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NEWS: Hershey Entertainment sells Dutch Wonderland


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http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/11/hershey_entertainment_resorts_5.html

 

 

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Co. has sold its Dutch Wonderland amusement park in Lancaster County to Palace Entertainment, the U.S. subsidiary of Parques Reunidos.

 

Garrett Gallia, spokesman for Hershey Entertainment, said his company had not offered Dutch Wonderland for sale, but was approached by officials with Palace Entertainment. He said the sale will help Hershey Entertainment concentrate on its Hershey holdings, including Hersheypark and the Hotel Hershey.

 

"In the past ten years, we have been growing our destination here in Hershey," he said. "By selling, we can devote all our energies to Hershey."

 

Entertainment is the nation’s largest operator of water parks and family entertainment centers. Based in California, Palace operates seven amusement parks, 10 water parks and 21 family entertainment centers in 11 states. It has three theme parks and one water park in Pennsylvania: Kennywood, Idlewild, Soak Zone and Sandcastle, which are located in the Pittsburgh area. It hosts more than 14 million visitors annually at 38 locations across the United States.

 

The companies had been in negotiations over the sale since May. Neither Gallia nor Palace Entertainment spokesman Rolf Paegart would reveal the selling price.

 

Paegart called Dutch Wonderland "a wonderful park that fits well with the company's portfolio.

 

He said there are no immediate plans for changes at the park.

 

Mod Edit: I went ahead and quoted the article for you. With news like this, we like to have a little bit more information than just a link to an article. Thanks!

 

-Eric

Edited by ItsDavidU
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To be honest though, Dutch Wonderland does seem like it *fits* Palace's park profile more than it does Hersheypark. If you've ever been there it feels a lot more like a larger FEC than an actual park the way it's right on the street and surrounded by other FEC-like places. And with Palace owning properties like Castle Park, Story Land, and Boomers, this is much more like those.

 

I can't speak to how well/not well Palace runs parks, but this does seem like a better fit for them.

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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^^Yeah, please explain. I didn't see anything wrong with the park during our visit in 2008, of course that was my only visit so I have nothing to compare it too. But, I'd say the Boulder Dash retrack was highly successful which was done under their watch.

Edited by ernierocker
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^^Yeah, please explain. I didn't see anything wrong with the park during our visit in 2008, of course that was my only visit so I have nothing to compare it too. But, I'd say the Boulder Dash retrack was highly successful which was done under their watch.

 

They have taken a very special place and gave it a very corporate feel in some aspects. Many of the issues are behind the scenes; employees were valued more under Kennywood. Palace is CHEAP, sacrificing the guest experience if they have to. Also, the retracking of Boulder Dash was done under Kennywood's watch.

 

2008 saw little to no changes since they were just coming on board. Palace had little interaction in 2008 from my experience; it was more about the integration of systems and policies. Some of the people that made Lake Compounce such an amazing place were let go or left on their own due to palaces HEAVY oversight of every dollar spent.

 

I do want to note that Lake Compounce is still one of my favorite amusement parks in the US, I just hope Palace realizes what they are doing before it is too late.

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To be honest though, Dutch Wonderland does seem like it *fits* Palace's park profile more than it does Hersheypark. If you've ever been there it feels a lot more like a larger FEC than an actual park the way it's right on the street and surrounded by other FEC-like places. And with Palace owning properties like Castle Park, Story Land, and Boomers, this is much more like those.

 

I can't speak to how well/not well Palace runs parks, but this does seem like a better fit for them.

 

--Robb

 

I agree. I don't think this is a bad move, in-fact maybe a great move. Palace seems to be running Kennywood and Idlewild nicely and has respected the history of the parks it seems.

My question is how is this going to affect the Hersheypark Gold Passes and discounts with the regular season passes?

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I have mixed opinions on this, I didn't like some of the things Hershey did to the park most specifically removing the Old Engine 99 Train Ride. They also lowered the maximum height limit on some kiddie rides (doesn't matter to me personally but I would be annoyed if I was a kid that was now not allowed to go on a ride that I used to be able to) and I hated the changing of Sky Princess with the white track to the purple and blue tracked Kingdom Coaster and getting ride of the Giant Slide and replacing it with 2 smaller slides. I just hope the new owners don't remove any of the other older rides like the Wonder House.

 

If the park continues to be open for Winter Wonderland, it would also be nice if the new owners can consider running Kingdom Coaster. I'd be willing to drive 90 minutes to ride a coaster in December.

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They have taken a very special place and gave it a very corporate feel in some aspects.

 

In my opinion.. Hershey is one of the WORST offenders in taking a classic/traditional park and turning it into an overly corporate feeling park.

 

I think this sale might be good in the long run. Dutch Wonderland wasn't Hershey's priority and it's not like Hershey came in and really put Dutch Wonderland on the map or anything. So let a chain that is used to running smaller parks take control and let Hershey focus on building up their destination park.. even if it lost the charm it had 10 years ago.

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I honestly think it is a good move. Hershey can now focus on making their sole park bigger and better then ever. I have a feeling the company wants to take the whole Hershey experience bigger, more like a Disney feel. They already have the park, the campground, the spa, and the hotel. Its a matter of time before Hershey is more then just a weekend getaway, soon enough it may be a vacation destination with guest spending a week or more there. At least more then do it currently.

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Interesting that they went after the property totally cold too.

 

While there certainly wasn't a 'For Sale' sign in Dutch Wonderland's front yard, I don't believe that it was totally cold. There has been word for the good part of a year that HE&R was considering selling the park, which probably means they were looking for offers. Palace saw a good opportunity, and made it happen. Additionally, you have to play the PR game with these things to appease the locals. "Oh, we didn't want to sell, but this was a good opportunity blah, blah, blah..." "This was a difficult decision yadda, yadda..."

 

Bottom line is HE&R is hungry for cash. While the Entertainment side (park, stadium, Giant Center) continues to perform financially, the Resorts side keeps sh-tting the bed. The company invested a ridiculous amount into the Hotel recently, but they're still having trouble putting heads in the beds. What better way to bring in cash than to sell a profitable park that you picked up relatively dirt cheap?

 

HE&R did a wonderful job at Dutch Wonderland and built up a lot of equity in the property since 2001. I'm sure there is a nice ROI on this sale. Buy low, sell high. From that perspective, selling the park makes sense. Focusing all energy and assets on the properties in Hershey wasn't just a line. That's the truth.

 

However, it seems to me that Dutch Wonderland became a nice little cash cow over the past few seasons - sending millions up the road every year while getting little in return. From this perspective, the sale makes no sense. Why sell off one of your few profitable assets, when others are bleeding you dry? (not that selling a different property is an option) Why not keep the cow?

 

This is a great acquisition for Palace, and I think being sold will be a great thing for Dutch Wonderland and its future. I hope Palace is willing to invest in the park and pay for the upgrades it has grown to need in recent years. I don't see a lot of other changes.

 

Think of it this way... when I'm riding a hypercoaster in Hersheypark in 2012, I'll think to myself "This is the coaster Dutch Wonderland paid for."

 

Regarding the combo season pass, it will be honored and sold for the next three seasons, according to a friend who works in Hershey.

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The only downside I see is if Palace wants to turn DW into a theme park with more adult rides and attraction, to try to steal guest away from Hershey. It will be their biggest competition location wise now. Before it was not like that because Hershey owned both and more or less controlled which guest went to which park based on what the guest were looking for (Hershey with thrilling adult rides or DW being a park full of kid friendly rides). I know this may not happen but it is still something to think about.

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The company invested a ridiculous amount into the Hotel recently, but they're still having trouble putting heads in the beds.

 

I wonder if this has to do with the insane cost of staying in the Hershey Hotel. Last time I looked, they were charging Disney Deluxe prices. Is there a big market for this sort of thing in Hershey, PA?

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The company invested a ridiculous amount into the Hotel recently, but they're still having trouble putting heads in the beds.

 

I wonder if this has to do with the insane cost of staying in the Hershey Hotel. Last time I looked, they were charging Disney Deluxe prices. Is there a big market for this sort of thing in Hershey, PA?

 

Probably not, but that's coming from someone who doesn't need a hotel to go there. Hotel Hershey is a really fancy place, their restaurants are very high-class (and expensive), their shops are the same, and some of the extras they offer are the same way. I'm sure many guests either stay at the Hershey Lodge (which I think is cheaper), Hershey Highmeadow, or at a regular hotel. I would think if they'd lower the prices or offered some Disney-like offers, they'd get more people to stay in the hotel.

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Yeah I too agree that the Hotel Hershey is probably a bit too pricey. Lets see-

 

If I were to reserve a room at the Hotel Hershey for ONE night this weekend it would cost $349 for a normal room, $474 for the new cottage room, or $459 for a normal room and one night at Hersheypark.

 

The cheaper Hershey Lodge is $209 or $321 for the package.

 

That's crazy if you ask me.

 

I don't think Hershey can become a legitimate "destination" until the cater to more than just the wealthy. I mean for two days for a family of four you're already looking at over $1000. You could probably get 4 round trip plane tickets, a few nights at the All Star or Pop Century Resort, and Disney tickets for a few hundred bucks extra.

 

I wish Hershey would build a cheaper hotel with an indoor waterpark. I think that'd do well in the summer and also in the winter because there's not a whole lot for families to do in the dead of winter in PA!

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The only downside I see is if Palace wants to turn DW into a theme park with more adult rides and attraction, to try to steal guest away from Hershey. It will be their biggest competition location wise now. Before it was not like that because Hershey owned both and more or less controlled which guest went to which park based on what the guest were looking for (Hershey with thrilling adult rides or DW being a park full of kid friendly rides). I know this may not happen but it is still something to think about.

 

This option may actually be good for HP in the long run. They will now be forced to add more flats over the coming years. Since they took over Dutch Wonderland, how many rides were removed from HP alone? Giant Wheel, Western Chute-Out, Canyon River Rapids, Conestoga, Cyclops, Earthmovers, Wells Cargo, Chaos, and Rodeo). And how many new flats were installed over this period? (The Claw, Frontier Flyers, Mini Pirate & Scrambler, the Howler). I'd say if Palace decided to upgrade DW into more of a family park, maybe attracting more of the older crowd by adding more adult-oriented rides that adults and children can enjoy together, this may force HP into investing more into these types of rides, that they deperately need right now.

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The company invested a ridiculous amount into the Hotel recently, but they're still having trouble putting heads in the beds.

 

I wonder if this has to do with the insane cost of staying in the Hershey Hotel. Last time I looked, they were charging Disney Deluxe prices. Is there a big market for this sort of thing in Hershey, PA?

 

Probably not, but that's coming from someone who doesn't need a hotel to go there. Hotel Hershey is a really fancy place, their restaurants are very high-class (and expensive), their shops are the same, and some of the extras they offer are the same way. I'm sure many guests either stay at the Hershey Lodge (which I think is cheaper), Hershey Highmeadow, or at a regular hotel. I would think if they'd lower the prices or offered some Disney-like offers, they'd get more people to stay in the hotel.

 

I stay at the Chocolate Town Motel like 10 minutes from the park...its only about 100 on the weekend in later June. No reason to spend so much money when your only sleeping there. I'm at the park open till close, getting in line right before closing time.

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I think what they mean is for Hershey to build a value-priced hotel (similar to the All-Stars and Pop Century) and be able to make money off of it. As CoasterEricHP stated, if they would also open up an indoor water park to go along with it, the revenue would still be brought in after Candylane is over and continue through the winter. They could even offer rates for their Chocolate-Covered February celebration and the indoor water park would be included. Hershey Lodge would be the moderately-priced hotel, and the Hotel Hershey being the most expensive. They would definitely get more money raked in instead of people (like deguy123) who choose to stay at a place outside of town not far from the park, they would stay at their value-priced hotel and get the perks as their other two hotels but for a much cheaper price.

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