrill was celebrated Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m., when Ouimet, surrounded by about 20 members of his management team, officially rang the bell to close the day's trading at the New York Stock Exchange. 

The event was beamed back to New York City on video as Ouimet banged on a bell with a gavel, accompanied by unitholders who rang bells and waved American flags.

The bell ringing aired live at the stock exchange back in New York and on CNBC.

Wednesday also saw the official launch of Cedar Point's newest ride, SlingShot, although the ride had a soft opening Tuesday night.

"I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish the last three years," Ouimet told the crowd. He took over after the retirement of Richard "Dick" Kinzel, who expanded Cedar Fair and helped turn Cedar Point into a top thrill ride attraction. 

Cedar Fair officials did their best to make sure there would be a good-sized crowd cheering in the background as Ouimet rang the bell outside Cedar Point's front gate. 

Dick Bedell of Strongsville said unitholders were offered two-for-one ticket deals to Cedar Point to join in the festivities Wednesday.

"I've had the shares probably for 15 years," he said. "Held them all through the turmoil when they were going to sell out to Apollo."

Cedar Fair  officials announced a proposal in December 2009 to sell the company to Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm, for $11.50 a share. The deal fell apart in 2010 after unitholders revolted, keeping Cedar Fair as a publicly-traded company that would soon see better days.

Bedell said he's pleased with the rise in value of his units, and the generous dividends Cedar Fair has been paying. 

Jane Mounts of Vermilion cited family ties for her appearance.

"My daughter is Stacy Frole," said Mounts. "We have our grandson with us."

Frole is Cedar Fair's vice president for investor relations and corporate communications.

Other Cedar Point visitors Wednesday were more interested in the park's new thrill ride. 

The SlingShot stands 360 feet tall. The only taller ride at Cedar Point is the Top Thrill Dragster. Two riders at a time are secured in a sling which which suddenly shoots them 36 stories in the air, at 60 mph, flipping them over as they reach the top.

Riders must pay a fee of $25, plus tax, in addition to the park's regular admission price. If they want a souvenir video on DVD of their experience, that's an additional $19.99, plus tax. 

The fee covers the cost of building a new ride that can only carry two riders at a time, said Jason McClure, Cedar Point's general manager. It allowed Cedar Point to put in a new ride without increasing the admission price, he said.

Cedar Point also charges a $5 premium for its dinosaur show, but McClure pointed out that Cedar Point has added other new rides in the last couple of years, including GateKeeper, which don't carry an additional fee. 

Wednesday's debut riders included Ellie Stafford, 15, of Rocky River, and her sister, Aliza Stafford, 10.

"It was awesome," Ellie said. "It was really fun," added Aliza. 

As each pair sampled the ride, Cedar Point spokesman Bryan Edwards pointed to the crowd of people who gathered to watch each pair rocket into the air.

"Very Top Thrill Dragster-esque," he noted. "People stop and want to watch it."

Click HERE for more photos of the NYSE closing bell.

Click HERE for more photos of the SlingShot.

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