Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FUNWORLD Follow-up: Cedar Fair's Big Purchase

Last year I interviewed Cedar Fair executives Dick Kinzel, Jack Falfas, and Peter Crage for an extensive three-part series on their company's purchase of the former Paramount Parks chain (you can read those stories here, here, and here). When I spoke with them, Kinzel & Co. were entering their first full year as sole owners of the former Paramount chain, which includes Kings Island in Ohio, Kings Dominion in Virginia, Carowinds in the Carolinas, Canada's Wonderland in Toronto, and Great America in California. They were still working through a lot of transitional issues and figuring out exactly what they had in their new properties, which represented a major, major addition to the Cedar Fair family of parks.

So I read with interest this week's Associated Press Q&A with Kinzel, published a little more than a year after my interview with the CEO. Some things haven't changed at all in the intervening time: He's still focused on paying down the company's rather sizable debt load it absorbed as part of the purchase; he reiterates Cedar Point probably won't be looking to break any coaster height records anytime soon; and revisits the idea of building hotels at some of Cedar Fair's new properties.

As for things that sound different in the past year, one of the things Kinzel mentioned to me was how his team was exploring ways Paramount utilized season passes, which Cedar Fair hasn't overtly emphasized in the past. This season it seems they're reexamining that model and looking for ways to maximize the season-pass potential.

He also speaks to the difficult decision to close Geauga Lake, and the interviewer asks Kinzel several questions about waterparks and their place in the Cedar Fair business plan.

Read the entire Q&A here.

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