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NEWS: CNL terminates PARC lease on 18 properties

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Hmm. I don't know if I like this. I kind of want Herschend to stay small and focus on what they do right instead of buying B- grade parks.


Exactly how I feel. I don't feel like this partnership is going to improve the company at all. I hope this doesn't lead to a trend of increased bureaucracy and corporate feelings in the parks. Already SDC and DW are loosing the little things that make them special bit by bit. In recent years we've seen classic attractions shuttered, in-park advertisements spring up, and carnival games start to take root. These might sound like typical things for an amusement park, but that's just it - SDC and DW used to be so much more than amusement parks to the point that people didn't even really think of or call them amusement parks back in the day.


Darien Lake and Elitich Gardens are about as bland and typical as they come. It would be one thing if they were buying the parks and transforming them with the Herschend touch, but just handling the management contracts is something different entirely.


Bleh, progress...

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I'm going to play the role of the optimist on this thread. Dollywood is easily my my favorite non Disney park. If Herschend can give Darrien Lake (which has the potential to be a North East Dollywood) and Elitch Gardens that HFE magic, that would be a great turn of events for both parks.



It's seems like Herschend knows what makes a great theme park. In my book thats the people, followed by the atmosphere, and then the theming. If they are able to even give 50 percent of that to these two parks they will both be successful.

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I'm going to be cautiously optimistic on this one. While I agree with Elissa that I kind of want Herschend to stay small and keep their high standard of quality, after seeing how much Wild Adventures has improved under Herschend management I would like to say that this could be a good thing.

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I'm going to be cautiously optimistic on this one. While I agree with Elissa that I kind of want Herschend to stay small and keep their high standard of quality, after seeing how much Wild Adventures has improved under Herschend management I would like to say that this could be a good thing.


I just saw this earlier on their Facebook page and I'm going to be cautiously optimistic too. I had never heard of Herschend before but they'll surely be better than SF for Darien Lake.

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I think that in so many ways this is a good thing. Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens have suffered under both SixFlags and PARC Management, losing some of their lustre and glory. Mind you, both are excellent parks- but tarnished, forgotten and in so many ways passed over, when they should be welcomed with open arms to any company willing to work with them.


I agree completely that Herschend should stay withing their means, capacities and strenghts. But consider this: their holdings now span from coast to coast, and not just theme parks, but also Aquariums, showboats, and hotels/lodging properties. As many people watched "Undercover Boss" this past year, you saw the depth of HFE's operations- and they are far more than just a theme park operator- but a whole family entertainment company. If anything, I can hope they bring their special spirit, passion and quality to two parks that have suffered a bit in the past few years, and could use some love and care.


(Not to mention, I'd love to see Viper return to it's orignal colors...)



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I've been to both Elitch Gardens and Darien lake, and I agree with ginzo's statement that the parks will need a lot of work to bring them up to HFE standards. While neither were particularly bad, they were just boring. Nothing at the parks stands out, service was standard, and the park's just lacked any real atmosphere. I'm happy that a great company is now going to manage them, but HFE is going to have to invest a lot of time, effort, and money into these parks. Darien Lake has a lot of potential with lots of expansion room, the hotel, campground, and concert venue, and it can become a really nice park. Elitch Gardens can't do much due to it's location, but it can still become a nice local park. Having also been to Dollywood, I hope HFE can bring some of what makes that such a great park to these new properties.

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I'm cautiously optimistic about this. Darien Lake is my home park and I would love to see it brought back to its former glory. Then again, compared to the years of Six Flags management, I didn't think that PARC was doing a bad job. To me the park was just... meh. Anyway, I wonder what changes, if any, we'll see this season.

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Wild Waves Theme Park in Federal Way will return to local management under a former owner.


CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. announced Jan. 25 that it has reached an agreement with NorPoint Entertainment to manage the theme park, located off Interstate 5. Former pro soccer player Jeff Stock, a Browns Point resident, formed NorPoint Entertainment specifically for this venture and is assembling a management team. Stock owned and operated Wild Waves from 1992 to 2000 before selling the park to Six Flags for $19.2 million.


Stock was first approached by CNL Lifestyle Properties in June 2010 to manage the property. He praised CNL's willingness to invest money into the park, such as building the first new rides since 2005.


"I'm almost as excited as when I bought it," said Stock, who had purchased Wild Waves and Enchanted Village for about $8 million in 1992. "I'm doing it with CNL because they are a class company. I feel very comfortable having them as a partner."


Stock wants to reinvigorate the park as well as its presence in the community, noting that Wild Waves was ignored for too many years under previous management.


"The potential now is greater than when I took it over. It's got the infrastructure in place," said Stock, who plans to meet with homeowners in the surrounding area off Enchanted Parkway South. "I also want to be a good neighbor."




Wild Waves Theme Park opened in 1977 as the Enchanted Village, and owner Byron Betts built the adjacent Wild Waves Waterpark in 1984. In 1992, Betts sold the parks to Jeff Stock, who merged them into one park. Stock then sold it in 2000 to Six Flags, which sold the park to CNL Lifestyle Properties in 2007. CNL is a real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Orlando, Fla., and had been leasing Wild Waves to PARC Management.


On Jan. 25, 2011, CNL announced new management for eight of the company's amusement parks, including Wild Waves Theme Park. “These new managers are committed to creating positive, memorable experiences for our guests and fostering strong relationships with the communities our parks serve,” said Byron Carlock, president and CEO of CNL Lifestyle Properties, in a news release.


The news release said Stock's "deep roots in the Pacific Northwest and knowledge of the market are expected to solidify the park’s position as a quality family entertainment destination in the community."


Stock is a retired professional soccer defender who played for the Seattle Sounders, Golden Bay Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps, Tacoma Stars and Seattle Storm.


Check it out


• Wild Waves Theme Park, 36201 Enchanted Parkway S., will open for the 2011 season in May. The 70-acre park features dozens of rides, including four roller coasters and 14 water rides. The park also employs nearly 1,000 people between its summer and Halloween FrightFest seasons. To learn more, visit www.wildwaves.com.



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According to the Magic Springs Facebook, they are now Managed by Amusement Park Partners. They look to be the same people who bout all the FEC's.


Facebook link http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/magicsprings


Website of AMP http://ampfun.com/


Cant find a Press Release yet.




Hmm 2 of the AMP guys are former PARC guys, interesting...

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One of the things to remember is that HFEC will not be actually controlling these parks in an overall sense. CNL is still the one calling all the big shots and making the capital investments. So while the parks will certainly run much better than they did under PARC and SF, I doubt we will see them blossom into the parks we've come to expect from HFEC. Really, I see the relationship influencing HFEC a lot more than the parks as this will probably shape their future operations at all their parks.


However, HFEC always surprises. Maybe I'm jumping to some conclusions here, and maybe they'll have a larger role in running the parks than I think. Still though, HFEC isn't in control of the parks assets, so don't expect to see the grand additions you see at DW and SDC. CNL has invested a ton of money in DL's water park, but I think the biggest dry ride they've invested in at any of their properties so far is DL's motocoaster. I think they've only added a total of 3 or 4 dry rides to their parks since purchase, unless I'm forgetting about something at Wild Waves. Hopefully HFEC's direction will encourage them to invest in some major rides.


Oh yeah, I wonder where Frontier City is in all of this? I was so hoping to get a little HFEC influence there, but it's probably too close to Branson for them to run without issues.

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Oh yeah, I wonder where Frontier City is in all of this? I was so hoping to get a little HFEC influence there, but it's probably too close to Branson for them to run without issues.


Makes perfect sense for who's managing Frontier City.

Former Six Flags execs to manage Frontier City, White Water Bay

Gary Story and Kieran Burke, former executives with Six Flags Inc., which owned Frontier City and White Water Bay, are returning to manage the parks.


Frontier City theme park and White Water Bay water park again will be getting the Six Flags management touch when former Six Flags executives Kieran Burke and Gary Story begin managing the properties.


The 2011 season marks the beginning of a management agreement with property owner CNL Lifestyle Properties, which purchased Frontier City and White Water Bay from Six Flags Entertainment Corp. in 2007.


“We could not be more excited about the opportunity to once again manage both Frontier City and White Water Bay,” said Kieran Burke. “Gary Story and I, along with some incredibly talented industry leaders, grew what became the world's largest regional theme park company from these two family entertainment icons right here in Oklahoma City. Our love for this city, these parks, and the team members we have worked with, makes this an especially rewarding assignment.”


In 1989, Burke and Story started Premier Parks in Oklahoma City with the acquisition of Frontier City, followed by White Water Bay in 1991. The success of those parks ignited the company's growth and led to the acquisition of Six Flags Theme Parks in 1998.


They transformed Frontier City, adding the Silver Bullet steel roller coaster, the Renegade Rapids river adventure ride and the popular Wild Cat wooden roller coaster.


Frontier City opens April 9. White Water Bay opens May 21.



Hmmm sounds like they're building up another theme park empire to me.

Edited by acq10uaz
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I just heard them say on Channel 4 news out of Buffalo that they would talk about this at 11:00, so obviously not big enough news to talk about during the 6:00 news cast.


I agree with others on the wait and see approach. Darien Lake has always been a take it or leave it park for me even though it's only about 1.5 hours from my house. Even though I love Ride of Steel and they have a decent water park, they definitely need a bit more TLC if they really want to capitalize on the "resort" aspect of the area.


When we visited a couple years ago, we had a great time, but the campground site was not as nice as it was when we visited fifteen years earlier (trash scattered here and there & fallen branches in the pull-thru's amongst other things). Although we did kinda like the fact that the admission tickets were included in the price of your campsite for two days - it was about $120 for one night, but that included hook-up's, campsite and gate admission for the three of us for two days. Not a bad deal for $40 pp...obviously even less if you come with six people in your camper. Wonder if that will change in 2011?


To me, it seems like one of Darien Lake's bread and butter has always been their concerts. As long as they continue to draw in Dave Matthews Band, Nickelback, the Vans Warped Tour, whatever country star is popular at the time and the Christian Fest every year...the park will be able to bring in revenue. But is it enough to keep this place afloat for many years to come?

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Oh boy, more Burke for FC. If it means changes, that's a good thing, I guess. The park is pretty stagnant at this point, although CNL/PARC has done some good work on the place in the last couple of years. At this point they need to just do SOMETHING, anything, to bring something new to the park. The new family inverted was great, but family rides just don't cut it after a couple of years. Any kind of new ride would get me to the park, but at this point I feel like it's not even worth driving a half hour to since I've not only been on everything a few dozen times, but none of the rides are very good or even exclusive to FC. Basically everything in the park is a much lower class version of something you can get in Dallas, which is one of the reasons why the place has a bad rep. with the locals right now.


Looks like we'll get the shaft again this year though.

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It on the local news in Buffalo..


Herschend Family Entertainment to manage Darien Lake

Updated: Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011, 10:15 PM EST

Published : Tuesday, 25 Jan 2011, 7:10 PM EST


Posted by: Eli George

DARIEN, N.Y. (RELEASE) - CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., owners of Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens, and Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), the nation's largest family-owned theme park corporation, jointly announced today that HFE would assume the day-to-day management of both properties starting January 25, 2011. Based near Buffalo, New York, and in Denver, Colorado, respectively, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort and Elitch Gardens both include a theme park, a water park and a performance venue. In addition, Darien Lake Theme Park Resort also includes a hotel, cabins and a campground. HFE will become the management company for all properties; CNL Lifestyle Properties remains the owner. Curt Caffey, senior vice president and managing director, CNL Lifestyle Properties and Joel Manby, president and CEO, HFE, made the announcement.


"HFE was a natural choice due to the company's solid history of operating first-class, successful theme parks with a reputation for top service and guest experience standards," said Caffey. "Both Darien Lake and Elitch Gardens already have strong foundations as beautiful, fun and wholesome family parks. We're confident Herschend will use its operations know-how to take these attractions to the next level."


"We are eager to get to work managing the operations at these popular parks. With 50 years of experience serving millions of guests, and operating a variety of family entertainment enterprises including theme parks, water parks, tour businesses, hotels and campgrounds, HFE is committed to delivering great value while always bringing families closer together. These parks align well with that philosophy," said Manby. "Our aim is to make the transition as seamless as possible for the parks' employees and as transparent as possible to guests."


As the parks' new management company, HFE will oversee all operations including supervising more than 3,500 full-time and seasonal employees.


Darien Lake Theme Park Resort is New York State's largest theme and water park resort. Darien Lake Theme Park Resort provides accommodations at the Lodge on the Lake Hotel with Forts-o-Fun suites, Brown Bear Cabins, RV sites and campgrounds. It is also home to a 22,000-seat performing arts center featuring some of today's hottest musical acts.


For more than 120 years, Elitch Gardens has been a gathering place for Colorado's families and children and the entertainment hub of the community. It was home to the first zoo, first theater, first movie house, first symphony orchestra and continues to be the oldest continually operating theme park west of the Mississippi.



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Herschend operating Darien Lake, IMO, is a perfect fit. The resort as a whole, not just the park, seems to fit the HFE family rather well. The park might need a little work but the potential is there. I hope CNL gives them some freedom in how they run the park.


The scary thing to me is having Burke and Story back at Frontier City, since that's where the current Six Flags empire was born and the fact they literally ignored the park during their reign. Time will tell if they've learned from their mistakes.

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