Cedar Fair - History - Dick Kinzel Era

Dick Kinzel Era

The first acquisition of the new Cedar Fair company came in 1992 when Cedar Fair bought Dorney Park from Harris Weinstein. Cedar Fair also bought Worlds of Fun from Hunt-Midwest in 1995. One of the biggest acquisitions came in 1997 when Cedar Fair bought Knott's Berry Farm from the Knott family. This marked the first time Cedar Fair operated a year-round amusement park. Several new water park properties named Knott's Soak City have opened around the southern California area since the acquisition which included Buena Park in 1999, Chula Vista in 2000 and Palm Springs in 2001. Michigan's Adventure in Muskegon, Michigan and was purchased for $28 million in 2001.

Cedar Fair opened their first indoor water park in November 2004, Castaway Bay. It replaced the former Radisson Hotel and is open year-round.

The biggest acquisitions have come recently starting in 2004 with Six Flags World of Adventure. Cedar Fair bought the park for $145 million and reverted its name back to Geauga Lake, the name the park used until its conversion by Six Flags in 2000. However with it being so close to Cedar Point, the park started losing attendance and various rides, leading to rumors of the park closing. On September 21, 2007, it was announced that Geauga Lake would close and only the connected water park would operate as Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom. Most of the rides at Geauga Lake, were sent to other Cedar Fair parks to operate. In 2011, the water parks name was shortened to just Wildwater Kingdom, removing the Geauga Lake prefix.

On May 22, 2006, Cedar Fair announced they had outbid competitors and intended to purchase all five parks in the Paramount Parks chain, including Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton and the management agreement of Bonfante Gardens. On June 30, 2006, Cedar Fair announced that it had completed its acquisition of Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation in a cash transaction valued at $1.24 billion USD. Shortly following the transfer of ownership, Cedar Fair began the process of integrating the two companies by eliminating the Paramount Parks corporate office in Charlotte, North Carolina and transferring all decision-making to Cedar Fair's offices in Sandusky, Ohio. With the purchase of the Paramount Parks, Cedar Fair changed its name to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.

The individual parks continued to operate under their Paramount names during the 2006 season, however Cedar Fair began removing the Paramount name and logo from the parks in January 2007. The names of the parks were changed back to their original pre-Paramount names (the Paramount's prefix was removed) with the Cedar Fair corporate logo added. They also changed Bonfante Gardens to Gilroy Gardens. Cedar Fair began removing references to Paramount Pictures since they did not have the licenses to use them. All these changes were made before the beginning of the 2007 season.

In December 2009 it was announced that Apollo Global Management would offer Cedar Fair $11.50 per share, a 28 percent premium over the market price, as part of a takeover plan which would also make Cedar Fair a private company. The deal included a cash payment of $635 million in addition to assuming Cedar Fair's debt of over $1.7 billion USD putting the total value of the transaction close to $2.4 billion USD. Cedar Fair planned to hold a shareholder meeting on March 16, 2010 to vote on the transaction but postponed the meeting to April 8, 2010, implying that two-thirds of the shareholder vote needed for approval wasn't yet secured. On April 6, 2010, the deal was terminated, and Cedar Fair paid $6.5 million to reimburse Apollo for expenses incurred from the proposed transaction. Cedar Fair also adopted a unitholder rights plan as a preventative measure to help protect unitholders in the event of any future hostile takeover.

On September 16, 2011, JMA Ventures, LLC entered into an agreement to purchase California's Great America from Cedar Fair and take ownership of the Gilroy Gardens management contract. The agreement required approval of Santa Clara's city council which was scheduled to vote on the matter on December 6, 2011. However, JMA cancelled its plans to purchase Great America and bowed out of the agreement.

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