CINCINNATI – Cedar Fair LP will have a more national presence in the regional theme-park business with its announcement Monday that it will buy Paramount Parks Inc. from CBS Corp. for $1.24 billion in cash. Industry experts say the acquisition should make Cedar Fair the third-largest theme-park operator in North America in terms of attendance, behind first-place The Walt Disney Co. and second-place Six Flags Inc. It will also mean that all of Ohio’s major theme parks will be owned by one company. The acquisition provides an enormous opportunity for the Ohio-based amusement-park operator and some challenges, and should benefit park visitors as well, industry experts say. “This is huge for the industry and for Cedar Fair in terms of the property being acquired,” said Paul Ruben, North American editor of Park World, an amusement industry trade publication. “These are all major North American theme parks.” He said guests should benefit from Cedar Fair’s history of operating “well-thought-out” parks. The firm owns Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County. The five parks being sold to Cedar Fair are: Canada’s Wonderland, near Toronto; Kings Island, near Cincinnati; Kings Dominion near Richmond, Va.; Carowinds, near Charlotte, N.C.; and Great America located in Santa Clara. “The five properties we are acquiring fit very well with our existing parks, and there is very little overlap,” Dick Kinzel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Sandusky-based company, said in a teleconference Monday. He said a major plus from the acquisition is weather and financial diversity. Cedar Fair and Paramount Parks generated nearly $1 billion in revenue and about 25 million guests in 2005, Kinzel said. Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., a Cincinnati-based consulting firm for the leisure industry, said Cedar Fair faces the challenge confronting the rest of the regional theme-park industry – that of appealing to the entire family. The race for bigger, higher and faster roller coasters in recent years tended to draw more teenagers than families to regional theme parks, Speigel said. “Teens don’t spend like a family unit does,” he said. “Appealing to families should increase attendance and per capita spending.” He also said Cedar Fair and others in the industry must look at providing more pricing and entertainment options and alternatives to guests, many of whom have less disposable time and income. “The idea is to ensure that guests keep coming back,” he said. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to close during the third quarter. CBS shares rose 5 cents to close at $25.26 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Cedar Fair shares rose 39 cents, or 1.4 percent, to finish at $27.39. CBS Corp. had been looking to sell the parks business, which didn’t fit with its media holdings. CBS Corp. split up with Viacom Inc. at the beginning of the year.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!