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Apex Parks Group acquires Martin's Fantasy Island


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http://www.apexparksgroup.com/news#16

 

Martin’s Fantasy Island is the Newest Addition to Apex Parks Group

 

Aliso Viejo, CA – May 13, 2016 California-based Apex Parks Group is pleased to announce the acquisition of Martin’s Fantasy Island theme park. This is Apex Parks Group’s first acquisition for 2016.

 

Martin’s Fantasy Island is located in Grand Island, New York, less than 10 miles southeast of Niagara Falls in western New York. The park has over 25 rides and 7 water attractions; including the Silver Comet wooden roller coaster – one of Coaster Buzz’s Top 100 Roller Coasters in the US. The park’s attractions and live shows are geared toward family-oriented and thrilling entertainment for any age. Martin’s Fantasy Island is an ideal addition to Apex’s family of theme parks, water parks, and family entertainment centers.

 

Apex Parks Group CEO, Al Weber, Jr. commented: “We’re excited to work with the Martin’s team to continue the successful operation of Martin’s Fantasy Island. The addition of this beautiful family-niche park is another step toward Apex’s goal of growing to become the leading company in the fragmented out-of-home entertainment business.”

 

Former owner, Martin DiPietro adds, “I bought this park 22 years ago and it’s been a labor of love. I decided Apex Parks Group was the best choice to ensure that Martin’s Fantasy Island continues to be the best family fun park in the area. Their track record in the family-oriented amusement business is unmatched, and I have every confidence that their success will carry over to Martin’s Fantasy Island.”

Martin’s Fantasy Island opens for the 2016 season on May 14 and will continue planned operations during the transition. For more information about the park, visit http://www.martinsfantasyisland.com

 

About Martin’s Fantasy Island

Martin’s Fantasy Island is a family-oriented, classic American theme park situated minutes from Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls. The park opened in July 1961 and has since grown to 75 acres of thrill rides, family fun rides, and a water park. Fantasy Island is home to The Silver Comet wood/steel hybrid roller coaster, a Wild Mouse roller coaster, and classic theme park attractions like bumper cars, a train ride, giant slide, and more. For more information about Martin’s Fantasy Island visit http://www.martinsfantasyisland.com

 

About Apex Parks Group

Apex is a privately held company based in Aliso Viejo, California with 13 Family Entertainment Centers, 2 Water Parks, and 1 Amusement Park Resort in California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Indiana. Apex Parks Group is currently one of the largest owners of Family Entertainment Centers in the United States. Apex Parks was founded in 2014 to acquire and operate best-in-class out-of-home entertainment assets and is committed to excellence, to the communities they serve, and to delivering value that exceeds expectation. For more information, please visit http://www.apexparksgroup.com.

 

This is interesting news. As with any new owner there is that uncertainty as to what direction they will take the park. Granted MFI is a decent park that is just a little "rough around the edges", at least from my previous experiences there, so hopefully we'll see more positive changes, i.e. the whole operation of Silver Comet, come soon.

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I'm in shock because nobody has heard anything about this, but I'm not too surprised. Last time I saw Martin, he looked pretty old and he must have just wanted to finally step away after this many years. I guess this explains why there was no new addition this year. Anyways, Apex's largest operation is Indiana Beach, and judging from how nice that park is, the group seems to do a fine job. I know it's a pipe dream, but a Steel Hawg clone would give me a reason to visit again.

 

Hopefully some new management comes in and gets operations working a bit better. That's the only thing that really needs an improvement. Otherwise, maybe there's finally some potential for growth and that's great to hear.

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:?r

 

What is this Apex Parks?

 

Just curious, of me.

 

Bill, here is a snapshot & the link from the Apex website:

 

Link

 

They also took ownership of Indiana Beach last year and own all of the smaller Boomers parks in the US. From what I have seen, they look to be adding new things to IB as well as sprucing up this aging, historical park - certainly a good sign for a neat lil' park.

 

To be honest, I don't know much about the Boomers parks, so may need to do more investigation into those...or look for feedback from other TPR peeps that have visited them. They look like your standard mini-golf, bumper boats, batting cages, arcade, etc type of entertainment places.

 

Based on what I have read, I think that this should be a very good move for Fantasy Island. Martin did a lot of good things to revamp this otherwise ghetto little park, so hopefully this up and coming company can continue to help it thrive & survive.

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  • 2 months later...

My friend works at Fantasy Island, I've been told that they have plans to add some sort of floorless coaster to the back of the park. He said that apparently, the new management company of Fantasy Island has many larger plans for the future.

Edited by rjr19
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My friend works at Fantasy Island, I've been told that they have plans to add some sort of floorless coaster to the back of the park. He said that apparently, the new management company of Fantasy Island has many larger plans for the future.

 

Two words...

 

Dippin' Dots.

 

Edit - Wait. I take that back.I have more words to add to the response...

 

Former Dippin' Dots guy on acid at Cedar Point chugging sodas next to Rougarou.

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Fantasy Island is in an unusual circumstance - they don't have much room for growth with the townhomes bordering the parking lot/wave pool and the campground behind Silver Comet. I do realize there is a big forested area behind the Ferris Wheel (if its still there) and antique cars. I don't see FI getting to be the same size as Darien Lake but they have made quite a few additions the past few years, much more than what DL has done that wasn't water park related. Does DL even consider FI a threat given they have the larger and better water park and bigger ride/coaster selection?

 

If Apex is serious about their plans for Fantasy Island then Darien has no choice but to do something to draw attention.

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I work at the park and gathering information from

supervisors, this is what I can tell you. Supposedly, parking will not be free, ticket prices will increase, the slide is getting removed, the land there is supposed to get some what reconfigured and the antique cars are supposed to have a new track built and move there, the land behind the wheel has been bought by apex and they are already starting to clear the land. The wheel is getting removed because it's in such awful condition, beyond repair like they did with Indiana Beaches Chance Gondola wheel. The middle Axel of it broke apart and they had to weld it together, that is why they have to load the wheel a specific way. Martin tried selling it for years but nobody wanted it so they're just taking it down. They might also add a coaster where the antiques were but I know ( not nessecarily for next year ), they want more flat rides and like I said with the land, they're expanding the park. Oh and finally, I know it's stupid but they want to get rid of the shootout. Not saying it will happen but it would probably be a battle for that.

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Is it true that they make you wear wristbands now?

Yes, I can't remember for sure but white is for senior citizens, pink is for catering groups, I think there's orange and green but the next 2 are just for under and over 48 inches. That's all for tickets though, season pass holders don't recieve anything anymore. For a brief point in time they continued with the stamps but they stopped now.

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Not trying to derail the thread, but if Fantasy Island looked at what Knoebels or Waldameer has been doing, they could thrive despite whatever Darien Lake does.

 

The park can easily draw clientele from Buffalo as well as Canada due to it's proximity to the Falls, shopping, Duty Free and other attractions. Having the KOA next door with a train to take you there is an added plus too.

 

Personally I say keep the flat rides coming & make their programs awesome & crazy just like Knoebels. Add a good dark ride, add more water park attractions, add a smallish steel coaster like Impulse, add another log flume (to replace the one they so foolishly removed), offer some different, unique and tasty food options...and for God's sake, keep the damned cheesy western gun show & the reasonably priced big, large beers for the win!!!!

 

Again, this park shouldn't even think about competing with Darien Lake. They should be focused on improving the good things that they already have by adding more moderately priced rides, waterslides (face it, the water park is pretty lame) and attractions in order to take advantage of their good location where they could draw in Falls tourists, Canadians, and local families throughout the western NY region.

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Again, this park shouldn't even think about competing with Darien Lake. They should be focused on improving the good things that they already have by adding more moderately priced rides, waterslides (face it, the water park is pretty lame) and attractions in order to take advantage of their good location where they could draw in Falls tourists, Canadians, and local families throughout the western NY region.

 

I agree. Trying to compete with Darien Lake directly could end very badly. A small, family park with very reasonable prices, and a nice selection of attractions for all ages should not try to become Darien Lake who attracts close to 1 million annually with more thrilling attractions, on-site accommodations, and concert venue. Martin's would probably lose even with the array of imperfections of Darien Lake. Martin's should continue to explore their unique niche that has great potential for younger families.

 

I chuckle as employees and guests go on about their big fantasies for my small park of employment. If we tried to become "more like Cedar Point with big steel coasters" as our market tries to compare, we would cease to exist. The market in the region (same applies for Darien Lake's and Martin's region) is not getting any bigger demographically, so parks in a crowded market must try to get as much out of their target market as possible.

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People seem to pitch a fit whatever FI does, they restrict food and beverages in May, people pitch a fit, even though you can still eat at your car. Parking better still remain free, or again, people will not like that. People really pitched a fit when the log flume was removed. This park seems to get a lot more hate than DL for some reason. Obviously if a large new ride is added then admission will go up, but they need to keep the low costs of other options, Seabreeze and Waldameer do not charge for parking either. Seabreeze also has senior day on Mondays which means adult non riders can get in for free and Waldameer doesn't charge for admission at all and they do just fine at least the last time I checked. They would do better to charge more for admission than to charge a parking fee. Right now you can get into FI for $18 with tickets from many local businesses which is CHEAP for a whole park. We live in an area where it costs $20-25 minimum to go to a parking lot carnival with a rides wristband or $3-6 per ride once you get there and some of those only have 6-10 rides that does not include admission and parking (which are free some of the time). DL is doing buy one get one free tickets at Tops which is cheap, but they do charge for parking, however the admission price is all inclusive and again you get the whole park for the whole day.

 

FI has the local budget market, I cannot tell you how many struggling families there are in Niagara Falls that go to this park and simply cannot afford more, if it becomes out of their price range or policies change for the worse, such as no outside food or drink in the park, or they institute a parking fee it may price out its main clientele and see a decline in attendance. Its not downtown Niagara Falls, so tourists won't flock to it unless they go out of their way or there is a shuttle.

 

Regardless of how bad these parks are, they are pretty low cost for what you get vs. other entertainment options in the area.

 

I really appreciate the tips on here about which rides are in bad condition, I definitely feel safer knowing inside information about these rides especially with the recent accidents, as a customer I would never know that the wheel had been welded together (this might be something I want to know before getting on it), and in NY state amusement parks are only inspected once a year so the park is left to their own devices for the rest of the year. I wish there was a definitive place to find out things like this, as in when a repair is made to a ride it is documented, I know about the Ride Safe NY website however it doesn't always provide that kind of information as cited in a recent news story. An accident is more likely to happen on something that has been cobbled together.. Now I know not to go on the wheel at MFI because its in bad condition and may have a problem and that the boomerang at DL has problems, that the customer may or may not see.

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I definitely have been ragging on FI for a while now, but I think it's been for good reason. I don't know what the hell happened, but they have really gone downhill over the past few years. This park went from a 2-3 time a year visit for me to a 0-1 time visit. Of course I'm older now, and their ride selection is family geared, but I cannot even see sometime soon if I have a family taking them to FI over Darien Lake.

 

I get that money will be a big issue for a lot of families, but if Apex ends up going through with parking and ticket increases, many families will be peeved off. FI has been known for years for being budget friendly across the board in food, tickets, etc. I think a lot of families who buy passes will consider paying a little more to make the jump to Darien Lake. They are far better even in the family department IMO, and have more for everyone.

 

Things at Martin's though have really gotten to the point where they needed a major shakeup in management. The operations have become molasses slow. Their crews make Darien Lake's look like they are training for Rio. I used to be able to marathon Comet, but now I get to hear operators' personal problems and go through that god awful restraint process. Not only that, but so many rides have been removed that I considered great for rides that only can last a few years or are typical carny models. I mean who removes a working log flume for a compact thrill ride, that only lasts a year, and then removes the broken ferris wheel right next door?

 

At this point, I personally would pay a bit more to get in if it meant Apex was looking at adding a smaller scale thrill coaster such as Impulse or Steel Hawg, and improving general operations and aesthetics. I just cannot see them getting away with jacking the price if they cannot fix things up. If what the previous poster stated was true, they won't get away with trying to remove the shootout. Albeit being a little corny now, it's still a tradition for the park. It would be like Disney getting rid of nightly fireworks. I would much rather see them remove the knock off Star Wars pirate show that actually takes up valuable room, and nobody ever seems to watch.

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I went to FI about a month or so ago. Usually go 1-3 times a year with the 7 year old. This year was the worst. Normally I buy presale tickets at Wegman's to save some money and to not have to stand in the long ticket both line. Well, when we got there we still had to stand in the long ticket both line because we had to get our wristband. The lines were out of control for the ticket both. If they want to do this ridiculous practice they should have at least have a separate line for wristbands and a separate line for ticket purchases. We had to wait in at least 20 minute line, with ticket purchasers to get this stupid wristband. Most ridiculous thing i have ever seen. There were other minor annoying things but that annoyed me the most.

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I definitely have been ragging on FI for a while now, but I think it's been for good reason. I don't know what the hell happened, but they have really gone downhill over the past few years. This park went from a 2-3 time a year visit for me to a 0-1 time visit. Of course I'm older now, and their ride selection is family geared, but I cannot even see sometime soon if I have a family taking them to FI over Darien Lake.

 

I get that money will be a big issue for a lot of families, but if Apex ends up going through with parking and ticket increases, many families will be peeved off. FI has been known for years for being budget friendly across the board in food, tickets, etc. I think a lot of families who buy passes will consider paying a little more to make the jump to Darien Lake. They are far better even in the family department IMO, and have more for everyone.

 

Things at Martin's though have really gotten to the point where they needed a major shakeup in management. The operations have become molasses slow. Their crews make Darien Lake's look like they are training for Rio. I used to be able to marathon Comet, but now I get to hear operators' personal problems and go through that god awful restraint process. Not only that, but so many rides have been removed that I considered great for rides that only can last a few years or are typical carny models. I mean who removes a working log flume for a compact thrill ride, that only lasts a year, and then removes the broken ferris wheel right next door?

 

At this point, I personally would pay a bit more to get in if it meant Apex was looking at adding a smaller scale thrill coaster such as Impulse or Steel Hawg, and improving general operations and aesthetics. I just cannot see them getting away with jacking the price if they cannot fix things up. If what the previous poster stated was true, they won't get away with trying to remove the shootout. Albeit being a little corny now, it's still a tradition for the park. It would be like Disney getting rid of nightly fireworks. I would much rather see them remove the knock off Star Wars pirate show that actually takes up valuable room, and nobody ever seems to watch.

 

Honestly given the area and the situation here in the falls where I live with money, one of their main markets obviously; they might be better off keeping what they have, improving operations, guest service, fixing up the park and keeping prices low. If they are going to jack prices and add a parking fee people will not like that and they will be in danger. I have no problem with a place that adds a bunch of stuff and increases prices, that is normal, but the market may not be able to bear it and the park will be in trouble, while I am fine with price increases if new attractions arise even small price increases will price out the clientele of Niagara Falls. Unless they get a shuttle for tourists from the falls, advertise like mad and do something in conjunction with hotel packages in the falls to draw the more lucrative tourist market and bring them directly to the park. This would then price out families from Niagara falls and the place will be known as another tourist trap and the locals will no longer support it and they will have to rely on tourists all the time for business. The market here cannot support a big thrill park because there simply is not enough money for families to pay for each kid, parking, food and drink, especially when most people here have families of 5-6 kids. If this is the case then you are right, the families will just make the jump to Darien when there is a deal or sale on tickets because it comes out close to the same price or better anyways and you get 5 coasters and an awesome water park. FI only has 2 coasters and a kiddie coaster. A lot of people go just for the water park, especially when its hot out, I personally don't go in the water park, but its clear that is where the business is.

 

I don't understand why FI spent millions on a thrill ride that barely ran from what I hear and all that custom themeing, plus it was a terrible capacity ride it just wasn't worth it. I think this is what killed them. I think they removed the log flume because it was very very old and was in very bad condition, so it had to go. However since people were very very angry about that one if that was the case they could have just replaced it with another flume, I know if you listen to the customer all the time that may not be a good idea and its not possible to please everyone however I think they had no business putting in that thrill ride that essentially wasn't any better than adding 1-2 family or everyone flat rides. They could have put in 2 smaller flats for the cost of that thing and the crowds would have enjoyed them more and they would have gotten more ridership than that thing. FI should stick to the family park and low price model and not try to become a carbon copy of DL. They should try to have rides that DL doesn't have, aka putting in a scrambler or a super loop as a family/thrill ride would not do much good as DL already has one. If the new owners put in a new flume then I think that would be a winner with the locals, they could bring back what was missing and that would go over well.

 

The shootout is so iconic in this area that I think people would flee from the park in droves if that was to be removed. The actors from what I know have been there for years and they do an amazing job. Its also something you don't see very often at parks anymore, an old fashioned shoot out. In fact its so popular that I think the park should build on it if possible, maybe get some western themed rides. It doesn't matter if its cheesy if the kids and the crowds like it then keep it! This park is geared towards families on a budget so if the kids like it then keep it. This park is iconic and it would be a shame if they removed the things that make it iconic. People still talk about the original devils hole and the rides of the past from this park, this park is iconically entrenched in the area of Niagara falls, the parents that grew up with the devil's hole, the wildcat are still talking about this park and those are the people that are bringing their kids to the park and telling them about how good it was back in the day. They did a good thing by getting a gravitron and theming it as devil's hole. I am all about the past and bringing back things from my childhood yes I know things can't last forever but I can imagine that other people in my age group share the same feelings so they should focus on something like that since the parents are more likely to bring their kids to the park to show them the place they went as a kid if they do something that will spark the parents imagination like bring back the log flume. The parents are customers as well and they have to do something to bring the parents in as well as the kids.

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^I know that all of the park's shows, advertisements, park maps, and logos are done by Dan Monroe (The Marshall) and his company. So I am assuming that if the shootout is leaving, so will all other aspects of his production. Apex may have their own graphics and advertising company lined up already to save on funds. But as you've said, if the shootout is leaving so will many customers. I know of many older people who just visit the park for the train, shootout, and a few other rides. It's a relaxing day out for them.

 

The log flume was really a mistake on the park's part. Yes it was old, but that shouldn't be an excuse considering some of the oldest flumes in the world are still operating, and on a much larger scale. It wouldn't have been hard to replace some wooden beams. The controls were already updated at some point after moving to the park from Florida. The ride was never down whenever I visited, and never really screamed "maintenance nightmare" to me.

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^I know that all of the park's shows, advertisements, park maps, and logos are done by Dan Monroe (The Marshall) and his company. So I am assuming that if the shootout is leaving, so will all other aspects of his production. Apex may have their own graphics and advertising company lined up already to save on funds. But as you've said, if the shootout is leaving so will many customers. I know of many older people who just visit the park for the train, shootout, and a few other rides. It's a relaxing day out for them.

 

The log flume was really a mistake on the park's part. Yes it was old, but that shouldn't be an excuse considering some of the oldest flumes in the world are still operating, and on a much larger scale. It wouldn't have been hard to replace some wooden beams. The controls were already updated at some point after moving to the park from Florida. The ride was never down whenever I visited, and never really screamed "maintenance nightmare" to me.

 

It seems they want to shuttle in tourists from the falls and make that their main market. The shootout is a nostalgic throwback for the older folks, who probably bring their grandchildren as well.. again keeping it in the family. Many families will leave after the park becomes over-run with tourists if this happens, especially if they remove the shootout, remove other things and raise prices. The tourists have Marineland... which is closer for them, Wonderland and the entire overpriced place known as Clifton hill so I am not sure why they would want to come to FI, they already come to FI and I am fine with that, but making it a tourist only destination is a bad idea and is just doing what everything else in WNY does, take things away from the people who like them.

 

I know how many times as a kid I just longed and longed for that one summer visit to FI that my family could afford. My friend and I would make detailed plans about which rides we would go on first, last and in the middle, and the order of rides and everything. We were obsessed! We waited all summer for it. We didn't have internet access to know this is called making a trip report. If I could have made trip reports after the park visits I had as a kid I could probably have written several books. We would obsess about the past rides, rumors of incidents on the old devil's hole, pretend to drive the antique cars faster, save up our allowance so we could get some penny candy out of the candy shop and perhaps buy something in the gift shop.. and just have a good time. We had no idea there were better parks out there, we just knew that we liked FI. I wasn't taken to Darien lake until I was around 8-10 years old and that was one time until I was in high school and I was able to go one more time.

 

I have to advocate for having something to do in WNY that is just fun for kids and doesn't cost and arm and a leg because of how overpriced every entertainment option is in this area. I would hate to see families in Niagara Falls get priced out of one of the last things left near this city that is actually reasonably priced and fun to do, especially given the fact that there is nothing to do here in the winter unless you like winter sports. Yes there are free events here but parking is not free downtown anymore (again, money grab) and lets face it a free concert or free event doesn't have the allure that a theme park does to a child. We have to remember even if the park is not the greatest, even if they don't add rides every year someone out there is longing to go to it and likes it. I wouldn't want them to have the experience that I had as a kid taken away from them due to it suddenly becoming more expensive overnight.

 

The Erie county fair has turned into a complete money grab with $40 wristbands on the weekend, more expensive than any park in the area, but if you can make it during a weekday the wristband is $25 if you buy ahead of time however that does not include admission or parking, every carnival charges $3-5 per ride or $20-25 for a wristband (this actually makes the ECF look good because they have more rides than most), most games at the carnivals are $5 a play and last less than 60 seconds, don't get me started on food prices. Everyone laments these local festivals we have but I just see money grabs, some of them have reasonably priced food, there is some limited reasonably priced food at the Erie county fair but of course there is always the option to bring your own and with all the coolers scattered around the fairgrounds many families are clearly going this route, but when I get to a place, oh have fun on the rides and awesome food, yeah $5 bottles of water, $9 turkey legs, $5 for a slice of pizza, $10 for everything else and most of it is mediocre is not fun or entertaining for me. Some carnivals don't sell single tickets and force you to buy something like 4 tickets for $5 when the adult rides are 5 tickets or more, forcing you to buy more tickets just to go on a couple rides. Why go if its so expensive that most people literately can't afford to eat the food or ride the rides?

 

Basically if you live here in the falls, you either work at the outlet mall, walmart or some other retail place, if you are so lucky to have one of 2 last names then you have a job in the school system. I forget which factory it is here but one is closing and its going to leave 200-400 people without work by the holidays, these people have families and they certainly won't be able to afford to pay more to take their kids to the park next year. Exchange rate is not good so the Canadians aren't coming over and spending in our stores like they used to. Back to school costs are now a major thing for families with several pages of items to buy per kid instead of the $10 worth of school supplies I needed as a kid to go back to school. I am not sure how we are supposed to pay more for parks when this is the situation where I live.

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  • 1 month later...

Side note: I'm not sure how fantasy island is making any money with $44 season passes for next year. Plus they allow bringing in food, etc. Unless they start charging for parking next year... -- as for Darien Lake, that is a good price for a season pass with all the perks. Yeah it's not Six Flags pricing, but... pretty close!

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Fantasy Island had $18 admission last year if you bought from local businesses, my mom said they had trouble selling them at her workplace....apparently no one wants to go to this park for some reason... that's some of the cheapest entertainment you can get in the area. People wont pay $18 for a whole theme park yet they will pay $20-40 for a carnival ride wristband...or $28 for one Go-Kart ride at pole position at the Galleria...there's something seriously messed up with that.

 

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