Sunday, January 11, 2015

Herschend Out, New Thrill Ride In at Darien Lake

Change is in the air for Darien Lake, which appears to no longer be managed by Herschend Family Entertainment.  The park is owned by CNL Lifestyle Properties, which then has different entities manager their amusement and water parks.   Way back at the start of 2011 Herschend started managing both Elitch Gardens and Darien Lake, though their relationship ended with Elitch Gardens one or two seasons ago.

Both parks used to be listed on Herschend's website, but not now, and while CNL Lifestyle Properties has made no official announcement this was in a recent SEC filing: "Since late 2010, we have undertaken comprehensive restructurings of our attractions and marinas portfolios, working aggressively to stabilize property operations and/or replace underperforming tenants. Most recently, we proactively installed one of our proven operators into our largest amusement park asset to further promote what we believe will be enhanced operational and financial performance."  While not explicitly stated, I believe they're speaking of Darien Lake.

Elitch Gardens' management contract went to Premier Parks, LLC, and I'm willing to bet that Darien Lake has as well.

Larson Giant Loop at Elitch Gardens
Premier Parks, LLC had a Larson Giant Loop added to the park this past season, and guess what Darien Lake just went to their planning commission to add?  Yes, a Larson Giant Loop.  The new ride will place the UFO, an older Huss flat ride.  2015 is turning out to be quite a fantastic year for Larson, between all the Giant Loops going into the Six Flags Parks, and Flying Scooters also opening in several more parks.

The only iffy part about the addition is that the local news picked up the addition as a "roller coaster," similar to what Six Flags marketing did with their set of Giant Loops.  Whatever, I suppose, call it what you will - to me any expansion is good news!