Kinzel to retire at end of 2007 season

Wednesday, 20 August 2003

Dick Kinzel, president and CEO of Cedar Fair, L.P., announced on Monday that he will retire at the end of the 2007 season, the Sandusky Register reported.

Kinzel, 63, is widely credited for turning Cedar Fair into an industry power and was the driving force behind Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster.

"Amusement parks have constantly been trying to outdo each other by having the highest and fastest rides, but things had really died down until Dick came around and gave it a rebirth," Steve Urbanowicz told the Register. "He set the bar again. He made all the parks better in the industry because they were shooting for the sky-high level."

"Dick Kinzel is one of the greatest guys out there," said Eric Minton told the Register. "I greatly admire him, greatly respect him and I am kind of in awe of him. The respect he brings out in people is one of his greatest qualities."

On Monday, Kinzel told the Register that the decision was made public recently, but had been discussed for at least a year.

"Dick has been the creative spirit of the place," John Hildebrandt, Cedar Point's vice president of marketing, told the Register. "He challenged the organization to go in different directions and saw the opportunity to develop the resort side of the park."

Hildebrandt told the Register that Kinzel allowed his managers to run the park and make decisions, but when he had an idea and wanted it implemented, "he stuck to it."

Under Kinzel's leadership, Cedar Fair acquired Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, Worlds of Fun, Knott's Berry Farm, and Michigan's Adventure. He cited company acquisitions as one of his crowning accomplishments.

Earlier this year, Kinzel was named chairman of the board of directors of Cedar Fair Management Co.

Brian Witherow, corporate director of investor relations, told the Register that companies typically make outgoing presidents chairmen so they can lead the company through the transition.

Applications will be taken internally and externally, with Kinzel making a recommendation to the six-member board.

Kinzel started his career at Cedar Point in 1972. After working his way to becoming director of park operations at the park, he was promoted to vice president and general manager of Valleyfair in 1978. He has been president and CEO of Cedar Fair since 1986.