The deal creates a theme park company valued at $8 billion with 42 parks across a wide geographic footprint that will help avoid some of the regional slowdowns from weather-related events. The deal comes after a difficult time for the industry following the pandemic.
A page from the presentation on the Six Flags-Cedar Fair merger showing the geographic footprint of the new company. (Courtesy | Six Flags)
Arlington-based Six Flags, which has a relationship with Looney Toons and DC Comics and its creative offspring, announced a merger on Nov. 2 with Cedar Fair, a similarly sized company that licenses the Peanuts gang at its parks.
Rumors about the deal spread on Nov. 1, then were confirmed before the market opened the next day with an announcement from both companies.
The similarly sized theme parks will have a combined attendance of 48 million visitors and revenue of $3.8 billion. Ohio-based Cedar Fair shareholders will receive about 51.2% of the new company and Six Flags shareholders will receive 48.8% ownership. Both are public companies.
Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman will lead the new company, which will be named Six Flags and trade as FUN on the New York Stock Exchange. Current Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul will become executive chairman of a new 12-member board of directors, with each company contributing six members.
The company will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and maintain “significant finance and administrative operations” in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Park’s current headquarters, according to the news release.
In 2020, Six Flags finalized an agreement with the Texas Rangers to occupy the Centerfield Office Building at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The company signed a 15-year lease on 40,842 square feet of space in the building and relocated about 120 employees from Grand Prairie to the new headquarters.
As part of the agreement, the city of Arlington committed $6 million to upgrade the space. Most of the money came from $5.28 million in payments the Rangers owed under an existing lease with the remaining $720,000 from the city budget. According to the agreement, if the lease is terminated within the first five years of the agreement, Six Flags will have to repay the city the full amount.
The Cave ride at Six Flags Over Texas in a 1966 photo. (Courtesy | University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History)
In August, Six Flags announced it was spending $600 million on new rides and attractions at its 27 theme parks. In the conference call about the merger, Zimmerman said the two combined companies will be able to speed up investments in its parks. Cedar Fair and Six Flags compete against larger, more diverse rivals, such as Disney and Universal, which operate larger parks that tend to attract visits that extend over several days. The more regional Cedar Fair and Six Flags theme parks tend to draw single day attendees, according to a study from Linchpin SEO.
Zimmerman also said the combination of the two companies will result in savings of $120 million in the first two years of operating together.
“Our merger with Six Flags will bring together two of North America’s iconic amusement park companies to establish a highly diversified footprint and a more robust operating model to enhance park offerings and performance,” Zimmerman said in a statement.
Cedar Fair ventured into Texas in 2019 with the purchase of two Schlitterbahn waterparks in New Braunfels and Galveston for $261 million.
Both companies released quarterly results along with the announcement. Six Flags said it saw an 8% increase in revenue over the quarter, which included the key summer months. Meanwhile, Cedar Fair reported a net revenue decrease of $1 million from the third quarter a year earlier.
The first Six Flags park, Six Flags Over Texas, opened in August 1961 in Arlington. It was founded by Dallas real estate developer Angus Wynne. Six Flags has been through several ownership and management changes and filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.