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Status of Pharaoh's park still a mystery

San Bernardino Sun

Original Article »

July 11, 2007

REDLANDS - The giant Sphinx atop the pyramid-shaped amusement park still beckons motorists along the 10 Freeway.

But the water slides, rides, arcade, race-car tracks and miniature-golf course inside Pharaoh's Theme and Water Park are as quiet as a mummy's tomb.

The 18-acre Egyptian theme park has put up a sign announcing that the water park is closed for the summer.

If and when it will reopen remains anybody's guess.

The owners of the business could not be reached for comment.

Callers to the park hear a recorded message thanking them for calling Casa Blanca Restaurant and Ultra Lounge.

The restaurant, which features Persian cuisine, is open on the second floor of the park several nights a week.

Elected officials say they are concerned about the park's future in light of recent violent incidents involving concerts at the park.

Police Chief Jim Bueermann said there were fights and other problems several months ago after management told would-be concertgoers they had to leave because there weren't any tickets available.

Since then, management has agreed to pay Redlands police to provide security during concerts, which included jazz, hip-hop music "and everything in between," Bueermann said.

"We've been able to control the problem with the use of officers outside of the regular on-duty patrol officers," Bueermann said. "Taxpayers aren't picking up the cost, and it's not using our on-duty resources."

Councilman Pete Aguilar said he doesn't want the park to turn into a "nightclub facility."

"In my opinion, a nightclub is not the best use for that property," Aguilar said. "Personally, I would like to see a mixed-use development with a retail and office component or maybe a retail and residential component."

Councilman Mick Gallagher said it would be "a real shame" if the amusement park closed permanently.

"It's disappointing to a lot of people that they're not having that opportunity on hot summer days to go to that water park," Gallagher said. "I certainly don't want it to deteriorate and become an eyesore. That would be a bad thing."

Kathie Thurston, executive director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce, said her office receives an average of eight calls a day from people wondering about the status of the park. Thurston said she doesn't know anything more about what is going on than the callers.

"The people that call us are upset that it's closed," Thurston said. "Most are very upset because their season passes aren't being honored.

"We've had a number of calls from people who booked events and placed deposits and are very concerned about getting their money returned to them. The only thing we have to offer is (the park's) phone number."

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