Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Management Announced for Former PARC Parks

CNL Lifestyle Properties has announced the new management partners that will be taking over the parks that were formerly operated by PARC Management.

Both Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake will now be managed by Herschend Family Entertainment.  The change was effective as of today, the 25th of January.

Curt Caffey, senior vice president and managing director of CNL Lifestyle Properties said “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.  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.”

CNL will still own the parks, which means capital expansions will still come from their wallets.  I would hope that Herschend's influence is taken seriously when making those selections!

Wild Waves Theme Park will be managed by NorPoint Entertainment, which was formed by the park's former owner Jeff Stock specifically to manage it.  Jeff owned and operated Wild Waves from 1992 to 2000 when he sold it to Six Flags.

He is encouraged by the fact that CNL seems interested in investing in Wild Waves, unlike previous owners.  With the park's infrastructure upgraded over the last decade it is now poised to make even more expansions.  We like that!

Amusement Management Partners will now manage Magic Springs and Crystal Falls.  Known simply as AMP, the company was also selected to run many of PARC's former family entertainment centers as well, such as the chain of Zuma Fun Centers.  It's also worth checking out the biographies of the individuals behind AMP, there's a lot of amusement industry experience between those guys.

Kieran Burke and Gary Story will once again be operating Frontier City and Whitewater Bay starting this season.  They previously formed Premier Parks after acquiring both properties in the early '90s.  As we all well know, Premier Parks grew and eventually purchased and created branded Six Flags parks across the globe. 

The park's operations have really gone full circle at this point, since CNL purchased the parks from Six Flags in 2007, and in a sense are right back where they started, only with different owners.  Confused yet?

These announcements only leave Splashtown in Texas and Waterworld in California as the remaining PARC properties without new management.  I have a feeling those decisions have been made, just not yet posted online.

What do you guys think of all the changes?


Ryan said...

Wow, that's a lot to digest.

The Frontier City thing is crazy, because it was always important for Six Flags (it was the closest park to their home offices for a long time), but was a little neglected at the same time. I'll be watching this closely to see what's going on with Burke and Story. Same thing with NorPoint.

AMP sounds like they're finding their feet, and hopefully those two parks are a good fit for them. And Herschend is a great company that's not immune to error (Dixie Stampede/Celebration City), but hopefully this means better entertainment at these parks at least to start off with.

Zach said...

Burke and Story will also be operating Splashtown Texas so you can scratch that off the list.

And I forget where, but I think I've seen somewhere that maybe PARC will still operate Waterworld? But I'm not sure on that...