On Thursday morning, most people in New Braunfels had probably never heard of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, but it could end up investing millions in Schlitterbahn’s New Braunfels park over the next several years.
Cedar Fair, which announced Thursday that it would purchase the Schlitterbahn park and resort in New Braunfels and the park in Galveston, is one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. It is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio.
It owns and operates 11 other amusement parks, including its flagship park, Cedar Point, two other outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and four hotels.
Cedar Fair also operates an additional theme park under a management contract. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Ontario.
The New Braunfels and Galveston Schlitterbahn parks will be the first Texas properties acquired by Cedar Fair.
“Schlitterbahn has a tremendous brand in the region, in Texas and Galveston and so we find these properties to be attractive,” said Michael Russell, investor relations for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. “Our history is to acquire regional parks and then go in and invest in those brands and overlay the structure we have on our (existing) parks.”
Should Cedar Fair also acquire the Kansas City, Kansas property, which it is has the rights to do for $6 million, Kansas would also be added to the list.
“We’re excited when this closes to be a part of the New Braunfels community and we really believe that Cedar Fair can make a difference,” Russell said.
In 2018, Cedar Fair parks hosted almost 26 million guests and reported $1.35 billion in annual net revenues.
Should the deal close, Russell said the company could invest $10-$15 million in both properties collectively over the next two to three years.
“Those are the types of investments that can dramatically improve the ambiance, the quality of the park, it’s appearance, it’s effectiveness from a food and beverage standpoint, even updates on — in New Braunfels you have the accommodations as well,” Russell said
Schlitterbahn’s New Braunfels and Galveston parks entertained 1.2 million guests and generated annual revenues of about $68 million over the same period of time.
“Schlitterbahn employees are known throughout the industry for their innovation and dedication to the quality of the guest experience,” said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and CEO. “Because of their work, the water park located in New Braunfels has been recognized as the ‘Best Water Park in the World’ for 21 straight years, and Galveston has received recognition as the ‘Best Indoor Water Park in the World’ for a decade.”
Following the closing with Schlitterbahn, Cedar Fair’s portfolio will consist of 15 parks, more than 2,000 rooms in resort accommodations, two marinas and more than 600 RV sites.
The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019.
“We find all of this to have great potential,” Russell said.