The second in command, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jacob “Jack” Falfas, resigned from his position on June 12. Cedar Fair filed a notification with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday confirming this.
Having worked for Cedar Fair for three decades, and appearing to many to be the heir and right hand man of Cedar Fair CEO Dick Kinzel, this has come as a complete surprise to many. Former amusement park executive, now president of International Theme Park Services, Dennis Speigel said "the full story is yet to be told. I haven't talked to him personally, but it seems to have come at an odd time."
Falfas could not be reached for comment on his resignation, nor have any additional details been given out by Cedar Fair. Just a few days prior to his resignation, Cedar Fair appointed new members to its board of directors at the request of its largest shareholder, Q Investements. They were also the group that rallied shareholders against the deal being made with the Apollo Management Group—likely the reason they requested new board members.
Falfas started with Cedar Fair in the 1970s as an admissions manager, working his way up through the company over the next few decades. It was in 2005 that Falfas returned to Sandusky and was made COO of the company.
Cedar Fair has recently been working on plans to refinance its debt on its own through the issuing of “junk” bonds and taking out a loan and line of credit to make the company “more stable.”
Kinzel, at 68 years old, is expected to retire in 2012 after his employment contract ends. With his “second hand man” now gone, the fate of the company is up-in-the-air for now. Currently, there is no reliable information available or speculation as to who may be Kinzel's next successor, but keep an eye out, as details will be posted as they become available.
After having its debut delayed not once, but twice, Cedar Point's new water attraction, Shoot the Rapids, has been scheduled to open Saturday, June 26th. Cedar Point posted the message, " GREAT news! Shoot the Rapids is scheduled to open THIS SATURDAY, June 26!" on both their Twitter and Facebook pages earlier today to alert their guests of the news.
Shoot the Rapids was originally scheduled to open on Cedar Point's opening day, May 15th. Due to a problem with the boats used for the ride, the opening day was set to be delayed until May 28th. Unfortunately this date had to be delayed as well, but this time guests were not told how long the delay would be. This lead to speculation and an endless watching of the ride by enthusiasts. All of this has come to an end however with the news that Shoot the Rapids will open June 26th.
Shoot the Rapids is a water ride built and designed by IntaRide LLC, the same company that brought us Maverick, Top Thrill Dragster and Millennium Force roller coasters and the Thunder Canyon river-rafting ride. Shoot the Rapids features two hills and drops, one standing 85 feet tall and the other standing 45 feet tall.
The amusement park community lost a dear owner on Monday, June 14th as Holiday World owner Will Koch passed away of type one diabetes at the age of 48. He is survived by his wive Lori, three children, his mother Pat, and sibblings Dan, Kristi, Phillip and Natalie.
Being part of the Koch family, Will was part of a amusement park heritage. Holiday World proclaims itself as the world’s first theme park, opening its gates more than sixty-four years ago, even ahead of the world renown Disney parks. The entire time, it has been owned by the Kochs.
Will was born and raised in Santa Claus, Indiana. Later, he would graduate from Heritage Hills High School and graduated in 1979 as a Valedictorian. Afterwards, he graduated in 1984 from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelors degree in electrical engineering. He received a Masters degree in computer science from the University of Southern California in 1986.
He took the reigns of Holiday World soon thereafter. He was pivotal in bringing Holiday World a big time spotlight in the amusement park industry, paticularly in the first two wooden coasters Raven in 1995 and Legand in 2000. He was part designer of the 2006 Voyage wooden coaster and boosted the size of Splashin’ Safari.
In 2004, he received the International Applause Award for the amusement park industry, with criteria including foresight, originality, creativity, sound business development and profitability. Since 2006, Holiday World has topped one million visitors each season. This year, the park is introducing the world’s longest water coaster in Wildebeast’s one-third mile long trek along with adding the techonologically advanced Timberliner trains to Voyage.
A few nearby park blogs including Cedar Point’s and Kings Island’s along with the many coaster sites on the web have expressed their condolences towards Holiday World and the Kochs. The members, administration, and staff here at COASTER-net also have them in our prayers.
Earlier this week, Six Flags Great America appeared before the Village of Gurnee zoning board requesting a height variance for a 150 ft tall structure. It has also been released that said structure will be a stand-up roller coaster from Swiss designer Bolliger and Mabillard that is being relocated from another park in the chain.
For those of you wondering, yes those are the approximate stats of Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom's former roller coaster Chang. The 2011 coaster installation will be placed in the Space Port area at the front of the park, taking over the former location of the Space Shuttle America simulator and the go-kart track.
Park President, Hank Salemi is extremely excited about adding their "first major thrill ride since Superman in 2003." This will be the park's 4th coaster manufactured by B&M. The name for the "new" coaster has yet to be announced but a complete name change and retheming is expected.
Rumors still persist that the once stand-up ride will reopen with B&M's floorless trains to prevent there being two stand-ups in the park (the other being Iron Wolf). Others claim that Iron Wolf will fall prey to Six Flags' unofficial "ride rotation" program.
The truth may not fully come out for a while, but for sure, Six Flags has some big plans in store for the chain's 50th anniversary next year. It should prove to be an exciting off-season.