View Full Version : Bits Beyond the Berms 5/7/07 - 5/20/07
05-13-2007, 10:29 PM
Bits Beyond the Berms
5/7/07 - 5/20/07
5/7/07 - 5/13/07 Recap
~Paramount to Build $1 bln Korea Theme Park (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287116&postcount=2)
~Wild West World Park Opens Near Wichita (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287118&postcount=3)
~Darien Lake Opens for 26th Season (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287121&postcount=4)
~Cedar Point's New Coaster Won't Be Ready for Opening (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287127&postcount=5)
~Repairs, Lawsuits Slow Son of Beast's Return (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287130&postcount=6)
~Universal Studios Japan Becomes Profitable for 1st Time (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287135&postcount=7)
~$8 Million Plans Unveiled to Renovate Sylvan Beach Amusement Park (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287140&postcount=8)
~Valleyfair Opens With New Ride (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287147&postcount=9)
~Wild Escape Theme Park Plans On Hold (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287153&postcount=10)
~Ultimate Resort LLC Becomes 2nd Largest Destination Club (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1287156&postcount=11)
~Splash Down Dunes Water Park to Reopen May 24 (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1288629&postcount=12)
~Harrah's Entertainment Inc Unveils Margaritaville Casino & Resort (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1288633&postcount=13)
~Ghost Town Attraction Reopening After Five Years (http://www.intercot.com/discussion/showpost.php?p=1293454&postcount=14)
05-13-2007, 10:38 PM
Paramount to Build $1 bln Korea Theme Park
May 10, 2007
SEOUL - Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures Corp. will build a $1 billion theme park in South Korea, the U.S. entertainment group's first amusement resort outside North America.
The Hollywood film producer, known for hits such as "Titanic" and "Mission Impossible," will build the resort with Daewoo Motor Sales Corp. <004550.KS> in the airport city of Inchon, south of Seoul, aiming to lure a growing number of Asian tourists as well as South Korea's affluent population.
The two companies said in a joint news conference on Thursday they would invest 950 billion won ($1.03 billion) in the project, which will create the fourth amusement park by a U.S. entertainment group in Asia.
Walt Disney Co. has Disneyland parks in Japan and Hong Kong, and Universal Studios, part of General Electric Co. , runs a theme park in Osaka, Japan.
The facility, to be located in Daewoo Sales' 50-hectare plot in Inchon and will open in 2009, will feature rides, movie studios, a 300-room hotel, a water park, a media centre and shopping malls.
Construction will start this year and the whole park will be completed before the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Inchon.
The plan will make Paramount the first and only foreign entertainment firm to operate a theme park in South Korea. Two of the country's biggest conglomerates, Lotte Group and Samsung Group, each have one theme park in Seoul.
Other Hollywood entertainment giants including MGM Studios and Universal Studios are also looking to make forays into South Korea.
05-13-2007, 10:42 PM
Wild West World Park Opens Near Wichita
May 7, 2007
WICHITA, Kan. - A new amusement park themed on Kansas' cowboy history has opened just north of Wichita off Interstate 135.
Wild West World cost $30 million to build and offers 24 rides, a mock frontier-town boardwalk, gazebos for live entertainment, arcade games, food stands and restaurants, and different types of rides grouped in three sections, divided around a Chisholm Trail theme.
Tickets are $25.50 for adults, $20.50 for children under 48 inches tall, free for 2 and under. Season passes are $50.
05-13-2007, 10:48 PM
Darien Lake Opens 26th Season
by Casey J. Bortnick
May 7, 2007
With May comes a new season at local amusement parks. After being sold by Six Flags, the season also brings new management for the new Darien Lake Theme Park Resort. There may be new ownership, but the park is expecting the same great results.
Darien Lake kicked off its 26th season by lowering its ticket prices to $10 this weekend.
"I thought the price was right and the kids were anxious to get out of the house today," said John Sorensen.
Sorensen is a regular visitor to the theme park. He drove his family from Brighton to get a first hand look at Darien Lake under new management. The Jacksonville, Florida based PARC Management recently bought the former Six Flags amusement park. The company kept the current staff, but is looking to put in a few new wrinkles.
"The biggest change is our entertainment lineup," said Darien Lake Public Relations Manager Mary Christa Sellan.
New this year is a comedy magician, a new musical act, and a world renowned circus.
"Western New York has been very loyal to the Darien Lake Theme Park in the past. We think it's really important to listen to our guests and do what they would like us to do best," Sellan said.
To please the crowds, Darien Lake has created senior pricing, and lowered general admission to $19.99 after 5:00 PM. Parking fees have been cut by $3.00. $5.00 refills for beer have returned.
While the park has new ownership, many of the popular rides and attractions haven't really changed. A 200 foot roller coaster, now called the "Ride of Steel," is still the main draw.
"On the way up there you're thinking, yeah this is going to be sweet," said Tom Duff of Burlington, Ontario. "On the way down you're like, oh yeah this is really sweet," he added.
"It was pretty rad," said Tallen Kay of Burlington, Ontario. "I'm not going to lie. It was probably the most intense experience of my life," Kay said.
For the Sorenson family, some of the names may have changed, but the experience hasn't.
"It seems like the same great place that we're used to. The kids have a great time. There are a lot of rides. It's just a safe and comfortable environment," Sorensen said.
05-13-2007, 10:55 PM
Cedar Point's New Coaster Won't Be Ready for Opening
May 8, 2007
SANDUSKY, Ohio -- Cedar Point's new $21 million roller coaster will not be ready for the park's opening day this Saturday, the amusement park said.
Three sections of the steel track were being replaced, the park said Tuesday. Tests prior to its opening determined that the changes were necessary, the park said.
Cedar Point plans to open the ride by early June.
The coaster called "Maverick" will have a 100-foot first drop and launch riders through a tunnel at speeds of 70 mph. It also will turn them upside down three times.
05-13-2007, 11:02 PM
Repairs, Lawsuits Slow Son of Beast's Return
By Denise G. Callahan | Staff Writer
May 09, 2007
Kings Island's Son of Beast has been a problem child since day one — and still is.
The amusement park opened the 2007 season without the popular roller coaster as repairs to correct a problem that sent 27 riders to the hospital last summer are not done.
Kings Island and its owner, Sandusky-based Cedar Fair, are dealing with five lawsuits filed in the Warren County Court of Common Pleas by 11 riders who were hurt in 2006. Kings Island and its former owner Paramount also sued in federal court last year seeking to collect a $20.8 million court judgment from Roller Coaster Company of Ohio, the now defunct contractor hired to build The Beast's son.
Craig Ross, vice president of marketing for Kings Island, said he still does not have a firm date for the reopening of the wooden coaster but they "would be very disappointed if it weren't open sometime in June."
The signature steel loop was removed and lighter cars will make for a smoother ride, Ross said.
Original problems with the ride and the causes of the 2006 accident are separate, Ross said.
Federal Judge Susan J. Dlott entered a judgement in favor of Kings Island in 2005 awarding $20.8 million because Kings Island had to buy additional of wood and finish the ride and lost profits because the ride was shut down for extended periods and had to spend millions on marketing.
The contractor went out of business so Kings Island was forced to sue its insurer, United National Insurance Co., last year in an attempt to collect the cash. A settlement conference is scheduled for June 27.
United's attorney could not be reached for comment.
Kings Island has settled some of the lawsuits filed by people injured in the 2006 accident, said one of the plaintiff's attorneys, Colleen Hegge of Cincinnati. Her client, who suffered a fractured sternum, is headed for mediation at the end of May.
She said the latest report from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees amusement parks, blamed the Son Of Beast accident on a design defect — the cars were too heavy and created stress on the wooden support beams. The riders were jolted around and dozens went to the hospital.
"Kings Island has made an attempt to resolve these cases after the last report came out," Hegge said.
05-13-2007, 11:09 PM
USJ Becomes Profitable for 1st Time Since 2001 Opening of Theme Park
April 10, 2007
The operator of the Universal Studio Japan theme park in Osaka, said Thursday it recorded black ink in fiscal 2006 for the first time since it opened the amusement park in 2001, thanks to a healthy increase in the number of visitors.
In an unconsolidated earnings report for the year to March 31, USJ said it booked 3.80 billion yen in net profit, in a turnaround from the previous year's loss of 4.63 billion yen, on operating revenues of 72.06 billion yen, up 5.6 percent.
The company, listed on the Mothers market for start-up companies, booked 5.27 billion yen in pretax profit for the reporting year, against the previous year's 582 million yen in loss, while operating profit jumped 387.4 percent year on year to 7.28 billion yen.
New attractions launched in commemoration of the park's fifth anniversary and warmer-than-usual winter were behind the strong earnings as they helped attract more visitors to the theme park. The number of visitors in fiscal 2006 increased 4.6 percent from the previous year to about 8.7 million.
With more events scheduled in the future, the company projects the number of visitors to increase by about 30,000 in the current fiscal year.
USJ will not pay a dividend for fiscal 2006, but plans to pay its first-ever dividend, of 1,500 yen per share, for the current fiscal year to next March 31.
05-13-2007, 11:15 PM
Plans Unveiled to Renovate Longtime Upstate Attraction
May 10, 2007
An upstate community is hoping plans to renovate one of the oldest amusement parks in the nation will give a boost to the local tourism trade.
A developer from Oswego and the owner of the Sylvan Beach Amusement Park recently unveiled plans for an $8 million renovation project that calls for more rides, water park additions and other attractions.
The park is located near where the Erie Canal enters the eastern shore of Oneida Lake, midway between Syracuse and Utica. It's origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, making it one of the oldest amusement parks in the nation.
Local officials say the park's renovation plans could make it a major tourist attraction for the Mohawk Valley and other upstate regions.
05-13-2007, 11:20 PM
Valleyfair Opens With New Ride
May 12, 2007
Shakopee Thrill-seekers have another way to get their kicks at Valleyfair.
The Shakopee amusement park opens today with a new, wooden roller coaster -- called Renegade.
Renegade is Valleyfair's eighth roller coaster, and the first all-wooden coaster to be built at the park since High Roller debuted in 1976.
The $7 million Renegade stands 104 feet tall, with a drop of 91 feet, and incorporates features of out-and-back and twister coasters. Its top speed is 52 mph. The ride lasts two minutes.
05-13-2007, 11:26 PM
Big Holes In Park Plans
By CASEY JUNKINS
May 12, 2007
WHEELING — The planned Wild Escape Theme Park at The Highlands in Ohio County will not open until 2008 due to permit issues and property disputes, Ohio County Administrator Greg Stewart said.
Meanwhile, the Ohio County Development Authority is in the midst of a property dispute with a New Jersey resident who owns about 20 acres of property between Interstate 70 and the proposed theme park site.
Although many officials had projected the theme park to be partially complete and open this year, Stewart said that will not be the case.
“Obviously, the park will not be opening anytime this year because we will not have enough time for excavation and construction after we get our permits to move dirt,” Stewart said.
Minard previously has said work on the site began nearly two years ago after the deal was finalized with the Ohio County Commission. When the project was announced at a groundbreaking in July, officials said millions of cubic yards of earth already had been moved as part of the site preparation.
On Friday, Minard said a hilltop has been removed at the site the theme park will occupy. While he said this work may not have been done to facilitate development of the park, a good deal of earthwork has been performed.
Stewart noted the Army Corps of Engineers will need to approve the current development plan, which calls for filling in a retaining pond and the valley surrounding it.
“As soon as we get our permits, we will start moving dirt for the project ... ,” Stewart said. “We have not moved dirt for the theme park.”
Ohio County Commissioner Tim McCormick said the clearance should come in 30-60 days.
“We are ready to go. Mr. Minard is ready to go, and we know the residents of the Ohio Valley are ready to go, so we are doing everything we can to make this happen as quickly as possible,” McCormick said.
One of the major reasons for the delay is the status of about 20 acres of property adjacent to the proposed park site owned by David O’Brien of New Jersey.
According to Stewart, O’Brien’s property sits in an area where developers would like to see the West Virginia Department of Highways construct a road to facilitate access to Wild Escape.
However, when approached by developers about acquiring his property, O’Brien wanted far more money than they were willing to pay.
“Mr. O’Brien wants $3 million for a piece of property that has been appraised at $210,000,” McCormick said. “If we gave him $3 million worth of taxpayers’ money for that property, I would be ashamed of myself.”
According to Stewart, it would be very difficult for O’Brien to produce anything of value from his property.
“If he doesn’t sell us the property, I have no idea what he thinks he is going to be able to do with it because it is all hillside and will be totally landlocked because we will own everything around it,” he said.
David Judy, an attorney from Moorefield, W.Va. who is representing O’Brien, said the Ohio County Development Authority has been bullying his client to convince him to sell.
“The Ohio County Development Authority tried to have Mr. O’Brien’s property condemned so they could take it from him through eminent domain, and did so without even negotiating with him,” Judy said.
Judy also said the $210,000 offer for the property is well below its true value.
“The numbers they used for the appraisal of his property were outdated, so we are having the property appraised right now, and we are confident the property will be appraised at $2 million or more,” Judy said.
Judy added that the property has great sentimental value to O’Brien, who has many connections to the area.
“Mr. O’Brien went to high school in Wheeling, graduated from West Virginia University and plans on coming back to the area when he retires. Moreover, his father died on that strip of ground, so it has great sentimental value to him,” Judy said.
Judy said O’Brien is prepared to hold the property for the next several years until an interested buyer comes along — if the development authority does not offer him what he considers a fair price.
“If the Ohio County Development Authority wants to try to take Mr. O’Brien’s property through eminent domain, they can bring it on,” Judy said. “I have been practicing law for many years, so I know where the courthouse is.”
“The possibility of eminent domain would be a last resort for us,” Stewart said upon learning of Judy’s comments.
Steve Minard, president of Wild Escape, is taking the delays and disputes in stride.
“Eighty percent of the work involved in building a theme park happens off-site, and the fabrication of our rides is taking place at different sites all over the world right now, so we are still moving forward,” Minard said.
Minard acknowledged the magnitude of the excavation project.
“This is obviously a very large earth-moving project. In fact, it is the largest such project ever for a theme park,” Minard said.
Minard noted it would be nice if O’Brien’s property could be acquired, but he said it is not necessary.
“The status of Mr. O’Brien’s property will not impact the opening date for Wild Escape because we can redirect the access road if we need to do so,” he said.
Minard said the theme park’s opening date depends on the issuance of permits.
“When the permits are granted, work on the pad (site) will begin,” he said. “Once the pad is ready and the utilities are turned on, it will be about six more months until Wild Escape opens.
“We see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Minard added.
Minard has said tickets for Wild Escape will cost $50 each.
05-13-2007, 11:31 PM
Ultimate Resort Closes $100 Million Acquisition
Acquisition of Tanner & Haley Real Estate Assets Creates Industry's Second Largest Destination Club
Ultimate Resort, LLC Press Release
May 10, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla., /PRNewswire/ -- Ultimate Resort, LLC announced today that it has closed the acquisition of substantially all of the real estate assets of Tanner & Haley, transforming Ultimate Resort into the industry's second largest destination club with over 750 club members and an extensive portfolio of luxury club residences located in 25 world-class resort destinations in the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe. CapitalSource and JDI Realty provided over $100 million in debt and equity financing for the acquisition.
"We are extremely pleased that this important transaction has now closed, adding many new resort destinations, spectacular new club properties and hundreds of new members, greatly enhancing our strategic platform for continued club growth in the future," said Ultimate Resort Founder, President and CEO Jim Tousignant. "This positive outcome benefits all parties involved, especially the 650 new members who are now part of the growing Ultimate Resort family. We are also pleased to welcome more than 100 former Tanner & Haley employees, many of whom have years of experience providing five-star concierge and member services."
Ultimate Resort signed an asset purchase agreement with Tanner & Haley in November 2006, whereby Ultimate Resort agreed to acquire substantially all of the real estate assets of Tanner & Haley (T&H) after having been unanimously approved by the T&H Unsecured Creditors' Committee. Subsequently Ultimate Resort won final sale approval from the US Bankruptcy Court to acquire Tanner & Haley's assets, and on May 4, 2007 the acquisition closed with Ultimate Resort acquiring substantially all of the real estate assets of Tanner & Haley's three former luxury destination clubs (Private Retreats, Distinctive Retreats, and Legendary Retreats). As part of the transaction more than 650 former members of Tanner & Haley have agreed to become members in Ultimate ResortTM and Ultimate Resort ELITETM destination clubs.
Michael Szwajkowski, President of CapitalSource Structured Finance said: "As the industry leader in destination club real estate financing, CapitalSource is committed to helping finance market leaders like Ultimate Resort.
We are strong believers in Ultimate Resort's management team and their business model and we are proud to lead the financing of Ultimate Resort's acquisition of Tanner & Haley's luxury real estate portfolio, creating one of the top destination clubs in the industry."
Jeff Aeder, Chairman of JDI Realty said: "In the last two years, Ultimate Resort has grown substantially and has quickly become a leader in the luxury resort, hospitality and destination club market. We are excited to be partnering with Ultimate Resort on this important acquisition, and we are pleased to have made a significant investment in the future growth of Ultimate Resort."
About Ultimate Resort
Ultimate Resort is the industry's second largest private destination club, and is designed to provide individuals, families and corporate members with exclusive club privileges and flexible access to a growing portfolio of properties located in exciting resort destinations throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. The club's private homes are well- appointed luxury residences that offer concierge services and the amenities of a private country club. Annual fees for club membership vary depending on the Membership Plan selected. For individual and family members, Ultimate Resort eliminates the burden of owning a second home. For corporate members, Ultimate Resort is ideally suited for corporate reward or incentive programs for sales professionals, managers, key employees and clients. Additional information can be obtained by calling 877-955-1900
05-15-2007, 05:21 PM
It is official Splash Down Dunes water park to reopen May 24
By KEVIN NEVERS
May 14, 2007
Splash Down Dunes (SDD) water park will open this season.
SDD owner Paul Childress told the Chesterton Tribune today that he has reached an agreement to buy out partner Fred Pearson in a compromise deal under which he will pay Pearson an unspecified amount immediately and $2.4 million over two years.
The water park is currently scheduled to open its doors at 10 a.m. May 26, and Childress is confident that all of the attractions will be ready to go.
Only two weeks ago it looked as though the water park were likely doomed, Childress and Pearson’s 50/50 partnership close to court-ordered dissolution and the facility’s assets on the verge of being placed on the auction block, after Pearson demanded that Childress buy him out. But Childress said that he was unable to do so, since all of his assets have been frozen by decree as part of his ongoing divorce from his wife, Debbie.
Since then, Childress said, Pearson agreed to an upfront payment which Childress is able to make right now and the balance over time. “You always know when it’s a good compromise,” Childress said this morning. “Nobody walks away perfectly happy. Did I get everything I wanted? No. Did I have to give up on some issues? Yes. And I’m sure Fred wanted more. But everyone realized that in the end it’s in everyone’s best interests to get this park up and running.”
As part of the agreement, Childress said, he will “shortly” pay approximately $232,000 owed to a bank and two liens totaling around $82,000 held by a local excavator and a local surveyor.
Also as part of the agreement, all of the estimated 400 season passes already sold at $60 a piece will be honored. But, Childress said, no decision has yet been made about the “thousands” of free day passes “handed out by previous park management.”
Over the weekend, he added, Pearson’s attorney presented him with the keys to the water park, and since then crews have been hard at work readying the facility to open. Motorists on U.S. Highway 20 have probably noticed that his sign has been activated and is advertising the season opening.
Meanwhile, Childress said, he’s hiring. Thirty-six of the 60 lifeguards employed every season by SDD have already been hired but a couple of cashiers are needed as well as food staff.
Childress, noting that he himself closed the water park in September, said that walking into it over the weekend was like entering “a time capsule,” with everything pretty much as he left it and in relatively good condition. Right now crews are cleaning the wading pond, which should be filled on Wednesday, and later in the week Childress said that he’ll inspect the Lazy River. “But at present I don’t see why I can’t get
everything open and operating by May 26.”
Over the last eight years SDD has made an annual profit of $400,000 and had an average annual attendance of 100,000.
05-15-2007, 05:25 PM
Harrah's, Buffett Unveil Margaritaville
Mississippi Business Journal
May 15, 2007
BILOXI — Harrah's Entertainment Inc., along with singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett, has made public plans for a new Gulf Coast destination to be called Margaritaville Casino & Resort.
The Margaritaville project is expected to cost more than $700 million, representing the single largest investment in Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina. The company expects this to be the first phase of a development that may cost more than $1billion.
Gary Loveman, chairman, CEO and president of Harrah's, said, "Along with Jimmy Buffett, we plan to develop the next-generation destination resort on the Gulf Coast. This project of more than $700 million dollars is vital to supporting the rebirth of Mississippi's tourism industry."
"I have always considered myself a 'Gulf Coast kid,'" Buffett said. "I was born there, grew up there and jumped on a stage for the first time there, before hitting the road. I have seen the world, traveled to distant shores, written a few songs and lived a few tall tales along the way, and now it is good to be coming back home."
Margaritaville Casino & Resort will be developed on 46 acres of land south of U.S. 90 in Biloxi on the site formerly occupied by Grand Casino and Casino Magic. With a projected development start date of summer 2007, the Margaritaville Casino & Resort project features include: approximately 100,000 square feet of casino floor; 250,000 square feet of retail space; approximately 66,000 square feet of meeting space; 420 new hotel rooms; 378 renovated hotel rooms; pool deck area with cabanas, bar and tropical landscaping; and, full-service spa.
The spring of 2010 is the projected completion date.
05-20-2007, 10:12 PM
Ghost Town Attraction Reopening After Five Years
The Associated Press
April 20, 2007
A mountaintop tourist park that has been closed for five years is reopening this week in Haywood County and local officials and businesses are optimistic that the change will help everyone.
When Ghost Town in the Sky shut down, local businesses began seeing a decline on families visiting the town. It reopens Friday.
"It's kind of hard to say how you feel; it's huge, it's just huge," said Allison Carver, owner of Jelly Bellies Mountain Gift Shop in Maggie Valley. "The excitement is in the air - all the businesses making improvements, putting on a fresh coat of paint."
When Ghost Town opened in the 1960s, the attraction put Maggie Valley on the tourism map. Before that, the valley was mainly farmland with a few motels and restaurants.
The town attracted more than 400,000 visitors a year at its peak, making it the most attended family amusement park in the state, said David Huskins, director of the Smoky Mountain Host regional tourism group.
Ghost Town closed in 2002 after equipment problems and declining maintenance as well as declining attendance.
Investors said last year they would spend more than $17 million on the park.
Since then, new businesses have opened and property sales have increased, said Lynn Collins, director of the Maggie Valley Visitors Bureau.
The park has sold 27,067 advance tickets so far, said Julie Dion, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. The new owners are expecting 200,000 visitors in the first year, she said.
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