Photo of Schlitterbahn with Texas financial alert graphic

Despite major financial struggles in 2020, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company is planning an equally significant investment in its theme parks across the United States. The company announced in August of 2021 that it plans to spend “between $175-$200 million for the 2022 season to improve the guest experience at our parks.”

The company owns a number of popular theme parks around the country, such as Cedar Point and Kings Island in Ohio, Kings Dominion in Virginia, and two main Texas locations for the Schlitterbahn franchise.

According to Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman, the move towards such a significant investment was made “based on positive recent trends and our renewed confidence in the recovery of the business.”

As per the company’s 2020-year end review, the COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on the company’s finances. Cedar Fair Entertainment’s 2020 net revenues totaled $182 million — a staggering drop from the $1.47 billion in revenues earned during the 2019 season.

Projected improvements will include significant new construction

The planned improvements to the company’s properties will reportedly focus on park infrastructure and aesthetics, which is likely to result in upgraded park attractions and food offerings.

According to Zimmerman, the company’s main investments will “include ongoing renovations at the Castaway Bay and Sawmill Creek resort properties at Cedar Point, as well as the addition of new rides, attractions, and guest amenities across our parks in the US and Canada.”

Additionally, the company claims that its consumer research “continues to reinforce the significance of food and beverage (F&B) and the high-quality menu options Cedar Fair parks offer as essential components of delivering a memorable park experience,” and is planning on aggressively expanding its offerings across all of its parks. Notably, this expansion will reportedly lead to the construction of several “chef-inspired” restaurants.

The investment plans include a number of improvements to popular parks:

  • Kings Dominion: upgrading the “Safari Village” area of the park and building a new roller coaster in 2022. The new construction will include a “signature restaurant” and “immersive retail location.”
  • Kings Island: construction to support “limited time events” celebrating the park’s upcoming 50th anniversary, including “enhanced” restaurants.
  • Cedar Point: the introduction of two reimagined resorts to the park in the form of the reintroduced Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark hotel and Sawmill Creek by Cedar Point Resorts, both scheduled to open before the 2022 summer season. Work on the resorts will include the renovation of guest rooms, restaurant options, and “enhanced amenities.”
  • Canada’s Wonderland: major “expansion of culinary offerings” centred around the introduction of a lodge-restaurant (boasted as “the park’s largest dining facility to date”) and a new International Food Festival in 2022. 
  • Knott’s Berry Farm: major upgrades and renovation to the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, the park’s “300+ room onsite resort.”
  • Schlitterbahn Waterparks: improvements for 2022 reportedly will “focus on infrastructure and aesthetics throughout the park, including upgraded food locations and attractions.” The company’s press release noted that Cedar Fair was continuing to put “millions” into the parks in order to “continue to improve the overall guest experience, while maintaining the unique character and iconic Schlitterbahn tradition that guests have treasured for more than 40 years.”

Though somewhat surprising given the resurgence of the pandemic and the COVID-19 Delta variant in the late summer, Cedar Fair’s second-quarter report was optimistic and pointed towards renewed success that likely influenced its investments — and could point to even further enhancements and construction in the future. 

According to the report, the company noted strong attendance and guest spending trends through July 2021, claiming that “most parks” were operating at full capacity — an especially important detail considering the company feels it is interning the “historically busiest period of the year.”  Additionally, the company noted that season pass sales were strong through the early summer with sales in 2021 “at record levels.”