Category Archives: Cedar Fair

Cedar Fair teams up with MTV Games for “Rock Band™, Live”

Cedar Fair Press Release

SANDUSKY, OHIO, March 2, 2010 – Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a publicly traded leader in regional amusement parks, water parks, vacation resorts and entertainment, has announced a summer-long, multi-dimensional partnership with MTV Games, a part of Viacom’s MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B) and the leading publisher of interactive music gaming worldwide.

An all-new interactive experience, called “Rock Band™, Live,” will pile into the tour bus and travel across nine Cedar Fair parks this summer. In addition, a summer-long version of the show will blast the speakers at Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto and the Company’s flagship park, Cedar Point in Sandusky.

The high-energy, concert-like stage show features talented singers from across North America. But the cast will be missing one key piece of the show – YOU!

Prior to each show, guests will have the unique opportunity to engage and play the Rock Band™ video game and compete against their “band mates.” Guests will compete playing the guitar, bass and drums gaming accessories. The rockers with the top score will be invited on stage during the live show to play Rock Band songs (on Rock Band instruments) along with the live singers. (The winners will play on a gaming accessory with the singers.)
The show will feature numerous songs straight from the Rock Band video games ranging from classic to contemporary rock.

“We’re extremely excited to merge the popular Rock Band video game with a unique, interactive live show for our guests this summer,” said Jack Falfas, chief operating officer for Cedar Fair. “Rock Band is a pop culture phenomenon and we know families have enjoyed playing the game together at home. But now it’s time for them to take it to the next level – on stage at one of our parks in front of a live audience.”

Christina Glorioso, vice president of marketing partnerships for MTV Games added, “We are very excited for Rock Band to contribute to the fun at Cedar Fair parks this summer. Music fans of all ages will have an opportunity to either rock out themselves or sit back and enjoy watching other park-goers transform into rock stars on stage!”

The “Rock Band™, Live” tour will kick off Memorial Day weekend at Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania and will travel to the Company’s other parks throughout the summer. The summer-long shows at Canada’s Wonderland and Cedar Point will kick off in May and June, respectively.

“Rock Band™, Live” is a collaboration between Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, MTV Games and RWS & Associates, a full service entertainment firm that provides custom-produced world-class events and live shows worldwide.

RWS will hold private auditions for the touring show on Thursday, March 4 at Ripley Grier Studios, 520 8th Ave (16th Floor) between 36th and 37th Streets (Press Room: 17B) in New York City. Auditions are open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Media representatives are invited to attend to learn more about the show, view story boards and concepts and speak with show representatives. For more information, or to inquire about an interview opportunity, please call 212.391.1795, ext. 26.

A workshop preview of the show will be held in April for invited guests and media representatives. Details on this event will be released at a later date.

About MTV Networks
MTV Networks, a division of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is one of the world’s leading creators of entertainment content, with brands that engage and connect diverse audiences across television, online, mobile, games, virtual worlds and consumer products. The company’s portfolio spans more than 150 television channels and 350 digital media properties worldwide, and includes MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Harmonix, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Noggin, The N, AddictingGames, Neopets, COMEDY CENTRAL, Spike TV, TV Land, Atom, Gametrailers and Xfire.

About MTV Games
MTV Games is dedicated to creating, marketing and publishing high-quality, innovative interactive products that are relevant to the MTV audience and complement the core values of the MTV Networks brands.

About RWS & Associates
RWS & Associates is an Emmy®-Award-winning full service entertainment firm headquartered in New York City. RWS provides high quality, custom-designed and pre-packaged entertainment throughout the world in theme parks, resorts, shopping centers and more.

About Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: “FUN”) is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. The Partnership, which owns and operates eleven amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and six hotels, is one of the largest regional amusement park operators in the world. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, Virginia / District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and Toronto, Ontario. Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in Gilroy, California under a management contract. Cedar Fair’s flagship park, Cedar Point, has been voted the “Best Amusement Park in the World” for twelve consecutive years in a prestigious annual poll conducted by Amusement Today newspaper.

More bad news for Cedar Fair deal proponents

From the Sandusky Register


The ‘no’ votes are piling up against the proposed $2.4 billion Cedar Fair buyout.

Neuberger Berman, an asset management firm in New York, has announced in an SEC filing that it opposes the proposed merger agreement. Neuberger manages 9.6 percent of Cedar Fair’s outstanding units, and has full discretion on voting for 8.6 percent of those units.

Neuberger’s disclosure follows an announcement from Q Funding, a Fort Worth company controlled by Texas investment banker Geoffrey Raynor, that it intends to vote against the proposed merger and is asking other unitholders to join it in opposing the deal.

The most recent SEC filing indicates that Raynor now controls voting rights for about 15 percent of Cedar Fair’s units.

Cedar Fair must win approval of the Apollo Global Management deal from votes representing two-thirds of its units, and unitholders who don’t bother to vote will have their units counted as ‘no’ votes.

The amusement park company is expected to mail out a final proxy statement within days giving a deadline on when to vote on the proposed deal.

The merger agreement reached in December by Apollo and Cedar Fair offers unitholders $11.50 per unit. Cedar Fair’s units closed Tuesday at $12.19 per unit.

The announcement that two entities controlling about 23 percent of the votes oppose the deal makes it “very difficult” for the merger to go through, said analyst Justin Lumiere, who runs the Special Situations/Risk Arbitrage Group for Summit Securities Group in New York.

Small investors in Sandusky also have not greeted the merger agreement with open arms, according to local brokers and lawsuits filed at the courthouse.

John Sprau, who lives in Sandusky, said he continues to believe the $11.50 offer is too low.

Stacy Frole, director of investor relations for Cedar Fair, said Tuesday the company will continue to communicate its message that Cedar Fair’s board believes Apollo’s offer was fair.

“We will continue as we go through this process to reach out to investors, including Q Funding and Neuberger Berman,” she said.

Asked if Cedar Fair believes the merger agreement now appears likely to fall through, she said, “We wouldn’t be able to speculate on the outcome of the vote at this point.”

Lumiere said Cedar Fair no doubt has lawyers advising Frole and other company officials about what to say. Once Cedar Fair signed an agreement with Apollo, its spokespersons have little choice but to repeat that the board supports the deal with Apollo, he said.

“They’ll just keep repeating it over and over again,” Lumiere said.

He issued a new report about the proposed merger on Monday. In it, Lumiere applied the latest financial numbers from comparable entertainment companies to arrive at an estimate for what Cedar Fair’s units might really be worth. He arrived at a possible value of $13.19 per unit.

“It could feasibly trade where it is trading right now, without a deal,” he said.

Cedar Fair to go ahead with Apollo Global deal

From BusinessWeek

Cedar Fair LP said Tuesday that it is proceeding with its proposed $635 million acquisition by asset manager Apollo Global Management.

The amusement and water park operator said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it reached out to 32 other potentially interested parties during the 40-day period in which it was allowed to try to find alternative bids. In that time Cedar Fair, based in Sandusky, Ohio, said six of the parties wanted confidential company information in order to evaluate a possible deal but none of them wound up making an offer.

Now that the go-shop period has ended, Cedar Fair said in the filing that its board still believes the proposed deal with Apollo maximizes value for its unitholders.

Cedar Fair owns and runs 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks and five hotels, including Cedar Point in Ohio, Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto, Dorney Park in Pennsylvania and California’s Knott’s Berry Farm and Great America.

The potential acquisition comes at a time when the company has struggled to keep consumers coming to its properties. With the economy still fairly fragile and unemployment numbers high, many consumers have pulled back on their discretionary spending, which has pushed amusement and water park attendance levels lower.

Even rival theme park operator Six Flags has succumbed to recessionary pressures, filing for bankruptcy protection in June.

Cedar Fair accepted Apollo’s $11.50 per share offer last month. The transaction’s total value is estimated by the companies at $2.4 billion, which includes the assumption of debt.

At the time Cedar Fair agreed to the acquisition, the offer price was a 27 percent premium to its closing stock price of $9.08. The shares fell 29 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $12.49 Tuesday morning, or 8.5 percent above the offer price.

The acquisition is expected to close by the start of the 2010 second quarter. It is dependent on regulatory clearance and holders of two-thirds of the company’s shares supporting the transaction.

Clock is ticking for any Cedar Fair buyers

From the Sandusky Register

There’s just one shopping day left until Christmas.

But if you want to buy an amusement park chain with 11 amusement parks and six water parks, there’s still about 32 shopping days left.

Cedar Fair has 40 days from Dec. 16 — the day it signed an agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management — to consider other offers. That period runs through Jan. 25, said Stacy Frole, director of investor relations for Cedar Fair.

“It’s referred to as a go-shop period,” she said.

If you want a chance to buy Cedar Fair, you’d better have a lot of money.

Apollo has offered $11.50 per unit and is taking on all of Cedar Fair’s debt.

That adds up to a deal worth $2.4 billion, give or take a few pennies.

Some analysts suggest Apollo’s offer is a bit low.

Cedar Fair must win approval from at least two-thirds of the unitholders for the deal to go through.

George Andrew Karolyi, professor of finance and global business at Cornell University, said the offer seems fair. He noted that $11.50 is a 28 percent premium over the closing price when the offering came out.

“A typical premium in most of these types of transactions is 20 percent,” Karolyi said. “It’s hard to imagine in this environment people would price it up much higher than that.”

Karolyi said he assumes other companies are looking at whether to try to top Apollo’s offer.

The BlackStone Group, which like Apollo is a private equity company headquartered in New York City, bought SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment late this year. It completed the transaction Dec. 1.

“I’m sure they’re probably asking themselves whether they should make a move on this Cedar Fair investment,” Karolyi said. “I don’t see why they wouldn’t. If they are making a serious push in this business, then why not?”

Cedar Fair won’t comment on inquiries it receives, Frole said. Any expressions of interest or offers would go to Cedar Fair’s financial advisors, Rothschild and Guggenheim Securities, Frole said.

Assuming that a better offer doesn’t come along, unitholders will be mailed proxy statements in February that include a ballot to vote on the Apollo deal, Frole said.

The unitholders may mail their ballots in, vote using the Internet or vote over the telephone, Frole said.

Each unit represents one vote, and the deal with Apollo must be approved by owners of two-thirds of the outstanding units.

“It’s very important for everybody to vote,” Frole said. “Like an election, every vote matters.”

The board of directors and Cedar Fair’s management team are in support of the deal, Frole said, encouraging people to read the proxy statement when they receive it.

Filed by Jan. 8, the Securities and Exchange Commission will have 30 days to review the proxy statement before it’s mailed. When it’s filed, though, it will be a public document, available at the SEC’s Web site.

John Sprau, a unitholder involved in a civil lawsuit that seeks to halt the Apollo deal, said he looks forward to reading the proxy statement.

“I am kind of anxious to see where we’re going from here,” he said.

Cedar Point’s parent company to see changes in finance, not entertainment

From The Morning Journal

SANDUSKY — Even with new ownership, the roller coasters will rise again in May when Cedar Point opens its 2010 season, its top executive said.

This week the amusement park’s owner, Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., announced it will be bought by New York investment firm Apollo Global Management LLC. The acquisition made national news and will lead to changes on the company letterhead and its financial statements.

Cedar Point’s tangible assets will stay the same — Top Thrill Dragster will blast off, the Cedar Downs Racing Derby will spin and Snoopy will greet visitors around northern Ohio’s most famous Midway, said Dick Kinzel, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.

“The public won’t see any changes at all,” Kinzel said in an interview with The Morning Journal. “We’re going to be the same great quality and entertainment values that we had in the past.”

The only change that Cedar Fair will have is its financing, Kinzel said. The park’s money will come from Apollo Management Group, not the shareholders who buy and sell the publicly traded partnership units, he said.

“It’s business as usual,” he said. “It’s basically going to be the same company and if there was not a public event, most people wouldn’t even know it’s happening.”

Cedar Point next year will honor its group sales and season passes already sold, Kinzel said. The company also will keep its attitude of being a good corporate neighbor, he said.

“The involvement we have in the communities that we’re in is going to remain the same,” Kinzel said.

Sandusky will remain Cedar Fair’s corporate headquarters and the company will maintain its desire to be a good business neighbor, said Kinzel, who lives next to the park.

“Sandusky is our home,” Kinzel said.

“They would have to pry me out of here with bulldozers and dynamite,” he quipped. “Sandusky’s our home. It’s not only Cedar Fair’s home, it’s my home. This is it.”

Cedar Point visitors next year will get a new ride on Shoot the Rapids.

The new, 2,100-foot journey features a 85-foot tall hill, with a 45-degree drop, and another 49-foot drop to “shoot” through water rapids and rocks. The $10.5 million ride is the most expensive water ride Cedar Point has built, and it will carry about 1,200 riders an hour with 10-passenger boats taking three minute rides.

“All of our capital for next year is approved,” Kinzel said. “There’s going to be no changes to that.”

With two rollercoasters planned and smaller improvements spread out over Cedar Fair’s other parks, “it’s a $90 million package and that’s going to go ahead as planned,” he said.

Park officials will begin planning for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in February of next year, a typical schedule because some major rides are on the drawing board two or three years in advance, Kinzel said.

Cedar Fair will get a new board of directors, but Kinzel will stay on as chairman.

“Of all the discussions we’ve had, the main discussion was to get this contract done,” Kinzel said about the deal with Apollo Global Management.

The new members are not appointed yet, Kinzel said, although it may be possible to keep the company’s current leaders.

“They want management to stay in place,” Kinzel said. “I think I’ve got a great management team underneath me. They make me look good, they’ve made me look good for a long time. I think they want to keep that team in place.”

Earlier this year Cedar Fair sought buyers for its Valleyfair park in Minnesota and Worlds of Fun park in Missouri. Kinzel noted Cedar Fair had a “tremendous debt situation” to deal with this year and the company’s board wanted to solve that.

In October, Apollo Global Management approached Cedar Fair’s board about buying in, Kinzel said.

“We were approached by Apollo to see if we would be interested in doing this transaction,” Kinzel said. “They approached us on this. We didn’t solicit this at all.

“They certainly like the company,” Kinzel said. “They like the parks that we have, they like that the parks that we have make money.”

He conceded he still had much to learn about Apollo Global Management, which owns Norwegian Cruise Lines.

“They may see some synergies in there that we don’t know about,” Kinzel said.