Hot Springs Theme Park Magic Springs Doubles Attendance

by Mark Hengel  on Monday, Mar. 10, 2008 12:00 am  

President and General Manager Dan Aylward has doubled attendance at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls in Hot Springs over the past five years.

(To veiw as graph depicting Magic Springs' attendance over the last several years, click here.) 

Carpenters were putting the finishing touches on a new deck at Magic Springs & Crystal Falls as February drew to a close.

Visitors at the Hot Spring theme park will be able to set up deck chairs on the spot and watch family members taking a dip in the Crystal Falls wave pool. It's a small touch but more comfortable than the rocky surface it now covers, said Dan Aylward, the park's president and general manager.

"We are the close-to-home, family destination," Aylward said.

The more than 200-acre property sat lifeless on U.S. Highway 70 from 1995 until it was purchased in 1999 by Themeparks LLC of Louisville, Ky. Themeparks has developed the park into a regional attraction through relentless emphasis on families.

In the past five years, attendance has doubled from 254,000 in 2002 to 518,000 last year. With each of those visitors spending an average of $23 - Aylward's estimate, - the park's revenue last year was bumping up toward $12 million.

Investment in the park has totaled about $50 million. Industrial development revenue bonds have provided about $14 million, and Themeparks LLC provided the remaining $35 million, which includes the $1.5 million purchase price and about $14 million in initial investment by Themeparks.

Additions have included many rides, but the management team has also built two other draws: the Crystal Falls water park and a concert venue called Timberwood Amphitheater.

The investments came at a time when many other amusement park companies "were pulling in and hunkering down," Aylward said.

"It's a good business when you run it right," he said.

The park has experienced growth in revenue and attendance and is now turning an operating profit, Aylward said, although he would not disclose the margin. Themeparks also secured outside investment last year when a real estate investment trust bought the property for about $20 million and pledged to invest $10 million. Themeparks LLC affiliate Magic Springs Development Co. LLC remains in charge of the lease and the park's development.

The Amusement of Others



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