Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CNL Lifestyle Owned Parks to Soon Have New Owners

CNL Lifestyle Properties is an investment company that has owned several amusement and water parks for years now.  A recent filing with the SEC by the company points out that their are nearing the end of their investment cycle, which means that they will begin selling off their investments (for a profit, one would hope).  For instance, they just finished an agreement to sell a ton of golf courses they also owned.

Here's a list, created by CNL, of the parks they currently own:

This is quite a mix of properties, but there are several of note.  Those include Darien Lake, Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, Magic Springs, Pacific Park, and Wild Waves Theme Park.  There are also a lot of water parks, with bigger names like the North American Wet 'n' Wild parks, and two of the Hawaiian Falls parks.

CNL doesn't operate any of these parks, since they are investments, with different firms handling that portion under contract.

Darien Lake is managed by Herschend Family Entertainment, and has seen modest additions in recent years.  I have to wonder how tightly CNL held the purse strings, limiting what Herschend could really do.  It would make sense to me for them to purchase the park, but you never know.  If they do it could mean a whole new chapter in the park's life, and one that could be exciting.

Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, White Water Bay and the Wet 'n' Wild Parks are currently operated by Premier Parks, LLC - a company that has changed names several times already but was founded by former Six Flags executives.  I would also think that if they can get the loan, they would go for purchasing these parks as well.

Magic Springs is managed by AMP, Wild Waves by NorPoint Entertainment, and Pacific Park by Santa Monica Amusements LLC, so it is not clear if these entities could/would purchase those parks or if another operator would swoop in.

As for all the other smaller water parks and fun centers, well your guess is a good as mine right now.  I'm not sure I see any of the big operators - like Six Flags or Cedar Fair - going after and of CNL's parks, but it would be interesting if they did - for sure!  Either way I'm sort of glad to see the parks leave CNL ownership since I think they stifled them a bit.  I'll be excitedly on the lookout for news of sales.