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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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...