In what is the Master Blaster of announcements, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company disclosed Thursday morning it has signed an agreement that will put New Braunfels' iconic waterpark under new ownership.
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire two iconic water parks and one resort in Texas — Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston for a cash purchase price of $261 million.
“We’re very excited, and nothing is changing for the 2019 season in terms of our staff, we’re going to keep the parks going and full and all that stuff,” said Winter Prosapio, corporate communications director for Schlitterbahn. “There will be renewed investments in the flagship park. And that is going to be great.”
Additionally, Cedar Fair has the right to acquire a property located in Kansas City, Kansas, for a cash purchase price of $6 million.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to bring these two award-winning Texas water parks into the Cedar Fair family,” said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and CEO. “These properties represent new markets for us with attractive demographics in the growing Central Texas region, and they align with our strategy to identify compelling opportunities to accelerate our growth and profitability. The investments we have made over the past five years to strengthen our back-of-house and customer-facing systems will support a smooth integration of these properties by ensuring a premium guest experience, strong team collaboration and superior execution.”
The decision to sell the parks has been in discussion for a few months now, Prosapio said.
“It’s been something that (the Henry family) have been exploring,” Prosapio said. “It’s very bittersweet, but the nice thing about the company they’ve chosen is Cedar Fair is very much about — it’s a company of brands, and they very much like to keep the character of the brands they have acquired over time, Knottsberry Farm being a good example.”
It was the fact that Schlitterbahn is already such a successful brand that likely interested Cedar Fair, Prosapio said.
“They’re a very large company and they wouldn’t be interested in acquiring us and changing everything — they like that we are already a very successful brand in Texas,” she said. “They’ll bring some things that are fantastic to our community.”
The fact Schlitterbahn has won ‘Best Water Park in the World’ for 21 years straight and Galveston has won ‘Best Indoor Water Park in the World’ for a decade were mentioned as big points of note by Zimmerman.
“We look forward to adding these parks to Cedar Fair’s industry-leading portfolio of regional entertainment resorts,” he said in a statement.
As for what will happen with the other parks such as the South Padre and Corpus Christi locations, those will be more localized decisions, Prosapio said.
“South Padre is going to continue as a Schlitterbahn park through the end of the season, and then they’ll spin off — and they’ll still be owned by part of the Henry family,” Prosapio said. “The Corpus Christi park is still owned by Diamond Beach and all parks are going to continue being Schlitterbahn’s until the end of the 2019 season.”
After the 2019 season, decisions on whether to rename/re-brand parks will be made at those locations.
“They’ll make their decisions about what they want to do moving forward,” Prosapio said. “What it’s going to look like — we’ve entered into the agreement but it hasn’t closed, so it still has to go through that part of the process so there’s still that side of it.”
The decision to sell likely comes from many factors, Prosapio said.
“While it’s a difficult decision, after several challenging years, we believe that our team, communities, guests, and fans are going to enjoy what lies ahead,” the Henry family said in a released statement, alluding to the legal difficulties Schlitterbahn has dealt with after the death of a 10-year old boy at the Kansas City location.
“We believe Cedar Fair, with their approach to embracing parks that have a unique footprint, will be a phenomenal owner, and with the talented people that are the Schlitterbahn Family, will take Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts to the next level of world-class family entertainment.”
Guests can rest assured they will still have free parking and be allowed to bring in their free picnic lunch for the 2019 season, Prosapio said.
“They really are some of people’s favorite things about Schlitterbahn,” Prosapio said. “There could be changes or a lot could stay the same, the future will tell, but everything for the 2019 season is going to go forward the way it always has.”