One man, one vision, one very impressive career.
Hired in 1972 in the foods division at Cedar Point, even Toledo-native Richard “Dick” Kinzel could not have predicted the path this new amusement career was about to take him on.
In just three years, Kinzel would be promoted to director of park operations at Cedar Point. His hard work would soon pay off again when he was promoted to become general manager of the newly acquired Valleyfair in 1978. It was at Valleyfair that he laid the groundwork that would soon change the entire amusement industry.
In 1986, Kinzel was promoted to President and CEO of Cedar Fair, L.P., the parent company of the company’s two parks.
Seeing that the historic Cedar Point resort numbers were flat, Kinzel know something big and cutting edge had to be found to bring the crowds back to the Point.
That vision would lead him to Arrow Development and the birth of a new wave of steel coaster wars. The end result was the introduction of the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, the 205-foot tall Magnum XL-200 hypercoaster. Yes, even new coaster terminology was ushered in.
The guests came to Cedar Point in record numbers year after year. That success would let the company grow in new ways never visioned.
More record-setting coasters in the 310-foot tall Millennium force and the 420- foot tall Top Thrill Dragster would make their place in the history books.
Not content with just two parks, Kinzel’s vision was to expand the CedarFair family the way Six Flags had expand- ed theirs.
The acquisition of Dorney Park in 1992, Worlds of Fun in 1995, Knott’s Berry Farm in 1997, Michigan’s Adventure in 2001 and Geauga Lake in 2001 were all but building blocks for what was on the horizon. Kinzel shocked the entire amusement industry in 2006 when Cedar Fair was able to pull off the acquisition of Paramounts five parks. That purchase moved Cedar Fair into one of the top 5 amusement companies in the world. The company grew from revenues of $100 million in 1986 to revenues of more than $977 million in 2010.
Under his watch the company also gained the rights to the Peanuts brand of characters with its purchase of Knott’s Berry Farm.
Kinzel’s vision has not just been roller coasters and rides. He has enhanced properties with resort lodging. He has built and expanded waterparks. He has entertained guests with state-of-the-art night shows and special events. And not forgetting the younger set, he has assembled impressive kid’s ar- eas in all his properties.
And through all this, he has maintained his proper- ties with new paint, new walkways, new buildings and new sections. The Cedar Fair parks are not aging, but are still in growth mode as all well man- aged amusement facilities should be.
As Richard Kinzel nears his retirement date from the amusement industry, Amusement Today takes this time to honor him as our first living Legend, 2011.