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Corporate Park News



    (11/13/2023) Six Flags Releases Q3 2023 Earnings Report Data (MORE...)
    (11/12/2023) The Walt Disney Company Releases Q4 and Full Year 2023 Earnings Report (MORE...)
    (11/9/2023) Cedar Fair Posts Q3 2023 Earnings Report
    (11/9/2023) SeaWorld Entertainment Posts Q3 2023 Earnings Report (MORE...)
    (11/7/2023) Screamscape Breaks Down the Details about the Cedar Fair / Six Flags Merger (MORE...)
    (11/4/2023) Cedar Fair and Six Flags To Merge Into Mega-Sized Theme Park Chain (MORE...)



icon_STOPCedar Fair - (11/9/2023) Amid the fuss over the announced merger of Cedar Fair and Six Flags, Cedar Fair did manage to release their Q3 2023 earnings report last week. The highlights mention attendance for the quarter was 12.4 million, which was a 1% increase compared to Q3 2022. In park PerCap spending was $61.65, down 2% from Q3 2022, but out-of-park revenue was up 2% to $99 million when compared to the same quarter the year prior. Net income was $215 million, down $118 million from Q3 2022, however it seems this is mostly to blame on a $155 million gain that happened in 2022 when Cedar Fair sold off the land for California’s Great America.


     (11/7/2023) For all the details that we know about the Cedar Fair / Six Flags merger, please jump over to Blooloop to read my official report there. In addition to the facts, it includes some of my own analysis about the setup of the merger, and what it could mean for the parks in select markets. 
    (11/4/2023) The theme park industry was rocked to the core this past week when on November 1st it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that Six Flags and Cedar Fair were in talks to potentially merge into a behemoth theme park chain. By the following morning the two companies had confirmed that not only had they been in talks, but both of their groups had worked out all the terms of the deal and unanimously voted in favor of the merger. All that is left to make it official is to get regulatory approval as well as approval from the Six Flags stockholders. They did note that Six Flags biggest stockholder who holds over 13% of that chain had already submitted a letter confirming that they would vote in support of the merger.
    So except for the crossing of the “t”s and the dotting of the “i”s, this is essentially a done deal at this point. The new company will work under the “Six Flags” brand name, however the stock will trade under Cedar Fair’s “FUN” stock ticker code. Combining Cedar Fair’s 15 park gates with Six Flags’ 27 park gates will give the new combined “Six Flags” company a grand total of 42 park gates, along with 9 resort properties located across the US, Canada and Mexico. (See the Property Map)
    Sitting down and doing my own research on the reach of each company, I was surprised to see that there was actually very little conflict in the merger of the two’s various markets, with the worst being the super competitive Southern California market. In So Cal they will have the thrill ride capital Six Flags Magic Mountain and family favorite Knott’s Berry Farm located just 60 miles apart, but the two attractions also are popular with some very different demographics and feature very different attraction lineups.
    Like the old ads used to say, “Go Big! Go Six Flags”!
    So will they rename all the parks under the Six Flags banner or will we see many of Cedar Fair parks retain their individual brands, some of which are just as old and well known as the Six Flags brand. Then there is the Knott’s brand that could be considered an IP of its very own that could also be applied to perhaps rebrand a few select properties that may be getting lost in the shuffle. And what about those smaller underperforming parks? Could we see a few closures or sell-offs? In general… what could the future hold as these two giants merge and will there be bigger conflicts?
    Probably a few, and I’ve got some big ideas about where some of the first bumps in the road may occur, but I’ll discuss that along with a full breakdown of the deal in my next update, coming very very soon.
    (9/1/2023) Cedar Fair announced this morning that Matt Ouimet has departed the company’s Board of Directors to pursue other personal interests. Ouimet joined Cedar Fair as company President in 2011, and then took over the CEO spot in 2012 before stepping down and handing the reins to Richard Zimmerman in late 2017.
    Prior to Cedar Fair, Ouimet spent about 17 years with The Walt Disney Company, including acting as President of the Disneyland Resort as well as the Disney Cruise Line before leaving Disney entirely in 2006.
    (8/5/2023) Cedar Fair released their Q2 2023 earnings report the other day, which covers the three month period up to June 25, 2023, along with an investor conference call. The statements on the call start off by mentioning that the demand at parks impacted by “disruptive weather” early on in Q2 “strengthened as weather conditions improved” and essentially they were able to get back to normal summer operations once mother nature calmed down. This resulted in net revenues being down 2% from the same quarter the year before where the chain performed well, but in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, Q2 2023 was actually up 11% from Q2 2019. Performance trends for the rest of the quarter and leading into Q3 2023 “are improving as we head into the second half of the year when we historically generate two-thirds of our annual attendance and revenues and more than 80% of our adjusted EBITDA. ”
    The weather in Q2 2023 had an impact on the performance levels at the park’s California and North-Eastern parks, including a number of stand-alone waterparks where cooler temperatures had a strong impact. Meanwhile air-quality issues due to the Canadian Wildfires also had an effect on attendance at several parks, especially at Canada’s Wonderland. On the flip-side they reported that attendance at the chain’s six mid-west parks was actually up 7% for the first half of 2023, compared to the same time period the year before.
    Across the chain however guest per-cap spending was reported to be up 4% this year and a new more friendly mobile app is in development to launch in a few parks later this year, and chain wide in Spring 2024 that will improve upon mobile payment options. Cedar Fair also noted that Group Sales is recovering well after essentially being decimated by the pandemic for the past few years, with an 11% improvement seen during the first half of 2023 compared to 2022.
    Going forward for the rest of the season they are taking actions to drive revenues and attendance higher which depending on the market could take the form of increased marketing promotions for single-day and season pass offerings. It also sounds like they are looking at ways to make small cost reductions, including from the labor budget. (Note: while I can’t comment on how every park is handling their labor issues right now, I have read several reader comments sent my way who felt their visit to a Cedar Fair park was impacted by poor staffing issues this season.)
    As for the rest of the hard numbers for Q2 2023, Cedar Fair reported attendance of 7.4 million guests (down from 7.8 in 2022) and net revenues of $501 million (down from $509 million in 2022). Guest spending is up compared to 2022, and interestingly enough it was only 1% due to admission and 3% for merchandise, the big increase was from the chain’s food and beverage operations which brought in a 9% increase.
    Going forward Cedar Fair also mentioned the imminent launch of 2024 season pass sales. Since the 2023 season pass program has fallen short of their goals, they claim they will focus on “starting out with more attractive pricing in key markets to build demand earlier in the cycle.” After specific volume thresholds have been reached, it sounds like the prices will increase through various levels. We can expect to see the initial pricing launch very soon, along with the announcements of a number of new for 2024 attractions.
    Another interesting subject was brought up in the Q&A session where they mention that season pass sales for 2023 are down at the California parks: Knott’s Berry Farm and California’s Great America. Cedar Fair will play it off as being likely weather related, and mention past trends they hope will kick-in where guests in those markets may skip on a 2023 but become quick buyers of 2024 passes instead.
    A quick note from Screamscape: Cedar Fair claimed that attendance at these two parks dropped 17% during Q2 due to “monsoon-like conditions” on those markets, but also a 9% drop in season pass sales. What Cedar Fair doesn’t mention is how the pending long-distance closure announced for California’s Great America as well as the extended downtime issues (since 2022) for two major roller coasters at Knott’s (Montezooma’s Revenge and Xcelerator) may be impacting the daily attendance numbers as well as the season pass sales issues in those markets. As the roller coaster issues at Knott’s may not resolve themselves until sometime in 2024, I do wonder if we may see the season pass issues there last longer than Cedar Fair anticipates, unless they’re planning on launching some deeply discounted promotions.
    (7/8/2023) Cedar Fair will release the company’s 2023 Q2 performance results on Aug. 3rd, 2023, with the earnings call slated for 10am. You can listen in to the call online at the Cedar Fair investment site, just look under the Events and Presentations tab.
    For those new to these, the Q2 results are usually a key indicator as to how their parks are expected to perform for the year, revealing how they have performed for the first six months of the year, but more importantly showing how things have been going during the first part of the busy summer season. Typically it is after these results are analyzed that many park chains will finalize and green-light their various capital expansion plans for the upcoming season, based on how successful each park is, or based on where they think it has room for improvement.
    (5/6/2023) Cedar Fair’s Q1 2023 earnings report did show some declines, which they placed the blame somewhat on weather issues. During that quarter most of their parks are closed anyway, but cold and wet weather did impact their California parks, though the addition of Carowinds and Kings Dominion starting limited year-round operation schedules I’m sure helped to off-set this somewhat, as those regions did experience a milder winter and some warmer spring weather at times.
    Overall Net Revenue was posted at $85 million with 1.1 million in attendance in Q1 2023, down from $99 million and 1.5 million during the same quarter in 2022. With new attractions set to open at several parks, they are looking forward to an excellent performance increase moving into the next quarter.
    (4/9/23) Cedar Fair has confirmed that they will announce their Q12023 earning report on May 4th, with an earning call to take place at 10am. To listen in visit the investor website and look under the Investor Information tab for Events and Presentations on the day.
    (2/18/2023) Cedar Fair’s latest financial report shows that the company does now appear to have recovered quite well from the pandemic years. Cedar Fair’s report shows that the company had achieved a record Net Revenue of $1.8 billion during 2022, up from the $1.3 billion achieved in 2021. This also includes a record adjusted EBITDA earnings of $552 million for the year, said to be up 70% from the year before.
    Interestingly enough, this has been done with attendance levels still sitting slightly below the chain’s 2019 pre-pandemic numbers, reflecting higher guest spending trends and PerCap figures. Total chain-wide attendance for 2022 was said to be 26.9 million guests, compared to 27.9 million in 2019.
    In a pure bit of speculation, I’d have to wonder if the the primary cause of the slightly lower attendance levels may have been caused by the Chaperone Policy put into effect at select parks during the second half of the year at select parks, which did not allow guests below age 18 to visit to the park on their own without a proper 21+ age chaperone. This would have had the biggest effect at Knott’s Berry Farm, where the policy was put into effect in mid-summer 2022, and only just rescinded a few weeks ago.
    On the annual pass side of things, Cedar Fair reported selling 3.2 million season passes to their various theme parks during 2022.


icon_STOPDisney - (11/12/2023) The Walt Disney Company has released their Q4 2023 and Full Year results report. While the stock has been somewhat hammered by investors over the year, the company has confirmed that the Parks and Experiences division has achieved double-digit growth not only for Q4, but for the entire year. Regardless of how the rest of the company’s divisions are going, the theme park division saw income rise 31% in Q4 compared to the same time-frame last year, and up 23% for the entire year over the previous year’s performance.
    While there are still ongoing issues with the performance of the company’s film, streaming and ESPN divisions, Iger announced that moving forward they are moving away from the cost savings focus they’ve had since the pandemic, and will be pushing more into a period of growth for the company. This will include a focus on “achieving significant and sustained profitability” to their streaming platforms, building up ESPN, improving both the quality and costs involved with their studio projects and “Turbocharging growth in our Experiences business”.
    In terms of the company’s theme parks, we know the best way to grow is typically through the addition of significant capital expansion projects. Since Iger has returned to the helm at Disney, he has been teasing a plan to spend upwards of $60 BILLION (yes, with a B) on their Parks and Experiences division over the next decade. We already know that new ships are already in the works for the Disney Cruise Line that will launch over the next three years. Disney has already begun to heavily in the parks over the past several years. This has resulted in large-scale expansions to most of their parks, with more expected to open within the next year or so. This has included two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, a Frozen themed land in Hong Kong with a second under construction in Paris, the Pandora themed world in Florida, Avengers Campus additions in California, Hong Kong and Paris, a Zootopia land opening soon in Shanghai along with major new stand-alone attractions such as Tron: Lightcycle/Run (WDW), two Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway attractions (WDW & DL), Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (WDW), and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (WDW).
    It should be interesting to see how an even bigger focus on growth at the theme parks would take form, and if this could possibly result in the long-anticipated addition of a 5th major theme park for Walt Disney World that could serve as the biggest way to grow attendance.
    (10/29/2023) According to a Disney Executive in charge of Disney’s live entertainment, parades and nighttime spectaculars, “Drones are the next thing” we should expect to see coming to the Disney park’s after dark shows. During a panel discussion about the new season of “Behind the Attractions” coming to Disney+ next week, Steven Davidson mentioned Drones, saying “They’re kind of a new thing. We’re doing a lot of work in that. So all I’m going to say is, ‘There’s more to come.’”
    Thus far Disney has already produced a couple of night shows at the Disneyland Paris theme parks that features drones lighting up the night sky in 2022 and 2023. As far as the US parks show, I believe the only times drones have been used was during an early limited time holiday show put on in Florida at Disney Springs in 2016.
    If I had to guess, I’d say we could probably expect to see them arrive at Disneyland first, where the locals who live around the park have been known to complain about the noise and debris leftover from that park’s fireworks shows, and adding Drones to the sky there would appease some of those complaints, especially at a time when the company is looking to win local approval to expand those park and parking infrastructure for the forseeable future. Florida’s more tricky and eletrical-prone weather issues might make Drone performances more of a seasonal thing.
    (10/1/2023) It seems Disney filed for a few unique patents over the past week, some theme park related and some not, though in the midsts of this list, which included a a patent to program 2-legged walking animatronics to have stylized walking gaits, there was an interesting one for a new ride concept.
    Or rather, a new feature that could be used with various ride concepts. The idea was to create a method of transferring a ride passenger compartment or vehicle between different ride tracks or systems through the use “robotic tool changers”. In the concept art one of these appears to be a large KUKA style robotic arm able to lift a pair of seats from one rotating platform and place it onto a track system.
    The idea is interesting, though this is just for a patent and as such, we may never actually see it put to use anywhere. Still, the idea would be great for an attraction as a way to break riders away from the concept of thinking they know the path a ride will take, only to be grabbed and placed upon a new unknown path.
    (9/20/2023) Disney has announced that they plan on spending about $60 billion on their theme parks and experiences over the next decade. According to a statement from Bob Iger (CEO), “We’re incredibly mindful of the financial underpinning of the company, the need to continue to grow in terms of bottom line, the need to invest wisely so that we’re increasing the returns on invested capital, and the need to maintain a balance sheet, for a variety of reasons.” “The company is able to absorb those costs and continue to grow the bottom line and look expansively at how we return value and capital to our shareholders.”
    The impressive $60 billion figure is said to be about twice the amount that Disney spent over the previous decade. Keep in mind that this sum will be spread out amongst several different parks and resorts, across different continents. While we don’t know exactly how it will be allocated, a previous comment made by Iger back in May mentioned that they planned to spend about $17 billion alone on the Walt Disney World resort over the next decade.
    Josh D’Amaro (Chairman of Disney’s Parks) also commented on that Disney had “a bold vision for the future of our parks” and that there were plans to add more characters and franchises to them, many of which have only just begun to be tapped, and some have not yet been explored in the parks at all. For current examples of bringing new franchises into the parks they made note of the new Frozen and Zootopia themed lands preparing to open. As for things yet to be explored, he made specific mention of animated film Coco and the Marvel themed world of Wakanda as seen in the Black Panthers films.
    (8/10/2023) Disney released their latest quarterly report (Q3 2023) which is somewhat of a mixed bag. The bottom line is Disney is struggling a bit in various areas but despite it all, overall revenue saw 4% growth.
    On the down side of thing is the studio division that lacked the number of huge hits they normally are known for this quarter. Streaming may still be trying to find a foothold, as Disney confirmed they are planning on increasing prices for Disney+ and Hulu very soon. Revenue for the traditional TV network biz also saw a 7% decline, which caused Iger to suggest that perhaps they might shed them in the future.
    On the Theme Park Resorts and Cruises side of things, the company did show increased profits… a 13% increase all together, though they did confirm that attendance at Walt Disney World is down this year, but has been offset by attendance boosts in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
    The one really weird thing that was announced was that Disney has licensed out the ESPN brand to Penn Entertainment for $1.5 billion for Penn to rebrand an existing online sports betting service into “ESPN Bet”. To date, this would be Disney’s first venture into gambling of any kind, as even the Disney Cruise Line vessels do not feature a casino like other cruise ships do. Now, Disney isn’t going to own the online betting venture in any way, but they are willing to put one of their brands on the cover for the first time. This makes me wonder if ESPN itself may be something Disney could be willing to shed in the future, if the price offered was right, and perhaps why they are now willing to license out the brand right now.
    (7/15/2023) While Bob Iger is still in the middle of his return deal to serve as CEO of Disney, it seems the board has now decided to extend his contract an additional two years, which will now keep Bob Iger in the top slot until 2026. Back when Iger first returned, he said he wasn’t planning on staying any longer than the initial two-year run, in which time he was to help prepare a successor to take over as CEO.
    While Iger has been busy fixing up all the leaks in the house of the Mouse, and now dealing with the issue of DeSantis in Florida, one might assume that there just hasn't been any time to successfully find and begin grooming a successor to the empire.
    (2/12/2023) Bob Iger made some interesting comments the other day about the future of the Disney theme parks. For starters, it sounds like Iger is good with the current idea of keeping the Disney parks at reduced capacity in exchange for increasing the overall park experience by preventing the overcrowding issues that would come with removing the reservation system. At the same time, Iger also mentioned not wanting to continue the previous strategy of ever increasing ticket prices as a method of trimming attendance levels. 
    So how will Disney increase theme park profits if they don’t open the gates wide to increase attendance and aren’t planning on major price increases at this time? Really the only way would be to increase the capacity limits of the parks themselves by expanding them with not only new attractions, but new lands. By increasing the physical footprint of the park for guests, they will be able to then increase attendance levels without causing the guest experience to suffer. The addition of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands at DIsneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios parks as well as the Pandora: The World of AVATAR land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park were sited as key examples. So it should be interesting to see just what grand plans Disney has in mind in order to expand their theme parks further. Of course, at some point, perhaps the idea of adding entirety new theme parks may also enter the conversation.    


Five Star Parks & Attractions - (5/26/2023) Five Star Parks & Attractions is growing again. According to this update the company who is one of the nation’s leading operators of family entertainment centers has now purchased two “Fun Land” locations in Virginia (Fredericksburg & Fairfax) following the purchase of Scene75 Entertainment earlier this month. With the addition of the two Fun Land properties, Five Star Parks & Attractions portfolio has grown to feature 27 different attractions across 13 different states. Other highlight attractions from Five Star includes Malibu Jack’s, Celebration Station, LaserPort, SpeedZone, The Track, Xtreme Racing centers and more.


Herschend Family Entertainment - (4/8/23) One of the big business stories to come from the pandemic was the purchase of the iconic Vancouver Aquarium in 2021 by Herschend Family Entertainment. While Herschend is normally more known for their major theme parks, such as Dollywood, Silver Dollar City or Kentucky Kingdom, they also own and operate a number of smaller regional attractions such as the Pink Adventure Tours, various dinner theaters (Dolly Parton’s Stampede, Pirates Voyage, Showboat Branson Belle), as well as the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey and Newport Aquarium in KY. In what was described as a once in the lifetime opportunity, the opportunity to purchase and save the world renown Vancouver Aquarium took place in 2021.
    The pandemic just rocked the Vancouver Aquarium to the core after shutting down operations completely in early 2020 while still needing to take care of the over 65,000 animals contained within on a daily basis. A great new article at Blooloop goes over the history of the Vancouver Aquarium and how this not-for-profit facility suddenly found itself on the brink of extinction. 


Meow Wolf - (7/4/2023) The latest Meow Wolf location is set to open in Grapevine, Texas on July 14th. Each location has a unique name and theme, with the Grapevine location being called, “The Real Unreal”. Follow the link for some sneak preview photos of this latest location.
    (3/29/23) Dealing with gateways and portals to other worlds is nothing new for the creatives at Meow Wolf, but now they’re working on enabling their fans to get a taste of one of Meow Wolf’s worlds through VR. According to this report, Meow Wolf is working with Mighty Coconut to create ‘Walkabout Mini Golf: Meow Wolf”, an VR mini-golf course world based on the same Numina world guests to their Denver “Convergence Station” location get to experience.  


Merlin Entertainment - (5/20/2023) Along with the opening of the new World of Jumanji themed land at Chessington in the UK and a pair of Jumanji attractions at Gardaland in Italy, Merlin Entertainment has reveals that they are working with Sony on plans to build more attractions, ride and lands based on Sony-owned IP. Apparently this is not just limited to Sony’s film vault, as they are also looking into ideas that could be based on Sony’s music, TV, anime and video-game franchises as well.
    The opening of Universal’s Nintendo video game themed land and attractions in Japan and Hollywood is something of a wake-up call, along with PortAventura in Spain preparing to open a new dark/coaster attraction themed around the Sony Playstation’s popular Uncharted game series which spawned a film adaptation last year.
    Of course this isn’t the first time Merlin and Sony have worked together, as you may recall that Heide Park in Germany opened an amazing looking Ghostbusters dark ride in 2017, and with the GhostBusters IP revived by the latest film, it would only be fitting if more attractions based on this IP were in development.
    (3/10/2023) Would you believe that Merlin is moving forward to build a second Peppa Pig Theme Park in the US? But it isn’t going where you think it might!
    Unlike how the first Peppa Pig Theme Park was built right next to the existing Legoland Florida theme park, Merlin’s plans for a sequel will now see them add a Peppa Pig Theme Park as a stand-alone project coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. More specifically, the plan is to build it in the “North Richland Hills” area, with work to start sometime next year. Much like the Florida park, this will be a small stand-alone park experience meant for smaller kids.
    Interestingly enough, this seems like a move from Merlin to try and capitalize on the marker and get their park open before Universal Studios can open their proposed new mini-park in Frisco. Unlike the Universal proposal, which will see a small part built in the northern side of the greater Dallas area, the Richland Hills area closer to the Fort Worth area, and a short 18 to 20 minute drive from Arlington, long-time home to Six Flags over Texas and maybe just 15 minutes away from the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
    It should be interesting to see what kind of impact this news has on Six Flags. Especiallyin terms of what kind of steps or expanded development plans they may try to put into place in order to retain their long-time dominance as the premier theme park in the area once they are not the only game in town any longer.


Palace Entertainment - (7/9/2023) Shortly after Kennywood announced that the park would be closed on Tuesdays for the rest of the summer, we had heard this wasn’t just an issue with Kennywood, but an issue we would also soon see happen at other Palace Entertainment parks very soon. Looking at the posted operational schedules for other parks in the system, that time has now come.
    Adventureland will begin closing on Tuesdays for the rest of the summer starting on July 18, and closed on all weekdays starting Aug. 21st.
    Dutch Wonderland will be closed on Tuesdays for the rest of the summer starting July 11, with the exception of July 18, when the park will be closed on Wednesday, July 19th instead.
    Idlewild & Soakzone will be closed on Wednesdays for the rest of the summer starting on July 12.
    Lake Compounce will be closed one weekday a week for the rest of the summer starting this week, but the day will change from week to week. It will start with Wednesday July 12, then Tuesday July 18, then Monday July 24, go back to Tuesday Aug 1st, Wed. Aug 9th, then back to Tuesday Aug 15, before going to weekend only operations.
    Sandcastle is now closed on Mondays for the rest of the Summer season.
    Splish Splash is now closed on Tuesdays for the rest of July.
    Storyland is now closed on Tuesdays for the rest of the Summer season.
    Water Country is now closed on Mondays for the rest of the Summer season.

    Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe will be closed on Mondays for the rest of the season.
So far it looks like the California properties (Raging Waters & Castle Park) have been unaffected, but just to be sure, check your local attraction’s posted schedule before planning a trip to visit.


Puy du Fou - (3/27/23) According to a Chinese news article, Hangzhouj (capital of China’s Zhejiang province) signed several contracts with various tourism projects. One of which was a 5 billion yuan investment contract with Puy du Fou that will include the construction of “a new riverside theme park in the city.” The government had been previously dropping hints about signing a deal to build a “world-class tourism park” and this was it.
    Puy du Fou has already launched a teaser website for this latest park project.
    (1/12/2023) Puy du Fou continues to expand their portfolio of unique attraction experiences.  the theme parks. In addition to two theme park experiences in Europe (France and Spain) the group is also working on stand-alone concepts in China and America, and now they’re looking to bring their unique entertainment style to the rails of Europe with the creation of “Le Grand Tour”.
    Puy du Fou’s “Le Grand Tour” experience will take travelers on a “6-day, 5-night Grand Tour journey across the railways of France starting in Summer 2023. From start to finish guests will travel about 4,000 km (2485.5 miles) in an authentic “Belle Epoque” train to experience a journey filled with history, wonder, legends and a few surprises along the way.
    (5/17/22) I hadn’t seen this before, but a tweet from Blooloop shares a look at concept art for the the “407: Gateway to Adventure” project, otherwise known as the gateway exit to Pigeon Forge where Puy du Fou is supposed to build a new stand-alone immersive attraction that will feature an authentic Cherokee story of the First World War. The artwork shows off a large building on the right with a rocky facade out front along with a large statue of what we assume to be a Cherokee soldier holding the American flag. According to the description, this and the surrounding complex of buildings will represent just phase 1 of the project.

    (5/7/22) According to a local news report the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has “inked a deal” with Puy du Fou to develop a “spectacular immersive show” to be installed as part of their 200-acre development project on I-40’s exit 407. This matches up with a previous report that Puy du Fou was looking at this location amongst others in Tennessee for a future project.
(This is also the same overall project area that will include the world’s largest Buc-ee’s location.)
    According to the report the tribal council that approved $75 million to move forward with Phase 1 of the site development as they seek out other world-class attractions that will appeal to the anticipated crowds (6.7 million visitors in the first year after phase 1 is complete). While the timeline is still fluid, they are hoping that this will all be ready before the end of 2024.
    The creative team at Puy du Fou has been able to create fascinating attractions and shows based on actual historic events and timelines and according to a statement from the Tribal Council, “We are excited to take the first steps towards developing this world-class attraction that will help support our nation economically while creating a new platform to share dimensions of Cherokee history many have never heard.”
    The early description of the Tennessee site is not going to be as massive as the full Puy du Fou theme park in France, Instead Puy du Fou will create an “immersive walk-through show inspired by the journeys of Cherokee Indians who served in World War I” that should be a “patriotic and moving journey for the entire family.”
    As North America is considered “the new world” in terms of the overall history of the planet, the location is also rich with a variety of historic events and cultures that would serve as an excellent landing point for the Puy du Fou team who is rumored to be looking to expand into new locations across the world.


icon_STOPSeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (11/9/2023) SeaWorld Entertainment reported their Q3 2023 quarter earnings this week, with the chain bringing in 7.1 million guests during the quarter, down 2.8% from Q3 2022. Total Revenue dropped 3% to $548.2 million, Net income was down 8.2% to $123.6 million. Total guest PerCap spending was down 0.2% to $76.90, from a 1.6% decrease in admissions PerCap, while in-park spending was up 1.6%.
    Overall attendance for the first 9 months of 2023 was 16.6 million guests across the chain, which was down 2.1% from the first 9 months of 2022. The rest of the 9-month numbers also follow the trend of the Q3 downs with small declines, with the exception of PerCap spending was up 1.9% over the first 9 months. SeaWorld also reported buying back 78,750 shares in the company for $3.9 million.
    (8/3/2023) While SeaWorld Entertainment has not released their Q2 2023 report yet, they have a conference call to take place on August 8th at 9am, which will likely be just after the report has been released. That said, the company did make an announcement on August 1st with some “preliminary” results, to help set expectations.
    While they are still crunching the numbers, the preliminary attendance for the quarter ending June 30th, 2023 was 6.1 million, down from 6.3 million from the same quarter in 2022. According to the statement, they are placing the blame for the small attendance drop on “adverse weather” conditions that affected several of their major markets.
    Total revenue is expected to be between $494 to $497 million, down from a reported $504.8 million in Q2 2022, which of course they are blaming on the attendance drop, which was blamed on weather. Net Income is expected to be between $85 to $88 million, down from $116.6 million in Q2 2022, and so on with other similar statistics. The end result is they seem to be trying to release the bad news now, ahead of the final report coming next week.
    (5/15/2023) SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment posted their Q1 2023 earning report last week. Despite a small attendance slip for the quarter compared to same time-period the year before that was blamed on bad weather, the chain reported that this was their 8th consecutive quarter of record financial results. Total revenue for Q1 2023 was said to be $293.3 million, up 8.4% over Q1 2022. Adjusted EBITDA was listed as $72.4 million, an increase of 9.8% from Q1 2022. With several new ride openings taking place, including Pipeline in Orlando this past week, DarKoaster in Williamsburg, to be followed by Arctic Rescue in San Diego and Catapult Falls in Texas, plus the opening of the new SeaWorld Abu Dhabi theme park later this month, the company is looking forward to even better results next quarter.
    (3/5/2023)  According to the Q4 and 2022 Year End report, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment reported some fantastic numbers. Overall attendance for Q4 2022 was said to be 4.9 million guests, and while this was a very small decrease from Q4 2021, the number is actually higher than the company’s pre-pandemic Q4 2019 attendance figure. Full year (2022) attendance was reported as 21.9 million guests across the chain, up 1.7 million from 2021 and only down .7 million from the year end figure from 2019.
    CEO Marc Swanson commented that attendance and other numbers would have been even higher in Q4 if it wasn’t for the impact of Hurricane Ian & Nicole, along with some other “adverse weather impacts”.
    The chain reported a Q4 record revenue of $390.5 million, net income of $49 million for Q4 and 2022 year end revenue of $1.7 billion (up over 2021 and 2019) and net income at a record high $291.2 million.
    It seems pretty clear that not only has the chain managed to reach pre-pandemic strength levels, but it also seems to finally be recovering from the “Blackfish” effect that plagued the company for many years before the pandemic A strategic switch and heavy investment into adding new rides and waterslides to all of the chain’s parks year-after-year seems to have helped with the turn around. This is expected to continue into the 2023 season as a new wave of family and thrill rides prepares to open at virtually every park across the chain over the coming weeks.


icon_STOPSix Flags
- (11/13/2023) Six Flags released their Q3 2023 earning report last week, which I think many overlooked at the time, as we were still reeling from the news that Six Flags and Cedar Fair were going to merge into one giant company. So how did Six Flags do this past quarter?
    Compared to the same quarter in the previous year, Total Revenue was up 8% to $547 million, however Net Income was down 3% to just $111 million. Attendance however was up a whopping 16% for Q3, serving 9.3 million guests compared to just 8 million in 2022. However, while attendance may have risen, guest spending PerCaps were down 8% to $56.37 per guests, compared to $60.96 last year, where the biggest loss seemed to come from admissions PerCaps which was down 12%. Of course, if you followed the constantly changing annual pass price offers that the company experimented with starting last year, this drop makes a little more sense.
    In terms of the overall numbers for the first 9-months of 2023, Total Revnue was  up 5%, Net income was down 33%, and attendance across the chain was up 9% to 17.9 million guests. While I didn’t see an exact figure, they did mention that year-to-date Season Pass Sales for 2023 was much higher than what they say during the same time period in 2022.
    Unlike during previous quarter releases, Six Flag actually canceled their previously planned conference call, which probably had a lot to do with the fact that the merger of Six Flags and Cedar Fair was announced later that same day.
    (11/7/2023) For all the details that we know about the Cedar Fair / Six Flags merger, please jump over to Blooloop to read my official report there. In addition to the facts, it includes some of my own analysis about the setup of the merger, and what it could mean for the parks in select markets.
    (11/4/2023) The theme park industry was rocked to the core this past week when on November 1st it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that Six Flags and Cedar Fair were in talks to potentially merge into a behemoth theme park chain. By the following morning the two companies had confirmed that not only had they been in talks, but both of their groups had worked out all the terms of the deal and unanimously voted in favor of the merger. All that is left to make it official is to get regulatory approval as well as approval from the Six Flags stockholders. They did note that Six Flags biggest stockholder who holds over 13% of that chain had already submitted a letter confirming that they would vote in support of the merger.
    So except for the crossing of the “t”s and the dotting of the “i”s, this is essentially a done deal at this point. The new company will work under the “Six Flags” brand name, however the stock will trade under Cedar Fair’s “FUN” stock ticker code. Combining Cedar Fair’s 15 park gates with Six Flags’ 27 park gates will give the new combined “Six Flags” company a grand total of 42 park gates, along with 9 resort properties located across the US, Canada and Mexico. (See the Property Map)
    Sitting down and doing my own research on the reach of each company, I was surprised to see that there was actually very little conflict in the merger of the two’s various markets, with the worst being the super competitive Southern California market. In So Cal they will have the thrill ride capital Six Flags Magic Mountain and family favorite Knott’s Berry Farm located just 60 miles apart, but the two attractions also are popular with some very different demographics and feature very different attraction lineups.


    Like the old ads used to say, “Go Big! Go Six Flags”!
    So will they rename all the parks under the Six Flags banner or will we see many of Cedar Fair parks retain their individual brands, some of which are just as old and well known as the Six Flags brand. Then there is the Knott’s brand that could be considered an IP of its very own that could also be applied to perhaps rebrand a few select properties that may be getting lost in the shuffle. And what about those smaller underperforming parks? Could we see a few closures or sell-offs? In general… what could the future hold as these two giants merge and will there be bigger conflicts?
    Probably a few, and I’ve got some big ideas about where some of the first bumps in the road may occur, but I’ll discuss that along with a full breakdown of the deal in my next update, coming very very soon.
    (10/20/2023) Six Flags has announced that the company will release their Q3 2023 earnings report on the morning of Thursday, November 9th, followed by an investor conference at 7am Central Time. You can listen in through the investor website ( or by calling 833-629-0614.
    Based on the performance of Six Flags’ stock price (SIX) I’m predicting that this will be a very interesting call, as the current management strategy is likely to be put under the microscope by the investors unless there are some very solid numbers to be reported. How so? 
    While stock prices are always in flux, as of this writing, over the past 24 hours SIX has fallen 7.255% to $18.92 a share, which is the lowest the stock has been in the past year. In the past five years, the only time SIX stock was valued lower than it is right now was a small brief plunge in September 2022, and before that was during the start of the pandemic when it dropped to $10.68 in March 2020. Keep in mind that 2023 was a year where we saw Six Flags essentially take a year-off from purchasing high-budget new capital expansion attractions while attempting to finish year-two of CEO Selim Basoul’s new business plan for the theme park chain. While park fans were not impressed with how the first year went down, many investors chose to show their support of the plan. It should be interesting to see how things play out this quarter as the end of summer and start of the fall season financial numbers surface and reveal what is working and what is not.
    (10/1/2023) Some new information has come to light regarding the introduction of Six Flags’ new Speedy Parking feature. I don’t know what I was thinking of previously, but at the time I just assumed this was an attempt by Six Flags to become more efficient by eliminating the idea of long lines at the parking toll plaza.
    Silly me for thinking that Six Flags would invest in this concept for just efficiency, because it seems that Six Flags is going to be charging you a little more to use this service. (Nevermind that the concept allows for human-free operation, thus saving them money by eliminating the need extra staff at the toll plaza…) Also in true Six Flags fashion, the price of Speedy Parking will vary depending on which Six Flags park you visit, just like general parking.
    For example, according to the Six Flags over Georgia website, General Parking is $30, while Speedy Parking will cost you $35 and of course there is also Speedy Preferred Parking for $40.
    Meanwhile Six Flags Magic Mountain and Discovery Kingdom is $40 for general parking, $45 for Speedy Parking, $50 for Speedy Preferred Parking. Oh, and SFMM also offers Speedy Front Gate Parking for $55 and Valet Parking for $65.
    Right now it looks like many of the Six Flags parks have now launched Speedy Parking as an option: with the service now being offered at:
    Six Flags America
    Six Flags Magic Mountain
    Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
    Six Flags New England
    Six Flags over Georgia
    Six Flags St. Louis
    Six Flags over Texas
    Six Flags Fiesta Texas
    The Great Escape
    Frontier City
Coming Soon to:
    Six Flags Great America, Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Darien Lake.
    (9/28/2023) Select Six Flags theme parks are rolling out something they are calling “Speedy Parking”. The new service is expected to let guests fly into the parking lot faster through the use of a special automated service lane. The service may be similar to something you might have used at a major airport in recent years, where you pre-pay for the parking and provide the system with your license plate. Assuming this works like the system I used at the Atlanta airport parking garage, you simply pull up to the gate where camera read and recognize your car’s plate, and match it to your pre-paid online pass. This all happens in just a couple of seconds, with the gate quickly opening up to allow you to pass.
    Speedy Pass can be pre-paid via the Six Flags Mobile App, the Six Flags website, and can be paid for as an add-on to your Six Flags Season Pass for the entire season. Passholders much purchase Speedy Parking from their home park, but the parking service can be used at any Six Flags theme park, provided they offer the service.
    I don’t know all the parks that are currently rolling it out, but it looks like it will first be added to the chain’s two California theme parks first: Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
    (8/13/2023) Following the latest earnings call from Six Flags, more internal shake ups with company management have been discovered. Right at the bottom of this document the company announced on August 11, 2023 that their Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Aimee Williams-Ramey, has departed the company and will take on simply a consulting duty with Six Flags over the next 10 months. This news comes as Williams-Ramey only just started this new position a little over a year ago.
    In other news that is unconfirmed, I’ve heard a possible rumor that yet another Park President has departed the company from one of the West coast parks. Thus far I’ve been unable to verify this, but if you know more please do let me know.
    (8/12/2023) Six Flags has released their Q2 2023 earning report, which lists Revenue of $444 million (up 2%), Net Income of $21 million (down 55%), and adjusted EBITDA of $161 million (up 5%). Attendance for the quarter was listed as 7.1 million, up 6% from Q2 2022. Guest spending numbers however show that total guest spending PerCaps numbers have dropped 5%, with a 7% drop in admissions PerCaps. The drop in admissions spending however reflects the chain’s drop in pricing on season passes in the quarter, which was likely a reaction to guests pushback to the chain’s previous attempts at more expensive season pass pricing.
    Comments from Six Flags CEO, Selim Bassoul, state that after a year of transition under the new business plan, “our strategy is taking hold” and “we are seeing a return to a solid growth trajectory in attendance, revenue and earnings.” Like Cedar Fair, the company did struggle with weather issues in many markets at the start of the quarter, but claim that the launch of several special events at the parks has been successful with guests, and they are looking forward to great results are we move into the later half of the year that will feature many more events such as Oktoberfest Food Festivals, Kids Boo Fest, Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park.
    For 2024, Six Flags states that they “will be investing heavily in new marketable attractions, to further elevate our position as a leader in thrills.” While these announcements have yet to be made, Screamscape has heard some early rumblings that this may indeed be true. According to Screamscape sources, it does sound like Six Flags has been opening their checkbook once again to make several new capital additions in various markets.  Of course, this is just rumor so far, so we will have to wait and see what gets announced in the coming weeks.
    (6/3/2023) Six Flags park fans… check out the website for your local park as it seems that some kind of new replacement for the fortner “Membership” program is now launching under the name “Six Flags Plus”. In common Six Flags practice, the price will vary depending on which park you sign up at, however the Six Flags Plus plans will get you “Access to all 27 Six Flags Theme Parks and Water Parks” and includes parking and discounts on food and merchandise.
    Price wise, this isn’t a bad deal at all, though it does lock you into an initial 12-month term, after which it appears to switch over to a month-to-month payment plan that you can then cancel at any time. Six Flags appears to be pricing this as an option between their Platinum Passes and the more expensive Diamond Pass. For an example, Six Flags over Georgia has Gold Passes for $60, Platinum for $75, and Diamond for $140, but at a price of just $8.99 a month for 12 months, the Six Flags Plus plan would cost you $107.88 over the first 12 months. On the higher end of the spectrum, the Six Flags Plus plan at Six Flags Magic Mountain is $12.99 a month, which comes out to $155.88 after the first 12 months.

    (5/10/2023) Six Flags has posted their Q1 2023 earning report and in a bit of a surprise, the company has posted record revenue for a first quarter report, despite also showing another decline in attendance at the chain. According to the summary, Six Flags’s revenue for the quarter was $142 million, up $4 million or 3% compared to the same quarter in 2022.
    The increase was said to be driven mostly by higher guest spending, but would have been even better if not for a drop in attendance as bad weather hampered the parks that were open in California and Texas at that time of year.
    Six Flags CEO, Selim Bassoul, is still sticking to his guns regarding the future direction for the company, claiming that “our new strategy and o ur new culture are beginning to take hold.” They are also looking forward to more improvements in Q2, claiming that season pass sales have been accelerating, though that probably has more to do with the chain lowering the prices on them once again.
    The end result was that Six Flags did beat the performance levels estimated by market trackers, so the stock price rose as investors bought in. In other new, comments made by Six Flags during a conference call also indicated that Six Flags would be testing out a ‘dynamic pricing program’ in the parks starting in July, that would allow them to raise the ticket price on busy days, and lower it on slow days. This is similar to how Disney has been pricing their tickets for the past few years.
    (3/12/2023) Simply Wall St has posted an interesting take on an issue they see taking place within Six Flags at the moment. In short, they say that Six Flags Entertainment “could be struggling to allocate capital”. Reviewing financial metrics for various companies, they say that there are two trends they often see as tell-tale signs of a business that is “potentially in decline”. This would be a “return of capital employed (ROCE) that’s declining, and a base of capital employed that also declining.”
    Breaking that down into more plain english, they say we’re seeing Six Flags spending similar levels of capital on the business over the past several years, and yet the return the company is seeing on that capital, pre-tax, has been in decline. Currently they say Six Flags ROCE is 17%, which is well above the average 10% generated by much of the Hospitality industry, however in comparison to prior performance figures, Six Flags previously was earning 22% just five years ago. “Since returns are falling and the business has the same amount of assets employed, this can suggest it's a mature business that hasn't had much growth in the last five years.”
    Investors have noticed this trend, and they note that the average stock price has also declined by 51% from where it was 5-years ago as well. As such, they are recommending to investors to look elsewhere “Unless there is a shift to a more positive trajectory in these metrics”.
    (7/24/22) Unlike how most chains essentially own all their respective theme parks, Six Flags has evolved into a different kind of beast. For example, Six Flags began leasing a number of parks from their respective owners under various Management Deals, especially in the past 5 years or so with the additions of properties like Six Flags Darien Lake, Frontier City and various water parks. The status of each property is shown in the chain’s annual report, but it is the ownership situation around of the chain’s first two theme parks that will be coming into focus very quickly.
    Six Flags over Texas is actually owned by a Texas Limited Partnership group, and Six Flags Entertainment itself currently owns 54% of that group, with the remainder said to be owned by Six Flags Over Texas Fund, Ltd (a private-equity and asset management firm). On the horizon Six Flags Entertainment Corporation will have a rare option to purchase the remaining 46% ownership stake for the Six Flags over Texas property when the current lease expires in 2028.


    Six Flags over Georgia also currently exists in a similar relationship with a set of partners in Georgia for that particular property, and a window to purchase 100% ownership in that park will also open when that lease expires in 2027.
    It is hard to think that corporate Six Flags would pass up this opportunity to finally take complete ownership of these two important properties, but they will also have to budget ahead a decent amount of cash to fund these particular transactions as well, which could very well affect the budgets of all things to come over the next several years.
    On a related note, it is also mentioned that Six Flags Mexico has a “permit agreement” with the Federal District of Mexico City to operate that particular park which will expire in 2024. Given the success that Six Flags Mexico has seen compared to other parks in the nation, I would be surprised if this deal wasn’t extended when the time comes.


icon_STOPUniversal Studios - (10/28/2023) As I previously wondered… is Wall Street growing weary of theme park stocks? As all the major chains in North America prepared to present their latest quarterly earnings report, I noted that the stock prices seem to have been falling for everyone, with the exception of Comcast, parent company of Universal Studios. Strangely enough, following the release a mostly exceptional quarterly report on Thursday, CNBC reports that Comcast stock has now fallen about 8% in value.
    All this with the news that the studio’s Oppenheimer had become the highest-grossing biopic of all time, earning $900 million in box-office and that the Peacock streaming service adding 4 million subscribers and earned $830 million in revenue (up 64%) on top of the stellar performance figures from the Universal branded theme parks that saw “the highest quarterly profit on record for the division”. Looking things over, the only down-side to Comcast’s report I noticed were losses in subscribers to Comcast’s high-speed broadband and cable-TV services.
    (10/27/2023) Comcast, parent company to Universal Studios, released their Q3 2023 earnings report this week and reported an ‘adjusted earnings of $98.3 billion’ for their theme parks division, which is a 20% increase over their previous record. According to the report, this is due to higher revenue generated at Universal’s theme parks around the world, aided by the removal of various COVID-19 restrictions at many of their international locations. As for the domestic theme parks, while revenue dropped slightly at Universal Orlando compared to last year, the numbers are still well above pre-pandemic levels. The Hollywood park on the other hand however saw great returns aided by the successful launch of the park’s new Super Nintendo World land.
    (10/21/2023) Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights continues to expand into new worlds… and I’m not just talking about the upcoming year-round location coming to Las Vegas. It has now been confirmed that an official “Halloween Horror Nights VR Haunted Experience” themed to Scarecrow: The Reaping has come to the Meta Horizon Worlds platform. The new VR experience just dropped into existence on Friday the 13th. Last night a second Universal themed title has also been added to Meta Horizon Worlds called Universal Monsters Arena.
    Oh, and if you happen to find yourself in the Orlando International Airport, seek out an official Halloween Horror Nights “scare zone” currently set up inside Terminal B, disguised as a HHN gift shop. Or is it the other way around? You tell me…

    (7/28/2023) Comcast released their Q2 2023 earnings report yesterday which included the company’s theme park performance results for the quarter ending on June 30th, 2023. In short, the Universal theme parks had great numbers to report, aided by the studio’s launch of the animated “The Super Mario Bros. Movie”, which generated plenty of excitement and visits to the Super Nintendo World lands at Universal Studios Hollywood (new for 2023) and the original land that opened at Universal Studios Japan in 2021.
    According to Comcast CEO, Brian Roberts, “Second quarter operational and financial performance was excellent and included a double-digit increase in Adjusted EPS and significant free cash flow generation”. “We generated the best quarterly Adjusted EBITDA ever at the Theme Parks, and had the second-highest grossing animated film of all time in worldwide box office revenue with Super Mario Bros.” 
    Q2 2023 results show an increase of 7.5% to $2.2 billion adjusted EBITDA at the company, with the theme park division showing an increase of 32%, showing growth across the board at the company’s Orlando, Hollywood, Japan and Beijing theme parks. In particular, the launch of the Super Nintendo World area at the Hollywood park resulted in that park’s best quarterly adjusted EBITDA numbers on record for all time.
    With a whole new theme park under construction in Orlando that will include the biggest Super Nintendo World land of them all, they clearly are anticipating that to be a big hit when it opens in 2025. While they company has yet to reveal the final design of their new mini park coming to Texas in 2026, the success of the Nintendo product at the existing parks does make me wonder if they may include that IP in Texas as well.

    (7/11/2023) According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal has hired Molly Murphy to take over the role of President of Universal Creative. Murphy is coming to Universal after serving at Gensler for the past 17 years, the last five years were spent as the Managing Director of the firms New York office.
    Gensler is a an architecture / design firm with projects around the globe, and if Gensler sounds familiar, the news report from Texas announced that Gensler was selected by Universal to work on the design of Universal’s new Texas theme park resort.




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