Saturday, November 7, 2015

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 3rd Quarter 2015 Conference Call

This past quarter was another record for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, having posted financial results that have continued the streak of growth for the company.  As usual the company had an investor's conference call, where we find out some interesting tidbits - and this call was filled with them!  Here's what I noted.

• Through November 1st the company's revenue is a record $1.2 billion, up 7% from 2014.  This is paired with record levels of both attendance (23.6 million, up 1 million guests) and guest spending.

• Out of park revenues were up 10% through November 1st, in large part to a "overwhelmingly positive guest response" to the massive Hotel Breakers renovation at Cedar Point.

• Both Carowinds and Knott's Berry Farm are expected to report record levels of attendance for the 2015 season.

• Canada's Wonderland and Valleyfair have also contributed significant gains in attendance in 2015.

• Halloween continues to be a key part of the company's year, with them now building permanent haunted house structures and expanding the events with more family friendly daytime fun.  Cedar Fair believes they provide an experience and scale "no other regional amusement park or entertainment venue can match."

• The partnerships with Electronic Arts for two new licensed attractions in 2016 will help secure new "unique" guests, meaning a new audience that might not be visiting now.  If these are a success, Cedar Fair is ready to expand them to other parks "in the near future."

• The company's trial of a new mobile app that includes wait times and replaces a traditional physical season pass was a hit at Kings Island, and will be rolled out to other parks soon.

• FunPix will debut at the chain's 5 largest parks next year.  The program will allows guests to digitally share photos from their visits.

• Cedar Fair is continuing to work on the multimillion dollar sports complex located near Cedar Point, with an opening expected in late 2016.

• California's Great America will debut a new "winter event' in 2016, without much detail given.  They will leverage the knowledge gained from the success of Knott's Merry Farm in their attempt.  In the future the winter event could come to multiple parks, but not at all of them.

• CEO Matt Ouimet said he underestimated the amount that Carowinds could grow, with the 1st season of expansion putting the park over 2 million guests.  They think Carowinds could eventually grow to be as large as Kings Island or Canada's Wonderland in terms of attendance.  Carowinds needs a much larger season pass base to do that, and the water park expansion is aimed at growing that.  Both Valleyfair and California's Great America were also again mentioned as the focus parks for large growth.

• Knott's Berry Farm for the first time surpassed 4 million visitors, that's in all of its history.  The response to the changes at the park has been so good Cedar Fair now believe there is plenty of more room to grow.

• The Hotel Breakers renovation exceeded the company's expectations to a degree that they are looking more than ever at upgrading campgrounds at existing parks, adding them to new ones, and it sounds like crunching the numbers on an actual hotel at Carowinds.