Amusement park operator Cedar Fair reported $1.32bn in net revenue for 2017, a 3% rise from 2016, with its parks receiving 25.7 million visitors throughout the year, a 2% increase.
While revenues and visitor numbers increased, Cedar Fair still saw its full-year adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) decline by $2m to $479m. The company attributes this to higher operating costs and lower than anticipated attendance growth.
Operating costs and expenses for 2017 totalled $863m, a 4% ($35m) increase. The primary cause for the increase cited by the company was an increase in labour costs due to higher minimum wages.
Expanded special events at the end of the year resulted in a 19% increase in fourth-quarter net revenues and a 14% increase in fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA when compared with the same period last year.
Cedar Fair also reported that advance sales, such as season passes, through the end of January are up 10% from the same time last year. It believes this is driven by a strong capital program for 2018, which includes the expansion of its water parks at Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Point as well as the Mystic Timbers wooden roller coaster at Kings Island.
Richard Zimmerman, CEO of Cedar Fair, said: “Although we faced challenges from the extreme weather patterns earlier in the year, we remained focused on the guest experience and the long-term success of the business.
“This focus has enabled us to generate solid increases across all of our advance purchase channels for 2018, giving us confidence that the momentum we generated at the end of 2017 will continue.”
Looking forward to 2018, Cedar Fair is optimistic its capital investment will pay dividends.
“Highlights of our robust capital plan include Steel Vengeance, a record-breaking hyper-hybrid coaster at Cedar Point, and Hang Time, the West Coast’s first dive coaster, at Knott’s Berry Farm, along with the expansion of Carowinds’ Peanuts-themed children’s area with Camp Snoopy,” Zimmerman said.
In addition to the new rides and attractions, Cedar Point will open a five-story, 158-room addition to the Hotel Breakers this year. The company also plans to build a 129-room SpringHill Suites hotel adjacent to Carowinds in North Carolina. The hotel is scheduled to break ground later this year and should come on line in late 2019.
Cedar Fair is also upgrading its restaurants and catering areas at five of its parks. These facilities will provide a more diverse array of regional specialty foods, cater to increased group business, and accommodate more food-themed special events.
Cedar Fair owns and operates 12 amusement parks, two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park, and five hotels in the US and Canada. Its properties include Cedar Point in Ohio, California’s Great America, Carowinds and Knott’s Berry Farm.