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New owners have 'big plans' for Wild Waves

Seattle Post Intelligencer

Original Article »

May 31, 2007

The highly visible amusement park off Interstate 5 in Federal Way has new owners, a new name and a more local orientation, its management said Wednesday.

Now called Wild Waves Theme Park, the 67-acre property was bought in April by Parc Management LLC of Jacksonville, Fla., for $31.75 million.

"We have big plans for this park," Parc Management Chief Executive Randal Drew said in an interview.

Wild Waves was one of seven similar parks throughout the country that Parc bought as a package for $312 million from Six Flags Inc. The 30-year-old park, the largest in the region, was known as Wild Waves and Enchanted Village until its purchase.

Drew said his company will spend $1.6 million this year to let visitors use credit cards in the park, to improve the five-story Zooma Falls raft ride visible from I-5 and to add a family-oriented kangaroo-shaped ride, the Kang A Bounce, from Zamperla of Venice, Italy.

Next season, plans call for adding more rides and changing the foot-traffic flow to make sure visitors see all the park has to offer, Drew said.

The park also plans to emphasize local suppliers of food, beverages and retail goods, including jerky from Oberto Sausage Co. of Seattle.

"When the parks were owned by Six Flags, they were only allowed to use suppliers approved by the management on a national basis," said Parc Management's Chief Operating Officer Curtis Parks.

Overall, the park will put about $11 million into the region's economy in 2007, Parks said. Wild Waves has received more than $24 million in capital improvements since 2000.

The new owners declined to cite visitor or revenue figures, but they said that among the seven parks they bought from Six Flags, revenue declined last year.

"All indications are we're now at 150 to 175 percent of last year, so we're very encouraged this will be an up year," Drew said.

Under the new leadership, no layoffs are planned among the 36 full-time employees and the roughly 1,000 high schoolers, college students and retirees who work there seasonally, said longtime General Manager Todd Suchan. As the park adds rides, employment may grow, he said.

Wild Waves is set to kick off its 2007 season June 9, and it continues through Sept. 3. Admission, $35 for adults and $30 for children 4 feet tall and under, allows riding on the more than 60 rides, including four roller coasters.

Competition includes the Seattle Center, Bullwinkle's Family Fun Center in Tukwila and Silverwood Theme Park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Six Flags bought the park in 2000 from Jeff Stock, a local businessman and former professional soccer player, said Suchan, the general manager.

Stock and his wife bought it in 1992 from Byron and May Betts, who had opened Enchanted Village, a children's park with six rides, in 1977 on 12 acres.

They added a water park, Wild Waves, in 1984. The two parks were merged under the name Enchanted Parks in 1992, the name it ran under until it was bought by Six Flags.

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