Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Hope They Feel Stupid

Cedar Fair is now admitting that the bids they received for most of the former Geauga Lake land were too low, and they won't be selling it any time soon. The 11 acre bit with the former hotel on it still has it's sale moving forward to some non-profit.

Could they have made any more poor decisions regarding this property? For real, it's time for Kinzel and his buddies to go. I'm so thankful that I ditched my 200+ units of Cedar Fair earlier this year.

I'm starting to worry about my home park, Dorney, because when this company fully tanks we'll all have to be concerned about what will happen to the individual properties at that point.

Oh, and Cedar Fair is also admitting that even they do not really know who bought the Big Dipper. But they had to approve the sale... OMG what is their problem!?

Sorry for being so negative but they're really pushing it these days with their incompetence.


Chris said...

I agree that the Geauga Lake situation is unfortunate, but I still find it hard to villanize (no pun intended) Kinzel and his team. I don't blame them for not operating the park at a loss. They will likely hold on to the real estate until the market swings upward. The biggest mistake was purchasing the park to begin with. Enthusiasts seem to be hating on Cedar Fair much the same way they did when Six Flags closed Astroworld.

NewsPlusNotes said...

My current distaste for Kinzel and his gang stems from a lot more than Geauga Lake.

Like you said, his real mistake was even buying that sinking ship... and my displeasure is how they handled the closing - *not* that they closed it.

I think he needs to leave, really, because he seems totally stuck in his way of doing things... I mean look at how long it took them to take the corporate sponsorship path?

He just doesn't seem nearly 'with it' enough to operate the parks successfully in today's lightning fast changing market. And that worries me.

Add that on to what I think was a bad decision to buy the former Paramount Parks (they only wanted KI, and that was for Kinzel's pride since he passed on the park so many years ago and regretted it) - when Paramount said "no" to selling the parks individually CF should have said no thanks and been done with it.

Then look at the recent Season Pass problems - it taking them three years to work out the system and eventually going back to what Paramount did anyway!

Capital funds are scarce now, look at KD and Carowinds having another year of Geauga leftovers as 'new' Cap Ex - the company cannot spend their normal amount on Cap Ex AND pay their Dividends w/o borrowing more money. That is not good.

I just think his prime is over and it's time to go. I honestly don't understand why unit holders - many of whom depend on that distribution to live - aren't more concerned/taking action. If things continue like this they *will* break loan covenants and have to stop the Distribution. What then?

As I said in my post the #1 reason I care is because DP is my home park and I do love it - and that park's future is of great interest to me.

Anonymous said...

This will really hurt their budget. They are spending to tear it out and down.... and they can't even make ends meet to make enough dough to make it pay off. Talk about a mistake. I'm still going with the whole "they hated geauga lake and wanted it to fail" theory. I think they will feel the long run pain of actually making this decision.

Its time for Dick to leave, we need someone who cares for the people/public and for the individual parks themselves. Its not about profit but pleasing people...if you do that the profit will come garenteed. I'm not sure how much they care anymore.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Kinzel is far too conservative for this market and needs to retire as soon as possible before he does serious damage. I have respect for the man for everything he has down prior to 2005 and wish he would leave his legacy at that.

Chris said...

I agree with most of the other comments here. Dick's fatal flaw is that he ran his parks the same way-- analogous to the Borg. Resistance is futile! It is very doubtful that Cedar Fair tried to profitably run Geauga Lake as an amusement park. Their actions suggest that the plan from the get go was to differentiate the park from their flagship- in other words- they knew it was not viable to maintain two AMUSEMENT parks within such a short distance.

Operating a water park instead of an amusement park made more sense for the company since they had no idea how to operate two amusement parks in such a way that they offer a different product. Disney has 4 parks in one location and each is distinct enough so that each is its own experience. The Cedar Fair of 5 years ago-- you could expect a very standardized, consistant product. Parks looked the same and felt the same.

CF could have easily made GL more of an animal park- but that was not consistant with their core competencies.

You're seeing a newer CF these days that is willing to acknowledge their mistakes. You see increased theming (ala Haunt and the snake coasters), more realistic marketing strategies (selling off branding rights), branching off into areas they were previously not familiar with (such as the operation of ST:E for the past year or so) and perhaps a new found attraction towards the family demographic. It's a far cry from the CF that was unwilling to take chances; unwilling to pursue anything unfamiliar.

NewsPlusNotes said...

Regarding seeing a "newer" CF I agree with some of your points but don't think the company is quite there yet - and to me that's because of current upper management.

Please do not think I'm picking apart what you wrote CRPenney (i really appreciate your comments on NPN!) but..

They only blew up the Haunt at all the parks because they purchased Knott's and had the knowledge of how to do it right in their hands ... and even then it took them 5-6 years for that knowledge to spread. Also, Halloween in general - for almost any industry that can stretch into using it - is a huge revenue producer.

I remember shopping FOR an amusement park for their Halloween event in the late 90s and you had a couple stores to find a few products/props at, and one big mail order book - now everything from dollar stores to target have huge aisles dedicated to the season. My point: CF basically stayed with the trend of Halloween growing big, they were not in front of it.

As for theming coasters, well, Diamondback is no more themed than Mamba was at WOF 10 years ago, aside from maybe a prettier station? Even Knott's, a true theme park's newer coasters are underthemed for what was at the park before CF ownership. Kinzel has said (twice, I think) in interviews he'd rather spend an extra million dollars on more steel track for a coaster than theming. Fatal flaw IMO.

CF's corporate sponsorship activities have only come after Six Flags is concluding their 2nd year making it a focus, and bringing in an estimated $56 million while doing so (this year alone). CF is sorely behind the curve again on that one.

I think CF is actually still moving away from anything they do not know. They never built even one more indoor waterpark after CP's. They are a big part of why ST:TE is closing. And they refused to try to keep the animals at GL.

CF has certainly made progress, but I still think they are the kid running behind the rest of the gang trying to catch up. I can't really think of anything they've done thats 'leading edge' aside from break coaster record after coaster record.

And again this is not a personal attack CRPenney! :)

Chris said...

Thank you for the nice words. I actually think we're in agreement (my last message sounded a bit more pro CF than I intended), and that CF is absolutely behind the industry in adopting the successful programs that the others have pioneered. I only believe CF deserves credit in that they are now seemingly willing to acknowledge their tired strategy needs to change in order for the company to remain relevant/viable. If I were a shareholder, I would have dumped the stock a long time ago (perhaps timed with the acquisition of GL, but hindsight is always 20/20).

CF has a LONG way to go before they are even up to the level as Six Flags (at least in terms of operations, atmosphere, etc).

I agree that Kinzel's remarks were way off track for what the company needs to do, however, it sure looks like he ate his words in the end. Pony Express is a very well themed family coaster, however, that does not forgive CF for shuttering a fun house, the soap box derby, and a dark ride in recent years. Additionally, as of a week ago less than 1/4 of the animatronics were working on their log flume yet that ride had one of the longest lines in the park while Xcellerator (and the other major coasters sans Ghostrider, for that matter) was a walk on.

While better than previous years, the "new" CF has made several mistakes, imho. Failing to renew the licenses with Paramount was rather silly- nobody outside of the coaster community is going to "connect" to a ride called Nighthawk; but at least they are keeping the Nickolodeon intellectual capital.

At the end of the day I'm taking CF's modest attempt at theming new rides as a signal that their tired strategy has changed. Will parks such as Knott's (or even Dorney) ever be what they once were? Absolutely not. However, perhaps recent acquisitions (such as KD) will not have to suffer such a long dry spell such as Knott's did before the company realizes that perhaps its clientele aren't as excited about 300 foot steel coasters, wide cement sidewalks, and a lack of shade as the rest of the top brass is.

Regarding the "borg" mentality I referenced in my last message- when I was working in the amusement industry, I had a coworker who used to work at SFWoA and spent a month with CF after the transition. The new management insisted on referring to the park under the SF regime as "Worlds of a Dumpster". That's the cocky borg mentality that I'd like to think is becoming a bit more humbled. Sort of ironic the company removed the borg theming from Carowinds, isn't it?