There have been a number of shakeups in the amusement industry since I’ve started this blog in 2006. Closings, acquisitions, and sales have been a sign of the times for the industry. If the latest rumor in the theme park business World comes to fruition it would be more like an earthquake than a shakeup.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that there may be a Six Flags Cedar Fair merger in the works. Or, at least, that there’s speculation that there may be a merger. The WSJ article can’t be fully read unless you’re a member, but this Cleveland.com article explains the thinking behind the speculation:
According to the [Wall Street Journal] article, some of Six Flag’s creditors think Apollo could be working with Avenue Capital Management, an investment fund that is leading the drive to take over Six Flags in Chapter 11. The Web site reported that Andrew Dash, an attorney representing Six Flag’s unsecured creditors pressed Six Flag’s Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Speed during a bankruptcy hearing to tell him why representatives of Avenue Capital had made a visit to Cedar Fair.
Speed confirmed the visit, but said he could “only speculate” that Avenue was trying to learn more about the amusement park business now that it was committed to leading a $450 million equity raise to bail out Six Flags. -Cleveland.com
So, it sounds like Avenue (a company that’s looking to acquire Six Flags) was spotted in Sandusky. I suppose that in the business World that’s enough to spark speculation of a merger. Could Avenue and Apollo be working together on a plot to merge the U.S.’s largest regional theme park chains?
While, this still sounds like just speculation the source is more well-founded than an anonymous tip sent to ScreamScape or the Dip N’ Dots guy who works next to the bumper cars like many amusement industry rumors. The implications would be wide-reaching and huge. Combined, the new merged company would have 34 theme parks and water parks in North America.
I would assume that there wouldn’t be a fear of a monopoly as there would still be Disney, Universal, SeaWorld Parks ( including the Busch parks), Herschend, and PARC as the other major amusement park chains in the States. Of course independent parks like Knoebels and Holiday World would still be players as well. But, the competition between these two perennial rivals would be over.
The questions of a possible merger are endless. What would a company that huge operate like? Would it really be better overall for both companies? Which management would run the merged company Cedar Fair’s, Six Flags’, or a combined team? The one thing that I do know is that the multi-park season pass would be amazing!