BREAKING NEWS: Paramount Parks to manage Bonfante Gardens

Posted Tuesday, February 4, 2003 5:18 AM | Contributed by Jeff

According to a press release issued this morning by Paramount Parks, the theme park owner and operator will manage Bonfante Gardens for a period of five years. Paramount Parks will oversee complete management of Bonfante Gardens and will provide strategic guidance to Bonfante Gardens on financial decisions and long-range planning.

Here's the press release:

Santa Clara, Calif. (February 4, 2003) – Bonfante Gardens’ board of directors in Gilroy, Calif. and Paramount Parks, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., have entered into a five-year agreement wherein Paramount Parks will assume management of Bonfante Gardens. Paramount Parks is the parent company of Paramount’s Great America, located in Santa Clara, Calif.

Bonfante Gardens’ board of directors approved the contract, which states that Paramount Parks will oversee complete management of Bonfante Gardens and will provide strategic guidance to Bonfante Gardens on financial decisions and long-range planning.

“We were looking for the best in the business and Paramount Parks was clearly the right choice,” said Bob Kraemer, chairman of the board for Bonfante Gardens. “We are delighted that our management contract with Paramount Parks will allow us to be true to our mission of entertaining young families and garden lovers and educating them about horticulture and its contribution to our community.”

Al Weber, president/CEO of Paramount Parks, concurred, stating, “Bonfante Gardens is highly respected as a beautiful property and we are pleased to have the opportunity to nurture and grow the vision of Michael Bonfante and the city of Gilroy. We are proud they have chosen us to manage the park.”

As the two teams begin to converge and develop plans, both parks are excited about the synergistic opportunities that exist. The agreement enables many opportunities for Bonfante Gardens to work with Paramount’s Great America to drive tourism in the South Bay and to better serve the community.

As part of Viacom, one of the leading entertainment companies in the world, Paramount Parks is consistently identifying new opportunities to expand the entertainment choices the company can offer its customers. The association of Paramount Parks and Bonfante Gardens creates an inviting combination of entrepreneurship and experience that will generate benefits for Bonfante Gardens and better family entertainment value for Bay Area families.

“We know how important Bonfante Gardens has become to many families in the South Bay community, and through our management agreement with Bonfante Gardens, we plan to maintain the beauty of the park consistent with Michael Bonfante’s vision,” said Tim Fisher, EVP and general manager of Paramount’s Great America.

Bonfante Gardens is a unique park where young families enjoy a day of fun together in an incredibly beautiful environment. With spectacular waterfalls, rides for children, stages of entertainment and excellent restaurants, young families experience a day of fun and are delighted by the beauty of their surroundings. The park’s focus is the family, education on the benefits of trees, and horticulture and its contribution to the world.

Tuesday, February 4, 2003 5:43 AM
After the "wonderful" way that Paramount has run PGA, keeping it's wonderful themes "intact" so well... This is going to be interesting to see. If PGA is willing to work to keep the theme of the park intact, this can be great. If they decide they want to do it like PGA, they can easily ruin a wonderful park.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 5:55 AM
On the surface, I think it sounds like a good arrangement. I think Bonfante's board has the right idea as far as how they want the park to look and feel, but obviously, to this point, their execution of daily operations hasn't been very good or they wouldn't be scrambling around for cash. Paramount gets marketing and operation.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"The world rotates to The Ultra-Heavy Beat!" - KMFDM

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 6:04 AM
When you need help turn to the experts. Things can only get better for the park from here. The owners know what they want done and Paramount will help them run it right so that they can achieve what they want to. It is good to see that this park is finaly secure.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 6:31 AM
Jeff, I actually find it awfully odd, and probably even a less-than-stellar arrangement for Paramount and Bonfante. We drove through Gilroy on the way to PGA, and the proximity of the parks is something that makes me wonder why Paramount would want to compete with themselves...I know it's not EXACTLY like building a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks....but then again, this ain't Seattle...;)

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 6:40 AM
This is VERY good news. Bonfante is a *gorgeous* park...more-so than Busch Gardens Williamsburg IMHO. While I agree the arrangement is odd considering the proximity of the two parks [seems Silver Dollar City would have been a good match, too] whatever keeps the park open is fine by me!

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them when you watch them."
--Britney Spears at the Sundance Film Festival

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 6:53 AM
I'm not convinced that the two are competing for the same market or really at all. Seems like PGA is a thrills park and Bonfante is a family *park* (as in, Sunday afternoon stroll kind of place). Having never been to Bonfante, I don't really know.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 6:53 AM
Hmmm...I can see it now. Paramount will shy away from adult rides at the place---well done or not. I'd always hoped to see a CCI there. Guess for more than 1 reason I probably won't.

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"Know thyself!"

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 7:07 AM
I think it's a good idea for Paramount to manage this park,at least SF didn't get a hold of it because they've got enough trouble managing/expanding the parks they've got now.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 7:09 AM
I agree that Paramount may do well to stick with the family oriented rides and leave the thrills for PGA. I'm just wondering if the park will ever be independently owned again, or if this short term deal may end up as a buyout by Paramount eventually.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 7:16 AM
i think this is a good decision made by Bonfonte, i'v heard it's a nice little park and from some people that Quicksilver express is a great ride (for a small park anyway). Hopefully all will go well, and the competition for California will rise with lots of better rides:) , anyone know if this park effects PGA in anyway?
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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 7:57 AM
RollerGator: You're forgetting that CF does the same thing with KCS-MOA and VF. It can work.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 8:01 AM
Ok stop complaining about what Paramount has done to Great America, did you ever see that park while it was run by Marriott in it's later years?

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It isn't so bad. . .
Once you're used to it

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 8:08 AM
Great America in California was only owned by Marriotts for about 7-8 years. You cant run a park into the gound that quickly. I though Marriotts did a lot better job than Paramounts has.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 8:20 AM
You can run it into the ground if you started from scratch! They built the park!

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com - Sillynonsense.com
"The world rotates to The Ultra-Heavy Beat!" - KMFDM

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 8:46 AM
With Paramount's recent "family oriented" focus, they are perfect choices to manage the park. This isn't the same Paramount from the 80s and 90s. The approach to their parks has changed for the better IMO. I agree with Mamoosh, I want to see the park remain open. It is hands down, the most naturally beautiful park in the United States. Besides, what they have done is completly eliminated any chance of having to compete with any other large company. I always though they should have snatched up the Vallego market as well.

*** This post was edited by DWeaver 2/4/2003 2:10:21 PM ***

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 9:14 AM
I worked at PGA for 7 years and all of the mechanics love to tell the stories about the Whizzer being torn down not due to costs or the death but due to little if any maitnence done on it a fairly unknown fact is that it was torn down after it failed a saftey inspection due to cracks in the steel. The Demon nearly met the same fate, Paramount does maintain the rides better.

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It isn't so bad. . .
Once you're used to it

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 10:01 AM
Forget about Great America. Bonfante Gardens will remain open. Isn't that what we all wanted in the first place?

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 10:13 AM
I worked there for 6 years. My first job was running the Whizzer and I can tell you this much...mechanics LOVE to tell stories...

As for poor maintenance, I'm not sure what they could have done in terms of preventative maintenance to prevent cracking (which I'm told was due to subsidence). The case was more likely that they didn't want to spend the money to fix it.

I think Marriott did a fine job. I went plenty of times while they were running the place. I loved the theming and music and was totally bummed when they homogenized the place, ripped out the train, and started playing Michael Jackson.

*** This post was edited by janfrederick 2/4/2003 3:34:11 PM ***

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Tuesday, February 4, 2003 10:38 AM
At least you can't blame me for the homogenization ;)

Back on topic...bk has it right: Bonfante will remain open and that's all that matters at this point. Let's worry about changes when/if they happen.

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"The movies are weird--you actually have to think about
them when you watch them."
--Britney Spears at the Sundance Film Festival

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