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Leland Wykoff

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About Leland Wykoff

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  1. Here is a good article with an overview of improvements and progress at Dollywood for the new season: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/entertainment/2019/03/15/dolly-parton-talks-dollywood-wildwood-grove-opening-netflix-series-9-to-5-christmas-in-the-square/3080580002/?utm_source=knoxnews-Daily Briefing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_briefing&utm_term=list_article_thumb
  2. This is a wise move as it improves three areas of revenue. 1) Yield management of resort and hotel properties are improved as otherwise empty rooms produce lucrative marginal revenues. Given a hotel room is perhaps the most perishable item sold--if a room goes empty tonight that revenue can never be recovered yet the high fixed costs of room inventory were expended nonetheless--almost all of the marginal room revenue enhancements fall to the bottom line. 2) On park revenues have the potential for incremental growth as guests visit Cedar Point and purchase food, beverages, locker spaces, water park admissions, gifts and souvenirs, photos, and possibly additional hotel nights. 3) Admission revenues increase as the guests purchase the Wild Card option with the hospitality stay. Think of it as a limited season pass which shifts visits to the slower shoulder season. Such a strategy also creates space at Cedar Point for potentially higher revenue guests as crowds are thinned via revenue leveling from peak periods.
  3. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports the deal has closed and World Choice Investments, Dolly Parton's dinner show theater vehicle, has now fully acquired the assets of Fee/Headrick Entertainment including Comedy Barn, Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, Frizzle Chicken Restaurant, and Smoky Mountain Opry. WCI has also acquired the ticketing business, along with warehouses and other assets, Fee/Headrick used in the normal course of business operations. https://www.knoxnews.com/story/entertainment/2019/02/01/dolly-partons-dinner-show-company-buys-fee-hedrick-entertainment/2743141002/
  4. Cedar Fair may be signaling a new direction in management of ride assets. With a quick turn around parts supplier Cedar Fair will be able to reduce operating costs of repairs, ride life extension, and possibly even ride refreshments and renovations. The reduction in ride downtime can have several benefits including enhanced guest experiences, more effective installed capital productivity, purchasing and pricing leverage over traditional suppliers, and leveling of park staffing costs. Recall some years ago Cedar Fair embarked upon a world wide effort to locate legacy flat rides which were rebuilt, repaired, and renewed by outside vendors and companies, then installed in several parks. Those rides were more in the category of flat rides if memory serves me correctly. This development could lead to Cedar Fair being able to bring this capacity more in-house and in cooperation with a local vendor. Cedar Fair has been oversubscribing the marketable capital expenditures in the last few years. Rather than the 10 percent of revenue goal, Cedar Fair has been clocking in about 40-50 percent higher at the 14+ percentage of revenue cap ex reinvestment. At some point those costs must be brought into alignment with market guidance. This may be an effort to reduce the costs associated with attraction operation and a trimming of capital expenditures down to the expected and projected ten percent range. Cedar Fair, under the modern management era, has learned many valuable lessons. When Cedar Point removed two legacy rides to make way for the iconic, energizing, and defining GateKeeper roller coaster, the reduction in maintenance costs associated with the discontinued rides produced adequate enough savings to pay for the installation and operations of GateKeeper. Thus GateKeeper actually reduced operating costs. Thinking along these lines I rather suspect management expects significant gains going forward. The article reports Bitec/Simple Machining Inc plans to invest approximately $5 million in the next four years in the venture. That suggests a large volume of parts are expected to be ordered and manufactured in the near future. Assuming a very conservative ratio of $5.00 in orders for each dollar invested in plant and equipment that places a revenue value of $20 million in parts. This strategy also allows Cedar Fair to hedge against disruptions to the parts supply chain by circumstances such as embargoes, punishing trade tariffs, or demands by competitors which might temporarily restrict availability of parts from overseas. Given the lack of progress in trade agreements with Asian countries such a move seems very wise.
  5. A documentary was produced in 2002 concerning Paramount Pictures, The Kid Stays in the Picture, and the near death sentence it received under ownership by the Gulf+Western conglomerate. It is quite the view and is instructive of many of the forces which continue to shape and influence Entertainment Companies (even CedarFair). Following is a link to the IMBD entry for The Kid Stays in the Picture. Enjoy the read, and if you are interested in about a couple of hours of good film, stream the film on one of the services where it can be found. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303353/
  6. Fee/Headrick Entertainment awards long term employees with $5 million dollars in bonuses, as well as a five night cruise in the Bahamas, following the acquisition of the company by Dolly Parton vehicle World Choice Investments. Employees are pleased to be acknowledged and rewarded by David Fee and Jim Headrick so generously as they share in the spoils of a top of market price with those who have helped grow the company. This taking care of employees was also evident two years ago when a devistating Firestorm roared through Sevier County and the Hreat Smoky Mountains National Park. FHE lead in giving to recovery efforts with an immediate $500,000.00 initial gift. In addition FHE provided unparalleled support to staff and the families of employees who suffered fire losses with housing, relocation funding, utility, food, and cash assistance. FHE immediately opened warehouse and under utilized theatre space to organize and act as relief distribution centers and centralized receiving depots. Here is a local television story containing some details of the employee reward and bonus program: https://www.wvlt.tv/content/news/Pigeon-Forge-entertainment-group-to-give-employees-5M-in-bonuses-cruise--503073961.html?fbclid=IwAR3_qLJ9ljPnydoxx0yD-ERi7eObILwog7o1TiZGy9Bmmx_ZiXxVmmS13GQ
  7. Fee-Headrick Entertainment, operator of the Comedy Barn Theater, Hatfield and McCoys Dinner Show, Smoky Mountain Opry Theatre, Frizzle Chicken Cafe restaurant, and theater ticketing and sales outlets, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has entered an agreement to be acquired by Dolly Parton associated World Choice Investments, operator of Dolly Parton's [Dixie] Stampeed, and other properties such as Piriate Shows in locations such as Myrtle Beach. https://www.wbir.com/article/news/local/4-pigeon-forge-theaters-could-soon-be-under-new-ownership/51-618120623 The deal is expected to close late this year. Sources report the sale will include the assets of the extensive show tickiting business and related assets such as wearhouse facilities associated with Fee-Headrick Entertainment operations. The news of the sale came as a surprise to employees of FHE. Industry watchers and observers had been expecting a shake up in the Pigeon Forge theater scene. WCI has struggled, for two years, as they have desperately tried to find the formula to make the former Lumberjack Feud successful, since its acquisition. The revamped show and theatre was announced as Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure to muck fanfare. The Washington Post and other media outlets did major stories and puff pieces extolling the grand show, including the alleged multi-million dollar new sound system. Despite the strong Parton brand and major investments the show was a flop. Adjustments were made, the lumberjack theme was eliminated, and the theatre rebranded Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventure. The new production found much less audience than expected. Again, the theater name and show was revamped, and the production failed to produce the expected return. Currently operating as Dolly Parton's Celebration! dinner show the reviews and performance has been extremely disappointing. The local joke has become inquiring "if anyone knows the name of the show this week." Celebration! was slated to be replaced by Dolly Parton's Pirate Voyage Dinner Show imported from Myrtle Beach. This hasty announcement occured approximately 20 minutes prior to the scheduled announcement by FHE of the new Pirates Revenge Dinner Show to occupy a major Parkway frontage location. The close announcements suggested WCI was attempting to steal the thunder of FHE announcement. It seemed to underscored the difficulty WCI was having producing successful new shows. WCI appeared to be resorting to plugging-and-playing a proven show in lew of developing fresh new productions and products. The combination of five major theater shows is expected to create a juggernaut capable of marketing and capturing ticket sales for the evening time tourists are typically in the Pigeon Forge market. Independent operators are frightfully concerned. All of this shuffling could be a clue to other changes brewing in the theme park and tourist related entertainment industry. No doubt this is not the last of the realignments coming to the exhibitor/entertainment companies. Rather, this acquisition suggests a wave of realignments is about to be unleashed.
  8. This article, and series, is instructive in understanding how theme park revenues are calculated by analysts: http://www.theparkdb.com/blog/the-business-of-theme-parks-part-i-how-much-money-do-they-make/ Likely some analysts use proprietary insights related to statistical relationships between other known data points and how they tend to track along with theme park revenues. Sort of like how Amazon can guess other books you may be interested in buying by tracking and mining data fields for relational relationships. Think along the lines as something as obvious as hotel occupancy and daily revenue rates, and seemingly unrelated markers such as sales of a specific brand of sun screen.
  9. The Orange County Register has a rather interesting article today from behind the scenes of Knott's Scary Farm: https://www.ocregister.com/2018/09/25/knotts-scary-farm-has-1000-monsters-and-they-all-need-clothes/#nws=mcnewsletter
  10. SeaWorld settles SEC complaint and agrees to pay $4 million in fines. Once again the SEC has entered into a settlement agreement which does not require the admission of guilt. Several academic studies have questioned the wisdom of such settlements. Shareholders harmed by the SeaWorld deception will not recover as a result of the settlement. Former CEO James Atchison will also provide funds of $1 million in settlement. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/tourism/sd-fi-seaworld-sec-settlement-20180918-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter
  11. This is a very interesting read about the Disney and WED designer Rolly Crump--creator of Its A Small World exterior among other Disneyland features--and his view of the modern "Stroller park" of today. This story touches on design integrity, place making, visionary leadership, courage and convictions, along with insights into how some of the famous and lasting Disneyland features came to be. Worth the read. Enjoy! http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-ms-rolly-crump-20180907-story.html#nws=mcnewsletter
  12. Cedar Fair parks are gaining quite the reputation for environmental issues. A few years ago it was Michigan's Adventure running afoul of sewage treatment permits, now Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun are having similar problems. This could become a public relations disaster if management fails to respond to address the underlying pollution and permit violations: http://amp.kansascity.com/news/local/article213690094.html
  13. The Orlando Sentinel newspaper chimes in on the departure and management changes at SeaWorld: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-seaworld-joel-manby-follow-20180302-story.html
  14. As far as news analysis goes, this whale from today's Washington Post is a killer. Joel Manby must be pining for the quite relatively sleepy days he enjoyed while CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment. This analysis places a harpoon directly into the thin skin of SeaWorld and the sudden departure of Manby and his troubled leadership: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/02/27/seaworlds-ceo-promised-to-end-the-blackfish-fallout-he-didnt-and-just-resigned/?utm_term=.92489e07dc7a
  15. This mornings news of Joel Manby's abrupt separation from SeaWorld came as a surprise to almost as many folks as his hasty departure from Herschend Family Entertainment to take over the reins as SeaWorld CEO three years ago. FUN shareholders can rest easy. Former Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet is locked up in a rather long non-compete agreement under his employment agreement and would not be available for employment at SeaWorld: https://content.edgar-online.com/ExternalLink/EDGAR/0001193125-17-304136.html?hash=cde9ed3333c0e16b104885df518e384245ffe74fe7d2793ab0066ba33398a2ad&dest=D466011DEX102_HTM#D466011DEX102_HTM However, Matt Ouimet could very well play a central role in the future of SeaWorld and its various assets. When Ouimet stepped down as FUN CEO it was reported he would take on special projects, some of which would be related to seeking opportunities for Cedar Fair growth and acquisitions, including evaluating parks to join the FUN Family. This afternoon I contacted Cedar Fair to inquire a little deeper into Ouimet's non-compete and employment agreement, particularly his specific duties. A Cedar Fair official who could address my questions was reported to be traveling and unavailable at this time. I am expecting a call back at some unspecified future time. Ouimet is being well compensated in his new role. Cedar Fair must be expecting big returns from his efforts. Things could be getting FUN soon.
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