One of my favorite pastimes, during the season anyway, is taking my son to the amusement parks. Two of those parks, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Hard Rock Park, are both facing uncertain futures. Hard Rock Park filed for bankruptcy back in September of 2008 and InBev purchased Busch, which owns Busch Gardens. InBev has already stated that they intend to part with all non-core business. This past week, the Busch Entertainment company was formally put up for sale. They own the two Busch Gardens parks (Williamsburg and Tampa) as well as the SeaWorld chain. Among the companies that are, supposedly, interested are Disney, Merlin Entertainment and Universal. The parks would be a great fit for Disney. With Disney’s attention to detail and family orientation, that would pretty much guarantee that the parks would maintain the high quality they now enjoy. I’m sure Merlin and Universal would do a fine job, but it would be pretty certain about Disney doing so. And it would get Disney into markets where they have no presence now. On a related note, Disney attempted to build a theme park here in Virginia, but, the knuckleheaded locals in the western part of the state decided they would rather stay backward than to have Disney come in, provided badly needed jobs an income to the area as well as improve the local infrastructure. Simply Amazing.
Hard Rock, the mother ship, has now tried to distance itself from the failed park. They have removed all vestiges of the park from the Hard Rock web site. They also say that there are several potential suitors for the park. They are just waiting to ‘swoop in’ and steal the park for much less than the $35 million starting bid for the now failed auction. One potential problem is that most of the large rides have liens on them as well. What a mess. All because the largest backer of the park got cold feet. That place could be a winner. They just picked a REALLY, REALLY bad time to open. And, sadly, it appears that few people will have enjoyed the oddity called ‘Nights in White Satin’ the ride. What a trip.
The good news is that there is less than two months now before the season starts. I’m sure it will have it’s ups and downs.