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Wild West World is now closed

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I read this and was just so sad. The park wasn't that great, but there's just something about it that I always liked. We had fun every time aside from the fact it was so carnival-like. As a season pass holder, and also being there five different times, I have got my money's worth. I can almost guarantee you that the park will not open this season, so we will refund it if possible. My dad bought mine so I really have no choice. ksn.com has three videos about the closing. Everyone in my town knows. IDK how, cause I called them at like 10 in the morning, but they do. Here's what Thomas Etherege had to say:



In early 2005, my wife, Cheryl, and I had a dream for South Central Kansas families. The dream was to build a family theme park in Park City Kansas, 4 miles north of Wichita. The focus would be on the family. We wanted to create a wonderful place where families could come and enjoy themselves, free of today’s normal pressures. A theme park of this magnitude had never been built before in Kansas.


We spent many hours in prayer over this dream and consulted many industry leaders, friends and confidants before committing to see this dream come to pass. After making the decision to proceed, we commissioned an economic study by a major California consulting firm to verify that the idea was viable. Throughout 2005 and 2006, we traveled worldwide, meeting with industry leaders and major financing groups. They verified to us that our idea seemed viable and promising. Local and national corporations would also make their commitment to the idea of a theme park in Kansas.


By 2006, all major financing was in place. Banks and financing groups from throughout Kansas and around the world committed to the Wichita and greater South Central Kansas area as Wild West World began to take shape from a flat Kansas wheat field. To make the dream of Wild West World come to pass, we mortgaged our home, ranch and the land where we operate our 8 year old business, the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper. We also invested millions of dollars in personal cash savings. Nearly every dollar and every asset we owned was pledged to bring to pass our dream of a family theme park in Kansas.


Throughout 2005, 2006 and 2007 we often worked 20 hours a day, sometimes sleeping in the office at the park at night. We did not take a paycheck from Wild West World, nor did we take a development fee. And we had no time off and no letup from the daily pressures for 3 years.


On May 1st 2007 we opened Wild West World to the media, just as we had promised, even though we did it in the rain. On May 5th the public was invited to Wild West World’s Grand Opening just as promised…but again the rain would pour down. On Grand Opening Day the community wasn’t in a theme park mood. The entire State was in shock as a result of the catastrophic Greensburg tornado the night before that wiped a nearby community literally off the map.


And as we all know the rain continued in May and June. Over the course of May, June and early July 2007, almost 50 days would experience rain, storms or overcast days. Independence Day, July 4th, ended in torrential rains. Flooding covered Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas throughout June and early July. We built the park as we said, but the weather and lack of cash flow have made it impossible for us to keep it open. It pains us to reach this point, but we have to close the park and find a buyer who can reopen and run it. We hate to do it, but we don’t see any other alternative.


On July 9th, Wild West World, LLC filed a voluntary Chapter 11 corporate bankruptcy primarily due to the extremely poor attendance and lack of cash flow caused by the continual rain and storms, and unanticipated cost overruns in constructing the park. Every effort has been made to pay our employees in full for work to date. We will eventually list thousands of creditors in our bankruptcy schedules that will be filed with the Bankruptcy Court within the next couple of weeks. These creditors will range from banks that are owed millions of dollars; ride manufacturers who are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars; vendors who supplied food and other merchandise to the park, and season ticket holders who paid $50 for their season passes, just to mention a few categories.


Because of the possibility that conflicting claims may be asserted against our personal as well as corporate assets that have been pledged as collateral to our numerous creditors, our company’s bankruptcy attorneys have instructed us to save further comments to the papers that will be filed with the bankruptcy court and our testimony that may be required in bankruptcy court proceedings.


I wish to assure you that we are focused on finding a corporate buyer for Wild West World, a buyer with deeper pockets. Discussions are currently ongoing with the hope of finding a buyer who would purchase Wild West World and reopen this great park as soon as possible. No timeline is available at this time. Without a buyer, Wild West World Theme Park will not reopen. But no matter what, we will press on…for Wild West World represented to the Etheredge family literally their entire heart and soul…it represented a Kansas dream.


I realize some of you may have some follow-up questions about the status of our situation. But, this is too emotional a time for me and Cheryl to elaborate further on the events that led up to today’s bankruptcy filing.


Right now, the most important thing for everyone involved is for me to find a buyer who can reopen Wild West World as soon as possible and that is just what I intend to do.


Thomas Etheredge


BTW, although this was being discussed here,

http://www.themeparkreview.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34619, I believe that this is a topic in its own. The park was only open two months for Christ's sake! I am kind of mad about the whole situation because they couldn't have said "Wild West World is closing in one week" or something because some people might have plans. And I would have wanted to go one more time. Anyway, I hope this place gets bought by a good company because it has so much potential.

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OMG we were going to go here in two weeks, andthey just close it!


WE almost booked a hotel in Whichita today, thank god we didnt!


That is crazy, they could have done it with a warning like ''closing next week'' like you stated. This is sad and i was wxcited becasue its not like every year you get a new theme park built, and this park i was fairly close to.


This makes me really angry, and I hope they find a new buyer. So much for the new woodie too!


O god, now were going to have to go to elithches.....for our fourth time this year Dont get me wrong its pretty fun, but seriously...four times. Elitches just isnt ''that'' good.

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Too Bad.

From the beginning I always kinda thought this park was "iffy" to say the least. But I kept thinking maybe it would pull it out in the end, but sadly, that didnt happen.


Hopefully they will find someone who is willing to bring the park up to speed!!



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They already tried selling SFMM but no one would buy it.


Sucks about this park though. Didn't even have a chance. Seems like the business owners didn't thoroughly think out the best strategies to run the place.

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^I know! They never listened to any advisor's EVER!!! Here's something I found at www.kansas.com about an interview with Thomas Etheredge.

"I totally control everything," he said, banging his fist on the table. "Every little bit of it."

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have at least ONE theme park in Kansas, but Etheredge needs to stay out of the amusement park business.


Oooh, just found this. I was looking in the Wichita Eagle archives and found this. This is just a sample cause I'm not paying $10 to read an article.

Thomas Etheredge knows all too well that the newness will soon wear off Wild West World.


"I'm not trying to re-create Joyland out here," said the 53-year-old entrepreneur. "I can't. You can't stay the same for 50 years like they did and stay in this business. The bottom line of this business is staying fresh." There's a simple-yet-critical recipe for success in the theme park business

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Perhaps if Etheridge had left most of the original (professional) management in place the park would have fared better. Heck, Etheridge fired his PR guy, yet the next day Hersheypark immediately hired him to run their marketing department.


Anyway, I wonder if the Herschends would look into purchasing Wild West World. They did turn the small carnival-like Branson USA park into Celebration City.

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^His pr guy quit I heard. Heck, I've heard everything. I'm going to look into Herschends.


EDIT: This is what I sent to Herschends.

Hello. (This is where I say a little bit about myself) You may or may not have heard about the closing of Wild West World, a cowboy themed park in Park City, KS. I'm sure I speak for all of WWW's guests and employees when I say that this is sad news. WWW was only open for two months but the park tanked into $24 million in debt. This is said to be blamed on the constant rain. As a season pass holder, I am very upset about this and would like to visit this park, seems how it's only 15 minutes from my home.


WWW was a great place for families. It had thrill rides, family rides, kids rides, a log flume, and even a Huss Condor! Now it certainly didn't have an abundance of rides, which may have upset some thrill-seekers, but it definitely provided Kansans with something to do. Something to get us away from the constant pressures of daily life. But unfortunately, there's no more, "Hey let's go to Wild West World for the day!".


Just to get this out of the way, I am in NO WAY affiliated with this park. I am just a local enthusiastic about Kansas having a theme park. However, I am most concerned with the buyer for the park. I see that you own Silver Dollar City. I have never been to this park, but I REALLY hope to some day. I have read reviews about SDC, and people always say that it is one of their favorite parks. So why can't we have a park like SDC here in Kansas? Wild West World has a ton of room for expansion, particularly south of the parking lot. That open space is nearly double the park's size! Out of all the park's I've been to, Wild West World is the park with the most potential. Please look into this park. I promise you, it will be a good decision.

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Does PARC that bought all those SF parks have ANY way to be contacted? Surely they would look into it. I mean WWW owns all of the land south of the parking lot which is DOUBLE the size of the park itself! There is plenty of room for expansion. It just needs some TLC from a new owner.


I'm not sure they would have the money for purchasing WWW right now. They spent $312 million on purchasing the 7 parks from SFI, and I just heard a few days ago on wnycoasters.com that they are planning to spend another $109 million on Darien Lake for expansions (hotel expansion and indoor waterpark, although that probably wouldn't take up all the $109 million unless it is huge, so us wnycoasterers think we will get park improvements, new rides, and maybe a new coaster) Also, they just contacted PTC , so that will probably mean new trains for Predator, setting them back nearing another $0.5 million, so yeah, I think PARC 7F is not up to buy WWW right now. At least Darien Lake is finally getting improvements.


To be honest, I think that it will either stay an independent park, or Herschend might buy it, since it seems somewhat similar in terms of theming to their other larger parks.

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How do you go 24 million into debt in two months? Yeesh.

His cocaine habit, duh...


I thought this park would be like Cypress Gardens or Wild Adventures, last a few years and rapidly add a bunch of rides at once. But wow, this was fast.


People I'd expect to buy WWW


Kent Beuscher/Adventure Parks Group- If anybody is a real life RCT story, it would probably be this guy. WWW is just like a RCT scenario!


Herschend- These people are into rustic things and such. WWW is like a perfect match for them.


Kennywood- Unlikely, but a possibility. They are also into small parks.


I think thats all for now.

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If anybody is a real life RCT story, it would probably be this guy. WWW is just like a RCT scenario!


That is EXACTLY what I was about to post! I hope Herschend's does purchase the park. If Herschends can make these awesome parks Like DW and SDC, they could definitely do something to this park. Although WWW has no theming (except some of the rides names and maybe some paint jobs on them), this place has enough room to add just "random" theming and even a lot the size of the double the size of the park south of the parking lot.

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Herschend- These people are into rustic things and such. WWW is like a perfect match for them.


Good grief, I can't honesty see the Hershends ever buying this place. If they did, it would be a novelty park, and probably not associated with the rest of the chain. Come on, that's like Disney buying this park, it's just no where near the likes of the rest of the parks.


Maybe if they spent about 40 million on upgrades, it would be OK, but I don't think they're out to spend over $60 million on a puney park in Kansas that went under in the first two months.


I kinda expect the park to die forever unless PARC or Great American picks it up... or maybe a private investor.

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Wow and I even gave this place 1 - 2 years before closing.


This park had a great idea and blew it. Could of, should of, didn't. A Wild west themed park should be awesome. The ideas are endless if you have the money. They didn't.


I don't know if anyone would buy it honestly. I don't think the market could support it, nor would any company want to put the money into the park to make it attractive with such a strong chance of it bombing.


Then again if it goes cheap enough I'm sure someone will buy it for a write off.


All that poor blacktop could of been used to fill potholes.

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^^The place went under so quick because

1) It was constantly raining

2) It was too expensive

3) It didn't have a reason for people to go like a big attraction

I mean surely when you're trying to sell a park that tanked so quickly, it's going to probably turn some people away from buying the place.


What is exactly is a novelty park?

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