2022 was a record-setting year for Cedar Fair, with the theme park chain reporting its highest-ever annual revenue, net income and earnings.
All of those financial indicators improved compared to 2021 — a year when theme parks were still recovering from COVID-19 closures and restrictions — as well as the last pre-pandemic year of 2019:
- 2022 revenue: $1.8 billion, up 23 percent from 2019;
- 2022 net income: $308 million, up 78 percent from 2019;
- 2022 EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization]: $552 million, up 9 percent from 2019.
“The pace of recovery and our record results this past year reflect the strong consumer demand for our parks and resort properties, as well as for the special events programming and the immersive entertainment our parks offer,” Cedar Fair CEO Richard Zimmerman said in a statement.
Attendance was still below pre-pandemic levels, coming in at 26.9 million visitors last year versus 27.9 million in 2019. However, those fewer guests are spending more, with per capita guest spending up to $61.65 in 2022 compared to $48.32 in 2019.
During the earnings call Wednesday, Zimmerman plugged the chain’s 2023 additions for its smaller parks, while mentioning just how much of Cedar Fair’s business depends on the largest parks such as Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm:
“We are focusing the lion’s share of our investable capital on the areas of business that produce the highest return. We do so with the full appreciation that more than 80% of our adjusted EBITDA is produced by our five largest parks that also have the highest operating leverage.
“With that in mind, for the 2023 season, we are making investments at scale at each of these parks, investments that transform whole sections of the parks where increases in demand and guest spending should be imminent and remain sticky. We are also planning to invest in new marketable attractions at two of our mid-tier parks, namely Worlds of Fun and California’s Great America in 2023. History shows that adding major new rides and attractions at our smaller market parks has an immediate impact, with increases in attendance, guest spending, and season pass sales. Our investment strategy for the foreseeable future should look much the same, keeping the high-capacity engines of our larger parks running at peak performance while rotating investments in major marketable attractions among our smaller market parks for immediate impact and incremental long-term growth and improved profitability.”
Cedar Fair also said it expects revenue to continue to rise this year for multiple reasons. Those include having 70 to 80 more operating days throughout the chain (Kings Dominion and Carowinds have now adopted year-round operations) and attracting large groups back to the park, an income stream that has still not recovered from the pandemic.