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Nicole

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Major changes at the top announced today:

Cedar Fair said:
Cedar Fair Announces Planned Leadership Succession

10/04/2017

• Richard Zimmerman, president since 2016, to become CEO effective January 1, 2018
• Matt Ouimet, CEO since 2012, to become executive chairman of the board of directors
• Debra Smithart-Oglesby, board member since 2012, to become lead independent director

SANDUSKY, OHIO, October 4, 2017 -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Richard Zimmerman, its president and chief operating officer, will succeed Matt Ouimet as chief executive officer effective January 1, 2018. On the same date, Ouimet will take the newly created role of executive chairman of the board of directors and Debra Smithart-Oglesby will become lead independent director. As part of this process, Zimmerman will also be added to the board of directors during the 2018 annual meeting period. These changes are designed to ensure continuity in leadership as the Company pursues its ongoing strategy of investing in broadening entertainment offerings and new attractions to create greater excitement for guests, and positioning itself to produce strong results for many years to come.

“I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Cedar Fair and I am proud of what our team has accomplished,” said Ouimet. “The market value of Cedar Fair has increased by more than $2.6B during my time at the company. This performance provides us with a solid foundation to build upon and a positive outlook for the future. Richard is a perfect choice to succeed me as CEO and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as the executive chairman going forward.”

Zimmerman, age 57, has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and leisure entertainment industry. He became president of Cedar Fair in 2016, having been named COO in 2011 after serving as an executive vice president since 2007. He also served as vice president and general manager of the Kings Dominion amusement park beginning in 1998. Prior to entering the amusement park industry, Zimmerman served in various financial and strategic planning roles with Paramount Communications, Inc.

“Richard has the skills and experience required to lead the company forward,” Ouimet stated. “He has been a great thought partner to me and has made major contributions to our strong performance, including being a key driver behind such successful initiatives as Fast Lane, season passes and our all-season dining and beverage programs.”

“Having the opportunity to lead Cedar Fair is a distinct yet humbling honor,” said Zimmerman. “We are fortunate to have an exceptional organization with a deep and talented leadership team. We are also fortunate to be a leader in an industry that continues to have the potential to grow and expand. I look forward to the opportunity to continue broadening our offerings to better serve our guests, as well as providing long-term value for our investors.”

In conjunction with Ouimet’s move to executive chairman of the board of directors, the Company also noted effective January 1, 2018, Eric Affeldt will transition from his role as chairman of the board but will continue to serve as a director. Since joining the board in 2010 and assuming the chairman role in 2012, Affeldt has overseen improvements in Cedar Fair’s corporate strategy and governance standards, increased board diversity, improved alignment of executive compensation with unitholder interests, and supported enhanced investor relations. He also led the development of the senior leadership succession plan the Company is announcing today.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Debra’s skills and board experience to take on the role of lead independent director,” said Affeldt. “Debra has been a valuable voice in all of our deliberations and will be an even greater asset in her new role as lead independent director.”

About Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: “FUN”), one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world, is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. Focused on its mission to become “THE place to be for FUN,” the Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks including its flagship park, Cedar Point, along with two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. It also operates an additional theme park under a management contract. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario.

Forward-Looking Statements
Some of the statements contained in this news release constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements as to the Company’s expectations, beliefs and strategies regarding the future. These statements may involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, it can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to have been correct. Important factors, including general economic conditions, adverse weather conditions, competition for consumer leisure time and spending, unanticipated construction delays, changes in the Company’s capital investment plans and projects and other factors discussed from time to time by the Company in reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) could affect attendance at the Company’s parks and cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s expectations. Additional information on risk factors that may affect the business and financial results of the Company can be found in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and in the filings of the Company made from time to time with the SEC. The Company undertakes no obligation to correct or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
 

Shane

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Cleveland.com presented a great write up of the transition of CEO Matt Ouimet to their new CEO Richard Zimmerman. They also discuss plans for Cedar Fair going forward such as the future expansion of Cedar Point's Boardwalk and chain-wide topics such as labor force challenges, the success of Fast Lane, WinterFest, the shuttered Geauga Lake property and the company's relationship with Sandusky, Ohio.

Anyway check it out here.

Random side note from me: one thing I thought was interesting is that unlike Ouimet, Zimmerman will be operating out of Cedar Fair's corporate offices in Charlotte, North Carolina instead of out of the "executive offices" in Sandusky, Ohio. I did not realize that Cedar Fair had kept Paramount Park's corporate offices after the merger almost a decade ago. It was a bit unclear to me what the purpose of the "Executive Offices" in Ohio are for if the Company's main corporate office is in Charlotte. I don't know, I just thought that was a bit interesting.

Cleveland.com said:
By Susan Glaser, The Plain Dealer sglaser@plaind.com

SANDUSKY, Ohio - In his six years at the helm of Cedar Fair, outgoing CEO Matt Ouimet has overseen the development of record-breaking roller coasters and record-breaking revenue.

But ask him about his tenure and he doesn't mention rides or money.

Instead, he talks about the revitalized Cedar Point beach, renovated Hotel Breakers, the Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center and expansion of the Cedar Point Shores waterpark.

When he was hired in 2011, the country -- and the company -- were still recovering from a devastating recession. "It was a tough time in the economy, and particularly for Cedar Fair," he said. "We were having some trouble trying to figure out what we wanted to do when we grew up."

Safe to say they figured it out: Six years later, the company's flagship park in Sandusky is the centerpiece of a burgeoning resort destination, with a newly expanded waterpark, ferry service to nearby islands, nightly beach activities and more.

Coming in 2018: An expanded beach boardwalk that will link the park's main parking lot to the beach, Hotel Breakers and Cedar Point Shores.

For the first time, according to Ouimet, the park will market itself beyond its core base of Ohio and Michigan, trying to pull guests from Chicago and beyond.

"The changes we've made at Cedar Point will last for decades," said Ouimet, 59, who announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as CEO in January and will return to southern California, where he previously worked as president of Disneyland.

He said he is not seeking another full-time job.

Ouimet will be succeeded by Richard Zimmerman, current Cedar Fair president and chief operating officer.

The two recently answered a few questions at the company's executive offices on the Cedar Point peninsula. Among the topics of conversation: labor force challenges, the success of Fast Lane, WinterFest, shuttered Geauga Lake and the company's relationship with Sandusky.

Zimmerman was the head of Kings Dominion in Virginia when Cedar Fair bought Paramount Parks in 2006. "I've been in the live entertainment biz for forever and a day," he said. "That's what gets me up in the morning."

He will continue to be based out of Cedar Fair's corporate offices in Charlotte, home of Carowinds amusement park.

Ouimet, meanwhile, will continue to play an active role in Cedar Fair's future, filling the new position of executive chairman of the board. "A critical part of my legacy is creating an organization that would thrive after I left," he said. "I think the organization is ready and I'm ready."

During Ouimet's tenure, the company - owner of 11 parks, three waterparks and five hotels - saw the value of investor shares nearly triple. The company also posted consecutive years of record revenue and attendance.

Chief among Ouimet's achievements, according to industry analyst Jeffrey Thomison, with Hilliard Lyons in Kentucky: Improvements made to the Cedar Point property - including a $50 million renovation to Hotel Breakers - that encourage families to stay on-property longer.

"Not only does the park have some major new thrill attractions, but the resort itself has undergone some major improvements," he said.

Thomison said he doesn't expect dramatic change under Zimmerman. "Primarily because the new chairman and the new CEO aren't new to the company - they already make a good team," he said.

Commitment to the region

Sandusky City Manager Eric Wobser praised Ouimet's commitment to the region - citing his advocacy for a healthier Lake Erie; support of a local tax increase in 2014; and ongoing work to develop a hospitality program with Bowling Green State University.

Wobser said he had no doubt Zimmerman would maintain that same commitment: "We see them continuing to make significant investments in and outside the park that show how committed they are."

Cedar Fair and several regional partners, including the city and Erie County, recently finalized a deal to develop an indoor sports complex just east of Cedar Point. Expected to open in 2019, it will be adjacent to the outdoor facility, Sports Force Parks, which opened earlier this year on the site of an abandoned airport.

Zimmerman credited Ouimet's history with Disney company - and that company's successful Wide World of Sports - for the idea. "We will continue to look at other parks for opportunities," said Zimmerman. "This kind of tourism is happening. We can make sure it happens near us."

Promoting Ohio

Ouimet has also been a strong advocate for tourism more broadly, urging state leaders to increase the marketing of Ohio, bringing it closer to what neighboring states, including Michigan, spend. Lawmakers, several years ago, did increase funding for tourism promotion in Ohio, but Ouimet says more could be done.

"We'll continue to make that argument," he said. "I think there remains great opportunity. I have learned over time that you have to be more patient when it comes to the government driving certain initiatives."

Hiring challenges

Ouimet also has been involved in lobbying for a change in state law that would encourage school districts to start classes after Labor Day -- a change that would make it easier to staff Cedar Point and Kings Island late in the summer. He pointed out that Kings Island is forced to close during the week in late August, in part because so many employees leave to return to school.

Ouimet also commented on possible changes in the U.S. State Department's J-1 Visa program, which allows college students from overseas to come to the U.S. to work for the summer. Cedar Point employs thousands of workers every year through the program.

Ouimet said lawmakers may need to be educated about the benefits of the program. "I get concerned that it's one of those things that politically could be discussed as a negative," he said. "But I think when people sort through it - they'll see it drives the economy, it doesn't hurt the economy."

Zimmerman added that the parks have gotten creative about labor challenges, particularly during the shoulder season, when many parks, including Cedar Point, see their biggest crowds of the year.

The company is experimenting with technology to reduce the number of workers required during non-summer months. A new haunted maze at Knott's Berry Farm in southern California, for example, uses interactive technology - and requires only two workers.

Extending the park season

Another Ouimet initiative: WinterFest, the holiday-themed festival, with rides and entertainment, which debuted last year at California's Great America. This year, WinterFest will expand to three more parks, including Kings Island near Cincinnati.

And next year, look for it at Canada's Wonderland in Ontario.

What about Cedar Point? "That's the big debate," said Zimmerman. "We're trying to figure out exactly how that would work."

Finally, on Geauga Lake:

* It was Ouimet's predecessor, Dick Kinzel, who made the decision to shutter Geauga Lake in 2007, three years after Cedar Fair purchased the historic Aurora amusement park. Ouimet, however, closed Wildwater Kingdom, the adjacent outdoor water park on the site of Sea World, in 2016. "If you don't make difficult decisions, you put a company in jeopardy," he said. He did say he regrets that the land hasn't been developed more quickly. "It's proven harder than it should have," he said.

And Fast Lane:

* It was Ouimet's team that developed Fast Lane, the controversial pass that allows park goers to skip long lines at top attractions for an extra fee. Said Ouimet: "It took me a while to warm up to it. " But he said it's the revenue from the pass that allows Cedar Point and other parks to continue to build bigger and better rides.

"You have to realize that those people are paying for Steel Vengeance," he said, referencing the massive new roller coaster that is under construction at Cedar Point.

The coaster - a major, much-anticipated remake of the ride formerly known as Mean Streak - will debut in May. It will be one of four new coasters at Cedar Fair parks in 2018 - a final parting gift from Ouimet, and the beginning of the Zimmerman era.
 

Zimmy

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There maybe tax implecations given where the offices are. I don't know much about Ohio's corporate taxes, but North Carolina's are somewhat favorable.

It maybe that they keep executive offices in Ohio for appearances as CP is the mother ship, but are incorporated in NC for tax purposes.

It may also be a facilities thing. It may that the offices in NC are fantastic, but so far away from anything that they have been avoided.

I will say this one thing, now that I know they have executive offices in Charlotte KD not becoming the SE flagship park makes more sense.
 
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Shane

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Zimmy said:
There maybe tax implecations given where the offices are.  I don't know much about Ohio's corporate taxes, but North Carolina's are somewhat favorable.

It maybe that they keep executive offices in Ohio for appearances as CP is the mother ship, but are incorporated in NC for tax purposes.

It may also be a facilities thing.  It may that the offices in NC are fantastic, but so far away from anything that they have been avoided.

I will say this one thing, now that I know they have executive offices in Charlotte KD not becoming the SE flagship park makes more sense.

I actually just looked at their SEC filings and they are incorporated in Delaware and list their "Executive Offices" as being in Sandusky.

I guess I was mostly surprised about the new CEO being based in Charlotte because everything I had read in the past stated that Cedar Fair shuttered the Paramount Parks offices (which were located in Charlotte) after their acquisition on 2006. I've actually spent some time this afternoon digging around to see if I can find where the information regarding the closure of the old Paramount office came from and all I've found is the Wikipedia pages for Cedar Fair and Paramount Park's that mention the closure and both of those articles lack any citation for the statement.

This all leads me to believe that Cedar Fair never closed those offices since the new CEO will be based out of this office. The only problem is I can't actually find any information regarding the location of these offices. Are they on Carowinds' property? Or are they in an office tower in downtown Charlotte? Or maybe some suburban office park in the Charlotte area? FUN's corporate website list's their address at 1 Cedar Point Dr Sandusky, OH.
 

Shane

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Whoop! Looks like I found something just after I hit post. This article from "The Blade" in 2006 indicates that FUN had not made a decision to close the Charlotte office though it's lease at an office park in Charlotte would be up in September...



**UPDATE** So it looks like I found the answer. In September of 2006 Cedar Fair let the lease lapse on Paramount Park's Corporate Office in Charlotte and relocated those employees to Carowind's onsite offices. So, unless between 2006-2017 Cedar Fair got new office digs the new CEO will be based out of offices on-site at Carowinds. If all of that is true, I wonder why the article just didn't say that he will be located out of Carowinds instead of the way they stated it, "our Corporate Office in Charlotte."
 

Zimmy

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Incidentally I almost made mention of Delaware, as it actually has the highest number of corporations in the country.  (no corporate taxes)

Sounds more like Charlotte served as an "alt-site." Even still that would provide it more clout than we previous thought, perhaps explaining the cosey relationship they have with the state and why Caro got "favored nation status"
 

Shane

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Cedar Fair Entertainment Company Names New Chief Operating Officer
CedarFair.com said:
SANDUSKY, Ohio, Dec. 18, 2017 -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Tim Fisher will join the company as chief operating officer, effective immediately. In this role, Fisher will oversee operations at all of the Company's parks and resort locations. He will report directly to incoming chief executive officer Richard Zimmerman.

"Tim is the right person at the right time to enhance the strength of our management team," said Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's president and incoming chief executive officer. "We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks. Tim's significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives. We are excited to welcome Tim to our Cedar Fair family and we look forward to his leadership and focus on taking the overall guest experience to new heights going forward."

Fisher, 57, joins Cedar Fair from Village Roadshow, one of the leading theme park operators in the world. Most recently, Fisher served as chief executive officer of Village Roadshow Theme Parks from January 2009 until March 2017 when he became the CEO of Village Roadshow Theme Parks International. During his time with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, Fisher was responsible for all of the theme park business operations in the United States and Australia, as well as development initiatives in Asia. Under Fisher's leadership as CEO, the theme park group achieved record attendance, revenue and EBITDA performance.  

Prior to joining Village Roadshow, Fisher served more than 30 years in the theme park industry including serving as executive vice president of Paramount Parks and Viacom Recreation, where he was directly responsible for the management, operational and financial performance of all of the domestic and international theme parks.

"I am thrilled to join this successful leadership team," said Fisher. "Cedar Fair is an exceptional company – from the quality of its attractions to the talents of its people. Its properties are well-run and offer great family entertainment value. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and look forward to working with Richard and the entire team to build on Cedar Fair's already strong legacy of success."

About Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: "FUN"), one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world, is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. Focused on its mission to become "THE place to be for FUN," the Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks including its flagship park, Cedar Point, along with two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. It also operates an additional theme park under a management contract. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario.

This news release and prior releases are available online at www.cedarfair.com.

Contact: Stacy Frole, (419) 627-2227

SOURCE Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

I first discovered the story at NewsPlusNotes.com; they pointed out that AttractionsManagement.com had a detailed profile of Mr. Fisher that is worth the read.

I am noticing that more and more of Cedar Fair management is being populated with prior Paramount Parks' Executives, while a good chunk of these people have been with Cedar Fair since the merger in 2006. It is interesting to see these people in top executive positions today, coupled with bringing back former Paramount Parks' leadership.

Another interesting observation from my prospective is that although these Paramount figures are now at the top of Cedar Fair, I don't really see the parks falling into the old junky slump that Paramount Parks became associated with. I imagine this may have more to do with Matt Ouimet's Disney experience, but as he phases himself out of the company it will be wise to observe trends that could lead back towards old Paramount style management. Only time will tell.
 

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I agree with your assessment of the return of some Paramount Parks leadership, Shane. It's also important to remember that many of the problems with Paramount Parks stemmed from Viacom's poor treatment of their parks division, leading park leadership little budget and few resources to work with. I think much of Paramount's legacy is marked by outstanding vision mixed with poor execution.

It is definitely interesting to see Cedar Fair leadership being so heavily populated with former Paramount Parks executives. Come the new year, both the CEO and COO will have been former Paramount leaders.

I wonder if this means anything new for the Cedar Fair parks. Possibly we could see Cedar Fair doubling down on Ouimet's increased focus on theming. I also sort of wonder if the new leadership will have a newfound soft spot for the Paramount Parks- nothing in the way of additional investments but perhaps they may toss their former parks a bone once and a while.
 

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I have to agree, it does seem like the "original" Cedar Fair parks have gotten little to no attention since Cedar Fair bought Paramount.

Dorney hasn't had a new brand new coaster since 2005, getting TWO relocated INVERTED SHUTTLES; a relocated Inatmin Impulse from Geauga Lake in 2008 and a relocated Vekoma Invertigo. Michigan's Adventure has not a brand new major coaster installed since 1999, receiving a relocated Vekoma SLC from Geauga Lake in 2008. - This parks lack of attention could more be attributed to its proximity to Cedar Point. Excluding Planet Snoopy's Cosmic Coaster, Valleyfair! hasn't had a new coaster since 2007's Renegade, they didn't even get a Geauga Lake hand-me-down. World's of Fun's last coaster addition was 2009's Prowler.

Granted these parks generally smaller than the Paramount Parks and are further away from large metro areas, but Cedar Fair has really given almost all of it's attention outside of Cedar Point to the Paramount Parks.
 

SLC Headache

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Shane said:
I have to agree, it does seem like the "original" Cedar Fair parks have gotten little to no attention since Cedar Fair bought Paramount.

...

Granted these parks generally smaller than the Paramount Parks and are further away from large metro areas, but Cedar Fair has really given almost all of it's attention outside of Cedar Point to the Paramount Parks.
I had to look it up.

Worlds of Fun is closer to Kansas City than Carowinds is to Charlotte.
Valleyfair is closer to Minneapolis than KI/KD/CW/CGA are to Cincinnati/Richmond/Toronto/San Francisco respectively.
Even Dorney Park is closer to Philadelphia than Cedar Point is to Cleveland.

Of course, there was the matter that Carowinds and California's Great America were worse off than those three legacy Cedar Fair parks were at the time of the Paramount purchase.
 
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Shane said:
I have to agree, it does seem like the "original" Cedar Fair parks have gotten little to no attention since Cedar Fair bought Paramount.

Dorney hasn't had a new brand new coaster since 2005, getting TWO relocated INVERTED SHUTTLES; a relocated Inatmin Impulse from Geauga Lake in 2008 and a relocated Vekoma Invertigo. Michigan's Adventure has not a brand new major coaster installed since 1999, receiving a relocated Vekoma SLC from Geauga Lake in 2008. - This parks lack of attention could more be attributed to its proximity to Cedar Point. Excluding Planet Snoopy's Cosmic Coaster, Valleyfair! hasn't had a new coaster since 2007's Renegade, they didn't even get a Geauga Lake hand-me-down. World's of Fun's last coaster addition was 2009's Prowler.

Granted these parks generally smaller than the Paramount Parks and are further away from large metro areas, but Cedar Fair has really given almost all of it's attention outside of Cedar Point to the Paramount Parks.

This really isn't a surprise at all. When CF bought the Paramount chain, they said they would invest in parks that brought them the most revenue. This is why you see the former Paramount parks getting more attention than the original CF parks. Parks like Valley Fair, Worlds of Fun, Michigan Adventure, Dorney, etc don't bring in enough money for the company to reinvest back into them. That's why they seem neglected.
 
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SLC Headache said:
I had to look it up.

Worlds of Fun is closer to Kansas City than Carowinds is to Charlotte.

Proximity to major cities isn't the only demographic factor to take into consideration.  

Worlds of Fun might be closer to Kansas City than Carowinds is to Charlotte but Carowinds sits on the border of the Carolinas which has a combined population of about 15 million (nearly 3 times that of the entire state of Missouri) and can easily draw people from the Atlanta market and visitors from western Virginia and eastern Tennessee. Charlotte also has a major international airport.


Valleyfair is closer to Minneapolis than KI/KD/CW/CGA are to Cincinnati/Richmond/Toronto/San Francisco respectively.

Valleyfair's proximity to Minneapolis isn't a fair comparison to the other parks you mentioned because it's one of the smallest parks in the CF chain (less than 1/3 the size of KD) so there isn't a lot of room for growth there. Kings Island may be a bit further from Cincy but that park also draws crowds from the Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville metropolitan areas.  And you really can't use the distance of Canada Wonderland to the city of Toronto because the city it's located in is part of the Greater Toronto Metropolitan Area and is the only park in Canada's largest city, which has a much population bigger than the entire state of Minnesota.


Even Dorney Park is closer to Philadelphia than Cedar Point is to Cleveland.

Dorney might be closer to Philly than Cedar Point is to Cleveland but they also have severe competition from Hersheypark and Six Flags Great Adventure, which are two of the most visited seasonal parks in the country.  Dorney is also a small park (about half the size of KD) that really can't expand much because it's practically full and landlocked.  

Cedar Point not only draws from Cleveland but they also draw from three other major metropolitan areas in Pittsburgh, Columbus and Detroit.
 
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