Cedar Fair attendance, revenues down

SANDUSKY Cedar Fair officials are disappointed with August attendance and revenue numbers at
May 24, 2010



Cedar Fair officials are disappointed with August attendance and revenue numbers at its newly-acquired parks.

Both sets of numbers fell through the month of August and Labor Day weekend compared to a year ago.

Revenues fell to $2.6 million, or 1 percent, from the previous year. Attendance numbers were down 5 percent, or 315,000 visits, which were offset by a 4 percent increase in average in-park per capita spending to $40.11. Out-of-park revenues during the same period increased 3 percent or $573,000.

Officials attribute the low revenue and attendance numbers to a significant decrease in free tickets and season pass visits at the parks Cedar Fair purchased last year.

Cedar Fair eliminated about 120,000 complimentary tickets this year that had previously been issued at the former Paramount Parks. Cedar Fair acquired the parks on June 30, 2006 from CBS Corp.

Excluding the newly acquired parks, total revenues through Labor Day weekend were up 2 percent, or $7.8 million. The boost in revenues is the result of a 5 percent increase in average in-park guest per capita spending to $39.54, which was offset by a 3 percent decrease in attendance, or about 319,000 visits, the company reported. Out-of-park revenues were also up slightly.

This year, total combined revenues through Labor Day were $828.4 million with 18.5 million guest visits and an average in-park per capita spending of $40.30.

Stacy Frole, Cedar Fair's director of investor relations, described the first full-operating year with the newly acquired parks as a "transition year" and believes the company is still on track for success.

"Our long-term strategy will benefit us in the future," Frole said. "Our strategy is not to give the parks away. We want to continue to build integrity into our pricing ... in the best interest for our shareholders and customers."

Although the summer ended with lower numbers, officials are optimistic about the future.

"This next year we will be able to lay out our capital program," Frole said.

Construction is underway on a new $21 million roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland, which will make its debut next year. The new ride, named Behemoth, will be the park's biggest investment in 27 years. At 230 feet, with an 85-degree drop and speeds reaching 77 mph, Behemoth with be Canada's longest, fastest and tallest roller coaster.

Closer to home, Cedar Point is hosting its 11th annual HalloWeekends event a week earlier this year. Starting today, guests can experience the park's displays, live shows, haunted houses and walk-through attractions. The park will also unveil a new, family-friendly parade to its guests that will take place at 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday during Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends.

Additional capital expenditure and marketing plans at other Cedar Fair parks for next season will be announced at a later date.

Based on August results, company officials anticipate Cedar Fair to be at the lower end of its 2007 expectations of full-year revenues between $950 to $980 million and full-year adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) to be between $320 to $340 million.