The iconic Texas-based amusement park company Six Flags announced on Nov. 2, 2023, that it will merge with Cedar Fair, a world-leading amusement and water parks company.
At a time when industry giants like Disneyland face challenges maintaining the post-pandemic jump in revenue and attendance, the merge is an attempt to revitalize visitations to amusement parks. The new company will operate under the name of Six Flags and trade under the ticker symbol FUN on the NYSE.
According to a recent report by Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations and Management (AECOM), 2022 showed operators that the game changed since the pandemic. Audiences were eager to get out-of-home experiences after two years of restrictions and, while visitors are willing to pay more for these experiences, they are more demanding as well. “Consumers… demand more in terms of comfort, ease, quality and satisfaction. Overall tolerance for big crowds and long waits seems to have gone down,” according to the report.
“That resulted in some operators seeing 2022 revenues that exceeded 2019 levels, even though attendance often lagged slightly behind,” said John Robinett, senior vice president of AECOM’s Economics and Advisory practice. This new “sophisticated consumer” led operators to become more inventive and responsive to visitors’ needs to improve the guest experience.
In addition to more demanding guests, parks always dealt with seasonal attendance fluctuations, an issue that the merge could fix for Six Flags and Cedar Fair. With little to no geographic overlap, the new combined company will be able to collect revenues all year round from locations all across the country as well as international destinations in Mexico and Canada.
“Together, we will have an expanded and complementary portfolio of attractive assets and intellectual property to deliver engaging entertainment experiences for guests,” said Richard Zimmerman, president and chief executive officer of Cedar Fair. “The combination also creates an enhanced financial profile with strong cash flow generation to accelerate investments in our parks.”
After the merge, Zimmerman will take on the role of president and CEO of the combined company and Selim Bassoul, the current president and CEO of Six Flags will serve as Executive Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors. The board will consist of 12 directors, six from each amusement park company.