Parent company of Worlds of Fun has right to buy Schlitterbahn KC waterpark

Cedar Fair Entertainment has acquired the right to purchase the Schlitterbahn Kansas City waterpark, according to an announcement today. The park’s Verruckt water ride was taken down last year after the death of a boy on the ride in August 2016. (File photo)

According to an announcement today by Cedar Fair Entertainment, the parent company of Worlds of Fun, the company has the right to purchase the Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, for $6 million.

Cedar Fair, based in Sandusky, Ohio, also announced today it is purchasing two other Schlitterbahn waterparks, in New Braunfels and Galveston, Texas, for $261 million.

Michael Russell, spokesman for Cedar Fair, said today that Cedar Fair will retain the right to acquire the Kansas City Kansas, Schlitterbahn property for future development, but it has not exercised that right.

“It has to pass through the next phase of diligence before we have a ‘go, no-go’ decision on whether to exercise that right,” Russell said.

Russell said Cedar Fair knows about the history of the death of a boy on Aug. 7, 2016, on Schlitterbahn KC’s Verruckt ride, at the time the world’s tallest water slide. He said if Cedar Fair exercises the option to buy, it would change the name of the Schlitterbahn KC waterpark. None of Cedar Fair’s parks is named Cedar Fair, he added. Cedar Fair plans to retain the Schlitterbahn name on the Galveston and New Braunfels parks, he said.

Russell said Cedar Fair has a deep history of going into regions, acquiring high-value assets, and then investing in them. Its biggest park is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, near the corporate headquarters. In the top tier of its parks are Knotts Berry Farm in California and Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto. It currently has 13 parks and the two Texas parks would increase that to 15.

“I think that if we found that our next phase of due diligence passed muster, that we would look to redevelop and rebrand that property to take advantage of the rapid development going on around it, and it’s in proximity to our Worlds of Fun,” Russell said.

Russell said he would view the Schlitterbahn KC park’s closeness to the Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun parks in Kansas City, Missouri, as an advantage to Cedar Fair.

“If everything pans out, we see opportunity there,” Russell said. “There’s a lot of great economic development going on around that property. We could see that property offering something that Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun does not offer. I think we would broaden our reach to the west, and we could develop a season pass following that then would have access to both parks.”

If Cedar Fair purchases the Schlitterbahn KC waterpark, it would invest in the park to bring it up to Cedar Fair standards, he said. Cedar Fair already has two separately gated water parks, he said, and it also has water parks within its amusement parks.

The Schlitterbahn KC waterpark did not open this year, as it usually does, on Memorial Day.

Schlitterbahn spokeswoman Winter Prosapio stated that the company had a general statement about the sale of the two parks posted on its website:

“For the past 50 years, the Schlitterbahn family has focused all its resources, talent, and energy into building Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts into an iconic Texas brand.

“It is now time for the company to enter a new and brighter stage of development and growth.

“We have entered into an agreement with Cedar Fair to purchase our interest in both our New Braunfels and Galveston parks and our New Braunfels resort property. Our South Padre waterpark and resort will be owned by one of the Henry families and in time will be re-branded. Corpus Christi will remain a Diamond Beach property.

“Cedar Fair is a dynamic, brand-oriented company. Under Cedar Fair’s leadership, the Schlitterbahn brand will have an opportunity to grow and expand like the early days when the sky was the limit. While it’s a difficult decision, after several challenging years, we believe that our team, communities, guests, and fans are going to enjoy what lies ahead. We believe Cedar Fair, with their approach to embracing parks that have a unique footprint, will be a phenomenal owner, and with the talented people that are the Schlitterbahn Family, will take Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts to the next level of world-class family entertainment.

“Rest assured, the future of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts is as bright as a July day in Texas. We will always be your hottest, coolest time in Texas!”

In April, a financial statement posted by EPR Properties, which had loaned money to Schlitterbahn, stated: “The Company expects the payoff of the mortgages associated with the Schlitterbahn waterparks of approximately $190.0 million during the second quarter.” (http://investors.eprkc.com/file/Index?KeyFile=397708950)

Doug Bach, Unified Government administrator, said at the Thursday evening UG meeting that said he had been informed that representatives from Cedar Fair will be contacting him in the future to have a conversation about how they can move forward with acquisition of the Schlitterbahn KC waterpark, and discussion on the option they have in that area.

“I look forward to that,” he said.

The announcement of the option on Schlitterbahn waterpark in Kansas City, Kansas, on Thursday was unrelated to a couple of items on Thursday night’s UG agenda mentioning Schlitterbahn, he said. They involved property formerly owned by Schlitterbahn.

One of the items involved the Browndog 9801 LLC purchase of an existing facility, a lot from SVV (Schlitterbahn) at 9801 Troup that is a car wash. An agreement was approved that would ensure that the new owner of the property would assume the same agreement made by Schlitterbahn with the UG, according to the UG agenda. This agreement was approved by the commission, 9-1.

A second item allowed for the building of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Spira Care Medical Center at 9801 Parallel Parkway. The property originally was owned by SVV (Schlitterbahn) and was sold to Bomarto in November 2016. C-Store, operating this project, is subdividing a lot into two parts, and SC made an agreement to purchase the vacant lot next to the convenience store on Feb. 7, 2019, according to agenda documents. SC plans a medical treatment and office facility. The agreement, according to the agenda, was to ensure that SC would continue the UG agreements made with Schlitterbahn. This agreement passed the commission, 10-0.

KCK tourism awards presented

Kansas City, Kansas, marked a good year for tourism with its annual Tourism Celebration on May 1, according to Maila Yang, marketing and communications manager for the Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Research and data has shown that domestic travel is up in the United States, while there is less international travel, she said.

Awards were presented at a luncheon held at the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Awards are important, they are what makes tourism successful in Kansas City, Kansas,” Yang said.

Receiving the Excellence in Hospitality Award was Luther Smith of the Quindaro Underground Railroad Museum, 3436 N. 27th St., Kansas City, Kansas, in the Vernon Multipurpose Center.

Smith was recognized for his support and partnership with the CVB, and his professionalism, hospitality and exceptional customer service to all visitors, according to the CVB. He has also represented the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and is a passionate promoter of the Northeast area of Kansas City, Kansas.

The National Wheelchair Softball Association World Series Aug. 8-11, 2018, received the Tourism Event of the Year Award. Held in the parking lots of the T-Bones Stadium and Children’s Mercy Park, the event drew 18 teams from throughout the United States and one team from Japan.

The event generated 500 room nights and plans to return Aug. 15-18, 2019, to Kansas City, Kansas.

Accepting the award were John Teegarden and Bill Brooks of the National Wheelchair Softball Association.

Lakeside Speedway at 5615 Wolcott Drive, Kansas City, Kansas, which experienced a flood this spring, received the Tourism Organization of the Year Award.

The 4/10-mile dirt track is very close to the Missouri River in northwest Kansas City, Kansas.

While its opening was delayed by flooding this year, track officials at the tourism celebration said they plan to reopen by the end of this month.

Lakeside Speedway is celebrating its 65th anniversary. USRA Modified, USRA Stock Car, USRA B-Mod, Grand National and factory stock races are held at the track.

Pete Howey, general manager of Lakeside Speedway, accepted the award.

Matt Lawrence received the Tourism Advocate of the Year Award for his leadership and contributions to Kansas City, Kansas, tourism.

Lawrence, now managing a hotel and convention center in Independence, Missouri, is a past general manager of the Great Wolf Lodge, and until January 2019, was the general manager of Schlitterbahn Waterpark – Kansas City. He is the immediate past chair of the Kansas City, Kansas, Convention and Visitors board of directors.

Bridgette Jobe

The CVB’s executive director, Bridgette Jobe, has announced that she will be joining the Kansas Division of Tourism as director of tourism in July, Yang said. The Division of Tourism is under the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

“Over the next month, she’ll be working with the board of directors to make sure the transition is seamless,” Yang said.

Jobe began work with the CVB in 1998 as tourism manager, and was appointed executive director in 2005. She led the organization through a considerable growth of tourism in Kansas City, Kansas.

Jobe also serves as chair of the Governor’s Council on Travel and Tourism and was the 2017 president of the Travel Industry Association of Kansas.

She received the 2019 Hospitality Leadership Award for the Kansas City Hotel and Lodging Association.

Her replacement has not yet been named.

“The board has not had a chance to meet yet, I’m sure they will continue to make sure it’s running smoothly, continue to meet our goals and the important work of the CVB,” Yang said.

Legends Applebee’s to reopen Thursday afternoon after remodeling

The Legends Applebee’s restaurant, 1700 Village West Parkway, is scheduled to reopen at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 2, after remodeling.

According to a spokesman, the restaurant has been closed since Sunday night for renovations.

The renovations will have new design features and a mural that will depict the Kansas City, Kansas, neighborhood, according to the spokesman.

There will be new wall art focusing on the local community, as well as a new mural in the works. An artist from the InterUrban ArtHouse is designing the mural, which will be unveiled at a later date, probably in early summer, according to the spokesman.

Local contractor GC Strategies is painting the interior, redoing ceilings, flooring and light fixtures at tables.

The restaurant also will have new chairs, tabletops, barstools, and reupholstered booths. The exterior also will be repainted.

To celebrate the renovations, Applebee’s will offer $1 draft beers on all domestic and craft selections beginning at 4 p.m. May 2 and lasting for seven days, through May 9. The restaurant also will offer $1 margaritas during May, and all-you-can-eat boneless buffalo wings for $11.99 each day for a limited time.

According to the spokesman, Applebee’s also is renovating some of its other restaurants in the Kansas City area.