A bombshell announcement shook the theme park industry earlier this week when it was announced that regional theme park powerhouses Cedar Fair and Six Flags will be joining forces in a new merger deal worth an eye-watering $8 billion. When these two massive brands officially combine in 2024, they will have the biggest theme park portfolio in North America, with 42 total parks under the same umbrella across 17 states, as well as Canada and Mexico.
Once the deal officially closes early next year, the newly combined company will operate under the name Six Flags.
This development has been a long time coming, as rumors first began to circulate in 2019 that Six Flags was looking to acquire Cedar Fair. And while the COVID-19 Pandemic seemingly delayed these proceedings, talks continued happening behind closed doors, which led to this week’s announcement.
So, now that we know for sure that these two companies are joining forces what happens?
Six Flags is officially covering the map
Image: Six FlagsThe biggest benefit Six Flags will get from acquiring Cedar Fair is the ability to call itself the biggest theme park operator in North America. With nearly 50 theme parks now operating across the US, Mexico and Canada, Six Flags will have a stranglehold on the regional parks market.
In fact, if we consider just the US, after this merger is complete nearly half of all amusement parks in the US will be under the Six Flags banner. And while single park attendance will likely still be dominated by Universal and Disney parks, when it comes to total attendance across a single brand, Six Flags may have the numbers to legitimately challenge the former frontrunners in this area, due to sheer size alone.
Combining IP and building a new brand identity
Image: Six FlagsIn addition to having more parks, the newly combined forces of Cedar Fair and Six Flags will also be able to share licensing agreements and entertainment partnerships with a number of key intellectual properties, including Looney Tunes, DC Comics and Peanuts.
Though new attractions featuring these characters will take time to build, we’d wager that it won’t be too long before guests can meet Batman at Knott’s Berry Farm or Snoopy at Six Flags Magic Mountain, as character additions can be made pretty quickly. The addition of recognizable characters in all of the newly Six Flags-owned parks can also help give the formerly separately owned parks a more cohesive identity as one unit moving forward. And speaking of…
Name changes for former Cedar Fair locations will probably happen at some point
Image: Cedar FairUnder the terms of the merger agreement, the newly formed entity that comprises both Cedar Fair and Six Flags will simply be known as Six Flags. But what does this mean for iconic parks like Cedar Point, King’s Dominion, and Knott’s Berry Farm? Will they all just be renamed Six Flags? The answer is probably yes and no.
For now all current naming for these parks will officially stay the same. However, branding changes will undoubtedly happen in the future as these parks at some point as parent company Six Flags looks to leverage its new, single ownership across its new family of parks. Given this, we would imagine that subtle changes, like adding “a Six Flags Park” to parks that were formerly owned by Cedar Fair will probably happen in the next few years.