Attendance increases at Cedar Fair

Posted June 3, 2006, 4:03A by Walt

By BRANDI BARHITE
brandibarhite@sanduskyregister.com

SANDUSKY - It's too soon to tell if lower admission and food prices will bring more people to Cedar Fair parks, but early indication is good.

Combined early-season attendance was up 2 percent, or 34,000 visits, through the first five months of this year.

Cedar Fair realizes the majority of its revenue in July and August. Only Castaway Bay in Sandusky and Knott's Berry Farm, near Los Angeles, are open year-round.

"At the majority of our parks, we lowered or held our admission prices and food prices," said Stacy Frole, director of investor relations for Cedar Fair. "Guests seem excited by it. So far, it's been well-received."

Cedar Fair reported Friday its combined revenues at its parks through the first five months of the year were unchanged from last year, though.

The partnership declined to break out attendance at its 12 properties, including Cedar Point in Sandusky.

The 2 percent, or $1.1 million, increase in in-park revenues was offset by a 5 percent, or $1.2 million, decrease in out-of-park revenues, including resort hotels.

Cedar Point's Castaway Bay had lower occupancy and average daily room rates during the early part of the year, compared to its inaugural year, which was better than expected.

However, since the opening of Cedar Point in May, both the occupancy and average daily room rates are comparable to the same time last year.

During the off-season, Cedar Fair knew it was facing increased competition from other area indoor waterparks, Frole said. But with packages that include the indoor waterpark and Cedar Point, Castaway Bay is profitable, Frole said.

Dick Kinzel, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in the press release Cedar Fair is pleased with early-season results and the initial response from guests to the new rides and attractions.

Cedar Point added the giant swing Skyhawk to its lineup.

Frole said Cedar Point and Geauga Lake had some rain during their opening month in May, but "we aren't going to use weather as an excuse." When the weather was nice, people were coming to the park, she said.

Last week, Cedar Fair announced it was acquiring the Paramount Parks from CBS Corporation for $1.24 billion. The acquisition is expected to close within the third quarter.

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