Wild West World files Chapter 11 two months after opening

Posted Monday, July 9, 2007 1:57 PM | Contributed by Jeff

A rainy spring and construction cost overruns did in Wild West World before it ever found its stride, says co-owner Thomas Etheredge, who announced Monday the theme park has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has closed its doors two months after it opened. The decision to file was difficult because Etheredge said he had dreamed of providing southcentral Kansas with the state's first theme park. Feasibility studies indicated to him it was a viable endeavor and to prove it, he and his wife Cheryl put up a good deal of their own money to finance the $30 million project in nearby Park City.

Read more from Wichita Business Journal.

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Monday, July 9, 2007 2:32 PM
Most states have emergency bail out money for short term loans. Its hard to think that no one has stepped up to help a park with pretty new equipment.

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Monday, July 9, 2007 2:40 PM
It rained 50 of the first 60 days. That just plain sucks.
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Monday, July 9, 2007 2:48 PM
That's too bad. And now that the rain is letting up, you'd think all those folks in Witchita are dying to get outside and do something with the family.

Interesting that they relied on everything going perfect for it to work out. I think they were lucky to have even opened on time.

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Monday, July 9, 2007 3:10 PM
Before anyone starts saying what an awful business plan WWW had, you have to know that rain really does wipe out a park's attendance, and with it raining 50 out of 60 days... well, they didn't have a chance.

I hope they get a pass somehow. I mean, if they could get back on their feet now that the rain is gone, they could come back. It'd help if they could get some thrill rides.

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Monday, July 9, 2007 3:22 PM
That is really a sad story. I read the CEO's story on the official site. I feel so bad for them, their dreams are ruined.
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Monday, July 9, 2007 5:51 PM
People three hurricanes hit Cypress area in it's rebuilding season.

One town in Wichitas market was wiped off the map in a tornado

Rob said the park was jumping sat July 6th and the employees seemed possitive on the outlook with plans for a major addition in the next year or two.

Sad, Real sad that at least one park in the area cant make it.

Chuck

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Monday, July 9, 2007 7:01 PM
I'm sorry to hear that this park will most likely not make it. However, they put everything they had into this park, including the kitchen sink. Why did they risk so much of their own? If all of these other companies said the park had a good chance of success, then why didn't they join in as investors? It's ashame they had no money left for reserves in case something like this happened.
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Monday, July 9, 2007 9:15 PM
It's called having a dream. Remember the Kinko's guy from Jerry McGuire: "That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there." Problem is, these poor people tried that and got theirs chopped off.
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Monday, July 9, 2007 9:46 PM
I'm in complete shock. This reminds me of the day I read that Cedar Fair was buying Six Flags Worlds of Adventure and turning it back into Geagua Lake, or when I found out CCI went out of business. At first it just didn't seem possible.

The chances of me ever getting to Kansas were slim to none, but still, I like what they were offering. I thought their focus on flat-rides of all kinds was great and that by keeping it simple to start out with, they'd be able to put in the Kentucky Rumbler-type woodie someday.

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Monday, July 9, 2007 9:49 PM
Good Grief!!! Is it bad amusement news day!?!?!?!
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Monday, July 9, 2007 10:47 PM
^More like bad news month. Seriously, it's either no news or bad news, and all around 7/7/07...
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 2:20 AM
Very sad to read the park closed its doors. I hope it is somehow able to get back on its feet.

That said, apparently a lot of people in that area are not very fond of this Etheridge guy. It seems he has quite an ego - he fired most of the original management prior to the opening last spring, despite his lack of experience with theme parks.

There is another story on this from The Wichita Eagle.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 5:44 AM
Any park that fails in two months of opening its gates wasn't going to be around long anyway. 50 out of 60 days of rain is just plain bad luck, but if they were stretched so thinly from day one that they couldn't ride out at least a season of complete losses, they weren't destined for anything other than bankruptcy. Maybe not this year or next year, but doesn't sound like the kind of 'dream' that was going to be seeing out the decade.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 9:56 AM
Unfortunately, with 50/60 days of rain, WWW isn't the only thing that's going to be hurting in Sedgwick County.

Just the other day, the wife and I were talking about going out and visiting family (who live in Sedgwick, about 5 miles from WWW) and visiting the park. Guess not.

Who are potential buyers? With SF probably not in a position to buy anything (not like they'd be interested in WWW anyway), and CF apparently on the auction block, are there any players who (in our imaginations) could be interested?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 11:06 AM
How about the folks who bought the parks that Six Flags sold?
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 11:21 AM
I was thinking the same thing Moosh... Parc 7 Management would definetly be one I would think would be interested. The same with Great American Family Parks. If SF could pick this up for under $10 mil, then I would say go for it. A nice little park that you could grow into a traditional ideal family park that Mr. Shapiro is dreaming about.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007 1:02 PM
Or what about the Hershends? I doubt they'd be interested, what with all the interest they are putting into their two major park right now, but I could almost see the picking it up as a novelty to the chain and gradually turning it into a Hershend park. Well, it's a dream anyway.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 3:24 AM
A sad story, but I have to agree with what has been said: If you're not prepared to lose money your first year in operation and do not have creditors with the patience to KNOW you will probably lose money in your first year or two... then you probably shouldn't be in business in the first place.

Doesn't make it any less sad though... I do hope that something good will happen - that area of the country has had enough bad news for this year...

-Esch

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 8:25 AM
Three hours west of Kansas City.

Cedar fair???????

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