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Cedar Fair was created in 1978 shortly after Valleyfair! Amusement Park in Shakopee, MN was acquired by Cedar Point Amusement Park of Sandusky, OH. The name was derived by combining the two amusement park names into one. Today, Cedar Fair operates as a Master Limited Partnership under the NYSE symbol FUN. It has recently changed its name to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company to clearly define its purpose focus on entertainment, if it already hadn't been unambiguous.

Cedar Fair is often known through its management reputation from Cedar Point, and its non-revenue sharing plan which is different than Six Flags capital distribution plan. Therefore, Cedar Fair parks will only spend as much in capital as the individual park can afford. This inevitably leads to Cedar Point being able to spend millions of dollars each year on new and exciting thrill rides, but other smaller parks will have to wait longer to acquire the sufficient capital for roller coasters. Cedar Point regularly receives the Golden Ticket Award for Best Amusement Park. However, no other Cedar Fair park has received such high accolades.

In 2006, Cedar Fair acquired the Paramount Parks chain. Cedar Point, the flagship park, had been competing with Paramount King's Island, and it was believed that Cedar Fair had intended to buy the park to alleviate competition for Cedar Point. Previously, Michigan's Adventure and Geauga Lake had been acquired by Cedar Fair and both are geographically competitive with Cedar Point. Nonetheless, it was an amusement park industry surprise when Cedar Fair announced that they were acquiring the entire chain of Paramount Parks and not just King's Island park. Purchasing Paramount Parks is the largest acquisition for Cedar Fair in its entire history.

Cedar Fair now operates 12 amusement parks overall as well as 5 separate-admission water parks operating under the name Soak City or Oceans of Fun (Kansas City, MO). However, there are very few blatant details that connect these parks together. There is no overarching park name like Six Flags nor similar architecture or ride names like Batman: The ride (Steel Venom being one exception). The only similarities will be a Coasters restaurant and hypercoaster in every park, as stated by Richard Kinzel. These include:

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