Major Theme Park May Close Sooner Than Expected
A major Cedar Fair theme park might be closing a lot sooner than at the end of its long-term lease.
Theme parks rarely close permanently, unless a major disaster occurs, such as when Hurricane Katrina devastated Six Flags New Orleans in 2005.
The Louisiana Six Flags theme park never reopened and is soon slated for demolition.
In some cases, a theme park may close, but reopen in a completely different city and county from where it previously operated and then reinvent itself. The predecessor of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., wildlife park Marine World/Africa USA, opened in Redwood City, Calif., in 1968 and was originally owned in a partnership between a local businessman and American Broadcasting Corp., according to redwoodcityhistory.org.
The theme park was later sold to Resorts International, which would sell the land to developer Campeau Corp. in 1984 for an office and hotel project that would include the new headquarters for a then up and coming company, Oracle. Marine World desperately sought a location to move its animals and attractions and by 1985 found a spot in Vallejo.
Marine World closed in Redwood City in 1985 and reopened in Vallejo in 1986, owned by non-profit Marine World Foundation, which defaulted on debt held by the City of Vallejo. The city took over ownership of the park in 1996, hired Premier Parks to manage the park and added rides, according to Fandom. Vallejo sold the park to Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) – Get Six Flags Entertainment Corporation Report in 1998.
The park, which was rebranded Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in 2007, had a rollercoaster ride of ownership that finally settled down with Six Flags.
Theme Park May Not Be Saved From Closing
Another San Francisco Bay Area theme park closing will soon happen as Cedar Fair (FUN) – Get Cedar Fair L.P. Report, which owns California’s Great America in Santa Clara, Calif., said on June 27 that it had sold the land beneath that theme park to San Francisco Bay Area developer Prologis for $310 million, according to a company statement.
The sale includes a lease agreement that allows Cedar Fair to operate Great America for up to 11 years and then close the park operations at the end of the lease as late as 2033. Passholders and other regular guests of the park seem to have plenty of time to adjust to losing their longtime theme park…but do they?
A rumor reported by Screamscape, which it claims was included along with other accurate information, says a ride currently located at California’s Great America, Psycho Mouse, might soon be relocated to owner Cedar Fair’s Cedar Point theme park in Sandusky, Ohio. The speculation behind this move is that Cedar Fair might be planning to dismantle California’s Great America and start removing rides a lot earlier than an expected close in 2033.
Theme Park Has a Long History
California’s Great America was originally developed in 1976 by Marriott Corp. to coincide with the nation’s bicentennial celebration, along with its sister Great America theme park in Gurney, Ill. Marriott’s Great America in California was sold in the mid-1980s to the City of Santa Clara, and the theme park in Illinois was sold to Six Flags in 1985.
Marriott sold the park operations to Paramount Communications in 1992, the parent company of Paramount Pictures, which renamed the park Paramount’s Great America. Cedar Fair bought the park from Paramount in 2006 and renamed it California’s Great America.
Cedar Fair purchased the Great America land in 2019 for $150 million from Santa Clara after the State of California dissolved redevelopment agencies, which required the city to cede its ownership of the property to pay off existing debt. Cedar Fair had leased the property for over 40 years.
When the California theme park opened, the only developed properties in the surrounding area were the Great America theme park and a Marriott hotel. In the two decades following the opening of the theme park, Silicon Valley high-tech firms would sprout up in much of the land surrounding it.
In 2014, the National Football League San Francisco 49ers opened their state-of-the-art venue Levi’s Stadium a football’s throw from Great America.
The 112-acre theme park has over 50 rides and attractions. Cedar Fair owns 13 theme parks, including Gilroy Gardens in southern Santa Clara County, and Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California.