SeaWorld Makes $3.4 Billion Offer to Buy Amusement Park Owner Cedar Fair

By Christian Hoffer
SeaWorld has made a multi-billion dollar offer to purchase the amusement park owner/operator Cedar Fair, which would make it one of the biggest theme park owners in the United States. Bloomberg was the first to report on the potential acquisition, which Cedar Fair then confirmed in a separate statement. Cedar Fair also noted that it was an “unsolicited” and “non-binding” offer, meaning that the company could reject the offer if they chose. The offer amounts to about $60/share, which is more than $5 per share higher than Cedar Fair’s current stock price. 
Cedar Fair is based out of Sandusky, Ohio and owns several major regional theme parks, including Sandusky’s Cedar Point, Knott’s Berry Farm in California, Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, and King’s Island outside of Cincinnati. Notably, the company owns the second and fifth tallest roller coasters in the world via Top Thrill Dragster in Cedar Point and Fury-325 in Carowinds. Meanwhile, SeaWorld owns a total of seven theme parks, including three SeaWorld locations and two Busch Gardens parks. If the merger went through, it would make SeaWorld the largest theme park operator in the United States, at least in terms of number of physical parks. 
The purchase would also further push SeaWorld further away from its current brand as an oceanarium operator. The company experienced major turmoil following the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which detailed an incident between an orca whale and its trainer, which led to the death of that trainer. SeaWorld phased out its orca whale shows and end its orca whale breeding program. 
The two companies have crossed paths before in a roundabout manner. Cedar Fair operated its Wildwater Kingdom park on the site of SeaWorld Ohio, a former SeaWorld site in Aurora, Ohio. SeaWorld sold its Ohio location to Six Flags, which in turn sold both SeaWorld and the adjacent Six Flags: Worlds of Adventure (formerly known as Geauga Lake) site to Cedar Fair a few years later. Both theme parks were ultimately closed by Cedar Fair a few years later. 
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