California's Great America aerial image

Cedar Fair has announced the sale of the California's Great America theme park to real estate investment group JMA Ventures for $70 million.

The park's new owner currently operates several ski resorts in Northern California, but California's Great America will be the company's first amusement park. Cedar Fair will use the money to pay down some of its substantial debts, having offloaded one of the smaller parks in its North American chain.

California's Great America has seen a period of decline during recent years, with Cedar Fair removing several popular rides from the park. Most recently, it opted to relocate the Invertigo rollercoaster to Dorney Park, where it will become Stinger in the 2012 season. No replacement has been announced.

Speaking of the decision, outgoing Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel said: "Our decision to divest of our California’s Great America park was not an easy one. 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.”

California's Great America was originally opened in 1976 by hotel operator Marriott Corp., and was known as Marriott's Great America. The chain also operated another Great America near Chicago, which was taken over by Six Flags in 1985 and became Six Flags Great America.

The California park subsequently changed hands a number of times, being acquired by Cedar Fair when it took over the former Paramount Parks properties in May 2006.


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