Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, operator of 11 theme parks in the US and Canada, has announced that Richard Zimmerman will succeed Matt Ouimet as chief executive, effective January 1, 2018.

Zimmerman, the group’s current president and chief operating officer, has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and leisure entertainment industry.

He became president of Cedar Fair in 2016, having been named COO in 2011 after serving as an executive vice president since 2007.

He joined Cedar Fair in 2016, after serving as vice president and general manager of the Kings Dominion amusement park from 1998.

Ouimet will take the newly created role of executive chairman of the board of directors, and Debra Smithart-Oglesby will become lead independent director.

“I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Cedar Fair and I am proud of what our team has accomplished,” Ouimet saud.

“The market value of Cedar Fair has increased by more than $2.6bn during my time at the company. This performance provides us with a solid foundation to build upon and a positive outlook for the future.

“Richard is a perfect choice to succeed me as CEO and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as the executive chairman going forward.”