Kings Island parent company takes over Six Flags as merger closes

Credit: Alex Cutler

Credit: Alex Cutler

After months of waiting, Six Flags and Cedar Fair’s merger has finally closed, creating one theme park giant. The move will consolidate both company’s parks under one company, moving Six Flags’ corporate headquarters from Arlington, Texas, to Charlotte, North Carolina.

The merger unites both companies into a singular $8 billion entity that will own and operate over 40 amusement and water parks as well as nine hotels and resorts including Kings Island and Cedar Point in Sandusky. By Tuesday, the new company will be titled “Six Flags Entertainment Corporation” and trade under the “FUN” ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange.

Though some have speculated that the merger will lead to closures or changes to the company’s annual passes, for now, Six Flags is committing to not changing anything for this season, said Gary Rhodes, corporate director of communications for Six Flags, over email.

Credit: Alex Cutler

Credit: Alex Cutler

Credit: Dayton Daily News

Credit: Dayton Daily News

“At this time, we do not anticipate making any major changes at the park level or across the broader organization during the busy summer season,” he said. “Our top priority as we embark on the next chapter of our journey is to offer millions of guests across North America unparalleled, family-focused entertainment full of fun, thrills and lifetime memories. The park names and branding will remain the same, as will the 2024 season-pass programs and any rewards/loyalty programs.”

Still, there might be room to review the company’s annual passes in a move that may expand its capabilities, he said.

“We believe there may be an opportunity in the future to offer expanded park access to season pass holders,” Rhodes said. “Guests should check their home park’s website for updates on Season Pass product offerings and all park access options.”

The two recently got approval from the Department of Justice to finalize the merger. With everything behind both companies, Six Flags will be entering into a new era as the new company looks to compete against Walt Disney parks and Universal Resorts.

Richard Zimmerman, the former CEO and president of Cedar Fair, will now take over as Six Flags’ president and CEO. It’s a big day for him as the merger increases the amount of parks his company owns and operates, he said in a press release.

“Our merger establishes a new Six Flags Entertainment Corporation with a highly diversified footprint and robust operating model, enhancing park offerings and performance through the complementary portfolio of attractive assets and intellectual property from each of Cedar Fair and the former Six Flags,” he said. “The combination also enhances the financial profile of the company with strong cash flow generation to accelerate investments in our parks to delight our guests, driving increased levels of demand and in-park value and spending.”

The merger will move Selim Bassoul, Six Flags’ former president and CEO, to a new role as the executive chairman of Six Flags’ board of directors. It’s a minimized role for him but he’s still confident this move was best for business, he said.

“We believe that by combining the best ideas and most successful entertainment practices of both Six Flags and Cedar Fair, the new Six Flags can deliver a superior level of joy and excitement that has yet to be experienced by regional park guests,” he said. “We are excited to unite the Cedar Fair and Six Flags teams to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities and operational efficiencies of our more extensive entertainment portfolio.”

Though no changes are coming soon to any Six Flags parks, like Six Flags Over Texas, the merger will allow the company to invest more heavily in various amounts of infrastructure like rides, Rhodes said.

“Our enhanced financial flexibility will enable us to invest in new rides, attractions, food and beverage options, and state-of-the-art consumer technologies,” he said. “These investments are designed to grow attendance, increase per capita spending and enhance profitability, ensuring that each visit to our parks is more exciting and memorable than the last.”

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