November 1, 2023, 2:44 PM ·

Reuters and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Six Flags and Cedar Fair are nearing a deal to merge.

Cedar Fair is supposed to report its quarterly earnings tomorrow morning, so we should expect at least some investor questions about the deal then, if not an announcement. The big question from theme park fans would be, who runs the combined company? A combined Six Flags and Cedar Fair would operate 26 theme parks and multiple other water parks across North America. However, the companies’ theme park portfolios would overlap in only two markets, both in California, with Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain in the Los Angeles area and California’s Great America and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in the San Francisco Bay Area.Six Flags has struggled financially since abandoning its tradition of admission discounting under its current leadership. Cedar Fair initially recovered well in 2022 following the pandemic lockdowns, but has reported weaker performance to date in 2023. Both companies have been falling father behind industry leaders Disney and Universal since the lockdowns, with rival SeaWorld pushing to claim more of Six Flags’ and Cedar Fair’s traditional market of serving roller coaster and thrill ride fans.

Cedar Fair and Six Flags have been down this road before, with Six Flags trying to buy Cedar Fair in 2019, only for Cedar Fair to tell Six Flags ‘no thanks’. Six Flags brings the stronger brand name to the table, as Cedar Fair is the largest U.S. theme park operator not to have an over-arching, customer-facing brand identity for its parks. But Six Flags’ brand has not delivered much value to its parks in recent years, as current management as acknowledged in its attempt to drive the brand upmarket by removing discounts.At the moment, Six Flags has a market capitalization of $1.7 billion, while Cedar Fair stands at $1.92 billion. Both stocks are up sharply on the merger speculation.To keep up to date with more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider’s weekly newsletter. And to help support Theme Park Insider while saving money on discounted theme park tickets, please follow the ticket icon links our Theme Park visitors guides.

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