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Clementon Park gets an extreme makeover

Cherry Hill Courier Post

Original Article »

January 10, 2008

A century-old South Jersey landmark is getting a face lift.

Clementon Park and Splash World's new owner is planning a major renovation that includes a one-acre water park expansion and a longer season.

Officials with Adrenaline Family Entertainment, Inc., the Oklahoma City-based company that bought the park in August, said the park will reopen on Memorial Day with a Victorian-themed Main Street and Polynesian-themed water park.

"It's a revered property, one that folks in this region hold close to their heart," the park's new general manager, David Dorman, said. "Generations of residents in this area remember going there, then taking their kids there."

The water park will undergo the largest expansion in the park's history with the addition of a multi-level water playland called Laguna Kahuna.

The 50-foot-tall structure, one of the country's biggest, will feature 10 slides, eight different play platforms and more than 125 jets, bubbles, streams, squirters, waterfalls and wheels.

A giant water bucket will sit atop the structure, ready to dump 422 gallons of water on unsuspecting visitors below.

To expand the water park, the company demolished the arcade building and relocated those attractions to the carrousel building, Dorman said. Two rides have also been removed, the Falling Star and Chaos.

The other three game buildings will remain, but will be re-themed with thatched roofs and bamboo siding to match the water park's Polynesian theme.

"We have a host of buildings that are in fine shape, but need a new look," Dorman said.

The rest of the park will get new landscaping and the buildings will be redone to match the park's Victorian theme.

"We picked that theme because that's when the park was first developed," Dorman said.

With the addition of five more food and beverage stands and updated menus, visitors will have more choices.

The park's seven-pavilion picnic area, which host groups of between 100 and 8,000 people, will also be renovated.

"The park is a popular place for company picnics," Dorman said. "It's going to be far more comfortable and far more beautiful."

The 1,100-space parking lot will be resurfaced and the welcome sign on Berlin Road will feature the park's new logo and dramatic lighting.

Company officials wouldn't quote a specific figures, saying only that it will cost "millions of dollars" to renovate the 55-acre park, which includes the 11-acre Clementon Lake. They did not reveal how much the company paid the previous owner, Larry Baker, for the park.

The renovated park will remain open from Memorial Day through October, when the park will host the Halloween-themed event HalloScreams.

That means visitors will have 34 more days to enjoy the attractions.

The price of season passes will go down to $49.99 from about $100, Dorman said.

"We want to make sure it remains affordable," Dorman said.

About 250,000 people visited Clementon park last season, 60 percent of them from South Jersey, Dorman said.

Dorman said the sweeping changes came from the company officials' experience in managing and operating theme parks.

Adrenaline Family's CEO Hugh Eichelberger served as the executive vice president of Six Flag's Eastern region. Russell Kutman, the company's chief financial officer, spent 21 years as Six Flags' vice president of corporate finance and Dorman himself spent 15 years at various Six Flags throughout the country.

"We expect to rely on that experience to improve Clementon Park and Splash World," Dorman said. "It's going to be a spectacular little theme park and a jewel that the community is going to be proud of."

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