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JMA Ventures to purchase California’s Great America from Cedar Fair for $70M

Photo: California’s Great America

Debt reduction measure for Cedar Fair

SANDUSKY, Ohio, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its California’s Great America amusement park, located in Santa Clara, California, to JMA Ventures, LLC (“JMA”) for $70 million in cash. The Company, which purchased the park in 2006, expects to use the cash proceeds from this sale to reduce its senior secured debt.

“Our decision to divest of our California’s Great America park was not an easy one,” said Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair’s chief executive officer. “This is a quality park that has terrific employees and serves a strong market. That being said, as part of our regular comprehensive review of our portfolio of parks, we determined that divesting a smaller park like California’s Great America at an attractive market value created a compelling business opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Among other things, it provides us the opportunity to immediately de-lever our balance sheet resulting in additional financial flexibility for growth and unitholder value creation in the future. California’s Great America and its employees have always demonstrated tremendous capability in providing its customers with the highest level of family entertainment in the northern California region. I’m confident the park and its employees will continue to thrive under the ownership of JMA.”

“As we look toward 2012, we are building significant momentum for Cedar Fair to deliver consistent and meaningful distributions to our unitholders,” said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair’s president. “At the same time, we remain committed to driving top-line growth through a combination of new rides and attractions, marketing initiatives and related strategic expansion around our entire portfolio of premier entertainment venues. The divestiture of California’s Great America will provide us with additional financial flexibility earlier than anticipated to achieve these goals and maintain Cedar Fair’s position as one of the most attractive growth and yield stories in the leisure and hospitality industry.”

The transaction, which is subject to approval by the City of Santa Clara and customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011. Cash proceeds received at closing are expected to be applied to the Company’s senior secured debt under the terms of the Company’s credit agreement. A Form 8-K with the material terms of the definitive agreement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the end of day Tuesday.

California’s Great America is northern California’s leading amusement park, with more than 50 rides and attractions. JMA Ventures, LLC is a California-based full service real estate investment firm, serving as managing partner of over $500 million in existing projects spanning hospitality, leisure, residential developments, retail, office and industrial/telecom.

About Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. Amusement parks in the Company’s northern region include two in Ohio: Cedar Point, consistently voted “Best Amusement Park in the World” in Amusement Today polls, and Kings Island; as well as Canada’s Wonderland, near Toronto; Dorney Park, PA; Valleyfair, MN; and Michigan’s Adventure, MI. In the southern region are Kings Dominion, VA; Carowinds, NC; and Worlds of Fun, MO. Western parks in California include: Knott’s Berry Farm; California’s Great America; and Gilroy Gardens, which is managed under contract.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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