(WJW) – Cedar Fair, the Cedar Point parent company, and Six Flags announced their official merger Thursday, creating a leading amusement park operator.

According to a press release from Six Flags and Cedar Fair, the two companies came to a $2 billion deal, making a powerhouse in the theme park industry.

Together, the company will own 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks and nine resorts across 17 states, Canada and Mexico. 

The companies are two of the largest chains in the nation and the newly combined company will be worth around $3.5 billion.

According to the release, the combined company will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to the release, the corporate name of the company will be Six Flags, and Cedar Fair’s Richard Zimmerman will be CEO. Six Flags CEO Selim Bassoul will be the executive chairman. 

“Our merger with Six Flags will bring together two of North America’s iconic amusement park companies to establish a highly diversified footprint and a more robust operating model to enhance park offerings and performance,” Zimmerman said. “ I have great respect for the Six Flags team and look forward to joining forces as we embark on this next chapter together.”

“The combination of Six Flags and Cedar Fair will redefine our guests’ amusement park experience as we combine the best of both companies,” Bassoul said. “We are excited to unite the Cedar Fair and Six Flags teams to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities and operational efficiencies of our combined platform for the benefit of our guests, shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders.”

Amusement parks have seen an uptick in revenue but have struggled to raise attendance since the pandemic, even as other entertainment sectors have bounced back. A tie-up between two huge players is expected to at least lower costs.

Cedar Fair reported an attendance of 12.4 million guests in its third quarter, a 1% increase from a year earlier. Six Flags announced a 16% rise in its third-quarter attendance, which totaled 9.3 million guests.

Cedar Fair unitholders will own about 51.2% of the combined company while Six Flags shareholders will own about 48.8%.

According to the release, the newly merged company expects to see about $200 million in benefits from the deal, including $120 million in administrative and operational costs to be cut within two years.

Six Flags and Cedar Fair have talked about potential deals before, with Six Flags previously making an offer for Cedar Fair in 2019, but it was turned down. SeaWorld approached Cedar Fair with a bid last year, but that proposal was also rejected.

The merger is expected to close in the first half of 2024.

Fox 8 News did reach out to Cedar Point Director of Communications Tony Clark, but has yet to hear back.