Sunday, July 3, 2022

Cedar Fair Sells California's Great America Land + Plans to Close Park


© California's Great America
Last week Cedar Fair announced that they have sold the land that California's Great America sits on and plans to "wind-down" the operation of the park and close it permanently.  As part of the sale of the land the company will immediately lease back the operation of the park.  The land was sold to Prologis Inc., a company who "acquires, develops and maintains the largest collection of high-quality logistics real estate in the world" - basically they develop and own warehouse operations.


The land was sold for $310 million, and if you recall Cedar Fair purchased the land under California's Great America in 2019 for $150 million.  Ironically, at that time Cedar Fair's CEO commented that the purchase "underscores Cedar Fair’s long-term commitment to California’s Great America."  That commitment appears to have lasted until the land more than doubled in value.


But, to be fair, the pandemic got in the way.  Cedar Fair's press release on the sale points out that the money from the land sale will be used for "reducing debt to achieve its $2 billion target, investing in high-return projects within its portfolio such as upgrading resort properties, and reinstating a sustainable unitholder distribution."  I think the restart of the distribution is key here, as the company has long sold itself to investors as a solid and reliable dividend payer - and obviously the dividend was stopped during the pandemic.  Slapping a bunch of cash against the debt they took on to survive the pandemic will allow them to restart the dividend in just a couple months from now.

 

© California's Great America
Cedar Fair put some additional details in their filing with the SEC about the sale.  The lease they have runs for six years, and has an optional 5 year extension.  So the maximum the park can operate is 11 more years.  However, Prologis can notify Cedar Fair they want the park closed with a 2 year notice.  Cedar Fair will pay $12.2 million in rent each year to operate the park, with the rent going up 2.5% each year.  Without knowing each parties' exact intentions it is still hard to believe that the park will operate beyond the initial 6 year lease, and potentially will cease operations well before that.

 

California's Great America was poised for a large expansion period that started back in 2017 when Cedar Fair started talking with local officials about adding large rides and making a big part of the park a shopping and dining area with no gates.  Things did get a bit suspect over the years as none of these big plans ever materialized, aside from the waterpark expansion, which in hindsight makes sense. We actually wrote a post back in 2016 that referenced a story of another developer wanting to raze the park for housing, so uncertainty has always been floating above the park.  Going back further, in 2011 Cedar Fair actually agreed to sell the park only to have the sale fall through - though that was very much tied to their unhappiness with the development of the giant stadium next door.

 

The sale of the park is only the land, Cedar Fair retains all rides and structures, so there is a possibility for some of the attractions to be relocated or sold to other operators.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Dorney Park 6.26.22 Park Update


© NewsPlusNotes
Time for a small update as Dorney Park's summer season kicks into full gear.  The park recently extended their hours starting July 1st running through August 7th, during this time the amusement park will be open from 10 am until 10 pm, which are now what I consider pre-pandemic "old school" hours that we haven't seen in quite a while.  Anecdotally, the park seems pretty darn busy this year so I'm guessing the daily attendance levels are working to make extended hours fiscally smart.  Either way, this means true night rides are back if you are interested - plus a nighttime parade during Grand Carnivale!


Up top I noticed the park is proudly flying a pride flag out front, nice move on their part!


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes
The park is starting preparations for Grand Carnivale, which will run July 23rd through August 7th this year.  Aside from many signs throughout the park advertising the awesome event, the park has also started to put up the main performance stage for Grand Carnivale - located on the back side of the Carousel on the Main Midway.  Dorney has the Grand Carnivale website updated for 2022, so if you want to start to plan your visit click on over.


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

Some early Halloween Haunt news - the facade / building that was created for CornStalkers has been torn down.  While perhaps it's being rebuilt, the dumpster collecting its remains looks to make it clear that it is gone, at least for now.  CornStalkers is still one of the most popular Haunts at the park, so I have to wonder if they are refreshing it for 2022 and in order to do so the house structure had to come down.  If the entire Haunt was going away, I would think they'd at least remove the CornStalkers sign out front!


© NewsPlusNotes

Dorney Park has done some great things in recent years to honor their history, and I pray that continues at the park with its new leadership.  One of the great surprises for 2022 was the recreation of the Alfundo House, which has been placed in back of the Zephyr train station.  


© NewsPlusNotes

The new Alfundo House is colorful and fun, just like Alfundo is.  It servers as a place for guests to meet and have a photo taken with Alfundo himself, but also Morgan, the character from the Steel Force logo.  There are also games and activities that guests can take part in.  It also obviously (and literally) gives Alfundo a residence within the park, which is great for guests to get to know him since he hasn't been around in quite a while.


The park used the original Alfundo House as their inspiration for the new location at the park.  The above is from one of the park's old brochures - explaining that the Alfundo house was an information center, ticket office and souvenir stand.  Hey Dorney, time to get a pos out there next to the new Alfundo House to sell some of that awesome merchandise you've had created!


© NewsPlusNotes
I know it's not a new ride or anything too thrilling, but it is great to see Dorney Park spend time and money on something that doesn't immediately turn a profit - instead honors the park's past and connects new generations with Alfundo.  Well.  Done.


© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

© NewsPlusNotes

I've noticed some new merchandise being added to the park's stores as items probably get off delayed shipping containers - lol.  These magnets are definitely new and definitely cool.  I've seen other Cedar Fair parks do similar designs with their rides for decoration and also souvenirs, and I love these Dorney versions.  The Steel Force and especially the Possessed ones are fantastic.  And the inclusion of Demon Drop is always nice as well!


© NewsPlusNotes

I admit I had a little flutter of excitment when I saw 'stuff' back behind Stinger Field... however I do believe these are items that will go out for Grand Carnivale.  I don't remember those fancy benches before, but they certainly fit with the theme.  Plus, there's a ton of other chairs and tables being brought out of storage for the event in this area as well.  Aww, shucks.


© NewsPlusNotes

 Otherwise, Stinger Field is just as green and vacant as ever!  Till next time!


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Canada's Wonderland Releases Info on Lazy Bear Lodge Restaurant


© Canada's Wonderland
Canada's Wonderland announced last year that they would be constructing a massive new restaurant within the theme park, but we have been waiting a long time to hear all the details of the project.  Wait no more, as the park has produced a new blog entry about Lazy Bear Lodge: Wood Fired Grille that includes concept art, construction photos and even a video tour.


The project is of interest to me since Cedar Fair is making it well known that they intend to keep spending capital dollars on food and beverage projects at the parks.  Lazy Bear Lodge is one of the largest ones we've seen the company do, and it just may set a precedent for the future of projects at the other larger parks in the chain.


© Canada's Wonderland
Lazy Bear Lodge will feature two levels and a large outdoor seating area as well (seen above), allowing for 500 people at a time.  The rustic lodge themed structure is built into a hill overlooking the Frontier Canada themed area, and that hill is how it easily has two levels of seating for guests.  There will also be a deck area overlooking rides including Yukon Striker.  There will be a gas firepit outside, and two fireplaces located inside the building and many black bear statues located around the seating areas.  All together, this is quite a lot of theming, a huge size, and numerous amenities for a regional theme park dining facility - impressive.


Two different meat smokers will be uitilized to create dishes such as "Lazy Bear Spice-Rubbed Wellington County Smoked Beef Brisket and Bradford Bay Smoked BBQ Chicken."  Other treats include "Loaded Ontario Potatoes, the Catch of the Day, and – at the restaurant’s indoor/outdoor bar - a new lineup of Canadian drinks including the classic Caesar."

 

Be sure to stop by Canada's Wonderland's blog entry for more photos and details on the Lazy Bear Lodge - it will open at the park later this summer.


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Six Flags Magic Mountain Tops Off Wonder Woman Flight of Courage


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Six Flags Magic Mountain has topped off their brand new coaster, the park's 20th, Wonder Woman Flight of Courage.  A near clone of the single-rail Rocky Mountain Construction coaster the Jersey Devil at Six Flags Great Adventure, Wonder Woman is a highly anticipated attraction at the Southern California theme park.


Featuring golden yellow single rail track and bright red supports, the coaster is fully decked out in honor of its Wonder Woman theme.  Crews had been making quick process on installing the ride at first, then things slowed down for a while, but now all the track and supports are in place.  The ride's highest point, seen above, was just installed and completes the layout.


© Six Flags Magic Mountain
Wonder Woman Flight of Courage stands 131 feet tall and features 3,300 feet of track.  The first drop is taken at a 87 degree angle, pushing trains to a top speed of 58 miles per hour.  The layout includes three inversions, a Raven Dive, Zero G Roll and a 180 degree Stall.


No official word just yet on when Wonder Woman Flight of Courage will open, aside from a general "summer 2022" note from Six Flags Magic Mountain.


Saturday, June 4, 2022

SeaWorld Orlando Confirms New First-Of-A-Kind Roller Coaster for 2023


© SeaWorld Orlando
I mean we all knew this was coming, but it's certainly nice to see SeaWorld Orlando make it official!  The theme park has confirmed the addition of their 7th roller coaster, coming in 2023.  They say it's a first of a kind, and from what we know it is... mostly?


From the track and supports that have arrived on site, the park is definitely adding another B&M roller coaster to their thrill arsenal.  The ride is a rumored "surf coaster" which goes back to patent filings done way back when.  From the latest construction photos it looks like the ride's site is totally clear and footer drilling may have commenced.


© SeaWorld Orlando
Probably most interesting is that the video clip that SeaWorld Orlando released, embedded below, does have some brief shots of the ride's trains.  They are two across, not 4 like a usual B&M, and the riders are... standing.


Now the B&M stand-up coasters stopped being built for a reason - my opinion - but I'm going to have faith that the manufacturer figured things out and maybe this new generation will be great?  Either way, the ride will be launched and will be easily visible from the theme park's main entrance.


Here's the video the park has released, with more details coming this summer, of course.



Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom Names New VP & GM


© Dorney Park
Dorney Park has announced the transitioning of the Vice President and General Manager role from Michael Fehnel to Jessica Naderman, who will be the first female in the park's 128 year history to hold this role.  Congratulations to Jessica!


Michael Fehnel is moving into a position with the corporate side of Cedar Fair, now serving as the company's Director of Business Intelligence.  He started at Dorney Park in 1992 and worked his way up to the highest position at the park, becoming VP & GM in 2013.  He also led Carowinds as their VP & GM for two years before returning to lead Dorney Park in 2016.


Jessica Naderman © Dorney Park
Jessica has had an equally impressive history with Cedar Fair, and the amusement industry in general.  She most previously was the Assistant General Manager of Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Galveston, but also held jobs at Kings Island, California's Great America, Valleyfair and outside of Cedar Fair for Herschend Entertainment and Palace Entertainment.


“I am thrilled to take on this new role and lead the talented team at Dorney Park,” Naderman said. “My passion for the industry will contribute to our mission of inspiring lasting connections and lifelong memories for all by delivering amazing experiences. I am honored to be Dorney Park’s first female general manager.”

 

While Jessica moves to the front lines of Dorney Park's operations, Mike Fehnel will move to a behind the scenes role.  He will "focus on evaluating and implementing strategic initiatives aimed at maximizing the operational performance of the company’s premium products such as Fast Lane."

 

“I am enthusiastic for this new opportunity to draw upon my past experience at Dorney Park and Carowinds to impact another area of our company,” said Fehnel. “Business Intelligence has become an important part of Cedar Fair, and I couldn’t be more excited to join that talented team.”