Category Archives: Cedar Fair

To Souvenir Cup, or Not to Souvenir Cup

170415 Kings Island 2017 Mystic Timbers Souvenir Bottle

There used to be a time where the decision was easy. You simply paid for your drinks individually, which really got expensive fast. Or you purchased a souvenir cup and received free refills on the day of purchase and $1 refills thereafter. However, in 2016, Cedar Fair rolled out an enticing program for those of us who like to pay one and done with the All-Season Souvenir cup.

With the All-Season souvenir cups, you paid for the cup upfront and receive free refills all season, and you could use the cups at all of the Cedar Fair parks. It was a no-brainer, but came with its own set of risks and downfalls.

Once the All-Season souvenir bottles were unlimited for the year, they were easy targets of thieves, as gross as that sounds to drink out of other people’s bottles you do not know. Plus you always had to deal with storing the bottles during rides.

Fast forward to 2017, and Cedar Fair introduced the All-Season Drink Pass, where you get unlimited drinks all season, though in smaller, disposable cups.

So the question became, To Souvenir Cup, or Not to Souvenir Cup?

When the start of the season rolled around, our family had to make a decision, would be go with the All-Season Souvenir bottles or the simpler All-Season Drink Pass? Or do we do one Drink Pass and one Bottle to share among our family?

After discussion, our family elected to go with two All-Season Souvenir bottles, and here is why.

Both programs limit refills to every 15 minutes. The All-Season Drink Pass offers a smaller cup of beverage than that in the souvenir bottles. The All-Season Drink Pass does not include lids or straws with the cups, as opposed to the souvenir bottles that do.

Since we have little kids and share the cups between our family, we have enough choices to make about which beverage to put inside them. The All-Season souvenir bottles were an easy decision for our family because they offer lids and a straw, which minimize the potential for spills.

We also have children young enough that we bring a stroller into the parks; therefore, we have a place to store the cups and typically at least one adult is back with our youngest and the stroller. We just need to be diligent about keeping an eye on the stroller/bringing the cups with us on any family rides.

Now that you know our family’s reasoning for going with the All-Season Souvenir Bottles, which program do you prefer?

Note: The 2017 souvenir bottles are about 4 ounces smaller than those from 2016 and years prior. Current cups hold 24 ounces of beverage as opposed to 28 ounces in years prior.

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Interesting Facts from the 2017 Cedar Fair Investor Presentation

Earlier this month Cedar Fair released their 2017 Investor Presentation that is packed full of information about the company, as well as forward-looking statements about what we may expect in the coming weeks, months, or years. We always find these documents rather interesting, and over the years they have begun to release more and more information from behind the curtain. So lets take a peak into some Interesting Facts from the 2017 Cedar Fair Investor Presentation.

Cedar Fair Park Revenue

Cedar Fair has put forth 7 consecutive years of record results in terms of revenue and Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Where it really gets interesting is looking at the breakdown by park to see which parks carry the weight.

Referencing the 2015 Theme Index of attendance, the top four performing Cedar Fair parks were Knott’s Berry Farm, Canada’s Wonderland, Cedar Point, and Kings Island. We expect to see similar results when the 2016 list is released in May 2017.


However, when it comes to revenue by park, Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Point are about equal at about 23% and 21% respectively of the $1,289,000,000 2016 revenue. Further, Kings Island beat out Canada’s Wonderland revenue at 11% and 9% respectively.

Knott’s has a distinct advantage of being open year round, but it still interesting to see how the top attendance parks relate to revenue, with the two top earners double what the next closest two earners are for 2016.

On the flip side, it is rather surprising to see Kings Dominion and Carowinds being roughly equal in terms of revenue, yet one has clearly gotten more investment than the other. For reference, the 2015 revenue appears to be about equal as well.

What is also interesting to see if that California’s Great America (CGA) is about equal in terms of revenue as Kings Dominion and Carowinds. However, the 2016 EBITDA of CGA is a small fraction of the other two. Given CGA recently received approval for extensive expansion plans, this is an interesting long term play.

It is also quite interesting to see how the lowest earner, Michigan’s Adventure, is a $26 million revenue park vs the giants, Cedar Point ($272 million) or Knott’s Berry Farm ($293 million).

Developed vs Undeveloped Land

It is always interesting to us to look at how much land the parks have for future development. Fortunately, the Investor Presentation tabulates the numbers nicely.

March 2017 Cedar Fair Land Holdings Chart

Most people will immediately look at this chart and think, “wow, such and such park has tons of room for expansion. Why don’t they build 10 giga-coasters with all that land?”

In reality, expansion is not as simple as it once was back when the parks were built. Today’s development rules require extensive engineering to handle normal infrastructure, but also additional storm water runoff measures. In addition, many sites contain wetlands, which can be expensive to mitigate for expansion. Not to say it can not be done, but it all costs a LOT of money. Expansion requires the proper infrastructure behind to make sure it can be sustained.

What is also interesting to look at is where the properties in Cedar Fair ownership are located.

For example, take Cedar Point. They own the majority of the peninsula with the exception of some outlying residential properties. Cedar Point also own extensive property outside the causeway for employee housing, parking, hotels, and restaurants.

The purchase of the former Griffing Sandusky Airport allowed Cedar Point to greatly expand their reach into the sports market.

Now enough of the numbers game. Get out there and have some FUN, because that is what is all about in the end!

1) All numbers roughly calculated from Cedar Fair Investor Presentations and do not represent actual values.
2) We do not own any Cedar Fair interests at the time of this article.
3) Photos from slides ©Cedar Fair

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Everything You Need to Know About the Cedar Fair All Season Souvenir Bottle

170421 2017 Carowinds Souvenir Cups

The souvenir drink bottles tend to have a love/hate relationship among park goers. Those of us who still travel with a stroller have no problem bringing along our souvenir bottles when going on rides. However, those that are strollerless or do not have people to hold their belongings are encouraged to rent a locker for storing your bottle. While the souvenir bottles can be an excellent value, they can also have hidden costs when you need to pay to store them.

While there are other storage options liking hiding your souvenir bottle behind a bush or on top of the lockers, you do so at your own risk of them getting stolen or thrown away.

Carowinds rolled out a test all season long souvenir cup in 2015; however, since it was rolled out in late July, they may not have been too well received since half of the season was already over.

Well the good news is the all-season souvenir bottles were rolled out at all of the Cedar Fair parks in 2016 and continue in 2017 due to their overwhelming success!

How Much Do the All Season Souvenir Cups Cost?

For $29.99, guests can enjoy unlimited refills throughout the 2017 season. The price is the same online as it is in the parks.

In addition to the cost of the cups online, you pay tax and processing fee. You can wait and purchase the cups at the park to save on the processing fee.

170415 Kings Island 2017 Mystic Timbers Souvenir Bottle

Why Are the Souvenir Bottles So Expensive?

If you know anything about the restaurant business, margins are very low on food. While a regular guest paying $15 for a meal makes the company money, a guest on the meal plan carries risk of eating more throughout the year than the cost of the plan. An all-season meal plan at $90-113 (2017 All-Season dining plans at Fall 2016 prices) with an average $11 for a meal ($15 – $4 for a drink not included on the meal plan), means you need to eat at least 9 meals throughout the season to break even. At two meals a day, that means on your fifth visit you break even.

The park than carries a risk of you eating more meals and eating into their profits.

That is where the souvenir cups make up the difference and where the park makes real money.

When you purchase a souvenir cup, regardless of whether it is regular bottle or all season version, you pay upfront a fee to use the cup. In addition, the cost of the bottle far exceeds the cost of the dispensed beverages, which costs cents. No matter how many times you refill the cup, the park makes money.

So the short answer is, the parks make their money on the souvenir bottles more than the food, and thus why you pay a premium for the bottles.

Where Can You Use the All Season Souvenir Cup?

Just like in 2016, we have independently confirmed from park officials that the 2017 all season cups will be able to be used at ALL Cedar Fair parks!

There still tends to be some confusion about where you purchased your souvenir cup online versus which park you take them to redeem. For example, can you purchase your cup through the Cedar Point website but redeem for them at Carowinds since they open earlier in the season?

In 2016, we successfully did redeem our Cedar Point souvenir cup receipt at Kings Dominion. While we are sure this will still be the case in 2017, you should try and purchase your cup at which ever park you will visit first to avoid confusion. Thereafter, you can use the cups at ANY Cedar Fair park.

Word to the wise! The all season cups will become highly valuable this year, and just leaving them around makes them all the more prone to theft. Factor in the cost to secure your cup during each visit, or you will find yourself thirsty at the well.

160404 Carowinds Souvenir Cups and Popcorn Bucket

Should You Purchase the All-Day or All-Season Souvenir Cups?

The all-season cups offer free refills all season. However, there are still all-day cups that are free refills on the day of purchase and $1 refills all season.

During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, one could reactivate your cup on a subsequent visit to get unlimited refills on that day versus paying the $1.00 per refill fee. So the question was, could you reactivate the all-day cups?

Cup reactivation was deactivated in 2016 with the introduction of the all-season cup.

Therefore, if you plan on visiting more than a couple times, it makes sense to get the all-season cup. If you are only visiting for one, or even a couple visits but do not plan on drinking a lot, it may make more sense to buy the all-day cup and get $1 refills on subsequent visits.

160430 Cedar Point Valravn Souvenir Cups

What if I do not want to pay and store the souvenir cup to ride?

The great news is that for 2017, Cedar Fair introduced a season pass drink program. For $29.99, you can use your season pass at any drink location to receive a disposable cup. The drink program has a 15 minute time constraint between refills.

For additional details and discussion, use these references.

Cedar Point Season Pass Drink Program Coming in 2017

To Souvenir Cup, or Not to Souvenir Cup

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