Cedar Fair has announced the appointment of Matthew Ouimet, the man widely credited with turning around the performance of the Disneyland Resort, as its new CEO.
Ouimet will take over control of Cedar Fair's 11 amusement parks across North America, after former CEO Dick Kinzel was forced out by shareholder Q Investments. He previously oversaw the period leading up to Disneyland's 50th anniversary in 2005, before leaving to become president of Starwood Hotels in 2006. Other roles at Disney had included general manager of the Disney Vacation Club and president of the Disney Cruise Line.
Cedar Fair has been in turmoil for several years, and saw a planned takeover by asset manager Apollo Management LP collapse in 2010 due to a lack of shareholder support. While it saw an increase of nearly 8 percent in attendance during 2010, it remains hindered by the weight of massive debts.
Independent chairman C. Thomas Harvie said of the appointment: "Without question, Matt is the right leader to join Cedar Fair now as it builds momentum on its renewed path of sustained, profitable growth in 2011 and beyond. Throughout his career, Matt has proven to be a critical thinker and effective business strategist with an enviable track record for identifying growth opportunities within existing businesses in the amusement park and resort industry. His broad and diverse background in resort development, finance, marketing and operations will allow him to integrate quickly into Cedar Fair."
Kinzel will retire upon leaving the post, ending a career with Cedar Fair that stretches back to his original role at Cedar Point in 1972.