Apollo Global Management Buys Cedar Fair for $2.4 Billion, $635 Million in Cash
In a move that I didn’t see coming, Cedar Fair was purchased today by equity firm Apollo Global Management for $635 million in cash. Other reports (like this article from The Street) say the deal is for $2.4 billion in total. It’s reminiscent of Blackstone’s purchase of Busch Gardens a few months ago.

Cedar Fair operates 11 amusement parks in the United States including:
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio
Cedar Fair Sold to Apollo Global ManagementKings Island near Cincinnati.
California’s Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.
Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto.
Kings Dominion near Richmond, Va.
Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C.
Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo.
Valleyfair near Minneapolis.
Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif.
Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, Pa.
Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon, Mich.

Typically, you think of company’s getting bought when they’re in trouble, but that’s not always the case. I don’t follow the business end of the theme park industry that closely, but I only recall a few signs of any trouble at Cedar Fair. There was news of Minnesota-based amusement park Valleyfair! possibly being for sale last spring and rumors that California’s Great America might be sold. This New York Times article states that profits were down slightly in 2009 (with more operating days), attendance was down, and those who visited spent less. While none of this is good news, in the current economy I don’t think it’s cause alone for an acquisition. Again, I don’t follow the business side of the industry as much so maybe I was out of the loop on this one. Cedar Fair shares rose 23 percent today after news of the sale to Apollo Global Management. Here’s a statement from Cedar Fair’s CEO Dick Kinzel:

“We have considered a wide range of strategic alternatives over the past several years. After considering these strategic alternatives, we have concluded that the transaction with Apollo is in the best interest of our unit holders,” said Cedar Fair Chairman and CEO Dick Kinzel, in a statement. –TheStreet.com

If the acquisition is anything like Blackstone’s purchase of Busch, guests shouldn’t expect to see many changes during their visits next year. I assume and I hope that an equity firm like Apollo would recognize Cedar Fair’s long running track record as a successful amusement park operator for many years and not meddle in their management of their well-run parks.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Cedar Fair’s acquisition? Has anyone heard anything about park operations? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

22 Responses

  1. Quil

    while reading through the son of beasts fate unknown post, i noticed someone say that ceadar fair was the worst at maintaining their woodies, i hope that this will be solved whith the purchase.

  2. CFC

    CC, please don't don't remove this comment…


    Why would Cedar Fair sell their business?!?!?!?

  3. Tom

    I wonder if that was a good deal. I mean, I wish…, well i wonder how much cedar fair makes in a year. It might have been a good deal but I think some of their parks make like $300,000,000 a year.

  4. The Coaster Critic

    CFC, I only remove comments if they're way off topic or offensive.

    Tom, the people who run the park wouldn't have accepted the terms of the acquisition if it wasn't a fair price for the company. Unless they had absolutely no other choice.

    Quil pointed out that their woodies might be some of the worst maintained. What do you hope that the acquisition brings to Cedar Fair's parks? What do you think that they could improve?

  5. Schwarz

    A theme park in Charleston SC!!! Just kidding I actually wouldn't like that because it would get rid of the older feel of our town and we already have carowinds.

  6. Judy P in Pgh

    I hope they continue to have the platinum pass that can be used at all Cedar Fair parks. Cedar Point gives early ride time (e.g., Raptor) to pass holders on a daily basis, nut just for special events. Do any of the other Cedar Fair parks do this? If not, that is a perk I would like to see the new owners add to more of the parks, either prior to the official opening time or after park closing. (I'm thinking night rides on The Beast!)

  7. CFC

    Like Quil said, how about better woodies? I'm almost afraid to go on the ones at Carowinds, and Cedar Point has only one woodie worth mentioning – Mean Streak. Please renew my faith in them, Apollo!

  8. Bob

    Dear Sir's,

    I want to express how extremely happy I am to hear Cedar Fair has been acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Global.

    I sincerely hope that they treat their acquisition of Cedar Fair the same way Cedar Fair treated their acquisition of Geauga Lake Amusement Park in Aurora Ohio.

  9. Vince

    Bob, I'm not sure if you remember, but Cedar Fair has since closed the Amusment Park portion of Geauga Lake, and only Wildwater Kingdom, the revamped water park, remains at that location. Some rides from that park have been moved from Geauga Lake to other parks (e.g. X-Flight moved to Kings Island and was renamed Firehawk), but some rides (e.g. Raging Wolf Bobs) continue to rot at that location to this day.

    On topic, hoever, I would like to clarify that this Cedar Fair takeover is not yet a done deal. Several lawsuits have been filed and the Kotts family has noted that they are not happy with the sale. The deal will require a 2/3 majority vote from the stockholders, and by rule, Cedar Fair has to have a "shopping" period where other companies may bid on them. Blackstone Group, the company that bought Busch Entertainment has been thrown into the mix of potential companies that would buy Cedar Fair.

    Apollo has bid $11.50/share for Cedar Fair (FUN). Currently, FUN is trading at $11.63.

    CC, great job with the site and reviews, I look forward to seeing all the new reviews this summer!

    128 Days until Cedar Point opens!

  10. Prof. BAM

    Cedar fair is somewhat unhappy with how much Apollo bought it for. But I heard somewhere that Apollo may have plans to add something BIG to each park. I don't know what it is but, Cedar Point may not get anything if that's the case. Why? I believe that Apollo thinks Cedar Point has too many coasters. If Apollo does do something to each park, I hope it's B&M coasters. Or maybe more Intamin giga-coasters of Strata-coasters.

    • Quil

      Intamin gigacoasters of Stratacoasters? do you mean a stratacoaster whith a gigacoaster layout, beacause that would be cool. pricey though.

  11. CFC

    Hey! I don't know for certain, but I've heard from Wikipedia that Merlin Entertainments, the company owning Thorpe Park, Heide-Park, and Alton Towers has purchased all major former Paramount's Parks. This means that Carowinds, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Great America, and Canada's Wonderland are all now owned by Merlin Entertainments. Plus, I've heard that Carolina Cyclone is getting STAND-UP trains for next year! Can you believe it?

  12. kigirl

    Ok, thatdidnt happen because the ceder fail logo is still on the kings island website. So, is this true? Or am I just blind?


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