New ride investments to drive Cedar Fair profits for 2018, says Zimmerman
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New ride investments to drive Cedar Fair profits for 2018, says Zimmerman

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Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman is leaning on new ride developments to buoy the company's profits in 2018 following a successful first quarter.

For the first three months of the year, the company saw revenues increase by US$7m (€5.8m, £5.1m) – up to US$55m (€45.8m, £40.4m) for the quarter. Driven by increases in both attendance and average in-park guest per capita spending, Zimmerman credited the results to new ride investments.

"We always feel large-scale attractions such as coasters drive urgency," he said, speaking during an earnings call.

"The appeal of new attractions is that they expand our audience, enhance repeatability and improve value perceptions."

New additions to the operator's parks for 2018 include Cedar Point's Steel Vengeance, the world's first hyper-hybrid roller coaster, which breaks 15 rollercoaster world records, including those for tallest, fastest, steepest and inversion count for a hybrid roller coaster. Manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction, the 205ft-tall (62m) ride is set to open to the public this week (5 May).

Knott's Berry Farm is also introducing a new ride, which will be the first dive coaster to open on the US's west coast when it debuts on 1 June. Called HangTime, the beach-themed ride by Gerstlauer will suspend riders 15 stories over a "disappearing track", provide floating sensations through negative g-stall loops.

At California's Great America a first-of-its-kind single rail roller coaster – the Rocky Mountain Construction-designed RailBlazer – will offer riders a 90-degree drop, three inversions, and intense dynamic rotations made possible by the ride's single-rail design and inline seating when it opens later this year.

The last of the four new coaster additions for Cedar Fair this year is Twisted Timber at Kings Dominion – a steel coaster also designed by Rock Mountain Construction – which opened to the public on 24 March.

"We have an aggressive capital programme for 2018 with our four new rollercoasters, refreshed and expanded children's areas, new and upgraded restaurants and catering facilities and expanded resort facilities with waterfront hotel rooms and luxury RV sites," said Zimmerman.

"Steel Vengeance and Hang Time are expected to be significant contributors in 2018. Both Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm will also have second-year benefits from the major water park expansions we introduced last year. Our investments that proved very successful in 2017 and should continue to be attendance drivers in 2018."

Although recording an overall loss of US$83m (€69m, £61m) for the traditionally quiet first quarter due to the seasonality of many Cedar Fair parks, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) were in line with 2017's figures.

"As we head into our core operating season, we remain enthusiastic about our plans, progress and potential - driven by our 2018 initiatives and the highly talented associates at our parks," said Zimmerman.

"Many of our investments have already debuted with exceptional responses, giving us great confidence in the consumer demand for our products."

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Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman is leaning on new ride developments to buoy the company's profits in 2018 following a successful first quarter.
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