Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) and Great Wolf Resorts (NASDAQ:WOLF) went in different directions after posting their quarterly results yesterday.

Cedar Fair's units took a 9% hit, contrasting the 11% gain for shareholders of the indoor water park chain.

Different turnstiles for different lifestyles? Well, it's more than that. It's not as if Great Wolf delivered amazing results. It posted a loss of $0.18 a share for the second quarter, wider than the $0.13-a-share deficit it scored a year ago. Same-store revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell 8%.

However, there is comfort as you dig deeper into the numbers. There's more red ink, although adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was positive, climbing 23% along the way. The 8% RevPAR smack was sandbagged by the currency fluctuations of its lodge on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The dip would have been just 6.2% in constant dollars. Great Wolf leans on data from Smith Travel Research showing that the industry took a brutal 19.5% RevPAR hit during the same three months.

Break it down, and you'll see that Great Wolf didn't really need to discount its rooms the way more conventional hoteliers have been forced to. Occupancy levels fell by 3.9%, but daily rates were down a negligible 0.3% in constant dollars. That's a mindblower, when you consider that Great Wolf's woodsy resorts with massive indoor water parks aren't easy on the pocketbook.

Great Wolf still sees a steep loss for all of 2009, including a modest deficit during the current, seasonally potent quarter. It's not great, but it's all relative these days.

The flip side
Cedar Fair's report wasn't as cotton candy-esque.

The regional amusement park operator behind Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm posted a quarterly profit of $0.13 per unit, halving last year's profit and coming in well short of analyst expectations of $0.30 a unit.

Revenue tumbled as Cedar Fair's parks were hit by the double whammy of falling attendance and lower per-capita spending.

It's a sad walk down the fiscal midway.


Q2 Change



Food, Merchandise, Games




Investors weren't naive enough to expect improvement. Even the mighty Disney (NYSE:DIS) has Mickey Mouse panhandling outside of its gated attractions, after the family entertainment giant's parks and resorts segment posted a 9% slide in revenue and a steeper 19% plunge in operating profits during the same three months.

The public has voted, and they're choosing indoor diversions like movie theaters and indoor water parks over discounted outdoor getaways. Even value-driven purchases like season passes are down significantly at Cedar Fair.

So what's next? I can easily see the industry following the footsteps of Great Wolf and Kalahari into building more indoor water parks. InterContinental's (NYSE:IHG) Holiday Inn is doing so, on a restrained basis. Cedar Fair already has one indoor water park resort, just off the peninsula of its flagship Cedar Point property in Ohio. Disney, Viacom (NYSE:VIA), or Blackstone (NYSE:BX) may be tempted to grow in that direction, either organically or by snapping up a Great Wolf that is presently short on funds to expand aggressively.

It's been a rough season for the regional operators, but come on in. The water's fine.

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