Six Flags merges with Cedar Fair to create $3.4 B amusement park giant

Provided by Six Flags Over Georgia

Provided by Six Flags Over Georgia

Six Flags Entertainment and Cedar Fair have announced merger plans that will create a $3.4 billion amusement park giant with operations in 17 states, Mexico and Canada.

The deal is not expected to affect operations at two marquee properties in Georgia: Six Flags Over Georgia off I-20 in Austell and Six Flags White Water, off I-75 in Marietta, officials said.

The deal is expected to save about $200 million a year, while the combined company will keep the Six Flags name. The merger, involving a swap of stock between the shareholders of each company, is aimed at freeing money for larger investments in technology, food and beverages that will improve visitor experiences, officials said.

“We expect to accelerate our transformation activities and unlock new potential for our parks,” said Selim Bassoul, president and chief executive officer of Six Flags, who will be executive chairman of the combined company’s board of directors.

Richard Zimmerman, currently president and CEO of Cedar Fair, will hold those same titles for the combined company.

The two companies control 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks and nine resort properties. The companies also have a series of partnerships that give them the right to use characters from Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Peanuts, officials said.

Six Flags over Georgia, sprawling over 290 acres, features 12 roller coasters. It opened in 1967, the second in the Six Flags operations, which began as Six Flags over Texas in in 1961.

Six Flags White Water on 70 acres is billed as the largest water park in the South. It opened as White Water Atlanta in 1984, then became Six Flags White Water in 1999.

The merger agreement comes with attendance bouncing back somewhat from pandemic-triggered collapse, although competition for consumer dollars is fierce.

In the third quarter of this year, Six Flags reported attendance of 9.3 million, a 16% rise from the same period a year before. Cedar Fair reported 12.4 million guests, up 1% from the previous year.

The nation’s most visited amusement park last year was The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World near Orlando, which had more than 17.1 million guests, according to the Associated Press.

That was 3.8 million people shy of its pre-pandemic peak in 2019, AP reported.

Six Flags is currently based in Arlington, Texas and Cedar Fair is headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, but the combined company will be based in Charlotte, officials said.

The deal is to be completed in the first half of next year.

The agreement calls for Six Flags shareholders to receive 0.58 shares of the newly combined company for every share they currently own. Cedar Fair shareholders will receive one share of stock of for each share they now own.

After the transaction closes, Cedar Fair shareholders will own 51.2% of the company and Six Flags shareholders will own 48.8%, officials said.

Both companies also issued earnings releases Thursday. Six Flags reported $547 million in revenue and $111 million in net income during the latest quarter. Cedar Fair reported revenue of $842 million and net income of $215 million.