• Cedar Fair outlines FUNforward growth strategy

    Today, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company held an investor meeting in New York City, where they revealed their long-term growth strategy. This strategy is being called "FUNforward."

    Matt Ouimet, the newly named chief executive officer, credited their high-quality, well-maintained parks, as well as strong brand positioning, as the primary factors in their positive momentum. They have experienced two years of record attendance, as well as continued awards at two of their properties, Cedar Point and Kings Island.

    "We believe we offer our guests compelling value by providing wholesome, exciting, quality experiences with the greatest thrill rides and family attractions, which is an especially strong entertainment proposition in today's discerning consumer market," Ouimet stated.

    The components of the FUNforward strategy are as follows:

    • Enhanced guest experience - They want to continue to focus on providing a great value for the price paid at every single park, every single day, and are committed to adding more rides and attractions, including expanding evening event activities to extend the amount of time that people spend at their parks.
    • Improved consumer messaging and relationship management - They want to modernize sales and marketing so that they stand out and create an emotional connection that drives visitors to the parks.
    • Dynamic pricing and advance purchase commitments - They want to take their e-commerce solutions to the next level to compete with other sites in the amusement industry, while continuing to support and enhance season pass sales and up-sells.
    • Premium product offerings - They want to expand their current offers to include enhanced premium experiences which includes upgraded parking, dining, and fast lanes, to mention a few things.
    • Strategic alliance fees and promotional leverage - They want to expand promotional offerings and strategic alliances, without affecting the guest experience.
    • Capital and expense productivity - They want to focus their capital on high-return investment ventures and encourage manufacturers to find ways to lower costs while continuing to innovate, as well as start using undeveloped land to drive additional park attendance.

    What it all boils down to, is that the long term goal of Cedar Fair is to create a balance between thrill rides and family attractions at all of their properties with the hope that they can continue to drive their positive financial and attendance numbers.

    For more information on this story, please see PR Newswire.
    Comments 8 Comments
    1. Brian H -
      Should be interesting to see what they have in mind for their $90 million investments into the parks, with a "very strong rides and attractions menu." How are they doing this in our current economy with a decent amount of debt? Or did they get the Paramount purchase paid off?
    1. Chris H -
      Brian I'm pretty positive that every year they put money in to a capital expenditures budget from the profits. They haven't officially paid the Paramount purchase off.
    1. Rick B -
      That's correct. While they do have the highest debt of any company in the amusement industry, they also have the highest EBITDA (essentially how profitable the company is for investors - this shows their income ratio before accounting for interest on debt, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).

      While I haven't researched their terms specifically, you should note that most businesses don't expect to pay off an acquisition like that in five years or less. Most often they have a long term plan, much like how many people get home loans, to pay off that debt in 10 - 20 years in monthly, quarterly, or annual payments.

      I found the press release very exciting, as it brings to light many of the issues that I think Cedar Fair needed to improve upon.
      - Why do I have to go to a Cedar Fair park every year to renew my passes? I had to go to Dollywood my first time to get my picture taken, but after that I can do it online and only have to go back to the pass processing center every five years for an updated picture.
      - Why do I have to go to guest services to prebuy bucks to get my 10% discount in the park? Once again, at Dollywood, every register would scan my gold pass and I'd get my discount. They made it easy for me to spend money in the park.

      Their commitment to improving technology, guest experiences, and premium benefits are something that I can't wait to see.

      Anybody who lives relatively close to a Cedar Fair park should be excited about their commitment to expand on undeveloped land. That's especially exciting for me with my home park at Carowinds. That confirms my suspicion that I expect to see the park 50 - 75% bigger in the next 5 - 10 years, or at least a noticeable start in that direction.

      I was also excited to see them mention a balance between thrill rides and family attractions. I went to half a dozen Cedar Fair parks this year, and most of them are sorely lacking in flat rides and other attractions. Most of my friends don't like coasters, and that's what they think of about Cedar Fair parks. They'd rather go to Disney for a family experience. It is exciting to see Cedar Fair still remember us thrill seekers but also work to increase their family attractions and rides, therefore increasing their profits, and allowing them to bring us some exciting new coasters.
    1. Wes -
      Cedar Fair will do well with a balanced investment strategy, however I hope they don't end up going to the extreme of Shapiro. Thomas Town's for everyone! No more coasters!
    1. Rick B -
      ^That's certainly a viable concern since Ouimet came from Disney. My kids were starting to get bored with Disney after the initial novelty wore off.

      I'm hoping that the board will keep that from happening and go with a nice balance that is good for everyone.
    1. Ryan F -
      The news about undeveloped land makes me angry that CF just sold the giant empty lot next to Wonderland.
    1. amnesiac -
      Their new "Thrills Connect" marketing strategy looks very impressive so far!
    1. Chris H -
      NewsPlusNotes: Cedar Fair Is Looking Fun-Forward

      Just a few highlights for the future of Cedar Fair.

      Franklin and Woodstock coming to the parks this year!