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Cedar Fair, L.P. (NYSE:FUN)
Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call
February 13, 2019, 10:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Cedar Fair Fourth Quarter 2018 and Year End Earnings Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I'd like to turn the conference over to Stacy Frole, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Stacy Frole -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you, John. Good morning, and welcome to our 2018 year end conference call. I am Stacy Frole, Cedar Fair's Vice President of Investor Relations. This morning, we issued our 2018 fourth quarter and year end earnings release, which can be found on our corporate Investor Relations website at ir.cedarfair.com, or by contacting our investor relations offices at 419-627-2233. With me on the call this morning are Richard Zimmerman, our President and Chief Executive Officer; and Brian Witherow, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin, I need to caution you that comments made during this call will include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Federal Securities laws. These statements may involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements. You may refer to filings by the company with the SEC for a more detailed discussion of these risks. In addition, in accordance with Regulation G, non-GAAP financial measures used on the conference call today are required to be reconciled to the most directly comparable GAAP measures.

During today's call, we will make reference to adjusted EBITDA as defined in our earnings release. The required reconciliation of adjusted EBITDA is in the earnings release and is also available to investors on our Investor Relations website via the conference call access page. In compliance with SEC Regulation FD, this webcast is being made available to the media and the general public, as well as analysts and investors. Because the webcast is open to all constituents, and prior notification has been widely and unselectively disseminated, all content of the call will be considered fully disclosed.

Now, I will turn the call over to our CEO, Richard Zimmerman. Richard?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Stacy. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. For our call today, we're going to take a slightly different approach. Brian will begin with a brief overview of our 2018 fourth quarter and year end results and address a few balance sheet items. I will then take some time to discuss our 2019 expectations as well as our longer term goals and strategy, including our new five-year adjusted EBITDA target of $575 million. Following our remarks, we will open the call for questions.

Before I turn the call over to Brian, though, I want to take a moment and thank our team here at Cedar Fair. They are truly committed and dedicated to making our guests happy by providing fun, immersive, and memorable experiences. Our exceptional employees are the backbone of our business model and truly differentiate our parks from other generic regional entertainment offerings. Our team's tenacity is what drove our record results in the fourth quarter, and we expect this momentum to carry into this year. On behalf of everyone on the leadership team, we thank all of our employees for another great year and for continuing to make us the place to be for fun. Brian?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Richard, and good morning. While 2018 presented its share of challenges, I want to take a moment to highlight the impressive achievement of our parks. In 2018, we generated record revenue, with increases across all key revenue drivers -- attendance, average in-park guest per capita spending, and out of park revenues, including resort accommodations. Importantly, we accomplished this despite the challenging weather many of our parks experienced early in the year.

We introduced our new WinterFest celebration at a fifth park, Kings Dominion. So, we now have six parks that are open for operations during November and December. We increased the number of unique visitors to our parks and the total visitation from season pass holders when compared with 2017. And we announced a 4% increase in our annualized distribution rate, to $3.70 for 2019, which became effective for the December 2018 distribution payment and is consistent with our growth expectations going forward. This represents an attractive 7% yield at today's prices.

In 2018, we also advanced many key long-term initiatives that we expect to fuel additional growth in the near future, including breaking ground on a new hotel adjacent to Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a new indoor sports facility overlooking Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Both of these facilities are expected to open during the fourth quarter of this year.

Looking at key long lead indicators, our sales of advance purchase commitments, including season passes and all season products are already off to a strong start this year. While I must caution that, as of this past Sunday, we had recorded a little more than one-third of our total forecasted season pass sales, we are very pleased with the more than 25% increase to date when compared to the same sales period a year ago.

Now, on to the financials full year 2018 net revenues increased to a record $1.35 billion, up $27 million, or 2%, when compared with 2017. This result can be attributed to the record performances in three areas. First, a 1%, or 189,000 visit increase in attendance to 25.9 million visits, driven primarily by an increase in season pass visitation. Second, a 1%, or $0.39 increase in average in-park guest per capita spending to $47.69. And third, a 6%, or $8 million increase in out of park revenues to $152 million.

We're pleased to have achieved growth across all areas of our business. The popularity of our parks' food and beverage offerings continue to push peer in-park guest spending to new highs, driven by the purchase of our All-Season Dining and Beverage programs. We also saw strength in non-season pass admissions per capita spending, reflecting the value our guests continue to place on our product offerings, particularly our new rides and attractions and group entertainment facilities.

As I mentioned, we increased out of park revenues in 2018, largely attributable to our resort properties, which achieved higher occupancy rates and higher average daily room rates. The great appeal and convenience of our resort locations generate strong demand, extends our guest length of stay, and allows us to market both our parks and our resort properties more broadly as vacation destinations. As evidenced by our investment in the Charlotte hotel, we will continue to seek opportunities to grow and expand our resort accommodations offerings.

Based on the success of our 2019 advance purchase commitments, up more than 25% from the same time last year, we expect season pass sales will again be a significant driver of attendance growth. In 2018, season pass visitations represented more than 50% of our total attendance, which we believe is a result of our strong capital program and more immersive events. In just a few minutes, Richard will provide some additional information on how we will evolve this program over the next few years.

On the cost front, operating costs and expenses for 2018 totaled at $892 million, up $30 million, or 3%, from 2017. The higher cost which we anticipated resulted from an increased labor cost and, to a lesser extent, increases in operating supplies for the new WinterFest event at our Kings Dominion park in Richmond, Virginia.

Regarding labor costs -- in addition to increases in minimum wages, the tightening US labor market continued to put pressure on wage rates across the board, increasing competition for our seasonal workforce. Although we anticipate similar pressures through the 2019 season, we are rolling out a new workforce management system that will equip us with additional and better tools to more systematically and efficiently manage our seasonal workforce. We are confident we have the right tools and are taking the right steps to mitigate the impact of rising labor costs on our overall operations.

Full year adjusted EBITDA, which we believe is a meaningful measure of our park level operating results, was $4688 million, down 2%, or $11 million, when compared with 2017. The decrease reflects the impact of the higher operating costs and expenses, which more than offset the attendance growth in the year. While we're pleased with our record attendance in 2018, attendance growth for the year was lower than anticipated. We were affected by disruptive weather patterns in the first half of the year and, most importantly, during the peak vacation month of July.

Although attendance growth in the calendar year was lower than anticipated, August and the fourth quarter produced record levels of attendance. We expect the strong demand we generated in the second half of 2018 to continue into 2019 when we will introduce two new signature rollercoasters, as well as several new multiweek immersive entertainment offerings that we expect to create an urgency to visit our parks earlier in the year.

While we certainly felt pressure during the first half of 2018, our general managers and marketing teams did an excellent job or recognizing that the early season challenges were not representative of a broader consumer trend. They maintained discipline throughout the season first of our price integrity and to manage cost without impacting the overall guest experience. This operating discipline and dedication to maintaining a high-level guest experience contributed greatly to our record setting second half performance.

Importantly, we continue to delight our guests as evidenced by higher Net Promotor Scores at almost all of our parks. As you know, this is an important metric that measures the willingness of our guests to recommend our parks to others.

Our strong fourth quarter is also worth noting, as we expanded our popular fall and winter events. In 2018, we reported record fourth quarter revenues of $250 million, an increase of $22 million, or 9%, from a year ago; and record fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA of $68 million, up $7 million, or 11%, from last year. The strength of our fourth quarter results validates our ongoing planned investments and commitment to enhance and expand our entertainment offerings during the early and late stages of the year. This represents some of the most compelling growth opportunities for Cedar Fair, and Richard will be commenting on a few of these opportunities as part of the new five-year plan.

As a reminder, our teams are committed to a dual mandate -- delivering strong results in the current year and doing what is needed to protect and grow our business going forward. We are focused on maintaining our historically high adjusted EBITDA margins while continuing to invest in and enhance the overall guest experience.

Turning to the balance sheet, overall we are extremely pleased with the strength of the balance sheet. Our liquidity, cash flow, and capital structure remain strong, and we have a high degree of flexibility to pursue value enhancing opportunities that will benefit the growth and profitability of the company. Cash on hand at December 31st totaled $105 million with no outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility. Our consolidated leverage ratio of 3.6 times is well within our comfort range based on current market conditions. Our weighted average cost of debt is currently 5%, and our nearest term maturity is in 2022. Deferred revenues at the end of 2018 were $107 million, up $21 million, or 24%, when compared with last year.

This year-over-year increase reflects robust sales of 2019 season pass and all-season products. We introduced a new 12-month installment payment option and unlimited visits in 2018 for new 2019 season pass holders, and clearly these enhancements were very well received.

For modeling purposes, I also want to highlight that our fiscal first quarter ending March 31, 2019 will have one additional week of operations when compared with the first quarter in 2018, which ended on March 25th. The fiscal calendar shift will result in one additional week of preopening operating costs and approximately 10 additional operating days being reported in the first quarter when compared to the same quarter a year ago. This additional week will be offset in the fiscal fourth quarter this year, where there will be one less week of operations when compared with the fourth quarter in 2018. Also, because of this calendar shift, approximately 60 operating days will move from the third quarter into the second quarter when compared with the prior year respective quarters. For the full year, we anticipate the total number of operating days in 2019 to be comparable with 2018.

In summary, our financial position is strong. We delivered record net revenues in 2018, and our strong momentum is continuing in 2019. We've got a [audio cuts out] structure that affords us the flexibility to pursue attractive market opportunities should they arise, our business model continues to generate significant cash flow, which allows us to pay an attractive and growing distribution while investing in our assets to drive sustainable value creation for our unitholders.

With that, I'll turn it back over to Richard.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Brian. As I mentioned earlier, our mission is to make people happy by providing fun, immersive, and memorable experiences. We've been doing this for a long time, and our track record indicates that we are building on our success. In fact, our two largest parks, Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm, will be celebrating their 150th and 100th anniversaries respectively in 2020. These, and all of our parks, have adapted their entertainment offerings to changing consumer tastes from generation to generation. Our ability to evolve and enhance the overall guest experience with modern and engaging family attractions, while maintaining the nostalgia of the past, is what brings families of all ages and generations together, and it will be the key to our success for many years to come.

Before I go into the details of our long-term strategy, I want to touch on some consumer insights that inform the key components of our strategy. First, consumers continue to prioritize experiences over possessions. Today's consumer has a strong desire for multidimensional entertainment. They want a diverse array of activities in one place with experiences that impact of all of their senses and where there is something for everyone in their group to enjoy. While we can't claim to have been the catalyst for this shift in consumer behavior, we are clearly a beneficiary as our parks provide and experiential platform where consumers can immerse themselves in entertainment at a scale not easily replicated by other entertainment offerings.

Second, we continue to live in a bifurcated economy. The introduction of premium products for the higher end consumer, and a more disciplined approach to yield management has allowed us to simultaneously grow guest per capital spending and attendance in all guest categories. Continuing to offer innovative products that appeal to thrill seeking, amenity craving, and value oriented consumers alike, has allowed us to capture the broadest possibly audience spectrum while maintaining integrity in the overall customer experience.

And finally, there's the issue of time poverty. This is a challenge for many consumers, and especially families, due to overscheduling and the demands technology has placed on our lives as we are all now connected 24/7. Interestingly, through our market research and interactions with our guests, we have found that many consumers are preferring bite-sized experiences of four hours or less due to time constraints in their lives. This is particularly relevant for our loyal season pass holders who tend to live closer to our parks and have an interest in visiting more often. Based on these insights and others, we have developed a long-term strategy that we believe will enable us to reach our target of $575 million in adjusted EBITDA by 2023, which implies a 4% compound annual growth rate over the next five years.

To achieve this target, we intend to focus on the four most compelling opportunities to accelerate our growth and profitability -- broadening the guest experience, expanding our season pass program, increasing market penetration through targeted marketing efforts, and pursuing adjacent development. With regard to our first growth driver, broadening the guest experience, we believe an opportunity exists to leverage our management expertise and assets to offer a more encompassing, more agile, entertainment experience at a quality and scale unmatched by others. Our existing inventory of thrill rides allows us to space out our larger investments in new rides and attractions over a longer period of time while our near-term investments will increasingly focus on interactive and immersive family attractions, special events, concerts, and outdoor gathering spaces.

These less capital intensive investments will allow for a more consistent spend across all of our parks on an annual basis, create an urgency to visit multiple times throughout the year, and provide a greater hedge against disruptive weather patterns that may occur. For example, we have already achieved great success in broadening the guest experience at our Knott's Berry Farm park in Southern California by introducing five Seasons of Fun events. The success of these events has driven attendance at this property to more than 6 million visits on an annual basis, and help fuel season pass sales at that location, and we expect this growth to continue.

In 2019, we have several exciting initiatives to further broaden the guest experience. Let me just highlight three. We will expand our Seasons of Fun concept to more parks with the introduction of more interaction multilayered events. Forbidden Frontier will launch at Cedar Point. This will be a real life adventure where guests become part of the story, immersed in interactive encounters with island inhabitants, and realistic experiences challenging their problem solving skills as the Mystery of the Island unfolds during the day.

We will also add a WinterFest celebration at Canada's Wonderland near Toronto to expand that park's operating season into November and December, bringing us to seven parks that will be open during the winter Holiday season. These new offerings not only attract new unique visitors to our parks, they also increase the price value proposition of our season passes and encourage our season pass holders to visit more often.

This leads me to our second area of opportunity, expansion of our season pass program. It is our goal to transition from a seasonal transaction based program to a long-term relationship based program focused on the lifetime value for and from our guests. A paradigm shift of this magnitude obviously will take time, but we are pleased with our progress to date. The evolution of our season pass program over the next several years will focus on achieving affordability, retention, and increased visitation.

We began to address the affordability concerns of our value oriented guest in 2012, with the introduction of our new e-commerce platform. This allowed us to begin selling our season passes through an installment payment program and provided us with the infrastructure for the upsell of new products and benefits. Since 2012, we have introduced multiple payment options, including most recently enhancing our existing installment payment program with a new 12-month installment option. Over the years, we have also introduced numerous advance purchase products, such as All-Season Dining, All-Season Beverage, All-Season Fast Lane, and All-Season FunPix.

In 2013, we began investing in a new customer relation management, or CRM, platform, which compiles multiyear consumer data into one cohesive system. This has allowed us to simplify our guest communications by customizing messages and images most relevant to a particular household, driving the right offer to the right consumer with the right message at the right time. Since the introduction of the e-commerce and CRM systems, we have nearly doubled our revenues from season pass sales and, as Brian mentioned earlier, our 2019 year-to-date sales are pacing well ahead of where we were at the same time last year.

As we look to evolve our season pass program to drive renewal rates even higher, we now have the technology and talent infrastructure in place to introduce a new loyalty and rewards program. This new program will provide active passholders an opportunity to earn and redeem rewards throughout the operating season, and even during times when the parks are closed. We'll begin testing aspects of this program at several of our parks in 2019 in order to determine what resonates with our passholders and which rewards best motivate value enhancing guest behavior. We will then plan a broader rollout of the program in 2020.

We also believe our new loyalty and rewards program, combined with the broadening of our entertainment offerings, will encourage our season pass holders to visit our parks more often, further increasing the average visitation of our more than 2.5 million season pass holders per year. Growing our season pass holder base while increasing average visitation are important elements of our long-term plan. Increasing our unique visitor count will be equally as important.

This brings me to our third area of focus -- increasing market penetration through targeted marketing efforts. Over the next five years, it is our goal to increase unique visits by targeting growing and underpenetrated audience segments within our markets. Through consumer and market research, along with data analytics, we have identified several guest segments that we believe are currently growing and underpenetrated within our parks, and could produce attractive returns if we utilize the right communication and distribution channels to reach them.

Penetrating these growing segments will require incremental marketing spend. However, there are opportunities to reallocate some of our advertising budget for mature segments to keep our overall marketing spend between 9-10% of expected admissions revenue. To give you a better understanding of this long-term opportunity, let me use Orange County, California, as an example. This area currently hosts approximately 49 million visitors on an annual basis, of which Knott's Berry Farm has a less than 2% penetration. Beginning in 2019, we will begin to allocate additional marketing dollars targeting the tourism market in this area. You can do the math, but by simply penetrating this market by an additional 100 basis points, we could entertain an additional 500,000 unique guests at the park.

Finally, our fourth area of opportunity is to expand our out of park revenue streams and maximize the value of our existing portfolio through development adjacent to our parks. We currently have more than 1,300 acres of undeveloped land that can be utilized for resort expansion, amateur sports facilities, and other entertainment concepts. Projects currently in process, including a new 129-room Springhill Suites hotel adjacent to our Carowinds Park in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a new 150,000 square foot indoor amateur sports facility overlooking our Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.

Both of these are scheduled to open during the fourth quarter of 2019 and we're extremely excited about the opportunity that both projects represent in their respective markets. While I have primarily focused today on our attendance and out of park revenue streams, I want to assure you that we continue to make investments in additional food, beverage, and merchandise facilities to add more capacity and support the growing demands from the guests at our parks.

In summary, we are excited about our four key areas of opportunity that we expect to drive our growth over the next five years. With our best in class assets, popular regional brands, strong attendance demand across all our parts, and a resilient business model that generates significant free cash flow, we are very confident about our prospects for continued growth and value creation. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress over the coming quarters.

Now, I would like to turn the call back over to Brian for our outlook on the key uses of free cash flow going forward, after which we'll open the call up for questions. Brian?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Richard. As many of you know, we pride ourselves on being transparent with respect to the allocation of our cash flow. This is a fairly easy business to model as cash is primarily allocated in four areas -- cash use for debt obligations, including interest payments, cash used for taxes, cash used for capital investments, and cash used for unitholder return, primarily through distributions. Going forward, we expect annual cash interest payments to be approximately $85 million. It's important to note that the majority of our rates have been fixed through long-term fixed-rate notes or interest rate swap agreements.

Cash taxes are expected to be approximately $45 million this year. Based on our performance projections, our current entity structure, and an effective tax rate of approximately 20%, cash taxes are expected to be between $45-55 million going forward. On the capital investment front, we continue to believe prudently investing in our business is critical to driving long-term growth. Going forward, we believe the appropriate level of investment that aligns with our $575 million adjusted EBITDA target will be in the $140-150 range. Investment in noncore business development opportunities, such as the activation of the 1,300-plus acres of developable land around our parks, will be incremental to this level of investment within the core.

For 2019, we will be investing approximately $140 million in infrastructure and marketable new rides and attractions. We anticipate investing another $30-40 million in incremental development projects, including the Charlotte hotel, the Sandusky indoor sports center, and additional employee housing facilities at several of our parks. We will continue to place an emphasis on building to scale in all of our projects as we believe it differentiates our parks and helps to protect the integrity of our business model for years to come.

Finally, and most importantly, the remainder of our free cash flow will be returned to unitholders through steadily increasing distributions just as Cedar Fair has done historically. We're proud of our ability to aggressively grow our distribution over the past several years, and we believe we are well positioned with a solid balance sheet, appropriate liquidity reserve, and a positive earnings outlook to continue this trend going forward. Our goal remains to provide a growing distribution in a steady and linear path.

I'll turn it back over to Richard.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Brian. In summary, we've produced record net revenues in 2018 by driving growth in all three of our key revenue channels -- attendance, average in-park guest per capita spending, and out of park revenues. I expect 2019 to be even better. Four fundamental mandates of our long-term strategy are clear. Over the next several years, we plan to broaden the guest experience, expand our season pass program, increase market penetration, and pursue adjacent development opportunities. I'm excited at what lies ahead and look forward to reporting on our progress.

...

With that, let me now turn the call over to the operator, who will open the line for your questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. If you would like to ask a question, please signal by pressing *1 on your telephone keypad. If you're using a speakerphone, please make sure your mute function is turned off to allow your signal to reach our equipment. Again, press *1 to ask a question. We'll pause for just a moment to allow everyone an opportunity to signal for questions. We will now take our first question from Steve Wieczynski of Stifel. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Steve.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Steve.

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

So, I guess the first question -- I have a couple questions around your long-term guidance. Obviously, you're embedding a 4%-ish growth number in terms of EBITDA. But -- and I don't know how much you'll help us think about maybe what is going into those projections. I know you're not going to give us the way you're thinking about attendance growth and stuff like that, but are there certain things essentially built in there? Maybe if the economy rolls over, I think some people would expect it might to into some type of recessionary period over the next -- call it four years. And then maybe, also, what are your labor assumptions that are going into there as well, given we have continued to see labor increase a good bit across some of your markets?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Steve, good morning. It's Richard. As we thought about the LRP -- and we looked a longer term about how we built out the plan -- we've seen what we've -- the continued evolution to our approach to driving attendance. So, as we think about it, we're trying to balance, as I said in my remarks, driving season pass sales, but also driving uniques across all of our markets. And so, the emphasis, as we look forward, is on driving attendance. I'll ask Brian to talk in just a second about labor.

But, as we looked backwards and forwards, we constantly stress test all of our assumptions, and one of the conversations of the board is always stress testing our business model. And as we look at it, we've got a lot more tools right now as -- to manage through what we see as a stable consumer base over the next few years. So, when we talk about putting in CRM systems and we talk about our ability to leverage our e-commerce platform, also I would add to that a much more sophisticated revenue management system. We've got a lot of tools that are focused on understanding the behavior of our guests, looking at the markets that we do business in and sizing them up, and then finding a way to grow the attendance and the per cap on top of that. So, Brian?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Steve, just dovetailing off of Richard's comments. As he spoke about in the prepared remarks, all three of the topline key performance metrics -- attendance, per capita, and out of park revenues -- are going to play an important role in the LRP. And that's going to differ as we work our way through the next five years. I think, as you may have taken away from some of the comments, early on I think some of the near attraction is going to be a little bit more volume based. Clearly, we have a lot of momentum around volume over the last couple of years. Even in '18, in spite of the challenges early, the strength over the last half of the year -- attendance up 6% at the end of July through 12/31 -- underscores that strength in volume.

And I think the initiatives around expanding the season pass and broadening the offerings to drive more uniques as Richard just commented on, that will -- the early part of that strategic plan will be a little bit more maybe volume based than per capita and pricing based. But that doesn't mean that that won't pick up as we work our way through. As we think about some of the cost pressures in there, we haven't assumed any Shangri-La, if you will, around labor. We know what the pressures have been around either minimum wage hikes you find in various markets or the market adjustments we've had to make in order to stay competitive in a tightening labor market.

And so, we've assumed a similar pacing, if you will, Steve, as it relates to labor going forward. I think, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks, there are a number of initiatives that we have in place, or in process, particularly around the implementation of a new workforce management system, that I think are going to bear fruit. We haven't necessarily assumed all the wins from that. I think we want to leave some of that to be a little bit of icing on the cake, if you will. And so, our plan right now -- and that target, that $575 million, assumes a comparable amount of pressure from labor that we've seen over the last several years.

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

And, if I heard you right, I assume that, if you look at -- in terms of any type of disruptions to -- in terms of weather, I assume you assumed normal-ish for the next couple of years -- no crazy events. And also, the economy, as well. Is that -- are you assuming the consumer stays where he/she is today? Do you have them softening up a little bit? That might be helpful as well.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, no. I would say it's hard, right, to ever sit there and look at the five years and say that another 2009 is going to occur in Year X of that plan. And so, the LRP is an appropriately aggressive target. It assumes that the consumer and the economy stays about where it's at right now. It assumes that weather, as you said, is normalized. Although, as we talk about internally, we're not quite sure what normalized weather necessarily is anymore because there's been so many challenges the last couple of years. So, yeah, I think you basically have to assume a normal course on a lot of those macro factors that are outside of our control.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

And one of the things that I would add, Steve, is as we look at the broadening of the guest experience, and in particular the events we're going to roll out, I think Halloween Haunt and WinterFest give you an example of how we can use events to create urgency when we go to scale. As we think about rolling out the events, the immersive events that we're going to roll out early in the year, just as we've seen success with the Boysenberry Festival at Knott's in the springtime, we think one of the keys -- irrespective of economic conditions -- is that we use events to create urgency and give people reason to come out with limited duration events. We think that works at any point in the economic cycle, and that will be a key driver going forward.

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. Gotcha. And then, second question, I guess, might be a little bit of a bigger picture question. I guess what I want to focus on is how you guys envision yourselves still being able to take price from your customer. What I mean by that is it seems like you might be changing around the way you think about spending your capital. And this does -- or this historically has seemed like it's been somewhat of an arms race in terms of, you've got to build the best, the biggest, the fastest rollercoasters. And maybe I'm reading too much into this, but are you guys changing the way you spend that capital? And I guess that goes to the question of -- if you do change the way think about spending capital, will you still be able to push price as easily as you have in the past, if that makes sense?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Great question, Steve. From a capital perspective, we've made a number of significant investments over the last several years that we think that we can continue to leverage in the future. When you look broadly at our capital program, yes, there were large-scale significant coasters like Fury 325 or -- at Charlotte -- Steel Vengeance here at Cedar Point. The great examples of rollercoasters that were impactful during the year -- but we can continue to leverage those for many years in our marketing campaigns. When I think about the Hotel Breakers renovation, parkwide Wi-Fi at all of our parks, group catering facilities supporting our group sales efforts, the waterpark expansions -- which really broaden our appeal to our season pass holders and families in the regions -- I think the emphasis in the capital, and what we call our marketable capital, is always going to be on driving demand and leveraging the investments we've already made.

So, we think that, while we're probably going to stretch out the cadence of the more significant investments, we're still going to make significant investments in any given year, but we're also going to make sure that we've got something that we can got to market within each of our markets to promote demand. And increasingly, in regards to our ability to take price, we've seen an ability with our events to be able to drive price as we create that urgency. So, with our revenue management system and the talent that we have behind that internally now, when we see demand we're going to price into demand. The best example I can give you of that is Halloween Haunt, which is an event not a coaster.

And some of our highest per cap days and our busiest days of the year each year are in October. And I think it underlies the focus on demand more than on any given product and how it ties together.

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it. Great quarter.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Steve.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Steve.

Operator

We will now take our next question from Tim Conder of Wells Fargo Securities. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Thank you, gentleman, and I offer congrats on the great wrap to the year in spite a difficult first half. Thank you, also, for the color. And I wanted to maybe circle into a couple things. Going to the 12-month on your promotion on your ability of the consumer to pay on the installment plan, can you remind us -- you had the 9-month plan. What's going to change other than three more months? And is there a premium? And how does the accounting go related to recognizing that revenue and controlling breakage, so to speak?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Tim, it's Brian. The 12-month plan, and the evolution to that, was very similar to what we've done over the last several years, where -- when we rolled these payment plans out originally several years back, we started with 3- and 4-month payment plans and, as you indicated, gradually migrated up to nine months. Going to 12-month doesn't change, necessarily, the accounting other than, as you just articulated, we're spreading the payment for the consumer, the guest, over 12 easier installments. And so, there's no change necessarily in our accounting recognition. We'll still have draws on those visits -- much like we do at the other payment plans -- as opposed to more of what we would characterize as a subscription model.

And so, as Richard said in his prepared remarks, our intent with the 12-month was one, to address affordability even more aggressively; and two, to ask with the consumer -- with our guest, what their reaction would be to a payment plan that had them paying for the pass over even a broader window of time when many of our parks aren't in operation. And, as I said in my prepared remarks, and Richard commented as well, extremely pleased with the reaction from the guest in terms of not only the new payment plan option but also the unlimited visits and the benefit and value it added to our sales, as evidenced by the deferred revenue being up as significantly as it is year-over-year.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And then, again, I just wanted to be clear. Was the units were up 25% or your deferred revenue growth was up 25%?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

The sales dollars are up north of 25%, a combination of both units and price.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And I wanted to maybe get into some of your annual metrics here. Richard, Brian -- whoever wants to take this -- as it relates to your attendance, you alluded to -- that over 50% of your attendance came from your season passes. A competitor gives an annual specific number. Can you be a little more specific than that? And then, the frequency of visitation. I think in the past you all talked about 4-5x is the number of visits that the season pass customer comes. Maybe give us a little color as to where that was in '18, and appreciate that.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, Tim, it's Richard. Thanks for the question. As we look at it -- as we've said, season pass is more than 50% of our attendance. And while I can't give you an exact number, I can tell you that increase from last year in terms of a percentage. But, at the same time, as Brian pointed out in his remarks, we also increased our unique visitors. So, I think we're really excited -- I'm personally very excited about both of those. From a visitation perspective, we've gone from less than four visits several years ago to now around five visits on average. But we've got many of our parks in our system that do six or more visits on their average pass. So, as we look at that and look at our long-range plan, our look at our business, we think that will continue to grow into the future.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And then, can you talk about -- one, did uniques grow across both the season pass day visitors and group? And what's your penetration of your season passes of your unique base and then maybe also the dining -- and color you can give there.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Tim, it's Brian. So, I can tell you uniques were up in both the season pass and non-season pass channels, which as Richard said, is a critical metric for us as we're constantly looking to bring in new guests not just continue to add visits to our existing guests. As it relates to penetration rates, we don't give out specifics on a lot of those. I will tell you that penetration rates on the all-season products, primarily dining and beverage, are the two that are the most material in terms of the number of units and overall dollars. Those continue to go up each and every year as awareness of the products continues to improve as we make enhancements to the products or programs. And so, we're very pleased, but we know there's still a lot of runway because those penetration rates aren't anywhere near the levels that we think they can ultimately get to.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And then, lastly, could -- if I may -- given --

Operator

[Crosstalk] We will now take our next question from James Hardiman of Wedbush Securities. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning. I feel like --

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

[Crosstalk] Hey, James.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Hey, James.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

How are you guys doing? Hopefully, we didn't cut off Conder there. It sounded like he might've had another question. But my question was surrounding the distribution. Obviously, we grew the 2019 distribution 4%, which is in line with the target despite EBITDA being down a little bit last year. Obviously, taxes help you to do that. I'm assuming that's not something that you could repeat going forward. Maybe help me with some of the parameters around growing that dividend 4% in 2020. Would you be able to do that if you weren't able to grow EBITDA 4%? Obviously, the hope is that this would be a moot question, but how bad would things need to get to force you to actually cut that distribution would be the other question.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

James, let me jump in here. We just increased, as you referenced, our distribution 4%. That showed the confidence we have in our business model and what we were seeing at the time as we came into the end of the year. In particular, I'll tell you one of the things that I'm very pleased with. When we look at the strength of our deferred revenues and our season pass sales, we're up at -- in season pass sales, at every park in our system. So, our growth in demand is very broad based. So, when we look at our business model, and we've talked to our investors, our investors have told us that they all prefer a steadily increasing distribution.

The plan we've built supports the sustainability and the continued growth in our distribution. As you know, as an MLP, we always -- the quality and sustainability of the distribution is one of our highest priorities. And so, we bounce off all of our investment decisions up against the use of cash, against the distribution.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, and James, it's Brian. Just dovetailing on Richard's comment. The balance sheet over the last several years was rebuilt, really at management's urging and the board's urging, to sustain a year like a 2018, where the growth in EBITDA wasn't there, not because of a fundamental shift in the underlying business or a change in the consumer, but because of a macro disruptive event like the weather that we saw for six to seven weeks during the key months of June and July.

So, as Richard said, the board's confidence -- our confidence in the business model -- underscored that. But your point is a good one -- or question is a good one -- in terms of 2019 we need to deliver on the growth that we've indicated is available to us. Minus that, if that were not to happen, I would say that the distribution isn't at risk. Growth in the distribution would be reviewed should '19 not turn out to be as strong of a year as we believe it's going to be. But the distribution, in terms of sustaining where it's at, isn't at risk in our minds. But growing it would be up for discussion.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

That's really helpful. And then, I wanted to circle back to a question I've asked a couple times in the past, but it seems maybe even more relevant. We're coming off the third year in a row where the peak season was somewhat disappointing and then you finished pretty strongly -- certainly, this year, very strongly. So, I guess the question comes back to cannibalism for lack of a better word. As you collect data from your various parks, are you seeing -- is that, when you open a WinterFest and people plan on going to that WinterFest, maybe they're opting not to go in the peak season? And, I guess, more broadly, are you just seeing trends of people preferring the fall or the wintertime to come to your parks versus what has historically been the peak summer season?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, James. I think what we're seeing in the back half of the year is the strength of our event programming, of Halloween Haunt and WinterFest, and what that means in creating urgency and giving our guests a reason to come. Again, for both of those events, they drive both our season pass holder base, but they also drive uniques. So, as we look at that, and as we've laid out our long-term strategy, you're going to hear us specifically announce in the next several weeks, events that are targeted at earlier in the year. I referenced Boysenberry Festival at Knott's is one the prime examples of how we've driven the early part of the year at Knott's Berry Farm. It's two or three of the highest attended weeks that Knott's has in the course of the year and it happens in the springtime.

We think the strength in the back half of the year validates our event strategy as we roll out limited time events that are immersive, that are scale -- and, again, I don't want to steal the thunder from our marketing folks. A number of those will be announced over the next several weeks. We think targeting those earlier in the year can grow our uniques, can grow the incremental -- the new attendees -- to our parks. And that, rather than looking at the shift of the back half of the year as something that cannibalizes, our view is it's a validation of our approach embedded in our long range plan.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

Okay. And then, just real quick clarification -- it sounds like you're getting an extra week in the first quarter. But remind me how Easter impacts you guys this year. Is that not a negative for this year that maybe offsets some of that?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, so, as I mentioned on the call, we definitely are picking up an extra week of operations in the first quarter based on the timing of the fiscal quarter close. Given that it's the end of March, and most of our parks are going to be outside of their operating calendar, James, that's more what we call downtime, or the ramp up cost associated with. So, a little bit of pressure on Q1 from that perspective, with more opportunity -- the shift in the way the calendar falls, including Easter, will benefit us in Q2. And that will -- some of those incremental operating days and results will swing out of Q3.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

Got it. That's helpful. I think I misunderstood. The point about the first quarter is that it's a negative that there's an extra week given that you have costs and not revenues.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Correct.

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks, guys. Good luck.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

All right. Thanks, James.

Operator

We will now take our next question from Chris Prykull of Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Christopher Prykull -- Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning. Thanks for taking my questions.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Christopher Prykull -- Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -- Analyst

Good morning. I just wanted to ask about two components of the longer term plan. I guess, first, on the capital spending strategy, what drove maybe the view -- I don't want to call it a change in view, but maybe to become a little bit less capital intensive or more efficient with your capital spend. Can you point to test cases in certain markets where maybe you've switched from a heavier attraction based spend to more events, and what the customer reaction has been to that? Could you still push price in those markets? And then, should we expect more OpEx instead of CapEx as you launch some of these events, or maybe even more advertising?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Chris, great question. I'll give you the best example we have, and it's one of our most successful parks. Knott's Berry Farm has been a site that we've not invested in large signature steel coasters. What we have invested in is events, and this family attractions, immersive -- Ghost Town Alive! was our best example of a product that was really targeted at the middle of the summer, but very immersive, very interactive. Knott's has grown, as we've said, to over 6 million people a year, probably the most attended regional theme park in the world now. So, very, very successful strategy in a highly competitive market. And one of the things we've seen at Knott's is, we've generated attendance increase and gotten volume while we've also been able to get price. So, we think that's a validation of the quality of our guest experience and the value that our guests put on that.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, and, Christ, just dovetailing on Richard's comment. I think one of the things that we should clarify is that the CapEx coming down a little bit is not necessarily reflective of a fundamental shift in how we think about it as much as it is also reflective of just efficiencies in our capital spend. And Richard alluded to this a little bit earlier on one of the questions. There are a lot of areas that we spent the last six or seven years investing in that we are now at a point where we're checking the box that they're essentially, let's say, done -- or at least the investments going forward are born around maintaining. And it's things like reinventing and completely rehabbing all of our guest pavilion and catering areas. Parkwide Wi-Fi was not an inexpensive investment for us over the last several years, and we're wrapping up the last few parks this year.

So, as those things fall off the list, there aren't as many, or anywhere near as big of, dollars coming in behind the scenes. I think, in terms of the marketable new attractions, as Richard just said, there is a wide range of opportunities for us from park to park. 2019 has still got two big signature coasters -- one in Toronto and one in Charlotte. So, we're not walking away from those investments. They'll be complimented by the events as we talked about on the call. And, I think, to your question around OpEx it's fair to say that the events tend to be a little bit of a 50/50 split, if you will. The initial capital outlay isn't as great as new ride, but the OpEx hits a little bit heavier than a ride. So, I think WinterFest is the best example of that, where there's no doubt that WinterFest in its first few years puts a little bit of margin pressure on the company, but long-term it is a strategic initiative that is critical to our ongoing growth in both season pass as well as attracting unique visitors.

And so, it's one of the reasons why, within our model, we don't assume in the new strategic plan a lot of big margin expansion, at least in the early years. Because some of these initiatives are a little bit more OpEx heavy than they are CapEx heavy.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

And then, Chris, let me circle back. I'll give you one more example of how we've seen a broad based approach help at a particular site. You go to Cedar Point here, we've got a mile-long beach. Several years ago, we renovated the historical Hotel Breakers. We renovated the waterpark last year. We've taken steps to really open up the beach. And where, several years ago there was limited traffic, limited activity, on the beach, now we've activated it with all kinds of day-long family type activities -- food and beverage on the beach. And now, it's just packed all during the day. So, anything we can do to give a higher quality experience, a broader appealing type of experience, we really think that has long-term benefit to all of our guests. And, by the way, we hope to show that off to our investors later in this year. So --

Christopher Prykull -- Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -- Analyst

Great. That's really helpful color. I appreciate it. And then, just from the second topic of the enhanced marketing -- or better targeting from a marketing perspective, can you just maybe give us some examples of segments where you feel you are underpenetrated? Is it really certain regions or is it certain demographics? And then, along that vein, what was the factor in the decision to initially focus on that marketing in Southern California?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Chris, when we looked at all of our markets -- we've gone through and updated the market sizing studies that we've done to look at our different segments -- tourism quickly jumped out at Southern California because the economy is so robust out there. And, we've got such a good opportunity. But, we looked at a number of different demographics. Gen Z -- we've done a lot of research around Gen Z and what that should mean to us. Moms with kids are our target audiences now, heavily based in the Millennials. But the up and coming Generation Z looks at the world a little bit differently.

So, as we think about the experiences that we fold into our overall guest experience, we're really looking at what the up and coming generation, like Generation Z, wants out of their experience and how we can fold that in. So, that's why you'll hear us talk about gathering places. We continue to see that food and beverage, and the quality and enhancements we put in our food and beverage program, are both important to our guest -- not just as a revenue generator, but more and more it's part of the price of entry and part of their decision-making set when they choose to go someplace -- be it off for somebody else is the quality of food and beverage. It's just a much more important part of their overall lifestyle.

So, as we think about those things, those are what we're looking for, is the segments we can start to identify, start to understand what the expectations are and, more importantly, how do we reach out and communicate to them.

Christopher Prykull -- Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -- Analyst

Great. Thanks so much, and good luck to --

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Chris.

Operator

We will now take our next question from Barton Crockett of DCS Fox. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Barton Crockett -- DCS Fox -- Analyst

Okay, great. Thanks for taking the question. I had a question about the per cap -- the in park per cap trend in the fourth quarter, which was down a little bit year-over-year. I was wondering if you could unpack for us what was going on the quarter, because I know there were a lot of moving parks in terms of -- there was some accounting skews from adding some more winter festivals that stretched out, I think, accrual of season pass. There was a mixed issue of growth in season pass penetration. But I was wondering if you could unpack that and talk a little bit also about what the core pricing trend was. I know you flagged that you had growth in non-season pass pricing, but what happened with the season pass pricing there as well.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Barton, good morning. Thanks for the question. I'll jump in here and then let Brian answer some of the specifics. But when you look at the attendance growth and you look at the impact of WinterFest -- WinterFest by its nature is a nighttime event. It's a slightly shorter length of stay, so you won't get the same length of stay that, for instance, we get in October as we do with our Halloween Haunt event. Having said that, WinterFest is multigenerational. We're seeing grandparents come with grandchildren. So, we think it's not only a great example of broadening our audience, we think it's key in driving our uniques and bringing in an incremental audience. It does put pressure mechanically on the per cap, and maybe Brian can speak to that.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, Barton, Richard just hit one of the components there right. In the fourth quarter, October had some of our highest per caps. And November/December, the WinterFest event, while attractive on a per cap in a per hour basis is very good, in terms of the much shorter length of stay, the overall dollar per cap for those events is a lot smaller. So, when you add another event, and one very successful event, like Kings Dominion WinterFest, there's a little bit of a mechanical effect there pulling it down. I will tell you that the food and beverage line, which is a big focus for us, was up meaningfully in the fourth quarter, reflective of the strength of that channel. So, that's something that we look at very closely because, in theory, if we can affect the kind of behavior we want out of consumers and the kind of purchasing we want, that's something that shouldn't have a lot of that accounting noise mixed into it.

But there's no doubt that a little bit of the draws around season pass play into it. And then, adding another WinterFest park pulls down that fourth quarter number a little bit as well -- or dilutes it.

Barton Crockett -- DCS Fox -- Analyst

Okay. But is your core pricing access mix -- who would you describe that? Typical pricing growth or something different?

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, no. In terms of pricing -- or we like to talk about internally a little bit more of the net yield we're getting on tickets -- because, as Richard said in his prepared remarks, it's really about the offers that are out there -- the right offer to the right time to the right person. And so, pricing, or those offers, were all consistent. If I break apart the two parts of the quarter, Haunts -- we continue to be very aggressive in terms of either the advertised pricing or the discounts -- the lack thereof of pushing a higher net yield. So, our pricing around haunt this year was as aggressive as it's ever been, in large part fueled by the momentum we had coming out of August and September and the record August -- very strong September.

And then, WinterFest, we continue -- the parks that are a little further along -- Great America's in its third year, so we're gradually taking more pricing at WinterFest there. Kings Island, Carowinds, and Worlds of Fun were in their second year. They're starting to step into it. But as we've said before, it's a three to four -- maybe four to five -- year run rate to normalize profitability and pricing around that even. And so, each park's at maybe a little bit of a different point in life cycle when it comes to pricing around WinterFest.

Operator

We have one question remaining in the queue. We will take our next question from Tim Conder of Wells Fargo Securities. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

My apologies for the lengthy number of questions earlier. So --

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

No problem.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

No problem, Tim.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Would it be reasonable to say that potentially '19 here could be a little bit of a snap back in the rubber band from the weather depressed years we've seen? And essentially, in '19 at least we could see above that 4% growth, assuming -- let's call it a "normalized" year?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Tim, as you know, we debate internally -- we shared with everybody on the call -- the impact on weather on any given year. Clearly, we saw an impact and it was evident in all the numbers that we've shared with you. We've tried to be as transparent as possible. As we look at '19, we don't know where weather will impact. We do know that the most important thing about weather is when and where. If it's a Tuesday in June, the impact's a lot less than a July Saturday. I will tell you that, from a demand perspective, we see strong demand as evidence of higher deferred revenues. I think our event programming is going to be stronger than it's ever been this year. I feel good about our capital lineup and the two signature coasters that we've got going into two very important parks for us -- Canada's Wonderland and Carowinds down in Charlotte.

So, I think we're poised and positioned for a good year. But by the same token, and we've really hit this in our prepared remarks in the long-range plan, we're about driving as much as we can in terms of demand. But we also want to invest in the things that will fuel our growth in years to come. So, the balance we have is making sure that while we're optimizing any given year, we're also laying the foundation for things that will grow in the future.

WinterFest is a great example of that as well. The first year is a little cost heavy. There's start-up costs. And as we've seen -- as Brian just referenced in his remarks a second ago, as you get to the second and third year of those events, you see a lot of growth. So, we're not going to be shy about making sure that we're investing in things like the targeted marketing efforts, which will pay off more in years to come than they will in their first year. So, I think the balance for us is always, in terms of thinking about any given year, making sure we're balancing that tension in the system.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Okay. And then, you are anticipating having an analyst event later on during the year?

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. We want to get everybody out to a park. Likely, I think we're pointing toward shortly after our second quarter call. So, it'll likely be in early to mid-August.

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

Great. Thank you, gentlemen. And again, good luck for the year.

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Tim.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Tim.

Operator

It appears there are no further questions at this time. I'd like to turn the conference back to you for any additional or closing remarks.

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Thank you all for your interest and ongoing support of Cedar Fair. As I'm sure you can tell from our comments today, we're excited about what's in store over the next five years, including 2019, which we certainly expect to be another outstanding year for Cedar Fair. I encourage all of you to visit our parks over the summer and experience firsthand what differentiates our parks from other entertainment offerings.

Thank you all, and back to Stacy.

Stacy Frole -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you, everyone, for joining us on the call today. Should you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to contact me at 419-627-2227, or our Investor Relations Department at 419-627-2233. We look forward to speaking with you again in about three months to discuss our first quarter results.

...

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

Duration: 68 minutes

Call participants:

Stacy Frole -- Vice President of Investor Relations

Richard A. Zimmerman -- President & Chief Executive Officer

Brian C. Witherow -- Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Steven Wieczynski -- Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. -- Analyst

Barton Crockett -- DCS Fox -- Analyst

Tim Conder -- Wells Fargo Securities, LLC -- Analyst

James Hardiman -- Wedbush Securities, Inc. -- Analyst

Christopher Prykull -- Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. -- Analyst

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