There are a number of amusement parks that are operated by nonprofit organizations. In at least one case (Oaks), the former owners wanted to ensure that the park would continue to remain an amusement park in the future. More often, the nonprofit ownership was the result of an effort to save an endangered park.
The nonprofit parks I am aware of are:
Oaks Park (Portland, Oregon)
Arnold's Park (Iowa)
Wyandot Lake Park (Columbus, Ohio) -- Recently acquired by the Columbus Zoo from Six Flags
Conneaut Lake Park (Pennsylvania)
Bushkill Park (Easton, Pennsylvania) -- has been temproalily closed because of flood damage
There might be some others out there that I am not aware of. I would like to know about them and about other efforts to save parks through donations. I do remember Arnold's Park as one effort that was successful and Whalom Park as one that was not. Conneaut Lake is an example where the jury is still out. Maybe there are some other endangered parks out there that could be saved by the local cummunity.
'Non profit' is a tax classification, not a way to operate.
Oaks--only game in town, its just there.
Arnolds--again, its in a resort area. If you are there, you walk in and spend some money. They went years without paying bills.
Wyandot--stand alone park that can do that. If the park was a loser, the Zoo would not have taken over the operation. After Funtime was absorbed, the Zoo clearly was a better run facility.
Conneaut Lake--used to do great, then long time owners sell to locals. Big mistake, and operator after operator comes in and works the 'lease', and leaves with unpaid bills. Thats the only park in the group that can take in real money.
Bushkill--not too many people in the industry understand how this place operates, and I am one of them. No catstrophic loss insurance, no marketing, yet the lights are still on.
Sometimes the community is not qualified enough to run the whole operation.
While not really an amusement park anymore, the National Park Service runs Glen Echo Park. The only ride left in the park is a antique hand-carved and hand-painted Dentzel carousel which was saved through donations.
That site, while plain, is definitely giving me a good vibe about the future of the park. It seems they are serious about reopening and making an impression. I have never been to the park while it operated but I helped with the clean-up effort and I'm anxious to see how things are turning around.
Donations also saved and restored the Leap the Dips coaster at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA. This is the oldest roller coaster in operation and the only side friction claster in North America. It is an ACE Classic Coaster.
This ride is operated as an independent concession within the park and is an upcharge ride, not included in the POP.
I wonder what that means for the park. Does Lakemont profit from the coaster? I want Lakemont to make money and survive but I'm not sure if that's right. Any money the coaster makes should go back to groups like ACE so it can be used to fund future restoration efforts.
WhenI was referring to "nonprofit" i am referring to the ownership of the parks and not to the parks themselves. Every one of the parks mentioned would like to make a profit and some of them do. This is certainly something that we wish were true for all of the parks mentioned because this money can be used to refurbish and improve attractions and to add new attractions. One way to help these parks out is to patronize them. Every admission, food and drink sale, souvenir sale, and game played helps to secure the future of these parks and to improve them.
Be sure to spread the work about this one. They need an "educational" GG woodie on their hillside. Heck, they could call it The Earthquake in honor of the local geology (and perhaps a tip to the aforementioned Giant Dipper).
"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Speaking of Bushkill, I am optimistic that they will come back better than before. One reason for this is because Knoebels went through the same thing back in the 1960s with Hurricane Agnes. It was just a small park in an out-of-the-way location but look at it now. Almost as big as KW and DP.
One thing that Bushkill has going for it that it is easily reached from much of northern New Jersey. This could be a good option for those that want an affordable family-friendly park or just want the change-of-pace from SFGA or DP that a smaller park offers.
I agree. Bushkill does have a good location, although it is a little tedious to reach from NJ because you have to veer off I-78 and travel on Route 22, which is sometimes a royal pain in the a$$. And it also operates in the shadow of Dorney Park, which could be both a blessing and a curse.
I know the park doesn't have a lot of land and that works against them. I know they've considered a major installation in the past but they have very little parking and the place would require a lot of improvement to the infrastructure in order to grow. But they have a good collection of classic rides and if they can get all of those up and running while breathing some new life into the place, I see good things for them. I just hope that another flood doesn't come along and do the same thing because I don't know how long any owner/operator is going to keep dealing with that. Even the owners of Coney Island in Cincy decided to move their hyper-popular park upstream... at least in theory.