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TP23, or should it be TP 60? Lots of news around the Theme Parks...

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by , 03-13-2009 at 05:01 AM
Happy Friday the 13th!

Lots of news this week, including the announcement of a new "official" Disney Fan website, and we do welcome them into the mix, but on the other hand, there is a lot more than "Just" Disney in entertainment, and will be focusing on that this week.

Warning, more commentary than usual this week....

Also, alas, no free food offers this week either. But I hope you had a chance to get free Jack In The Box and/or Arby's offers. In case you missed it, you can still get free a Free Arby's Roastburger (with purchase of a drink)...

Arby’s free Roastburger offer extended - Fast Food Maven - OCRegister.com

But the big news stories this week was the introduction of the new "D23" fan club/website and The Walt Disney Company Shareholder meeting, both happening last Tuesday.

Six Flags to remain OPEN despite what is in the news!

This week, Six Flags admitted they are looking into filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy if they cannot restructure their dept by mid-August.

washingtonpost.com

So what does that mean, first off, the parks will operate as normal for 2009, and there is no worries that your ticket/season pass will become worthless.



If Six Flags can't get the debt restructured by mid-August, then yes, Chapter 11 will be a very likely possibility, but what does that mean...

Pretty much, Daniel Shapiro and the rest of the investors of the chain will lose the money they placed in the chain, but the chain will remain in business.

Chapter 11 allows a company to adjust debt payments and lease arrangements, and that the majority of the locations do make a profit, including Magic Mountain. And while some locations might be looked at for the value of the land itself, without the theme park. But in this current climate, it is highly unlikely that someone would by a property (or more than one) to tear down the park and replace it with housing.

So Coaster Fans, no big worries, at least for a couple of years....

SeaWorld's current status

First off, a bit of fun, did you know that dolphins like blowing bubbles? check out the video at the link below.

SeaWorld's amazing dolphin bubble show | Travel News | News.com.au

OK, back to the business stuff... since In-Bev bought Anheuser-Busch earlier this year.




Beth Kassab: Finding a bigger pond for SeaWorld -- OrlandoSentinel.com


All of the big parks are hurting right now, evidenced by their current hotel-night giveaways. That doesn't necessarily mean Blackstone or another company wouldn't be able to pull off a deal for Busch Entertainment. The purchase price is projected to land in the $2 billion to $4.5 billion range.

Could Disney be a player, too? I doubt it.

Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger dodged a question at Tuesday's shareholder meeting about whether Disney was pursuing a bid for Busch. His response amounted to a polite no comment, saying the company doesn't discuss potential acquisitions publicly.

Industry watchers have said Disney explored Busch Entertainment when it first came up for sale. But it would be surprising to see the company chase such a deal.


Now Disney and NBC/Universal have deeper pockets than Merlin Entertainments, but all three have their eyes on the property, Disney would love to get Discovery Cove, especially to use as part of its draw to upscale Cruise Line Customers. But not sure if they would want the entire chain, though it would be nice to have the Muppets and Sesame Street under the same umbrella in regards to Theme Parks.

Of course, the Busch parks having ben making a profit, and no way that In-Bev would sell the parks at a loss, but they do want to raise cash to lower the debt. So a "decent" offer would get their atttention.

More parks for sell, this time Cedar Fair

This week, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (owners of Knott's Berry Farm) announced that they are looking to sell up to three of their parks.



CEDAR REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO REDUCING DEBT


SANDUSKY, OHIO, March 9, 2009 -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement resorts, water parks and active entertainment, today announced it will decrease its annual distribution rate to $1.00 per limited partner unit. On a quarterly basis, the Company’s distribution rate will be $0.25 per unit and will begin with the distribution that is expected to be declared in the second quarter of 2009.

“Although Cedar Fair has continued to report solid earnings and cash flows with some of the best operating margins among regional amusement parks, the Board of Directors is taking this action in order to retain additional cash flow to delever the Company over the next several years,” said Dick Kinzel, Cedar Fair’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “The current macro environment requires us to balance the distribution of excess cash flow to our unitholders with the Company’s strategic objective of strengthening our balance sheet.”

The Company currently pays approximately $105 million in distributions to its investors on an annual basis. A $0.92 reduction in the per-unit rate, along with scheduled debt repayments and interest savings on the lower debt balance, will allow the Company to reduce its debt by approximately $200 million over the next three fiscal years. This distribution reduction is a first step in Cedar Fair’s strategy to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

In addition, the Company continues to pursue the sale of excess land in the Toronto and Cleveland markets and continues to discuss the potential sale of California’s Great America, in Santa Clara, California, with the San Francisco 49ers. It has also completed a strategic review of its assets and has decided to explore the potential sale of Worlds of Fun, in Kansas City, Missouri and Valleyfair, in Shakopee, Minnesota. The Company said it would be premature to speculate on either the price or timing of any potential transaction.

“In light of current economic and market conditions, reducing our debt and strengthening our balance sheet must continue to be a priority,” added Kinzel. “These actions are designed to reiterate our commitment to create long-term value for our unitholders. We feel confident that we are proactively taking steps to reduce our leverage and strengthen our financial position over the long term.”

Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Partnership 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; Great America; and Gilroy Gardens, which is managed under contract.

And while discussing Knott's, they are hiring, and have a job fair this weekend.

Need a job? Knott’s is hiring - Around Disney - OCRegister.com


To get a head start, applicants can find job applications online at Knott's Berry Farm - America's 1st Theme Park!. Then they can show up at Knott’s employment center at 8039 Beach Blvd. in Buena Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday or from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.



One more note about Knott's, Xcelerator is closed for refurb, and replacement parts are being shipped from Europe, and the ride is not expected to be open for the next few weeks.

Universal Studios Hollywood has a new exhibit

Universal Studios Hollywood showcases new ‘Fast & Furious’ cars - Travel - LATimes.com

Check out the newest "Fast & Furious" cars, including photos at the link above.



Alas, no word on the Creature of the Black Lagoon, the Musical show's opening day yet....

What will you Celebrate? LEGOLAND's 10th Anniversary!

OK, a week early, but since we are focusing on non-Disney stuff, it was worth a mention. LEGOLAND Carlsbad opened on March 20th, 1999.



In 10 years, it has expanded, and is now a resort with a second attraction "Sealife" next door and a branded hotel (well hotel/time-share).

But about 1 hour south of Disneyland and a major focus on kids, it has turned into a big hit for the younger generation (and LEGO fans of all ages).

It would be interesting to see if Merlin (the owners of LEGOLAND) gets the Busch Entertainment properties, and how they market the SoCal area.

Adventure City is still up and operating in Stanton, CA

While the small kids-oriented park was rumored to be closed and replaced with condos, the current real estate market has allowed the park to remain open.



I love Tree Top Racers, but the park has a unique rule for most folks, and that is that Adults need to have a kid to enter (there is an exception for Coaster Club Members, so they can get "credits" for the 2 coasters they operate). Alas, in this day and age, the safety measures are needed.

Your chance to be on the Amazing Race!

I am a big fan of the show, both for the amazing video they get of the locations, plus the competition.

Here is your chance to audition, it starts this Sunday in San Diego, but goes through the USA, and there is also a link in case you can't make it to an live audition.

‘The Amazing Race’ Season 15 open casting call in San Diego, Las Vegas and across the country - Travel - LATimes.com

Good luck to all!

Time to talk about Disney, and the Anaheim GardenWalk!

First off, walked through Anaheim GardenWalk Thursday and came across this in the Directory...



So yes, we have an official Marketing agreement between the Disneyland Resort and AGW, which has been mentioned here at MiceAge many times.

The newest part of the program is the fact that Disney will start taking advantage of the excess parking spaces at AGW and use it for Theme Park parking.

Most of the Convention Center Parking is not available this weekend due to the Bog West Basketball Tournament being held this weekend, and with Spring Break starting its second week.

And just like the Pummba lot across the street from AGW, you will be expected to walk from the lot to the parks.

The Walt Disney Company Shareholder Meeting

The last Tuesday, Disney held its annual Shareholder event near the Pixar Studios in Oakland, California.

Not much real news from the event, the main stories were the official announcement of "D23" and the names of the two new Cruise ships (Dream and Fantasy).

But one interesting point came out of the Q&A session, and that was that only about 50 out of the 600 Disney Parks Executives buyout offer agreed to it. Alas, with the new One-Disney restructuring, I think more than a few Execs wished they took the deal when it is available.

You can hear the entire Shareholder event (minus the copyrighted material) at this link.

The Walt Disney Company and Affiliated Companies - Presentations

Last, but not least, "D23"

OK, yes, I specifically started with the NON-Disney parks in this weeks article, as Tuesday, Disney started a Corporate-wide initiative to have one website to promote anything Disney. And while I like the idea, and I think it is a very smart idea, it is also a recognition of websites that have covered all aspects of Disney (and other similar companies) for years, such as MiceAge.

D23, which has a free website at www.disney.com/d23 and is a great site of official information, and yes, they promise, some insider stuff for the entire company. And if they follow through, it is something they will do well.

But it won't cover the OTHER parks, or much of the info that folks like Al Lutz and Kevin Yee cover. Yes, everyone here at MiceAge loves to talk about things that Disney does right, but on the other hand, when Disney makes a mistake, WE won't be afraid to mention it... What would D23 say?

Heck, I was at the parks on Thursday, Disneyland had extended hours and all 7 Fastpass attractions offering the FP's... DCA on the other hand, normal hours and only 2 of the 5 FP machines turned on.

I linked the D23 website on purpose, it is well done and has some great content.

But IMHO, it is a good addition to websites such as MiceAge and other websites that cover the parks, especially rumors.

Or find the amount of photos from across the world as you can find here at MiceAge. I can't think of another website that can claim the amount of photos and locations that can be found between the Weekend Round Up, Dateline Disneyland, Kevin Yee and yes, myself...

So welcome to the club, D23, and that is a TRUE welcome, we are looking forward to your content and other special events. But, at least IMHO, you will be a secondary site as compared to websites that have covered Theme/Amusement Parks including Disney, and will be willing to talk about BOTH the positive and also the negative about the parks.

Congrats to Scotty, and many other Darkbeer.Smugmug.com photos

OK, lets start with the Big West Mascot Challenge, which I have covered for the last 5 years, and is always a fun event at the ESPN Zone. (Heck, the event has only been offered for 5 years!)

This years winner is the University of California, Riverside mascot, Scotty!




The Main Street Vehicles are back in operation.



How Orange can you dye concrete?



Will Celebration RounUp open on time in April 2nd?


The Ducks think they own the park!


Visable work on Bathroom Row.



The ears have been trimmed, and now it is a true circle, just waiting for a neon sign in storage....





About six more weeks prior to the Games of the Boardwalk reopening.

















And as always, plenty more photos at the Smugmug site. And thanks again for checking out MiceAge and Smugmug!

Have a great weekend!

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Updated 03-13-2009 at 06:02 AM by In the Parks

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Comments

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  1. WheresMickey's Avatar
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    Nice update!
  2. DCAfanatic's Avatar
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    good job as always
  3. TifaOnACloud's Avatar
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    It's disheartening to hear about Ceder Fair wanting to sell Great America. As much as I have a love-hate affair with the place, I still hope the best for it. I grew up with that park moreso than even Disneyland.

    Thanks for the info
  4. SouthHrbrBlvd's Avatar
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    Thanks again!

  5. Mouseketeer Kevin's Avatar
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    At least some cars will be using the Garden Walk parking garage!!!

    Great Update as always. Your column is always full of great information, great pictures, and I appreciate all your hard work you put in to it each week!!!
  6. Sparky's Avatar
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    Awhile back I was invited by Universal to join an online "advisory group". Every once in awhile, they will send a survey or feedback form about something or another. The most recent one had to do with the Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Musical show. It kind of had me wondering if there was some problems or uncertainty with the show. The fact that it's opening seems to have been delayed makes me wonder even more.
  7. BruceShank's Avatar
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    Very upset by the charade Disney is calling D23. What really burns me is the numerous other "clubs" they've offered (that I became a member of) in the past that are now dead. I was always a member of the Magic Kingdom Club, which has dissolved along with their quarterly newsletter. Subscribed to Disney Magazine, which has since dissolved. Became a charter member of Disney's Visa, which really has no discernable perks beyond any other credit card. I was also in another Disney members club, can't even remember the name, which rolled out almost exactly like this one and included a one-of-a-kind, limited edition Disney mini-sculpture (of Jiminy Cricket) that offered discounts on merchandise. That's no longer an active exclusive club. Guess they just need another cash infusion - who doesn't. Disney, whose Company and culture and entertainment myself and my family love, seem to do a great job of exploiting their true, die-hard, (maybe too trusting and blindly devoted) fans. I will, unfortunately, not opt to give them more money for glossy periodicals and deals on Goofy porcelin statues. Thanks for keeping up your great columns. I really enjoy it.
  8. MickeyMousePal's Avatar
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    nice update, Darkbeer
  9. cositaluvsmickey's Avatar
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    Great update!!
  10. pirate_tim's Avatar
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    great update as always! the D23 expo does look interesting though.
  11. dsnygrl13's Avatar
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    D23 looks like they're trying to take over where the E-Ticket left off?
  12. nileprincess's Avatar
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    I think D23 will be a great addition, as well. I'm looking forward to the features utilizing archival materials, as those are something the average fan has little access to. It's great to see all the different components of Disney working together to create such a great publication.
  13. Kritter's Avatar
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    great update!
  14. Athlonacon's Avatar
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    I too would like to add my sentiment of Great Update, thanks.
  15. dkutz's Avatar
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    Spell check!!!!
  16. DonDuck's Avatar
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    Good stuff, as always!
  17. marclichon's Avatar
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    I have to say that while I look forward to getting into D23, nothing will replace MousePlanet, Miceage/Micechat, JimHillMedia and my other 'daily coffee' sites so you have nothing to worry about. We appreciate the respectful articles, FAN-centric photographs and 'man on the street' reporting. Thanks for such a worthwhile site in a sea of otherwise cluttered crap.

    ... don't forget AllEars.net and countless others (too many to list)
    Updated 03-13-2009 at 03:33 PM by marclichon (Forgot a site!)
  18. Lady Stardust's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great update! And while I have already joined D23 (fools rush in, right?), I certainly will not take you guys (or any of the other Disney fansites) off my daily routine!
  19. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update!
  20. b236en's Avatar
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    wow
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