SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment may be on the verge of becoming the biggest amusement park company in the country. The company, which owns the Busch Gardens parks as well as Sesame Place, has made significant strides in recent years to become a bigger player in the amusement park world, and away from being the aquatic animal park. And now it looks like the company may spend $3.4 billion to become even bigger by buying an even larger theme park company, Ohio-based Cedar Fair.
According to Bloomberg, SeaWorld has offered $60 per unit in cash to buy the company that currently owns Knott’s Berry Farm, Cedar Point, and 15 other park locations. It would instantly make SeaWorld, which was already a significant player, the biggest in the game when it comes to the number of physical locations in North America.
The source for this info is anonymous and nothing is official yet, and there’s still the possibility the deal could fall through. However, based on the information that’s being presented, the offer is, at the very least, being entertained by Cedar Fair. At the very least Cedar Fair has confirmed that the unsolicited bid is real.
Needless to say, this is something of a bombshell announcement, SeaWorld currently has six locations, three SeaWorld parks, in San Diego, Texas, and Florida, two Busch Gardens locations, in Tampa and Williamsburg, and Pennsylvania’s Sesame Place. With the exception of two SeaWorld locations, the company is exclusively an east coast player. Purchasing Cedar Fair would instantly make them a national player.
It would, of course, also reduce the number of players in the amusement park game in a big way. It would leave SeaWorld and Six Flags as the two significant national organizations. Although there are many very successful regional theme parks still out there.
The best known of the Cedar Fair parks is probably Knott’s Berry Farm, which is just a few minutes away from the Disneyland Resort, and likely one of the key reasons an acquisition like this is so attractive. Having a park that competes directly with Disney, and does pretty well, all things considered, has to be seen as valuable.
Cedar Fair’s home park, Cedar Point, is also a very popular park, especially for roller coaster enthusiasts. While California’s Magic Mountain is technically the current roller coaster capital of the world, it’s a title Cedar Point has held in the past. Cedar Fair also owns Canada’s Wonderland, which actually has the second-highest number of roller coasters in North America behind Magic Mountain. SeaWorld has been making a name for itself as a coaster park in recent years.
Even if Cedar Point accepts the SeaWorld offer as written, it will likely be a long process of merging the two companies together. Even if this deal doesn’t go through it all, it’s evidence of SeaWorld’s desire to become a much bigger player as an amusement park company.