Kings Dominion parent Cedar Fair and Six Flags announce $2B merger
Cedar Fair owns Hanover County theme park
Cedar Fair Entertainment, the parent company of Kings Dominion, is merging with Six Flags Entertainment in an all-stock deal valued at $2 billion, the companies announced Thursday.
Cedar Fair unitholders will own 51.2% and Six Flags shareholders will own approximately 48.8%.
Together, the two companies will have a combined 27 amusement parks, 25 water parks and nine resort properties and will be valued at about $8 billion.
Richard Zimmerman, president and CEO of Cedar Fair, will serve as president and CEO of the newly combined company and Selim Bassoul, president and CEO of Six Flags, will serve as executive chairman of the combined company’s board of directors. Brian Witherow, chief financial officer of Cedar Fair, will keep his position in the new company and Gary Mick, chief financial officer of Six Flags, will serve as chief integration officer. After the deal closes, the new board of directors will have 12 seats, six from each original board.
The company will operate under the name Six Flags and trade under the ticker symbol FUN on the New York Stock Exchange and be structured as a C corporation. The Six Flags chain started in 1961 in Arlington, Texas, the company’s current headquarters, but it will move to Charlotte, North Carolina. The company will keep significant finance and administrative operations in Sandusky, Ohio, the headquarters of Cedar Fair. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2024.
The companies expect $120 million in cost savings within two years of closing the deal and $200 million in other benefits. Existing intellectual property and licensing deals for franchises such as Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Peanuts will belong to the new company for use in all its parks.
Over the past 12 months, the two companies collectively brought in 48 million guests. Together, the entertainment companies say they will have greater flexibility to invest in new rides and attractions, broader food and beverage selections, more in-park offerings and cross-park initiatives.
In February 2022, Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Cedar Fair.
Kings Dominion, in Doswell, hosted about 20,000 people on its opening day in May 1975 and 1.5 million visitors in its first season, according to the company’s website. Today, the 400-acre park has more than 60 rides and a dozen roller coasters plus the Soak City water park. A year ago, Kings Dominion announced it would expand to year-round operations, adding nine weekends to the operating calendar, beginning in January 2023. The park reversed course recently, scaling back and closing for January, February and some of March.