The past year has been a good one for the amusement park industry.

Shares of Six Flags (NYSE: SIX) have soared roughly 60% since emerging from bankruptcy this summer. Analysts now see a profitable operator after its burdensome debt has been largely lifted, and Six Flags even initiated its first common stock dividend last month.

Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure -- jointly owned by Blackstone (NYSE: BX) and General Electric's (NYSE: GE) NBC Universal -- is basking in the success of its new Harry Potter attraction. The park actually had to lock its entry turnstiles during several days over the holidays because it was at capacity, something that had yet to happen in the park's 11-year history.

Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) beat the market in 2010 and recently announced an 8% uptick in attendance at its regional attractions on the year.

It may all add up to a good year for the industry, but Cedar Fair investors aren't impressed.

In a humbling vote yesterday, unit holders voted to strip CEO Dick Kinzel of his chairmanship. An independent chairperson will now be required. The second matter put to a vote -- incredulously proposing that Cedar Fair's emphasis should be on restoring its once chunky yield over paying down its debt -- is actually too close to call as of last night.

Yes, investors haven't exactly forgiven Cedar Fair since it accepted a buyout proposal 13 months ago. It represented a 27% premium at the time, but the price is far lower than where Cedar Fair is today. Unit holders voted down the offer under activist prodding, and it turned out to be the right call. Winning back trust has been a challenge ever since.

Making high quarterly disbursements a priority is nonsense, though. The thrill-park specialist recently reinitiated its distributions. Didn't these investors learn from Six Flags investors that were wiped out when its burdensome debt forced it into bankruptcy reorganization?

Despite the seemingly good year for regional operators, the coast isn't exactly clear. Bellwether Disney (NYSE: DIS) posted flat results at its theme parks in fiscal 2010. Great Wolf Resorts (Nasdaq: WOLF) is trading at a fraction of its post-IPO highs, as the operator of resorts with gargantuan indoor water parks is fighting a losing battle with its equally massive debt load.

Cedar Fair's investors appear to be getting the last laugh. Their message is being heard loud and clear. However, yield-chasing investors better be careful if they get what they wish for.

Regional parks taking on too much debt often leads to locked turnstiles -- and not in the Islands of Adventure "at capacity" way.

Are amusement park operators a good bet for 2011? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves hitting amusement parks, and he hit more than a few this past summer. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.