A record first quarter for the Cedar Fair theme park chain has the company feeling optimistic about the rest of 2022.
The $193 million in revenue for the period between January and March represents 33 percent increase over the same period in 2019. Cedar Fair still reported a $84 million operating loss for the quarter — not a surprise, since Knott’s Berry Farm is the only year-round park in the chain— but there were plenty of signs about increased demand in the season ahead, with season pass sales up by $59 million.
“Due to our outstanding recent performance, we have accelerated our post-pandemic recovery and are on pace to outperform our 2019 operating results,” Cedar Fair president and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman said Wednesday. “We are emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever, and the strategic decisions made over the past year position us well to renew Cedar Fair’s long-term track record of growth and value creation for our unitholders.”
Collectively, Cedar Fair parks are scheduled to have 23,000 extra operating hours this year, a 60 percent jump from 2021 when the pandemic still limited operations.
Not hiring enough workers should not be as much of an issue in 2022, Zimmerman said, thanks to increasing hourly pay, the availability of J-1 student visa workers, and having a larger pool of returning hires to draw from.
“We’ve got a base of rehires that we didn’t have going into last season because 2020 was so disruptive,” Zimmerman said. So you’ve got the returning hires, they’re already trained, and they move up into supervisory roles. We feel really good about that.”
The expectations for a successful 2022 season come despite the lack of new attractions inside parks. The chain added only one coaster this year, Tumbili at Kings Dominion, and the largest investments are two renovated hotels near Cedar Point. Zimmerman said the company should announce later this summer what they plan to spend on new construction for 2023.