Six Flags, Cedar Fair Gear Up For Screamin' Season

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With the recession now a distant memory, amusement parks are banking on a blockbuster summer, and pulling out all the stops to woo thrill-seeking teens.

Six Flags Great America, for example, is running one of its most popular roller coasters -- the 22-year-old Batman: The Ride -- backwards. And Cedar Point is already getting epic buzz for its new Gatekeeper, a winged rollercoaster that breaks several records, including the world’s longest drop and the longest distance.

The amusement park industry, which suffered a 5.5% drop in revenues during the recession, has been recovering nicely, with revenues increasing 5.2% in 2010, 3.6% in 2011, and 2.9% to $13 billion in 2012, reports IBISWorld. (In part, an increase in international travelers spurred U.S. visits, it reports.) And companies like Disney, Six Flags and Cedar Fair expect that strong spending to continue.

Cedar Fair -- which owns Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio -- last week says it anticipates record results in 2013, with revenues for the full year expected to come in between $1.09 billion and $1.12 billion. In part, it attributes that to the success of its 'Thrills Connect' marketing campaign, as well as a new e-commerce platform.

At its Kings Dominion property is Doswell, Virginia, it has introduced a new Planet Snoopy. And at Great America in Santa Clara, California, it has added the GoldStriker, an Old West-themed wooden coaster.

And at Six Flags, big improvements include dramatic renovations at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey and the debut of the Texas SkyScreamer, the world’s tallest swing ride, at Six Flags over Texas -- as well as Bonsai Pipeline water ride at Six Flags New England.

After announcing record results for 2012, last month, the Grand Prairie, Tex.-based company also announced record revenues for its first quarter -- a 32% increase to $88 million, as well as a 41% increase in attendance.

And last week, Disney said that guests stayed longer and spent more at its theme parks, helping to spur an overall revenue gain of 10%, with revenues from its park and resorts climbing 14% for the period to $3.3 billion.

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