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Park News
Cedar Fair sale
Cedar Fair, the American park chain, is to be acquired by Apollo Global
by Paul Ruben
Management. The transaction is valued at approximately $2.4 billion
(€1.7bn), including the refinancing of the company’s outstanding debt
Jurassic Paul (though to be more than $1.6bn).
Over the years many parks have promoted attractions themed to
“We have considered a wide range of strategic alternatives over the past
dinosaurs. For example, there's Epcot's Universe of Energy Pavilion's
several years,” reports Cedar Fair chairman, president and CEO, Dick Kinzel.
ride through a primeval world filled with dinosaurs. Another is Islands
“After considering these alternatives, we have concluded that the transaction
of Adventure's Jurassic Park River Adventure and Pteranodon Flyers
with Apollo is in the best interest of our unitholders.”
ride. Then there's the DinoLand USA area in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Apollo Global Management, which describes itself as an “alternative asset
In Eastern Europe, dinosaur parks are springing up everywhere,
manager,” is offering unitholders $11.50 in cash for each Cedar Fair limited
thanks to low start up and running costs, while in China the
partnership unit that they hold, a 43% premium. Financing will be provided
Changzhou Dinosaur Park is about to celebrates its 10th anniversary
by affiliates of JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, UBS Investment
with a package of new attractions from Huss, S&S and Zamperla.
Bank and KeyBanc Capital Markets.
In the US alone, there are three parks called Dinosaur World, filled
“Apollo has a strong track record of growing businesses, and its desire to
with genuine giant fibreglass dinosaurs, so real they can intimidate
add Cedar Fair to its portfolio serves as a testament to our solid business
young visitors. Dinosaur World is the brainchild of Swedish business-
model and the talent of our people,” observes lead director Michael
man Christer Svensson, who has been in the entertainment business
for over 30 years.
The deal is expected to be completed during the second half of 2010 and
Svensson and his family moved to the America in the early '90s.
relies upon approval from holders of two-thirds of Cedar Fair’s outstanding
Attracted to central Florida, where his family had vacationed many
units, the receipt of regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.
times, Svensson purchased a former
“We look forward to partnering with Cedar Fair’s management team and
alligator farm in Plant City and, in 2001,
employees to build on the many strengths of the company,” says Apollo
it became the new home for his ancient
senior partner, Aaron Stone. “We are firmly committed to Cedar Fair’s
reptiles. Five years later, Dinosaur World
continued growth as an industry leading amusement park operator.”
opened in Kentucky, with a Texas
Headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Fair LLC owns and operates 11
location added in 2008.
amusement parks, seven waterparks and five hotels across the United States,
Did I ever tell you about the time that,
including flagship property Cedar Point. The company’s significant debt is
like Jonah and the Whale, I was
understood to be due in part to its acquisition of the former Paramount Parks
swallowed by a dinosaur? Don't believe
business in 2006.
me? Here's the photo to prove it. It
happened as I was walking through
Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky.
Cavemen live in Cave City, and the
dinosaurs drive up and down the nearby
highway. As I watched, one dinosaur's
car was stopped by a flat tyre-annosaurus. Then two dino cars
crashed, causing tyrannosaurus wrecks. One driver got out wearing a
cowboy hat and boots, tyrannosaurus Tex.
Dinosaur World includes more than 100 dinosaurs in an open-air
museum setting. The dinosaurs represent a variety of well-known and
unusual species. Indoor exhibits range from triceratops horns to
stegosaurs skulls
There is also a fossil dig and a boneyard, where youngsters can
unearth a life-size dinosaur skeleton, as well as a dinosaur themed Knott’s Berry Farm, California: One of 11 Cedar Fair parks in the USA
playground for children.The gift shop is operated by a female
dinosaur whose specialty is making blouses. The sign outside the shop
read, "Try Sara's Tops."
Dinosaur World overflows with educational opportunities and the
New IAAPA board members
park provides learning materials to enhance visits from school groups. During IAAPA Attractions Expo in Las Vegas in November several new
This being Kentucky cave country, visitors can enter the park's movie directors were elected to the board of the International Association of
cave and see an educational dinosaur film. Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA).
Marketing director Nicole Randall escorted me through the park, The new additions include Ed Carroll (IAAPA Advisory Board), Court Huish
pointing out the different species of dinosaurs. She also endured my lame (Boondocks Family Fun Center, USA), Pelle Johannisson (Liseberg, Sweden),
joke about prehistoric swine. You know, Jurassic pork. I’m sure she’ll be Phil Lindsey (The Health Museum, USA), Adrian Mahon (Merlin
thrilled to read some of the Jurassic humour in this column, too. Entertainments, UK), Donnie Mills (Busch Entertainment Corporation, USA),
There was a myopic dinosaur Nicole called a do-ya-think-he- Paul Noland (Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, USA), Greg O’Neill (Amusement
saurus, and a triceratops sitting on its tricera-bottom. We strolled past Rides Australia) and Tim Timco (Worldwide Ticketcraft, USA).
a herd of mammoths before Nicole pointed out the dinosaur that Chip Cleary (Palace Entertainment/Parques Reunidos) is the new chairman
keeps her awake at night, the bronto-snore-us. But for me the scariest of IAAPA, to be succeeded in November 2010 by Robert Rippy, president of
prehistoric animal was the terror-dactyl. Jungle Rapids (Wilmington, North Carolina).
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