Knott's Berry Farm owner Cedar Fair completes deal

The theme park business has a new giant.

Six Flags and Cedar Fair have completed their $8 billion merger, creating a live experience giant that owns 27 theme parks, 15 water parks, nine hotels and resorts as well as safaris, marinas and other properties in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“Today marks an important milestone for our company, shareholders, guests and associates, unlocking higher value and more opportunities to deliver engaging entertainment experiences,” said Richard Zimmerman, chairman and chief executive officer, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.

Cedar Fair owns other properties including Knott's Berry Farm in Anaheim and Cedar Point in Ohio. Six Flags owns other properties including Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia California. The companies originally announced their plans to merge last year.

The companies said the combination would allow them to have more parks in places like Florida, Texas and California that could remain open year-round, helping to provide stability when their parks in the Northeast and Midwest close for the winter.

The companies plan to leverage their licensed intellectual property at their parks, with Six Flags having struck a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery for the rights to characters from DC Comics and others. Looney Tunesand Cedar Fair's controlling rights Groundnut Universe.

The new company will be named Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “FUN.” Most of its senior executives will be current Cedar Fair executives, including its new CEO Zimmerman. Selim Bassoul, who remains CEO of Six Flags, will be the company's executive chairman.

Theme parks have become a booming business post-COVID, led by The Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal. Both of these companies are spending billions of dollars expanding their parks business, with Disney planning major expansions in both California and Florida, as well as adding more cruise ships; and Universal planning to open a massive new park in Orlando next year, as well as a smaller, more family-focused park in Texas (in Six Flags’ backyard).

The new Six Flags park is not as large as the Disney or Universal parks in Florida or California, but it will have far more parks spread across the country, including several located off of Disney or Universal properties.

“We believe that by combining the best ideas and most successful entertainment practices from both Six Flags and Cedar Fair, the new Six Flags Regional can deliver a greater level of enjoyment and excitement to park guests than has ever been experienced,” said Selim Bassoul, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation. “We are excited to unite the Cedar Fair and Six Flags teams to take advantage of the tremendous growth opportunities and operational efficiencies of our more comprehensive entertainment portfolio.”

Zimmerman said of the deal: “Our merger will establish a new Six Flags Entertainment Corporation with a highly diversified footprint and strong operating model that will enhance park offerings and performance through complementary portfolios of attractive assets and intellectual property from each of Cedar Fair and the former Six Flags.”

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