Amusement Park Sale Closes

May 30, 2002
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MUSKEGON — The new owners of Michigan’s Adventure intend to spend the summer watching and learning before formulating any plans to change or upgrade the amusement park they bought in north Muskegon County.

Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair LLC closed June 1 on the $28.6 million acquisition of Michigan’s Adventure, one of the most popular tourist attractions in West Michigan, with more than 400,000 visitors annually.

The publicly held Cedar Fair owns and operates six large amusement parks nationwide, including the popular Cedar Point Amusement Park along the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, as well as five water parks, hotels and several restaurants. The parks collectively drew more than 11 million visitors last year, as the company generated revenues of $472.9 million and net income of $77.8 million.

Cedar Fair’s practice is to upgrade each of its parks annually with new rides or attractions, said Brian Witherow, the company’s corporate director of investor relations. With the busiest part of the 2001 season about to begin, Cedar Fair will spend the summer sizing up the operations of Michigan’s Adventure and deciding on future upgrades, Witherow said.

Additional rides and attractions at Michigan’s Adventure could come as early as 2002, he said.

“We’re too close to this season to do too much, plus we want to wait to get a feel for the market before we make any long-term plans,” Witherow said. “Our approach has always been to reinvest in our properties to keep the look and feel and the offerings as fresh as possible. Long-term, down the road, that’s the approach we’ll take with this park.

“You’ve got to be flexible in this business and offer the latest and greatest and what’s always going to bring people back,” he said.

Michigan’s Adventure, located north of Muskegon, was founded in 1968 by Roger Jourden. Under terms of the sale, Jourden received 1.25 million shares of Cedar Fair share valued at $28.6 million.

Seeking to expand through acquisition, Cedar Fair has eyed Michigan’s Adventure for about four years, Witherow said. The company saw the Muskegon-area amusement park as a “natural fit,” he said.

“It performs exceptionally well for an amusement park of that size,” Witherow said. “What Roger Jourden’s done there is absolutely fantastic.”

Michigan’s Adventure features a variety of rides and attractions, including its trademark Shivering Timbers wooden roller coaster, plus a water park, Wild Water Adventure, that has more than 20 water-related attractions. The park generated revenues in 2000 of $12 million.

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